Revisiting Universal Basic Income.

It Is Not Free Money, It Is Your Right To Your Country’s Riches

By Avneet Singh, Founder, Voice of Mankind

Special for News Talk Florida

These are difficult times globally with high unemployment, economic uncertainty, and calls for governments to help the public.

Universal Basic Income is a program that can provide financial security to people and reduce their anxiety and stress. It also gives individuals limited financial freedom so they can pursue other activities that could open new opportunities for them as well as the community.

What Is UBI

UBI is a fixed monthly income to every resident in the country.

It is Universal, as it is given to every person and child. It is Basic, as it is just enough to cover people’s basic needs.

Every person and child gets the same amount. The amount does not depend on their financial status. A millionaire gets the same amount as a person with no money. This is because UBI is people’s rights to a share of their country’s wealth. The rights given to a person cannot depend on the person’s financial situation. Not being means tested avoids creation of massive bureaucracy to manage and monitor how much is given to individuals.

Funding UBI

Karl Widerquist of Georgetown University estimated the cost of UBI of $12k/year for each individual at $539 billion per year (2017). This amounts to <3% of the GDP.

This research also shows that “UBI costs less than 25% of current U.S. entitlement spending”. It can be funded “by reducing other spending, such as unnecessary parts of defense spending, corporate giveaways, the portion of transfers that UBI might make redundant, or whatever else one might be willing to cut. If so, the United States could permanently free every American from the threat of poverty with no net increase in anyone’s tax burden”.

UBI will replace other benefits such as unemployment benefits and make them unnecessary. Since UBI is not means tested, it will save on the administrative costs of existing welfare programs.

UBI will also be funded by money raised from periodic sale of public resources. Governments sell public resources such as auctioning land to property developers, and auctioning lands for mining and drilling rights. As an example, the government opened the Arctic Wildlife Refuge for drilling for oil and gas. The public is unlikely to get any direct monetary benefit from this sale. Why should the government and large corporations be the sole direct beneficiaries of the sale of public lands? Why should the public not get a share of the money raised from privatizing public property?

Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) is similar to UBI. It “deposits at least 25 percent of mineral royalties — revenue the state generates from its mines, oil, and gas reserves — into the fund annually. The money is in turn invested by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation in domestic and global stock, bonds, private equity, and more, and interest earnings are then distributed to Alaska residents every September.”

Michael Tubbs, Mayor of Stockton, CA, ran a pilot UBI project. He said, “I don’t think the issue is one of math, but a political will.”

UBI Is Not Just For The Poor

UBI is not just money for the poor and the homeless. UBI is not ‘means tested’. Every person and child will be given the same amount. Middle income working families can save and invest it.

As an example, “63% Of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency”. They work and live well, but are unlikely to save for their children or give them a good start. UBI will ensure their children will get $500-1000/month from the day they are born. The child will have $120k-240k ($500/month x 12 months x 20 years) available for them to spend on building their life by the time they are 20 years old.

If people prefer to splurge it, it just gets pumped back into the economy.

The less well-off will spend it on essential goods and services they need, pouring money back into the economy.

Stockton, CA, ran a pilot UBI project. Michael Tubbs, Mayor of Stockton, describes how people spend the money. “They spent money just how me, you and those listening would spend it – on things like food, on things like merchandise and things like utilities. There’s a couple – those stories of a lady who used it to buy dentures ’cause she had gone for two years with really bad teeth. She talks about how now she can smile.”

Mayor Michael Tubbs talks about how UBI helps people create opportunities to progress in their careers. “The $500 gave him the space to take a risk to take time off his part-time job to interview for a full-time job which he received.”

Support For UBI

Dr. Martin Luther King supported some form of guaranteed income. Andrew Yang, Democratic Presidential candidate for 2020 elections promoted ‘Freedom Dividend’. Entrepreneurs and CEO’s such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, S. Robson Walton (former Walmart Chairman), Sam Altman (President of the startup accelerator Y Combinator), Henry Paulson, former U.S. Treasury Secretary and CEO of Goldman Sachs support UBI.

Pilot UBI programs are running in multiple countries.

Misinformation

Governments all over the world question, distract, and confuse the public rather than work for the people.

Vested interests will spread misinformation around UBI. The voice of those who question UBI will be amplified. The voice of those who promote UBI will be ignored.

UBI is discredited by saying it will lead to higher taxes. I will not as it will replace existing programs. UBI makes these other programs unnecessary. UBI will also be funded when governments sell public lands to private developers.

UBI is discredited by saying it is bad for the economy. The money that homeless people will get will immediately be spent to buy services (healthcare) and goods (food). UBI will allow more people to participate in the economy.

To quote from the famous British TV series Yes Minister, there are ‘recommended techniques for how to discredit an unwelcome report’:

“Discredit the evidence you are not publishing, saying It leaves important questions unanswered, Much of the evidence is inconclusive, The figures are open to other interpretations, Certain findings are contradictory, Some of the main conclusions have been questioned (If they haven’t, question them yourself; then they have).

Stage Three: Undermine the recommendations. Suggested phrases: ‘Not really a basis for long term decisions’. ‘Not sufficient information on which to base a valid assessment’. ‘No reason for any fundamental rethink of existing policy’. ‘Broadly speaking, it endorses current practice’.

Stage Four: Discredit the person who produced the report. Explain (off the record) that He is harboring a grudge against the Department, he is a publicity seeker, he is trying to get a Knighthood/Chair/Vice Chancellorship, he used to be a consultant to a multinational, he wants to be a consultant to a multinational.”

Future Of UBI

UBI is a popular and workable solution for prosperity for all. It is well-researched, well-understood, and supported by prominent individuals and entrepreneurs across the spectrum. Independent monitoring of pilot projects shows promise.

There is likely to be strong resistance to UBI from governments all over the world in the light of lower administrative overhead of UBI. Governments want big government and big administrative overheads. Governments and large corporations have a monopoly of exploiting the country’s resources and will resist calls to share their revenue from privatizing public resources and lands.

UBI will be even more relevant as robots, self-driving vehicles, and Artificial Intelligence take over jobs previously done by people. UBI will also become more relevant as we continue to go through the 7-year cycle of boom and bust.

The barrier to UBI adoption is not numbers and funding but political will and our values.

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Voice of Mankind helps people Make Sense of this Changing World.

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News Talk Florida Staff