Friday, October 25, 2019

Universal Basic Income: Is It Time?

The idea of every adult receiving a universal basic income (UBI) is quite intriguing. Andrew Yang, a Democratic presidential candidate is running on this idea: every adult eighteen years and older will receive $1,000 per month for life, no strings attached, spend it any way you want. He feels that this money will not go for drugs, alcohol, and other such addictions, but will be well spent on necessities of life or making your life better.

UBI positives
The UBI will go back into the economy, which is a valuable thing. It can help people start businesses, or further their education, among other positive things. It can provide people with peace of mind knowing they're not going to starve to death. It can allow a mother to stay home with her newborn child, even until the child grows up, if she likes. I think the positive outcomes are almost limitless.

UBI negatives
I don't purport to know how it all works, the economics involved. One thing I do know is that it would be expensive. If there are two hundred million adults in the U.S. The cost would be over $2.4 trillion a year ($2,400,000,000,000). I think that's how you'd describe that string of numbers. That's a lot of money. Yang says it would be paid for by a Value Added Tax (VAT). VAT is a complicated tax, but I do know it's used in many countries. It seems that VAT is used in lieu of an income tax. I don't understand completely how it works, nor how it would work in this country, nor how Yang would implement it. (One of the reasons I can't get the answer to this, if it is on Yang's website, is that his website locks up my computer every time I try to look at it. I have no trouble looking at the other presidential candidates' websites, and I've looked at most of them. I don't know if this is a problem with my computer or his website.)

Basically, I'm living off of a UBI at this time in my life.

I'm retired and live off Social Security and my pensions. It's a steady, constant monthly income. Yet, I have not stopped working. I'm still doing the things I like doing, writing, painting, and a little bit of traveling. I think that working people who have an extra $1,000 or $2,000 a month coming in would continue to work, because you can't hardly raise a family on $12,000 or $24,000 a year if you're married. But if those families just getting by on their income received a UBI, well, it would change their lives for the better.

People who are disabled, trying to survive on SSI, for example, receiving maybe $600 a month, and another $200 a month in SNAP benefits, well, how do they live at all on that? I guess with a lot of help from others. If they received another $1,000 a month, as long as it does not reduce their SSI and SNAP benefits, it might make them less dependent on others to survive. It might be enough to help them be independent.

I know, if I had an additional $12,000 or $24,000 a year coming in from the UBI, well, hell, it would be fantastic. There are so many things I could do with that money. My imagination runs wild thinking about it.

Here's something to think about. If a young single adult received $1000 a month for life and invested $250 of that money a month in an investment plan for 40 years at 5% growth over those years would have approximately $381,000 when he or she retires.

How about an elderly person needing daily care or to live in housing for the elderly, a UBI could mean the difference between poor care and adequate care.

It's almost mind boggling thinking about how much people can benefit from a UBI. People need to apply the idea to their own situation and decide whether it would help them or make a difference in their lives.

Which politician?

As far as I can tell, there's no other politician out there than Andrew Yang who's proposals would change people's lives as much as getting $1,000 a month for life would. No one. And I think that's what many Americans, especially the middle class and the poor, are yearning for, a real change in their lives.

Can it be done?

Can it be done? I really don't know. But I have a sneaky suspicion that it can be done.

In an economy as enormous as that of the United States, it's just a matter of priorities. It's a matter of what we value most. And that's what I think we voters must consider. Are we going to vote along the same old party lines that now favor the wealthy and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor or are we going to put the interest of the majority of people above that? I think it's something that every American needs to think about, especially the middle class and the poor. If this is UBI's time, then those who think it will benefit them and change their lives the most for the better must consider it and, if they believe in it, vote for it.

Think about it. How would a UBI benefit you?

1 comment:

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This is an interesting post about an interesting idea. I don't know if it would work. What I mean is, I don't know how it would be financed (what department, etc.), and how people really would spend it, since it would be personal income, but unearned income. Probably social security really is a comparable program, except that those receiving it really have earned it. I know when I was in my twenties, it certainly would have made going to college a lot easier. When I went for teaching credential, I was living off a loan that allowed me $250/month! (And I managed!)