Ten Reasons to Support Basic Income

1) Basic Income will help us rethink how & why we work

A basic income can help you do other work and reconsider old choices: It will enable you to retrain, safe in the knowledge that you’ll have enough money to maintain a decent standard of living while you do. It will therefore help each of us to decide what it is we truly want to do.

2) Basic Income will contribute to better working conditions

With the insurance of having unconditional basic income as a safety net, workers can challenge their employers if they find their conditions of work unfair or degrading.

3) Basic Income will downsize bureaucracy

Because a basic income scheme is one of the most simple tax / benefits models, it will reduce all the bureaucracy surrounding the welfare state thus making it less complex and costly, while being fairer and more emancipatory.

4) Basic income will make benefit fraud obsolete

As an extension of (3), benefit fraud will vanish as a possibility because no one needs to commit fraud to get a basic income: it is granted automatically. Moreover, an unconditional basic income will fix the threshold and poverty trap effects induced by the current means-tested schemes.

5) Basic income will help reducing inequalities

A basic income is also a means for sharing out the wealth produced by a society to all people thereby reducing the growing inequalities across the world.

6) It will provide a more secure and substantial safety net for all people

Most existing means-tested anti-poverty schemes exclude people because of their complexity, or because people don’t even know how to apply or whether they qualify. With a basic income, people currently excluded from benefit allowances will automatically have their rights guaranteed.

7) Basic Income will contribute to less working hours and better distribution of jobs

With a basic income, people will have the option to reduce their working hours without sacrificing their income. They will therefore be able to spend more time doing other things they find meaningful. At the macroeconomic level, this will induce a better distribution of jobs because people reducing their hours will increase the jobs opportunities for those currently excluded from the labor market.

8) Basic Income will reward unpaid contributions

A huge number of unpaid activities are currently not recognized as economic contributions. Yet, our economy increasingly relies on these free contributions (think about wikipedia as well as the work parents do). A Basic Income would recognise and reward theses activities.

9) Basic Income will strengthen our Democracy

With a minimum level of security guaranteed to all citizens and less time in work or worrying about work, innovation in political, social, economic and technological terms would be a made more lively part of everyday life and its concerns.

10) Basic Income is a fair redistribution of technological advancement

Thanks to massive advancements in our technological and productive capacities the world of work is changing. Yet most of our wealth and technology is as a consequence of our ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’: We are wealthier not as a result of our own efforts and merits but those of our ancestors. Basic income is a way to civilize and redistribute the advantages of that on-going advancement.

and one more….

11) Basic Income will end extreme financial poverty

Because we live in a world where we have the means (and one hopes, the will) to end the kinds of suffering we see as a supposedly constant feature of our surroundings. Basic income is a way to join together the means and the will.

Showing 33 reactions

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  • commented 2017-06-03 08:11:27 +0100
    Yes, yes, yes, to all of the above. A universal basic income paid for by a straightforward land value tax would an extremely empowering decision.
  • commented 2017-05-21 08:11:38 +0100
    It’ll never happen, because it would mean more choice and autonomy for everyone…and Governments don’t like that for us minions…they want us to be scared, obedient robots
  • commented 2017-04-18 09:38:40 +0100
    I agree. Can’t understand why this idea isn’t catching fire. It would make so many anomalies in the Welfare system and tax system just fade away and give people so many more life opportunities as well as acknowledging everyone’s equal status as a citizen!
  • commented 2017-04-16 16:38:31 +0100
    Thank you for your interesting points, Courtenay. By, ‘accountability for the super rich’ I did not necessarily mean any more tax, only that a fair share of tax is paid. That is to say, the Amazons of this world, and the non-doms, and those with wealth hidden off-shore, all make their contribution along with the rest of us. That seems to me a more vital approach than – as you say – tinkering with VAT on school fees…
  • commented 2017-04-10 22:46:30 +0100
    Child benefit are a flat rate benefit in the same category as other flat rate benefits like free healthcare and free education. Tax allowances are another flat rate benefit not often recognised as such. Their impact on the super-rich must be considered in the context of the tax paid by the super-rich whether paid through income tax, sales tax, corporation tax or any other tax. Discussion about the parts can never advance sensibly if one addresses issues as though costs and revenue are unrelated, or in isolation as though everything else remains unchanged, or by spuriously linking two independent items in isolation. An example of the latter is the Labour Party’s foolish new proposal to charge VAT on private school fees and hypothecate the income to school food (which, apart from other shortcomings, “always tastes like Peason’s soks, as any fule kno”, as Molesworth would have written). Getting the super-rich to pay tax is always an issue. A wealth tax would be ideal but impossibly complex to measure and would drive the super-rich away. As a proxy, I suggest a tax based on the value of a property and the excessive use of space per head within it – i.e. not a “mansion tax”, which is a ludicrously clumsy idea. By all means allow, and encourage, billionaires to occupy 20,000 sqft in Mayfair, but ask them to pay for clogging up the country’s most commercially useful space. But these are not issues directly related to this discussion.
  • commented 2017-04-10 19:43:36 +0100
    There is already UBI for nippers in the form of Child Benefit? Most people now think paying rich people £13 per week for having a kid is a bit soft, but it has at least established the principle in a long-standing institutional benefit.
  • commented 2017-04-10 19:38:50 +0100
    For equality, well, yes I suppose so. A 2-million-on-minimum-wage kind of solidarity-in-poverty. But it will do nothing to stop the Bezos of this world avoiding corporation tax to spend uncountable billions on space toys. It is accountability for the tax-dodging super-rich that will do most to bring inequality back down to earth.
  • commented 2017-04-10 19:32:39 +0100
    Really? No more fraud? Wild assertions like that undermine the credibility of the whole proposal. The scope for fraud based on misrepresentation of personal circumstances might be reduced (once the income level is higher than any top-ups) but the scope for identity-based fraud will remain as cheerfully high as ever!
  • commented 2017-02-07 09:20:10 +0000
    The great Money Trick https://youtu.be/yB7OUHbK1BE
  • followed this page 2017-02-04 14:13:39 +0000
  • commented 2017-01-09 13:44:38 +0000
    Also, just one thing more to add. Computer science is progressing exponentially, and TFE will become increasingly “doable” rather than remain as some “fantastic” fantasy.
  • commented 2017-01-09 10:35:38 +0000
    Yes, Thumbs Up for Basic Income…..

    We are not talking about printing new money as something which is physical. Most of the money in the world is created as electronic, or digital money….and hence, it can be controlled, and monitored en direct for any inflationary changes, and the relevant ELECTRONIC “remedies” can be undertaken instantaneously with the right algorithms at the time of any transaction. Morever, we could also create a “map” of the entire GDP in Real-Time, or near Real-Time. TFE is utterly revolutionary compared with BI. However, the advantage of the latter is that it can be easily set up, and I am all for it but it does NOT represent a complete economic system. So, I wish those supporters of BI all the best, and hopefully it will become reality all over the world!! I rest my case!
  • commented 2017-01-07 17:07:54 +0000
    In reply to Robert Serle

    We seem to be departing from the Basic Income discussion. However, having read the extract you quoted, I must point out that, amongst many other problems that I see with TFE, compensating consumers for inflation by printing more money to give to them would create even more inflation, and would completely short circuit supply and demand. It can never work.
  • commented 2017-01-07 14:58:30 +0000
    What is important to understand in connection with inflation is that banks creates new unearned money daily as something which is repayable. They do not lend existing funds. For those not in in the know it would be advisable to go to Positive Money which is a respected, and trusted site.

    http://positivemoney.org/how-money-works/how-banks-create-money/
  • commented 2017-01-07 14:27:32 +0000
    Replying to Courtenay Inchbald,

    Thank you for your response. The answer to your comments is as follows.

    There would be no serious inflation, and no serious devaluation of currency. This is explained in the later sections of the TFE “paper”. It involves something something similiar to “price controls” but ones which are superflexible, and electronic….The following comes from the “paper.”

    …………..With the continous electronic monitoring of the Free Market Prices of the transaction of most goods, and services the data which results is transmitted to the inflation authority where supercomputers are programmed to notably check any inflationary problems.

    However, economists would recognize the direct electronic controls mentioned above as being like “price controls,” but a far more advanced version of them. The key feature of them is that in Advanced TFE they are super-flexible, and instantaneous. They are also notably super-sensitive to the changes in Real-Time to inflationary pressures in ways unimaginable to the old clumsy, and “rigid” price controls of the past.

    Ofcourse, their correct programming using algorithms is absolutely vital, and this could be based with likely modifications on existing formulas, and equations known in Econometrics. Naturally, such an arrangement could take into account many factors in Free Market Pricing such as the value added to a product, or service. It should also be said that a producer of goods, or services would have to register online by law to ensure that their offerings can be correctly identified at the point of transactions by special barcodes, or like means.

    Such electronic, or digital transactions would occur in the main with smartphones, or indeed, by debit, or credit cards, or something similiar. These can transmit, and receive money electronically. Ofcourse, to a growing extent, this already happens in many parts of the world.

    Anyhow, there are a number of things which the electronic controls (open to further modification, and development) could do, and they would naturally enough require specific algorithms to be programmed carefully, and properly :-

    i) Above Inflation Adjustment

    A Free Market Price of a product being bought at a checkout is found to be above the inflation rate. An example, should make it clear as to what happens. Lets say that the price of product X is instantly checked by the inflation authority using supercomputers at the Point of Sale. It is found that X is 2p above inflation. As a result, the 2p is instantly added to the customer’s bank account electronically (ie. Inflation Interest). However, the retailer still retains the 2p on product X. The extra 2p for the customer is an adjustment, or instant subsidy created electronically with newly created money.

    Ofcourse, an instant electronic inflation tax could be created to deduct the inflated value of money. This though is avoided unless it is absolutely necessary. TFE aims to be as business friendly as possible otherwise attempts to introduce it would be blocked by certain commercial interests.

    ii) Below Inflation Adjustment

    This is when a price of a product may be below the inflation rate, and an instant subsidy, or adjustment is created electronically. Again, to take a simple example. A customer wishes to buy product Z at the Point of Sale. The price is checked instantly by the inflation authority. It is found that Product Z is being sold below inflation by 2p. As such, the retailer, and not ofcourse, the customer gets 2p straight into their account.

    What is described above is deliberately “simplistic” as there may well be many aspects to all this that are beyond the scope of our presentation.

    iii) Instant Price Drop Subsidy

    This may be necessary if the Free Market Price is rising too quickly. If so, a price drop may be undertaken instantaneously. At the same time, a subsidy, or adjustment is instantly created with new money which creates a “progressive” profit to a certain level for the retailer instead of a profit “loss”. In effect, it creates an incentive to drop prices if, and when necessary.

    iv) Electronic Price Capping.

    Here, a maximun price may be set by a government, or by an FB in certain circumstances. If the price of production starts to exceed the maximun price, the producers would recieve instant financial help, or compensation where necessary as long as they stick to the temporary “control” price. Ofcourse, electronic price capping should be avoided at all cost as it could in certain instances lead to serious shortages, and price distortions.The aim in TFE is to allow as far as possible for the laws of supply, and demand to be maintained naturally.

    It should again be added here that similar methods to the above could possibly be used to help control “bubbles” in the economy (eg.“runaway” rising prices in the housing market being the classic example).’

    (PS. The ideas of Transfinancial Economics concerning super flexible electronic price controls are more advanced than the Compensated Price known to Social Credit (similar to TFE). The latter presents a Just Price, or “Control” Price for a product set at a certain level which covers production. This is paid for by the customer. The rest of the price including profit for the retailer is paid for by new non-repayable money, or Facilitation Finance acting as a kind of “unconventional” subsidy)
  • commented 2017-01-07 12:03:27 +0000
    Reply to Robert Searle

    From what I can glean from the TFE page, it proposes to eliminate taxation and instead to fund government spending entirely by printing money (or electronic money). Since government spending in most countries is a large proportion of GNP, I cannot see how that would not cause inflation, which would effectively tax net holders of cash. Holders of assets, the value of which would inflate with inflation, would be unaffected. Rich people tend to be holders of assets, not cash, so they would avoid the underlying cost (i.e. inflation) of this policy. Effectively they would not be contributing to government spending. Commercially active rich people tend to be financially leveraged, i.e. they hold assets funded by loans. They would benefit enormously from inflation as the real value of their assets remained unaffected whilst the real value of their debts plummeted. The description also talks of eliminating interest rates. The Government’s interest rate would be meaningless if it was just printing money, but commercial interest rates would still exist, and they would rocket with inflation. The economy would become very unstable.
  • commented 2017-01-07 11:33:43 +0000
    RE: Transfinancial Economics

    Yes, I agree with the notion of Basic Income. It is a step in the right direction. However, it is only the beginning. See a New Paradigm in development http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Transfinancial_Economics
  • commented 2017-01-04 19:09:25 +0000
    Free market with multiple interventions is a reference to regulation which is very much the role of the government. Each industry is expected to be organized and regulated with help from the government. Confidential tax credits for drug free working families are also a big trend right now which you might want to look into. Low income people are not alieninted from anything but how and why they have money from the private sector varies from supports, to education, health care, disability insurance, tax refund, addiction? short term help etc. It is very complicated and this is lazy. I am not much of a debater but l will try to get a real conversation going. Again, the biggest challenge is the transfer of wealth to all criminals, drug and gangs which could ultimately lead to higher addiction and crime rates.Peace out…
  • commented 2017-01-04 18:40:39 +0000
    Reply to Mark Fin

    You appear to be advocating both a completely free market and multiple interventions. Most people regard those positions as incompatible. I am advocating free markets with security provided by the Basic Income.

    I think the major flaw in whatever you are advocating is in describing the UK marketplace as not for everyone. The simple fact is that it is for everyone (everyone in the UK anyway) and if you just alienate the financially less successful, increasing numbers of them won’t like it, or you.

    Thank you for your recommendation. I have business degree already.
  • commented 2017-01-04 17:22:27 +0000
    Dear UK please think about explaining things to East…
    Two tier does not exist. This is from Communism which does not exsit, that was very complicated, but essentially a result of major technological change. A level of equallity comes from shipping and the movement of goods which is what the middle east was onced focused on and that was a very difficult job. There is still a level of equally at Dhl and Fedex as well as the millitary. Now We have markets, complex economy and society with diversified economies. Social housing zones would be a local market housing initiative. There are also regional, national and international markets. Money is expected to stay in the industries as that is what pays for everything and when people are paid via employment value is gain vs lost value in welfare . Industries pay the government for services and that does not include a mass redistributions of wealth without services. That is completely irresponsible.
    There is a hierarchy in society for organization, effeciancy and effectiveness. Brian, the USA and Russia while still growing and cetainly the Federation is something new are at the Top. You need to work to accept hierarchies. How do you make a car? It involves mining and ruber trees, plants and engineering – It’s complicated so there is a hierarchy. It’s 10 Tier and that is what works. How do you build a building? How do you run a hospital? When you have levels in industry, you also have levels in society and government.

    The UK is a tough economy, life is hard and focused on productivity – it’s not for everybody. You may be trying to simplify things like insurance because it is too complex, but in order to understand insurance you need to study insurance. Don’t try to simplify things or create more dependence on the government. Every social program has a value. If there are gaps in the system it is important to Streamline services. That requires a proper Public Administration degree. Please be qualified for the work you do, educate yourself away from communism and be respectful of diverse economies. Or, there is always South America. Many Sultan’s, many Employers. Obviously this is just a post. Take a business course if you want to know more.
  • commented 2017-01-04 15:13:21 +0000
    Reply to Merk Fin

    Whilst there are certainly people whose lives need to be managed for them, I am sceptical about multiple initiatives each with multiple rules because it is all so complex and costly to organise and inevitably some initiatives conflict with each other. Such initiatives also create two tier markets for commodities like housing which distorts otherwise efficient commercial activity and creates poverty traps.

    I don’t regard a Basic Income as dependence on government. I regard is as a dividend for each person’s equal share in the wealth of his nation, and I would be inclined to calculate it as a percentage of the government’s tax income rather than as a fixed amount to encourage recognition that the nation needs to flourish and the government to raise tax.

    What is a Sultsan?
  • commented 2017-01-03 22:36:12 +0000
    Rent subsidies, grocery discounts, food banks, grocery public tabs, social housing projects and zones, work placements supported by government, free oppertunies for skill and trade development, school lunches and morning snacks these and lots more are all safe, effective ways to help people. They should be expected to work towards and achieve economic independence away from the government. (Europe has many Sultsans -pick one and work for them. )
  • commented 2017-01-03 20:38:46 +0000
    The problem with basic income is some people who are not independent from the government have problems managing money or with additicts. These kinds of wealth redistributions give these people more money for drugs than normal. It’s essentially a redistributions of wealth from private sector industries which could be used to grow profits grow, the economy, to drug dealers. This has been going on in some of countries and sure enough crime rates are going up and then some. Also if and when people receive help from government that is confidential to keep them safe. When drug dealers know people have money they could potentially target them and as such min income is a threat to public safety. Finland and Portugal have a million problems and they could solve them by working more and developing their skills but do things like this instead. The UK should know better. Say no to min income. Give people housing, food and clothes directly.
  • commented 2017-01-03 11:30:04 +0000
    Reply to Michael Hopkins.

    I did not vite for Brexit, but free movement of huge numbers of people is a problem that some countries, including this one, cannot cope with. A basic income limited to nationals (subject to tweaking) is not a barrier to immigration. Highly paid immigrants will be unconcerned by ineligibility for the basic income so the City would be unaffected. Poorly paid immigrants would be deterred, and replaced by nationals whose low pay (I propose eliminating the minimum wage) would be supplemented by the Basic Income. The cost and complexity of work permits would be eliminated and everyone would be welcome.

    I propose eliminating the minimum wage not because I am a horrible reactionary, which is likely to be a common kneejerk reaction, but because the Basic income replaces it, it makes the labour market much more fluid, and it is another regulation removed.

    Although it would be opposed by the EU, national basic incomes for each member would maintain free movement but dampen the great surges that we sometimes suffer from whether the surge is inwards or outwards.

    Like Prof Standing, I also oppose many conditional benefits because the conditions are so complex to police, but I think some are necessary.

    In your calculation of net cost and your rejection of Basic Income for the rich, you have missed out the effect of my proposal to replace tax allowances with the Basic Income and to have a flat rate of income tax. Tax allowances are not counted as Government spending but rich people get the full benefit of the basic and intermediate tax allowances. In the UK the first £11,000 is tax free and the next £32,000 is taxed at 20%. These allowances when used in full (by rich people) cost HMRC over £10,000 in lost tax, more than the basic income we are discussing. There is obviously much scope for tweaking, and I have not considered the 45% tax rate.
  • commented 2017-01-02 10:22:01 +0000
    I am glad your useful comments started to talk about costs, although I didnt like the comment about immigrants…the UK is an island and immigration can be controlled should you want to either within the EU or outside. Immigration related Brexit will be a disaster for the UK (well maybe less Scotland, Ireland and the gradually declining City of London). So to talk about financing a basic income will be based on a lower tax base. Thus need to reject Brexit, stop Article 50 being imposed.

    Basic income for the wealthier always seemed to me a bridge too far. My friend Guy Standing is adamant about not paying conditional benefits but I think there must be a way to benefit the poorest and those affected with un or under-employment from the coming robotic expansion. I’ll cc him on this discussion and shall enjoy his blast at me!

    Then on costs “Social protection spending amounted to £231 billion in 2015/16, about 35% of all public spending. This doesn’t just include benefits and tax credits; personal social services like child protection are included in this figure, as well as pensions paid to former public sector employees.” https://fullfact.org/economy/welfare-budget/ . So it does look as if a basic income that replaced all social protection could be affordable if the benefit was as low as the current State pension.

    But social protection includes Health (18.9%), Education (13.2%), Welfare (24.5%), State Pensions (12.1%) etc. [https://fullfact.org/economy/what-you-need-know-about-treasurys-tax-statement/] which I guess basic income wallahs would not wish to defund? Thus I think basic income is a great rallying device (strange that Trump didnt mention it) but its economics are doubtful.
  • commented 2016-12-28 13:07:54 +0000
    Reply to Gerhard Kutt. The tax system in general is an issue separate from basic income. I don’t like income tax because it is a tax on something useful, work. Ideally taxes should be on wealth and on anti-social but legal activities that cause environmental damage, health problems, traffic congestion, urban congestion and conspicuous consumption. A tax on wealth would be almost impossible to enforce because of the difficulty the Government would face in defining wealth, keeping track of it, and keeping it in the country. A tax on financial transactions is a very crude substitute for a wealth tax. If enforceable it could be effective as a damper against speculative swings but defining what is and is not a financial transaction, and keeping track of them, would be extremely difficult. I think the most effective wealth tax substitute would a be a tax on excess use of valuable space. By all means allow very rich people to have huge houses in Mayfair, but tax them for it. I am not suggesting a “mansion tax” (usually proposed as a valuable house tax) because there is nothing wrong with a large family occupying a large house, or a small family occupying a small house in a valuable area. I am suggesting a tax on space occupied, based on the value of the market value of the space, with a tax-free space allowance per head. I accept it is not easily done but, at least real estate cannot be moved abroad.
  • commented 2016-12-28 12:38:48 +0000
    Basic in comevwill require a new tax system. Present tax system is based on centuries old Land owner / tenant farmer systemwhere work producing reward of goods is taxed by the land owner or ruler. Taxes are gleaned on what a working person has. No one has a value and is essentially a liability, except for nobility. The wealthy today are nobility. It is not about earnings, but control of money that builds wealth, hence the rich will,always get richer.
    All people are creative resources. Tax needs to be generated by tapping the flow of money. The greatest flow of money is the purchase of monetary instruments. Stocks, shares, insurance, derivatives, financial exchange. The total amount per annum is around 1.5 quadrillion US dollars worth of trade in financial instruments. Charge 0.5% on each transaction as a fee and no one; company or individual needs to pay tax.
    Governments needs to earn their income from services they provide rather than be allocated an arbitrary amount of tax. Fees on transactions is the way to go.
  • commented 2016-12-28 10:56:22 +0000
    In reply to Michael Hopkins. £600 a month would cost £420bn gross, but the net cost would be much less because it would replace pensions; it would replace some benefits; and with a basic income as a safety net, there would be no need for tax allowances so all income could be taxed at a single rate, raising more money to pay the basis income.
  • commented 2016-12-28 08:22:31 +0000
    As robots become more pervasive and the distribution of income becomes more and more unequal, there is a clear call for change and action. The owners of technology, such as Uber, Apple, Google etc will become richer and richer. This will lead to gigantic sums of money floating around the world to be picked up for investing in bigger and bigger construction projects by the likes of Trump and friends. These latter, spotting the danger, will reduce taxes on themselves and their corporations as much as they possibly can. A basic income in the UK would cost GBP420 billion if each received the equivalent of the monthly pension of GBP600 or about 25% of the UK’s GDP. Some may say this is affordable. But if robots take over, GBP600 per month is pretty small and maybe near to starvation levels. Thus what will be needed is a mechanism to transfer the huge profits of a few to the incomes of the many. Politics, as noted previously, is against that. Thus I think a basic income for all starts a useful discussion but is a pretty low target. We need to be talking about Basic Redistribution! How to move toward that I leave for readers to start debating..Thomas Picketty recently had a useful article on that. One thing I know is that neither Brexit nor Trump will take us an inch toward Basic Redistribution!
  • commented 2016-11-30 05:23:33 +0000
    I am completely for this. I also feel that we value everything from commodities to non tangibles like insurance etc, but we have no intrinsic value of a human being – none! We are just waking up to the fact that every human being has value for merely existing. It can be positive or negative, but mostly because we continue to thrive, we can assume we are positive. A Basic Universal income would be the first step into acknowledging the value of every human being as a creature of creativity and contribution, and this should be encouraged in every way possible.

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