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 42 reactions

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  • 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.
  • commented 2016-11-24 07:32:45 +0000
    But David Brittain…………..the living wage is already working well in some countries already………your dogmatically negatively view that people do not want to contribute in life is misplaced and cynical………………unemployment is dull and is inherent under capitalism without a support net
  • commented 2016-11-11 16:40:20 +0000
    It’s an interesting idea but a pipe dream. Where is the billions going to come from to pay for it? And if it was ever introduced, the system would soon be abused by those that would seek to take advantage of it and sit idly by while others actually do the work to pay for it. I see nothing on this website that explains exactly how it would work, just how great it would be. The essence of Socialist utopian thinking that I have been hearing and dismissing for decades, I’m afraid.
  • commented 2016-10-19 10:53:10 +0100
    You have missed the following benefits:
    1. Basic income will allow the ecomomy to work fluidly. It will allow minimum wage legislation to be withdrawn creating millions more low paid jobs subsidised by the basic income. This in turn will reverse the outsourcing of low paid jobs caused by globalisation. (However this benefit is at the expense of third world countries).
    2. Basic income, if given to a country’s citizens but not to immigrants, would reduce the attractiveness of developed countries to unskilled, lowly paid immigrants but not to skilled highly paid immigrants. This would dampen, but not crudely block, immigration, and relieve housing and other infrastructure shortages. (This benefit iwould be at the expense of unskilled would-be immigrants.)
    3. If the basic income were broken into national and local elements, the local element could be used to boost regions (by giving a higher basic income to all residents in an area thus allowing labour costs to fall and attracting investment), or to help poorer residents of high rent areas to remain with their families (by giving a higher basic income to long-term residents in such areas).

    The basic income is at the expense of the tax-payer, i.e. rich people, and it is phenomenally costly, so it is important to ensure that the culture created by a basic income policy is positive to the rich as well as the poor and makes the rich willing to pay more tax rather than to leave. Basic income is the simple element that allows the best parts of socialism and capitalism to be combined. It allows goverment to concentrate on making its territory a place where everyone, rich and poor, wants to live and where poor citizens can afford to live.

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