Universal Basic Income (UBI) is an incredibly difficult topic to write about. The whole issue/policy prescription is so fraught with hypotheticals that a reliable summary of its implications, and effects, are an exercise in fortune telling. Regardless, we have produced an issue of PoliQuads Magazine that hosts the various perspectives on UBI that will surely interest and challenge your perceptions.
We have accumulated a collection of articles and editorials that span the ideological spectrum and will present perspectives from the far-left to the classical right. Worthy of note is the overlapping nature of many of the claims and reservations. For example, both the communist and classical liberal perspectives posit that our current economic system is beleaguered by ineffeciencies, corrupt incentives, a distortion or market principles, and a whole sale negation of rightful earnings. Why embolden the current economic order with an injection of government cash when a few vested interests seem to unjustly benefit from the regime?
It is striking that both socialists, and the right, are skeptical about the efficacy of UBI. The right is concerned about increased government spending and citizen dependency while the left is worried about preserving, and expanding the profitability, of an economic system that alienates and deters common ownership.
Is it possible that all sides in the UBI debate are so perpetually offput and disgusted by current governmental practices/policies that they want large swathes of the government radically reduced or abolished? Why haven't social programs met their stated purposes after nearly seven decades of the Welfare State? What is the proper amount of income a person needs to exist in the world without the fear and despair associated with economic hardship? Would UBI deter people from earning income altogether? And what happens within a liberal democracy when the political scene changes (as it inevitably does) and UBI is either put on the proverbial chopping block or expanded further still?
The costs of UBI are staggering, the long and short-term social, political and economic effects are completely unknown (besides various pilot projects with mixed results internationally), and the overt perils of handing over large degrees of monetary power to the government are glaringly obvious.
If UBI is ever implemented it will be the gateway to a new economic experiment the likes of which have never been seriously considered by the political establishment. All citizens (regardless of means, will, age, ability, foresight, and common sense) will be instanteously enlightened to the fact that they have some semblance of reliable income. What will people do with this new found cheque? They could spend it frivilously or invest it wisely, start a business or drink beer on their front porch, and possibly even vote for more UBI while some will rapaciously try and scale it back.
There are so many unanswered questions about UBI. What form will it take? Who will recieve it? How will it be funded? What will people do with themselves? And what will become of the Welfare State?
In this issue, our team of talented writers will tackle these important questions and hopefully shed some light on the social, political, philosophical, and economic shadows created by UBI. Enjoy.
1) Is UBI a realistic solution towards alleviating poverty, homelessness, income inequality, or economic stagnation?
2) Would existing social programs be eliminated if UBI were adopted?
3) What would be the economic impact of implementing UBI as a national policy?
4) Would UBI incentivize, or deter, individuals from climbing the economic ladder?
5) Can UBI properly deal with mass unemployment in the wake of technological advancements and global economic pressures (i.e. Artificial Intelligence application, offshoring of manufacturing jobs, and increased automation of production processes)?