Has the time come for universal basic income from being a niche initiative that only a few people have understood and embraced, to be deployed everywhere?
Basic income initiatives have enjoyed experimentation all over the world over the course of the past 10 years. And with the pandemic, they have seen a decisive acceleration and a rollout in many different nations.
It might have been the case that we couldn’t afford it in the past. But there are plenty of things that we can afford. And a fraction of those things is enough to start financing Basic Income initiatives. For example, we can afford apparently, very large military budgets. And these military budgets are justified by societies in wartime. But are these military budgets justified in peacetime? And shouldn’t we work towards peace to strengthen and as a consequence, military budgets to shrink, liberating resources that can be allocated better? The economy is not a closed system. As we build new knowledge, and we apply that knowledge, we become more effective and efficient, we have more resources that we can decide to allocate in order to build inclusive systems of support.
Another objection is that if we implement basic income, then people will just do nothing, they will be leisurely watching video series on their couches, and all their initiative will be extinguished. And no one will strive to make a living because they will not have to.
This is very offensive, and very demeaning towards so many of us, maybe most of us, maybe all of us, because we have drives that do not need the kick in the butt of the fight for survival. We don’t need to be told that it is wonderful to learn, it is wonderful to create, it is wonderful to produce for our own benefit and the benefit of others without having to do that, because otherwise we wouldn’t survive, we would suffer hunger or even die.