The Facts On Free Money
As manufacturing and production becomes increasingly automated, the future of employment - particularly for low-skilled workers - is at risk. How can governments meet the threat of economic instability? The solution might be as simple as a guaranteed income… for everyone.
In our next debate, “The Universal Basic Income is the Safety Net of the Future,” we’ll take on this proposal - and what it may mean for the future of work. But before we do, here are the facts on unrestricted income:
What is UBI?
A universal basic income would require that every citizen, regardless of income or wealth, receive a set amount of money each month - no questions asked. While this idea has garnered support from politicians, academics and philosophers alike, there is no one model for how a UBI would be implemented.
Why would we want one?
Proponents argue that, in the face of a modernizing economy, a guaranteed basic income would serve as a tool to alleviate poverty and empower workers to make career decisions based on interest and skill rather than economic necessity. Opponents, on the other hand, suggest that an unrestricted income would take away the incentive to work and waste money on those who don’t need it.
Where is it happening?
No nation currently guarantees a basic income to all its citizens, but some are starting to turn the idea into policy. India, the Netherlands, Italy, Uganda and Finland have launched pilot programs, and the Canadian and French governments are expected to follow suit. The nonprofit Give Directly funds a basic income project in Kenya and the San Francisco-based startup Y Combinator recently announced plans for a basic income study in the U.S. But not every push for UBI has been successful. Last June, 77 percent of Swiss voters rejected a referendum that would have provided an unconditional monthly income for every citizen - the first of its kind.
Though today’s most vocal UBI proponents are based in Silicon Valley, the concept has long roots in American political history. Proponents have included Thomas Paine, Milton Friedman, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Is a guaranteed, unconditional income the key to our nation’s economic future? Visit our debate briefing room to read curated articles on the topic, including writings from our panel, and cast your vote online.