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Universal Basic Income: Coming Soon to an Industrialized Nation Near You

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In the coming AI-robotics revolution there will be minimal need for human beings to be engaged in the productive economy. There is little doubt that some type of UBI (univeral basic income) system is coming soon to large parts of the industrialized globe.

The issue of the type of UBI system that should be designed is complex. If it is implemented as an extension of social welfare, one set of results can be expected. Social-welfare systems are generally implemented as a last-resort, bare-bones safety net. Net is the appropriate word as people caught in it tend to be trapped permanently or at least long term. Welfare often entails intrusive state presence in people's lives, telling them where they live, whom they live with, often what they can buy. And some have even proposed that personal finances be at least to some degree controlled electronically by the state, for example by "mandatory and automatic payment" of debt obligations.

On the other hand if the UBI system is implemented holistically, taking into account the needs and aspirations that we all have as human beings, rather than simply a last-gasp survival mechanism, a different result can be expected.

Real world tests and studies of UBI have been done; for example this one comparing two trials in Canada and Finland:

Canada's cancelled basic income trial produces positive results

Quoting from the above study, in Canada the UBI-trial system seemed to show positive results:

"...only 17 percent of those in the pilot leaving employment once the basic income payments commenced. And, most significantly, nearly half of those subjects who stopped working during the pilot returned to school or university to up-skill for future employment..."


"In terms of physical and mental health the vast majority of the survey subjects reported notable improvements following the roll out of the basic income project. Around half of the subjects reported decreased use of alcohol and tobacco, while 79 percent reported better physical well-being and 83 percent reported better mental well-being."

In the Finnish trial results were indeterminate:

"Basic income recipients did not have more work days or higher incomes than those in the control group... Despite the fact that basic income recipients had clearly better incentives to work, there were no statistically significant differences between the groups. The results show that among the young and the long-term unemployed other obstacles for work, such as outdated skills and health issues, are more important than financial incentives." (emphasis mine)

So merely providing people with a subsistence income without ensuring there is a societal structure that allows health, educational, social and intellectual development will result in the same problems as are prevalent in those trapped by social-welfare systems: low labor-force participation, substance abuse, criminal involvement and poor social integration.

For the 1% this may be just fine.

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Wayne Janis Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I am a retired boomer from the northern state of Canada with relatives and friends living in the U.S. Blessed and cursed to be living in "interesting times" I am fascinated by the seismic political, economic and social events taking place in the (more...)

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