Why a Universal Basic Income Isn’t a Handout
By: Rylee Dahl
A Universal Basic Income or UBI is not a new idea; Martin Luther King Jr. even championed it. To break it down, UBI is a recurring payment to every person in society, portioned to meet minimum necessities like food and shelter. It’s unlike other government programs because there are no qualifications; its purpose is to provide financial security across the board so poverty is eradicated and the quality of life goes up.
Former 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang used UBI as a campaign platform, furthering its reach resulting in a Democratic Debate centered around the idea. Coincidentally, as a result of Covid-19, UBI became a trending and recognizable topic in the media because of the pandemic’s financial impact and unemployment increase.
The main question people have about this idea is who will pay for it. While it would be considered a government program, the Data Dividend Project is working to obtain funds from Big Tech companies like Amazon.
The mission of this movement is to establish data property rights so that a person’s personal information isn’t sold without the company compensating for it. Technology companies participate in data brokering, a $200 billion industry, which tracks and extracts consumer data to then sell and resell it. Everyone who goes online is participating in a business they don’t realize they’re a part of without receiving payment.
Another issue people are concerned with is that a universal income will make people lazy. The amount discussed for a UBI usually falls between $1,000-$2,000 per month, which would help most people cover a mix between rent, bills, and groceries, but for the majority, not all of it.
This income is meant to increase general wellbeing so people can stress less about finances and start that business, go to that doctor, focus on school, give their kid piano lessons or new clothes, the list is endless. It’s not to be used as a living wage, only a supplement, so that paycheck to paycheck anxiety and the likelihood of homelessness decrease.