Advocates of Universal Basic Income (UBI) argue it will reduce financial stress, increase employment, and reduce poverty. Opponents of providing people with unconditional funds argue UBI is too expensive, unproductive and does not fit into the capitalist market economy [pdf]. Although experiments have been done and roundtables held, so far none have led to the full, long-term implementation of a UBI. With the current global crisis looming, however, now would be the perfect time to implement UBI, and reap its benefits in the future.
With many people becoming unemployed due to the crisis, as well as many at risk of becoming so, governments have invested huge amounts of money into businesses and individuals. In order to limit the effects of the corona crisis on the finances of individuals and businesses, governments have made available relief funds, used for subsidizing the move to online platforms, giving companies relief money to limit the number of employees that are fired, or even transferring money directly to individuals.
Although these investments could be manageable for governments now, they are not sustainable in the long run, and with the crisis sticking around at least until a vaccine has been made, other solutions should be considered. Even if a vaccine has been developed, in the shadow of the pandemic, the economic crisis will have large effects. However, keeping up with the expensive spending patterns currently sustaining businesses and individuals is not feasible for governments. Thus, in the long-run, a UBI could well be a solution to alleviate the wounds that will be left after corona itself is long gone. Although the specifics of a policy would have to be determined, the premise is a monthly fixed payment that would be different from a social safety net, in the sense that it is unconditional rather than depending on employment or other conditions. UBI would function more like an unconditional floor to stand on, as opposed to a social safety net to get stuck in [pdf]. UBI would have positive effects: reducing individual financial stress, allowing people to volunteer or take lower-wage jobs in needy sectors, and reducing poverty. These outcomes would reduce government spending on poverty reduction policies, monitoring of the specified conditions for regular social pensions, as well as spending aimed at the limitation of negative effects of poverty.
Furthermore, there are projections that due to the corona crisis inequality will rise even more. Due to the difference in types of jobs, with low-paid jobs usually being harder to continue from home than high-paid jobs, people working in low-paid jobs are more likely to lose their job due to the crisis, or to fall ill due to the need to physically go somewhere to continue working. In this way, inequality may be exacerbated due to the crisis, making the current situation even more fitting for the introduction of the basic income.
Bottom line: Basic income, a solution to economic problems of the past, could reduce the harm of the crisis we face today.
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