Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Universal Basic Income

A Universal Basic Income is an unconditional payment of a certain fixed monthly amount to each citizen.

“UNCONDITIONAL” is the key word, so that UBI becomes an uplifting Social Dividend and not a stigmatizing Social Handout.

How did I become a defender of Universal Basic Income?

Two factors: First, as a Venezuelan I have seen how immense oil revenues received by governments for more than a century now, has not been able to trickle down into a sustainable development of my country. I have also, during the last 15 years, witnessed how the 40% poorest in my country received less than 15% of what would have been their per capita share of the net oil revenues. Consequentially I have come to despise all excessive centralization of any redistribution powers, and foremost all witting or unwitting redistribution profiteers.

Second, for a long time, seeing increased automatization (robots, AI) I have been concerned about that if we are unable to provide worthy and decent unemployments to those each day more numerous structurally unemployed, these will not allow us employed to work in peace, and social order will implode.

Putting together the need to get rid of redistribution profiteers, and that the need to adapt to new structural unemployment realities, the Universal Basic Income I propose applies to all citizens of legal working age, who are not being benefited from pensions or other similar schemes.

In other words, the needs of children and the needs of retired seniors should be satisfied, but not by means of a Universal Basic Income. To do so would cause useless confusion about UBI's goals.

UBI is to help you get out of bed, not to help allow you stay in bed. 

A raise in the minimum wage is raises the bar and so there will be fewer jobs to jump up to. A Universal Basic Income is giving everyone a step stool to help them reach up to a job in the real economy.

A Universal Basic Income is a progressive benefit since, on the margin, it benefits the most those needing it the most.

Now, who would be against a Universal Basic Income?

For a starter the redistribution profiteers, because it would clearly eat into the political and economical value and power of their franchise.

Then all those who sincerely think they can decide better on what citizens should spend, the ever-present societal besserwissers, and want to make any such payments conditioned.

Then all those who automatically believe such a guaranteed monthly income would seriously reduce the societal will to work, with dangerous consequences.

Then all those who automatically believe such a guaranteed monthly income would be financially, fiscally, unsustainable.

Possible sources of funds for an Unconditional Universal Basic Income, the Societal Dividend:

All existing sin taxes, and all those probably too many similar taxes that will be proposed in the future.

A “Human Heritage Tax”, to be levied on all profits obtained under the cover of Intellectual Property Rights, like patents.

Universal Basic Income is for oiling the social machinery, not for drowning it!

And indeed, even though I am convinced an unconditional UBI is possibly the most intelligent way to confront current societal challenges, like robots and other similar automation substituting for human work, I am also convinced that if a UBI program is not developed with utter care, discipline and love; and kept solely as a citizen to citizen affair, and paid 100% for the generation being benefitted, without burdening the next, then it could result in a lot of bad.

That mainly because it can so easily be captured by other interests, like those wanting to instigate class-wars.

Make UBI payment too high, and then effectively it could reduce the supply of the work-desire that is needed to pay for it. 

Make UBI payments too high and have these not be 100% funded without new debt or printed money, and it will come crashing down on us. In other words UBI needs to be 100% fiscally sustainable, nothing of having our grandchildren pay for our UBI today.

What is my biggest real concern with UBI? The politicians’ “Vote for me because I will give you the highest UBI”

In order to stop politicians and redistribution profiteers meddling with UBI for their own small reasons, there might be a need of a Constitutional Amendment to set up the mechanism and the parameters. 

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Universal Basic Income is better for preventing social upheavals than for curing these.

Canada (home of my grandchildren), please implement the system; start with a low amount, perhaps only $100 per month, perhaps mostly funded with carbon tax revenues, regressive sin-taxes and sales taxes, and take it from there.

Venezuela, please share out the net oil revenues, the most logical funding of its UBI, start at least with $20 per month.

PS. To establish and enforce any lien on a Universal Basic Income (UBI) would of course have to be criminalized.

Don't raise the minimum wage bar, which kills jobs.

Give a UBI step stool instead, to help many reach up to jobs/gig jobs 

Friends, if we citizens can’t find a way to defend ourselves against unscrupulous polarization and redistribution profiteers, for instance by means of a Universal Basic Income, a de facto Societal Dividend, we are doomed to forever live in servitude to them.

Friends, if we want to stop that capitalism that wants to benefit, fast and easy, by engaging in that crony statism that centralizing too much resources always ends up causing, and want instead our societal productivity to be fairly redistributed through more efficient free markets, then we must have an unconditional Universal Basic Income.