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Universal Basic Income - Yes Or No?


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#1 draftsman

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 06:23 PM

Hello,

Slovene Minister of Finance dr. Franc Krizanic publicly proposed the idea of introducing Universal basic income (UBI) in Slovenia.

UBI periodically provides each citizen with a sum of money that is sufficient to live on (in Slovene case it would be 500 euro per month for each Slovene adult). Except for citizenship and age (18), UBI is entirely unconditional. Furthermore, there is no means test; the richest as well as the poorest citizens would receive it (this is the only way to enforce it without too much bureaucracy; so working people would e.g. receive 500 euro as part of their already existing wage).

The goal is to provide people with enough income that guarantees them social security making them (creatively etc.) independent. They can do with their lives what they want and thereby can be more happy and more beneficial for the society, since many people are forced to have a job they dislike (or maybe even find ethically controversial) because they need money for living.

Pluses: people become financially independent, can live they dreams, there is less bureaucracy on the field of social transfers (now the state has to check the existence of many conditions for each applicant - i.e. is (s)he really "poor" enough, which wouldn't be necessary with UBI since each person would get it).

Minuses: moral hazard (people might take the money and waste their lives; now at least they have to work. The society must be morally responsible as a whole to keep functioning normally after the introduction of UBI. Furthermore, to keep people motivated for work the relation between various incomes would have to be e.g.: UBI - 500 euro; minimum wage: 1000 euro; average wage: 2000 euro - right now we are still faaar away from such numbers :( ).

One economist estimates that right now we give for social causes on average 76 euro per citizen so UBI would be 7 times more; are we as a state really rich enough to go ahead with this? Should UBI be only 200 or 300 euro - but then would it be enough to guarantee an independent living? Another ecnonomist says that UBI in sum of 500 euro would actually take 1/3 of Slovene GDP.

Not only would we need looots of money (meaning more taxes and more pressure on the companies, who could go searching for cheaper labour elsewhere), we would also need a complete structural renovation of the existing social system to fit introduction of UBI (pensions, welfare etc.) - this would be a huge project. Last but not least, in case of introduction of UBI Slovene citizenship might become more attractive for refugees and others, consequently this would mean more pressure on social services, police etc., so more money would be needed etc.

So would do you think? Is UBI an utopia or a real possibility in some more or less distant future? Would it liberate people or only make them more complacent and less motivated to benefit the society?

Best regards,
Draftsman
In the vastness of the sky, without center or edges, the sun shines, illuminating all things without choosing. This is the way you should help beings. Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdröl (1781-1851)

#2 Michael John Smith

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 04:25 PM

This is just Utopian dreaming - same kind of dreaming got the country into trouble with their Self-management system - a lot of people liked it but it was not sustainable and they had to give it up.

Buddhism teaches us personal responsibility - we are each one of us responsible in the end for our own situation. There is no fairness without responsibility - either the laws of karma are truth or not. One cannot experience riches without first being generous.




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