UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME
Here are the main
questions that people have asked about a universal basic
What is a basic income?
What is its purpose?
Would a basic income provide an adequate living income?
What would be the rate of basic income?
Is basic income just a replacement for social security?
Why do we need a basic income?
Why would everyone receive a basic income?
evidence is there that massive frauds would not result?
Where's the money coming from to pay for a basic income?
10. Why should tax be taken
so some layabout can sit on the beach?
11. Why shouldn't someone
work for the basic income?
there be a mass exodus from the labour market with basic
13. Would people work so
hard if they had a basic income?
14. Isn't it better to put
money into improving education and training?
do critics of basic income say?
are the benefits in having a basic income?
What is a basic income?
A. It is a non means tested,
non discriminating, guaranteed income paid to every citizen
or legal resident whether old, young, disabled, unemployed,
employed, rich or poor, single or married.
What is the purpose of basic income?
A. The purpose
is to provide each person with the financial assurance of
an income without degrading means tests or being victims
of political ideology. Apart from the human right
aspect of facilitating access to basic needs, positive action
is required to break the link between the need for paid
employment, any paid employment, to gain access to income.
The assurance of a right
to a basic income would liberate people from the fear of
unemployment, at any time.
It would free people, desperate for any type of paid
work, from the need to take any job, however boring, immoral,
frustrating or despicable.
Payment of a basic
income would recognise the unpaid valuable contribution
made to society by carers, such as mothers raising their
There is considerable
evidence over the years from medical experts and authorities
that unemployment and/or a low income results in physical
and mental ill health, and violence and death coming earlier
than for those with employment and/or income.
QUESTION 3. Would a basic income provide an adequate living income for
everyone so that no body would ever need to work again?
A. It is hoped
that a basic income could provide a basic living income,
but whether it would be adequate or not would depend upon
one's lifestyle. What it would provide is an assurance
of an income as of right, a base from which one could earn
by one's own efforts, without penalty, additional income
to provide for a better standard of living.
It stands to
reason that the income any society enjoys cannot exceed
the rate at which it creates not just money, but real wealth
of goods and services. If people, computers and machines
in society are inefficient, or not working at all, then
real wealth, as opposed to financial wealth, cannot be provided
for basic needs and society will inevitably be poorer.
If there is no real wealth then there cannot be a basic
income. So everyone won't be lying around doing nothing
or else they'll die.
QUESTION 4. What would be the rate of basic income? How much can we expect?
Will it remain the same for years or would it fluctuate
depending upon government policies?
A. The rate would
depend upon the government introducing the measure.
If the payments were set as a distinct percentage of the
nation's wealth or gross domestic product, it would rise
or fall. So, if fewer people worked or provided services,
or technology and machines failed to produce enough for
all, then the basic income would fall. If wealth were
to increase, then the basic income should rise.
Some advocates of a basic income believe the payment should be set
at a particular rate and not fall.
Is basic income just a replacement for social
security benefits, although payable to everyone?
A. No. Although it is not a
new concept, basic income is a completely new approach to
tackling inequalities in society as well as introducing
a more meaningful system of democracy.
It would provide all with a human right to have an
income to access basic needs.
It would not be means tested. It would be a more efficient
way of helping those who need financial assistance at particular
times in life without the need to go through the rigorous
soul-destroying ritual of begging from a bureaucrat. It would mean those who have saved through self-denial need
not have to dissipate their assets first before qualifying
for some assistance.
QUESTION 6. Why do we need a basic income?
A. Social security
legislation has been introduced in the past to provide monetary
benefits for those whose income, if any, is insufficient
upon which to exist.
The social security
system was designed to meet the needs and assumptions at
the time. It has served us well, but it no longer
does so. It has become a patchwork of handouts and
means for politicians to control, and gain the favour of,
many through the manipulation of qualifications and benefit
sums. This leads to massive fraud. It also requires
a huge bureaucracy to operate. The rules and regulations,
form-filling, interviews, incorrect assessments and judgments
by public servants, continual government amendments, and
the deterrent of appeal board hearings for those wanting
to challenge rulings are well known to the underclass and
others. The system can justifiably be called begging
for money. It is little wonder that social security
offices generally are more well guarded than banks.
and annoyance that this begging system generates often leads
to preventable violence. When it is considered that
the status of women has changed, the needs of families altered,
guarantees of full time employment diminished, with technology
advancing rapidly, a career for life no longer envisaged,
differing types of employment evolving, single parent families
rising, the number of elderly increasing, and people between
jobs for much longer, the basis on which social security
income support was introduced is no longer relevant.
Time has passed it by.
QUESTION 7. Why would everyone receive a basic income? Is it not ridiculous
to pay a basic income to millionaires and other wealthy
just don't need the money, nor ask for it.
A. Some rich
people are already entitled to universal benefits and don't
need them. However It is easier and cheaper to administer
and more efficient to pay everyone a basic income than have
a process of sifting out those whom politicians consider
are worthy of financial assistance. But, be that as
it may, the basic income concept is not just a financial
assistance measure. It is a human right to have the
means to exist. Whether rich or poor, all should have
the right because it is a right.
QUESTION 8. What evidence have you that payment of a basic income to
all would not result in massive frauds with non existent
people being invented, emigrants still collecting the income
and the dead not being declared as deceased?
A. Unless there
were to be a moral and spiritual revival, there is no doubt
that people will try to cheat the system as they do now
with social security frauds and tax evasion. However,
it is probable that with a basic income it would be far
cheaper and far easier to spot the cheat than it is now.
At the present time, all
the forms, questions, interviews, threats and penalties
involved in trying to obtain a small sum of money, as well
as having to go through a maze of bureaucratic procedures
and risk upsetting the clerks with the power, encourages
dishonesty through cheating, inaccurate answers or withholding
basic income, all that stress causing hassle would be gone. All the cheating involved
would be by the creation of non-existent people. It should be easier
administratively to catch any basic income cheats because
there is less opportunity for cheating for a start. All the authorities
have to do is to ensure that a person existed, lives, and
is a permanent resident.
Cross checking through births, deaths and marriages,
through immigration and emigration returns, electoral roles
and tax returns, if any, and the such like should not be
too difficult a problem.
The opportunities for cheating are far fewer with
basic income than with the myriad of means tested benefits. And means tested benefits
cost the taxpayers quite a lot of money to run.
QUESTION 9. Where's the money coming from to pay a basic income? Won't it mean massive
tax increases? Surely
we really cannot afford it?
A. Whoever introduces
the basic income would know from where the money would come
and, in a democracy, seek electoral approval for the proposal.
There are many
ways of funding a basic income such as from a variety of
taxes, a non-inflationary pre-distribution of the public
credit, or as dividends from ownership of shares of publicly
owned, and in some cases privately owned, ventures.
The Alaska Permanent Fund, and its dividend payments to
citizens from it, is an example. A basic income would
produce financial savings from the current welfare payments
system in administration. As payments continued it
is expected that there would be financial savings resulting
from better mental and physical health and fraud prevention.
A change to the current debt-based monetary system could
mean it costs the taxpayer, individual or business, less
to fund a basic income for all than it does to fund the
current social security benefits. Tax savings!
QUESTION 10. If the payment is to come from taxation, why should any hard
earned money be taken by taxation just so some lazy layabout
can sit on the beach?
A. This sort
of objection has been leveled against all sorts of social
programmes which involve some redistribution of wealth.
Depending on what system is used to fund a basic income,
it may be that the tax take is used. But that happens
already. Taxpayers pay for the elderly and children
to receive unearned incomes - to sit around and do nothing
and also pay the unemployed - on condition they don't work
at all! What will be different? People with
no children pay taxes so that other people's children can
be educated, people who are well pay for those who are sick
to receive treatment, people who do not favour the buying
and using of weapons have to pay for them and people who
prefer trains have to pay for motorways. The young
also pay for the old to have pensions.
Those who, through
choice or fortunate life events, are required to pay to
support others, who may make little or no labour contribution
to the maintenance of, but use, welfare or community programmes,
may believe such redistribution for these causes to be unfair.
They are however legitimate. Redistribution occurs
all the time and mainly in a fair way because the community
determines certain social priorities which have to be balanced
against an individual's wish to preserve and accumulate
QUESTION 11. If you are handing out money, why shouldn't someone work
for it - no work, no money?
A. That is the
Protestant work ethic approach. Would you ask a 95
year old to work for a basic income? As all would
receive it, including the rich and politicians, would everyone
be put to work with no exceptions? And if there are
exceptions, who will determine who does not undertake work
for the income? Would those in paid work, including
MPs, also be required to work for the income after they
have undertaken a full day's work? If not, why not?
After all, they would be receiving the income. What
would the work be? How many hours would people be
put to work for a basic income? At what rate of pay
would this be? Would the rates be varied according
to the going rate for the job? Would "unemployed"
basic income recipients be forced to do those jobs which
are so unattractive, dangerous or dirty that an employer
cannot or will not pay enough to hire anyone to do them?
Who will arrange the work? Who will inspect the work?
Who will say that the work done is sufficient to warrant
a basic income? Having said that, some have argued
that all citizens have an obligation to contribute to socially
necessary work in the community. Instead of a basic
income as such, there have been calls for a participation
income. To qualify one would have to be an employee,
self employed, unable to work but willing to do so but for
ill health, injury, disability or a lack of available paid
employment, a career for the young, elderly or disabled,
undertaking voluntary work or employed in some training
or educational endeavour. But then this would all
call for an army of office workers and inspectors to determine
eligibility and vet the work.
QUESTION 12. By eliminating the necessity to work to obtain an income
with the introduction of a basic income, would this not
result in a mass exodus from the labour market and cause
harmful labour shortages?
A. Hardly probable.
Whether or not someone works, and for how many hours, depends
on a variety of factors both of a personal and social nature.
The attraction of not working may depend on the rate at
which the universal basic income were set. Someone
in an unpleasant job, part time or full time, which brings
in only 10,000 a year might decide to resign to live on
a basic income of 6,000. Someone earning 35,000 a
year at a job which they enjoy and find satisfaction in
doing, and who has a life style which only 35,000 a year
could support, might decide that living off a basic income
of 6,000 a year is not for them. There is nothing
to suppose that more people are going to loaf around all
day rather than be working. Research shows that unemployed
people generally want to work and show flexibility in the
type of job and wage levels they seek. Many lottery
winners at home and abroad stay in their same old jobs while
more of them start their own businesses, having the assurance
of financial security to do so.
Few people are
happy in complete idleness. Even the wealthy find
that they need to do something. If more people want
to give up jobs, and there are some jobs nobody would want
were it not for the money, then that is their choice.
The result however may be a lower basic income as, if there
were less output, notwithstanding automation, there will
be less money available to distribute. But that will
be the freedom of choice.
QUESTION 13. If people knew that they had an assured income, then surely
they would not work so hard and diligently and productivity
would suffer, the country would lose out in the global economy,
causing jobs to be lost and there wouldn't be enough tax
to give everyone a basic income?
A. There is no
known evidence which shows that people with an assured income,
such as basic income, would not work as hard and as diligently
as they had done previously. People are motivated
to work, to participate in society, by a variety of things
such as financial security, family, habits, interests, rewards,
status, personal fulfilment, obligations, social interaction
and the need to feel creative, useful and productive.
There is nothing to suggest that the introduction of basic
income would result in losing out in the competitive global
economy. If a company or organisation were uncompetitive
jobs could be lost and taxable money reduced, but to suggest
that a basic income would create lazy unproductive workers
in sufficient numbers to adversely affect a tax intake is
to suggest a total collapse of industry. The level
of a basic income does not depend upon the total tax take,
but upon the amount of real wealth of goods and services
available. A collapse of industry would result in
the loss of real wealth and reduce the rate of the basic
QUESTION 14. Surely, as most political parties and economists have advocated,
it is better to put money into improving education and training
skills to help people fill the skilled jobs which we should
have to be competitive and lead to growth in the economy?
The alternative is to be an unskilled low wage economy
doing unskilled jobs which other countries would have us
do for them.
and training is a political sound bite answer to the problems
of unemployment, disparity in wealth between the few rich
and increasing number of poor, and those struggling under
a mountain of debt and unfulfilled ambitions.
If education and training
were as vital as politicians tell us, and they are, why
is it that they are charging people to learn and/or to obtain
a skill and telling us all that tertiary education and training
cannot be afforded unless the students borrow money from
the private banks to pay for it?
If all the labour
forces of New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South Africa,
Zimbabwe, United States, the Arab world, India, Pakistan
and the European Union had degrees and technical skills,
the problems in each country of unemployment, underemployment,
income deficiency, inequality and insecurity would remain
the same as it is today. The fundamental problem is
one of income deficiency not lack of education and technical
A good education is
a wonderful thing, and highly desirable. But education
is not only an economic policy - it must also be about preparing
for creativity and service.
QUESTION 15. What do critics of the basic income proposal say?
people opposed to the concept do so because it either clashes
with their own agenda, is a new idea for people opposed
to change, is contrary to their belief that everyone can
only be allowed to receive an income if they work for it,
or they really haven't understood how it could help them.
is an idea so different from current thinking that it challenges
the imagination of those not used to doing other than accepting
what they have been told or what they have been used to
doing. Dismissive responses have been:-
it won't work
the idea needs more work
the workings are flawed
it is unsound
the time is not right
the banks won't accept
nobody understands it
it will encourage laziness
What benefits are there in having a basic income
A basic income for all would:-
be a fairer way of income distribution
recognise in a tangible way the unpaid role of care givers in society
and women as mothers
remove from politicians and bureaucrats the power to decide who does
and who does not deserve an income
ensure that young people need not have to leave their home
district just to obtain an adequate income through full
financially be far cheaper to administer than the current benefits
be easier for people to understand their entitlement
prevent considerable benefit fraud
provide psychological advantages, freeing people from stress and
worry caused through the lack of an assured income
eliminate the social stigma of unemployment
provide financial security for increased entrepreneurial development
These are but some of the obvious benefits.