Free money! What's not to like about that? It's a wonder Bernie Sanders isn't promising that.
Not everyone likes the idea, though. A referendum was just defeated by voters in Switzerland which would have given every citizen a basic income paid from the government treasury. Most of us thought that was probably the best outcome. However, Charles Murray has a different take on the universal basic income (UBI) that's worth a look.
He contends "that a UBI is our only hope to deal with a coming labor market unlike any in human history and that it represents our best hope to revitalize American civil society." See A Guaranteed Income for Every American.
However, it will work only if replaces all other payment systems and the agencies that manage them. And there's where it starts to make sense. Here's Murray:
The UBI is to be financed by getting rid of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, housing subsidies, welfare for single women and every other kind of welfare and social-services program, as well as agricultural subsidies and corporate welfare. As of 2014, the annual cost of a UBI would have been about $200 billion cheaper than the current system. By 2020, it would be nearly a trillion dollars cheaper.
Read the whole thing for the numbers and the upper individual income limit where it would partially phase out. He acknowledges that the UBI might make bums of some people. But, he says, we've got plenty of those already. The question would be whether we would have more of them.
In that regard, the survey cited here isn't encouraging:
"The millennial workforce is predominantly 'checked out,' not putting energy or passion into their jobs. They are indifferent about work and show up just to put in their hours," said the survey of the 73-million strong group.
In any event, Murray always makes a good point. And we would do well not to ignore him however unlikely the ideas are to get implemented.