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Why Not a Little Basic-Income “Feel Good” Socialism That Works?

By: Letter to the Editor - Apr 17, 2014, 9:30 am

In response to “‘Guaranteed’ Basic Income is ‘Feel Good’ Socialism at Its Worst” (April 10, 2014) by Frank Worley-Lopez.

Money for a universal basic income (UBI) scheme would be reallocated from welfare programs that already exist and redundant tax deductions. Although this would be sufficient to cover a UBI’s costs, there would also be savings and gains from reduced incarcerations and additional sources for taxation. The new revenues would arise from those disincentivized to work by the current programs that remove benefits once employed, which a UBI does not.

Humans are being displaced as robotic dexterity and machine-learning improve. Those who deny technological unemployment argue that advancements in technology will provide jobs, but this is untrue … the rate of advancement isn’t linear. We’re approaching a point when people cannot be retrained quickly enough to fill these jobs; however, computers assume these positions most capably. They will work without pay, breaks, or any drags of human labor that cut into profits and productivity. The capital-to-labor ratio is increasing and, unless a UBI is implemented, few people will be able to afford products and services provided by corporations.

The point of a UBI is that it’s basic. People aren’t content with having only enough for food, bills, and rent. Having these essentials paid for allows people to pursue intrinsic goals, whether it’s art or opening a business. Manitoba was the subject of an experiment called Mincome. Some decided not to work, but most of these people were mothers of newborns or full-time students. If the result of a UBI is a large percentage of people not working, robots will instead, allowing people to invest in companies … the idealization of capitalism.

Alex Richards
Hayward, California