The liberals are increasingly promoting “universal basic income’” for all Americans as a solution to poverty. That sounds Utopian, but where does the money come from to pay for the program, and is it good for society and an individual’s incentive?
Universal basic income (UBI), also called basic income guarantee or basic living stipend, is a type of program in which citizens or “residents” (including illegal aliens) can receive a regular sum of money from the government.
A UBI program would have “no means test” like Social Security because it would be available to anyone and everyone. Some local governments like the City of Stockton, California, have started an unconditional income program that is supposed to meet a person's basic needs.
First, what’s the cost? Bridgewater Associates’ Ray Dalio, the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, estimated the cost to give every American citizen $12,000 per year, the current poverty threshold, would be roughly $3.8 trillion annually. The figure represents 21 percent of US GDP or 78 percent of tax revenue. That would be an incredible burden on the national economy.
Second, the idea of caring for the poor is not new, but how to do it has been debated throughout history. Is government welfare or personal charity best suited?
Some people believe that voluntary personal charity is the best way because it allows people to enlarge their hearts and spirituality which helps society be more civilized. It also allows people to be acquainted with the persons they help and thus understand their needs which in turn lessens the chance for welfare abuse.
However, others believe the government can best take care of needy through a professional bureaucracy funded by taxes. Everyone shares their wealth through taxation, and it is redistributed accordingly.
But… if people are forced by the government to share their wealth through taxes and a bureaucracy, how does a person’s heart and spirit grow in “faith, love and charity”? People resent being forced to share anything.
Also, what happens to a person’s incentive if they know don’t have to work for their basic needs? What happens to able-bodied people when they become dependent on income without the need to be productive or responsible, and why should people who don’t need a UBI, receive it?
Poverty is the result of many factors such as education and vocational training, age, health, and initiative. Those factors need to be addressed rather than simply giving money to anyone and everyone, including those that don’t need it.
The growth of secularism and socialism in America has opened the door for this proposal. Secularism opposes personal and voluntary charity because it is based on religious beliefs, and religion doesn’t work (according the great socialist philosophers like Marx and Engels) in a humanistic socialist society.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and free money for the poor is another one of those ideas. This idea is more about the growth of government power, the control and redistribution of wealth and resources, and less about helping the poor out of poverty. UBI will destroy personal incentive and create economic dependence…and it will buy the votes of people who depend on the program.
Remember, give a man a fish, and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, and he feeds himself. The worst nightmare for devils and dictators are politically and economically independent people.