Universal basic income is a very real concept, which is to guarantee the provision of all basic material needs for every person without any conditions, restrictions, or coercion, such as working. Everyone should regularly receive funds from the state sufficient for a decent life, just like that, by birthright, regardless of any conditions.
How does this work?
Every person receives a fixed and equal amount of money from the state each month throughout his life, regardless of age, sex, occupation, employment and income. This money can be used as he or she sees fit.
The unconditional basic income replaces all existing benefits, privileges and exemptions, equalizing people in their rights and financial opportunities. Thus, a basic income saves the cost of maintaining a huge army of bureaucrats who accrue pensions, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, etc., and frees people from the paperwork required to obtain them.
In the Creative Society, an unconditional basic income would be the basis for a person’s material base. Its amount should be sufficient for everyone to live a decent life. Housing, food, clothing, utilities and other household needs should be provided by a basic income.
Today there is no consensus on the size of the unconditional basic income: whether it should be the same throughout a person’s life or different amounts should be set for different ages, for example, for children. Either way, everyone of the same age should receive the same amount of basic income.
Is this even viable?
The idea of a basic income originated centuries ago, was almost approved by the British Parliament in the middle of the last century, and has been explored by many scientists, including Nobel Prize winners, ever since.
In 1986, a group of scientists and researchers founded the European Basic Income Network, which already in 2004 was transformed into a World Network with more than 130 markers in more than 45 countries on the map. And this is only the official representations!
At the end of the 1960s, experiments began. Their number is already counted in dozens. Even more have been conducted in the last 5 years alone.
The best known experiments are in countries such as:
- Canada (Manitoba 1975-1978, Ontario 2017-2018);
- United States (New Jersey 1968-1972, Seattle and Denver 1970-1980, North Carolina 1970-1972, Indiana 1971-1974, California 2019-present, North Carolina 1996-present, Oakland 2019, and Stockton, Santa Clara, Santa Monica, Jackson, Mayors for a Guaranteed Income project covering 30 cities). Basic income payments to all Alaska residents began in 1982 and continue to this day;
- Germany (My Basic Income 2014-present; HartzPlus 2019-2022; German Institute for Economic Research Project 2021-2024);
- Finland (2017-2019);
- Brazil (from 2003, 2008-2014; since 2013);
- India (2011-2013);
- Namibia (2008-2009);
- Kenya (since 2016).
Smaller experiments have been conducted in Spain and Italy, Russia and Ukraine, China and South Korea, Japan and Uganda.
Iran and Mongolia are the only countries in the world in which the basic income has been paid for several years in the entire state.
There is another experience: the citizens of Switzerland voted against the introduction of a basic income in a referendum in 2016.
Why work then?
The results of experiments with basic income show:
- For the most part, people continue to work, but can afford to give up a job they don’t like in favor of a more interesting one. In the 1970s, only 17% of women and 7% of men in the U.S. quit their jobs primarily to study.
- More people are getting an education. In 1970s Canada, more teenagers began graduating from high school rather than dropping out to look for work, and ended up finding better-paying jobs than their peers; young men began working 40-50% less, devoting more time to education.
- With a financial safety net, many dare to start their own businesses.
So what do the powerful think?
For the past 6 years, an increasing number of political parties and figures around the world have supported the idea of a basic income, and in Germany, for example, the “Basic Income League” party was created in 2016 with the sole aim of introducing a basic income in the country. In the fall of 2020, the leaders of Russia’s political parties spoke out for the first time for the introduction of a basic income. EU citizens have a whole year until September 25, 2021 to support the Citizens’ Initiative, which aims to introduce a basic income in all EU countries.
Not only social activists, politicians and clergymen, including Pope Francis, are in favor of the basic income. The richest people on the planet support the introduction of an unconditional basic income and are willing to finance it:
- eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar funded the basic income experiment in Kenya;
- Sam Altman, as President of Y Combinator, personally donated $10 million to YC Research, which funded the basic income experiment in Oakland, USA;
- Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes funded a basic income experiment in Stockton, S.C;
- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey gave $3 million in July 2020 and another $15 million in December 2020 to fund the “Mayors for a Guaranteed Income” project to pay a basic income to needy residents in 30 U.S. cities;
- Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has pledged $9 million in 2020 for basic income payments.
The list of supporters of basic income is being expanded by such famous names as Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Stuart Butterfield, Albert Wenger, Goetz Werner, Tim Cook, Andrew Eun, Raymond Kurzweil, Tim O’Reilly, Rutger Bregman, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Is there enough money?
Albert Wenger, managing partner of Union Square Ventures, writes: “There is enough tangible capital in the world, but it is misallocated. A proper redistribution will result in unconditional basic income.
Under current conditions, the main source of funding for unconditional basic income should be the funds freed up by eliminating all existing social support programs and nullifying the entire bureaucracy that administers them. But even proponents of the idea admit that this is clearly insufficient, and contemplate taxes.
In the Creative Society, there is no need to raise or introduce new taxes to finance basic income. The new-format society frees up enormous funds that are currently being used unproductively:
1) funds used for armaments
the Creative Society is a peaceful society without wars and conflicts.
In 2019, military spending exceeded $1.9 trillion.
What are the alternatives to using this amount in the Creative Society?
- Build 170,000 new hospital buildings;
- Make 760 million wells to provide clean drinking water;
- Build about 2 million kilometers of railroad – more than 50 times around the Earth’s equator;
- Build 32 million modern private homes;
- Create 2.6 million MRI machines;
- Build 300,000 new schools and kindergartens;
- Buy 2-bedroom apartments in new buildings for 95 million families. Such a program for families of 4 people would solve the housing problem for 380 million people – that’s almost 3 such countries as Russia;
- Fund 340 budgets for science;
- Beat illiteracy 80 times;
- Fly to Mars 3 to 260 times;
- To issue penny coins and pave the road to the Sun with them.
2) the maintenance of the customs apparatus
In the Creative Society there should be freedom of movement and movement around the planet;
3) the maintenance of law enforcement agencies
One of the foundations of the Creative Society is security, including economic security. Conditions are created when the need to commit criminal acts and offenses is minimized. Therefore, the police and other law enforcement services require minimal costs;
4) saving government expenditures by eliminating ineffective government programs and government procurement
One of the foundations of the Creative Society is transparency and openness of information for all – all financial flows of the state and its contractors are available for everyone to see. Under such conditions the existence of kickbacks is impossible, and funds are spent precisely for the purposes for which they were allocated;
5) private donations and charity
At present many philanthropists are not fully confident that the funds they allocate will be used for the intended purpose. Openness and transparency of money flows in the Creative Society level out this drawback of the current system.
All that is required is to eliminate all unnecessary and unproductive expenditures and reformat the economy to focus on the individual and his needs.
Moreover, in the Creative Society, the cost of goods and services would fall substantially. Thus, the amount of money needed to provide a decent life for each person would be reduced. In turn, a much smaller amount will be needed to finance basic income.
How can these prices be lowered?
Reducing the cost of production in the Creative Society will ensure:
1) The abolition of lending interest. Virtually all business now resorts to financing through credit, which raises the prices of goods and services because of the need to cover the interest paid on loans and mortgages.
2) Automation of production – robots and machines will replace a significant portion of manual labor.
3) The elimination of the enormous cost of advertising, which is built into the cost of goods and services. Advertising is only necessary to encourage us to consume, i.e. in our present consumer society. In the Creative Society, simply informing us on a specially designed Internet platform is enough.
Advertising spending was $537 billion in 2018 and will rise to $563 billion by 2021.
If that amount were used to buy grain, each person on the planet would get 800 grams of wheat every day. Only by cutting advertising costs can we eliminate world hunger!
$537 billion is a colossal amount! It is comparable to the GDP of 5 countries, such as Kazakhstan ($164 billion), Ukraine ($135 billion), Bulgaria ($67 billion), Belarus ($61 billion) and Slovakia ($110 billion). Just imagine: the inhabitants of 5 countries work all year long without spending a penny just to cover the advertising costs.
4) Eliminating unnecessary overproduction of goods – a sensible planned economy that will produce only the goods we need.
5) Doing away with oil, gas and all traditional sources of energy in the form of hydrocarbons. The development of science will allow the use of alternative energy sources.