Universal Basic Income (UBI) is getting worldwide attention recently, as an idea whose time has come.
The concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is not new, people like Thomas Paine was for it (at the founding of America he called it the “Citizens’ dividend”), Martin Luther King advocated about it one year before he was killed, while many economists say that UBI would be great for the economy.
The policy actually passed the house of representatives twice under President
Richard Nixon the year 1971, and the reason it didn’t pass was because democrats wanted a higher income threshold.
In the 1790s the radical thinkers Tom Paine and Thomas Spence were among the first to advocate the payment of a Basic Income as a right to all citizens. In this paper we outline Paine’s position, as set out in The Rights of Man (1791-1792) and in Agrarian Justice (1795), and compare it with the case made by Spence in The Rights of Infants (1797).
The reason UBI would be the perfect policy for America is obvious, it complies and enhances our free values.
The fact that it is given to everyone means that the program will be resilient, and that it would not stigmatize the poor.
The best thing about UBI is that it does not expand the size of government, it has no risk of creating any kind of bureaucracy, meaning that the policy would not have the effects of dependency that welfare programs tend to create sometimes.
It’s obvious, but some people are getting confused so we have to mention the following, Universal Basic Income is not a form of socialism as Andrew Yang has also argued, UBI is capitalism where income doesn’t start at zero.