As the semester pulls to a close, I realize there is so much left to figure out about poverty in America. We’ve talked about different elements, from pay inequality to housing to food options. So many of the issues are solvable, but it’s hard to find a common solution to all of them.
At the beginning of class this week, our professor asked us if we thought that Universal Basic Income (UBI) would work. We all responded with the usual questions of how would it work, wouldn’t people want to stop working?
To answer how, we looked at different articles. This article, written by an economist and an economy professor, discusses exactly how we could make this work. The article discusses exactly where the money for a $1000 UBI could come from. They talk about cutting welfare programs, taking away tax returns, and adding a slight increase to taxes on goods and service.
The second question’s answer comes from a TED talk by Rutger Bregman (pictured to the right), a celebrated journalist, historian, philosopher, and economist. Bregman answers the question simply by asking the audience, “If I were to give you $1000 a month, would you stop working? 99 percent of you will say of course not. But if I said that I was going to give $1000 a month to other people, 99 percent of you would worry about them not working anymore.”
This eliminates the entire argument. If the majority of people who receive the UBI still work, then what becomes the problem from then on?
This isn’t something that is just a passing thought, or a passing theory. As reported by The Guardian, Ontario, Canada has decided to implement a UBI for the summer, just to see how it works. It will be a study with about 4000 people who are all low income or in precarious job situations. It’ll be interesting to see how this experiment turns out and if other countries follow the experiment.
By Kate Sahagian