Mo’ money, mo’ problems?
With society’s gap between rich and poor widening and the pinch on our own wallets tightening, everyone is desperately seeking the ultimate solution to the current financial climate which, to be quite honest, has always been shit. The strain on welfare in Britain has meant that many in desperate need of help remain on the periphery of society and the crisis regarding homelessness and food shortages seems unsolvable. Even for our generation, the money debate has sat at the centre of everything from rising taxes and student fees to the disproportionate relationship between housing prices and wages. I’m personally getting a bit bored of the ‘millennials are poor and helpless’ comments, aren’t you? Countless governments have tried (and failed) to relieve Britain’s money problems- but have we already found the solution?
So what’s the BIG idea?
Universal Basic Income (UBI)– the BIG idea- was thought up by some fella called Johannes, from the 1500s, who is said to be the forefather. Obviously, today it looks very different to the theories he dreamt up because well, it’s 2017, but the general concept remains intact.
The idea is that the government pays EVERYONE individually (apart from those who are serving time and probably babies) the same monthly income unconditionally, regardless of other earnings. The main aim is to attempt to relieve poverty and make the distribution of money fairer across society. In theory, this works because it means that everyone has some money to get by, but if I’m honest, in my opinion it’s filled with flaws.
Who has implemented it?
A handful of countries including the Netherlands and Canada (an unexpected participant) have begun discussing the idea of Universal Basic Income which claims to combine the best parts of socialism and capitalism (are there any?). In January this year, Finland conducted its first ‘experiment’ handing out payments to 2000 people who currently receive unemployment benefits. Still in it’s early days, nobody knows if the effect is positive as of yet.
“the idea of a monthly cash deposit is attractive- if not a bit dangerous.”
Should we give it chance?
Apart from the fairy idealism that it removes inequality (which it can’t) and prevents financial worries (which it probably won’t) it allows workers to reduce their hours, train without having to work for free and rewards those who volunteer (but it’s not really volunteering then is it). Apparently it also allows us to pursue the career we want without worrying about how we will finance it (does that mean the end of unpaid internships?). I must admit though as a resident of London, THE most expensive city on the planet (according to me), the idea of a monthly cash deposit is attractive- if not a bit dangerous. But I can’t help feeling it sounds too good to be true, sort of like when Topshop tells you that you can have £15 off your purchase… if you spend £75. That ain’t a deal.
Okay so why is it bullshit then?
For so many reasons… Firstly, I think it removes the incentive for hard work. If you can reduce your hours and still receive some form of regular payment, who is to say that soon you won’t be working more than an hour a week?
And surely if you live in London you need more financial support than if you live outside of the capital city? It was proposed that in the UK we’d receive around £77 a week. Well I hope the price of beer and chocolate vastly reduces otherwise I’ll be in serious trouble.
Supporters also claim that UBI isn’t means tested, but ignoring people’s needs (such as parents who have a family to support and the disabled) not only belittles their situation but puts them at risk of struggling financially.
“And the big question on my lips- who the fuck is paying for it all?”
On the UBI official website, it claims that “by contrast, a basic income is paid as a matter of right – and not under false pretences – to homemakers, students, break-takers and permanent tramps.” (Break-takers? Is that actually a thing?) On paper, this does make sense to some degree, but people will still manage to abuse this system, and someone somewhere will end up worse off for it. Some people reckon it will make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
An article from the National Review claims that the underlying message of UBI- which relieves people of any responsibility towards other people or the ‘you do you’ attitude- is in someway its biggest flaw. We all have a responsibility towards each other and if anything this could make society even more selfish.
But the really big question is, what do you think?