Why UBI?

As you may know, one of the key planks of the TSAP party platform is a Universal Basic Income (UBI) Guarantee for all, which is exactly what it sounds like.  It can be effectively implemented and funded in a number of ways, some of which we support, while others we are neutral about or even against.  As a general rule, the more universal and unconditional it is, and the more generally progressive the funding source is (whether it's traditional income or consumption taxes, Georgist-style taxes, Pigouvian taxes, carbon taxes, financial transactions taxes, money creation, or some combination of these) the more likely we are to support it, provided that the overall numbers actually add up.  But support the overall idea, we certainly do 100%, full stop.

This page is a rather humorous question-and-answer list of "why should I support UBI?" as well as a general FAQ as well.

WHY SHOULD I SUPPORT UBI?

Q:  I am a liberal/progressive Democrat.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Why shouldn't you would be a better question.  At least if you are a genuine, true-blue progressive, the values that you generally hold dear (liberty, equality, justice, inclusiveness, tolerance, care, concern for the less fortunate, and anti-authoritarianism) are easily and self-evidently reflected in such a policy.  And compared to most of the social programs you do support, a UBI would deliver far more bang for the buck and be simpler as well.  And it would also be a permanent economic stimulus as well as give the working class far more bargaining power then they currently have.  If you don't think you share those values, you might want to ask yourself why you even call yourself a liberal or a progressive in the first place.

A Universal Basic Income's effects include greatly reducing if not abolishing poverty as well as reducing economic inequality and insecurity.  All without inadvertently penalizing hard work or economies of scale the way many of the programs it would replace do.  And a more equal nation without poverty is a nation with less crime, violence, misery, fear, urban decay, physical and mental illnesses, and other social problems as well.  What's not to like about UBI?

Plus, if your party ever adopts a good enough version of it, and the Republicans don't, your opponents will not stand a chance next time.

Q:  I am a conservative Republican.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  As counterintuitive as it may sound, there are solid reasons why you should support it, as long as you are part of the conservative right and not the "alt-right" or the extremist wing of the religious right.  The values you hold dear, such as individual rights, free enterprise, fiscal discipline, small government, simplicity, and respect for the family are indeed reflected in the UBI far more than any of the programs it would potentially replace.   And unlike many other programs, there are no perverse incentives that penalize hard work, and certainly no marriage penalties either.  It neither punishes success nor rewards failure.  On balance, if high enough to eliminate or greatly reduce poverty, it can actually save society more money than it would cost in the long run, given that poverty and its consequences are extremely costly to society, and those costs eventually get passed down to the consumer, worker, and taxpayer.  In other words, pay a little more now, or pay a LOT more later.  That sounds, dare I say, fiscally conservative.

As I like to say, if everyone's on the dole, then no one is really on the dole.  And if everyone's a rentier, then no one's really a rentier.

Also, consider Alaska, a red state previously governed by Sarah Palin.  Their Alaska Permanent Fund, which she supported, is basically a form of UBI by another name. Google it if you don't believe me.

Plus, if your party ever adopts a good enough version of it, and the Democrats don't, your opponents will not stand a chance next time.  The odds of Alaska going blue anytime soon are slim to none, unless the Democrats credibly promise to greatly increase their Alaska Permanent Fund dividends.

Q:  I am a libertarian.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  On the surface, a UBI may seem like just another big-goverment program to the untrained eye.  But in practice, it is the next best thing to privatization without the drawbacks, and would in fact promote individual liberty while reducing dependency on the government on balance.  It is far simpler, more streamlined, and non-intrusive compared to most of the programs it would replace, effectively shrinking the size of government while getting far more bang for your buck.  And if such a citizen's dividend is funded entirely Georgist-style land value taxes and severance taxes on natural resources, and/or perhaps the Universal Exchange Tax, it is 100% compatible with both the pre-16th Amendment version of Constitution you adore and the ideology of all but the most extreme libertarians, Objectivists, and Rothbardian anarcho-capitalists.  And if done that way, there is no need to appeal to the notion of positive rights or duty of care to justify the concept.

And even if you are a purist who believes that "all taxation is theft", note that UBI can be funded entirely by money creation without costing taxpayers one cent.  Unless you actually adhere to the Austrian School of Crank Economics, and take their cranky ideas literally, there is really no libertarian reason to oppose UBI.

And best of all, it is literally the antithesis of the sort of paternalism that you (and us at the TSAP) can't stand.  It actually trusts and empowers We the People to manage our own lives and money without interference.  It neither punishes success nor rewards failure.  No means test, no discrimination, no strings attached.  What other government program does that?

Also, consider Alaska, a red state that leans quite libertarian.  Their Alaska Permanent Fund is basically a form of UBI by another name. Google it if you don't believe me.

And besides, it is a great way to triangulate any of your political opponents who don't support it as well.

Q:  I am a socialist.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  If you have to ask that question, you are probably not really a socialist.  Even if UBI fails your ideological purity test, we all know what they say about making the perfect the enemy of the good.  That said, it is entirely possible to support a UBI without being a socialist.  A UBI can indeed coexist with either public, private, or mixed ownership of the means of production.

Q:  I am a Marxist.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  See the previous answer.  Anything that gives the working class more bargaining power should be right up your alley.  Though you should probably dispense with the outdated notion that life is a zero-sum game, as that was Karl Marx's fatal flaw (along with that whole "dictatorship of the proletariat" thingy).

Q:  I am a labor union member.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Because it would give workers like you far more bargaining power since no one would any longer be forced to put up with adverse working conditions and low wages just to survive.  That would benefit both union and non-union workers alike, as unions would become stronger, and mutually-reinforcing spillovers would occur both ways.

Q:  I am a Producerist.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Let's see.  Producerists (usually right-wing) complain about themselves as "producers" being squeezed from both above and below by both the very rich and very poor "moochers", respectively.  All too often racialized and anti-Semitic overtones aside (with plenty of dog-whistles, of course), producerism has long been a perennial staple among a rather large chunk of the white working class (and middle class), and this ideology seems to have played a key role in Trump winning those crucial Rust Belt states along with traditionally red states in 2016--not to mention the deeper question of why so many red states are so damn red to begin with in general.  So how does UBI fit into all this?  Well, if everyone's on the dole, then no one's really on the dole. And if everyone's a rentier, then no one's really a rentier either.  Those are essentially the two classes of "moochers" according to producerists--and just like that, they are now rendered completely meaningless via UBI since everyone will now be receiving passive income regardless.  Of course, producerists would then have to find something else to complain about--or admit that they were really just racist and/or anti-Semitic bigots all along (and hopefully atone for all that shortly afterward as well).

Q:  I am a (neo-)Keynesian.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Because it would be a permanent economic stimulus, that's why.   Especially if it is funded by "deficit" spending, which is really just a thinly-veiled form of money creation authorized by Congress.

Q:  I am a Kelsonian.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  I assume you mean a follower of economist Louis Kelso, not the fictional Michael Kelso from That '70's Show.  Louis Kelso himself opposed the idea, mainly because all proposals at the time involved funding the UBI with taxes.  His argument against it is a little wonky, and while we applaud anyone who can squeeze the word "usufruct" into a sentence, that argument would not apply to UBI funded by either Georgist-style land value taxes and severance taxes (like Alaska currently does with oil taxes) or by money creation.  To argue otherwise is a category mistake.

Thus, as a Kelsonian, you may drop your reservations to UBI if it is funded by money creation or Georgist-style taxes and support it just as vigorously as you support the  Capital Homestead Act.

Q:  I follow the Austrian School of Crank Economics.   Why should I support UBI?

A:  Actually, you shouldn't support UBI (or anything even remotely similar) since the artificial scarcity that your crank science policies create would categorically preclude it altogether.  That is, until you wake up and realize that the Austrian School really doesn't lead anywhere good, and leave it behind for good along with the gold standard that we left behind in 1971. Then, and only then, can you and should you support UBI.

Q:  I am a Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) supporter.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Because there is literally no good reason not to.  DUH!  If money is infinite, as per MMT, why not share at least some of it equitably as a citizens' dividend?  It will solve so many social and economic problems at essentially no cost.  Really.

You may personally prefer a Job Guarantee (JG) instead, because reasons, but note that even many die-hard JG supporters admittedly also favor some sort of UBI in addition to JG, so no one falls through the otherwise inevitable "cracks" that will form due to both logistical and non-logistical issues present even in a best-case scenario of JG.  In the absence of a meaningful UBI, a JG can all too easily devolve into economic coercion of the desperate and less fortunate--kinda like "workfare" is now.  And all of this is still true even if JG (or a JG-shaped scheme) were ostensibly expanded to include currently unpaid work (housework, caregiving, volunteering, etc.), which will have even greater logistical problems.

So our response is:  "Why not both?"

Q:  I am a Utilitarian.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Because on balance, there is literally no good reason NOT to support it.  It will improve the economy, reduce if not abolish poverty and its related individual and social costs, and even reduce crime according to studies.  Thus a UBI of any size will indeed maximize utility for all concerned compared to no UBI, while saving society far more than it would cost.

Q:  I am a tech giant.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk both support it.  And several futurists such as Walter Baltzley support at least some version of it as well, and certainly Buckminster Fuller woud have as well. Need I say more?

Q:  I am Pro-Choice.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  If you are truly pro-choice, you would want to support ALL reproductive choices, in the positive and not just in the negative.  And by reducing if not eradicating poverty, UBI will help empower women (and men) to do so.

Q:  I am Pro-Life.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  If you are truly pro-life and not merely pro-birth or anti-choice, you would support parents and children after birth as well as before.  And by reducing if not eradicating poverty, and boosting everyone's incomes, it will reduce the financial incentives that lead to so many abortions in the first place.  And poverty itself kills many children, so eradicating it is a good in itself.  Thus if you call yourself "pro-life" but oppose UBI, you are really not being intellectually honest.

Q:  I am a Veteran.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  First and foremost, we would like to thank you for your service.  As cliche and platitudinous as that statement may sound, there is much truth to that nonetheless.  We are the land of the free because of the brave, after all.  And you fight so the rest of us don't have to.

Secondly, we are well aware of how so many of you Vets continue to slip through the gaping cracks in what passes for our nation's social safety net.  After hearing story after heartbreaking story about how so many of you are unemployed or even homeless and destitute, to say nothing of the visible and invisible wounds of war that you carry with you, it is painfully clear that the oligarchy has shamefully chosen to use you up and throw you away like so much garbage.  Much needs to be done to rectify this massive crisis on both the front end and back end, and a UBI (which would essentially seal the biggest cracks in the social safety net) would be a great start.

Some of course may argue that such a universal scheme would somehow cheapen your service since everyone gets it regardless, much like the arguments against single-payer Medicare For All and free college, but those who say such nonsense are either 1) zero-sum thinkers, 2) non-veterans, and/or 3) being completely disingenuous about their agenda.  None of these things will in reality cheapen what you have done for our country, since no one can take that away from you.

Q:  I am an anti-racist activist and/or a person of color.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Because racism and classism are ultimately very closely linked, and both routinely feed off of each other.  Poverty makes racism that much worse overall, and  UBI will go a long way to help level the currently tilted playing field.  Also, it can be considered a sort of stealthy way to pay reparations for slavery, Jim Crow, Trail of Tears, etc. as well.  And for what it's worth, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also supported the general idea of UBI or guaranteed income.

Q:  I am Native American, or otherwise Indigenous.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Because it's beyond payback time!  That alone is reason enough!  (Also see the previous answer as well.)

Q:  I am a feminist.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Because, as Judith Schulevitz famously said, "its payback time for women".  And it's true.  Under patriarchy, women do two kinds of work--underpaid, and unpaid.  A UBI would indeed provide long-overdue compensation for Women's unpaid work (i.e. housework and caregiving) that society currently takes for granted and considers a free resource for the taking.  And such a policy would do so in a way that is politically possible as well.

It will also further empower women to no longer be financially dependent on men, thus reducing the chances that abusive men would abuse and exploit women and/or children.

And for intersectional feminists, it would be clear that patriarchy intersects with racism, classism, ableism, adultism, etc., and a UBI high enough to abolish poverty would go a very long way towards smashing the kyriarchy, as the axe of poverty is one of that evil system's most feared weapons of all.

Q:  I am a stay-at-home mother.  Why should I support UBI?

Because it's about time you were actually compensated for all of the unpaid work you do.  And in today's economy, it has become increasingly difficult for most people to pull off what you are currently doing since most wages have lagged behind the cost of living.  A UBI would help close this growing gap.

Q:  I am a Men's Rights Activist.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  If you are simply a disingenuous misogynistic troll who opposes feminism while having the GALL to ask why no woman would touch you with a ten-foot pole, then this question is NOT for you.  Move along now.  But if you are just a bit misguided and really believe in liberty and justice for all and think that men are somehow being oppressed by women and feminism when in reality all of your grievances are a result of patriarchy backfiring on men, then allow us to enlighten you.  Men are indeed oppressed by--wait for it--OTHER MEN, particularly those at the top of the pyramid scheme that is the kyriarchy.  And patriarchy is the crux of this whole evil system.  All the more reasons for beta males to unite with women and overthrow the ruling alpha males.

Besides, I know many of you like to whine about child support and its related pet peeves of yours.  What better idea than to actually make such a thing OBSOLETE?  If a UBI is set high enough, that can happen, particularly when women eventually become the richer gender in the future.

Q:  I am an environmentalist.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  A UBI would make it possible for us to end our inane and insane addiction to growth for the sake of growth, the ideology of the cancer cell, which eventually kills its host.  No longer would we need to keep growing to ruin just so people's basic needs can be met.  No longer would workers be forced to take jobs that destroy the environment.  And it would be possible to dramatically shorten the workweek, which would save a massive amount of energy and carbon emissions both from the jobs themselves as well as commuting.  And people could now afford to live closer to work, thus with shorter (and thus less energy-consuming and polluting) commutes as well.  Note that a UBI can also double as a carbon tax and dividend if it is funded by a severance tax on oil, coal, and gas.

Some ideological purists may object that a UBI would just be a sop to Big Business and that people would just abuse their newfound money and free time by traveling and consuming more.  Some detractors even make references to Brave New World or self-stimulating rats (while of course ignoring the counter-evidence from Rat Park).  While there may be a kernel of truth to that claim in the short term, there really isn't much in the way of hard evidence to back that claim up, and even so would thus act as a sort of "green Keynesian" stimulus that even many steady-staters and degrowthers advocate in the short term to "prime the pump" and make the longer-term transition to sustainability possible after getting us all out of the rut we have been stuck in.  I know this is non-linear thinking, of course, but keep in mind that Mother Nature is not exactly linear either, of course.

Plus, a UBI would go a very long way towards ending the twin addictions to both economic and population growth, which are literally killing the planet.  And it will do so in the most humane and ethical way possible.

Q:  I am a Christian.  Why should I support support UBI?

A:  If you really are a "red-letter Christian" who follows the words of Jesus Christ himself, this question should be a no-brainer as per the Gospels.  Ask yourself, "What Would Jesus Do", and there is your answer.  He never once charged money to the multitudes for his miracles, and had a lot to say about how we as a society should treat the less fortunate.  But you believe that "he who will not work, neither shall he eat", keep in mind that Jesus himself never actually said that.  And that line of reasoning, written by (presumably) Paul at a time and place when growing food was extremely difficult, is now inherently obsolete, since with today's technology we simply do not NEED everybody and their mother to "work for a living" except of course to make the already rich even richer.

Some may trot out another old chestnut, namely the "weaker brother" verses (i.e. 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 and Romans 14:13-23) and the idea that UBI might somehow "cause them to stumble", but again, in both cases that was Paul, not Jesus, who said that.  And not only is it far more nuanced than one may realize, it's applicability to UBI is specious at best, and positively conflicts with both the words and deeds of Christ himself.  Furthermore, one can even argue that NOT implementing UBI when we have the means to do so is far more likely to cause one to stumble in today's world by creating unnecessary desperation via artificial scarcity.  Therefore, opposing UBI for that specious reason would thus be downright pharisaical, intellectually dishonest, and ultimately an example of scrupulosity becoming a sin in itself.

Q:  I am Catholic and I support Distributism based on Catholic social teaching.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  See the questions/answers above as for why Christians in general, conservatives, pro-lifers, and even Kelsonians should support UBI.  Again, ask yourself "What Would Jesus Do?" if he was around today.  Ask yourself the same about the Blessed Virgin Mary as well.  If you are still feeling an unshakeable cognitive dissonance in regards to UBI and its compatibility with Catholicism, think very hard--you may want to re-evaluate your relationship with your religion, its dogmas, and its leaders.

Q:  I am Amish.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  First of all, if you really were Amish, you would not be reading this on this website, or on the Internet at all for that matter, lol. Secondly, since your religion and culture refuses all benefits from the government on principle, you will most likely refuse this one as well.  But if you may reconsider, see the previous responses about why UBI is different, and perhaps you may choose to carve out an exception for it.  Cheers!

Q:  I am politically apathetic, but I hate Donald Trump.  Why should I support UBI?

To guarantee that Trump or someone like him or worse could never, EVER, come to power again in the future.  Did you know that Hillary Clinton almost ran on such an idea, but abandoned it at the last minute?  And that Bernie never even bothered with it?  Had either of them done so, they could have easily creamed the Donald, and all of the Russian hackers, emails, bureaucrats, trolls, and Trumpanzees could not have stopped Hillary.  The key Rust Belt states would have been taken from Trump, instead of the other way around.  And as they say, the rest is history, and hindsight is indeed 2020, pun intended of course.

Q:  I am a Trump supporter.  Why should I support UBI?

First, may I ask WHY you still support him after all he has done and failed to do thus far?  Be honest now.  If the answer is because you are a white supremacist and/or misogynistic asshole, then there's the door, buddy.  Don't let it hit you on the way out.

But if, on the other hand, the answer is because you basically fell for the biggest con-man in history this side of P.T. Barnum, I would hope that by now you have finally come to your senses and realized that all of his promises are built on nothing but sand.   And that if you are brutally honest with yourself, you would realize that Bernie or Hillary would have been far better at addressing your concerns, and I bet you secretly wish you hadn't voted for the Donald but can't bear to admit it.

So how does UBI figure into all of this?  Well, it would certianly work better at alleviating your economic concerns than any of Trump's empty promises to bring back jobs to America, especially the Rust Belt and coal country.  The biggest job-killer of all is "technological unemployment" from automation, robotics, and stuff like that, and only a UBI (albeit ideally combined with other initiatives) would be enough to protect against the dark side of technological progress.  By all means, we should bring outsourced/offshored jobs back to America, and those that can't come back should be at least partially replaced with better ones to rebuild America.  Indeed, Bernie was all for that and actually had a plan for that.  But we also need to shorten the workweek to distribute the remaining jobs after technology inevitably wins out over obsolescence, and ultimately heed the words of the late, great Buckminster Fuller about doing away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody needs to earn a living.  Beacause even with today's technology, there is really no need for everyone to do so except for the fact that the oligarchs are hoarding wealth and rigging the game in their favor.

Q:  I am an authoritarian/totalitarian control freak.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Actually, you shouldn't support UBI.  Such a thing would make it harder for you to control the masses, not easier.  By the way, there's the door.

Q:  I am an oligarch, plutocrat, kleptocrat, and/or robber baron.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Actually, you shouldn't support UBI.  Such a thing would make it harder for you to control the masses, not easier.  It would give the broader working class far more bargaining power, and you can't have that.  They might even have the GALL to organize and revitalize the labor union movement once again.  The horrors!

Q:  I am a conspiracy theorist.  Why should I support UBI?

A:  Because if the forces of good do not implement it sooner, like yesterday, the forces of evil will surely beat us to it, albeit after deliberately wrecking the economy and revoking many if not all of our civil rights.  Only in the latter case, there will be PLENTY of strings attached, thus not a true UBI but rather a gross perversion of same, and more like neo-feudalism.  Food for thought.

GENERAL FAQ:

Q1:  Will it cause people to stop working?

A1:  The best studies find this not to be the case, and perhaps even the opposite, at least not in the aggregate.  Some studies find a modest reduction in  working hours, but even this is nuanced:  they tend to occur primarily for students and new mothers, which really is not a bad thing when you think about it.  Besides, the problem we have with the status quo is too many people working too many hours, putting downward pressure on both wages and quality of life, combined with increases in technological unemployment.

And unlike traditional means-tested welfare programs, there are no perverse incetives or welfare traps (that is, cutoffs or rules that would theoretically reduce marginal work effort) with UBI.  Though we must note, even with traditional means-tested welfare, all bandied-about stereotypes aside, the hard evidence that it actually makes a significant chunk of its recipients lazy (compared to if they didn't receive it) is sorely lacking.

Q2:  How will we pay for it?

A2:  A UBI of an amount as high as $12,000 per adult per year (and half that amount for people under 18), or perhaps even higher, can be paid for with some combination of the following:
  • Money currently spent on existing social welfare programs that will become obsolete (if the UBI is a high amount)
  • Financial transactions taxes, such as the Universal Exchange Tax
  • Land value taxes and severance taxes on natural resources such as oil (see the current Alaska Permanent Fund)
  • Very progressive income taxes
  • A National Sales Tax or Value Added Tax (VAT) (which 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang recommends)
  • "Taxing the robots" (yes, really)
  • Money creation (as long as it spent into existence interest-free, and not lent into existence at interest).  This is the ideal method in that there is no need to raise anyone's taxes to pay for it.
  • So-called "deficit spending", which (at the federal level) is really just a form of money creation (see above), literally spending money into existence.  Yes, really.
And there you have it.  To avoid overheating the economy and/or causing a short-term budget shortfall, it would perhaps be best to start it at $2000 per person per year, then gradually increase it each year until the target amount is reached.  Up until $6000, the amount should be the same regardless of age, and above that level the rate for people under 18 should be at least half the adult rate (say, $12,000 vs. $6000).  And of course, if a young person becomes emancipated before 18, they too should get the full adult rate.

Alternatively, we could start it out as a carbon tax-and-dividend, say $40/ton and increased by $15/ton each year, which would if distributed equally to all citizens would be $100/month in the first year and $300/month in the third year, and would subsequently grow from there.

Or, we could, you know, simply dispense with the Big Lie charade that federal taxes actually pay for federal spending, stop pretending that we even need to use taxpayer dollars, and pay for the UBI (and anything else for that matter) with Overt Congressional Financing (OCF).   In other words, straight-up money creation authorized by Congress for routine government spending, in lieu of taxes or borrowing.  Then, suddenly there would not be any knee-jerk reaction to that frequently used word, "expensive".  But that is a topic for another discussion.

Q3: Won't everybody just have their hand out and no one will be producing?

A3:  Perhaps in Ayn Rand's fantasy world, but there is no evidence that would happen in the real world.  See Question #1.  Also, see here as well.

Q4:  Shouldn't we do it for the entire world, not just America?

A4:  Yes, but we gotta start somewhere.  And if it were for the entire world, then we should not be the only nation to fund it.  A global UBI would best be funded, at lesst in part, by a Tobin Tax on foreign currency exchange (FOREX) transactions.

Q5:  Isn't targeted and conditional aid a better bang for the buck?  Why waste money by giving it to people who don't truly need it?

A5:  In theory, yes.  But in practice, targeted and conditional aid can create perverse incentives for the recipients as well as undermine public support for such aid.  That is why those who wish to privatize Social Security want to first "means test" it, and thus make it more like "welfare".  In contrast, if everyone's on the dole, then no one's really on the dole.   And none of the money is really "wasted", since it will eventually be spent and recirculated through the economy, thus providing a stimulus that benefits us all.  Life is not a zero-sum game, after all.

And even though everyone gets the same amount, that same amount will have a larger "effect size" on the poor and vulnerable.  And when combined with a progressive tax code, it can also decrease inequality as well as poverty.

Q6:  Wouldn't a Job Guarantee (JG) program be better?

A6:  While a Job Guarantee (JG) program is something that we at the TSAP also support, the truth is that there are some things that a JG can't do that a UBI can (and vice-versa) so we consider the two programs to be complements rather than substitutes.  A JG is good, but without a UBI in the age of ever-increasing globalization and automation it will inevitably (sooner or later) generate a large amount of "make-work", "featherbedding", "boondoggles", anf "bridges to nowhere" in addition to the useful and meaningful work that it is supposed to generate.  Combining it with a UBI will help ensure that only useful and meaningful work will be generated, while also avoiding the very real pitfalls of "workfare" programs.  And besides, Buckminster Fuller would likely be spinning in his grave otherwise (think "inspectors of inspectors and makers of instruments to inspect the inspectors").

Also, there are some very real logistical problems with a large-scale federal JG (that a UBI does not have), which will have to be ironed out before it can be implemented nationwide.  The key to such problems lies in the "guarantee" part of the concept--how exactly to truly guarantee it--otherwise it would simply be a WPA-style program (which we would support as well).  Also, it would be better for the jobs program to be administered from the ground up (by local communities) rather than from on-high by the feds, albeit funded by our Monetarily Sovereign federal government.

Q7:  Wouldn't wage subsidies be better, such as expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?

A7:  In a word, NO.  Wage subsidies (whether direct or indirect) are notorious for backfiring on workers.  The Speenhamland System in 18th and early 19th century England is a textbook example of this.  What happens in practice is that when the government tops up worker's wages--or any such credit or rebate like the EITC where you have to work to get it--employers have no incentive to pay a living wage, so they just pay workers less since they know that the government will pick up the slack and top up such wages. And most crucially, unlike a UBI, wage subsidies do NOT empower workers in terms of bargaining power.  Thus, in the long run, the effects of wage subsidies on workers end up being neutral at best, and the only reason the EITC has any positive effects at all is because it is so small, convoluted, and only some people get it--features that also make it less than ideal at the same time.

After all, the EITC is basically a cheap, watered-down, non-universal knockoff of the Negative Income Tax (itself a mild and prototypical version of UBI with a built-in gradual phaseout) favored by Nixon and Milton Friedman that almost passed but failed in the Senate.  So eventually Congress went for the "next best thing".  But make no mistake, wage subsidies of any kind, including the EITC, are NOT a UBI in any sense of the term.  It is neither universal, unconditional, nor enough to meet basic needs.

Granted, the TSAP would not oppose wage subsidies (such as automatically topping up existing paychecks as a "reverse payroll tax") in addition to a strong minimum wage and/or a strong UBI.  But the former is clearly no substitute for the latter.

Q8:  I don't think I will ever need a UBI, so why should my tax dollars pay for one?

A8:  Altruism vs. egoism aside, you could very easily say the same thing about virtually everything else the government pays for via our tax dollars.   That doesn't mean that is an accurate assessment.  We as a society are notoriously terrible at predicting what we as individuals will actually need in the future.  The truth is we ALL face some sort of financial if not existential risks, and the more evenly we spread the costs of such risks throughout society, the far less of a problem those risks become for everyone.  And most people thus come out way ahead in the long run. But go on thinking that you are invincible, buddy.  And if you are rich enough to actually be insulated from any such risk, well then, you SHOULD be paying for the massive "externalities" of the system that you disproportionately benefit from and practically write the rules for.

And news flash--YOU will benefit as well.

Q9:  Isn't this far too generous to the poor?  Especially the undeserving poor?

A9:  Too generous to the poor?  Seriously?  I'm sure if YOU were the one living in such dire straits, you would be singing a VERY different tune.  As for the so-called "undeserving" poor, define "undeserving".  Go on and spell out that which you are apparently far too craven to state openly.  Then get down off your high horse, take a good look in the mirror, and say "there but for fortune, may go you or I".  (Mic drop)

Q10:  How about simply abolishing the monetary system altogether?

A10:  While the TSAP would actually not oppose doing so in perhaps the very distant future, the fact remains that since we have had some sort of monetary system for so long, it would be much easier said than done to just get rid of it altogether.  Abolishing it overnight would hardly transform us into Star Trek overnight, after all.  We do think a gift economy should be the ultimate goal, but the best way to transition to one would be through reforming the monetary system to be interest-free, created by the Treasury rather than banksters, and abundantly available, such as through a UBI.  But indeed many of the objections (other than transition issues) that critics have to abolishing money are strikingly similar to the objections they have to a UBI.  And those are very easily debunked.  For now though, since money makes the world go 'round, we might as well make the stuff as abundantly available as possible to all.

Q11:  Wouldn't Universal Basic Services (UBS) be better?

A11:  It doesn't have to be either-or.  UBS, or in-kind, non-cash benefits/services made available for free to all, would appear to give more bang for the buck, but sometimes cash makes more sense logistically speaking.  Some services, such as education and healthcare, and perhaps some others, are best administered as UBS, which will of of course make the amount of UBI needed in addition that much smaller and cheaper.  Replacing everything with UBI would not make much sense, but neither would the idea that UBS makes UBI redundant.  They are best seen as complements, not substitutes.

Q12:  What about prisoners?

A12:  The nuanced issue of what to do about UBI when a recipient is incarcerated is an important one in a society like ours with the highest incarceration rate in the world.  The TSAP believes that it should be handled similarly to the way Social Security payments are handled for prisoners.  Benefits are suspended while incarcerated for more than 30 continuous days for the conviction of a crime, and then can be resumed the month following the month of release.  That's only fair for UBI as well, though it may make more sense to automatically resume the benefits during the same month of release, or perhaps pay during the first 30 days of the sentence but hold it in trust for when one is released.  Otherwise benefits continue, even if the prisoner does not physically receive them right away.  This would be true while awaiting trial or when serving a sentence of 30 days or less.

And in a society with UBI, crime will likely go way down as a result, so hopefully our nation's mass incarceration problem will become a thing of the past.

Q13:  What effect would UBI have on population growth and birth rates?

A13:  That is a very good question.  While it will very obviously reduce death rates almost immediately, some people are concerned about what it will do to the birth side of the equation.  Most likely, it would reduce birth rates in countries with high birth rates (due to a decrease in poverty and increase in female empowerment) while countries with very low birth rates will likely see a modest increase in the long run due to less financial pressure to afford the high cost of raising children.  Thus, in the long run, fertility rates will likely converge towards the replacement level after a period of somewhat below-replacement fertility, ultimately leading to population balance after perhaps shrinking a bit first.  Which is good, because we cannot keep growing forever in any case. And the illogic of our addiction to economic (i.e. consumption) growth would also be rendered moot as well by UBI.

Q14:  Why should we abolish poverty?

A14:  Given that the USA is the richest country in the world, the better question is, why shouldn't we abolish poverty?  Altruism aside, abolishing it would pay major dividends down the road for all of us, given that poverty and its consequences is expensive for both individuals and all of society.  And given how difficult it is for individuals and families to escape its clutches long-term (it is a LOT easier to get into poverty than out of it, and some demographics such as people of color have an even harder time still due the compounding effects of systemic racism along with classism), it would make far more logical sense to simply end material poverty mathematically via UBI in the meantime rather than wait for various proposed longer-term initiatives to take effect.  Name any social problem, and poverty makes it worse, period.  So let's tackle this low-hanging fruit first, especially since poverty is currently getting worse in this country.  And if it is funded entirely by money creation, it would not cost the taxpayers anything.

Q15:  Isn't UBI just a Trojan Horse that right-wingers, libertarians, Silicon Valley, and other neoliberals like to shill, while disingenously pretending to be "woke"?

A15:  It does not have to be at all.  The devil is really in the details.  If particular conservative or libertarian proponents say they will "pay for" their UBI proposal by eliminating existing social welfare progams (particularly if they specifically mention Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and/or Veterans' Benefits), that is a major red flag.  Because unless the UBI is extremely high, far higher than they would ever propose, the net effect of eliminating those other vital social programs wholesale (particularly education and healthcare programs) would be detrimental to the most vulnerable members of society (particularly people with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses) and likely far too politically unpopular to pass muster in Congress as well.  And it is wholly unnecessary too, since UBI can be easily "paid for" via simple money creation, without costing anyone anything at all.

(The TSAP supports single-payer Medicare For All (which will also absorb all of Medicaid's current functions), as well as expanding Social Security, and also expanding Veterans' Benefits overall, so one can never, ever accuse us of using UBI as a neoliberal or right-wing Trojan Horse at all.  Yes, really.)

Some programs like SNAP (food stamps), TANF, SSI, and other similar types of conditional cash or cash-equivalent and means-tested welfare programs like that can indeed be made redundant/obsolete and thus phased down or out by a sufficiently high UBI, but even so, that transition needs to happen gradually and organically to avoid unintended consequences to the most vulnerable members of society.

In any case, any UBI proposal with half a chance of passing will surely backfire on any oligarchs that support it, since it would give the working class much more bargaining power than they have now.  So let 'em try to pretend to support UBI, and watch it backfire on them.  Game. Set. Match.

Q16:  Why should privileged people get UBI too?

A16:  To ask the question is to answer it.  Universal means universal, period.  It is much simpler that way, and avoids the pitfalls of means-testing, discrimination, and perverse incentives, while shoring up popular support for the program.  Also, please define "privileged".  Go on.  Because any definition would include virtually everyone, since under the kyriarchy we are all (to one degree or another) both privileged and oppressed at the same time in different ways.  Think about it.

Q17:  You talk about compensating mothers for the invisible unpaid work of mothering, without which humanity would not exist.  But why UBI, since non-mothers (especially men) will also benefit equally as mothers despite not doing their fair share of unpaid work?  Isn't that too crude and over-inclusive?

A17:  UBI will at least partially (and stealthily, shielding it from the vicissitudes of politics) compensate mothers and others for the invisible unpaid work of mothering as well as caregiving, housework, and volunteering in general, while still empowering them to "be their own boss", effectively self-employed rather than salaried or paid for performance by the state.  And all without reducing these important kinds of work to a mere monetary transaction, making it more akin to a gift economy rather than an exchange economy.  Please don't make the perfect the enemy of the good, lest we all end up with neither.  Also, define "fair share".

Some cynics may compare UBI to a no-strings-attached allowance given by parents to their children in equal amounts, yet the daughters still have to do more chores around the house than their brothers despite being paid the same.  But even there, the problem is not the allowance per se, but the unequal distribution of work with no additional compensation for that work, combined with no choice in the matter.  So merely abolishing the allowance would not make the daughters better off--yet that is precisely how some of the anti-UBI crowd sounds.  After all, UBI is not a zero-sum game, so don't beggar thy neighbor.  UBI will surely empower women to have much more bargaining power relative to men, both in and out of the household, and result in a much fairer distribution of all work--especially if children get it too and the funds of such unemacipated children and youth below the age of majority go directly to the designated primary caregiver.  Women would be far less dependent (if at all) on men, thus no longer at the mercy of the all too often merciless.  After all, as the saying goes, whoever has the gold makes the rules.

Q18:  What's to stop it from becoming a tool of power and control by the oligarchy or technocracy of the future?

A18:  When it is implemented by the forces of good to preempt the forces of evil from doing so first.  And by honoring the prinicple that it is no strings attached, as well as recognizing that when a person receives UBI, they have a vested property right over any money already received, and a basic human right to a decent standard of living going forward as well.  And by NOT creating a cashless society with a 100% digital currency that can be suspended at will by the oligarchs/technocrats!   Clearly, it would behoove those who oppose oligarchy and technocracy to beat them to it with a genuinely progressive UBI.

Q19: But...but...INFLATION!  Rents especially would skyrocket, negating the benefits of UBI.

A19:  Done properly, even if entirely by money creation, need not result in significantly more inflation than the status quo without UBI, especially in the long run.  The FERAL Reserve already does a sort of UBI for the ultra-rich via the big banks, they just call it QE or some other technical name.  And inflation has remained relatively low for the twelve years since 2008 in spite of the perennial predictions of imminent runaway inflation any day now.  But to the extent that UBI somehow does raise inflation in the short run, all we would have to do is raise interest rates to rein it in almost overnight, which will likely have the net effect of reducing housing costs fairly quickly.  And if we wanted to, we could always put a short-term freeze on rent hikes for a few months just to be safe, thereby discouraging already greedy slumlords from taking advantage.  But that probably won't be necessary.

Q20:  The word "basic" is just so, well, basic, man.  Isn't there a better/cooler name for it?

A20:  Ah, so it's all about semantics, I see.  Try these alternative names on for size:

Abundance Grant
Alaska for America
American Freedom Dividend
American Permanent Fund
Base Income
Buckminster Fuller Abundance Grant
Citizen's Dividend
Citizen's Income
Community Dividend
Demogrant
Earth Shares Dividend
Economic Bonus
Family Assistance Program
Family Fun Pack
Free Grant
Free Money
Freedom Credit
Freedom Dividend
Freedom Grant
Gaia Futures Dividend
Gift Economy Starter Pack
Give Directly
Guaranteed Income
Guaranteed Livable Income
Guaranteed Minimum Income
Human Rights Grant
LIFT+ Credit
Livable Income
Manna
Mincome
Minimum Income
Money For Nothing
Negative Income Tax
No Strings Attached
Opportunity Credit
Reverse Income Tax
Reverse Tax
Robin Hood Tax-And-Dividend
School of Life Scholarship
Social Security For All
Sovereign Wealth Dividend
Thomas Paine Grant
Universal Credit
Universal Base Income
Universal Economic Bonus
Universal Free Grant
Universal Income
Untax
USA Freedom Dividend
USA Freedom Grant
Wealth Dividend

None of which contain the word "basic".  Some of these we made up, some were borrowed from other thinkers and from pop culture.  Satisfied?  Remember, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

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