Can Universal Basic Income (UBI) work? The author proposes UBI as a flagship of the transformation to a better society and life. He thinks UBI has more potential for work-related activism than, for example a shorter work week.
From my perspective, UBI's net value is not that certain. Here is what I think of UBI's pros & cons:
- It can reduce stress at work and make managerial power less abusive at work places (UBI can become an analog of the safe word "orange" in BDSM - as per the author's comparison )
- It can reduce tensions in society among various groups of population
- It will plant a potentially huge conflict around free-rider problem. The author says that workaholics will compensate for slackers. I doubt that those who would choose to work would be comfortable about this notion. And what would be the ratio of working people : slackers? 8:2 or 2:8 would make a big difference in the perception of UBI.
- It will fuel all sorts of parasitism across the society and can make the existing problem of unproductive migration even worse:
Once it’s known that a place—whether city, region or nation—guarantees everyone an income, it will become a magnet for immigration. While residency restrictions can and will be imposed, those are only temporary—and may be subject to manipulation.
- A lot of people would risk losing any skills for obtaining livelihood (beyond just receiving and spending UBI) as they would become one or another sort of potentially multi-generational "couch potatoes".
The successful realization of UBI would also depend on the factors such as:
- The amount of UBI. The author suggests the same amount to be paid to everyone residing in a country. However, it can be difficult to find consensus about what this amount needs to be.
- Tax implications. How would the tax system need to be modified for the change? If UBI would entail higher taxation of people who choose to work, it won't be considered as fair. The author implies that by their current nature, the money for UBI can be just printed by a government or central bank, if so this mechanism has to be carefully elaborated. It's not that simple just to "print money" except if a nation is fully self-sufficient with most of required resources.
I believe everyone understands by now that the current system has exhausted itself and has to change, and the author provided a great analysis of the current wasteful economic, social and political mechanics in his book.
However, the author models the vision of the new system after himself with his solid intellectual capability and enough self-discipline to do meaningful things such as writing his books, unfortunately human nature may be not that encouraging at a wider scale.
This whole thing can actually be simulated with a computer system or in real life for a sample of population. The initial experiments of this sort don't seem to be successful, for example: Finland’s universal basic income experiment didn’t work out well.