At a time where the unemployment numbers are improving dramatically, this morning the hashtag #MonthlyStimulusNOW is trending on Twitter as many seek the government to force others to pay their expenses via this UBI scheme. UBI has been promoted by many wealthy individuals, most notably billionaire Elon Musk.
There is a movement underway for universal basic income (UBI) to become a standard from the federal government. Although there are different proposals, the underlying theme is to force Americans who pay federal taxes to pay other Americans anywhere from $500 to $2,000 per month. The issue has been hotly debated over the last few years and has escalated this past year because of government forced lockdowns and other government mandates causing many people to become unemployed. Federal and state governments spend over $1 trillion per year operating over 100 different antipoverty programs, but these programs are wasteful, ineffective, and overly complicated. A UBI promises to replace the existing system with simply dropping money in American’s bank accounts. As strong as the argument in favor of a guaranteed income may be, there are simply too many unanswered questions to rush forward with any such plan.
UBI has even been debated within Libertarian circles where some would be willing to go along with a UBI plan, so long as all other government provided subsidies (food stamps, rent, electric) went away. That would seem like a pipe dream as most UBI supporters want a monthly check on top of their current federal, state, and local benefits they receive.
Yet, there is brief discussion of where the money would come from and where the cutoff of income would be for those to receive a monthly check from the government. The only way government has access to money is from those paying taxes through threat of force. Even when government borrows money to run a deficit, that money must be paid back through federal taxes. Some say $30,000 while others say those who make $50,000 per year should still get it. And, should they should base it on a region’s cost of living; after all, it is far more expensive to live in California or in Manhattan than many other parts of the country.
There have been some local experiments with UBI with mixed results. Recently, Marin County and Oakland passed racist UBI programs based on one’s skin color. Stockton, California, ended their UBI experiment as it created more problems than it solved, which is why it ended. Yet, proponents of UBI say that Stockton simply didn’t do it the right way. The results of Stockton were that $3,000 in government benefits were required to maintain an increase of $1,000 of net income for individuals — not a sustainable model. Another result of Stockton found those who received UBI worked fewer hours and had significantly longer periods of unemployment. It a 2019 survey, 79 percent of respondents found that government efforts to fight poverty have been ineffective, yet now many want to impose a massive UBI program feeling it will work.