What most people would think when they first hear of universal basic income is that it would be a utopia and would be questioning why we don’t enforce this. It is not that simple though because if we just printed around $1000 a month for each person above the age of 18 this would cause massive inflation. This money would be printed from thin air and you can’t just produce more money because then the value would decrease. So you would have to get the money from somewhere.
There is not one specific way to get the money but there have been many different proposals. The most popular suggestions are either enforcing higher taxes for everyone, higher taxes for everyone but even more on the rich, or the government cutting off or at least spending much less on things like health care, the military, education and many other things. The most sensible thing would be a mix of the three. If we had to raise the taxes for everyone but not change any of the things which the government pays for then we would have to increase taxes quite a lot. This would also not be sensible because the whole point of basic income is to allow everyone to have their basic needs and the people who have a lower income would be taxed higher and therefore it wouldn’t actually be like they would be receiving the full sum. Taxing higher on the rich would cause outrage from the rich but in my opinion would be quite a good way to enforce UBI. They would be saying how they worked hard for that money and now their money is just going to the poor who just receive that money for free.
Then the third would mean that we would be going into capitalism. Healthcare, education, and many other government programs would not be possible because the government would have so much less to spend on those things unless we raised the taxes. This would not actually benefit the poor because they would have to pay for things like school and healthcare which would cost a crazy amount and then the cheaper ones would be so much worse quality because these companies want to make profit and with cheaper prices there would be worse quality. This would end up benefiting the rich which is the opposite of what UBI aims to do. Then with a mixture of the three ideas we would not be making the poor pay really high taxes, the rich would have to pay higher taxes than the poor but not to a level where there would be outrage. We would also not become a capitalist state and things like health care, school, and other things would be paid for by the government but not to the same extent as before.
Now we know how we could pay for UBI in the best possible way but how would our society change with UBI. According to a study from University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy people will not necessarily stop working, there will be more people considering working part time. Many people think this is a bad thing but this would be preparing us for the future which was one of the main reasons people wanted UBI in the first place. In the future there will be more and more technology taking people’s jobs and people will need to make an income. This is what UBI provides them. Eventually there will be more people who are unemployed but this would also be the case if we didn’t have UBI. Without UBI these people would be taking any job offer they got but now since they have a secure income to fill their basic needs they wouldn’t need to rush into a job they could take their time until a good offer or opportunity arises. More people would also be nearer the middle class with the higher class being taxed more and the lower class receiving their basic income. This would also give people more of an equal shot at life. The people born into wealthy families will still have a big advantage but it’s not as big as it is today. In society today it is really hard to get out of poverty but this won’t be as much of a problem as everyone will receive the basic income.
Society would be very different from how it is today. It would be a more equal place and there would be less poverty. There would be higher taxes for everyone but mostly for the rich. The government would not be able to spend as much on their programs. People would also not work as much in a society with UBI.