How Much Does Each Person Get from UBI?
During the COVID-19 Economic Emergency, we believe that Congress must take bold steps to help the American people. We are calling for $2,000 per month per adult and $1,000 per child for as long as the crisis continues.
After we are through the crisis, we believe that there should be a UBI for adults and a UBI for kids high enough to lift everyone out of poverty. In the short run, we are supporting two legislative proposals that together would provide $250 per month to everyone in America ($1,000 total per month for a two parent household with two kids). While this is not enough, it is a good start and puts a UBI infrastructure in place. Once those two bills are passed into law, we will work with lawmakers to find ways to increase that amount over time while also fully funding the programs.
Isn't This Just A Handout For Lazy People Who Don't Want To Work?
UBI is about making sure everyone has a minimum amount of income to meet basic needs. It is not designed to be enough to live on without ever working or contributing in some way to your community.
In Alaska, a study found the state's annual dividend did not decrease full-time employment or overall hours worked. (It did show a decrease in part-time work, which could, perhaps, be attributed to women in the workforce now having the choice to use the benefit to spend time with and care for their children.) A Finnish trial showed that a basic income there had no negative impact on people seeking employment, but participants did report less stress and feeling happier.
One of the greatest benefits of UBI is that it will give workers more negotiating power on wages and more flexibility in job choice, since they will be less inclined to take a job they don't want or which doesn't pay enough.
People will also have the ability to allocate more of their time to other personal priorities such as family time/care, entrepreneurship, and civic activities, and UBI will help workers to pay for additional education and training so they can improve their long term earnings.
Isn't This Too Complicated To Administer?
Large scale government payments for hundreds of millions of Americans have been running successfully for decades. Examples include Social Security (over 61 million Americans) and Medicaid (covering about 1 in 5 Americans). In addition, our government annually processes tax refunds to over 111 million Americans. Scaling UBI for the entire country could easily be done, given our nation's past experiences with various payment programs.
Is UBI Inflationary?
No, the evidence does not suggest this is the case.
There are a number of studies and real world examples to which we can look for the answer to this question. In January of 2011, the government of Kuwait offered approximately $3,600 to all citizens. Inflation dropped to an 11 month low by July of that year. A July 2017 study looking at Mexico also found the inflationary impact of cash transfers to be negligible.
In Alaska, perhaps the largest and longest running example, since implementation of the Alaska Permanent Dividend Fund almost forty years ago, the inflation rate has actually dropped below the US average and stayed there.
Is UBI Going To Gut Our Current Social Safety Net?
No. We will not support any proposal that will leave anybody worse off tomorrow than they are today. This is the politics of addition, not of subtraction.
We would 100% oppose any efforts to reduce or eliminate Social Security, Medicaid, or Medicare benefits in the process of passing UBI.
Do Billionaires Get UBI?
We believe that basic income should be a minimum monthly floor for everyone. As incomes go beyond a certain level, the benefit may be slowly reduced in the form of higher taxes for higher wage earners.
Regardless, the financing of UBI should include an increase in taxes on the very wealthy to finance this safety net for the majority of Americans.
Have UBI Programs Ever Been Tested?
UBI is being trialed or has been trialed in a number of places in the U.S.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
as well as many other communities.
In addition, in Alaska, the state administers a direct annual payment to every Alaskan through its Alaska Permanent Fund. The dividend is based on the state's oil revenues. It is widely popular, has been in operation since 1982, and paid every Alaskan $1,606 in 2019.
LEARN ABOUT OTHER PROGRAMS.
What If People Make Poor Choices?
UBI is about giving people the minimum resources they need to take care of themselves. Some may make poor choices, but the overwhelming majority won't. A recent pilot program in Stockton, California found that people receiving UBI spent 40% of it on food, 24% on sales and merchandise (such as items from Walmart or other discount stores), 11% on utilities, and 9% on auto repairs and gas.
In fact, extra income can also help people to consistently make better choices. For example, they will be able to afford healthier food, obtain higher levels of education, and access better health care. In some cases, people may even choose to donate some of their UBI to a charity, a local community organization, a school, or their religious institution.
Fundamentally, UBI is about trusting people to make the best decisions for their lives, without micromanaging or judging them.