When it comes to one of the great social changes that people can advocate for, there are many different causes to choose from. These can range from environmentalism, to growth increases in spending or the complete change of entire economic systems. One such cause that I support, is the idea of reforming the welfare state and the creation of a universal basic income (UBI). As someone whose personal beliefs lean more towards conservative ideals with a focus on individualism and self-responsibility in most cases, I will attempt to outline my case for UBI.
Before I begin, I believe that most people get the wrong idea on what is meant by UBI so let me give you a quick description as to what I believe it should be. I would argue that UBI should be a monthly payment given to every citizen of a nation who is over the age of 18. In exceptional circumstances (ie an emancipated minor) citizens under the age of 18 would be provided with a greatly reduced sum which they can only access until they turn 18. This payment would be under the poverty line (so as a quick example, for the UK payments would be somewhere between £800 and £1000/month).
This UBI would be funded through a great reform of Government expenditure – by the merging of most welfare departments, pension support, government pay, foreign aid and other government expenditures – all of this would then be consolidated and funneled into the UBI system. This would also go along with a small increase in sales tax and other taxes related to purchasing products and services. The final part for funding this would come from dropping the tax bracket for income tax from the UK’s level of £12,500 to £6000. Overall, this would give every UK citizen £16,000 tax free income per annum.
With this quick insight as to what I mean by UBI, let’s explore why I support this idea. Since I have lived in the UK I have seen the welfare state as a double edged sword. On one side it helps people who are in need but on the other side, it seems to keep people in a lower-class social trap; this leaves many people demoralised and ultimately, a drain on the system.
Unlike most people, when it comes to the topic of welfare, I do not think it needs to be merely reformed through cuts or massive expenditure increases, I think the only suitable solution is its complete removal and replacement with this new system. It should be designed to help secure a major ‘bedrock’ to help people reach their potential.
Because of this, I would argue that a great reform is needed to take place in our welfare system, to secure a safety net for nearly everybody within society, which in turn can then help the nation at large reach even greater heights of prosperity. This idea of UBI can therefore help people secure a low standard of living which they themselves can then use to seek further economic capital and then reach more potential through their own means.
By securing incomes for every citizen, this unlocks many different paths for them to then improve themselves. Meaning that individuals could take a less well-paying job, which theoretically could open doors for them in the future or provide the potential to return to education. By providing this income, it means that those affected by unforeseen circumstances could then potentially take more risks (as they have their security net), which ultimately could help companies invest in the next generation of products and services, which in turn could lead to the next billion-dollar idea.
Other than giving people more of a chance to improve themselves, yes I do believe that this could greatly benefit the common person within our society. This is because it would help an individual move on from a stagnant wage to a secured living wage through work which could help many people become a great benefit to society.
One of the best social benefits that could come from this idea is the view that this could give people more freedom with their newfound financial security. One example being that the more time an individual takes off work in order to spend time with family/raising children will always be a net benefit. This could help reverse many problems which we are seeing increasing with each generation, ranging from mental health to the single parenthood crisis within the UK.
Even though outside there exists many benefits for the individual and society as a whole, there are many benefits for those who are governing or in the work of governing. From this margin many government sectors can be merged into one, which could then help to reduce Government bureaucracy. The proposal of UBI could produce a more effective governmental system for everyone involved, which could then help reduce the total cost of the welfare state in its current form.
In addition to this, it could also help solve one of the most destabilizing issues of the 21st Century – this being the issue of wealth inequality, which is a topic for many groups from the political centre to the left and even on the right. Wealth stagnation and decline has been a major issue for the average person in the ‘Western World’. This policy of UBI can help establish a low form of capital, which could then give everyone an equal chance to build their own capital and reverse this age of decline for the common man.
There are so many benefits, discussions and ways of implementing this policy. However, this is one of my first articles explaining why I support UBI. This should be a launching point for how I believe UBI should be implemented and how I think our society should treat this new form of welfare system.
Featured image credit: 金 运 on Unsplash