Against Universal Basic Income

by Michael R. Strain

My latest column, out this morning, discusses universal basic income (UBI), a system that would eliminate existing safety net programs and in their place cut everyone a check.

There’s much to be said for UBI:

No longer are the poor subject to the whims, requirements and irritations of government bureaucracy. Under UBI, the welfare state is eliminated; the bureaucracy, gone. Gone, too, is the stigma associated with drawing benefits – if everyone wears the UBI scarlet letter, then no one does. Eliminated are the “poverty traps” associated with the “phase outs” of many of today’s safety net programs; UBI never phases out, so an extra dollar of work does not result in a loss of safety-net benefits. In a world with UBI, citizens no longer need to go to the government when the circumstances of their lives change: when they lose jobs, become disabled or see their incomes fall below a certain level.

But ultimately I can’t support it, for several reasons, including:

In a UBI world, those who choose to work will support those who choose not to – not those who can’t work, but those who won’t. This really would be a world of makers and takers.

That’s not a world I want to live in.

Read the whole column here. I welcome your comments, as always.

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