Monday, March 15, 2021

Universal Basic Income; What Can Be more Life-Affirming?

 



Imagine having a financial cushion if you lose your job.
Imagine not experiencing the stigma of using a "welfare" program.
Imagine knowing that you need not face poverty even with a low-paying job.
Imagine finding it easier to save money for emergencies.
Imagine a baseline source of income that is the same for everyone.
Imagine the fear being taken out of getting pregnant without financial resources.
Imagine having enough money to start that business you want to go into.
Imagine having more dollars to put your children into a private school.
Imagine more money toward the university of your choice.
Imagine funds to train for a better job.
Imagine more income to have and raise your children.
Imagine exchanging government programs for income that is the same for most.
Imagine being able to put away more dollars for retirement.
Imagine having more dollars to avoid crushing debt.
Imagine more money left over to give generously.

\I'm talking about scenarios that would be reality if we adopted something called Universal Basic Income (UBI). UBI is government-based and administered, guaranteed income that would available for all (with income caps). It would provide a monthly stipend of $1000 to most individuals from the government, apart from employment. This is something I became aware of when businessman Andrew Yang ran his Democratic primary campaign for the 2020 Presidential Election. He made UBI a major issue in his campaign. Of course, Yang did not win the Democratic Nomination. I am unclear on how many politicians, including our current President and Vice-President, stand on UBI. I suspect that it may never become law. But I thought I would explore it, anyway, and make my case for what makes UBI an attractive option to help combat poverty, level the playing field between people, and help build a culture of life through economic incentive.

I'm aware that many, maybe most, conservatives, would view UBI as another form of welfare. They would express concern that it would remove people's incentive to work for their livelihoods. Likely, they will declare that it costs too much. In other words, it would add to the high national debt. It would divert dollars from other government priorities. To sustain UBI, we would have to raise taxes on everyone or borrow from other countries. Maybe we would have to raise the debt ceiling. And I don't hear many moderates or liberals advocating for UBI.

Let's imagine that more lawmakers showed support to make UBI law across the United states. If we have gleaned anything from this pandemic, it is that tying people's incomes and health insurance to employment may be unwise. As my late stepdad would say: "Everyone is a job away from being forced into the streets." This pandemic has heartbreakingly demonstrated this reality; we see how so many people lost their jobs, and with them, income, health insurance, and even shelter. For awhile at the beginning of this pandemic in 2020, I heard some people make the case for UBI. However, advocacy for it has died down. If UBI had been law and in place at the time of COVID-19, the economic losses of so many could have been much mitigated. 

Aside from this, scrapping means-tested "welfare programs like SSI, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance to Families In Need, WIC, and others, would remove the stigma from these government programs. Even scrapping so-called "entitlement" programs like Social Security and Social Security-Disability (SSD) would do the same thing--remove their stigma, especially for SSD. For the baseline income for most would be the same. 

There is the pro-life case that can be made for UBI. UBI would give families incentives to pursue parenthood, even in cases where they would have limited family size or delayed having children for economic reasons. UBI may encourage larger families, in other words. Most of all, it would encourage girls and women to keep and parent their children--if they knew they would have an economic incentive. In other words, UBI has the potential to prevent many abortions that women seek because they cannot afford to become parents. UBI would eliminate the need for Paid Family Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, or Sick Leave. Also, UBI may be an incentive for more families to adopt, because they would be in a better place financially. Caregivers for ill or dying loved ones or close friends would be less tempted to push assisted suicide or euthanasia for economic reasons, if UBI were reality for them. Simply put, UBI could strengthen families!

Would UBI discourage the motivation to work? This is one of the biggest arguments against it. Would it encourage laziness and stifle initiative? I do not see why it would do that with most people. For $1000 a month, in many cases, may not even be enough to pay the monthly mortgage or rent. It's not meant to be the only source of income, but only a baseline. So it seems to me that knowing this, itself, still provides plenty of incentive to supplement this baseline income with gainful employment, to round out one's income. 

As far as promoting a culture of life is concerned, we who are pro-life or believers ought to support anything that would give people incentive to choose life. What is to gain by begrudging or withholding incentives from those who face barriers to choosing life, whether for inconvenient unborn children or dying loved ones? UBI is not directly pro-life but it surely would remove many "excuses" people give for opting for abortions or other life-destroying choices for economic reasons. Yes, I understand what makes people withhold support for this measure. I see many more reasons, though, to support UBI than to oppose it. 

A measure with so much potential needs our serious consideration!







This is a balanced article about Universal Basic Income (UBI) and it explains the pros and cons of UBI. Read this article.

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