Universal Basic Income

I know we have discussed UBI a number of times over the years, but I didn’t see a thread dedicated to it.

New Orleans is looking to extend a pilot program that began in 2022, apparently in multiple cities around the nation, that provides small cash payments to a select group of individuals. The article doesn’t mention if all people who fall into the stated category (16-24, unemployed, and not attending school) are eligible or if there are more qualification requirements but seems like an interesting experiment. I’ll be interested to read the reports about it that are supposed to be ready in the spring.

Haven’t read it, but how do they determine exactly who gets the money and how do they qualify? That seems like a bureaucratic nightmare.

Why not just give everyone the free money and increase the tax rates? They give out this free money after people file income tax forms. No tax form? No free money. The tax form will include a line for “tax credit.” Didn’t pay any taxes (truthfully)? Still get the tax credit.

OK, read it. Unintended consequences galore, though $200/month is hardly a living wage.


The article says 16-24, unemployed, and not attending school. But it also says

The teens and young adults were chosen via referrals from community organizations

Which makes me think there is more to qualification than just those listed above.

They tried this in Canada some years ago with a test group in a northern city. The secondary benefits were (imo) interesting. Like, people could weather setting up a small business because they knew they always had a baseline income. And, small businesses are such a big driver of the economy, jobs, taxes, etc, that I think that’s a real important thing.
But, it got shut down by a subsequent gov’t because it was too expensive. As you’d imagine, some people argue that it wasn’t too expensive. But, that’s opinion I guess, I got the impression at some point that the costs were way beyond affordable.

What they could do in canada anyway, is remove all the other govt programs like our disability or ‘welfare’ payments and roll those right in. No questions, no qualifications, no deciding if you’re low income and need welfare, or are disabled. Everyone gets the minimum, and nothing else. But there’s probably stupid stuff with that idea that I don’t understand.

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Milton Friedman was a big advocate of this in the 1960’s. Only barrier to putting it into practice was voting to increase taxes and voting to dismantle current government assistance programs (which means lots of government workers out of jobs).

All you have to do is look at Saudi Arabia to see how it’ll turn out.

Poor AF state with scarce resource wants to play pretend in a post-scarcity fantasy land

OK, sir.

Imo, UBI is usually Progressive code for “what if we increased entitlements?”

Just like how “FairTax” is Conservative code for “what if we decreased taxes?”

It’s sold as being simpler and more efficient, but the assumptions are usually invalid.

Maybe the best way to think about it is to try to convert individual programs to “ubi money”.

I love the idea of UBI, here is my hangup.

The US is already incredibly desirable for immigrants. And I’m fine with that, I advocate for more legal immigration.

If we could just say, “For this closed population we will be paying a UBI funded by the population’s taxes” then I would be 100% for this.

However, if we start giving it to every legal resident then I don’t see it being sustainable as we accumulate more low-income immigrants (alongside high-income ones, obviously.) The prospect of “literally free money” is just incredible.

And I don’t think restricting it to citizens is a good idea, thereby accelerating the wealth gap between vulnerable non-citizen residents and citizens.

It’s not that I balk at giving my “hard-earned money” to a low income person, so much as the entire system seems unsustainable. Not to mention that aging Boomers are already going to strain our country in a number of ways.

Wish the idea seemed more feasible but without a closed population or a very careful introduction of new residents I don’t see it.

Negative income tax seems more promising. Has a bit of the same issue I already noted but removes the exacerbation of paying to all the wealthy.


The problem it seems to me is UBI advocates always do math that amounts to: sum up all current transfers and divide by population and voila, everyone gets $$$. But that just results in lots of presumably more needy people getting less so everyone can get some, no?

Either that, or just assuming massive tax increases.

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Or Alaska, I suppose

Quick Google said that US spent $1.6 trillion on welfare in 2022. Current population 73.6 million under 18 and 259.4 million 18 and over.

If <18y.o. get half shares and adults get full shares, that works out to $2,700 and $5,400 per annum respectively. If <18 gets nothing, then adults get $6,200.

UBI can work but only if it kicks in after you have contributed enough in taxes over a specific length of time.

If you don’t do that I can totally see the US being swamped by immigration.

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And grandma gets to start paying her own medical bills

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Which, of course, is nowhere near a “basic income level”. A UBI that actually provided a basic income in the US might be $14,000/yr for 18+ and $7,000/yr for 0-17.

And, that isn’t enough to buy health insurance. Medicaid is more than half our current “welfare” spending. We would have to continue Medicaid in addition to the $14k UBI.


Yep. I tried to do numbers once and came up with a federal income tax which would be 40% of all income (excluding the UBI), with no standard deduction.

Decide to supplement your UBI with a job at McDonalds and pay 40% on every dollar you earn at McDs.

If she’s under 65. It only included Medicaid (not Medicare).


we will be better served by starting with universal health care than “basic income”. I mean, universal coverage at a basic level is so complicated only like 31 of 32 top-tier economies can actually pull it off, but I bet the US can use it’s dramatically different innovative capacity to overcome the entrenched interests with incentives diametrically opposed to change.

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Seems like this is counting OASDI?

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