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.
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.
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).
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.
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.