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Universal Basic Income: The shallow, pompous thief

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In case I wasn’t clear enough in the show segment, let me explain further.

U.B.I. (Universal Basic Income) is a terrible idea for 3 main reasons:

 1.       Tries to tackle specific issues with broad solutions

2.       Relies on economic forecasts, not the observable past

3.       Robs man of his free will

Advocates of U.B.I. cite past experiments as evidence that it can work to our favor. For example, a town in the Canadian province of Manitoba implemented a U.B.I. in the 1970’s and reportedly, work rates barely dropped at all. Supporters of U.B.I. also claim it helps alleviate economic inequality and cuts through the thicket of current social welfare programs down to one simple handout. Sure, people in Manitoba might have had the self-discipline to take this free money and save it while continuing to work their day jobs. Sure, lower-income families can benefit greatly from additional cash and sure, cutting red tape could cut down on entitlement overhead and confusion. However, this all misses the point: Universal Basic Income is a shallow, pompous thief.

First of all, when we can identify a certain problem, we can identify a specific solution for it. For instance, failing to put money aside each year is supposed to be remedied by Social Security. Lack of nutritional food is supposed to be remedied with the help of food stamps - one answer to one problem. It’s the same thing with the body: low potassium levels are supposed to be remedied with potassium supplements or an avocado. It wouldn’t be super helpful to take a multivitamin to address low potassium levels because that’s too broad of a sweep. There are better ways to fix a potassium problem than with a general cure.

So it is when tackling poverty! A universal, lump sum of money doesn’t address any one specific problem like healthcare or retirement, but rather feebly tries to tackle several different issues at once. It also gives money to those who are well above the poverty line and don’t need this cash supplement. I believe it’s better for us to break things down into simpler terms and address them piecemeal. We can confront each problem with a unique strategy.

Second, we cannot predict the future.

For decades, when the economy shifted from one form of production to another, some people claimed work would disappear. The Industrial Revolution threatened to put artisans ‘out of work’, but did it? No, the people found new jobs and new responsibilities when automation and the idea of interchangeable parts became an essential part of our economy. Huge economic/technological shifts have yet to permanently keep people from working, and this time is no different. The advent of robotics probably won’t put millions of people out of work; there will always be work to do. It’s presumptuous for people to think U.B.I. will be necessary for a future economy that won’t be able to provide jobs for everyone; you don’t know that. All we know is that work has never gone extinct before.

Thirdly, and most importantly, a U.B.I. denies us the choice to be charitable. Having a faceless entity take money from our paychecks and deliver it to nameless strangers is passionless. We empathize with our neighbor and feel obliged to lend a helping hand when we run into them in our daily lives. We each deserve the choice to be charitable and a government program takes that away from us. Reminding society that it’s our responsibility to care for others should be the solution here.

If we want to ensure people can pay their bills and live a healthy, respectable life, we need to step up as communities and donate our time, money, and attention directly to those in need. Yes it’s easier said than done, but offering a Universal Basic Income is certainly not the answer to fighting poverty.

We are.

Listen to more episodes of "Bonfire" with Andrew Herzog at TheBlaze Contributors.

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