A basic income is a regular income received after a certain period as result of work done or service provided during this period. The person who receives this income is entitled to it since they have worked to earn that money. Unconditional income does not rely on any condition to be fulfilled like in the case of basic income where one has to work for them to receive the payment. The recipients do not have to fulfill any requirements to get it, it is given to all the people as their right. It is also known as universal basic income. The issue of unconditional basic has its roots back in the 19th century, where the idea that no one at all should live in demeaning conditions of poverty, a consolation of some kind of basic income to protect the well-being of the people and take some measures on their social security.
Liberals such as Thomas Paine and Mill fought for unconditional income as way of promoting freedom given the mass unemployment given the mass unemployment that was there at that time and the people were suffering as a result of this. During the 19th century until later in the 1960s the argument about basic salary was minimal, later in 1970s some countries like the US joined by Canada did numerous tests on negative income taxation which was considered as a system affecting the well-being of people, this experiment revealed that with UBI in place most people life condition was improved though minimal. Later in 1980s the heated argument took another turn in Europe and spread to other countries. Some countries have enacted broader benefit systems such as Bolsa Familia Brazil (White, 1997).
In considering whether introduction of unconditional basic income is morally justified or not, will take a look at various aspects such as its effect in modern society, the possibility of implementing and enforcing it, the challenges likely to come up, its advantages visa a vis its disadvantages, whether it is practicable or not. Depending on the outcome of these factors then we can easily conclude whether is it is morally justified or not.
In evaluating the moral issues around unconditional income, it is important to identify the moral considerations that are in favor of UBI and those that are against then weigh the outcome of both. The debates surrounding the welfare of the people in terms of poverty caused by the economic inequality are relevant morally but to what extent, the main objective of moral justification is focused on freedom. UBI came up with a proposal on free society which subsequently would promote justice to all members of the society and this is guaranteed.
Advantages of UBI
It reduces the level of poverty in the society as everyone is entitled to a basic income unconditionally. It will also work more proficiently in managing and administration of welfare of the people as concerns about their well-being will be addressed. UBI also will do away with the stigma of unemployment, it will also reduce economic inequality in the society and promote justice to all.
Despite the numerous advantages of UBI it remains uncertain whether it is affordable and the difficulty around implementing it. It would affect the whole system of the country from the tax system that will have to be adjusted, the private entities and public entities ownership and who will work. To some extent UBI is morally justified but it comes along with a lot of challenges that could plunge the country into crisis because the number of workers are likely to reduce the moment UBI is introduced and this would mean drastic decline in level of production consequently leading to low economic growth. The question of where the tax will come from to commence this huge programme given the population of the whole country, then for this to work there will have to be annual data collection of number of the people and this all process literally will be expensive for modern governments to afford given that they also have to budget for other essential elements such as security, education and health.
The effect UBI would have on long term economic factors would be negative and as a result of possibility of many not working there is likelihood of rise in inflation. At the end of the day will be looking at which one is more important for the sake of the all society having both view in mind. It is the relevant need for reduction of inequality but this would on the other hand bring about inflation. The need for economic growth would be slowed down by UBI. There are welfare systems that relate to basic income but have special requirements owing to the fact that they are not general and most of the time are known as certain minimum system of income and only poor families get access to it.
Johannes Ludovicus proposed that all municipal governments should ensure that a subsistence minimum is secured for all its residence and this not connected to justice but instead it provides a more proficient duty to help the needy. Though he emphasizes that this should only be accorded to those who really need help and not those who are not willing to even work. In order to morally justify the need for UBI will view the following aspects and assess the need of UBI visa a Vis its effects on the society.
The viewpoints in the basic income arguments.
- Transparency and organizational effectiveness
This basically looks for ways of making UBI much simpler and affordable compared to what many states use as at now. There are states who have separate welfare programs such child support, pensions, disability, and housing support among others. This particular perspective proposes consolidation of all these separate welfare programs to come up with one programme that covers all of them as this will reduce the paper work involved in the separate programs. In this way UBI can be affordable to other states should they consider this. It can be one income or basic payment that everyone is entitled to. Though other promoters claims for the addition of basic income to present welfare donations instead of substituting them. If these systems are consolidated then they will work much better and the cost will be affordable to manage the basic income of a country or state.
- Efforts to reduce poverty
The proponents of basic income have always advocated for UBI with a reason that is has the capability of reducing poverty or even completely eradicating poverty. A study conducted by the Abdul Latif Jameel poverty action lab on given freely programme showing impact of UBI programme showed increase in earnings and reduction on expenditure on tobacco. Basically this improves peoples’ living standards and the poverty can be reduced the only challenge is how this will be managed over a long period of time given the need of finance.
Philippe Van claimed that basic income at its highest sustainable level when given can support actual freedom and even freedom of being able to do anything a person wishes to. This extends to freedom of using resources on earth equally and the outcomes of their use of this resources should be under their control. In his view money is the key to accessing this particular resources and therefore the government should give many individuals this key to freely and equally access this resources (Parijs, 1992). This view can easily lead to huge loss if everyone is allowed to use resources how they want without any regulation and should money just be given to every the result of this may not be welcoming as some people would resort to avoiding work and this will lead to low level of productivity.
Karl Widerquist also prosed a theory on freedom where basic income is needed to guard the right to refuse to work, it states that if a set of persons are controlling resources then other people have no choice but to fulfill what they want in order for them to get a glimpse of the resources. Before there were no government and landlords so everyone had access to unlimited resources, but when government and landlords came in the resources were privatized and this theory holds that the custodians of the resources owe the other people the resources and should give part of it back to them.
This distribution must be absolute because citizens would only deem themselves at liberty on condition that they are not working for others to get access to the resources. The resources were used for production hence the need for control of the resources. This theory is relevant but with the growing population over the years the resources have to be regulated otherwise there would be overcrowding and disorganization within a country if resources were not controlled
- Gender equality
Others tend to view basic income as a way of promoting gender equality, while others stated that social policy reform should take into account all gender inequalities and that the citizen’s basic income can be used to promote gender-neutral social rights ( McKay, 2005). Others like georgist claims that geolibertarians seeks to analyze propertarian libertarianism and Georgist philosophy of land not given to all people giving differences between unimproved land and private land. The community contributes through their efforts to pull resources on the land and the land owner reciprocate by paying them. Right-wing has supported need for basic income as several people has expressed similar view as theirs while the adherents of such views actually tend to favor abolition of the public provisions of welfare services.
- Feminist opinions
They are dived on this having opposing views, some sees basic salary as a means of ensuring that minimum financial support is accorded to women and their independence is guaranteed while other feminist opposes basic income on the ground that it might discourage women from participated in the work force which is literally true and this will pinch a country’s economic growth given the reduction in man power.
There is a debate that should people have unrestricted money guaranteed subsequently they are likely to be lazy hence avoiding work and not work with much vigor as required. Less work would amount to less taxes which will convert to less revenue and this will result to less money for the government to run its projects. For examples in some states when there was UBI introduced there was 5% deterioration in the number of hours worked and this proves to be negative for any government. Some have argued that UBI would lessen the extreme medical costs caused by poverty like stress, blood pressure and diabetes among others.
Conclusively jobs should be regarded as meaningful as they aid in acquiring revenues for the government so as to be able to cater for the needs of its citizens ranging from the security sector to the health sector and other programmes that ensure that there is enough food in the country. In light of all this arguments and debate, it is my view that UBI is relevant and any one would wish for this but given its effect it would unwise to implement if there are no strategies put in place. It can drain the resources of a country within a year given the growing population. In as much as every is entitled to basic needs but it would be prudent for everyone to work so that the level of productivity is high and this can sustain the people for a long period of time.
If many people stop working and laziness crops into the society, will have all manners of vices and this cannot be morally justified on any ground. Work is very important tool for every society but at the same time the government should ensure that peoples need are taken care of even if they are poor. Though this can be managed by countries who have developed and they apply it partially to address some problems. It would not be easy to implement such programmes in third world countries as it would pose a great challenge.
McKay, A. (2005). The future of social security: women. Work and citizens basic income.
Parijs, P. V. (1992). Basic Income Capitalism. Ethics, 102, 465-484.
White, S. (1997). Liberal Equality, Exploitation and the Case for an Unconditional Basic Income. Political Studies, XLV, 312-326.