Universal Basic Income and Work

Universal Basic Income and Work

  • mdo  Admin
  •   Articles
  •   September 9, 2021

The nature of work may well be changing, software solutions are replacing jobs, leading to more gig-work. Automation and robotics are reducing jobs, leading to more wealth disparity and gig-work. The Gig Economy, The Creator Economy, The Sharing Economy, these are names for how different parts of the economy are changing as work changes. In a study commissioned by Upwork and Freelancers Union "it is predicted that the majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers within a decade (by 2027)."

If jobs and work are changing, the question arises "Is it possible or realistic for the government to create a job for everyone?" While full-employment may sound like a noble goal, the scale, cost, and complexity of developing a job for each individual managed by a government system would be a costly bureaucratic mess.

While federal job programs are possible and may not need to be national endeavors in scope, a proposed alternative to national full-employment would be a streamlined Universal Basic Income. Having a foundational income floor that lifts everyone out of poverty would make a big difference with regards to work. It would directly alleviate the trend of precarious work by providing a better cushion for individuals in temporary, low-pay, part-time, and gig economy work. This extra cushion could help them find a more healthy work-life balance.

With a UBI, individuals would have the choice to walk away from bad job offers or walk away from abusive or exploitative jobs. If workers have that kind of bargaining power, they may negotiate better working conditions and/or fairer pay. If demands aren't being met for fairer pay or better working conditions, workers then have the leeway to strike. In this way Universal Basic Income is union-friendly.

What about all the work that goes unpaid? A lot of hard work may not get paid very well, such as charitable work and nonprofit work. Another example is care work. While there is currently the expanded Child Tax Credit and parents are able to better take care of their children, the credit is set to expire soon, and that care work soon won't be funded as much anymore.

Then there is the care for the elderly, which is increasing year after year. According to the most recent data from the AARP, an estimated 41.8 million people, or 16.8 percent of the population, currently provides care for an adult over 50. That’s up from 34.2 million (14.3 percent) in 2015. Nearly one third of midlife adults with at least one living parent (32%) are providing financial support to them and four in ten (42%) expect to be doing so in the future. As people are taking care of children and the elderly that important care work shouldn't go unpaid.

What about work incentive? The notions that people would work less and be lazy if ensured a Basic Income are just plain false. In India, Namibia, Zimbabwe, in the U.S., and in Worldwide Cash-Transfer studies, experiments have proven that when ensured a Basic Income people have the opportunity to begin their own line of work. This could be through freelancing or self-employment, or starting a business.

Overall, UBI works... and maybe, a Universal Basic Income can help each individual find out their Ikigai.

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