Many libertarians as well as liberals and conservatives have, unsuccessfully, made the case for universal basic income in the past. But according to a recent study, the scheme just doesn’t work. Unfortunately, researchers weren’t satisfied with that result, as they used their findings to urge public officials to invest on other welfare programs instead.
To them, UBI is bad because it takes money away from other welfare and infrastructure programs, not because it is an immoral practice that teaches generation after generation of people to rely on government for their basic needs.
According to the study, which was carried out by the global trade union federation Public Services International, none of the 16 practical projects that tested UBI around the world showed any signs that the system works. Mainly because UBI costs taxpayers too much (about 20 to 30% of the GDP) and because, over time, the system doesn’t really fix poverty.
Instead of using taxpayer cash to invest in building and fixing the “system” necessary to implement progressive goals, the money would be wasted on individuals and their unique wants and needs, giving them the feeling they are entitled to “money for nothing.” At least, that’s what the study seems to have found. Furthermore, there’s not much left for infrastructure when UBI is in place. Meaning that “If cash payments are allowed to take precedence, there’s a serious risk of crowding out efforts to build collaborative, sustainable services and infrastructure – and setting a pattern for future development that promotes commodification rather than emancipation.”
It’s almost as if researchers with the Public Services International preferred to see more taxpayer money spent on union-led efforts than on single individuals, who might as well be consumers (the horror!). Despite their bias, the important thing is that neither UBI nor any other welfare program works, not simply because it sends the wrong signal, but also because it is based on a flawed logic.
UBI Is Bad (And Immoral)
Regardless of how you see UBI, the reality is that a monthly cash payment can actually worsen poverty and unemployment, as UBI won’t eliminate the disincentives to work found in more traditional welfare programs and won’t help those who cannot find employment adjust so they can be more productive in a different field.
Additionally, UBI would require money redistribution just like any other government-led scheme, meaning that productive residents would have to foot the bill.
To those who work a lot and who make a lot more, that would mean a larger transference of cash, disincentivizing the productive individual from working harder. After all, why make more just to see your hard-earned cash going to unproductive people?
If anything, UBI is yet another welfare scheme that costs too much and that won’t do anything to the taxpayer funding it. And in the long run, it would continue to hurt able-bodied adults by tricking them into thinking they can go on without seeking proper employment. Those who are ambitious enough to keep on working under these circumstances would eventually figure out they would be better off somewhere else, and would eventually leave to greener pastures.