In the article entitled “Elon Musk says robots will push us to a universal basic income—here’s how it would work” written by Clifford, the author explained that implementation of a universal income might just be the most plausible course of action if and when automation would invariably replace people’s jobs. The application of universal basic income was apparently tested in Finland as revealed in the article written by Jauhiainen and Makinen entitled “Why Finland’s Basic Income Experiment Isn’t Working” an opinion piece in The New York Times. The current discourse hereby asserts that universal basic income is not financial viable or sustainable anywhere in the world.
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By virtue of the definition of universal basic income, the term allegedly means income or a fixed amount of money pledged by the government to be paid to every resident, regardless of employment status or wealth, to effectively cover the basic living needs (Clifford). The application of the universal basic income was reportedly tested in Finland, during the period 2017 to 2018. The test was described to be applied by selecting approximately 2,000 individuals who were supposed to have been randomly selected, and with age ranging from 25 to 58 years old. Moreover, the participants in the study should have been getting some form of unemployment benefits to be accredited as satisfying the initial criteria (Jauhiainen and Makinen). The average income that was supposed to have been given was €560, or approximately $645 per month (Jauhiainen and Makinen).
While still at the evaluation phase, it could already be deduced that there are disparities in the concept of the amount that would be deemed sufficient to cover basic living requirements. The concept of the universal basic income was deemed to have been similarly studied in other geographic locations, such as in the Netherlands where proponents suggested an average monthly income of 1,000 euros, or an estimated $1,067 per adult as well as 200 euros, or about $213 per child would be allocated for payment. In Switzerland, the universal basic income that was recommended for initial evaluation actually reached 2,500 Swiss francs, or approximately $2,578 per month (Clifford). Nevertheless, in the United States, it was reflected that the universal basic income, if applicable, would be within the range of $1,000 income per month (Clifford).
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Concurrently, aside from the differences in perceived amount of universal basic income, depending on the geographic location, the concept was deemed to be inapplicable since the framework counters human’s basic values, especially the strong regard in the importance of work (Clifford). As contended by Martin Ford, the author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, who projected increased automation and replacement of manual work by robots, “this idea of giving people money for nothing is a real adjustment for people [in America]. It goes against our basic values, a Protestant work ethic and all” (Ford; cited in Clifford 1). People are already accustomed in being remunerated for work that is rendered. As such, the framework for providing a universal basic income counters work ethics and might encourage a culture of indolence.
Furthermore, the recommendation to implement a universal basic income should first clearly identify what the objective of the program is. According to the Finnish study, the objective of the initial test to apply the universal basic income program was actually to promote employment, specifically “the project was always meant to incentivize people to accept low-paying and low-productivity jobs” (Jauhiainen and Makinen 1). In Finland’s experience, the test was reported to have failed since the test was actually applied to a very small sample size which could not have been an effective representation of the entire nation. Moreso, the objective was unclear since the effectivity of the program was not supposed to be dependent on its alleged goal of forcing people to accept low-paying jobs (Clifford).
Finally, one strongly affirms that the universal basic program could not be viable and sustainable. A brief estimate of the costs that would be needed to pay for an average $1,000 universal basic income in the United States, for example, would already reach as much as 319 billion a month or approximately $4 trillion a year (Clifford). The imporant question is how would the government generate as much income to pay for the universal basic income. If more residents would just wait for their monthly income without necessarily working, there would not be enough sources to generate as much money in the long run.
In sum, universal basic income is not financial viable or sustainable anywhere in the world. From the initial tests that were conducted in Finland, as well as the different perceptions on the amount that would be needed by each resident to sustain basic living in various geographic locations, it could already be construed that its applicability would never work. The value of work and remuneration generated from doing it provides man with the sense of fulfillment. Man works more to be compensated more. As such, there is actually nothing to look forward to if and when a universal basic income would be compulsorily be applied.
- Clifford, Catherine. “Elon Musk says robots will push us to a universal basic income—here’s how it would work.” 18 November 2016. cnbc.com. Web. 16 October 2017.
- Ford, Martin. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. Basic Books, 2016. Print.
- Jauhiainen, Antti and Joona-Hermanni Makinen. “Why Finland’s Basic Income Experiment Isn’t Working.” 20 July 2017. The New York Times. Web. 16 October 2017.