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A Universal Basic Income is Not the Solution

The familiar structure of work we’ve been accustomed to for around 100 years has been gradually changing over the past couple of decades. Much of this change has gone unnoticed by most of the population because companies typically don’t like to talk about replacing jobs with technology and the news media typically buries layoffs and workforce reduction information deep in the business section. Yet these changes in the workforce are some of the most important issues of our society and need to be brought to the center of public discourse.

Technological advances and outsourcing over the past 30 years have eradicated millions of jobs and will continue to do so at an escalating pace over the next 20 to 30 years. Some new jobs have also been created due to these advances, but the overall net loss in jobs has been a huge gain for employers and a huge net loss for employees. The United States, as well as many other countries, will face significant socioeconomic problems in the decades ahead as the number of people not able to find good-paying employment skyrockets.

There are many possible solutions to relieve some of these problems, but one of the “solutions” I’ve heard from numerous speakers and writers is the concept of having the government send everyone a check as a guaranteed social welfare payment (or Universal Basic Income) so people will have an income if they cannot find a job. The government has important roles to play in helping to alleviate the problems we are beginning to see, but having the government spend trillions of dollars every year sending small checks to what could end up eventually being half the population (or more) would be extremely unproductive, fiscally unsustainable, and socially irresponsible.

What is government anyway? We all tend to throw the word “government” around like it’s a surreal being hovering over us with tentacles reaching in every direction. (It kind’a feels that way sometimes) Government is not a disconnected blob of ethereal matter, it is simply a complex organization of people – a few representatives chosen by the greater population, but most chosen by those already in the government – who conduct many of the needed functions of an organized society.

A group of people forming our government should not be considered our over-seers, but our equals, chosen to help us help ourselves. We tend to be a culture that idolizes heroes, enshrining them in mythical feats of grandeur, yet many of the politicians we hire to improve prosperity opportunities for the largest number of people, tend to fail at the level of mythical proportions. Politicians need to play important roles in passing legislation that will improve opportunities for more people to find employment and develop relationships with leaders of private enterprise to enhance cooperation between the general public and the companies that will provide them with jobs. This has always been the case to some extent, but we are now entering a new phase of technological employment disruption that requires our politicians to look beyond the next election cycle (good luck with that, right) and focus on working with business leaders to develop the next phase of our economy. They did that during the industrial revolution of the early 1900’s and now a century later, the new technological revolution requires the same statesmanship.

Government officials will always need to do their part in improving economic conditions, but no one should expect them to be their prosperity provider. Looking to a group of elected politicians to solve your financial problems, pay you a small monthly stipend, and make decisions for you would lead to a life of despair and anguish living around the poverty line with little incentive to achieve at high levels. The government is a structure of laws, regulations, defense, and organization that provides a platform for a society to grow and prosper. A government should never be expected to simply pay half the population to live. A government can provide the playing field, the rules, and the officials for a population to flourish, but it cannot win the game for everyone. A vibrant, growing society cannot simply be filled with spectators, everyone must engage and play.

Humans should never be relegated to the equivalent of a heard of sheep being corralled and controlled by a tiny portion of the government and corporate elite who pay them off with a small paycheck each month. Any member of society is capable of transforming their life to new heights as well as the lives of many others if they are motivated and driven by earning a living and being a productive member of society. Some people who would take the small check and start a business, engage in other productive forms of self-employment, or work part-time depending on their situation. There would also be far too many people who would simply take the government handout and sit in front of a TV all day or go fishing or engage in some other leisurely activity that would not add much value to the general economy. As the years went by, fewer and fewer people would engage in meaningful occupations creating a larger pool of people requiring small monthly checks which would create a greater strain on the tax-payer funded entitlement program. The pool of tax-payers funding the program would dwindle each year, eventually leading to insolvency. Then where would we be? Does Greece ring a bell? Only this time – Imagine Greece on a global scale, with no entity large enough to bail out a multitrillion dollar welfare system.

This scenario would also reduce the number of people who held the bulk of the wealth each year. Most people already decry the 1%’s who hold much of the wealth today. If we went to a system of a government handing out checks to everyone with nothing in return each month, the 1% would eventually turn into the .0001%. Do we really want a system where a very tiny group of people in relation to the overall population own 95% or more of the wealth, while a majority of the rest of the population is barely getting by?

If the government were to begin handing out small checks to everyone each month, that would also reduce the need and desire for most people to work at all anymore. If you are currently working a job 45 to 50 hours a week, and you see your neighbor not working at all and doing whatever they want each day, you might eventually become disenchanted with busting your butt and leave the workforce to take the government check. It would actually be a disincentive for people to work. Why work a job making $35,000 to $45,000 per year that you don’t like, when you can receive an annual income from the government in the range of $25,000 to $30,000 per year to do nothing. Many people will find ways to reduce their bills in order to live off the lower government check and not have to work anymore.

Welfare has been a part of our society for decades. A system of providing a wage to citizens who cannot find work can be a very productive process if the government provides those people with work. There are thousands of tasks a person can perform to earn a check from the government each month. Of course, there will be exceptions, as there are now, for those who are not physically able to work or have other issues that interfere with their capability to perform regular work, but most people can work at least on a part-time activity that the government designates to earn their checks. The government can provide a list of thousands of activities that people can choose from to perform to earn their checks. Each person can choose the activity they want to perform from the list so they still have variability and some control over what they do each day.

This process would enable people who need government assistance to still be able to receive that financial resource while also providing a service to the community. This process would also create incentives for people to still try and obtain a regular job to make more money rather than work one of the government provided activities because they would not have the option of doing nothing and still receiving a check on the tax-payer dime. This process would also provide the opportunities for people to learn many different tasks and skill sets depending on which task they would choose to perform each day from the vast list the government would provide. One of these learned new skill sets could provide for the opportunity to obtain a new, higher-paying job in the private sector.

Private enterprise would be an important partner with the government to subsidize this program and have participants perform tasks for companies, which could lead to unlimited learning opportunities, skill-set enhancements, and millions of new occupational opportunities in the private sector. Millions of workers in the government work program would then migrate back into the private sector as the economy grows and new jobs are designed and created. As the machines assume more of the conventional work humans have always done, private enterprise will need to partner with the government to develop new occupations to keep people engaged in the economy. Government and private enterprise must work together at all levels to develop new entrepreneurs, new structures, and new opportunities for all. They cannot be adversaries trying to outmaneuver each other anymore.

A government provided social welfare check for everyone with nothing in return is not the solution to the growing scarcity of good-paying occupations. We must realize our population is not to be treated as a growing financial drain on society, but the critically impactful driver to our continued prosperity. We must all engage and contribute, not be pushed into the boundaries of irrelevance. We must stop thinking that providing a meager government check with nothing in return is the antidote to creating a future utopian society. That would only lead to the gradual discontent and decay of our society that has been built on hard work, perseverance, innovation, participation, and endless possibilities.

About the Author:

Mark Kincheloe is a Financial Analyst, writer, and artist working to bring attention to how technology is rapidly replacing humans in the workplace and how society can evolve to meet the challenge. Mark lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.


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  • Your op-ed piece is capturing the popular opinion in the United States Mark, which is one of several reasons why I published it.

    Unfortunately, just like the popular sentiment, it is ill-informed, presents absolutely no evidence of it’s own to support its projections and claimed outcomes, and ignores or is totally uninformed about a number of cases spanning from Canada, to India to Scandinavia, that provide real world examples that what you say happens when we have UBI is not at all the case.

    In short, it is really nothing more than a strong opinion based on presumptive ideology about the government and what the possible outcomes of UBI will be but it doesn’t have a single point of reference or any evidence whatsoever in your whole article that it actually is the case. And as I said, we have a lot of evidence to the contrary, if you care to search for it. And many countries are either running pilots already or are planning to be running pilots to actually get real world data on UBI. Because that is how we make informed decisions – not on idealogy, but real data on what actually happens.

  • It is unrealistic to ask the government to provide a list of thousands of activities that people can choose from to perform to earn their unemployment checks. This would be unfair competition for the private sector or even the public sector that works for real (teachers, nurses, cops…). No, the government should never give work to the unemployed. It can train them, teach them new skills, but not give them work in competition with the private sector.

  • Carlos Arias

    Yeah, but you cannot criticize a measure to not achieve an aim it wasn’t designed for. UBI is not the panacea and must be complemented with other policies. But guaranteeing everybody with the means of survival independently of the contribution we make is the best way to maximize creativity and innovation.

    The state, as the private sector, can never know everything that must be done, or it’s crucial to our development. However, UBI is not incompatible with a State job program. Don’t try to compare them because their aim is quite different. UBI provides freedom. Real freedom.

  • Matthew_Bailey

    This has got to be the stupidest thing I have read on this subject, capturing every moronic and sophomoric trope about “work” that exists.

    It is a lengthy polemic based upon an empty and hollow ideology that has not once in history produced what it claims.

    And it is utterly blind to the realities, and contrary evidence (like, if people got money, they would have no incentive to work).


    If that is the case, then NOT A SINGLE Millionaire, or Billionaire would do anything but sit on their asses.


    It is ignoring that THERE WILL BE NO WORK by which people can support themselves.

    The level of Ideological BLINDNESS here is so severe that the entire article avoids the very premise that is put forward in the beginning:

    That Automation is eventually going to remove EVERY JOB, EVER, and not just a few.

    This is because increasing Artificial Intelligence will converge upon Human Intelligence.

    At which point…. An AI would be able to do ANY Job a Human could do, BETTER than ANY HUMAN.

    Why would any Human be hired, which would require a hourly wages, or a salary, medical benefits, breaks for lunch and bathroom, and a limited work-day; AND which would require a lighted, heated and air-conditioned workplace…. When you could hire a robot that would be a one-time cost (plus limited maintenance, probably done by other robots), and would work 24/7, non-stop in the pitch-black environment that needed minimal environmental controls?

    And that goes for ANY JOB (Doctor, Lawyer, Artist, Musician, Mechanic, Plumber, Janitor, Manufacturing, Hair-Stylist, etc.).

    By the 2030s/40s…. That is where we are going to be.

    And without Labor…. There is no Capital, either.

    Because there is no Consumer Base at that point.

    What is it with Ideologues who cannot see beyond a single metric for a universe where multiple metrics are required.

    It is like choosing a single means to measure the entire universe; such as choosing ONLY “Inches” to measure everything in existence.

    That works perfectly well to measure distances, and some volumes.

    But as soon as you need to measure time, temperature, mass, weight, force, pressure, density, or a VAST number of other aspects of the Universe…..

    Such a person sounds like an insane fool trying to insist that they can measure Time, Temperature, or Mass in “Inches.”

    Limiting oneself to a single Ideology is no different.

    And this article has clearly made such a limitation.

  • Great article, well written, but my vote will go squarely against this *opinion*. Basic Income will not be about making people prosper it will be about survival. If too many people end up in ghettoes and lifelong poverty they will vote for the most destructive options available – and if they can’t vote they will tear down the place any way they can. That is simply the natural instincts are primates have – if you give two monkeys free food, and one a slice of cucumber and the other a raising – if they both press a lever – the one who consistently gets cucumber would rather starve than see the other endlessly rewarded with raisins.

    Technological unemployment can in the span of one generation reduce people in developed nations to a level of despair the likes we haven’t seen on this planet. while we still have democracy we will simply VOTE IN TO OFFICE any politician who realizes an acceptable solution. This acceptable solution won’t be merely an austere, spartan basic income, it will be a dignified basic income, say in todays money the equivalent of 1500 dollar a month. At the very least. Plus decent medical care, plus good education, plus collectivized services. And getting better literally every year by a small fraction.

    Or it will be pitchforks. You need to dispel this dangerous delusion you are under. If you have better workable solutions to offer, please do, but the default future ahead is either the one, or the other.

    Note that I already have lived all my life of the equivalent of an austere basic income. If my sentiments were any clue – I am very very angry and very very bitter most of the time. Imagine me having none whatsoever. Take away my hope and either I die or other people die.

    You can take your nice little proposal for corporate slave labour and shove it.

  • Dan Vasii

    It is actually unrealistic and from technological point of view – as the progress of AI will graduall allow more and more of those activities to be carried on by robots…. Virtually all the heavy duty or boring/repetetive tasks will be assumed by robots/AI….

  • jack smith

    There is no overall net loss in jobs. Your premise is sophistry and fallacy.

  • Dan

    Instead of UBI how about guaranteed federal jobs for people that want them? I believe people want to work more than they want to sit around doing nothing and besides American’s have never been known for being lazy ; working and creating means for work is the American way.

  • Mark Kincheloe

    Wow Socrates, that’s a very militant response. You sound like you have passionate negative perspectives of Americans. We’re really not that bad. I’ve read many blogs and articles over the years espousing the factually inaccurate, misguided and dangerous opinions in your response. This is precisely why I wrote this article. You sound like you believe the government can be the provider of a Utopian human existence, which history has shown us many times not to be the case.

    The belief that the government is the solution to provide prosperity to the masses is one of the most ill-informed perspectives humans have let themselves get trapped into since the dawn of large governmental societies. I want people stop believing the fallacy that a few bureaucrats can solve all of their problems and begin to realize we must work together as a cohesive society to solve the problems we have now, not to mention the coming much more serious problems we will see in 20 to 30 years after technology and AI have eliminated millions of more job opportunities.

    Your reference to France being a great example is comical. France has one of the highest debt-to-GDP ratios in Europe at 96% and is substantially growing higher every year. The European Union average is 85%. France has one of the highest unemployment rates and some of the highest tax rates in Europe. President Holland said himself early last year that France is suffering through an “uncertain economic climate and persistent unemployment”. India has been providing welfare assistance programs to those living under there established poverty line for many years. The UBI they are discussing implementing is meant to replace the welfare assistance programs with one simple check. Not subsidize it. So it will still only provide the bare minimum of needs assistance for them to live, not lift them out of poverty.

    I have yet to find an article anywhere on the internet after years of looking that shows any proof that a UBI actually improves prosperity and lifts people out of poverty like the proponents claim it can do.

    Here are a couple of facts that are not opinion that are easily obtainable information from numerous US government websites.

    The US government provides numerous welfare assistance programs (forms of UBI’s) to people living in America.
    The most common programs are Medicaid, nutrition assistance programs(food stamps), housing assistance, and Supplemental Security Income assistance programs.
    More than 20% of the American public receive one or more of these public assistance monies described from the US government (which are forms of a UBI distributed through different programs). The US government spends just over $1trillion per year on these programs, yet there are still about 45 million people in America living below the poverty line. (most of whom are receiving these benefits) If a UBI was a great program, the number of people living in poverty who receive these benefits would have fallen after decades of the program’s implementation. It has not.

    UBI’s and welfare assistance programs are intended to help keep people out of poverty and allow them to have their basic needs filled so they don’t have to worry about having a regular job to provide those needs, yet that is not happening. The wealth gap between the rich and poor continues to grow. There will always be some that use that money as a stepping stone to lift themselves up, but the majority stay in a poverty stricken situation until they find long term employment that lifts them into a more prosperous situation.

    Maybe you’re missing the point. We do need assistance programs to make sure people are not starving and to help people obtain shelter and healthcare. Those are basic tenants of a civilized society. But to say the government should provide a small wage to everyone that is only enough to keep people below the poverty line and is a substitute for work is immoral. You are essentially advocating for people to purposely subsist in poverty by the government’s hand. We need vibrant economic exchange that creates growing economic prosperity for everyone. You’re looking in the wrong place. It’s not the government that can provide that.

    If your concept was to provide, say…$25,000 per year to everyone, then they wouldn’t be living in poverty. Great, but that would cost several trillions of dollars per year. How could the US afford that? (or any country for that matter.) Even if they taxed the top 10% income earners at 60 or 70%, that still would only be a small fraction of the needed amount for that program. Providing a UBI that actually lifts people out of poverty is not remotely financially feasible.

    A UBI would only accentuate the wealth gap, not reduce it. Of course there would be those who would use the money to perform productive activities like starting a business, going to college, becoming practicing artists, become a care-giver for others, live out in the woods on the land, etc, etc,, but decades of history have shown that for the majority of people, these welfare assistance monies do not improve their situations. Only after obtaining well paid employment do they lift themselves out of poverty and into a more prosperous situation.

    The solution lies in the businesses that generate the transfer of money through goods and services. Most businesses have been accumulating profits in financial instruments for decades instead of spreading those profits back to the employees and back into the entire economic ecosystem. That creates more jobs and spreads wealth across a broader spectrum. The solution lies in private enterprise hiring more people, not less. Creating more companies and more jobs, not merging and buying out each other, producing fewer jobs. Using their profits to grow their companies, not buying back records amount of stock each year and hoarding trillions of dollars of corporate profits in financial institutions.

    The private sector and the general public were the driving forces behind the Renaissance period that pulled society out of the dark ages. Not the government. The private sector was the driving force behind the Machine Age and the Industrial Revolution that provided hundreds of millions of people with jobs over many decades while helping to develop many of our largest urban areas. Not the government.

    At the height of the Roman civilization, they had a vast, prosperous middle class and a vibrant wealthy class because of the extensive private trade between each other and other countries. One of the main reasons the Roman Empire fell was because the government accumulated too much power, control, and corruption over the centuries and eventually raised taxes so much to pay for wars and community resources that a large portion of the population lost faith in their government and migrated to other places, and with them, their tax money that funded the government.

    Private citizens and enterprises have always held the key to human prosperity growth, not the government.

  • Curt Welch

    This article gets all the facts wrong.

    Let me just tell you what a Basic Income really is (IT’S NOT WELFARE). It’s rent/profit sharing.

    When technology replaces workers, GDP doesn’t fall — the economy still produces MORE STUFF every year. Total GDP is the same as total income. Every dollar spent buying a finished good or service, becomes INCOME in somebody’s pocket. But income is paid for two VERY DIFFERENT reasons. The first, is when a human rents his body (his time) to the economy — wages and salaries. The second, is when an investor owns something of value (other than human slaves) that produces rent, like land, oil fields, iron ore mines, patents, market share that produces a profit, copyrights, trademarks, robots.

    As technology advances, GDP keeps rising, but wages FALL as a percent of GDP, humans are not as valuable today as they once where beaue machines are doing far more of the work today, and the oil to power them is more valuable to the production process than human labor is. As technology advances, and wages fall, FREE RENT TO THE 1% rises — income for doing nothing but holding the legal right of ownership of some asset, like land, or an oil field, or a patent (that has already fully paid for all the human labor used to create so royals are now 100% free capital rent).

    When robots do all the work, prices for goods will not fall. The FED keeps prices on a constant inflation path, so the price of goods keep slowly rising (that’s their legally mandated job). But as less work is needed, more of that value is paid to whoever owns the land, the oil, the patents, the business.

    Advancing technology converts pay for labor, into capital gains on property and capital income. That’s “free money” rich investors get because of what they own, not because of what they have done for society.

    Society can not survive, when the economy becomes 80% free income for investors, and 20% pay for labor — which is where we quickly heading. 80% of society have no real investment income and must live off of wages — when there are no wages, they can’t life and they will revolt, and do something really really stupid, like hire a populist president to “shake things up”.

    Technology creates endless INEQUALITY in society, while the rich live of massive income from their investments, the poor that have no investments, can’t sell their body to get a fair share of the income.

    The answer here is simple, take the free rent the 1% live on away from them (they have no “right” to it in the first place), and share it with everyone in society.

    That’s what a Basic Income is. It’s profit sharing, not “welfare”. It’s taking the free income the 1% get to live on away from them, and sharing it with everyone.

    In the US economy today, wage income has fallen to around 50% of the GPD (maybe 60%) and the rest is all free money for the rich. However much “free income” there is in the economy, we need to take all of that away from the rich, and share it as a free income for everyone, as a Basic Income.

    In the US, 50% of GDP shared that way, would add up to $2000 a month of Basic Income for every man woman and child in the US. That’s how much “free money” the rich get today, that we never should have allowed the rich to have in the first place. All they do, is fight each other for control of these resources. It’s not part of what they actually contribute with their labor to society. What the rich actually contribute with their labor, is only the 50% of GDP that is not capital income.

    To suggest that sharing this free rent would be bad for people fails to recognize that this “free money” already exists in society and we give it all to the 1%. If free money is so bad, why do we allow the rich to have this “bad stuff” today?

    A Basic Income is not welfare taking from hard working people to give to the lazy. It’s free money that we will refuse to allow the rich to hoard any longer.

  • Socrates is right. When President Nixon considered a UBI, they ran pilot projects that demonstrated most people would not abuse it. Why wasn’t it adopted? Because the Democrats rejected it. What about taxes? No taxes are necessary. Martin Armstrong has shown how we can replace all federal taxes by converting from a debt-based currency to a government-based currency. Hey, if people are willing to accept Bitcoin, which is a faith-based currency, then most people would be willing to accept government issued faith-based currency. So we eliminate federal taxes, convert the federal debt to equity (Armstrong explains how in his presentation: see Armstrong Economics), implement a UBI, and while some people will turn into blubberous lumps who waste their lives watching TV, many if not most will not.

  • Dean Pomerleau

    Yeah – good luck with that.

    I agree UBI is inevitable eventually.

    But I, like the original author, am NOT convinced that citizens of our country are ready for it, and I’m *quite* certain the only way a UBI will happen anytime soon in the US is via armed rebellion.

    Given the authoritarian in the White House at the moment, that is EXACTLY what he wants to happen, so he can call out the armed forces to quell any uprisings and further restrict the civil liberties of everyone in America.

    At best, current advocates for basic income are doing the equivalent of arguing for mortgage loan equality – for the first colonists on Mars; it is that irrelevant in the current socio-political climate.

    At worst, UBI advocates are hastening the coming apocalypse by offering additional fodder to those currently in power that ‘Commie Pinkos’ on the left are trying overturn the American Dream – by working hard you can get ahead. [Please note – I personally don’t believe this ‘fodder’, I’m just saying what it looks like to those with a different perspective than rational, progressive folks.]

    Trump was elected in a part due to the concern by poor white Americans that minorities and immigrants were ‘cutting in line’ with the help of government handouts. If these folks aren’t convinced already, they will be easily swayed to the idea UBI (which they’ll see as the equivalent of welfare) is more of the same – simply another attempt by the Left to put the interests of minorities ahead of ‘red blooded Americans’. So they will easy to convince that basic income is NOT in their interests or the interests of the country.

    Note: I’m NOT saying I believe or endorse the perspective expressed above. All I’m saying is that given this IS the perspective many people in the US have about UBI (or will soon have when they learn about it from InfoWars & Fox News), it is therefore AT BEST futile to be arguing for it now.

    Not until technological unemployment arrives and throws a large and angry portion of Americans out of work will UBI be seriously considered, and only if it’s clear the alternative is imminent armed rebellion.

    This won’t end well.

  • Hello World! That’s the name.

    “A Universal Basic Income is Not the Solution”

    Of course it’s not, it’s clearly only part of a solution. A re-envisioning of all kinds of ownership where it is due, as societal, and accounted for in a way that everyone’s individual stake in such is clear, most likely involving unconditional incomes, might be a solution. Because that’s what would enable people to act with agency, both for an individual benefit, or a collective benefit, where either appears like the sensible course of action, to the individual. I say it’s time to practice trust in each other. There’s plenty reassuring insights when it comes to topics of motivation ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc ) and going for a more compassionate self-image, also relating to sustainable motivation. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0gtnOXAp-U )

    “The government can provide a list of thousands of activities that people can choose from to perform to earn their checks. Each person can choose the activity they want to perform from the list so they still have variability and some control over what they do each day.
    No need for this kind of distrust of fellow people. Just provide people with the opportunity to express to themselves what has purpose (and to make a humble profit, if desired), and people will do so, more often than not.”

    A list of things we recognize in the present day can never be a solution for some people, people who seek to do something new. Or things that happen to be in poor societal standing for being new, as it so often is the case with modern day art and community building, and many more things that I might be missing. I can only provide my own perspective, after all.
    Also, a list of things that one can do for others, that does not recognize that we all have a right to do things only for ourselves, at times. And the balancing between what is wise to do for others, and what is wise to do for oneself individually, is also something for an individual to decide on. We can only see about there being plenty opportunity for people to be appreciated, also in monetary terms, should they chose to act in agency of others.

    Further, doing things for oneself only, might only be like that at first glance. Seeking mastery in competition with yourself, a somewhat inward focused procedure, can more often than not result in nice things for others. More generally, how else are people going to obtain the social and creative skills, to make fellow people happy, if not by looking inwards at times?
    A list of merely thousands of things cannot account for all the nice things that people might want to aspire to do, with purpose.

    Anyway, a UBI by itself isn’t the answer. Questions concerning justice when it comes to our natural heritage, the heritage of our ancestors, and questions regarding customer spending that was undertaken devoid of perfect information (not to forget work related and more general matters of direct or indirect coercion via fellow people, as they frequently occur today), and some more things, those need to be considered as well.

    But I don’t see how this would involve giving people lists with things on em that they may work. I certainly don’t know a single person or formally organized body of people, myself included, who’d be capable of filling this list to an extent that it’d do justice to the experience of people individually (unless everyone got to write on this list.). And it’s entirely unneeded, in my view. Let’s do the more just thing instead, that is, letting people act with purpose where they see it, as this is a practical thing to do, too. Of course there’s many ways to further support the doing of purposeful things, but unconditional incomes would be an important institution there, still.

    If we want to enable people to do work that is more than some spin on make-work or Amish settlement, we’re looking at Unconditional Incomes first and foremost, and then see about the other factors.

    At least that’s how I see it. And hope you have a good day whoever reads this. 🙂

  • I agree but your article needs more references…

    The pro-UBI people also do a bad job of providing evidence for thier assumptions. Thier article are almost 100% ideology and fantasy

  • I live in the bustling center of a European capital city. It’s winter time and there’s constantly ice and snow on the sidewalk, it’s quite an inconvenience. Every time I shuffle along the slippery sidewalks I have the same thought…
    Why the hell doesn’t the government give the refugees (who are cared for at the tax payers expense) shovels and have them clear the sidewalks?
    The refugees are able bodied guys just sitting around bored in their centers.
    It would engender good will towards the refugees because everybody would see them being helpful.
    The refugees could probably use the exercise.
    It would make life a whole lot easier for the people slipping and sliding on the pavement.
    It’s such a bloody obvious solution to a couple different problems; yet the government doesn’t do it.

    This is a quintessential example of the government’s profound incompetence and wastefulness when it comes to managing resources. It would not require any great organization, planning or management just a couple dozen shovels and a bus to bring the guys downtown.

    If the government can’t even do something as obvious as having the refugees shovel the snow it really is a tremendous Indiana Jones stepping out into the abyss leap of faith to think that the government could effectively and honestly re-distribute resources from the hated 1% to solve the great challenge of technological unemployment. This great undeserved faith that people put in the government is what we call statism.

    Karl Marx said that religion was the opium of the foolish mases; Marxism is the opium of foolish intellectuals.

    Universal Basic Income MIGHT work if it’s truly voluntary, delivered by the free market and administered by benevolent general artificial intelligence. If not it will surely become Communism 3.0 and will result in a metaphorical (and likely literal) mountain of smoldering bodies.

    A flight of fantasy…
    For example, in 20 or 30 years the trillionaire shareholders of Amazon.com decide to offer free 3D printed nutrient rich food to everyone. The cost of manufacturing and distributing food gets so low that the fabulously wealthy shareholders of Amazon decide altruistically to give free food to everyone who wants it.
    Imagine numerous major companies doing this and a universal basic living standard could be provided for free to the public in the same way that Google Maps is free.

    But if Universal Basic Income were implemented tomorrow or anytime soon with governments at all resembling the corrupt and really criminal institutions that they are now, it’s just going to result in another disastrous social experiment like…
    The USSR
    North Korea
    China under Mao
    South Africa (This country doesn’t get the attention it deserves in these debates about social justice, this once rich country started implementing all the policies that social justice warriors advocate over 20 years ago and it’s a disaster! Well on it’s way to being the next Yemen)
    Socialists, communists, Democrats, Bernie Bros and other varieties of witting and unwitting marxists will of course say…
    Yeah but what about Canada and various rich European countries that have strong socialist policies, they seem to be doing pretty ok, mannnnnn!
    These countries are running on fumes; fiat currency, money printing and quantitative easing.
    They will be embroiled in chaos and petty violence in the event of an economic downturn or geopolitical disruption (look at Paris, France this week!)
    These countries have massive unfunded entitlement programs. Baby boomers significant health needs will pound the last nail in the coffin of their socialized healthcare institutions.
    Population replacement rates have fallen below 2 below two children per woman thanks to high taxation, lack of opportunity and toxic feminism.
    I’ve traveled the world for 5 years and I consistently meet smart, entrepreneurial, young Canadians, Swedes and Germans in places like Medellin and Kiev who are fleeing the asphyxiating taxation and regulation of these countries.
    In the next 5-10 years we’ll see these countries become the next Greece.

    Perhaps what the government could do is restrict robots and AI from taking over various domains of human endeavor and industries…
    Like creative work, I see no problem with banning AI and robots from writing novels, making movies or video games.
    Design, we could leave humans in charge of designing buildings, fashion, products, user interfaces, etc
    Cooking and hospitality, do we really want robot waiters and robot cooks? I don’t think so. I’d always be willing to pay a premium for a dinning experience.
    The caring economy; massage therapists, talk therapists, life coaches, etc
    The artistic and leisure economy could grow to provide employment to a significant proportion of our population.
    It’s foolish to say that robots and AI are going to take all our jobs. Truck drivers and factory workers, yes you guys are on the chopping block but there’s a lot of other jobs out there.

    Mark Kincheloe says that if everyone just gets UBI from the government
    “Some people who would take the small check and start a business, engage in other productive forms of self-employment, or work part-time depending on their situation. There would also be far too many people who would simply take the government handout and sit in front of a TV all day or go fishing…”
    I think Mark is optimistic to even think people would leave the house. Without an incentive to work 90% of the population will go on a none-stop diet of porn (just imagine what VR porn will be like in 20 years!), weed, video games and funny Youtube videos.

    I lived in Colombia for several years and in Colombia there are many mimes. Walk through any busy part of town and you can see mimes performing on the street for people or jugglers juggling for pesos at traffic intersections. This is because the cost of living is so low that you can actually make a living from being a juggler or mime in Colombia.

    As technology and AI makes our economy much, much more efficient we’ll see the cost of living decrease sharply to where a waiter or painter selling their art over the Internet can afford the life accountant does now.
    But only if the government gets the hell of out of the way. If the government introduces price and wage controls along with reams and reams of regulations we’ll have a true nightmare scenario of…
    Massive unemployment
    Stagnant wages
    High cost of living
    Corrupt government bureaucrats giving monopolies to their friends
    An entitled and angry underclass with no incentive to work living on welfare
    An entrenched class of elite oligarchs who own everything
    …which will inevitably result in a metaphorical (and likely literal) mountain of smoldering bodies.

  • Hello World! That’s the name.

    You might be missing one key point, so lets just talk about that for a bit: Ownerhsip as we know it is monopolizing. It only takes one person to chose to increasingly hold on to resources that we all have business with, to eventually accumulate everything that can be exclusively, individually owned like that. (and to collect rents on that.)

    But yeah, anarchy paired with perfect information for everyone might do the trick. Till then, we probably need a society that choses to put burdens and duties, onto the owning of anything of a scarce character that no (adequately) paid labor has created. Even John Locke, a champion of labor mixing as a method to originally appropriate things was so aware of this issue, that he coined the phrase that ‘as much and as good must remain for others’, should one chose to appropriate from nature (or otherwise unowned space).

    And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for governments to get out of the way. So we the people can frame ownership in a way that is agreeable to all actors in the system, to a similar extent. It’s a matter of coming together to demand democracy and to demand justice.

  • Steve Morris

    Jack, I am glad someone pointed this out. The whole premise of technology replacing jobs is factually incorrect. There is no net loss of jobs. The number of jobs, even in developed countries like the US, keeps on growing.

  • Curt Welch

    Yeah, I hear you Dean. But the US is not the only nation on the planet. The UBI argument is valid for every nation, and many of them are paying attention to these debates. Some are even running UBI experiments right now and many are studying the idea. Even within the US the UBI argument is gaining enough momentum to get serious funding for test projects — some even inside the US. So the arguments are valid and important to make, even when the majority of americans can’t yet understand or accept it.

    People struggling voted for change with Trump. They don’t really understand what is wrong or what the right solution is, but they do know that the system isn’t working for them, so they voted for change. Trump is rich, but he understands nothing about economics. His plans for the country will make everything worse for the people that are currently struggling. They won’t vote for him in 4 years — if he even makes it that long. They will vote for change again.

    When the next vote for change happens, let’s hope a UBI is at least a idea on the table.

  • Dean Pomerleau


    I agree 100%. I’ve said elsewhere that the US won’t be the first country to implement basic income at scale.

    It will only be considered as a serious possibility in the US after a progressive European country has rolled out UBI for a decade, showing that it works and doesn’t sap its citizen’s work ethic. It will only be considered in the US if socio-economic inequality has gotten even worse that it is now – an outcome which seems almost guaranteed given the trajectory we’re on.

    But the myth of the American Dream – that anyone can be a success if they work hard enough and should be allowed to keep all the fruits of their success – will die hard, and will be used as a club to beat up on UBI supporters in the US for many years to come.

  • Mark, my wife is American man. So I surely don’t have anything against Americans. I do, however, take issues with poorly researched, though well-written, but lacking evidence articles like yours. And to know that is the case just look at the comments here or on Facebook and even the few people who actually agree with your claim in principle say you provide no proof or evidence whatsoever, and you did very poor job supporting that claim. Those are the people who agree with you man.

    And while France may have higher national debt than the US I was speaking that it is better in every other conceivable way for its citizens – be it health, standard of living, body weight, education, vacation or whatsoever. But the point is their national debt has no impact whatsoever on your claim about UBI. Just like I never actually said it has to necessarily come from the government. There are many different options. Many. For example, you can tax robots on par with workers and sustain the same income from production. Pretty communist idea, eh. I know, it is coming from a great left-wing communist guy called Bill Gates: https://youtu.be/nccryZOcrUg

  • Dan
  • Robotics, AI, and the Macro-Economy by Jeffrey Sachs https://youtu.be/d8tlyFOq2tU

  • If what you are contending will be true, and I agree jobs will no longer exist, probably by sometime in the 2020s, why would we bother with economics, money, income, or any of that? Let everyone own their own means of production that produces everything they could ever need or want. End of trade. End of almost all of government. End of money. No more nonsense from any of you about UBI. It’s based on scarcity, which will soon by nonexistent.

  • I agree with the writer. The fastest and most effective way of getting to Abundance is through capitalism straight up. No chaser. Capitalism links billions of people together in patterns of creative conflict and cooperation that produces like no other system ever produced before. It is a radically decentralized information producer and exchange. It tells anyone who cares to learn where and when to ship atoms.

    But, when we get to Abundance, everyone will have their own easily replicable replicators producing everything they could need or want at the touch of a button. When we get to Abundance, then and only then will capitalism end. Because it will be replaced by something so much better it is barely conceivable today. At that point, there will be no need to go through any such nonsense as government programs. At that point, trade will end because every CAD program will be readily replicable. Just toss it into the pot (better known as the Internet) if you want to share.

    What about food, clothing, shelter? All replicable. What about jobs? Gone and good riddance. The UBI folks are singing the old, tattered socialist dream of scarcity. Good riddance.

  • After thorough research, I’ve organized my thoughts and (more importantly) the data on UBI in this article
    Free Market “Universal Basic Income”
    Why robots, trillionaires and housewives can save us from the porn powered Dystopia that idiots would vote for…

  • There is only one way to find out for sure if Basic Income works and that is by testing. Lot’s of testing in different places, for different time periods and for different amounts of money. So, the Canadian province of Ontario is starting a 3-year project to provide a Basic Income of $17,000 to see how it will affect people’s lives https://youtu.be/SCHQWHxQUuc

  • onwardeveronward

    The author is not really thinking deeply about this and is, imo, stuck in a moralistic mindset that dictates that humans need to continually prove their worth to society by work. Moreover, he seems stunningly dogmatic about how economies must function. Human economy has been remarkably flexible throughout the millennia, as the objects and ideals that people value and are willing to devote time and effort to have changed time and again. The particular iteration of the labor/capital/property nexus that has come to define the last ~150 years won’t keep its current form forever, or maybe even for much longer.

    At some point in the relatively near future, be it 20 years, 50 years or 100 years, AI and AI-enabled robots will be able to do every task (every task!) better and cheaper than humans. What then? Should we force the masses to do make-work just to satisfy our moralistic prejudices?

    Someday, robots will even be better caregivers, artists, friends, and lovers than other human beings. The problem is that we think we are rather clever, the pinnacle of cognition, and that our thought process is the result of logic and reason. No. We are emotional animals with the same basic drives of chimps and bonobos: The need for status, love, anger, murder, empathy, hedonism, acceptance, etc. We are the product of evolution, an emotional algorithm that tomorrow’s machines will run as needed to soothe us and keep us happy while they make the important decisions. And that’s not a bad thing.

  • NobodysaysBOO

    The real reason is 22 MILLION MEXICANS in our JOBS!


    UBI could work very well IT HAS NOT been TRIED!
    Except for the US Congress who have always been PAID WELL for NO WORK of any type!

  • L Garou

    And neither is passing out college degrees to less than mediocres who can’t even spell the word U-N-I-V-E-R-S-I-T-Y in two tries.
    Also does not compute..

  • Jolly Roger

    Well then, it’s time to cut off lifelong universal income and benefits for politicians. You get paid while you work in office, nothing afterwards. You work, you eat:

    “If the Nation can issue a dollar bond it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good also. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money broker collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20%. Whereas the currency, the honest sort provided by the Constitution pays nobody but those who contribute in some useful way. It is absurd to say our Country can issue bonds and cannot issue currency. Both are promises to pay, but one fattens the usurer and the other helps the People.” — Thomas Edison

  • My friend, if you look at the great walls of history – be it the Chinese or the Berlin wall, in the long run walls never work. So China was conquered by the Mongols and people still found ways to leave East Germany despite the walls. So history shows us that in the long run walls never work.

    Plus, if you think that in today’s global world any one country – even the United States, can thrive by separating itself from the rest of the world then you really don’t understand how interconnected and inseparable we are. So our global problems require global solutions and petty nationalist solutions will never work. That was true in the past when Japan and China – both mighty empires, tried to separate themselves out from the world, and it failed miserably in both cases with each of those countries eventually paying a very high price for it. Today it is even more short-sighted and suicidal to even attempt to do so.

    Finally, it is not the Mexicans who have taken your jobs and if they did then what kind of job and how competitive were you in the first place? It is the machines that will take not 22 million but 222 million jobs in the next several decades. And building a wall will not stop or slow down the process of automation one bit.

  • NobodysaysBOO

    Thank YOU for your time concocting this ridiculous rant, are we a MEXICAN? NO then go look at the 22 MILLION MEXICANS here with no visa , that is 22 TOWNS FULL of MEXICANS each with 22000 SCUMBAGS in EVERY US STATE !!
    You are misinformed if you think 22 MILLION ALIEN CRIMINALS is no big deal and WALLs DO work they prevent WARS!
    The world today is NOT ANCIENT China ( their GREAT wall worked fine and kept them safe for CENTURIES) it is HUNGRY their wall works just fine. the very few that did escape the German WALL will tell you that millions did NOT cross into the WEST.
    Ask some of Americas BEST buddies in ISRAEL, or Billy Gates if WALLS WORK, hell we PAID for the FAMOUS ISRALIES WALLS that DO WORK just fine.

  • My friend, you have to embody the argument you stand for. Specifically, you say the author is not nice and then you feel the right to not be nice to him too and claim that he “deserves to starve.” Nobody deserves to starve – not poor people and not the author of this or other articles. We are all human and we should treat each other as such – with dignity and respect and compassion. Please be nice 😉

  • Steve Giess

    I’m sorry Mark, but I don’t think Socrate’s response was at all “militant.” Why is his response “militant”? Just because he strongly disagrees with your position on a UBI and the prevailing wisdom of your society based upon nothing more than an old fashioned, outdated “work ethic”?

    Socrates provided something you didn’t to support his argument – real world data as to how a UBI has performed in countries that have actually trialled it. All your arguments seem to be purely theoretical and boil down to an (outdated?) “Work Ethic” that in practice sees many people living their whole lives in drudgery and virtual “wage slavery” like a lot of low paid workers in the USA. A UBI still provides incentives for people to be productive if they wish to earn more than the basic UBI, which many people will do. The definition of what is “productive” may also expand ro encompass other forms of contribution than wage-slavery. Meanwhile we will have a fairer and more equitable society. With the outlook for job losses due to robots and AI and other technology to lead to fewer and fewer full time jobs for humans what is your alternative? Food stamps? How very progressive of you.

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