UBI and the Road to Serfdom
Many people think that a universal basic income (UBI) would be a good substitute for the welfare state. Under this proposal, each person resident in a country would receive a guaranteed income, sufficient to live at a modest level. People would get the money unconditionally. Unlike welfare payments, the UBI would not be lessened if people earned money in addition to the amount it provided, and, because it is not means tested—absolutely everyone gets it, even billionaires—it requires no complex bureaucracy to administer.
The UBI would cost a great deal of money, but its defenders claim that since it is a substitute for the welfare state, we would also save the vast amounts of money now required for financing welfare programs. Further, if our economy continues to grow, at some point the UBI will become affordable. Charles Murray, for example, in a short book published a number of years ago, says of his version of the UBI, “I began this thought experiment by asking you to ignore that the Plan was politically impossible today. I end proposing that something like the Plan is politically inevitable—not next year, but sometime…. Real per capita GNP has grown with remarkable fidelity to an exponential growth equation for more than a century” (In Our Hands, AEI Press, 2006, p. 125).
The critics of the UBI aren’t convinced and still claim the program would be too costly to implement. In a recent book, Universal Basic Income – For and Against (Rational Rise Press, 2019). Antony Sammeroff offers a very able account of this controversy a
Article from Mises Wire