The Case For Universal Income

Devin Conway

One For All

Thanks to the technological innovations of the past few decades, public discourse has progressed toward the implementation of new solutions to old problems. 

Global famine, poverty and workers’ rights have been a source of heated debate for centuries. 

These issues have led to revolutions, civil wars and foreign invasions for as long as economic systems have been in place. 

Universal income is a proposition that entails a basic supplemental sum of money to be given to each and every citizen of the nation in which the policy is to be instituted. 

Although this system is mostly hypothetical, there are a few countries that have actually experimented with a universal income.

Eradicating poverty

A universal income would all but eradicate the poverty problem we face. 

Many have argued that a universal income, one that will at least supplement the cost of food and shelter, is a basic human right. 

Perhaps true freedom is unattainable in a system that practically demands 40 hours per week in order for us to have a chance at living comfortably.

Hierarchy of Needs

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, those who are unable to maintain financial security will find it nearly impossible to live up to their full potential. 

When individuals struggle to meet their basic needs, especially in a society that has such rampant income inequality, they typically become so preoccupied with their own situation that they literally cannot focus on anything other than their own misfortune. 

Although the United States is collectively the wealthiest nation in the world, we have over 40 million people living under the poverty line according to the 2015 U.S. Census. 

15 percent of Americans are unable to achieve self-actualization, and a significant portion of them are stuck in dead-end jobs with children to raise and a seemingly endless supply of bills to pay. 

The pressure that these people face on a day-to-day basis, coupled with the crippling anxiety that accompanies an inability to achieve material success in a hyper-competitive modern capitalistic society, is enough to drive anyone mad.

And yet they continue to push forward in a relentless pursuit for the American Dream. 

A significant portion of the American population is vehemently against social welfare programs (unless of course it involves their own future Social Security income) because we have been conditioned by our economic system to believe that the only way that we can survive is to work for everything that we get, and the only way to thrive is to work harder than the vast majority of others. 

The disdain and finger-pointing at these “social parasites” who have the audacity to accept financial assistance is truly a remarkable phenomenon, and it seems to be rooted in a deep-seeded jealousy.

Why should I have to work for something that someone else can simply get for free? 

Automation and The Future of The Job Market

We are on the brink of a complete overhaul in the labor force, one that will ensure the redundancy of tens of millions of positions.

For as much as our technology has made things much more efficient for us all on the individual level, they have also considerably enhanced our corporate capabilities, not only in terms of production, but in terms of the cost of production. 

The next logical step in cost efficiency is the automation of as many tasks as possible.

As we continue to strive toward the ‘singularity’, or the moment in which our artificial intelligences attain the capacity for self-improvement, the possibilities for task automation are endless. 

Although this will certainly be a landmark achievement for the human race, it will significantly diminish the number of jobs available for the general population. 

Which then begs the question, where then will those people turn for a source of income?