Should Governments Pay A Basic Income?

person counting money with their hands

Warmer questions

  1. Governments measure happiness on how much money people earn from their jobs, is this a good way to measure happiness?
  2. Is there ever enough money to make someone satisfied?
  3. Can a stable salary, no matter how low, stop poverty?

Reading section

Money well spent?

Technology is not going to disappear – ever. With each passing year, it is becoming more mature with more uses and features. The 90s saw the personal computer, the 00s improved graphics, 10s it is voice assistance. The future will have much more sophistication and automation thanks to computers. There is software which can write articles, cars can drive themselves, robots can balance and carry heavy objects, and in some cases, other specialised computers have replaced entire departments in insurance firms in Japan. So where does this lead us all in industrialised nations, what can we expect to happen. Well, the logical conclusion is that “Humans need not apply” when it comes to job applications, computers/machines would be stronger, faster, and cheaper than any flesh-made employee. As large blue chip firms take on more computers where it will lead to average employment in society. According to estimates it would fall and continue to do so for decades.

Solutions to mass unemployment

When an entire global generation of people will now have to compete directly with each other and machines, the chance of employment reduces inversely to new progress in technology. What do with people who were not awful at their job, but are now either obsolete from technological advancements or just too expensive to hire. The solution can come in the form of Universal Basic Income or Basic Income. By allowing everyone to have a salary for being alive they are able to support their physical needs, but more importantly, they can invest time in learning or developing something else. What that ‘something else’ is hard to pin down, but it comes down to cultivating human culture or improving the welfare of civilization. We can think of it as poverty alleviation while also allowing people the chance to get off the treadmill and do what they please.

The following questions arise from this:

  1. How would people react to not having to work in the traditional sense?
  2. How much would this cost?
  3. Would automation really eliminate jobs?
  4. Would poverty be eradicated?

Pre-teach vocabulary

  1. Stipend (Noun, a small monthly allowance)
  2. Unconditional (Adj, Noun, An act without any additional conditions)
  3. Eliminating (Verb, Adj, attempt to remove)
  4. Utopian (Adj, A perfect society without problems)


Task: First try to guess the answers to the questions, then watch the video and check if you guessed correctly

  1. Which country is thinking of implementing this idea?
  2. How much would everyone get per month?
  3. What could be a potential advantage of such a system?
  4. What is wage slavery?
  5. In which year was the first experimental form of Basic Income tried?
  6. Because of the Basic Income experiment, more people went to the hospital?

  1. Switzerland
  2. $2500
  3. People won’t need to worry about survival and can pursue higher interests
  4. People who work for their immediate survival
  5. 1974, in Canada
  6. False, there was actually a fall


Arguments for UBI

  1. It can quickly stop extreme poverty in a country.
  2. All people are valued and are allowed to live with dignity.
  3. It is a practical method to prevent mass unemployment once automation removes many low-paid jobs.
  4. It is a simpler system to the currently expensive social security systems. If someone is a citizen and alive, then they are paid. There is no need to check for eligibility.
  5. It can free people to do things they want to do without worrying about money. It could create a whole new economy in the Arts.
  6. Those who do not need the money can give it to charity.

Arguments against UBI

  1. It is possible that many people will stop working and live a poorer quality of life in the money they get from UBI.
  2. It will encourage people to become lazy and not pay taxes.
  3. Over many years a country’s population will lose its ambition on a collective level.
  4. It will cost more than regular social security payments.
  5. Those who are working will have to pay more in tax to pay for UBI income.

Potential debating topics related to UBI

  1. In order to prevent mass unemployment, we must implement UBI.
  2. UBI is needed to stop extreme poverty.

Final remarks

What is becoming clear is that the world needs a change in how it organises labour and the value from physical work. There is a need for safeguards in place so that we don’t have a world of mass unemployment while only a handful of people are reaping the rewards.

Have a look at how to organise a debate here