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June 19, 2017

Universal basic income: why has no country yet been brave enough to take the plunge? 

By GBI Research

Universal basic income is becoming an increasingly debated topic around the world today, with Finland, the Canadian province of Ontario, and even Kenya beginning trials to test its feasibility.

The amount ranges from about $22 per month (in Kenya) to just over $1,000 per month in Ontario.

Universal basic income is based on the idea that everyone, no matter how poor or destitute, should be able to pay for basic necessities such as food and shelter.

Proponents of universal basic income salary it will provide a strong force for combating inequality in society, giving the poor the ability to spend their income and time on bettering their economic circumstances by spending it on education or training, instead of food or shelter.

Some of the strongest basic income supporters of our time include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla chief Elon Musk, who has said “it is going to be necessary”.

These tech executives differ over details but all agree on one thing: increasing automation is going to take over many if not most of the jobs in the near future, the majority of the populace will be unemployed, and universal basic income is the only way to combat this.

However, there are many who disagree with the idea of basic income, saying that it will actually demotivate people from working, and we will develop a larger so-called welfare class of people who want to live without working.

Switzerland voted massively against the idea of implementing universal basic income, with 77 percent of the voters in opposition to it, citing the belief that unconditional basic income for all people in Sweden would lead to a huge influx of immigrants looking to take advantage of these generous policies.

Other detractors of basic income state that it is simply not needed; automation does not lower the total number of jobs, it simply creates new ones elsewhere.

It argues that although the industrial revolution did away with a large number of labourers, these same labourers found other, better paying jobs elsewhere.

Automation could have the same effect, freeing people from their low-paying, low-skill work, they will be more free to pursue their passions and find more fulfilling work elsewhere.

However, universal basic income has not been fully enshrined in policy in anywhere in the world. No country has yet been brave enough to take the plunge.