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Universal Basic Income

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is where everyone in a society gets enough money from the government so that they not only never fall below the poverty line, but have enough to decently live on.

This is not the only definition of UBI, but it is the one that really sets it apart from being just another income assistance scheme that only half-addresses poverty and equality of opportunity.

UBI is not meant to be putting people just at the poverty line, but giving them enough to live a decent life with a modicum of discretionary money to be able to indulge some self-fulfilling activities. It should be enough so that those who live fairly modest lifestyles will not want for more. Of course, many will aspire for more and that should be possible by many of the opportunities we now have at our disposal.

Children would also get a pro-rata amount, increasing as they get older, that would be administered by their parents or guardians, but under guidelines that ensure that they are not exploited. Some amount would be allowed for their own discretionary spending without consultation, and also increasing as they get older. Education should be universally free as well, so moneys would not have to be put aside for that. Housing is a service that could be provided in lieu, so that the UBI is just about providing living expenses.

Simplified government servicesβ–³

A lot of government effort goes into making sure their welfare recipients are entitled to their payments. UBI bypasses all of that.

UBI replaces:

There is no means testing, as there is no need to asses entitlement. There is no need to chase up people to bully them into jumping through bureaucratic hoops to prove their worth to society. No, there is nothing to prove, as it is an entitlement, not a handout.

What can be worked out is what else people might need to cater for them to be supported beyond the basics required to live. People on disabilities would need some more services, which should be provided as part of health care, and not some onerous cost-cutting effort to avoid government responsibility. This is because UBI is not just about survival, but living with dignity.

Unified income support is only one part of support, because prompt health care plays an important part in how well people live, so universal health care (UHC) is the other part. If health care costs, individuals have a disincentive to get prompt treatment, which means that they will get worse, requiring more expensive health treatment. That may not cost the government directly in some current systems, but it undermines the ability of those around them to make their own contributions to society.

It has been shown that UHC more than pays for itself, by substantially lowering the aggregate health care costs of a nation. Governments can also then be working out more efficient ways to provide that care by funding research into areas that commercial organisations would see as undercutting their own opportunities for income. UHC is governments investing in lowering their costs through maximising health remediations and being more cost-effective at providing better services, provided they are sufficiently funded from the start.

UBI would remove a major stress from most people, which would lessen the risks to their health, so further reducing UHC costs. The duty of care that a government owes to its people needs to be seen as a whole, and not a bunch of separate expenditures that somehow need to be accounted for separately. People are better when they integrate all the influencing factors in their lives, and governments should do the same.

Simplified taxationβ–³

UBI is given to everyone, regardless of whatever else they might earn, so it effectively becomes the zero-tax bracket.

The consequence of that de-facto universal zero-tax bracket is that income only needs to be recorded and taxed if it is above the UBI. That should simplify tax assessments, as currently, those with pensions or other government benefits have to put in a tax return that mostly only includes their benefits. That immediately cuts down on the amount of processing done by taxation departments, especially if some others decide UBI is sufficient for them.

Moves have been progressing to make taxing of earning more real-time than periodically. Real-time taxation could make working out the tax on demand, knowing how much has already been paid. This way, instead of using fixed rates depending only upon a fixed amount of tax as if that income was paid regularly, the tax rate would depend upon how much has already been earned in the year, so that those just starting well paid work would be taxed at the lowest rate, but progressively increasing in subsequent pays as they accumulate a greater total income amount.

This would allow people starting out to accumulate some savings so that they can cover future situations where they may not be able to work. Overall, such real-time taxation should eradicate taxation adjustments. There may even be additional ways such real-time calculations can be made for other aspects of working.

Increasing participationβ–³

People want to contribute to society, and UBI would enable them to do so as much as they can.

Some try to push the idea that UBI would build a society of bludgers. Such views reflect more of an expectation that people are only useful if they work, which usually means being exploited so that someone else can get very rich. It doesn't have to be that way, because people do want to contribute, just not be exploited. They want agency in their lives, rather than constant efforts to tell them they can be better off, but then thwarted from ever getting there.

Entrepreneurshipβ–³

The tokenisation of worth that money allows is what can enable people to find new ways to live life and add value to their societies. It is the oil of social mobility.

Unfortunately, we are have been fed the propaganda that peoples' worth can be reduced to a monetary amount, and hence can be catered for in those terms, which suits those who want to exploit people for their own greed, and not for allowing people to find their own place in the world. Innovation is not often in big companies but in the homes and garages of people working on an idea that inspires them. Of course, unless they have enough money of their own (rarely) or have wealthier parents (like Gates, Bezos, Musk), most of such inspirations will be buried in efforts to keep financially afloat.

Given that a lot of much cheaper technology, like computers and 3D printers, has significantly reduced the amount of capital required to bring ideas to fruition, UBI would be able to cover those costs, allowing a lot more people to do all the legwork to build up an opportunity for them to provide economic activity to fund the UBI, without the delays caused by having to fund their efforts through other unrelated work. Ideas would get to market sooner, and more of them at that, so benefitting society by trickling upwards and laterally.

This would enable more small manufacturing businesses to thrive, as UBI would allow them a chance to grow enough because their principals are not under pressure to be self-sufficient through them. This would also allow less people to rely on service businesses for their extra work, so society is less reliant upon small businesses that are mainly existing because they can overcharge for services that most people are currently too time-constrained to do themselves much more cheaply.

More people would be able to just work the hours that they want, as small businesses owners would not be under pressure to work at a level more then they really feel comfortable with, and they are less likely to be trying to ensure people working for them are hyper-productive to minimise costs. This would make for more mutually beneficial working arrangements and so allow more people to find enough fulfilling work to not resent having to work for their survival.

Boost to the artsβ–³

Creative people often have difficulty getting enough income, especially in an industry that favours having a few high-income earners while the rest struggle.

UBI means that a lot of these people may have enough to perform their art without wanting recompense, just through being able to express themselves free of the stress of having to sacrifice their art to appease what others' desire as to what they should perform. Those who are truly creative are driven to create, and so we would see a burgeoning of creativity. Of course, what they do may not be widely distributed, but allowing more to produce what they feel to do will make up for that.

People need time to learn and perfect their art, but also to experiment. UBI would allow many more to have the time to learn and improve, whereas currently, many have to make a fairly binary choice of whether to go for it or abandon their talents. If we are to support people being able to explore their talents, UBI offers the greatest opportunities for them at all skill levels, whether they are just entertaining themselves, their friends and family or a wider audience on internet media channels.

Eliminate homelessnessβ–³

UBI would eliminate the basic cause of endemic homelessness, which is a incapacity to afford shelter.

There are many causes of homelessness and UBI will only address the not having a home part, but having a home is a significant factor in feeling able to participate in society. It certainly provides the basis of some self-respect and feelings of worthiness. From there, having enough to buy food using the UBI has two of the basic human needs covered.

There are some that may still be happy with some aspect of the lifestyle, but they are not forced to be in it. Some people are just broken as a result of life, and for them some shared accommodation and mental health efforts through UHC may help, but only in so far as they want to. UBI and UHC are about allowing people to choose their lifestyle without having to conform to what others expect.

Paying for it allβ–³

Of course, UBI has to be paid for, and the obvious way to do that is through income tax, both personal and business.

Income taxβ–³

Progressive income tax mitigates against runaway wealth inequality.

Increasing the tax rate with the more that is earned means that poorer people have a better chance of meeting their needs and having a reasonable life, while only curtailing the discretionary income of richer people. It is only the excessive greed of some very wealthy people that has led to the substantial reduction of their marginal tax rates while diminishing the ability of governments to properly look after their people, which these same people have tried to reduce even more.

A common refrain of the very wealthy is that high tax rates stifle incentives and innovation which is supposed to produce more benefits that trickle down to everyone. That is not true! When marginal tax rates on the rich were very high in the early to mid 20th century, productivity was still high. With lower marginal tax rates, wealth has only accumulated for the already rich while producing very little benefit for everyone else.

Greedy rich people have proactively resisted all attempts to push benefits to trickle down, often by spreading misinformation through fake research institutions and lobbyists on governments to make people believe that their way of life is beneficial to all. It is not, because it robs the capacity of governments to support people and actively impedes peoples' ability to improve their own circumstances.

Business pays its wayβ–³

It seems that larger the business, the less tax it will pay, if any at all.

That is because they have the scale to manipulate politicians to get policies favourable to them, while taking advantage of tax havens to minimise tax that they pay in higher taxing countries. Businesses should be covering at least what they use of a country's resources, with taxes on income above that. Those expenses should be mandatory and not subject to negotiation with government on the flawed basis that there will be flow on benefits to their economies.

No, it is better to keep the bottom line real and not open to speculation about the future. Many governments have been left holding substantial expenses through such deals, with sports stadiums and corporation headquarters being most problematical, as they often involve a lot of government outlay before any flow-on benefits even kick in, and substantially effect the lives of citizens around them for the worse.

Businesses are often seen as being more important than people, with larger ones becoming power-amplifiers for those who run them to have a much larger influence over societies than they are democratically entitled to. Businesses should be seen as second-class to real people, and treated accordingly. They must be seen as being able to exist by the grace of a nation's citizens and be given no more power than them. They should not be able to negotiate away their obligations to society, and especially not by donations to political parties or politicians.

The major obligation on a business is that they pay their way and do not have any opportunities to avoid that. They must be seen as a resource for society and not the other way around.

Scrap sales taxesβ–³

Sales taxes run counter to progressive income tax in that they penalise the poor and particularly favour the rich.

Sales taxes are fixed rates that don't take into account how much the people buying goods and services earn, so poorer people are effectively paying more of their income in tax than they would under a purely progressive income tax regime. Conversely, richer people enjoy a lower income tax allowing them to spend more on indulging themselves as the sales taxes are lower than what would have been their marginal tax rate under a purely progressive income tax. Thus, sales taxes favour those with more disposable income, while poorer people are usually required to spend all of what they earn.

Under a UBI, there would be no poor people, but sales taxes would force the UBI to be higher than it would need to be as the tax increases every person's overheads. Why make governments force people to pay tax only to pay most of it out again in the UBI? If we want to ease the cost of government, don't make it do redundant activities that only cost everyone more.

Sales taxes are an appeasement to middle income earners drawn into the propaganda that it benefits their disposable income levels but really only gives an excuse to tax the rich a lot less, further increasing wealth inequality that the progressive tax system is designed to mitigate against. Sales taxes undermine the progressive tax system while producing a lot more regulatory activities for everyone, even if computers take care of a lot of the calculations.

Income tax is a single relationship between the taxpayer and the government, while sales taxes are a multi-party relationship that requires reconciling across all of them. If we really want to simplify taxation and reduce government overheads, then we must remove as many multi-party taxation arrangements as possible.

Sales taxes make it very difficult for smaller producers of goods and services to compete on the world stage. With no sales taxes, people can just sell from their website and the banking institutions would calculate any currency conversion charges per transaction. Sales taxes make international trade so complex and full of regulatory overhead that small players are forced to pay more fees by going through large payment gateways that charge for the unnecessary complexity. International agreements can handle buyer-seller obligations but that is separate from the tax issues.

Conclusionsβ–³

UBI would simplify a lot of government processes and take a lot of stress out of the lives of everyone.

UBI will reduce the total amount of stresses in societies. Taxation is then reduced to working out how much of peoples' discretionary income pays for it all. UHC also helps amortise health cost, further relieving financial stress. However, it relies upon resisting those who favour greed and avarice as the basis for society, but as more come to see the benefits, the less they believe the propaganda against it. We can have an equitable society, but we need to trust that it can happen, and for that we must elect those who do trust that and not those working for the selfish.

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