Universal Basic Income: A Critique

by Walter E. Block

Due to the pandemic, the government is giving out $1,000 to all who qualify for it. This program is the equivalent of a temporary Universal Basic Income program. If Covid 19 continues, the Trump administration’s policy will more and more come to resemble UBI. What is the permanent version of this program? UBI has the advantage of simplicity: $12,000 per year to all, from the richest to the poorest. Even some erstwhile supporters of the free enterprise system have been taken in by the siren song of this proposal.

It is time, then, for a critical review of this initiative.

First, it will promote laziness and reduce labor force participation. If people can scrape by with this relatively modest amount of money in their pockets, why go to work so as to help others? Why become a dishwasher or house-cleaner when you can indulge yourself in poetry, tv watching, computer gaming or day-dreaming? Investment in human capital, the be-all and end-all for rising to the middle class, will have taken a shot to the solar plexus.

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