David Peralty's Ramblings

Basic Income – Not Just About Giving Money

One of the issues with a Basic Income trial, like the one Ontario is going to run, is it doesn’t address the other side of the coin: how do we pay for this program?

Basic Income is expensive, but many supporters on both sides of the political spectrum are interested in Basic Income because it can support those typically less fortunate while also reducing government size and oversight.

Basic Income should be set-up in such a way that it doesn’t require the same kind of staffing to manage as current welfare and employment insurance systems since it should be set-up in a universal way where everyone gets the same amount of money.

For those working good paying jobs, all of the money given to them through a universal basic income would be given back through adjustments in the taxation system. This reduces the cost of the overall program by making sure only those that need a basic income keep the money distributed by it.

We would also likely need to increase corporate taxes. Ideally, only on businesses earning a gross profit of two million or more, so that it doesn’t affect small businesses. I say “gross” because often businesses get huge tax breaks thanks to dozens of loopholes. I’d want to see those closed as well so that the government collects what’s owed to them so it can be distributed to the masses.

Another tool that can help pay for UBI would be a luxury tax on items typically bought by those in upper-class society. Cars over a certain cost, high-end consumer technology, top-tier cable and Internet packages, expensive houses, and more could also help reduce the overall “cost” for a Basic Income program.

Of course, I don’t have all of the answers. I only know that the current pilots don’t let us go far enough in analyzing potential changes in our society, and I don’t think we will have real, valid information about the opportunity a basic income system could provide until we either have some very advanced economic modeling or go through with actually applying it to our society.

The media is likely going to focus on the cost of the pilot project, and if the results to those helped financially aren’t seen as valuable enough in whatever way they are being measured, it might be a long time before we see other Basic Income trials.

We, as a society, need to make sure that there is a great deal of thought and conversation not only with running a pilot project where the government hands out money, but how our society will need to be reshaped to actually run universal basic income in perpetuity.