Universal Basic Income (UBI) has been promoted and advocated by several of the most famous Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. It seems like a great idea. Since in the future most of the repetitive work will be taken over by robots, then people without a job will need to earn money somehow. UBI promises to give people enough income to make a poor living without the need to work. In the midst of a world where globalization and digital disruption has already wreaked havoc among the manufacturing rungs of society, and where this has lead to more and more nationalistic governments, UBI shines as a promise to protect the displaced.
However there are many questions still unaddressed; who would gather the money? who would manage and enforce such requisition? Who would distribute it? and what probably most of the people ask themselves, what will people do if they don’t work anymore?
I think many of these questions go away as soon as we change the paradigm. Most of the people I have talked with about UBI imagine the government giving larger unemployment pensions. However to fund such an idea, taxes would have to increase. Given the track record on the government’s ability to tax the richest in the US, I’d say the burden would end up landing on the diminishing middle class occupying the jobs that are still not replaceable with machines. Which of course would be no solution and would further increase the income disparity.
I was watching this video on how this guy achieved financial freedom and now dedicated his time to help other people. Isn’t that the life that everyone would get ideally from UBI? What if we could bring financial freedom to everyone? What if financial freedom is the way to have a UBI? Think about it. Instead of having the government increase unemployment pensions, we could make it easier for people to retire early by allowing them to invest in simple, low risk and high yielding instruments. Now the problem comes with where could we find such instruments? The guy in the video invested in real estate which is neither easy nor high yielding. Plus I don’t think the economy would work if everyone owned multiple homes.
In comes the idea of having Robotech Funds. Imagine organisations in charge of taking people’s money and using it to buy machines and robots. Then these funds would rent all this equipment to companies which would be saved of having to spend on passive infrastructure. What if there existed an AWS where you can buy machines and have companies rent them? Computers come in a lot of sizes, and people could buy from very cheap ones to very expensive ones.
The more extreme version of this idea would be that the government would control all access to ownership of machines. It would then allow people to invest in machines and rent them out to companies to make a profit. Which sounds a bit like the distribution of land all over again.
So that would solve all the economic issues. But what about the more fundamental question, what will people do if they don’t have a job? Some people think depression will run wild, others think drugs and gangs would proliferate. I think if you give people money for free then that might as well be the case. However if you make people work a couple of years to earn enough money to invest and then be financially free, I think the situation would change.
What do you think would happen? Leave a comment and start a discussion.
Author: Andres Paez
Tech’er, writer, programmer, life enthusiast.