Universal Basic Income Should Not Be Implemented

| by Mark Jones

Implementing a basic income program in any country is an extremely poor decision. Those countries that have already done so should end their programs as soon as possible, and any other country that is considering implementing one should not do so. 

Back in January, Finland made the poor decision to begin experimenting with basic income. According to Kera News, the pilot program is being run by Kela, Finland's social security institution. Every month, approximately 2,000 unemployed individuals between the ages of 25 and 58 receive the equivalent of $600. This will continue for the next two years.

"The main goal is to see if this kind of basic income mechanism in [the] social security system will tackle the problem," said Marjukka Turunen, director of change management for Kela and the person in charge of running Finland's basic income program. 

"Of course, the $600 isn’t that big of [a sum of] money, and of course they won’t survive with that the whole month, depending on whether they have children or not, but the idea is that they can be sure of this $600 per month."

Turunen's heart most definitely seems to be in the right place. All countries in the world should try as hard as possible to alleviate poverty among their citizens. This may be why several other countries -- including the Netherlands, India, and Canada, according to Kera News -- are currently considering implementing programs of their own. However, this program has the potential to have disastrous effects on a country.

One glaring flaw in the program is that individuals are not held accountable for how they spend the money. According to Kera News, those who take part in the program have the freedom to spend the money in any way they wish. With this in mind, it is difficult to know if individuals will actually spend their money on necessities, or whether they will spend it on superfluous items. 

In addition, there is evidence to suggest that the idea of basic income is not popular with the public in general. According to Brink, there was a ballot initiative for "unconditional basic income" in an election in Switzerland back in August of 2016. In that election, only 23 percent of voters approved of the initiative. This figure shows that the general population really is not on board with the idea of basic income, meaning that countries should not implement it. 

Lastly, implementing a program such as this could have extremely negative ramifications for a country, especially a larger country like the United States. According to The Economist, if the United States were to implement a program which paid every individual $10,000 per year, it would necessitate a 10 percent rise in the share of GDP collected in taxes. Of course, such a program is more extensive than the one Finland has implemented. However, it suggests that such programs have the potential to put significant financial strain on a country.

Simply put, implementing basic income is not a good idea. It is a noble cause -- one aimed at ending poverty -- but it falls short when one looks at the practical ramifications. Therefore, alternative solutions which will be more effective than basic income should be sought out and implemented instead.

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