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Should There be a Universal Basic Income?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/26/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 867 times Debate No: 90205
Debate Rounds (3)
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In this debate I will be taking the pro side of the question of a basic income. The basic income I will be arguing for is 18 000 US$ per year for most areas, 19 000 - 22 000$ for densely populated urban areas, An extra 2 000 - 3 000 per child, and an extra 12 000 - 15 000 for those who are severely disabled and cannot work. Here is my first argument.

Currently about 1/7 americans are living in poverty. This is an enormous problem and the most simple way to solve it is to guarantee a basic amount of money to every adult person. To pay for this I would greatly raise taxes on the top 0.1% (from about 20% to about 80%) and raise taxes by about 10-15% on the rest of the population.

One common response to basic income is that far less people will work. This is not the case as in most places where a basic income was tested people worked only slightly shorter hours and in a poll in switzerland only 2% of people said they would stop working.



I would like to thank my opponent for initiating this debate. Before I start with my opening argument, I would like to rebut my opponent's point.

First things first, by just dishing out money to the poor does not solve problems of poverty. As my opponent stated, it is "the most simple way" to solve the issue of poverty, but it is not the best or the most efficient method of completely eliminating poverty in the long term. Throwing money at poor, uneducated people and hoping for the best will not yield out good results. In a utopian society, a poor person would use that money to buy a home, or to send their children to school, and there may be some people like that. But, a part of the people that will be receiving this money are the dregs of society. Druggies, dropouts, the whole latter will be taking the money, and spend it on drugs, sex, and alchohol.

Also, my opponent stated that he or she would make the top 0.1% of America pay 80% of their income as tax. But, what he or she has not realised is that these top 0.1% members of society are usually the people who decide the fate of our nation. These people are politicians, CEOs and rich lobbyists that will use everything in their power to not lose another penny.

Now for my argument: It is easy to see poverty stricken individuals on charity commercials, begging for a dollar just so they can eat another meal, and think, "Oh, if we gave them money to feed themselves, poverty will go away." However, this is completely unrealistic and utopian. There are no nations that have completely implemented basic income, therefore no real basis that this method will work. Finland may have been experimenting with this idea, but it is a lot less than the proposed 18,000 USD my opponent mentioned, and is too short of a time period to completely analyse the data being streamed in.

There has been a test, in fact, from the UK. Single parents in the UK were offered a test case, as up to 2008 they were effectively in receipt of something very like an UBI (Universal Basic Income), when not in employment. They had no obligation to actively seek work while tax credits ensured that most would be significantly better off in work. Employment rates had increased since the 1990s in response to improved incentives but remained relatively low, and from 2008 obligations to look for work were imposed. By 2014 the employment rate outside London had risen from 57% to 61%. In London the increase was dramatic from a lower baseline: from 45% to 57%. So, this is direct proof that UBI does not work, and has been proven before.

Not only this, but my opponent has not justified several key parts of information. Who would decide who the top 1% are? Do they decide solely based on yearly income or do they also consider assets owned by the individual? Does everyone receive this money, including the top 0.1% that we take the money from? Do we consider criminal records before we blindly toss money at every single adult we see? These are some questions I would like to see my opponent answer these questions, before talking more about his argument as to why he or she believes basic income is the correct method for solving the problem of poverty in America.

UBI may work might work in a world of perfect markets inhabited by perfectly rational individuals with perfect foresight and perfect mobility. But that is not a world we live in or will ever live in, and UBI will not solve poverty in the long term.
Debate Round No. 1


First of all answering your question of the poor not spending their money responsibly. I would suggest that a certain amount of the money (about 50%) would be spent for them on basic services that would include food, water, and basic housing (This does not include health care as I have outlined in my profile that it should be already be paid for as a human right).

Answering my opponent's second question yes I do realise that the top 0.1% make most of the decisions in the world. But it does not have to be that way. Personally I would outlaw lobbyists but that is a topic for another debate. Also this debate is not about how to convince politicians to implement a basic income but about whether or not it would work. Also my figure of 80% may be a bit of an overestimation as A 65-70% tax on the ultra-rich may also work and the like I said in my first argument the middle class would also pay for it too just not as much.

A UBI or some sort of negative income tax has not just been tested in the UK and Finland but there was also several tests of basic income in different cities in the USA and Canada in the 1970s that showed that minimal effects on unemployment and that people only worked slightly fewer hours. This was mostly because people were staying in school longer which is a net positive. And besides even if unemployment does increase by a bit the advantage of having far less poverty outway the disadvantages by quite a lot in my opinion. I also assume that when you said "the employment rate outside London had risen from 57% to 61%" you meant 5.7% and 6.1% because I doubt that the majority of people are unemployed in the UK

Also to answer your questions in the first paragraph.

1. I would decide that the top 0.1% is anyone that makes yearly earnings of more than the richest people in the bottom 99.9% of americans

2. Yes absolutely every adult or self-sustaining teen receives the money

3. No as all persons are equal and we cannot deny those that have made mistakes in the past the same rights as everyone else. Thought I would take extra care in making sure they don't spend the money illegally.

I also do admit the 18 000$ per year is a bit high and I used this figure because it is approximately the equivalent of the yearly salary of a person working for a average minimum living wage (about 13$ per hour) for about 35 hour per week. Though for the average person they would end up probably reciving about 10 000$ per year if you factor in tax increases.


Thank you to my opponent for their response to my points and questions. Since my opponent has no new points, I will just rebut their rebuttal to my points, before I get on with my argument.

(First, before I start, I would like to apologise for my mistake in my earlier argument discussing the unemployment rates in London. It was 5.7% to 6.1%, not 57 to 61. I would like to thank my opponent for catching this)

My opponent stated that "this debate is not about how to convince politicians to implement a basic income but about whether or not it would work". At the start, they have not specified or defined the statement in question, therefore I assumed was open to everything about UBIs (Universal Basic Income). Also, straying away from the technicalities, to debate about a new government policy, one must ALWAYS consider the political steps it must take to be passed, therefore my argument is valid.

Now for my argument: UBI is not economically feasible. It would have to be provided to everyone to replace social welfare benefits, and should be enough money to provide an adequate standard of living. If applied to major in-debt regions such as the Eurozone or the U.S., there would be a large increase of taxes. This is not something most voters are willing to support, as the increase in average and marginal tax rates would have a negative effect on a large bulk of earners because they would retain far less of any additional money they earned. Not only this, but we must question the effect UBI would have on a regional or national economy. UBI would make welfare obsolete, but it would cost billions to replace and implement. Few people have proven that UBI would be less costly for states to implement UBI than keep the existing welfare system, and in a time of economic recovery, it seems utopian to suggest states have the economic capacity to implement a system that requires broad-based, constant funding.

Good luck to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 2


Ok. So I do admit that a UBI would be very difficult to implement. But I will say that many states do have the economic capacity to do this. If you take in as much extra taxes as you pay out in basic income that equates to a 0% net change in government debt or surplus. And thought I do not know the exact tax increases required you could increase taxes to all classes equally which in this case would have zero effect on a person making a mean income (around the 75th percentile), would have a small positive effect on 50th percentile median wage workers, A much larger positive effect on low wage workers. and would only decrease the total net income of approximately 1/4 workers. At this point the real question is not whether we can have a UBI. But whether or not we want one. And though the majority now may disapprove of a basic income If current trends continue the majority of people may approve of a basic income in the near future as its approval rating is growing. We don't need a utopia to implement a basic income. Even in the U.S a basic income almost got passed several times. Sometimes being supported by even conservative politicians. So from my knowledge it can happen.


UBIs, or Universal Basic Income is a form of social security system in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, in addition to any income received from elsewhere. It"s hard to take issue with a concept that boasts equality for all and the ability to ensure a job for everyone by enforcing an Universal Basic Income. In principle, the idea of giving people money, unconditional of age, employment and location, is an appealing one. At a time when youth unemployment has skyrocketed in Europe, proponents of UBI argue it provides all members of a society with the means to be truly free and will therefore bring about changes in the job market that will close the inequality gap. This is particularly pertinent as many graduates are forced into irrelevant jobs and the gap between poor and wealthy continues to grow.

Advocates suggest UBI would further entrepreneurialism and career enhancement by giving "the real freedom to pursue the realisation of one"s conception of the good life", as Belgian philosopher Philippe Van Parijs has argued. They also argue a UBI will give workers bargaining power, making it easier to command a higher salary and better benefits from employers. However, the economic effects of a basic income are debatable. Critics say employers have little obligation to pay a living wage if the government is sending a supplemental cheque every month. Others argue UBI would disincentivise work, prompting younger age groups to leave the workforce if they are able to receive money for no cause. Therefore, there should not be a UBI.

Thanks to my opponent. This was a lively and enjoyable debate :)
Debate Round No. 3
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