A Society that Doesn’t Work: 4 reasons to accept basic income and move on with life


The idea of a basic income is pretty simple. Instead of administering specific and targeted welfare and social programs, the government just gives everyone enough money to survive. Great idea, right?

Actually, yeah.

Here are four reasons why:

  1. Both Conservatives and Liberals Can Get Behind it

Giving people free money?! Nonsense! There are no free lunches, this is capitalism.

On the face of it, just giving people free money sounds like an idea coming from a tenth grade civics classroom. The cute but misguided musings of a naïve bohemian.

Actually, one of the first and strongest proponents of Basic Income in Canada is a former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal, who argued that it could effectively replace our flawed Employment Insurance system. Digging deeper into the idea of Basic Income, there are some interesting libertarian principles at play. Instead of the state deciding what taxpayer money ought to be used for in the realm of social programs, everyone just gets their share. Use it for childcare, or at the beer store.

  1. The Singularity is Nigh

Robots are a thing, people. Self-driving cars are only a few years away from taking over the trucking industry, which is among the largest employers in North America. If you believe the starry-eyed futurist Ray Kurzweil, our consciousnesses will be uploaded into immortal machines that rule the universe in a mere 20 years.

Either way, automation, robots, and artificial technology seem to be developing faster than labour markets can keep up, not just in manufacturing, but in the knowledge economy too. What are the people whose jobs can be done by a machine to do?

No jobs means no income – unless of course it’s provided to you as a citizen through Basic Income. Even the real-life Ironman and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk believes that robots will push us towards a Universal Basic Income.

  1. You Could Write a Book

If you could live relatively comfortably with a part-time job, what would you do with all that spare time? Start making that business idea you’ve had for years become a reality? Write a book? Take up pantomiming? The sky’s the limit!

The sheer amount of human creativity that would be unleashed if people had the chance to work towards their passions is reason enough alone to give the idea of Basic Income some serious thought. If artists didn’t have to worry about making enough to survive, there’s a chance we could undergo a 21st century creative renaissance.

  1. It’s 2017…

Humans put a man on the moon almost 50 years ago, and the technology that accomplished it could fit in the palm of your hand. Is it not just a little strange to think that we still live in a society where if you don’t work, you die?

A core principle driving Basic Income is that your livelihood should not depend on your ability to work. With healthcare improving by leaps and bounds each year, it is not such a crazy idea to think that you shouldn’t have to sell your labour to someone else to afford the basic needs that a human being requires.

What do you think – is basic income the way of the future? Leave a comment below.


About the author: Steven Wright is in his final year at Carleton and serves as CPoPP’s managing editor for the 2016-2017 edition. Steven has management experience in student-run initiatives in both Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration and as a student leader at Western University. 

Image credit: LIFE unleashed! https://goo.gl/images/q4f6dk

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