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A UBI Could Evolve Into a Mechanism of Central Control

Foundation for Economic Education  ( Original )
FEB 23, 2018

UBI, or Universal Basic Income, is a system under which the government would essentially send everyone a check every month to cover basic living expenses. The left likes it because it directly, immediately benefits the poorest among us, the right likes it because it would replace some of our least efficient, most bureaucratic agencies.

A quite troubling feature of UBIs currently under consideration is that it would be administered by a large, powerful central government. Pass a UBI and suddenly you’re conferring a massive lever of power to that very government.

Let’s suppose that there is a UBI of $10,000 per year, per person. That’s an enormous new system of incentives, a Skinner Box of epic proportions. Let’s also imagine the bill that creates the UBI leaves open the possibility for certain conditions being placed on citizens to receive their UBI check each month. According to statute, such conditions can be determined by the administering agency. You know, one of the Trump Administration’s agencies!

Oh, and the cost.

There are over 300 million Americans today. Suppose UBI provided everyone with $10,000 a year. That would cost more than $3 trillion a year — and $30 trillion to $40 trillion over ten years.

This single-year figure amounts to more than three-fourths of the entire yearly federal budget — and double the entire budget outside Social Security, Medicare, defense, and interest payments. It’s also equal to close to 100 percent of all tax revenue the federal government collects.

ORIGINAL SOURCE: A Universal Basic Income Would Engorge the Paternal State by Max Borders at Foundation for Economic Education on 2/22/18