Do We Need A Universal Basic Income?

The concept of a universal basic income (UBI) has just begun to enter the public discourse in countries like Finland and the United States. The Finnish government recently conducted its own universal basic income trial. And in the US a film project called Bootstraps is asking the question, “what if the cost of living was a human right?” To test their belief, they’re providing a guaranteed, weekly check to 20 Americans from all walks of life. The project plans to capture the experiences of these 20 people and release a documentary film by early 2020 aimed at answering the question: What would we do if our income was guaranteed?

Imagine The Possibilities

Actually, those working on the Bootstraps project are already answering that question. Conrad Shaw, one of the project’s leaders, noticed immediate MindShift in people who receive a weekly basic income.

“Pretty much right away people are starting to make plans for how they can own their own house rather than renting, making plans for surgeries that they’ve wanted, generally reporting far less stress in terms of medical problems and debt,” he said.

But the most compelling arguments for a universal basic income go much deeper than simply giving people money to buy the things they’ve always wanted.

In the US alone, studies have found that 67 percent of people either don’t feel engaged at work or report being “actively disengaged.” Apparently, there’s a big disconnect between what people are doing for a living and where they’d ideally like to spend their time.

What’s The Problem?

Dr. Tony Pennells, founder of, believes the problem lies in the perceived need to trade our time for a paycheck. Of course, this situation might not last for too much longer. As automation grows, the global economy will reach a point where people far outnumber the number of available jobs.

But whether we’re talking today or 50 years from now, the real question, Dr. Tony says, is how will you spend the precious time that you’ve got each day?

Parents and teachers tell children from a young age to work toward a career that will make them money. And this causes too many to ignore, or at least set-aside, their larger quest for meaning.

Conrad believes that under UBI, more people will spend their time in a way that corresponds to their personal values.

“Our whole society is built around making money, and that’s the only damn thing we care about,” Conrad said. “We need more teachers, we need more volunteers, we need more nurses, we need more activists. One of the most beautiful things about UBI is it changes the way we think about ourselves and our role in a society entirely. I think it allows people to become ethical where they didn’t feel they had the financial leeway to become ethical.”

Can It Really Work?

Casual observers of UBI often mistakenly label it as a system where the government essentially prints money and puts it into people’s pockets. However, as Conrad points out, universal basic income in its purest form would simply mean a redistribution of existing wealth.

Taxes on air pollution, land value and financial transactions could all provide the basis for a UBI program. For example, Alaska already distributes an annual dividend to each resident paid through revenues from oil and mining leases.

Price inflation following a UBI program certainly threatens to move the goalposts for how much money people need to live comfortably. But Dr. Tony also sees a problem with entire populations relying on governments for their livelihood.

“It’s all very well to talk about what the government should do, but the real question is what can we do, what can I do for my family? If you can help yourself, you must and you should,” Dr. Tony said.

Those who have this ability can start by making investments to generate their own passive income. In other words, building your Freedom Generator—an investment vehicle that with the right guidance—provides a basic income for an entire family. No more trading your time for money.

“If we can take as many people off the system as we can, because they are self-funded, they are resilient in their own right, we’d be working with the system to help those who aren’t in that position. Because there’s a significant section of the population that can’t help themselves,” Dr. Tony said.

A True Game-changer

Today, declining personal savings ratesskyrocketing household debts and massive wealth inequality characterize the global economy. Given this picture, UBI practically seems like a necessity. But if individuals step up and become Financially Free without relying on governments, they’ll help make UBI a reality.

“When you empower the people individually, I think you have a transformational shift in what our society looks like, how we treat each other, how we engage, how we feel loved and cared for, how we feel responsible for others. I think it’s a game-changer in terms of humanism,” Conrad said.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of

image credit: Bigstock/Wayhome Studio

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