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Universal Basic Income Argument Outline


Framework – government needs to provide basic human needs, government should protect positive rights, veil of ignorance (Rawls), human rights, free market morally unjust (it doesn’t protect the least disadvantaged, it redistributes wealth upward), the government has an obligation to reduce gender inequality and protect women in the private sphere

General poverty – people are poor now, Automation means more people will lose their jobs and end up poor

Inequality – it’s generally rising, UBI transfers some wealth from the rich to the poor
— Relative inequality is bad – social tensions and frustrations, unrest
— Absolute inequality/poverty is bad

Racial inequality – wealth currently unequally distributed among races

Reparations – UBI should be given as a corrective for past injustices

Gender inequality – means for women to escape abusive spouses, UBI is a way to value work in the home, UBI is way to equalize wages/offset generally lower wages for women, UBI means many women do not have to rely on sex work, women are more likely to be poor

Reduced criminal activity (though this is more of an impact to poverty, see above)

Economic stimulus – If the government interjected this much money into the economy, it would stimulate it

Entrepreneurship – if people have $ to fall back on, they will be able to take risks to start businesses

Education – more money is available to be invested into education

Welfare bad – some (though) not all argue that a UBI will replace welfare and that welfare is bad for these reasons –

  • Stigmatizing – people who are on welfare are labeled as “poor”
  • Poverty trap – to stay on welfare, you cannot make much $, which encourages people to stay poor

Working conditions. If people have at least some basic funds, they won’t have to take jobs with really poor working conditions.

Work-life balance. UBI means individuals will not have to work as much, enabling a better work-life balance and a higher quality of life

UBI encourages work – (a) increased education, (b) people can concentrate on work when they don’t have to worry about their basic needs, people don’t develop skills when they have to focus on feeding their families and surviving

Environment – people are more willing to protect the environment when they don’t have to focus on daily survival 


Framework – greatest good for the greatest number (utilitarianism), pragmatism – should look at the pragmatic consequences, economic resource distribution is morally wrong (it’s theft)

Inflation – if the government puts that much $ into the economy it will trigger high inflation, especially when global economic growth is pretty strong (as it is now)

Taxes – funding a UBI will require higher taxes. Higher taxes hurt economic activity. Some Pro literature argues for a carbon tax, so Con teams can be prepared with carbon tax bad

Military spending cuts – funding a UBI will (also) require military spending cuts, military spending good

Deficit spending – funding a UBI will (also) require more deficit spending, deficit spending hurts the economy

Welfare cuts – funding a UBI will require cuts to social welfare, social welfare is better because it targets the poor and often has work requirements

[Note: UBI is so expensive that it is likely to require a combination of increased taxes, military spending cuts, deficit spending, and welfare cuts. Most figures say that in the US it would cost $3 trillion/year, and we currently spend approximately $1 trilion on social welfare. “If America levied a basic income that paid citizens a flat cash stipend large enough to lift them above the poverty line, the cost could potentially be destructive. According to the Economist, a country the size of the United States would need to raise the share of GDP collected in taxes by nearly 10% to pay every child and adult about $10,000 per year. More generous programs would require larger tax hikes and the cannibalization of most non-health related social spending.” —;   “An individual UBI of $10,000 per year—17 percent below the official poverty line—for the American population of more than 300 million people would cost more than $3 trillion annually. Greenstein sets that amount against current U.S. federal budget expenditures: “This single-year figure equals more than three-fourths of the entire yearly federal budget… It’s also equal to close to 100 percent of all tax revenue the federal government collects.”–]

It’s so expensive that we can’t even afford it

Giving people money without requiring any work encourages laziness

There haven’t been enough experiments done to show it’s effective, we should wait to do more experiments first

We should wait to see if widespread automation actually happens and then implement a UBI in the future if it does happen. If it does, we could tax AI and robotics companies then

Government power – UBI increases the power of the government and reduces the power of the individual. It actually makes the individual dependent on a government that has growing power

Alternatives – job guarantees, improved welfare,

Practical problems – it’s too expensive (see above), we can’t determine the level/amount, amounts would vary by city, examples don’t prove anything because they are so small and of limited value

People would waste the money