Many people would reject this idea.
To pay everyone a basic amount every month regardless of their own earning level.
Many people would say this makes people lazy.
Well, it's a new world with new rules and a new society.
To me, this is a great idea. Let me put across why.
I can only request that readers keep an open mind cos this idea of UBI (Universal Basic Income) is very controversial.
Let's look at it this way. Some points first.
Let's agree that labour is not move-able. Meaning, it is not easy to move labour in terms of skills, so when someone loses their job it isn't easy to move them to another job. Yes you can retrain people but it takes time.
Ok so let's think of things really really simply.
The world has a population of 10 people. They don't fall sick. They only need to eat.
The 9 people work in a farm which is owned by one of the 10.
As they work, they realize, that they can do things faster with machinery.
The owner makes/buys some machinery and 8 people lose their jobs.
The 8 people go hungry.
The owner gets all the wealth. There is 1 worker to run the machinery.
Ok so what has happened. The whole economy could feed 10 people but now feeds only 2 people cos the other 8 become redundant.
Sure you could say the 8 could retrain and learn to farm and all that. But as I said I'm trying to really simplify things at this point.
Let's look at this from a bigger perspective.
A company employs 1,000 people.
They invest in some machinery, and lays off 800 people.
These people are displaced and will need to find new jobs.
If we keep looking at this from a larger and larger perspective, we could end up in a situation where 20-50% of the world gets displaced by machinery and more importantly artificial intelligence.
(Artificial Intelligence will happen whether you believe it or not. And it will be within my lifetime. If you don't believe it, then just remember, a few years ago, people thought humans would never fly.)
In a Singaporean mentality, people will say, then we need to retrain them and redeploy them. Let's look at the world economy on a whole. Basic necessities are more or less abundant. Food, lodging, medical care, clothes, are all readily available but not mobile. Meaning, there's plenty to go around but the poor just don't get it. The poor countries don't have easy assess to it. But on a global scale, it is possible to feed and clothe everyone. So there is very little more that NEEDS to be produced. Which is why new toys like iPhones are needed to spur the economy. NEW things need to be produced. Else everything stagnates and when technology takes away jobs, there is no OTHER place to redeploy manpower to. On a global scale.
Example. the world economy employs 10 million people to produce everything.
If no new items need to be produced, like iPhones, then when technology displaces 1 million people, then 1 million jobs are lost. End of story. They do not need to be redeployed on a global scale. There is nothing more that needs to be produced at this point, until something new is created.
When new technologies come into play, especially Artificial Intelligence, I believe many jobs will be wiped out. When this happens, there won't be sufficient NEW products being created to absorb all the displaced workers. What happens then? When people lose jobs, they stop spending. When they stop spending, the economy will slow down production, this leads to even more people losing their jobs. Resulting in a downward spiral.
Some readers will say, then the displaced workers should set up their own business. They can also provide services on their own. My response to this is, I'm assuming that the service will be something already in the market. So by setting up a business, it is providing a substitute to consumers. This drives business away from existing businesses so it is a relatively zero sum game.
So my point here is. IF there are no new products being invented, then displaced workers will not have sufficient new jobs to redeploy the workers. Loss of jobs due to AI will be faster than new products being invented.
New products being entirely new demand. Like what the iPhone did for the world. Creating more jobs in total and not just eating other businesses. Else we are just playing with a zero sum game.
A quick summary at this point.
1) Technology will displace people's jobs.
Driverless taxis will make taxis redundant, cross state truckers in USA will lose their jobs, etc. These are A LOT of people.
2) Without new inventions to create new demand and new jobs, there will not be enough jobs to redeploy the displaced people.
3) Without jobs, a lot of people will slow down spending.
4) Less consumer spending results in more job cuts in other companies and the spiral continues.
So how do we prevent this.
An idea being floated around is UBI. Which is to give money to people to spend. A fixed sum to everyone in the country. This is being experimented in some countries.
So basically, countries tax the companies and "return" the money to the people so that the people can spend and keep the gears of the economy turning. This prevents the downward spiral to a certain extent.
Maybe this UBI can sustain a family for sometime until they can find new jobs. Or they may never find new jobs as there aren't enough jobs. Or they may be lazy and choose not to work.
But is laziness such a bad thing? Laziness defined as not doing income earning productive work.
You can play the guitar, take care of your kids, cook, go on hikes, etc.
Some folks can choose to work and earn more. And they can consume more. They can buy their luxury bags or cars or whatever. And those who don't want to work can just do... well whatever they want.
Then some folks may ask what happens if everyone does this.
First, lets understand that not everyone will want to live only on UBI. It's not a lot of money.
There will be many/some people who will get bored withing nothing to do as not everyone can take the relaxing life.
Next, we need to understand that there will be sufficient production for everyone such that we could feed many people with very very few man hours of work.
So who to work. Well whoever who wants to work and earn more or if they are bored.
And the rest can do whatever they want. Do nothing, sing and dance, whatever.
Or people could just rotate work. Being everyone just works like 1-2 hours everyday.
Whatever. There are many ways to distribute the work amongst the people willing to work.
What I'm trying to get at here is for people to keep an open mind about UBI.
We need to understand and realize that in future, there will be less jobs and yet more products due to technology and automation. These products won't be able to sell themselves and if people lose their jobs then its a vicious downward spiral which will end up as a lose lose situation for everybody.
And is it so bad for people to be lazy?
What does it matter to you? If you also get UBI but choose to work for more money?
Or are humans all selfish.
Maybe it's because
Money / hours worked is the typical way to calculate how much someone is worth.
So if you have UBI and work for additional money
(SGD2,000 + SGD8,000) / 20 hours in a month = SGD500 per hour
compared to someone else who gets
SGD2,000 / 0 hours worked = infinite money per hour
Anyway, this whole post is pretty much to put across the idea of UBI to readers and to help them get a better understanding and hopefully they will keep an open mind about it.
Cos I realized many people are very resistant to this idea. But the thing is that most people do not understand that as humans move towards technology and AI, humans won't need to work anymore. The idea of where is the money going to come from will be irrelevant. There will be products being produced with nobody to buy them if they are not being given the money. Society will not be the way it is now. And the thing is most people are unable to break their mental frameworks of what society is and what they have believed in and lived in for the bulk of their lives.
The main problem is whether people are willing to be un-intuitive to save themselves.
Let's assume that the economy will spiral downwards in future due to automation removing jobs faster than jobs are created. Thus, let's say UBI could help to redistribute wealth and keep the gears of the economy running. So that products being produced are consumed and money moves around to keep companies running.
But due to people being locked in their mental framework that nobody should get something for nothing, many people oppose UBI. Resulting in many people losing their jobs due to AI and automation, they are unable to find jobs. Global spending decreases, wealth concentrates to only a handful of people, some companies wind up. More people lose their jobs, everything spirals downwards. And I'll even assume that the rich or rich companies are even willing to take these increased taxes so as to keep the economy running. Even with this, it is HIGHLY possible that people themselves would oppose UBI due to their mental barriers that nobody should get something for nothing.
Here are other prominent people who have spoken about UBI
Bill Gross - http://fortune.com/2016/05/05/bill-gross-universal-income/
Elon Musk - http://fortune.com/2016/11/06/elon-musk-universal-basic-income/
Ray Kurzweil - http://basicincome.org/news/2016/09/video-ray-kurzweil-universal-basic-income/