The concept of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is quite simple: Every person in a country receives an unconditional paycheck from the nation's treasury. As part “owners” of the country, we should receive a dividend of what the nation earns.
Although this is a policy with clear benefits for the unemployed, disabled, and lazy, it's harder to see how a UBI would benefit the hard working Americans that have toiled to make this country great. After all, someone has to pay the taxes to support that basic income.
But the reality is, a basic income could be valuable to most Americans regardless of their income. Here are 11 benefits of a Universal Basic Income for hard working middle and upper class Americans:
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1. Support family values
A child born in 2015 will cost an average of $233,610 to raise to adulthood. With such a high price tag, it's difficult for most American families to afford a stay-at-home parent.
A basic income provides an extra layer of financial support that makes it easier for one parent to spend more time raising and educating their children. This ability to focus on family would benefit many middle class families that wouldn't be able to afford this luxury otherwise.
2. Reduce the pressure of money on family/friend relationships
Many of us have seen money destroy, or at least strain, relationships between family members and friends.
When you have money but someone you care about doesn't, an unhealthy dependency can quickly develop. You become your child's bank account and your friend's credit card – all at the expense of your own financial wellbeing.
If you know that your loved ones receive a basic income from a 3rd party, the burden of supporting them yourself gets lifted – and their dependency on you diminishes. You can go back to enjoying your relationship rather than stressing over money.
3. Support volunteer and charity work
There are many activities that benefit society but don't have economic value. People who want to support local nonprofits, schools, and churches must either have another job to pay the bills, or spend their time fundraising.
What if you could dedicate 100% of your time to serving the kids in your local community, or visiting with the sick and elderly, all while still having your basic needs covered? This would be a tremendously valuable use of time.
Although a basic income won't make someone rich, it does offer a bit more flexibility for someone wanting to volunteer or pursue a philanthropic career that may be lower paying.
4. Mitigate the impact of being fired
One of the biggest reasons the idea of a UBI is gaining momentum is because of the impact of technology on jobs – with one report saying 38% of US jobs could be automated in 15 years. Could yours be on this list?
Even if your job is safe from automation, there is still a risk that you could lose your job for other reasons – and the potential of being fired is highly stressful.
A basic income provides a bit more stability. Even if you lost your job, you would still have a small income. And, if you've been smart, you've saved a portion of this money while still employed – meaning you have a larger emergency fund.
5. Provide the opportunity for continued education
What happens when you're 45 and ready to start a new career or learn a new skill to advance in your current role? Right now it's difficult for an adult to afford quitting their job and going back to school.
A basic income provides that financial cushion needed to cover basic costs (or at least reduce the amount of loans needed) when going back to school.
Even if you don't go back to school yourself, you can still benefit from others in your community furthering their education. When someone goes back to school to increase their income, they are able to provide more financial support to the rest of society.
6. Reduce homelessness
A huge benefit of a Universal Basic Income for all Americans is its potential to reduce homelessness.
Many Americans feel uncomfortable walking past someone in need on the side of the street. You get annoyed, you feel guilty, you question whether or not this person actually needs help or is just trying to take advantage of you.
With a basic income for all, there would be no need for someone to be homeless (and thus, homelessness would be nearly eliminated). Wouldn't it be great to walk down the street without being asked for money?
Additionally, one of last year's largest wildfires in California, that destroyed multi-million dollar mansions, was started at a homeless camp. Reducing homelessness could literally save millionaires from losing their homes.
7. Reduce crime
Theft and robbery are often the result of perceived financial necessity. Although inexcusable, most of us can empathize with someone stealing to provide food for their kids, or keep a roof over their heads.
Sure, a Universal Basic Income wouldn't eliminate all crime. But, if everyone had their basic needs provided for, there would be far less financial pressure on those most susceptible.
Wouldn't it be great if we could all live in a country with a lower crime rate?
8. Support the local community
Small Town America is struggling to survive the changes brought about by online retailers – and jobs transitioning to cities and overseas. Beautiful communities across the country are becoming ghost towns.
If you live in one of these rural areas, a UBI could benefit you because your community will have more to spend and give. Neighborhoods could be fixed up, churches renovated, and new businesses started.
9. Support local small businesses
Small businesses would be one of the greatest beneficiaries of a basic income.
If you are a builder, store owner, or entrepreneur of any kind, imagine how your business would grow if everyone in your community had an extra $12,000/year to spend?
With more money to spend in these local small businesses, more jobs would be created – again, benefiting the entire community.
10. Encourage entrepreneurship
How many ideas have been abandoned by would-be entrepreneurs because leaving their job would be financially unfeasible? How many Americans have given up on starting a meaningful small business because they were dependent on their paycheck?
By providing a Universal Basic Income, anyone with a great idea can take the leap – with the confidence that they will still be able to make their mortgage payment at the end of the month.
11. Encourage the pursuit of enjoyable work – even if it pays less
Only 32% of American employees are engaged at work. This means that most of us are doing work we don't enjoy – just for a paycheck.
That's no way to live.
A basic income provides an opportunity for people to pursue jobs that actually matter to them without having to worry as much about money. If you want to be a teacher, researcher, preacher, journalist, entertainer, or humanitarian, a basic income would make that dream more affordable!
And wouldn't we all benefit from a nation of people that were passionate about their work and life?
As this article reveals, a Universal Basic Income could certainly benefit hard working middle-class Americans and entrepreneurs.
More money in communities means more opportunities for everyone. That is, as long as there isn't a substantial increase in taxes. In a future article we'll discuss the possible ways to pay for a basic income without making everyone go broke due to high taxes.