This Is How We Can Pay For Universal Basic Income

As mentioned in the newsletter (subscribe here!): I am re-running episodes of “Rosie & BJ Save The World” because the show was released during the pandemic. So, for hopefully obvious reasons, I’m now getting around to promoting it.

You can listen to Episode 4, which covers Universal Basic Income and how to pay for it, right here.

Episode 4 Summary: Universal Basic Income

In this episode of Rose & BJ Save the World, the co-hosts offer suggestions on saving the world and your budget at the same time with universal basic income (UBI).

Most ideas of UBI include a $1,200 monthly check for all citizens over the age of 18 — regardless of income level. The question is: How the heck do you pay for it?

Rosie suggests getting rid of social security and food stamps “and all of these various governmental bureaucracies” and going with UBI instead. “That would actually decrease costs,” she says.

UBI gives everyone more access to the free market to invest in the economy, which appeals to Rosie’s libertarian leanings. “The economy is so out of whack and so rigged that people don’t have that basic access. They’re trying to make ends meet,” she says.

BJ suggests a more liberal approach: “If you put a tax on the high-frequency transactions that take place on Wall Street, and you make the 22 companies who owe billions of dollars in unpaid taxes over the past three years — and who got a massive tax cut — there is more than enough money to pay for this.”

Jobs are disappearing, too. White baby boomers will blame it on jobs being outsourced, the co-hosts note, and politicians will play on those fears to get elected. “The jobs aren’t going to China. They’re going to robots,” Rosie explains. “Chinese and immigrants are just easier to hate than robots.”

As the robots start taking over the world, UBI would protect those whose jobs will get cut. It would also support those that do under- and non-compensated work, such as domestic labor, scientific research, and artistic projects.

The UBI leads to many questions that challenge the status quo. Rosie asks: “What is the point of all of this innovation and evolution? If we’re just working 60 hours a week, it doesn’t make any sense. The idea is to give people more free time to explore their humanity, art, and creativity.”

Quick Hits for Saving the World

🌎 Read up on the Alaska Permanent Fund. The fund pays $1,200 a month to Alaskan residents. It’s funded by fuel revenues and has non-partisan support.

🌎 Try not to get swept up in “politicians promising high-paying jobs for unskilled work.” Plan ahead for the changes (and the robots) that are coming.

🌎 Learn the history of the 40-hour workweek. It’s more arbitrary than you might think.

🌎 Take a vacation, you’ve earned it!

Resources for Saving the World

📺 American Factory, a documentary on Netflix.

Scott Santens — Universal Basic Income Advocate/Writer, an episode from Rosie’s podcast Out of The Box.

The Freedom Dividend, Andrew Yang’s proposal and rebrand of UBI.

📚 “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future,” by Martin Ford.

📑 “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren,” by John Maynard Keynes, discussing automation in the 1930s.

📚 “Bullshit Jobs: A Theory,” by David Graber

📚 “Affluence Without Abundance: What We Can Learn from the World’s Most Successful Civilisation,” by James Suzman

📚 “Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream,” by Andy Stern.

Serial Box delivers weekly sci-fi and fantasy audio stories to your device.

Out of The Box, Rosie’s other podcast.

Support BJ Mendelson on Patreon.

Follow Rosie on Twitter.

Support and Subscribe to Rosie & BJ Save the World on Anchor, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Top quotes from the episode:

[12:17] BJ: “Women have done uncompensated labor since the beginning of the country. The nice thing about universal basic income is that it compensates women specifically for work that for years ⁠ — such as taking care of the house, or doing whatever you may need to do as a partner ⁠ — they’ve not been compensated for.”

[31:04] BJ: “The concept of ‘work’ is kind of fucked up. We’re still stuck in this weird 20th-century mindset that you have to work 40 hours a week. You work a nine-to-five job because that’s what gives your life purpose. But, we know through anthropologists and different studies that’s just not the case. “

[37:37] Rosie: “The stereotype that millennials are lazy is absolutely not true. We know now that there is a very tangible value to enjoying your life and taking time off. What basic income affords is a compensation for that invisible value, because not everything can be measured.”

[41:54] Rosie: “We’re not advocating giving everyone $60,000 and saying ‘Good luck!’ UBI would cover necessities so that people can work at what they’re passionate about. Someone who’s working that job can truly be there and not get burnt out because they’re working 60 hours at something less satisfying.”

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B.J. Mendelson

B.J. Mendelson

B.J. Mendelson is the author of “Social Media Is Bullshit” from St. Martin’s Press.