What is basic income: panacea or empty utopia

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Basic income can be the main means of supporting the economy and population amid an epidemic.

What is a basic income: a panacea for an epidemic or an empty utopia

Can the state provide financial assistance to all without needing anything in return? Is it possible to get rid of hunger and poverty by giving everyone minimal access to financial resources? The coronovirus epidemic and the large scale reductions associated with it have returned interest in social concepts devoted to organizing government aid. Basic income is the most popular among them.

Basic income is without exception a regular payment for all citizens of the country, regardless of their job status or level of protection. Basic income does not require the fulfillment of obligations and does not imply any condition other than staying within agreed limits. This type of payment has many features:

  1. The tour: We are never talking about outright help, payments are made regularly (for example, once a month);
  2. cash payment: Unconditional income is never through services, food or anything else, payment can be made only in cash;
  3. the personality: Payments are received separately by each individual, not by a group of individuals;
  4. Versatility: Basic income is guaranteed to all;
  5. Freedom: Income recipients do not have to do any work.

The concept of a database can be applied at both a single country and region level. If basic income covers basic human needs, it can be considered complete. Sometimes payments do not reach a living wage, then we are talking about a partial basic income.

What is basic income: a panacea drug for epidemics or empty utopias. Photo: Pexels

Unconditional income has long gone beyond utopia and is actively promoted in many countries of the world. Many are not ready to bring the concept to the state level, but experimental launches of similar programs continue.

Practice is better than theory

The results of the longest experiment on the introduction of basic income in Finland are unclear – the database has a beneficial effect on both individual residents and society as a whole. For two years, two thousand fins got 560 euros every month. The recipient has significantly improved his health and overall stress levels, increasing his confidence in people, including politicians and law enforcement agencies. The unemployed, irrespective of income, got jobs, but were able to choose a profession to their liking.

Oddly enough, basic income is economically viable, especially in the long run. When in Kenya, ten thousand families started getting $ 125, no one was counting on the growth of the business. But this is exactly what happened – people did not spend the money they thought they had received, but invested in launching their own businesses and investments. This turned into a country’s economy of $ 1.5 income for every dollar spent on payments.

Weapon against COVID-19

Basic income is closely related to the health system. As experiments have shown, populations improve their health when they receive additional funding. Payments help pay for treatment and improve nutrition, and also reduce overall stress and anxiety disorders.

What is a basic income: a panacea for an epidemic or an empty utopia

Keeping this in mind, some countries have noted the onset of basic income programs amid the spread of coronovirus infections, all due to rising unemployment and economic unrest. For example, Spain’s Minister of Economy, Nadia Calvino, has already announced the introduction of basic income into the country. According to Spanish authorities, this will help the population to overcome the consequences of the epidemic.

The UK government has also considered introducing unconditional income. Every British can be paid a universal base salary, but only for a period of unemployment amid an epidemic. The move is explained by simple calculations – within a few months, millions of Britons could lose their jobs, and a contraction in the economy threatens to gain twenty percent.

Donald Trump’s administration, in turn, proposed to distribute $ 1 thousand for each adult resident of the US and $ 500 for each child. It should also be a quarantine support tool. In the USA, they focus on the benefits of the program – basic income will not only support the population in difficult times, but will also strengthen the economy and simplify current social benefits, which can simply be canceled.

Analysts say that in an epidemic, basic income payments will not cause inflation, as they will balance demand and help restore production. Other methods of financial incentives, including tax holidays, would not be relatively effective in supporting the population.

Read: Not required: Germany is one step closer to basic income.


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