We stand pro on the resolution “Resolved: The United States Federal Government should implement a universal basic income”.
[Definitions] A universal basic income is an unconditional cash payment to a person paid by the government. The Pro will defend that the UBI system will be tied to the federal poverty line and that the payments are given to all citizens over 18. The UBI will pay 90% of the federal poverty line amount, which currently is $22,162 per year for a family of four (two adults and two children under 18). Thus, the UBI per person would be $9972.90. These payments will be unconditional and tax-exempt.
[Framework] The resolution is a question about economic policies and the effect that they have on workers. The USFG derives its power from the consent of the people, so all policies implemented by the USFG must benefit citizens.
Thus, we must evaluate the overall economic impact of a universal basic income. If the pro can prove that overall a universal basic income system would be better for workers, then the pro should win.
[Observation 1] The US faces several large economic problems, such as an aging population and a decrease in workers’ retirement savings. A universal basic income is one potential solution to these problems because it will create a better safety net than the current welfare program. However, if the con says that the USFG should not implement a UBI then they need to propose an alternative to a UBI. If they don’t propose an alternative to the UBI, then the pro should win because a UBI, even with its problems, is better than allowing a total economic meltdown.
[Contention 1] A universal basic income system would decrease unemployment and serve as a wage floor.
A system of UBI would decrease unemployment because people would not be “locked in” to their jobs. Currently, if a worker fears that they will lose their job, they will have to search for a new job or acquire different skills while still working their current job. They do this because they don’t have enough money to live without a job. This causes a “lock in” effect where workers are less productive than they could be because there is too much risk to leave their current job. This also causes stagnation in the education levels of most of the work force because most workers can’t afford to work and study a new subject to acquire more skills.
However, as Matthew Yglesias writing for Vox notes, a system of UBI decreases this risk. A UBI provides low-wage workers with enough money to retrain or search for a job, but not so much money that they don’t have to work. This is the perfect balance because all workers will be able to find work that they enjoy doing which will increase the economic productivity of the US.
[Contention 2] A UBI will decrease the reliance of workers on corporations, which will make workers stronger in the labor market.
Corporations are able to exploit workers because they can’t afford to find other work. A lot of citizens take low-paying jobs because they are unsure if they can find better paying work. This gives corporations a lot of power because they can exploit workers and workers have little recourse since they need the money to survive.
However, a UBI solves this because the workers can afford to freely switch employers. This will cause employers to compete for workers, which will cause wages to rise and will empower worker to negotiate more favorable working conditions. As Matt Zwolinski an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego notes, a UBI will encourage workers to demand higher wages and better working conditions. If an employer doesn’t meet the worker’s demands, then the worker can find another employer that will.
This means that corporations that try to exploit their workers will fail long term. This will promote overall economic growth and better protects workers. This links to our framework because it shows that a UBI will have direct positive impacts for workers.
[Contention 3] UBI increases the participation of citizens and is better than other welfare programs.
The USFG has to provide some type of safety net for its citizens. Currently, that safety net is welfare programs but a UBI is better than traditional welfare programs. As Noah Gordon writing for the Atlantic notes, current welfare programs are difficult to administer because the government has to monitor the economic situation of all of its citizens and then must determine if a citizen qualifies for benefits. However, under a UBI, the process is very simple. Every citizen will receive a single payment amount, which is standardized based on the poverty line. This means it will be take a lot less time and resources to administer such a program.
Also, a UBI increases the participation of citizens in the market place. Currently, poor citizens struggle to participate in the marketplace because they have less disposable income, which means that they are contributing less money to the economy. Scott Santens writing for Medium provides empirical evidence for this argument. He discusses the UBI, which was implemented in Namibia—the UBI decreased crime by 36.5% and decreased
poverty from 97% to 43%. This is because it allowed workers more flexibility in their work, while guaranteeing a basic income, which workers could depend on. Moreover, for every $1 paid to low-wage workers, they contribute $1.21 to the national economy.
Prefer this evidence over the con’s because this evidence is empirical which means it has happened in the real world. Even if the con’s arguments are correct in theory, this evidence shows what happens in the real world. A UBI has a tangible positive impact on the lives of low-wage workers and increases overall economic productivity which links to our framework.
For all of these reasons, we encourage a pro ballot.
1.Surowiecki, James. "Money for All." The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 13 June 2017. Web. 15 June 2017.
2.Yglesias, Matthew [executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High], “EITC Isn't The Alternative to a Minimum Wage, This Is” (2013)
3.Matt Zwolinski [Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego, and co-director of USD’s Institute for Law and Philosophy], "The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income" (December 5, 2013)
4.[(Scott,). “Why Should We Support the Idea of an Unconditional Basic Income? An answer to a growing question of the 21st century.” Medium. 6/2/14] AJ