I was at a dinner party recently, when I brought up the need for universal basic income. The person I was with needed convincing. This post is my response. Not just for that particular person – but for anyone out there, either unaware of what UBI is, how it works or who might have some misgivings about it. One of the reasons I feel so strongly about it, is that I am the proud recipient of social assistance initiatives on two occasions. The first was after having dropped out of my first year of university due to a mental health crisis. I got a job through an employment works program that introduced me to a new field.
The second time was more recent. After the advent of COVID-19, I was a recipient of the CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) program, which is more in line of how UBI works. The proceeding cheques allowed me to take part in MOOCs (massive open online courses) – again, it allowed me time and opportunity to pivot into my new career in mental health. Not only did this amount cover my basic expenses of food, rent and my online courses – I had enough left over to donate to some local charities. So I can say unequivocally, that social assistance programs can work. But don’t just take my word for it. Here are a few more reasons to support UBI.
1. Climate Change. Eventually, it is predicted that massive unemployment will affect certain sectors of the economy – particularly carbon centred industries. Source: Newsweek.
2. Pollution. This last summer exemplified the atmospheric effects of climate change in the form of negative air quality. Whether due to forest fires or industrial factories or cars, the air will probably be too dangerous to breath, which would hamper any commute or work outdoors. A recent study predicted that if nothing changes, by 2050, there would be 6.6 million premature deaths globally from air pollution. Source: Chemistry World
3. COVID-19. This latest pandemic has proven that many jobs showcase high risk for transmittable diseases. It is predicted that more pandemics may be on the way and that COVID-19 may be here for good. Some of the worst hit sectors for COVID-19 were workplaces which may never recover.
4. Robots. They’re on the way. Maybe not the T-1000s, but as Elon Musk recently mentioned during his PR event for his Optimus line – they will eventually be taking over a lot of current manufacturing and food sector jobs. He conceded the needed for UBI as a result of this. Source: Business Insider
5. Mental Health. People that work less are happier. They have lower rates of depression and anxiety. Source: Forbes
6. Physical Health. People that work less are also healthier. They sleep better and lower rates of stress. Source: Forbes
7. The economy. Not only do happier and healthier people make for a better society – they also end up saving and spending money. They are in better shape which means they are less likely to clog up the healthcare system. A society benefitting from UBI will put the money back into goods and services.
If you want to know more about UBI and how it works, go here.
If you live in Canada and would like to tell your political party to help make it happen, go here.
If you’re in Toronto tomorrow, you may want to show up for a rally happening in support of UBI.