(satirical) UBI critique – what happens when no-one needs charity or earnings?

Let us imagine that a UBI is paid that is at the minimum income standard (MIS). The MIS is enough money for social participation and inclusion. A disability component exists that gives disabled people enough income to meet the extra costs that they incur for being disabled.

Let us also imagine that you know a disabled person whose family live far away. Previously, they were poor and could not afford to pay a companion or attend social clubs. They were lonely and isolated.

You used to visit them as an act of charity: you knew that they could not recompense you because they were poor. Most people had to work – to swap their time for money – in order to have money on which to live. Particularly for people on low wages, this meant that they didn’t have spare time to spend on unpaid activity for the benefit of other people. Volunteers were therefore always fewer than the level of need. You, however, happened to have some available time, so as an act of charity you used to visit this isolated disabled person.

But the situation has now changed. The disabled person can afford to pay for a companion, to pay the travel costs of going out, and to pay the costs of participating in a social club. They no longer need unpaid support, because they can afford to pay for support. They no longer need your charity. They no longer need you.

Nor do you need them. You also receive a UBI at MIS. You therefore don’t need to work for an income. You don’t need to spend your time looking after someone else in return for money, because you already have money. Nor do you need to spend your time looking after someone else as an act of charity, because they now have money and therefore don’t need charity.

You don’t need them, and they don’t need you.

You are entirely free to spend your time and money on consumption for your own pleasure, because you have money without expending time and time is therefore no longer money. Why would you provide charity to the disabled person when the disabled person could pay you for your time? Why would you offer your time when you no longer need the money, and someone else could do the work in return for money?

So you no longer visit the disabled person.

But nor does anyone else. Because no-one needs the money. And no-one needs charity.

 

This is one problem with UBI. There is a not insignificant risk that production of goods and services will fall because no-one needs to work either to earn money (because they have money) or to deliver charity (because the previous recipients have money).

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