Quora Answer : How do progressives and liberals propose to pay for both UBI (Universal Basic Income) and UHC (Universal Health Care) at the same time, simultaneously and sustainably?

Aug 31

I propose that UBI is paid for exclusively out of taxes on natural resources.

Nature belongs to everyone, equally, and shouldn't be the private property of individuals.

One step in the right direction would be to tax land (and other mineral, oil rights, and similar "gifts of nature") and have that as the basis of UBI.

Also, we need to restrict carbon emissions anyway, so have a trade-able CO2 permit system, and have the money earned from auctioning CO2 emission permits, also go into the UBI kitty. (To make sure that this doesn't just force production offshore, you'd obviously charge import duties equivalent to the cost of the CO2 used in the production abroad, so it would be neutral in terms of incentives to offshore)

If you look at the US, universal health care would be cheaper than the US currently pays for its health system, so it doesn't have to be "paid for" at all. You just need to remove the parasitic insurance companies who are taking a huge slice of the money in "healthcare". But that might need some initial investment to kick the process off, which would, indeed, come taxes / borrowing as usual. But once established, a US "NHS" would be cheaper than the US currently pays and would save money in the longer run.

Quora Answer : Is the pandemic finally the moment for a universal basic income?

Jul 24, 2020

I think it would be a sensible move, yes.

Right now, we seem to have a stupid argument between "protecting lives" vs. "protecting the economy"

It's stupid because if lots of people are sick and die, the economy gets fucked anyway.

But also because COVID is a serious and long-term threat.

The best way to protect the economy is to adapt it to fit a world with COVID and the risks that COVID brings.

And it seems the economy is completely fragile in the face of disruptions to everyone going out and doing what they always do.

But that's exactly what we need people to stop doing for a while.

So the ideal would be to have a way to put much of the economy into a kind of suspended animation / induced coma where companies remain frozen on a database. They haven't gone bust; they still maintain all the contracts, employment relationships etc. But for a period, they don't have to either pay out any money, or deliver any goods / services / work.

If we had a mechanism like this. We could put most inessential businesses to sleep for 6 months, or 12 months, or whatever it takes to get the epidemic under control through having everyone stay home. And then quickly defrost it again once particular regions look safe to open up.

As it is, we have a stupid situation where businesses either try to keep working as normal (putting their employees and customers at risk) or they immediately go bust.

But of course, even if businesses are in suspended animation, people still need to eat. So a UBI would allow us to keep the people ticking over during the outage.

There are other good arguments for a UBI. But it seems it's a particularly simple mechanism and compatible with doing what we can to save the economy.

NB : In general, I do take on board criticisms of UBI that just paying for it out of increased income tax is going to create a pointless inflationary spiral between salaries and prices. I don't think this is the way to fund it. Instead I believe UBI needs to be financed from land and other natural resource taxes.

Quora Answer : What are some right-wing arguments in favour of universal basic income?

Sep 1

Government is inefficient. It might be right for it to provide for people who can't support themselves, but it shouldn't be done through government bureaucracy or government provision of services because these are inefficient and overly expensive ways to do it.

UBI is the form of state support for the population with the minimal of state involvement. Basically the state does nothing but pass out a small amount of money each month and citizens then use that money to provide for themselves in the free market. Under UBI government doesn't even bother to try to evaluate whether someone really deserves an income or not. (Why would expect the state make such an evaluation in a cheap or accurate way anyway?)

So, UBI is the minarchist way for the state to fulfil its responsibilities to avoid its citizens actually starving. Everything else is left to the citizens and the private market and individual initiative.

Just to be clear, I am NOT a right-winger. And I don't agree with the reasoning behind the above argument. Nor do I favour a version of UBI that is intended to eliminate other kinds of state support for those who need it. Nevertheless, I believe that the above is a valid argument for UBI for those who hold those views.