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Rising support for universal based income

There is a profound gap between the upper and lower class in America that has existed for years. Due to this, many people have been pushing for the establishment of a universal basic income in hopes of remedying the exponentially increasing poverty rate. Universal basic income is defined by The International Monetary Fund as “a cash transfer of an equal amount to all individuals in a country.” Some may argue that a universal basic income will march us directly into a lifestyle of laziness, but several famous figures like Mark Zuckerberg claim that establishing this system will provide flexibility for hardworking people, like those who have lost a job due to artificial intelligence. In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. suggested a “guaranteed income” for those at the lowest income level as a way to battle poverty.

Guy Standing, co-founder of Basic Income Earth Network, seeks to debunk the general consensus that “if you give people a basic income, they will become lazy and stop doing work.” He describes this claim in an interview with MSN as an “insult to the human condition… Research has shown that a basic income can improve people’s [overall] mental and physical health, as well as encourage them to pursue employment for reasons other than just a need to put food on the table.” He continues to explain that the growth in inequality between classes has “triggered a perfect storm” for a set basic income.

A survey conducted 10 years ago revealed that only 12 percent of the population would advocate for some sort of basic income. The same study done by Northeastern University shows that 48 percent support the idea in 2018. The university conducted a separate study that shows that 75 percent of Americans genuinely believe that artificial intelligence will take away more jobs than it creates, which contributes to the 36 percent increase in supporters over the past 10 years.

Though proposals vary, they are similar in that they all involve a system in which the federal government sends out regular checks to everyone, no matter their earnings or employment. A study over universal basic income has begun in Finland. The trial launched at the beginning of 2017 and is scheduled to end at the beginning of 2019. For two years, participants are receiving 560 euros (around $685) a month and researchers are focusing on how this “free money” affects work ethic and overall motivation.

Though several people argue that establishing a universal basic income will do more harm than good, the positive consequences outweigh the negatives. In addition to the flexibility it can provide to workers who’ve lost their job to robots, it might just be the answer we need in order to defeat the poverty epidemic.

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