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Op-Ed

A Universal Basic Income Would Never Work, Even in an Autonomous World

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Society is becoming rapidly automatized due to the revolutionary breakthroughs in the fields of engineering and computer science, notably those of machine learning and artificial intelligence. As a result, life has become much easier for many of us. No longer do we have to partake in such arduous tasks as turning on the television or taking out our phones to check the weather and the latest news.

“Alexa. What is the temperature outside?”

“OK, Google. Update me on the local news.”

Currently, these simple time-saving developments are what most of us experience on a daily basis, but automation is a much more far-reaching phenomenon. Just take a look at Tesla, Inc. Tesla is producing fully autonomous vehicles that are available to the general public. These vehicles will prove useful to most people at first, but what about when they begin to replace taxi drivers and truck drivers?

Tesla is already working on the Tesla Semi. The Tesla Semi will be a fully-autonomous tractor-trailer and will, no doubt, be more cost-effective than human drivers in the long run. And vehicle automatization is not the only threat to jobs. With the exponential robotization of the service and manufacturing industries, many occupational fields will cease to require human labor.

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This brings about the question, “If our economy is no longer based on wage labor (because machines now fill most jobs), how will we allot money amongst individuals?”

A specter is haunting the world — the specter of a universal basic income.

Universal basic income is a governmental program that gives citizens a regular sum of money for simply being alive. It has been proposed as a solution to the aforementioned question regarding the allocation of currency. In theory, under a UBI system, each citizen will be given enough money to meet their basic needs so that they will not have to seek additional income. However, multiple problems exist within the UBI system.

Most prominently, if humans are given a universal basic income, it eliminates all incentive for advancement and innovation. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” If all basic human needs are met, humans will cease to apply themselves to the fullest extent.

Studies conducted on UBI show that many of the participants took the opportunity to go back to school. However, this is because they chose to capitalize on the studies, knowing that the studies would end and they would have to go back to work eventually. By furthering their education, they left the studies being more employable and prepared for the workforce. Had the participants been guaranteed a universal basic income for the rest of their lives, few, if any, would have gone back to school because they would not have a need to become more employable. But this is just a purely economic perspective.

Psychologically, a lack of purpose causes humans to become apathetic and depressed. Some may find their purpose in caring for their families or participating in religious practices, but most find their purpose through their job.

A universal basic income terminates most jobs. At first, people may be relieved that they don’t have to go to work, but, as time passes, they will ultimately become bored. Eventually, this boredom and lack of purpose will cause them to seek employment, where they will, unfortunately, find out that there are no jobs. They will realize that their existence does not and will never serve to benefit the greater good of society. Life becomes meaningless.

As a result of the lack of intellectual advancement and innovation from the utter absence of necessity, and the apathy and depression that will undoubtedly coincide with a meaningless life, humans, as a species for the first time, will begin to devolve. We will regress to a more primitive intellectual state, for we will no longer have to be the fittest to survive. Our most basic needs will be provided for and we will be content.

But this is not the way that it has to be. Man is unique from all other creatures and unlike all other creatures, has prevailed beyond all odds. We have not been subdued before, even when threatened under the malevolent, looming shadow of communism. Nor have we fallen to the ferocious fury of fascism. And we will not be undone by universal basic income.

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We have emerged triumph following the Agricultural Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, and we will continue to be victorious following the Autonomous Revolution. Society will be changed as we know it. Things will change. We will adapt. We will need to discover new solutions, to new problems, but a universal basic income is not the answer.

Workers of All Countries, Unite! And together, we will overcome any turmoil.

Nicolas Borovich is the Republican Committeeman for the Borough of Midway, PA 15060. He is a member of the Robert Morris University College Republicans and is the former representative for the group within the Student Government Association. He is also a former student senator within the Student Government Association.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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