Author: Nick Buffie

Against an Unequivocally Bad Idea

I first heard the phrase “Universal Basic Income” when I was sitting in a Wesleyan sociology class. My classmates and I were discussing the American safety net, and one student proposed eliminating the whole system. “The safety net has so many programs, and to be honest, I don’t really understand them,” he said. “I’d rather just replace them with a UBI.” A few students concurred, and a short debate ensued. Universal Basic Income, or “UBI,” is a proposal to give every American a periodic check from the government. Everyone would receive the same amount, no strings attached. Although my classmate’s proposal had a certain cool-kid hipness to it, I was appalled. The current safety net does a tremendous amount of good, lifting millions of low-income people out of poverty every year. The fact that it isn’t easily understood by undergraduate sociology majors was pretty low on my list of concerns. After class ended, I largely forgot about our discussion. No mainstream politician was openly supporting UBI, and the impending rollout of something called “Obamacare” was …