Universal Basic Income Can Hold the Key to Our Futures. Here’s How …

Jay Hall
11 min readDec 3, 2023
Let’s put an end to this.

Universal Basic Income is a concept where everyone in a given society is provided for at a basic and humane level.

It’s about as controversial as vaccine mandates and the marriage of naturopathy and allopathic medicine. All, are good for your health but some people just don’t have a healthy enough mindset to see it because the fringes with extreme perspective will do nothing but tell you about the outlandish ways they could be deadly.

However, with a rational mind, using only data and historical record as the driving factor of determination, it is quite clear that UBI is good for everyone; rich, poor, white, black, art student to CEO.

So, if I can make these bold claims, why is UBI so damn controversial?

Well, many on the right believe that it will be treated like welfare and encourage people to waste their lives. Then you have the right saying, “A person must work for their money. Hand outs aren’t productive!” crowd. Of course, using history as a guidance point, there is the legitimate argument that is often made on the left, it will never be enough.

Are they right?

As I think you can tell from the headline, this is not a UBI hit piece. I support the concept in theory. However, time-and-time again lame, ill-thought-out plans by headline-grabbing politicians barely cover the essential elements and harsh truths that come from complete system reform.

And that’s what it would take for UBI to work: complete system reform. Much like most topics, we look to history.

Guys with 17 machine guns, 4m bullets, and a subscription to gun sales monthly will justify their collection by screaming about the 2nd amendment in the US (and even some in Canada because they don’t know any better).

Never mind the fact that they’re reading the amendment out of context and that it was written in 1791! By God, it’s written on some paper by a bunch of people that would think an iPhone was witchcraft but we must defend it and link it to our core character because … I haven’t figured that part out yet. For the record, I believe in rational right to bear arms.

Just like looking to 1791 for guidance on how to govern weapons that weren’t even in existence yet, looking to the ideas from the 1960’s and 70’s to offer productive UBI legislation is absolutely bonkers.

A New Universal Basic Income Plan

You can’t just give handouts to people. In that regard, the pundits are right. Under our current system, UBI won’t be enough. In that regard, the other pundits are right. So, do we abandon an idea with merit simply because it’s problematic on the surface? I think not.

To introduce UBI, we need to confront realities that are generally uncomfortable.

First, we must accept that there are people out in this world that will abuse the system, so we require checks and balances.

Second, we must address underlying issues in the community like addiction, mental health, homelessness, and free loaders.

Third, we must be harsh with those abusers and set examples so that the world can move past this brutal grind we’ve created for ourselves.

My Universal Basic Income Plan

When I sat down to write the thoughts in my head regarding UBI, I originally had too many ideas. So, I sat on it for a few years. I’ve heard from detractors and those in support of the system.

Ultimately, I’ve come up with some ideas that I think could structure UBI to becoming a system of not just strong acceptance, but universal prosperity.

As a business owner that knows the harsh truths of living in a capitalist society, I am aware that there is likely no politician or person with real influence willing to support my ideas because to rise to such a level requires a monster mind set.

However, I also know that just because an idea is unlikely, does not mean it shouldn’t be presented.

Let’s dive in.

Who Gets UBI?

Every man, woman and child would be eligible for UBI.

Children would receive UBI at lower amounts as they grow up, guaranteeing them savings once they become an adult which they can use to progress in life … or not.

Adults who do not have a job or who are just starting out in the workplace would also receive UBI.

Adults can receive a bump up if they decide to have children.

Adults receive less as they make more through their contributions to this world.

It’s pretty straightforward.

How much would UBI Provide?

I don’t have a number but I do have a calculation to answer this question. UBI would cover the basics. The five basic necessities are food, water, clothing, sleep, and shelter. I would argue that information should be included in that.

Here is what I believe should be covered:

  • A roof over a person’s head. Not a big or glamorous roof, but a roof nonetheless. Imagine public housing, but with a slight upgrade.
  • Food, with the type and amount determined by current science metrics for a healthy lifestyle.
  • A bus pass because if you’re not working, a vehicle is not exactly a necessity. Plus, a vehicle comes with a lot of extra costs.
  • Internet.
  • A mobile device to stay in contact with the world and expand one’s world view.
  • $X for savings and investment. This would be minimal.
  • $X for extras. This would roll over.

Being provided each of these things allows for a person to survive and not worry about being homeless, broke, starving, or fulfilled.

Universal Basic Credit Cards

Cash is an outdated concept. Digital currency is the way to go but many fear the control it presents. To that I say, let’s use the control to our advantage.

Each of the covered items can be paid for with the UBI Card. The only extras that would not be covered are alcohol in excess of $X, tobacco, weed in excess of $X, and other items that are deemed non-essential or destructive to one’s health, life, environment, or those around them.

Remember, the goal is not to thrive, but instead, be provided the basic essentials to live with contentment.

Public Housing

We should convert public housing to UBI Housing with strict guidelines:

  • Set rent based on the $X that everyone on the program gets per month.
  • Participants must upkeep their residence or additional fees will be charged to have it maintained that come out of extras.
  • The agency running the program would be responsible for the upkeep of common areas and safety.
  • Monthly audits by the resident management team, complete with suite meetings and conversations about the building management. My current building has this measure in place and we have a thriving community.
  • A reasonable approach to housing. Single? Here’s a bachelor plus den. Couple? Here’s a one bedroom plus den. Children? Add a room for each child.
  • There should also be common areas in the buildings where people can go to “be alone” in consideration of mental health and domestic situations. A gym, a lounge (with no alcohol), a patio, a place to watch TV, and maybe even a games room would allow people the chance to decompress.

With this approach, everyone would have a roof over their heads and an environment to feel social while stable.

So These People Wouldn’t Work at All?

We’ll deal with the all mighty J-O-B in a moment. However, all UBI recipients should be required to complete X hours of community service per week. The number will depend on the person’s situation. A single mother can’t be expected to complete as many hours as a single woman with no kids.

After all, raising her children with good values is her first and most important job.

Society benefits from allowing mothers to have a powerful presence in their child’s lives. Yes, the same applies to fathers but the example is more visceral with moms.

If a participant does not keep up with this community work requirement, they will be punished. I think the 3 strike rule is good enough in this case. If a person is habitually taking advantage of the program, then more control is placed over their funds and with complete disregard for the simple rules, there would be a consideration for jail time.

Single mom? That’s okay, there are census calls to make.

Bodybuilder type? There’s a great deal of heavy lifting to do.

Regular Joe? Graffiti doesn’t clean itself and litter doesn’t just blow away to a magical land where it doesn’t affect the environment.

There are community jobs for everyone and by doing this work, the participants will take more pride in their community. Suddenly, that wall isn’t just some wall you pass by, but the wall you cleaned graffiti off of. They call this sweat equity.

Going Beyond UBI

Those who would want to contribute more to society or have found their calling, would go out and earn money on top of UBI. We would give the opportunity to think long and hard about what they’re passionate about and have an aptitude for. People would be far happier in their jobs, don’t you think?

Once a participant reached $X over and above UBI, they would be taken off of the program.

We need a system that appeals to people’s sense of worth and value, so they have a reason to do bigger and better things. UBI shouldn’t be a lifelong plan for most. It should be a starting point, and getting off of the program should come with a certain sense of pride and value, like getting a big promotion at work.

Finances

All UBI earners would need to take a course on financial management. Skills such as accounting, saving, investing, and budgeting would be taught. There could even be bonuses to completing this course every few years.

In terms of how audits would take place, an AI based accounting system connecting all UBI earners to the cloud would be implemented. A person would view flagged accounts and they would decide next steps at that point.

Finally, X% of the UBI would be held in a savings account and/or invested. When a participant wants to use the savings for a large purchase, they would meet with a financial advisor to decide whether or not the purchase makes sense for their financial position.

Addiction & Substance Abuse

If it could be proven that a participant is not keeping up their end because of substance abuse or some other factor public health can manage, then the participant is contractually obligated to get treatment. It doesn’t matter how painful or how time staking it is; they get clean!

I know this is unpopular, but I don’t know very many people who got clean without some force used, and they’re all thankful that someone stepped in. These little 28-day retreats we send people on aren’t useful. If they find a participant to have a problem then detox, counselling and an extended program must be implemented. It’s harsh but necessary.

We need to get rid of the stigma on treatment. There is no shame in getting help. No one NEEDS drugs or alcohol. Hell, I would go as far as putting cigarettes on that list but that’s a fight for another day.

Benefits to Society

You may not be convinced on UBI just yet. Even though it’s rational you might not see the benefits clearly. Well, let’s explore:

  1. This type of UBI would lift people up and give them hope. It would provide for a meaningful existence.
  2. Homelessness would be reduced.
  3. Government spending would actually be reduced. Welfare and it’s bloated administration would be cut completely, fewer poverty stricken people would mean fewer health care needs, more security, and less need for public services.
  4. The quality of workers in the workplace would improve because they’d want to be there.
  5. Employers could not treat workers poorly. They’d just quit because it wouldn’t ruin them to do so.
  6. The community would be cleaner, happier, and friendlier.
  7. Remote communities shouldn’t be paying $10+ for a 4L of milk.
  8. Crime is skyrocketing and many state they commit crimes as a means of survival and out of desperation.
  9. Better controls in place that are actually for the good of the people.
  10. Class systems wouldn’t matter as much.
  11. People would lean into their natural aptitudes because they’d have the time to figure them out; and perhaps we could bonus people for moving in that direction constructively.
  12. Suicide, depression, anxiety, and many mental health issues would be reduced.
  13. There is an argument to the fact that we would have a more intelligent society.
  14. Repairs and upkeep throughout the city would be reduced. Just think of bus shacks alone.

I could go on and on. Relationships would be healthier, community would be stronger, kids would grow up without knowing poverty, etc etc.

Aren’t we supposed to be progressing towards these goals? Aren’t our government officials supposed to be providing a better world?

The Pitfalls of UBI

There will be those you can’t get on page. I know that. Some will still find a way to abuse the program or use it for evil ends. Where you have humans, you have those trying to gain the system. You can’t spend your way out of human nature.

But you can make penalties so stiff that you they detract from abuse, either by those on UBI or those involved in administration.

I’m sure there are many pitfalls but the structure I’m proposing would minimize them. I’d love to hear what you think some of these pitfalls might be.

Other Factors That Influence UBI Success

There are other factors to consider. How would education, healthcare, and immigration work? Well, I may be a capitalist but I don’t believe that education or healthcare should be for profit industries. That’s a huge topic but that’s my stance. Maybe I’ll write about that another day.

Regarding immigration: we’d simply need to be stricter. A nation that can’t take care of its own has no business taking care of others. Imagine a mother that can’t feed her kids taking in more just because. You can come here and live a better life but you’re going to have to prove you can contribute to our new, healthy society.

I Believe in Universal Basic Income

I firmly believe that UBI would mean less crime, less desperation, less homelessness, and fewer problems. A system that works with the community and offers affordable solutions will raise the community up.

I didn’t always think so, though. Just ten years ago I was the one saying no handouts. I realize now, that intentionally or not, we live in a world that isn’t built for progress … it’s built for exhaustion and abuse.

To be clear, I only believe in UBI if we revamp many of our systems. We’d need to look at criminal justice reform, personal responsibility and the law, all government assistance programs, policing, education, etc.

So why introduce this idea now?

Let’s be honest:

  • Cost of living has not kept up with income.
  • Crime is out of control in many urban centers.
  • A lot of problems stem from desperation.
  • Getting rid of all of our current social financial programs and making it one program that benefits the whole would likely cost less than our current administrative practices.

For this to work, we need to let go of some terrible and oft times biased assumptions, and put the welfare of our public first.

But we also need to be honest about what it takes to put a program like this in place.

Our society will have to face some hard truths and we must be downright militant with some people. That’s just the nature of the beast. Look at the people who were broke 2 days after lining up at stores with their CERB money. The harsh truth is that while we hate to be regulated, many in society (when accessing public services) need to be.

I do, however, believe, based on all the research (studies like this) that I’ve done, that UBI would improve our communities largely, it would save us billions in wasteful government spending, lift up the people who are currently held down, and it would allow our nation to prosper with ideas and passions being the governing principles.

There would be a painful transition at first, but overall, I believe that in the long-run we would be much better off.

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Jay Hall

I find therapy in words. 3 types of articles I write: Life Lessons, What If (fiction meets reality) and Nonsense Listicles.