The Daily Evergreen

Universal income necessary in automated economy

As businesses become more automated, basic salary is necessary to stabilize job market

WSU+junior+Austin+Early+shares+his+thoughts+about+universal+basic+income+and+how+it+can+affect+our+country.
WSU junior Austin Early shares his thoughts about universal basic income and how it can affect our country.

WSU junior Austin Early shares his thoughts about universal basic income and how it can affect our country.

JENIN REYES | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

JENIN REYES | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

WSU junior Austin Early shares his thoughts about universal basic income and how it can affect our country.

ERIC SIMPSON, Evergreen columnist

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An automated economy will remove the need for people to work. Robot labor will be far cheaper and more reliable than human labor with the bonus of working around the clock.

Without an income due to the lack of work, people will not be able to purchase goods and pay taxes. Society then inevitably collapses.

As the job market becomes more and more automated, we must work to find solutions to fix the problems of tomorrow before it is too late.

However, some students of today who will be dealing with these problems of the future are clueless about how to fix it.

Brad Gamble, a sophomore communication major, was originally unaware of the increasing automation.

“Jeez that’s a good question,” Gamble said. “ ‘How would we fix the issue?’ Honestly, the businesses should just stop making robots, wouldn’t that fix it?”

Sadly, it is not that easy. With the numerous incentives to automate your business, including but not limited to the obvious financial benefits, it would be impossible to stop businesses from automating.

There are solutions, however. A Universal Basic Income will be needed in the future to support an economy in the era of automation. A UBI is a system where every citizen receives an equal amount of work-free income regardless of age, sex or race. It is a guaranteed income.

However, whenever this was proposed as a solution people might ask how this would be funded.

There are multiple ways to fund a UBI. The most obvious and clear choice would be to tax businesses that are causing us to use this system in the first place. The UBI would be funded with a Business Automation Index Tax.

The BAI Tax uses the business’s level of automation to calculate a suitable tax bracket.

A business with low automation would have low taxes and a business with high automation would have higher taxes.

After all, businesses no longer have to pay workers if it is mostly automated. The money that it would have been paying workers then goes to other citizens of the country, distributed equally.

When asked who would benefit the most from this UBI system, some may be tempted to say average workers since they get free money but that is not entirely correct. It is actually the entire economy.

The business benefits from this system because without it the consumer would not exist. A system like this. However, has very little quantitative research to back it and many people are unsure of the consequences of implementing such a system.

“Something like a UBI may have unintended consequences and we may see different subcultures form, such as those who want to work and those who do not,” said Austin Early, a junior sociology major. “This may seem unimportant at first, but this difference would likely cause an even larger gap instead of bringing a society closer together. We need to test this on a smaller scale first.”

Early makes a good point. With a system like UBI in place we may see an amplification between these two subcultures — the working class and the consuming class.

However, the only way to truly know the effect would be to test it on a smaller scale, as Early suggests.

A gradual move to a UBI system is needed. Change will not happen overnight but we must put the core in place soon as automation increases.

With the right structure in place, we could start receiving a UBI today. It would not be very much since the whole workforce is not automated yet. Nevertheless, placing the foundation for tomorrow is what we need so when we reach full automation. We do not reach full poverty alongside it.

Even if all you received today from the UBI was $50 a month, it would set the framework for a higher income later. As the era of full automation draws closer we must devise solutions. Students must be educated on the issues that may plague tomorrow so that we may be prepared to face them.

We must be proactive.

About the Writer
ERIC SIMPSON, Evergreen columnist

Eric Simpson is a junior finance and management information systems major from Port Orchard, WA.

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Universal income necessary in automated economy