SOAPBOX: Universal Basic Income
A Brief Look at a Social Concept That Genuinely Could Revolutionise Irish Society
Lately, it’s difficult to ignore the wealth gap in Ireland, especially Dublin. With large banks coming over from London post BREXIT and driving rent prices up and it resulting in local people unable to afford to live in their city anymore, its leading to the regular question of why? Who is at fault for this? Is it these banks? Or is it the average working class Dubliner not being able to budget? The answer is neither, nobody is at fault. The wealth distribution is the problem.
This soapbox will examine a social policy idea that has been brought up in recent years, it’s called Universal Basic Income or UBI. This is the idea that every citizen is given a certain income by the system to increase their own worth and in return something is given back. Essentially everyone is getting the scratcher. I have been thinking deep on this idea for a long time, wondering ways it could be implemented and what it would change and if it would cause inflation and in return be a redundant idea, but I think I have something to work from now.
The visit of the pope is costing 10-20 million in taxes minimum, this is an insane figure considering our capital city is suffering from a homeless crisis. I honestly don’t blame the government or the church for this, my problem with the church/state relations are separate. State visits cost money, Obama cost 20 million plus when he came over to shake hands and drink some Guinness in return for getting the Irish vote back in America…. But whatever you know?
Yet, UBI could genuinely be a solution, if I walked up to the average person and said ‘here is an extra 150 Euro a week, you can do what you want with it, it’s your choice, in return you need to give us this but don’t worry everyone else is giving us the same so it’s all good’ you would naturally be skeptical. Honestly there’s no need to be. It’s a transaction like any other you enter into. The idea I propose here revolves around your internet data.
Data protection is a huge topic at the minute, you sign it away daily without realizing at all and it’s actually affecting a lot of things in your life. That IG draw you entered, yep you gave away your age and location in exchange for a chance at them YEEZYs. Hope you win btw.
But what if I suggested that you give your data to your government, in exchange they give you money and they centralize it and keep it away from nasty corporate powers or political lobbying groups like with that whole Cambridge Analytic scandal. The world is changing, we live more in the digital realm than the real world nowadays. This is the future of society. It’s no lie that most of you who read this have more online friends than you do in real life. You spend your time looking at these people online but will never talk to them, even if you see them in the street. Kinda insane but sure society develops as human nature does.
Most UBI concepts involve cutting welfare states in place or placing higher taxes on the wealthy as a way to find the money to cut the gap and give everyone better living conditions. This isn’t fair though, these people for the most part work hard and try to further their lives so deserve their wealth. They should give back yes, but it is their choice at the end of the day, as is yours when you don’t give change to someone begging.
Their data however is as important as the regular Joe soap. It is of the same value to a computer. They will even receive the same money from UBI as the average person. It just means less to them, but the prospect and opportunity you could gain to start your life off or ease your burdens is crazy. If income is like a box and the roof is your financial limit, then think of UBI as a large room with just a large floor space and an open ceiling. It’s the same. Everyone works from the same. No means test, no inflation, no benefits for working less. Opportunities and prospects are the same across the board. It’s the individual who makes the choice now, a choice you don’t get in your current welfare system.
UBI is such a great idea, instead of giving Facebook control of your data who in turn have the rights to it or Google, a goliath of the data world. They know everything about you. Honestly, they are the real cookie monster. So to stop these private corporations boosting their net worth based off your data, why not sign away your rights to it when you hit the age of 18, you get 150 euro a week for example and it’s your choice to do what you want with. Personal freedom is gained but also lost, so it’s a fair exchange. Obviously most will party it away or invest in some retail therapy but it’s your choice. Save up and go to college, start a business, do whatever you want. It’s yours.
The idea is so simple and could generally revolutionize the working class and cut that social wealth gap. People in their late teens wouldn’t need to struggle to find part time employment around college, their parents aren’t financially responsible for them and the government gains control over their citizen’s online freedom but gives freedom in the physical realm. The money gets pumped back into the economy and the circle is complete. It genuinely works as an idea.
I, personally have read so much on it as a concept that it really could kick start someone’s life and cut that ever growing wealth gap. For the majority of the population it will eliminate fear and that existential crisis we all suffer from that stops us doing what we want. You will always have a fall back and in return the economy grows regardless.
Data protection is a serious issue. We have a 3 piece study on it coming out soon, but this is just an idea I want to float or at least make you aware of. This is the future of society. This will be implemented somewhere in the world really soon. Ireland, as a young, diverse and tech savvy nation, of a small population, is the perfect location for this to be tested. If it ever will be is another thing. Message us if you read this and want more information and sources. I will happily send them on and will gladly discuss it in more detail.