Universal basic income is not a novel concept.
Introduced as early as the 1500s, governments have entertained the idea of introducing a basic living wage to combat various issues confronted by societies around the world. From decreasing theft and crime, combatting poverty, implementing a universal basic income is considered to by many to be a basic human right. Now in the digital age, humans are more connected than ever before but still face vast inequality. While the idea of actualising basic incomes could certainly ease social issues, there is also the potential for this inherently social take to make our world a more innovative, creative place.
Basic income can increase skill sharing and collaboration
For many young entrepreneurs, it can hard to find the time and resources needed to dedicate to skill sharing and collaboration. It takes time to build genuine and productive social networks, and as most people know, time is money. But, imagine if we didn’t have to worry about making enough money to pay the bills and could focus our time and energy on working together.
One of the many arguments supporting universal income is that it could be focused on improving the way our society functions, giving people a basic living wage to give them more freedom to share their skills and knowledge free of cost. Independent of financial burdens, entrepreneurs and businesses would have more incentive to collaborate and to extend their services to companies that may not have the money to afford certain expertise otherwise.
Basic incomes could ease worry surrounding potential job loss
In times of economic crisis, it can be hard for business to achieve optimal productivity, as workers are understandably stressed about losing jobs. Currently, workers in various industries, like tech and manufacturing are facing potential job loss due to increased automation in the workplace. While technological advancements in artificial intelligence have been astounding, we also need to be sure we don’t forget about the human power behind them. A basic income could serve as a safety net, not in the traditional sense of welfare, which takes a considerable amount of effort to acquire, but rather a basic right entitled to all.
Universal basic income could enrich the freelance ecosystem
The freelance economy has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, squashing any preconceived notions that self-employed workers are lazy and unproductive. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. The freelance workforce has contributed to the development of more diversified global workforce and has influenced communities around the world to embrace a more flexible and autonomous workforce. While there are plenty of freelancers who will swear by the open road lifestyle, there are an equal amount that will tell you freelancing certainly has its challenges. From having to care for your own taxes, to making sure your clients respect payday, it can be difficult for those without a financial safety net to launch their freelance career. Basic income could give self-employed workers the security to go out on their own and investing in honing their skills, which would benefit not only freelancers themselves but the global workforce.
Universal basic income could teach us more about what we need
With such a heavy focus on earning a living, it’s easy to forget what we need as a global society. With less pressure on having to sustain our personal lives, workers could spend their time and energy investing in the greater good. While there are voices that have spoken out against the idea of basic income, claiming it will make workers less motivated, advancements in market research have proven the exact opposite. As we become more interconnected thanks to advancements in technology and subsequently market research, there is now a wealth of data highlighting what needs to be done in order to improve wellbeing in the workplace. Analysis has shown that it’s not just a fair salary and enough vacation days, but socialising that boosts workplace well-being on the whole. Providing a basic income takes the focus away from financial gain and places it on social capital, which would make more room for organic innovation to take place.
While the world is still a long way from seeing complete and equal societies, the growing discussion regarding universal basic income is a positive sign that we are moving in the right direction.