However, a progressive UBI will also act as an unlimited strike fund (a comparison I heard being used by Ontario Coalition Against Poverty leader John Clarke who has written extensively against UBI). Citizens with no need to work will have significant leverage and bargaining power against employers. Any economist will be quick to point out that this will be disastrous for business. Employers will …
This assumes far more people are working in relocatable industries than is actually the case. Manufacturing, for example, now accounts for just 8% of the workforce in the United States and that figure continues to decline. With rapid advancements in technologies such as 3D printing, it’s hardly beyond the realm of possibility that within a decade or two many of the items currently produced in poorer developing countries presently serving as reservoirs of cheap labor will be made in our living rooms, or at the very least at a shop down the street where the store owner sells access to his/her 3D printer. This will have serious repercussions not just for our economy but for third world and developing countries as well. UBI offers not just countries but the world as a whole a humane way forward as these global transformations take shape.
That said, the sale and distribution of essentials like food and clothing can’t be outsourced. Nor can services like electricity, clean water, infrastructure construction & maintenance, counseling, medical care, libraries, k-12 education, home construction & improvement… the list goes on and on. By providing greater leverage to the people working in these areas we can ensure a far brighter future for society as a whole. A growing population of people that are living paycheck to paycheck will eventually destabilize any country that refuses to address the problem. It always has thus far. That destabilization comes with consequences that are ultimately far more expensive than UBI. I sincerely hope that at some point, preferably in my lifetime, it will dawn on us that investing directly in people is not the more expensive option but the cheaper one.