It's becoming clear that increased automation, as well as the rise of artificial intelligence, is threatening even more jobs. In many ways, we are set for another industrial revolution, one which will likely alter our society as much as the ones that came before. To this end, now economists are starting to seriously consider a universal basic income.
Would the country be a better place if each citizen was given a check by the government each month, with no strings attached? Would people still feel compelled to be productive with an unconditional basic income?
Following the basic income concept, Fianna Fail has promised that every citizen of Ireland will receive a minimum welfare income above current welfare rates as part of the opposition party’s election manifesto. In the following six months, the party will be studying how much the minimum should be and explore taxation changes required to fund the program. This would likely mean that any income earned above the baseline would be liable for tax at a single, standard new rate.
The move marks a way for the government to provide protection against poverty in an era where unemployment is rampant. Supporters of the idea assert that psychological studies have shown that individuals increase in productivity when they no longer lave excessive amounts of stress related to providing for their day-to-day needs. Opponents assert that many may abuse the privilege.
You can hear experts debate the issue here:
According to the party, sections of the population receive pensions, child benefits, and welfare payments that will go on top of the minimum basic income. This means that the total cost for applying the basic income strategy will not be that much higher than the current welfare spending.
Some view the move as a very radical anti-poverty move that could address current issues that cause worries for citizens by giving them a safety net. In fact, other countries, such as Germany, are currently exploring the possibility of basic income through social experiments prior to actual application.
"There is a growing body of work that proposes a system of basic income, such as this, as an important part of a modern welfare system. Fianna Fáil is committed to building a system of welfare and taxation appropriate for a just and equal developed Ireland in the 21st century," Fianna Fáil welfare spokesman, Willie O'Dea says.