How is Basic Income different?

Happy International Basic Income Week! Today marks the fifth of our seven-post series. There are many conflicting claims about basic income – how do we go about understanding it? Today, we will outline some foundational concepts about basic income. Share with your friends and family as you see fit!

  1. There are two radically different models of basic income usually referred to as universal basic income (UBI) and basic income guarantee (BIG or NIT).
    • UBI: UNIVERSAL DISTRIBUTION: Everyone gets the $$, but it’s taxed   back from those not in need
    • BIG:  UNIVERSAL ACCESS. Everyone is eligible for the $$ but only get it if/when needed.
  1. The start-up cost of UBI is huge; the start up cost of BIG is completely manageable (estimated $30-60b)
    • BUT HEADS UP! UBI costs are often cited to mislead people about the feasibility of BIG.
  2. BIG itself has two competing models: austerity/progressive.
    • AUSTERITY proponents argue for a BIG that rolls  ALL social assistance   supports into a single payment,  ‘in kind’ assistance to be bought on the      market.
    • PROGRESSIVE proponents argue for a basic income to replace  welfare and disability benefits and maybe some other cash transfers only, ‘in kind’ assistance to be maintained.
    • BUT HEADS UP! The austerity version will leave people considerably worse off.