The idea of a Universal Basic Income seems pretty straight forward. Everyone gets a minimum payment to cover life’s costs. Sounds good, all things being equal.
But all things are not equal.
Rich people do NOT need universal basic income and indeed should not get it. Or should they?
Maybe the answer isn’t means testing the payment of UBI, it’s means-testing the ability to access it. Controlling access is not a new idea.
Take superannuation – everyone gets paid a regulated minimum amount of Super – but can only access it under certain conditions such as retirement, dire medical issues or potentially losing home due to non-payments.
Your UBI could be paid into a government-held bank account, which can be accessed dependent upon a few very simple conditions. Those conditions would need some smarter people to work out properly…
But lets ‘spitball’ some ideas to start with:
- Your yearly income is less than 200% of the ‘average’ (median) income, or $200,000 per year (adjusted for inflation)
- Your total asset value does not exceed 1000% of the ‘average’ (median) asset value, or $5 million (adjusted for inflation)
There would need to be more than that, but what a good start right?
Why these numbers I hear you ask…
Well as I said, we’d need some actual community wide consultation around the ACTUAL rules and how to make this work properly, before going ahead with something as big as this. So these numbers are a guide.
But my reasoning is pretty simple. If you are earning more than double the ‘median’ income (including UBI to find median), then you are already benefiting enough from our society and don’t need access to UBI income. And these ratios could always be changed to more workable/equitable ones.
Similarly, if your wealth has already accumulated to more than 10x as much as an ‘average’ person in society, then you can easily afford to sell off some assets for a while if your income falls. You’ll get access to your UBI again in a few years if it does turn out your circumstances last long enough for you to stop being rich.
Plus if that does happen, under the “regulate access” model, you’ll have built up a fair bit of UBI funding in your government-held bank account.
Imagine if you have 10 years on unaccessed UBI payments built up and suddenly have no job anymore, but a mortgage to pay…
Imagine those UBI payments were about $25,000/yr. You’d be able to cover your mortgage costs and pay a big chunk off and refinance to lower the weekly cost, plus you’d still have money your UBI coming in.
So even if I can’t access it, I still get paid the UBI in-case I need it later?
Yeh, that’s pretty much the model I’m suggesting.
Each year, a certain amount is allocated to pay you weekly, there could be some other considerations as to extra bits of funding – for people with disabilities, health issues, certain education costs, or young children for example – but everyone get’s paid at least a fair minimum basic income.
This goes into a government held account and you can access it immediately, unless your income or wealth is too high, in which case it is saved so if you ever need it later, it’s there.
Any interest earned on the funds is returned to the Government as profit.
And if you are rich enough to die before you ever need to access it, your UBI goes back to the Government – because you children already have their own Universal Income to fall back on should they need it.
It’s really not that complicated.
One thought on “Universal Basic Income – What to do about wealthy people?”
If it is means tested it isn’t “universal”. The real aspect of this is that rich people are taxed appropriately in the first place. Perhaps closer to the 63-64% that used to be the top taxation rate in the early 80s. This means they may be taxed at 2-3 x UBI and then receive 1 x UBI. Of course company taxation needs to actually happen where now there is a vacuum.