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Even though everyone recognizes nuclear weapons to be the most dangerous and dreadful weapons ever created, even though a lot of political leaders have acknowledged and continue to remind us that nuclear weapons are not to be used again, they still exist and therefore countries keep contemplating whether to pursue a nuclear policy. Despite the growing role of international law and diplomatic negotiations, international peace has not been reached, and the possibility of an armed conflict remains. Thus, military power continues to be relied upon as it defines a country’s status on the world stage. Having nuclear weapons strengthens this status. It plays the role of deterrence and provides a significant superiority of the country over its opponents.

The current Russian nuclear policy is driven by several reasons. Firstly, nuclear weapons guarantee country’s protection from the foreign broad scale aggression and ensure its security and sovereignty.  Secondly, they are the key element in strategic deterrence. Thirdly, they preserve the high status of the Russian Federation at the world arena. Moreover, nuclear strength gives the country an ability to equalize itself with the main opponent, the US.

In the light of recent events in Ukraine, nuclear rhetoric has returned to the language of the politicians. In August 2014, president of Russia, Vladimir Putin stated in the interviews, “Our partners, notwithstanding the situation in the countries or their foreign policies, should always remember that it is better not to mess with Russia. I’ll remind you that Russia is one of the largest nuclear powers. These are not just words, this is reality and, moreover, we are strengthening our powers of nuclear restraint” [1]. He continued by saying that Russia was transforming its armed services, making them more efficient and modern. Subsequently, later in November at the Forum of the National Peoples’ Front (rus. Obsherossiyskyi Narodnyi Front) he stated that the US wanted to subdue Russia. He also mentioned Nikita Khrushchev, highlighting his quick temper, “[He] hammered the desk with his shoe at the United Nations. And the whole world, primarily the United States, and NATO thought: this Nikita is best left alone, he might just go and fire a missile” [2]. Even more media hype was caused by the documentary “Crimea. The Way Home” (rus. Krym. Put na Rodinu). In one of the interviews Putin was asked whether the nuclear weapons were alerted during the annexation of Crimea, his answer was that thought had crossed their mind [3]. In November 2015 there was a state TV “leak” that demonstrated giant nuclear torpedo. Many commentators, both Russian and foreign, claimed that it was deliberate action and qualified it as a warning to the United States not to seek nuclear advantage [4]. The Ukrainian crisis has indeed ignited the political and military tension.

Such “nuclear” statements have been understood rather ambiguously by the West. The officials of NATO and the US repeatedly stated that they did not consider military intervention in Ukraine. It is, however, unclear whether such reaction was caused by the Russian nuclear warnings. Obviously, intervention was not an option, considering possible nuclear escalation.

In comparison to 1970-1980, there were many declarations from both sides (the US and USSR) about the impossibility of a nuclear war. Current Russian position cannot be different, yet officially Moscow remains silent. Technically, Russian nuclear rhetoric does not contradict the aims to prevent nuclear war in terms of deterrence strategy and armed-control treaties. However, it is obvious that Russia acts rather provocative.

Interestingly, following these renewed nuclear references, this nuclear rush was supported by many domestic officials. The political parties who have a long history of opposite views have united after the incident with Crimea. Some extreme supporters suggested adding into the official military doctrine the direct use of nuclear weapons in case of local war.  In their opinion, it would be “preventive measures”, “demonstration of determination”, and “preventing the escalation of the situation” [5]. Nevertheless, their claims have remained idle.

The new edited version of the military doctrine was issued in December 2014. It does not reflect these radical views and reiterates the same moderate and clear political views as in the previous versions of 2000 and 2010, “The Russian Federation will reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in a situation when nuclear weapons and other kinds of weapons of mass-destruction are being used against it and (or) its allies and also against a large scale aggression with conventional weapons in a crisis situation where the national security of the Russian Federation is at stake” [6]. It is obvious that it was driven by the fact that nuclear weapons are to be used under extreme circumstances. In the case of a conflict with another nuclear country, the decision to use nuclear weapon would cause a quick nuclear reaction and escalation of the conflict. In the first days such nuclear strikes would kill millions of people from the both sides, and then it would turn into the global catastrophe. Such a concept of limited nuclear war has always been rejected by Russia.

Certainly, one of the main changes in the military doctrine admits the fact that ideological and interreligious clashes are rising. In the new version it is stated rather carefully “the competition of values and development models”. In the core of any ideological or religious structure lies a system of beliefs, values. Ideological models are based on these values. So such a statement recognizes current ideological competitions in the world. Consequently, the conflict between Russia and the West has a prominent ideological element that reflects the difference of values between the countries.

Another interesting thing has been noted in the edited version of the military doctrine of the Russian Federation, “the activities of information influence towards the national population, especially towards the youth, that aim to erode historical, moral and patriotic values and traditions in the area of homeland defence” [6]. It has been designated as a military threat. Indeed, the topic of “rewriting” the World War II, which is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War, has been extensively discussed in the Russian media. Moreover, the Polish statements concerning country’s liberation by the [only] Ukrainians caused strong and rather negative public reaction in Russia. It was followed by a strong official response. Subsequently, several classified testimonies of Red Army soldiers who liberated concentration camps were realized. Likewise, the fact that Vladimir Putin was not invited to the memorial festivities that marked the 70th Anniversary of the Great Victory caused public outrage.

Although public opinion might not be the main driving factor for Russian nuclear rise, it certainly might have played a role in consolidating the state’s decision to strengthen its nuclear policy. There is not enough evidence to confirm it, yet the government had a strong national support. In 2015 during the negotiations in Minsk the popularity of the president had reached 75%, the highest level for the last 15 years [7]. The political rhetoric of the Russian president along with the imposed sanctions and the U.S. responsive rhetoric seem to only boost government’s support. Meanwhile, anti-nuclear attitudes are of no consequence at the moment. The same is with the increased military spending; Russian public is being rather supportive.

Russia is spending a lot of money on modernization of its arsenals. Despite the fact that economy has been weakened by the fall in oil prices, the President of the Russian Federation still emphasizes nuclear weapons as a symbol of Russian influence. The reason for that remains the same: balancing the powers. Such conflicts on the borders with Russia, along with other local and regional wars breaking out, its security cannot be fully guaranteed. Under these circumstances, Russia cannot operate only by using diplomatic and economic means to resolve the conflict.

In order to elaborate more on the symbolic meaning of nuclear weapons, it should be noted that after the collapse of the USSR Russia strived to achieve the same influential level and to come back to the global arena as an equal.  Default, internal disturbances, the loss of the military advantage, the lost Cold War and the weak leadership in the next years has severely damaged the country’s prestige.  It was vital to become a global power again. The nuclear policy has become insurance that it can be accomplished. The Putin’s and Medvedev’s politics fixed the economy and started restoring the country’s military potential. Nuclear weapons have played in significant role in rebuilding its international status.

After the events in Ukraine, for the first time since the Cold War an armed conflict between Russia and the United States has been viewed as highly possible, therefore, posing a threat to the rest of the world. Both countries started to increase their military strength and regularly demonstrate their military power, including strategic armament (started by the US when it deployed two B-2 Spirit stealth bombers to Europe in 2014[1]).  The Parade of the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the World War II was another opportunity for the Russian military to present some of its latest equipment. As Vladimir Putin stated in 2012, “We should not tempt anyone by allowing ourselves to be weak. We will, under no circumstances, surrender our strategic deterrent capability. Indeed, we will strengthen it” [8].

The inability to compete with the West on equal terms in conventional terms intensified its nuclear pursuit. Russia prioritized its strategic nuclear forces by introducing new missiles and submarines. Keir Giles, an expert on the Russian armed forces at the Conflict Studies Research Centre, notes that the current military reform was started in 2008, after Russian performance in the war with Georgia” [9].

One of the military experts has expressed similar views about Russia’s conventional forces. The colonel Mikhail Khodarenok (currently an editor of the rather conservative military and political periodicals “Voenno-Promishlennyi Kurier” (eng. Military and Industrial Courier) and “Vosdushno-kosmicheskaya Oborona” (eng. Aerospace Defense)) is a rather famous specialist in the military sphere. In 2015 he wondered whether Russia had any forces that could match NATO forces. He concluded that there was a lack of the newest weapons in Russia. That is why it was vital to avoid military entanglement in the South-East by the Russian Federation. The country, its navy and army, was not ready for the full-scale armed confrontation by using only conventional forces [10].

This opinion roughly corresponds to the statements of the Russian Ministry of Defense[2], for this reason nuclear rhetoric of Moscow makes sense. It is a warning to the US and NATO to stay away from the conflict in Crimea and in the South-East of Ukraine. The political aim is clear. Firstly, other countries should know the importance of the events in the region for the Russian national security interests. Secondly, Moscow is determined to take action while upholding its interests, regardless of whether the West considers its actions legitimate or not.

Perhaps, a particular history of Russia may explain such a current political behaviour. The concept of protecting its national interests and sovereignty as well as maintaining its influence has been formed and consolidated over the centuries through the complex history of conquest and occupation. Lee Blessing in the book “A Walk in the Woods” wrote, “The geography of Russia is … flat, broad plains —open invitations to anyone who wants to attack. Mongols, French, Germans, Poles, Turks, Swedes – anyone” (11).  The size of the country and its geography are crucial in the sense of security. Currently Russia borders with 18 countries, including partially recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Among them six countries are NATO members (The Baltic states, Poland, Norway, and USA). Georgia and Ukraine have repeatedly expressed their wish to join the alliance.  In general, NATO enlargement into Eastern Europe is often referred by Russia as treachery. The West back in the 90s promised the USSR that it would not expand to the East. Yet, it breached the agreements, undermining the credibility of further promises. No wonder that current NATO enlargement threatens Russian national interests. Meanwhile, given the memory of multiple offences that is stored in the mental cultural heritage does not improve the situation. Current conflicts do not provide necessary relieve, and Russia is forced to protect its borders and its security, especially at a time of deterioration of relations with the West, particularly with the US.

In 2015 at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference in New York Mikhail Ulyanov, the Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control at the Russian Foreign Ministry, highlighted that the United States have been very provocative towards Russia. Among the provocative actions he named, “the U.S. missile defense program, the U.S. refusal to negotiate on the ban on weapons in outer space, the U.S. military’s Prompt Global Strike system, Washington’s de facto refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and the serious imbalance in conventional weapons in Europe” [12]. Due to these reasons Russia may be forced to increase its nuclear arsenal. He also clarified that Russia wasn’t currently actively considering this option, but should the US action remain unchanged, it would have to be considered (Ibid.).  It proves the point that the US and Russia still use the concept of mutual deterrence.

To sum up, the main reasons for Russia boosting its nuclear power are national security and maintaining its status on the world arena. On the one hand, nuclear strength is the method of securing its national interests and ensuring its sovereignty. Russia uses its nuclear strategy as means to deter other opponents, mainly NATO and the United States, following the conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine. On the other hand, nuclear empowerment ensures the Russian status at the global stage and preserves its place among the superpowers.

References

  1. International Mass Media: Putin Threatens the West with Nuclear Weapons.” The Russian Times, August 29, 2014. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. <http://therussiantimes.com/news/12416.html>.
  2. Mangasarian, L., and Ummela, O. “Russian War Games Spill Secrets, Stiffen NATO Resolve.” BloombergBusiness, 20 November 2014. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. <http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-11-20/russia-s-war-games-spill-secrets-stiffen-nato-resolve>.
  3. Rossiya 24. “Crimea. The Way Home. Documentary by Andrey Kondrashev.”Online video. YouTube. March 15, 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t42-71RpRgI>.
  4. “Russia Reveals Giant Nuclear Torpedo in State TV ‘Leak’.” BBC news, November 12, 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34797252>.
  5. Sivkov, K. “A Slapdash in Response to Challenges.” Voenno-Promishlennyi Kurier, No. 4 (570), February 4, 2015. 20 Jan. 2016. <http://vpk-news.ru/articles/23673>.
  6. “The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation.” Decree by the President of the Russian Federation of February 5, 2010, No. 146 (edited in 2014). Web. 20 Jan. 2016. <http://www.mid.ru/documents/10180/822714/41d527556bec8deb3530.pdf/d899528d-4f07-4145-b565-1f9ac290906c>.
  7. Anushevskaya, A. “Electoral Rating of Vladimir Putin over the Last 15 Years.” Argumenty Facty, March 23, 2015. Web. 20 Jan.2016.<http://www.aif.ru/dontknows/infographics/1475392>
  8. Putin, V. “Being Strong. Why Russia Needs to Rebuild its Military.” Foreign Policy, February 21, 2012. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. <http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/02/21/being-strong/>.
  9. Marcus, J. “Russia Boosts Military Might despite Sanctions.” BBC news, May 8, 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32622653>.
  10. Khodarenok, M. “The Scenario of the World War III.”  Voenno-Promishlennyi Kurier , No. 10 (576), March 18, 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. <http://vpk-news.ru/articles/24284>.
  11. Blessing, L. A. A Walk in the Woods. The UK: Oberon Books, 2011.
  12. Keck, Z. “Russia Threatens to Build More Nuclear Weapons.” The National Interest, 18 May, 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. <http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russia-threatens-build-more-nuclear-weapons-12912>.

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Specialist in global security and nuclear disarmament. Excited about international relations, curious about cognitive, psycho- & neuro-linguistics. A complete traveller.

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Opinion

Should You Support Universal Basic Income? Who else is in favour?

Manak Suri

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In the previous article “Universal Basic Income: In Action” we explored that Universal Basic Income under different variants is already being put to trial in different provinces of a number of countries around the world. Before that, in “Universal Basic Income: The Idea” we weighed the potential of UBI in creating a monumental change in the way humanity as a society functions as of today. While there’s still quite some time required to ascertain how easily and efficiently the system can be put into effect and whether it should be put into place at all, some of the more apparent advantages, as well as flaws of the system, are repeatedly considered by experts in determining the answers to the aforementioned questions. In addition, many influential figures have also come out both in support of UBI as well as against it. Let’s take a look at the support UBI has garnered as well as the supposed benefits and criticisms of UBI.

Pros of Universal Basic Income

The first argument often cited in favour of UBI is for its potential to alleviate poverty, improve the standard of living and vastly reduce income inequality no matter which country it is implemented in. the Alaska Permanent Fund (AFP), which we’ve already discussed, was instrumental in improving the state’s income equality rank from 30 to 2. UBI trials in Namibia, Kenya, and parts of India have also yielded positive results in this regard. UBI has also resulted in the improvement of health, especially mental health, as reported by people who have been part of UBI trials in Ontario, Canada. UBI also encourages entrepreneurial behaviour since it guarantees basic subsistence thereby providing an incentive for people to take up a line of work of their liking. UBI trials in India and Namibia have also shown that it has helped promote financial decision making by women resulting in their empowerment. A guarantee of a fixed income every month also brings more power to people when it comes to deciding where they should spend money. The Roosevelt Institute research we discussed previously also suggests an overall growth in the US economy with a countrywide implementation of UBI. UBI is also expected to lead to a positive job growth and lower the dropout rates in schools since it provides more security to families.

Cons of Universal Basic Income

The critics of UBI argue that money that is essential for the poor is being redirected towards the wealthy and those citizens who have no need for it. Robert Greenstein, founder and President of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington D.C.  “if you take the dollars targeted on people in the bottom fifth or two-fifths of the population and convert them to universal payments to people all the way up the income scale, you’re redistributing income upward. That would increase poverty and inequality rather than reduce them.” In addition to that, it is often argued that UBI programs are highly ineffective when compared to welfare programs that are implemented on targeted populations. Therefore, unless UBI is implemented without the scrapping off of such welfare schemes, it is likely to find opposition from a huge number of people who currently benefit from these programs. Another argument against UBI one may repeatedly encounter is that UBI reduces the incentive to work, which leads to huge costs for the economy. This may also lead to a dearth of skilled and unskilled labour in the economy. The Swiss government have opposed the implementation of UBI for the very same reason, fearing that the current labour shortages may be exacerbated. Finally, an argument that also holds the door open for many debates is that UBI is too expensive to implement and will cost a lot to the government. As opposed to studies which show a growth in the economies through the implementation of UBI, many economists have also opposed it, claiming that UBI in the more developed nations will be very expensive to guarantee an acceptable standard of living to all the citizens.

Who Supports Universal Basic Income?

Since the idea was first proposed by Sir Thomas More in 1516, UBI has found suitors throughout recent history. Founding father of the United States Thomas Paine was in favour of it, philosopher and Nobel Laureate Bertrand Russell argued in its favour, and even Martin Luther King said: “the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” American economist Milton Friedman, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and even former US President Richard Nixon came close to bringing UBI to the United States. As of today, a number of high profile names in the Silicon Valley have expressed their support for UBI. An advocate of entrepreneurship and creativity, Mark Zuckerberg sighted UBI as an worth a look in his statement at his Harvard commencement address: “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.” Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk believes implementation of UBI is inevitable. “There’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” Musk said in an interview in 2016. Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay also donated towards a UBI experiment in Kenya. Coursera founder Andrew Ng expressed on Twitter: “More than ever, we need a basic income to limit everyone’s downside, and better education to give everyone an upside.” The list does not stop here.

UBI has at least gained enough attention to get people, investors, world leaders, and governments to talk about it and more importantly experiment with it. The results are not yet out and will take a considerable amount of time still to be able to present a final verdict on UBI and its effectiveness. However, as robots make humans redundant in recurring waves, is there still enough time to just be experimenting?

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Universal Basic Income: In Action

Manak Suri

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Universal Basic Income presents a case to be considered, now stronger than ever, as automation hits us in recurring waves and machines are slowly beginning to take over much of the work that was done by human beings. If you aren’t caught up with the idea behind UBI and what its implementation could mean for us, you might want to read our previous article on the subject. Now, let’s focus our attention on the practicality of the scheme and let’s have a look at some of the existing cases of UBI in different parts of the world along with their results so far, and have a look at who all are backing the program to become the political norm in the coming decades.

Basic Income Around the World

Pilot programs of UBI have been held in different parts of the world. Besides Finland and Ontario, Canada, which began experimenting with UBI this year itself, countries such as Brazil, the city of Utrecht in The Netherlands and even Oakland in California, the United States have implemented varying UBI schemes on parts of their population. Hawaii passed a legislation this year which aims at forming working groups in order to study the effects of UBI. Elsewhere in the United States, the state of Alaska boasts of a genuine UBI program which has existed since 1976. The Alaskan Permanent Fund or the AFP, which is funded by oil reserves gives dividends to its permanent citizens every year. However, also in 2017, 77% of Swiss voters rejected a UBI proposal from being introduced in the country. Now lets take a look at the cases in Finland and Ontario individually.

In Ontario, Canada trials of UBI have recently begun involving 4,000 citizens between the ages of 18 and 64 who expect to receive a total of a little over 12,000 dollars a year. Couples are entitled to nearly twice of the amount. The plan is to study the effect of such a scheme on the health and well being of the subjects, their earnings and also their productivity. While the experiment is still in its initial stages and it’s too early to make any decisions, a few of the participants have already shown signs of a positive change. In addition to boosting the income of some who fall in the lower end of the earning bracket, the scheme has greatly improved their mental well-being, enabled them to afford healthier food and pay more attention to their health and visit their families more often. Other participants have also expressed that the safety net provided to them by the scheme has enabled them to focus on work they want to do and also on helping others.

Unsurprisingly, automation was a major factor in the decision to introduce the scheme in the province. Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne said of the same,” I see it on a daily basis. I go into a factory and the floor plant manager can tell me where there were 20 people and there is one machine. We need to understand what it might look like if there is, in fact, the labour disruption that some economists are predicting.” Ontario has a population of nearly 14 million people. Positive results overall from the scheme may further result in its adoption throughout the province including all 14 million of its populace.

In January this year, 2,000 people were randomly selected across Finland to be part of a trial of one of the most advanced UBI schemes in the world, undertaken by the Finnish Social Insurance Institute. Under the scheme, the selected citizens receive  €560 (£495) from the Finnish government regardless of their employment status and how much they earn. Some of the cases in the country show that UBI provides the participants with more flexibility in their working pattern, encourages entrepreneurial spirit to take up what one would like to do, and also create more time and focus on volunteering and charity work.

Ms. Sini Martinnen, one of the beneficiaries of the program who noted the above changes in her lifestyle spoke of the same. “So there’s value in other things you do – if there’s just not enough work for everyone you have to figure out how to inspire people to be creative and do other kinds of stuff”, she said. Her statement falls in line with the kind of environment being created due to automation. Otherwise, you will have a lot of different social problems that will be very expensive – more expensive than the basic income system”, she added.

What Studies Say

The success of UBI among small populations in Ontario or in a Scandinavian country such as Finland does not necessarily mean they will work in larger countries. UBI may be introduced in a limited form in parts of UK, where we may be able to better assess the case of basic income and its viability over a population that is more diverse and layered with complexity at every step of implementation.

Nevertheless, studies on the matter precede trials in many countries. Considering the point, a recent study by the Roosevelt Institute on universal basic income and its effects suggests that the introduction of UBI in the United States would boost the US Economy by $2.5 trillion. The study, titled “Modeling the Macroeconomic Effects of a Universal Basic Income” suggests that a UBI of $1,000 a month to every American adult will lead to a growth of the economy by 12.56 percent over a period of 12 years, resulting in an increase in the GDP of the country by nearly $2.5 trillion. It reaches the statement after considering three different versions of unconditional cash payments. Another assumption taken up in the study to arrive at the given conclusion was that room for UBI in the budget would be made by increasing the deficit and not by increasing taxes. “When paying for the policy by increasing taxes on households rather than paying for the policy with debt, the policy is not expansionary,” the study says. “In effect, it is giving to households with one hand what it is taking away with the other. There is no net effect.”

In the midst of these studies, theories and trials UBI has attracted support and critics from all corners. In the final article of this series, we’ll take a look at who all are backing the program to become the political norm in the coming decades and what are the pros and cons tossed around in the debate around universal basic income.

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Culture and Lifestyle

Universal Basic Income: The Idea

Manak Suri

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Mankind has come so far because of the ability to adapt. If you were to randomly pick out any point of time in mankind’s history, you would find certain existing threats or those looming large over certain segments of people or a large collection of them. From hunting animals for food for survival to protecting themselves from wars, plagues and famine; for humankind, each step was daunting till it had been conquered. Many of these threats they would brave, while against many others a good chunk of people died trying, leaving behind the ones who were wiser after what they had overcome. In 2017, we are a long long way ahead, still not without problems of our own. One of the gravest, if not the gravest of these problems that is ready for impact in the not so distant future is automation. Automation, with its projected path for replacing much of the work currently done by humans, has the potential to cause a huge disruption in the way we live our life, the way that nearly everyone alive today is accustomed to living. The great challenge that lies ahead of us in the wake of such retrenchment across the world is how to ensure that people are still able to make/earn a living after so much of what they did is taken up by machines. Education and training among others are often touted as the best possible solutions to help make a person stay relevant, but as automation alters the basic structure on which our work life is built, the decades-old idea of Universal Basic Income or UBI has started to once again gain relevance, provoke debates and be looked at as a serious option to catapult the human race into what could possibly be a new social structure.

What is Basic Income or Universal Basic Income?

In case you haven’t been following the idea, the concept behind UBI is to provide every citizen with a fixed amount of money periodically so that they can cover their basic subsistence needs without having to worry about ever living in a state of poverty. The same amount will be received by every individual (with possibly additional allowances for families and children) regardless of whether they are working or how much they are earning from their work. You would not be crazy to point out that the idea behind UBI sounds far too utopian to be true, which is exactly what most critics of the idea have held against it. In addition to that, once you start trying to figure the idea out, you are bound to face really important questions about the scheme. How will the payments to entire populations be financed? Will it exist alongside or replace existing welfare programs in order for its effective implementation? How will the minimum amount be decided? Under what criteria will families, children and the elderly be accommodated under the program if implemented? These are among other questions that merely touch the tip of the iceberg. Without even getting into further details and problems associated with it, UBI may look like an attempt to reach the moon with only a ladder at your disposal.

However, somewhere along the road to figuring out the most obvious intricacies associated with a hugely ambitious and optimistic idea as universal basic income, it is not hard to see why its successful implementation (if it ever happens on a significantly large scale) would be such a game changer for humanity. Besides being a possible solution amid our motivated search to the threats posed by automation, many supporters of UBI also see it as one of the best ways, if not the best way, to create a more advanced as well as equal society. Imagine a world which provides you with sufficient time and room to be able to do what you want to do, to not be tied to your work to be able to afford/make the life that you not only need but the life that you want for yourself. Now imagine if everyone was a part of such a world, that anyone is able to make more time to spend with their family, or to invest in themselves, or to add value to the said world in a manner in which they feel they are most capable, without having to worry about having a meal on their table two times a day.

Where are we with Universal Basic Income?

Yes, all of this does sound maybe too good to be true, especially if this is the first time you are reading about it, but that does not mean it’s not achievable. As a matter of fact, its viability is the biggest question that remains in the open. So, what does the situation look like right now? You’d be surprised to know that variants of the scheme are being experimented across the world on targeted populations in various countries, more recently in countries such as Canada and Finland. More importantly, many of these have shown encouraging results, dousing some of the arguments against the scheme by its critics.

The term Basic Income, or Universal Basic Income is relatively new, but the idea behind it is decades old, or perhaps even older than a century. However, the reasons due to which it originally came about is not the main reason why it has become ever so relevant today. Humanity’s desire to ensure a more equitable distribution of resources has seen its fair share of ups and downs, some too important to forget, but it’s the dawn of automation that the idea of UBI, dismissed countless times over the years due to the intricacies surrounding it that makes it ‘basic’, has come back into the fold, this time with the support of some of the world’s most influential figures. That makes it impossible to just rule it out

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