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Could a 'Universal Basic Income' ever work in the US? Depends on who you ask.

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Labor economists have been warning the public about the consequences of automation for years. Today, many experts say that automation and artificial intelligence are more responsible for the decline in manufacturing jobs than globalization.

Will automation take away all our jobs?


More and more retail stores are shutting down because of online shopping or they’re replacing human cashiers with self checkout lanes and self driving cars are poised to take over the ride share and trucking industry in the not so far away future.

Which begs the question, what’s going to happen to all those workers?

In January, Finland randomly picked 2,000 citizens between the ages of 25 and 58, who had been receiving some form of unemployment benefits, to receive a basic monthly income equivalent to $651 US dollars.

TedX: Why we should give everyone a basic income

The trial lasts for two years and unlike unemployment benefits, participants are not required to prove that they are actively looking for work to receive the stipend and even if they do find a job, they will still get paid the full $651 every month.

The purpose of the experiment is to determine whether or not a universal basic income can be a viable solution in the future.

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The Associated Press spoke to some of the Finns in the program about how their life has changed in the last year since the program started.

Juha Jarvinen said he lost his job after several factories in his town closed down. Rather than being forced to look for work, the payments have allowed him to start his own business doing something he loves.

Now he earns an income - on top of his monthly stipend - carving traditional wooden drums and selling them online.

Money

"It's 560 euros per month, it's totally free, I don't need to do anything for that. I am a free man," he told AP.

During the World Economic Forum last year, experts discussed the idea that a person’s work and income could one day become detached.

“Every human being has the capability to be creative if our basic needs are met," said Dileep George, an AI and neuroscience researcher. "For example, I wouldn't be an entrepreneur if I was worried that if I fail I will starve and die."

"If that was the outcome I was facing I wouldn't dare to be an entrepreneur. I wouldn't take the chance and I think that's a future we can give to everybody. If people's basic needs are met , I think they all have the capability to be creative,” George said.

Elon Musk says Universal Basic Income is “going to be necessary.”
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Universal Basic Income has been increasingly gaining public support, including from business leaders like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.

Before the United States could implement a basic income, the government has to agree on how to pay for it.



Not everyone thinks basic income is a good idea. Some economists argue that for the U.S to afford paying every citizen $1,000 a month, it would need to raise taxes from 21% to 35% for the top 10% of American earners.

The IRS sets the adjusted gross income required to be in the top 10% at $133,445 for an individual and $295,845 for a household. If you're not sure which percentile you're in, The New York Times created a handy interactive tool that allows you to compare your income to the rest of the country.

What do you think - would you support a universal basic income?

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