Universal Basic Income (UBI) proposals are on the rise, with many supporting the system as a possible solution to unemployment caused by the emergence of machines equipped with artificial intelligence taking over the workforce.
The system would ensure that governments pay every citizen of a country a basic salary to cover costs, including food and rent.
The guaranteed amount would be paid by the state to everyone regardless of wealth or employment status.
Depending on the details of the UBI proposal, the funds may be added to or replaced by existing distributions.
Left-wing supporters of the system say it could lower poverty rates. For the right-wingers, it’s a path to a less bureaucratic welfare system.
The program would likely be funded by an increase in income taxes for all income levels.
To pay every adult and child in the United States an annual income of £8,045 ($10,000) a year, the government would probably have to cut most non-health social spending programs and reduce the share of GDP collected in taxes. , should increase by ten percent, according to the Economist.
Another suggestion is negative interest, which would cost a percentage of each citizen’s bank account each month.
A universal basic income in the United Kingdom that would give every adult and child £12,000 ($14,900) a year would require a negative interest rate of 2.5 percent a month, according to the Center for Welfare Reform.
So if someone had £5,000 ($6,600) in his or her bank account at the beginning of the month, there would be £4,884 ($6,500) left at the end of the month because £116 ($153) has been allocated by the government would be taken for a universal basic income pot.
Some have proposed a sliding basic income scale, so the higher a person’s labor salary, the lower the basic income he or she would receive from the government.
Left-wing French presidential candidate Benoit Hamon, backed by star economist Thomas Piketty, has also made basic income part of his platform.
Finland is the first European country to pay its unemployed citizens an unconditional amount.
The two-year pilot programme, which started on 1 January, will give unemployed Finnish citizens aged 25 to 58 a guaranteed sum of €560 (£490/$648) to replace existing social benefits.
The money is still paid when they eventually find work.
In Marica, Brazil, a coastal town of about 150,000 people near Rio de Janeiro, the left-wing municipal government has been investigating universal basic salaries for the past year.
In Marica – a leftover Workers’ Party bastion in increasingly right-wing Brazil – the idea of a basic income fits in well with the leaders’ socialist zeal.
However, if Finland is handing out payments of about $590 (£450) a month – and for now only to a test group of the unemployed – the amount in Marica is a meager 10 reais, or about $3.20 (£2.40). The new mayor hopes to increase the amount to $32 (£24) in 2017.
Only the city’s 14,000 poorest families currently receive the income, which is expressed in Mumbucas, a virtual currency created three years ago to pay welfare under Quaqua.
The 10 reais is added to the 85 reais ($27/£20) monthly benefit for families whose income does not exceed three times the minimum wage. The extra money also goes to poorer people between the ages of 14 and 29 and pregnant women who already receive other benefits.
There is another limitation: Only 131 local businesses — less than 10 percent of the total — accept payments in Mumbucas, the mayor’s office says.
The currency, which exists physically only on specially issued red magnetic cards, is unpopular with business owners because they have to wait more than a month after purchases are completed before the government can convert payments into reals.