No, the poor aren’t lazy — a case for UBI in place of traditional government welfare.

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A waste picker in South Brasil. The sign reads “I’ll buy cans, bottles, cardboard, copper, and metal.” Credit: Leonardo Contursi

Free money works. A universal basic income (UBI) program can help alleviate the symptoms of poverty and inequality. Still, skeptics keep popping up, clogging the wheel of development. You’re probably familiar with their pitch, something off-putting about how the poor will drink, smoke, or inject their money away.

Free money makes people lazy, they say. It’s the fallacy of the undeserving poor, that poverty is blamed on the choices of individuals, not on structural problems. Poor want to stay poor — it’s conventional wisdom, unfortunately.

Too many of us fail to empathize with the realities of poverty. Humankind suffers from a deep-seated elitist belief that the poor are poor out of their own accord. …


And start talking about taxes — the solution to wealth concentration is on the tip of your tongue

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Rutger Bregman lambasts Davos billionaires for not paying their fair share in taxes. (Photo by Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary)

At the 2019 World Economic Forum, a daring historian berated the rich in the audience for not paying their taxes. Then, he went viral.

Although popularly known as the scourge Davos, Rutger Bregman is perhaps most famous for his work Utopia for Realists, a manifesto for universal basic income and a world without borders. His little spiel at the conference really stung the rich where it hurts, as he showed the world in a televised panel that they talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.

The WEF is an elite networking event that gathers up the most powerful leaders of the world in Davos, a small ski town in the Swiss Alps. Its mission is to engage the “foremost political, business, cultural, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.” Every year in January, diplomats, CEOs, billionaires, and prominent thinkers fill up the world’s most luxurious business shindig on the premise of solving the planet’s greatest challenges. …


It's not meant to assess our wellbeing, but we insist on doing so; we must understand its flaws and find better metrics for our time.

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São Paulo’s second-largest favela borders one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods. (Credit: Tuca Vieira)

The GDP has become our civilization’s most important measure of success, and it’s on track to becoming the main cause of our downfall.

What is the GDP?

Short for Gross Domestic Product, the GDP is nothing but a number, and that’s about it. It reflects the sum total of everything produced in an economy. All of a country’s goods and services are tallied up by how much they cost, yielding a neat little figure used to estimate how big an economy is, and how fast it’s growing. It counts up all the yoga classes taught, and all the pills popped; every adult movie filmed, and every Tesla built. …


By drawing on lessons from Europe's failed experiment

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A superyacht docked in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2015. Credit: Fiona Goodall / Getty Images

The coronavirus brought forth a major revelation: our economic structure is decaying. In 2020, America's billionaires collectively upped their wealth by almost $1 trillion. Meanwhile, about 8 million Americans slipped below the poverty line.

The trend is alarming. History has, after all, taught us that extreme inequality leads to drastic scenarios. Give the rotten system a shake and it will crumble. Before allowing society to tip over the edge, though, why not take a shot at rebuilding it? That's where the wealth tax comes in.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, the idea is to levy taxes on rich people’s wealth, their net worth. In essence, they end up paying an additional tax based on their entire estate, everything they own. If implemented wisely, it can come a long way in addressing the economic black hole that's been staring us down for a while. …


Our economic system is broken; let us part ways with it and build a fairer economy

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Credit: Leonhard Foeger | Reuters

As it is, the economy is simply not working anymore. Sure, it’s pushing a few lucky Joes forward, particularly the new billionaires minted in the wake of the pandemic. But, let’s face it, our relationship with it has been growing increasingly toxic.

A storm had been brewing for years, decades even. When the coronavirus tore the world apart, we were forced to see our affair for what it really is: an abusive relationship devoid of any form of support, riddled with competition and constant dejection.

That 2020 was a disheartening, ruinous year is no overstatement. But it was also transformational, clearing the fog and pushing upon us the realization that it is time for us to pull the plug on this blind romance. …


As a universal basic income, free money works. A response to those who state it makes people lazy

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Free money works. But a lot of people still aren’t buying it. It’s too often associated with laziness, accommodation, and dependency. Cultural experience or conventional wisdom erroneously perpetuate these misguided beliefs, causing people to deny universal basic income the benefit of the doubt.

But it works. Countless pilot programs around the world have proven so.

It’s time to educate the public on this massively transformative program, one that could lift people out of poverty and alleviate the burden experienced by the shrinking middle class. People commonly conflate the concept of a universal basic income with social welfare programs that consist of conditional cash grants. …


The pandemic made it clear that, in our economy, profits take precedence over human lives, but what will the post-COVID-19 economy look like? Questioning what comes after the pandemic

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The world has stopped. Although the Earth is still rotating around its own axis, humanity’s routine has come to a halt. Whether or not life will ever return to normal is now a greatly debated issue. Despite the devastating effects of the COVID-19 epidemic on its victims’ personal lives and on public health, a lot of the public’s focus is on the economy. Across the globe, the economy-centered folk tries to argue that nations are employing such unnecessarily radical measures to contain the pandemic that the economic results will be exponentially more catastrophic than the virus itself. Profits are clearly taking precedence over human lives. …


A quick glance over the intersection of gender equality regulations and economics

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The World Bank recently released a study detailing how the law affects women throughout the world. The report, entitled Women, Business and the Law 2020, tracks how regulatory practices have been affecting women for the past 50 years in 190 countries. How exactly do these regulations affect the overall economy? Well, we are all aware of the growth associated with increased labor participation rates as more and more women join the economy. But, as it turns out, Feminist Economics involves a lot more than simply adding female consumers to the labor force.

First things first: overall gender inequality harms economic growth. Increasing equality in matters of opportunity contributes to successful economies in a multitude of ways, increases female labor force participation, and yields better development outcomes. What may seem like an obvious feat, though, is still an unaccomplished milestone all over the world due to the convoluted regulatory practices still in place. …


An overview of how the basic income could significantly improve society’s mental health

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It’s pretty well-established that an elaborate universal basic income (UBI) system reduces poverty, decreases income inequality, and increases job growth — a great number of economic benefits. What many people fail to notice, though, is that this policy could also cause great psychological impacts in society. Although the stigma surrounding mental illness has been on the decline, talk about its exact perpetrators is still taboo. And it doesn’t help that the pharmaceutical industry has instilled in many of us the idea that mental illnesses are simply related to chemical imbalances in the brain.

Yet, as many of us are aware, environmental stressors should also be charged with instigating such harm in our society. Think about the constant media buzz surrounding the oh-so devious business cycle. It creates a myriad of financial insecurities relentlessly preoccupying us: joblessness, living conditions, debt, savings, socioeconomic inequality. You name it. And don’t forget about the constant preoccupations many of us have concerning health, violence, and natural disasters. Altogether, these can trigger unstable mental conditions in the best of us. …


Why modern society at large benefits from breastfeeding

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Last year, the world was in awe as United States delegates to the World Health Assembly threatened to withdraw their endorsement of breastfeeding. Much debate followed, crucifying the current administration for defending the interests of baby-formula manufacturers to the detriment of breastfeeding and its countless health contributions. These benefits are scientifically known and popularly discussed. Yet, many of us are surprisingly unaware of its positive impacts on society at large.

On a micro level, nursing provides newborns with nutrients and antibodies against which breast-milk substitutes (BMS) simply cannot compete. The array of ailments from which breastfed infants are protected is wide, spanning from diarrhea, respiratory infections, otitis media (ear infections of the middle ear), and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), to name a few. …

About

Vitoria Nunes

Writer, practical idealist, & mom. Reimagining society one word at a time. Just say yes to progressive economics.

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