1st November 2017
Throughout the world we live in unequal societies with seemingly ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor, which has lead to sizable popular resentment and disenchantment with mainstream politics. It could be argued that these factors contributed significantly to Brexit and President Trump, while also fueling populist wave across the developed world. The pressing issue therefore is to devise a fairer economic system. The latest idea, if further researched and implemented wisely, could be a major step forward.
The Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) at the University College London (UCL) has published a report which calls for the introduction of Universal Basic Services (UBS). They argue that UBS represents “an affordable alternative to a so-called ‘citizens’ income’ advocated by some economists”, referring to Universal Basic Income, a form of “social security in which all citizens or residents of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money”, regardless of any other income.
According to definition, UBS “should be universally available to provide shelter, sustenance, health & care, education, local transport, information access, and legal & democracy support, at a level that enables every member of society to maintain their material safety, and embark on efforts to make their personal contribution to the rest of their society”. In other words, UBS is not merely a safety network, but a ‘platform’ which enables citizens to work towards further material improvement and personal fulfillment on a fundamentally equal footing. As such, UBS is radical and exciting.
Understanding various facets of UBS requires time and effort, but some challenges become immediately apparent. As presented, a radical overhaul of existing welfare systems and allocation of scarce services are just two such problems. Moreover, convincing voters to pay more tax is usually a challenge. And the question of waste which unlimited usage of resources could incur should be explored too.
However, the idea is an important one. It certainly ought to be explored further. Hopefully, UBS will be debated and eventually supported by a clear majority in our societies. It would then be up to governments worldwide to deal with the implementation of such a challenging but exciting undertaking.
Photo: IGP websiteAuthor : Drazen Simic