Unicorns and the Deception of a Free Lunch?
I know this post may ruffle some feathers. In fact, I can almost hear the responses from the various political sides. But I believe this subject is something we as a society must look at and address the motivations as well as solutions.
From a Christian perspective, we should always look to God’s word for direction, especially keeping in mind that it is the Holy Spirit-inspired word of the Lord. So let’s get into it!
It was reported earlier this morning that the city of Chicago is moving toward implementing an experiment of what is termed a “Universal Basic Income” or UBI. The plan is to randomly select 1,000 citizens of Chicago and pay them five-hundred dollars per month with no need to pay it back. For those unfamiliar with this idea, let me explain. UBI is the idea of providing citizens a regular cash dispersement without any conditions or strings attached.
During the last couple years, the country of Finland has been experimenting with UBI. According to Finn officials, the experiment will end in 2019 with the possibility of a national rollout in the future. Incidentally, they report that this experiment has proven to dispel the idea that giving someone an unconditional income will cause them to not work.
Upon hearing about UBI, you may have some objections to the idea either on principle or practicality. Questions immediately arise, like “Shouldn’t people have to work, if they are able?” “How would it be financed?” “Who would qualify?” "Should it be paid to everyone?"
Depending on which side of the political spectrum you’re from, one could argue that it is society’s responsibility to provide for those who don’t make enough money. On the other side, one would counter that if someone doesn’t work, they shouldn’t eat. (Check 2 Thessalonians 3:10). An extreme view might even come from someone who suggests that the poor must be poor because they’re lazy. Hmmm?
Another question arises asking, “How would we pay for it?” Great question. Some suggest that a very small increase in taxes to “the wealthy” would more than pay for a monthly income of $500 to every adult in the United States. Again, hmmm?
Historically, the idea of providing folks an income with no conditions can actually be traced back to the 16th century when lawyer and statesman, Sir Thomas More, proposed a similar setup. Since then, many others have championed the idea including conservative economist Milton Friedman and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s up until as early as 2017 with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Many have argued that with the increase in robotics and artificial intelligence, jobs as we know it will actually decline at a fast rate over the next two decades. How will people buy groceries, or rent, or utilities, or transportation if they do not have income from employment?
I know the old adage, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But what do you think?
Is a national UBI even possible, mathematically? Does scripture support a UBI? Will the increase of robots displacing workers explode the numbers of the unemployed? If so, how will people financially survive?
Regardless of our opinions, we Christians must pray. Pray for wisdom, understanding and knowledge that the Lord freely provides. Perhaps the Church’s greatest hour to be known by our love lay ahead!