General Interest

23 Feb 2017

Are taxing robots and UBI solutions for unemployment?

Is the rise of the robots going to take away people’s jobs? Is the Universal Basic Income (UBI) going to solve the problem of unemployment? Marc Cuban, a multi-millionaire businessman is the last one to speak against the idea of UBI but in his Twitter account expressed the thought that “automation is going to create unemployment and we need to prepare about it”.

When he was asked by Scott Santens, a writer that supports the idea of UBI, if he believes this kind of income could make things better, Cuban replied that this would be one of the worst possible responses. In the ensuing Twitter dialogue, Santens said that UBI has worked as an incentive wherever it has been tested but Cuban replied that he thinks that it is imperative for the existing welfare systems to be reformed.

Marc Cuban is a famous American businessman and has invested large sums of money in massive technology companies like Netflix and Amazon. He is known to the world of sports as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team and he has been seen many times in fights with referees-so some call him eccentric. Cuban’s tweet comes as an answer to ideas expressed by Bill Gates and Elon Musk in Dubai. At the World Government Summit, Bill Gates said that a lot of jobs, that we know and we are accustomed to for now, will disappear in the next 20 years.

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and Space-X, expressed his concern about the unemployment that he thinks will rise in the future because robots will be replacing humans in a variety of jobs. Gates proposed as a solution to tax robotic workers. Musk, on the other side, recommended the adoption of Universal Basic Income so that people will have some available cash to keep the economy working. He talked also of the need to train workers to new emerging engineering jobs.

It is not only Marc Cuban who has spoken out against the UBI. Various businessmen have written articles on the Internet in which the main view is that the UBI will create a huge debt for the governments and that, in the end, taxpayers would have to save their bankrupt states. They support the idea that implementing a UBI solution is way too generous and could cause more problems than it could heal.

Finland is the most recent country in European Union to try out the Universal Basic Income program. Almost 2.000 unemployed Finnish citizens will be paid 560 euros (478 pounds) per month for the next two years. Participants in this project were selected by lottery and their age is 25-58 years old. This basic income will replace their unemployment benefit and they will be able to receive it even if they find a job in the meantime.

Finnish economy is having a hard time because of the crisis. Finland, in general, is considered a leader in social innovation and this fact makes this experiment very important. The city of Glasgow is considering to follow Finland’s footsteps and has commissioned a feasibility study for its own basic income pilot plan.