Universal Basic Income (UBI) proposals are on the rise, with many backing the system as a possible solution to unemployment caused by the rise of artificial intelligence-equipped machines taking over the workforce.
The system would have governments pay each citizen of a country a base salary to cover costs, including food and rent.
The guaranteed sum would be paid by the State to everyone, regardless of their wealth or employment status.
Depending on the details of the UBI proposal, the funds could be added to or substitute for existing benefits.
Left-wing supporters of the system say it could reduce poverty rates. For right-wingers, it is a route to a less bureaucratic welfare system.
The program would likely be funded by increasing income taxes on all income levels.
To pay each adult and child in the United States an annual income of £8,045 ($10,000) per year, the government would probably have to cut most non-health-related social spending programs and increase the share of GDP collected in taxes by ten percent. according to the Economist.
Another suggestion is a negative interest rate, which would take a percentage of each citizen’s bank account each month.
A universal basic income in the United Kingdom that would provide each adult and child with £12,000 ($14,900) a year requires a negative interest rate of 2.5 percent per month, according to the Center for Welfare Reform.
So if a person had £5,000 ($6,600) in their bank account at the beginning of the month, they would have £4,884 ($6,500) left at the end because the government would take £116 ($153). for a universal basic income.
Some have suggested a sliding scale of basic income, so that the higher a person’s working salary, the smaller the basic income check they will receive from the government.
Left-wing French presidential candidate Benoit Hamon, backed by star economist Thomas Piketty, has also included basic income in his platform.
Finland is the first European country to pay its unemployed citizens an unconditional sum.
The two-year pilot scheme, which began on January 1, offers unemployed Finnish citizens aged between 25 and 58 a guaranteed sum of €560 (£490/$648) which replaces existing social benefits.
The funds will continue to be paid if they eventually find work.
In Marica, Brazil, a coastal city of about 150,000 people near Rio de Janeiro, the leftist municipal government has spent the last year discovering that universal basic wages work.
In Marica – a surviving stronghold of the Workers’ Party in an increasingly right-wing Brazil – the idea of basic income fits well with the socialist fervor of the leadership.
However, if Finland is handing out payments of around $590 (£450) a month – and only to a test group of unemployed for now – the amount in Marica is a paltry 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, denominated in mumbucas, a virtual currency created to pay for social assistance under Quaqua three years ago.
The 10 reais is added to the monthly social assistance check of 85 reais ($27/£20) for families whose income does not exceed three times the minimum wage. The extra money is also given to the poorest people between 14 and 29 years old and to 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, according to the mayor’s office.
The currency, which physically exists only on specially issued red magnetic cards, is unpopular among business owners because they must wait more than a month after completing purchases for the government to convert payments into reals.