Instigator / Pro
Points: 4

A UBI would be beneficial to said country


The voting period has ended

After 1 vote the winner is ...
Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One week
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Characters per argument
Contender / Con
Points: 7
To keep things relative, let's use America as an example, with a $1000 payout to every adult (like Yang's plan).
We should mainly focus on how a UBI would impact the country in various factors, like the economic, political, and social sectors.
Talking about the realism of implementing a UBI is off-topic, unless specified otherwise.
I'm actually looking forward to this debate. Good luck!
Round 1
Hello Swagnarok and thanks for accepting. Sorry for the late reply, I'm awfully busy this week and I wrote this in a rush...




Round 1 - First Argument
Round 2 - Clash, and Second Argument
Round 3 - Clash, and Summary

Note - Some significant information related to this debate will be merged with clash

First Argument - Economic Impacts
How will implementing a UBI positively impact the economy?

Second Argument - Social Impacts
How will implementing a UBI positively impact the society?


A UBI is a system put in place which gives every citizen $1000 per month, regardless of any standards. A UBI isn't actually a new concept. In fact, it dates back to the
16th century! However, the concept recently gained attention when 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang marketed his UBI plan as a so called "Freedom Dividend". And this debate is very similarly modeled after his plan...

Like stated earlier, we will be using America as the sandbox for this debate, just to keep everything consistent and relatable. Also, as previously agreed upon, we will be debating whether or not a UBI would be beneficial or not. We won't touch upon whether it's realistic to implement, or all that stuff (although that could be for another debate).



Economic Impacts How will implementing a UBI positively impact the economy?

Some recent studies have found that 25% of jobs in America are at risk to being lost. That correlates to the unemployment rate, which is already at around 3.6%, to rise even higher!

This also contributes to individual people's wealth.

When people don't have enough money, they tend to cut down on their spendings. Goods like clothing, food, and various accessories will be limited in purchase. This can lead to a sort of 'dry economy', where not much goods are being bought. And when little goods are being bought, stores won't make enough money. This can result in even more people being fired, and shops closing all over.

Money isn't being circulated.

However, that's where a UBI comes in! A UBI will help the economy as a whole by giving people some extra money for them to spend. This money will be circulated through the economy and renew it.

The economic benefits of this include [1]:

Economic growth
  • More money is being used and circulated
  • 12% growth in the economy by 2025
More jobs and related benefits are created
  • More economic activity means than more jobs will be born [2]
    • An estimated 4.7 million jobs are to be created [3]
  • Increased bargaining power for workers
    • "More pay more say" - Thought provoking quote from Squid
Less Poverty
  • A UBI almost guarantees everyone will be above the poverty line
  • Families can have more support (a topic for round two)

And more!

As you can clearly see now, a UBI is a clear benefit to the economy.

And, all this data is backed up by numerous professional research papers [4].

Now you might be asking, "but this is all speculation!" How do we actually know that the predicted results might happen?

Well, surprisingly enough, versions of the UBI have actually been tested before! Follow my words...

  • Alaska's current UBI [5]
  • Namibian poverty support [6]
  • My People Fund program [7]
  • And even more!
All these tests and real world situations turned out great, and we can even learn from some of them to improve our sense of a UBI.



In this round, I have talked about the major economic factors that would be benefited from a UBI.

In the next round, I will be clashing with my opponent, perhaps elaborating on my previous arguments, and presenting a new one.

Well, that is all from me now, and I wish you the best Swagnarok!

Thank you.


Round 2
Change of schedule

Extend Arguments
1. Cost

As of July 1, 2018, the US population stood at 327,000,000. [1] Of these, only around 22.4% were under the age of 18. [Ibid.] This leaves approximately 240,000,000 Americans over the age of 18.
For purposes of simplicity I will not be factoring in the several million Americans imprisoned. Any UBI scheme would have to answer the question "Would they be receiving UBI too?". The most straightforward solution to this would be to deny it for all months in which the subject spent any time in jail or prison. Again, for the sake of ease I will assume that all American citizens in the appropriate age bracket will be receiving UBI every month of the year.

$1,000 x 12 =$12,000 per annum (year) for each eligible person. 240,000,000 x $12,000 = $2,880,000,000,000. Or, that is to say, 2.88 Trillion dollars. That would be the rough price tag of UBI every single year, not counting such things as administrative costs.

In comparison, the International Monetary Fund has estimated that total GDP in 2019 would stand at 21.4 Trillion. [2] What this means is that in order to pay for Universal Basic Income, the United States would have to spend equivalent to over 10% of its total GDP every year.

At this point, my opponent would likely step in and say "Aha but you're wrong! You see, UBI can replace many existing welfare programs!" And in fact this is true...but only to an extent.
In 2018, welfare spending by the federal government stood at $851.1 billion dollars. [3] Note that this doesn't count the services of the Department of Veterans Affairs, because, well, the general tendency is to think of the VA as just compensation to brave soldiers who put theirs lives on the line rather than as a government handout. In 2019 the White House requested $83 billion for the VA. [4] We can combine this to get a rough estimate of $900-950 billion spent on welfare annually.

Even if UBI completely replaced all of these programs (doubtful, especially in the case of the VA for reasons already stated), that would still leave an extra 1.9 Trillion dollars. The government would have to collect the money to pay for this somehow. If taxes weren't raised, then this would all become deficit spending.

In 2019 government outlays (expenditures) are projected to stand at 4.4 Trillion, while receipts (amount collected in taxes) will stand at 3.4 Trillion. [Ibid, page 121]
Whenever outlays are larger than receipts, the government borrows to pay the rest. This is called the deficit. The deficit describes how much debt the government is going to take on that year, which is added to the outstanding National Debt. In 2019, the deficit is projected to be almost 1 Trillion dollars; if you were to add the costs of an implemented UBI, you'd have a minimum deficit of 2.9 Trillion.

(Please note: Elderly people have a strong tendency to view Social Security as something that they've earned/invested rather than as welfare. If you deduct a retiree's UBI allowance from their Social Security payout, they'll perceive that the government is either robbing them of the money they earned/invested into the system or discriminating against them by denying them the same UBI younger people get. There are tens of millions of people over 65 in America, and they consistently turn out in large numbers come election day. If it's even hinted at that either party would try this, I absolutely guarantee you they'd lose in a landslide. That is to say, the elderly under this scheme would receive UBI on top of Social Security, whether you like it or not.)

At this point you have two options:

First, you can accept a 2.9 Trillion dollar deficit. This is clearly unsustainable, given that the US national debt is already larger than GDP, and that the deficit in this scenario would significantly outpace economic growth (see projected GDP growth rates in source 2).
How large is the national debt already? 23 Trillion dollars, as of the time of posting. [5]

Second, you raise taxes to such a degree as to keep the deficit manageably low. The fact that we have such a large deficit already suggests this isn't going to happen, because the political will is lacking.
In addition, tax rates affect investment, wages, and so on. There is a phenomenon called "Capital Flight" which can have devastating effects on any economy, and which is much more likely to happen when tax rates are oppressively high. All in all, talking about this would entail an entirely separate debate that I'm simply not ready to have, because I'm not an economist. Suffice to say, however, deciding that you're going to raise another 1.9 Trillion dollars in taxes every year would have drastic and far-reaching consequences.
With that having been said, I'm going to move on to my second point.

2. Price Inflation

Imagine the following scenario.
You own a supermarket. All of the sudden, your typical customer has $12,000 more dollars every year in disposable income. In addition, taxes on your business went up to pay for this. Way up.
So what do you do? You jack prices on everything. It's clear that they can afford it now, so they probably wouldn't care that much. Even with these price increases they still enjoy greater financial security than they did before UBI.
And this would affect everything. Absolutely. Everything. There is no consumer market whose prices would not skyrocket in the aftermath of this. In the end, you would merely be subsidizing the likes of Wal-Mart.

What would the end result of this be? While people would still gain from UBI, the free money would not go as far as you might initially think. Relying on a cost-benefit analysis (the price of a 1.9 trillion dollar outlay increase vs. the benefit to the consumer who has more money), the balance would not be in favor of benefits.

3. Perverse Incentives

While in the future work may become obsolete altogether, at present the economy still relies on human labor.
However, there are millions upon millions of people who hold jobs out of necessity, because the alternative to working is living on the streets.
But what if all of these people got a paycheck of $12,000 a year? Something that they would receive regardless of whether they worked or not. There would be stigma attached to them receiving UBI because everybody else would. In this case, you could have groups of, say, 2 or 3 slackers who get together, pool their UBI money, pay rent on a cheap place, and live off of that without having to work another day of their lives.
Without these people, the economy would possibly contract, making the above-mentioned deficit problem even worse.

4. Alaska

My opponent cited Alaska as a model for the US to emulate. The problem with this is, the economy of Alaska does not mirror that of the US. As his own source admitted, Alaska is an extraction based economy. The oil can be extracted and sold by anyone, and this will happen whatever the tax rate is. The US proper, on the other hand, is a wealth creation economy. High taxes stifle this process.


Round 3
Both me and my opponent ended up forfeiting at critical moments during this debate. We can just chalk it up to one giant bust.

Anyways, I will summarize as following:
Implementing UBI would cost inordinately huge sums of money, even by the standards of the world's first/second largest economy, the United States. Even if many existing welfare programs were eliminated to compensate, some significant increase either in deficit spending or in tax revenue collected would still be required. The United States has a severe debt problem (and also one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world) and implementing UBI would only make this worse. In exchange for bearing these costs, each adult citizen would reach approximately $12,000 a year. However, because of the rampant price inflation that would almost surely follow much of these financial gains to individuals would be disappointingly lackluster. Many individuals would have unprecedented opportunity to completely drop out of the workforce, and this in turn would depress the economy.

And that concludes this debate. Thank you all for reading.
--> @Ragnar
Implying pre-fiat cant generate benefits and harms. If you look at benefits and harms in a strictly utilitarian sense then yes, since util is necessarily post fiat. But there are definitely good ways of generating pre-fiat offense
--> @Zaradi
Yeah, the example I've given fails to generate offense, hence why I dismiss it as rubbish when I see it. Pure Pre-Fiat might be another name for it, to signify the lack of anything else (such as benefits and harms, which arguments should focus on).
--> @Ragnar
That's not really mean what I mean by internal premise, at least not in the way you're articulating it. Take my capitalism example with UBIs. If you're advocating for UBIs, it rests on the presumption that as a society we want more cap. If cap is actually a bad thing, why would we want something that brings more cap? In short, I may not have been clear in my explanation. The internal premise you're targeting needs to be one that is a negative premise to hold i.e. cap is good when you argue that it's really bad. That's how kritiks generate offense.
--> @Zaradi
The internal premise being challenged is that it could happen at all.
I wouldn't call it a standard rebuttal, because it basically ignores all the contentions.
--> @Ragnar
Your argument wouldn't be a kritik, though. No internal premises are being challenged, and no alternative is presented. It'd be a standard rebuttal.
As for the example, outside of it just being a bad argument, I'm not sure there's a technical name for it.
--> @Zaradi
Solvency Kritik would be a decent name for it, but I'm thinking of going with something about depression.
I do believe in legit attacks on arguments for solvency issues, but some are unwarranted. Like many arguments, there's a fine line to walk.
>>His argument doesn't lead to the world he wants to make, so it's pointless to go down that path. Sound right?
Very similar, but not quite. More like /That world will never happen anyway, so we shouldn't strive for it./ Easy examples: Women will never have the right to vote anyway, so this court shouldn't even listen to the arguments in favor of it.
--> @Ragnar
I mean, it's certainly doable to run kritiks that have post-fiat impacts. I don't personally like them because they're boring, but they work.
As for your example, it seems more like an indict to the argument's solvency rather than a kriticism. His argument doesn't lead to the world he wants to make, so it's pointless to go down that path. Sound right?
--> @Zaradi
My understanding of the terms is most are post-fiat, focusing on perceived damages from letting people get away with whatever. /What kind of world would we live in, if we allowed people to promote capitalism?/
When I refer to a pre-fiat kritik, I used an example that that world will never come about anyway, so we shouldn't even try. Granted, I'm open to better name suggestions.
--> @DynamicSquid, @Ragnar
Not sure what pre-fiat in this instance is supposed to mean since pretty much every k operates pre-fiat
--> @Ragnar, @DynamicSquid
Not quite what a pre-fiat kritik is. Kritiks in general are arguments that question certain premises and assumptions made in either your opponent's case or the resolution in general. For example, a kritikal argument I could make as Con would be to say that capitalism is #theworstthingever, and thus we should reject UBIs as an instance of promoting cap.
(Just now I did make passing mention of our country's high corporate tax rate, simply because there would've been a "hole" in the flow of the argument summary otherwise. Overall it was a fairly minor addition and I didn't link to a source so it was pretty much just me either making an opinionated assertion or pointing out something that's already general knowledge. In addition, adding that did not provide evidence to my earlier claim that a high/higher tax rate is bad for the economy, opting instead to merely say that there exists a high tax rate.)
--> @Ragnar
Gotcha. Thanks!
--> @PoliceSheep
Ah, shoot. Completely forgot about this.
Please don't forfeit, but try to like summarize your speech with no new information to make it fair.
Thanks for considering.
And really sorry!
--> @DynamicSquid
I missed your previous question. A pre-fiat kritik is to basically side step the arguments by saying they would never happen. Like I say we should fix that bridge because of x y and z, and you answer with it'll never get fixed so all talk about how much better it would be if fixed is irrelevant.
--> @DynamicSquid, @Swagnarok
If you both consent, my suggestion is to redo this debate with copy/pasted arguments from the current one (then have this one deleted). You could of course fix typos, and change the remaining number of rounds (could even make it a single round) and/or time to post arguments if you're inclined.
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
I sadly only have 1 argument from each side, but I'll do what I can.
Both sides points---
Pro proposes that UBI will have amazing results economically. He states that giving consumers more money will help businesses and the economy as a result. He also states that America's poor need this money to get by, while also proposing that American jobs are at risk and this will presumably help the American workers who are no longer employed. The last key point brought up is UBI's success in Alaska.
Con replies to Pro's economic points by stating the fiscal irresponsibility of implementing UBI. Con proved that the US would need about 1.9 trillion dollars in tax revenue to pay for UBI. He comes to the conclusion that an implementation of UBI would be practically impossible without severe repercussions. Con then attempts to debunk the statement that giving money to consumers will help the consumer, the bushiness, and the economy. He says that as a result of inflation the consumer will merely have to deal with higher prices. Another point Con proposes is that people can abuse the system and not work. This would presumably have repercussions on the economy that Con stated relied on human labour as of now. Con then addresses Pro's point on Alaska. Con states that implementing something in a sparse state isn't the same as implementing nationwide.
My take---
Alaska----Slight win for Pro
Pro stated that UBI worked in Alaska, Con stated that Pro's own source conceded that implementing UBI nationwide would bring on far greater challenges. As a result, this point carries very little weight in favour of Pro.
Pro proposed that giving money to consumers will help businesses, lower poverty, and much more.
Con was able to prove that inflation would mitigate the impact UBI would have on poverty, Pro never responds. The poverty point has lost a lot of weight.
UBI will, when accounting for potential savings cost 1.9 trillion dollars. This goes untouched.
UBI is highly exploitable, he gave the example of individuals pooling their,oney together to avoid work, this goes untouched by Pro.
Pro stated that UBI would help workers who may lose their job, which was established to be fairly probable. Con’s exploitation point mitigates this seeing how labour may be lost to strategic individuals, but it appears that UBI could be a useful safety net for those who opt to continue working and lose their jobs.
At the end of the day for this point I saw that UBI would have a very small impact on poverty and may be a decent social safety net. But the point still stands that some labour will be lost, and UBI is a shaky system being easily exploited. This on top of the 1.9 trillion dollar tax burden which would presumably be deficit spending seeing how Pro never stated how he was to pay for this massive expense.
There are too many points that sway against UBI economically, Con established how shaky the system was, and how it would be a huge tax burden. Pro was only really able to prove that it could help workers who lose their jobs, but the inflation point mitigates this too much as I’m not convinced that it would greatly improve their purchasing power(because of Con’s inflation point). So I have a dominant victory for Con economically. The Alaska point was debunked sufficiently, Pro’s own source was turned on him to prove that UBI working in Alaska≠UBI working nationwide. After weighing their arguments, Con wins.