Why a universal basic income is a band-aid but not a solution.
As the pandemic continues, and most places still have stay-at-home orders in place, many people have been calling for a Universal Basic Income. Presidential candidates, party leaders, activists and liberals have all demanded a universal basic income for the people. Some have touted it as the logical solution to make things equal and accessible and many love the idea of being able to count on basic necessities being taken care of and some even go as far as to suggest that a universal basic income will solve hunger and homelessness. Most of the aid programs that have been announced in response to the financial hardships the pandemic has caused have been very clearly geared toward workers who lost income due to the pandemic as well as businesses. Apparently the poor, the disabled and the elderly can't be trusted with cash and must go begging at food banks and other NGOs. In light of this, I can understand why people would think that giving everyone the same amount of money is a just and therefore desirable outcome. And in the short term, it's a great band-aid and it would help to eliminate the discrimination that is reinforced by the stratification of government aid.
In Quebec, where I live, people on welfare, disability and government pensions are expected to survive on one third to one half of what laid-off workers are getting. Even in times of global crisis, the message is clear: "you are only worthy of sufficient help if you were generating money when the pandemic hit and you need to have your life subsidised so banks don't fail".And even then, it doesn't cover all workers. In the case of workers who are deemed "essential" and are, therefore, "allowed" to keep working, some aren't even getting hazard pay and even the top-up some governments are giving them still doesn't match what people who are laid off are getting. Huge shout out to these people who cannot even quit because quitting would make them ineligible for aid and so have to power through and put their lives at risk for less than the people who can stay home.
It would definitely be one less thing to worry about when the choice is often "risk your life and the lives of others by going out and ignoring public health orders" or "go hungry or get in a lot of trouble with your unflexible landlord". And many don't…