Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that class of 2015 graduates would pass out of college with student loan debts averaging a little over $35,000. The class of 2015 held the record for the most indebted class ever — we are yet to find out if the title will involuntarily be passed on to this year’s graduates.
Student loans and an unsteady job market are half the reason college students fear embarking into the “real world.” The Universal Basic Income, however, aims to remedy those concerns. Frans Kerver became the first and only person in the Netherlands to receive a monthly income of $1,100 from the Dutch organization MIES, as a part of their initiative to promote the basic income system.
The Universal Basic Income is essentially a revolutionary attempt to distribute wealth across all citizens of a country regardless of their socioeconomic status. This means that you could be a well-paid investment banker or an amusement park attendant and you would still earn a basic monthly income in addition to your current salary. The aim of the basic income is to cover all vital costs like food, shelter and clothing. It is easy to see why a life-altering system like this is not already in place — it has its own pros and cons, making it a controversial topic.
In Frans Kerver’s case, the basic income system really changed his life for the better. His 12-hour work days changed to 50 hour weeks. He was able to pursue his passion for copywriting projects, and of course, had more time on hand to spend with his family. Having a basic income means that one doesn’t have to force themselves to work a job that has no future for them.
Instead, they get a little breathing space to look for work that is meaningful and is in line with their expectations. While the value amount of the basic income differs according to one’s social status, it’s still something you can fall back on when work doesn’t pan out.
What benefits would basic income have for recent graduates? Instead of scrambling to get your hands on just about any job in the market, graduates could take some time off to make an educated decision. This will correctly allocate the right employee to the right job — it’s a positive change for both hiring firms as well as people looking for work.
On the other hand, however, similar to how the existence of unemployment benefits causes people to give up on looking for a job, it’s possible that some may simply choose to live off of the basic income. It doesn’t exactly create an incentive for discouraged workers to enter the job market and actively look for work. After all, they would be more willing to accept “free money” instead of working hard at a minimum wage job. Furthermore, the logistics of funding still haven’t been sorted out. A basic income for all citizens of the United States will multiply the government’s cash outflow.
There is no telling if the Universal Basic Income will be accepted and implemented in more countries any time soon. It’s a system that has been debated for years, and deciding whether or not to accept it in the United States will certainly take more time.