Half of Americans Want Universal Income, But Expect AI Companies To Pay It

On February 5, 2018, Gallup.com reports on Basic Income through Futurism.com:

What will we do in a future where a huge percentage of occupations are made obsolete by technology? According to a 2018 Gallup poll, 48 percent of Americans see promise in UBI.


Americans are concerned about how growing automation will affect their jobs. There seems to be no limit to what tasks sophisticated robots can perform equal to or better than us, yet experts and the public alike disagree on how to respond to this displacement. In a 2018 Gallup and Northeastern University poll, 48 percent of Americans agreed that a universal income program is a positive solution.

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a concept in which all citizens receive a set income, no matter their occupation, financial history, housing, demographics, or any other qualifier. It is a concept that has been lauded by people like Richard BransonElon MuskBill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg and criticized by people like Joe Biden. The hotly debated concept may seem far-fetched, but Scotland is already trialing a program to test it.

Does this poll mean that Americans are on board? Well, not exactly. While just below half are in favor, the majority disagreed about the use of UBI. More so, while an overwhelming 65 percent of Democrats support the concept of a universal income, only 28 percent of Republicans do, according to this poll.

In fact, according to the poll, 81 percent of those who identify as “very liberal” voiced support for UBI while only 27 percent of those who identify as “very conservative” said the same. If any type of universal income system is considered in the U.S., will it further divide the country’s parties?


Beyond the disparity in agreement over whether to implement a UBI, not everyone agrees on how we might pay for such a program. Only 45 percent of those polled would be willing to pay higher taxes to fund such a program. Interestingly enough, however, 80 percent of those who are in favor of a universal income also expect that business who benefit from artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous technologies should pay for it. 

Will Automation Steal My Job?
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This line of thinking aligns with the concept of a “robot tax,”something that Bill Gates overwhelmingly supports. The thinking behind this is that, because a human worker pays taxes, automation could lead to both job loss and a severe blow to government finances.

Because the workers they are replacing would pay taxes, this idea argues that it would only be right if taxes were paid on behalf of the robot — by the company that built it. There are those who say that this de-incentivizes innovation, but others agree that it could be a feasible solution to the cost of such a program.

Technology will unquestionably continue to advance, and innovation continue to streamline our lives, improve medical care, and push forward progress across fields and occupations. Among those polled by Gallup either, 76% either agreed or strongly agreed that AI will “fundamentally change the way people work and live in the next ten years.” Presently, 77% are “mostly positive” or “very positive” about AI’s impact, yet it’s clear that automation will lead to job losses at rates we have never experienced before. While not everyone agrees on the prospect of UBI, solutions must be found.

Gary Reber Comments”

Yes, automation and technology, what is the non-human means of producing goods, products and services is exponentially growing and making many forms of human labor unnecessary. If productive capital, the non-human factor, is increasingly the source of the world’s economic growth, shouldn’t IT become the source of added property ownership incomes for all. If both labor and capital are independent factors of production, each own by humans, and if capital’s proportionate contributions are increasing relative to that of labor, then doesn’t equality of opportunity and economic justice demand that the right to property (and access to the means of acquiring and possessing property) must in justice be extended to all? Sadly, the American people and its leaders couch all policy directions in the name of job creation or redistribution through taxation. Americans ignore the necessity to broaden personal ownership of wealth-creating, income-producing capital assets simultaneously with the growth of the economy. Instead, they are wanting hand-out in the form of a Guaranteed Basic Income, and further deepening their dependency on those who are productive and enslaving themselves to those in economic and political power.

Wouldn’t be far better to enable EVERY child, woman and man to become productive though broadening individual ownership stakes simultaneously with the future capital asset growth of the corporations growing the economy? If we did so, the end result would be that citizens would become empowered as owners to meet their own consumption needs and government would become more dependent on economically independent citizens, thus reversing current global trends where all citizens will eventually become dependent for their economic well-being on the State and whatever elites control the coercive powers of government, e.g., the police, the law courts, the prisons, the tax system, and so on.

This goal can be achieved with the reform of the monetary system (see http://capitalhomestead.org/page/monetary-justice) and enactment of the Capital Homestead Act (aka Economic Democracy Act and Economic Empowerment Act) at http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/http://www.cesj.org/…/capital-homestead-act-a-plan-for-get…/http://www.cesj.org/…/capita…/capital-homestead-act-summary/ and http://www.cesj.org/learn/capital-homesteading/ch-vehicles/.

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