Basic Income is an unconditional social benefit administered by a democratic government to establish a realistic financial baseline for citizens within a capitalist economy.
A Basic Income (also called a Universal Basic Income, Unconditional Basic Income, or Basic Income Guarantee) is the practice of every member of a society receiving a regular, standardized monthly financial payment from their government- without means testing, work requirements, or demographic strictures (like being elderly, or disabled).
And really, that’s it, at the core. It’s a socially funded and provided stipend meant to cover the basic things everyone needs to function, like food and shelter.
Right now, our society says “Everyone starts at $0, and must work to survive. If you can’t survive, you must prove to the people with money that you are ‘needy’ enough to deserve their help.”
A Basic Income is society saying “We are a mature, wealthy civilization that can meet the fundamental needs of all its citizens, so we will give everyone $X (most discussions say $1000), because no one should have to start from $0.”
A Basic Income is not a magic wand that will fix all of society’s ills- but it is a fundamental piece of moving forward in a culture where automation, job insecurity, industry changes and late-stage capitalism means that our current system of inadequate social safety nets, unemployment and survivalist wages isn’t sustainable.