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.” Basic Income says “We think no one should have to start from $0, and no one should be living in bare survival mode.”
Basic Income is a line in the sand, where we say “We, as a interdependent society, declare that no one in this society deserves to live below this financial threshold, for any reason. We say that to let people drop below this level is inhuman and uncivilized, and utterly unnecessary in a wealthy, first world country.
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.