As society advances, we keep adding more guaranteed rights to our citizens. We have an understanding of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and representation, as basic rights. But we keep adding utilities that, although not free, people are guaranteed access to: potable water, a clean environment, free ER care if you can’t afford it, and electricity. Laws were created to allow for access to these necessities. Just as electricity moved from a luxury to a utility, internet access has gone through that same process. These are all services we see as rights. As innovation continues, especially across automation, AI, robotics and IoT, more services will be added to these basics.
America will never accept Universal Basic Income (UBI), but they might accept Universal Basic Services (UBS).
Instead of politically forcing the public to push for a UBI, we should focus on a larger picture, UBS. UBI is a political hockey puck. It has and seems will always be unAmerican. Despite the success stories of pilot UBI programs, the fact that people can spend money on anything allows for hypotheticals (remember welfare queens?) that keep this redistribution of wealth program from progressing. But UBS provides specifics, services that supply everything you need to survive so that we can all fulfill our constitutional right to “pursue happiness.” The pursuit of happiness can’t begin until basic needs are met. So one can make a case that UBS are required to fulfill the government’s constitutional responsibility of this right it has declared.
The way American’s think, which is counter to the Social Democracies of Europe, is that nothing should hinder our potential to become the richest, most successful version of ourselves we can be. Social Democracies create a strong floor, but they also hinder larger successes with high taxes and a culture that won’t allow for large salaries and bonuses. And one could argue the entrepreneurial spirit isn’t core to their beliefs like it is in the States. But with UBS, Americans could have the floor they need, with no hindrance to the sky we all reach for.
The appeal of UBI is that it frees people to pursue their passions and not waste unnecessary time on basic needs. UBS completes the same goal without tampering with what work a basic American montra, earning your way forward.
Services don’t have to be up to you, but the pursuit of happiness must. So think of UBS almost like a freemium economy. The floor is set, but the ceiling isn’t. UBS is also already happening thanks simply to innovation. There are things that can specifically can be voted on and needed like universal catastrophic health insurance (you pay for the small things) and guaranteed housing (New York City has a “right to shelter” law). But advances in health, infrastructure, transportation, electrical generation, etc… or only speeding up and getting cheaper.
By looking at all of these necessities through the UBS lens instead of as individual utilities, we might be able to fit the round peg of American individualism through the square hole of basic human needs.