Universal Basic Income is the idea that everyone receives some basic income so that poverty and inequality can be prevented, especially in cases of market failures and automation.
Although I like this idea, would it not be better to satisfy everyone's basic needs as opposed to offering them an income? What I mean is, instead of giving everyone xxxx units of currency every month, why not assure everyone access to basic needs such as food, housing, healthcare, education, and social life-enhancing activities, by sponsoring those consumptions?
I mean, many countries already do that for healthcare and education, and it seems equally achievable for food (e.g. a limited free quota of food from designated general stores in your area for every person per month) and housing (e.g. building a plethora of large housing complexes that consist of very small rooms that people who can't afford a place of their own can sign up for) and activities (e.g. sponsoring get-together activities such as sports, movie-watching, etc).
I find this idea better for various reasons:
- It will directly target the problem. The problem is poverty. We want to ensure a minimum standard of living. Why not offer people those services and needs that ensure that standard of living, rather than just giving them a sum of money and hope they spend it wisely? Otherwise, we risk people misspending the money. For example, think of people addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or simply people who aren't financially apt and spend beyond their budgets.
It will be cheaper. This is obvious: by focusing on specific needs, you can streamline the delivery of those needs, and thereby achieve a cheaper and more efficient allocation of those resources.
It doesn't distort incentives. If only basic needs are covered for, if a person in the society wants to do something that goes beyond those needs (like eat at a fancy restaurant or buy a diamond ring), then they still have to work for it.