A universal basic income (UBI) is a program where everyone receives an equal cash benefit each month in addition to the income they receive from the market. So, for example, you could imagine a situation where the government directly deposited $1,000 each month into each person’s bank account. That would be a UBI.
Some argue that the UBI is bad because it would discourage work. The argument is that getting income without having to work for it would make people work less or, in some cases, not work at all. This non-work would then cause all sorts of problems for the individuals, their families, and the society more generally.
But there is another way to get income without having to work for it. It is called capital income and people receive it because they own wealth (real estate, bonds, and stocks). Owners of wealth receive rents from the real estate they own, interest from the bonds they own, and dividends from the stock they own. The amount of money received from these non-work income sources was $4.8 trillion in 2015.
If getting income without having to work for it is bad, and wealth allows you to get income without having to work for it, then that means wealth is also bad. Or, more precisely, it means that wealth has a negative consequence, which is that it delivers its owners non-work income, which then causes all sorts of problems for the individuals, their families, and the society more generally.
If wealth is bad in this particular way, then that means having less wealth is better than having more wealth. This is because having less wealth means you receive less non-work income and are therefore less vulnerable to the toxic effects of receiving non-work income.
The racial wealth gap refers to a situation in the United States where Blacks and Latinos have far less wealth than Whites. Normally this is seen as bad for Blacks and Latinos. But if the argument above is correct, then that means the racial wealth gap is actually good for Blacks and Latinos because it ensures that they receive far less non-work income.
- UBI is bad because getting income without having to work for it reduces work activity.
- Ownership of wealth allows you to get income without having to work for it.
- It follows from (1) and (2) that wealth ownership is bad and owning less wealth is better than owning more wealth.
- The racial wealth gap ensures that Blacks and Latinos own less wealth than Whites.
- It follows from (3) and (4) that the racial wealth gap is good for Blacks and Latinos.
To be clear, I do not believe the conclusion of this argument. But this is because I reject the premise that getting income without having to work for it is bad. My point is only to say that if you believe Premise One above, then you necessarily believe the racial wealth gap is good. If you do not believe the racial wealth gap is good, then you should not believe Premise One.