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Could we fund a Universal Basic Income from the data we give away for free to Facebook and Google?

Universal basic income (UBI) is a disastrous idea that’s becoming more and more pervasive in certain circles with each passing day. Its proponents claim that it has economic and cultural benefits, but they ignore the horrific consequences of paying people to not produce anything.

Despite being around for quite a long time now, the idea behind a UBI for everyone thankfully hasn’t received enough support to make the jump from simply being “utopian wishful thinking” to “something believable that could be implemented in this lifetime.”

UBI opposition

The main reason why many people oppose UBI is that it doesn’t create any new money. Instead, it just moves it around. Money that will be paid out to recipients in a post-UBI world still has to come from somewhere, after all. And in most imagined versions, the “income” that will be given out with UBI will be taken from taxes that are collected from people who are holding actual jobs.

The idea is quite simple in that the more money you earn, the higher your taxes should be. This is already true in most developed, as well as developing, countries – the higher your income, the higher your tax rate. But with a UBI program in place, some of that tax money will then be allocated to UBI recipients.

But what if the monthly stipend didn’t come from taxpayers? What if neither you nor your friends from work have to count any of your tax dollars towards everyone else’s monthly allowance for UBI? Would you then support UBI with that alternative?

Your data is gold

In today’s highly connected social media world, a handful of companies are on track to become trillion-dollar establishments thanks in part to widespread usage all over the world. We need not look any further: Companies like Facebook and Google provide their services for free – to the point that their users can access them without even paying for internet connectivity – and ask merely for their users to turn in some basic personal data.

It turns out this user data is a gold mine, and while users have given them away to the likes of Facebook and Google for free, these companies proceed to then sell them to advertisers for hits, views, or impressions. It’s far too late to go back to a point in time where this wasn’t widely accepted, but perhaps there’s something else that can be done about it.

Tristan Greene, a writer at TheNextWeb, opines in a piece titled, We could fund a universal basic income with the data we give away to Facebook and Google:

A solution that combines government oversight with a tax on AI companies — a UBI funded by the dividends of our data —  may be the best option.

To be blunt: we should make Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other such AI companies pay for it with a simple data tax.

It’s not something that you will see brought up often by those who openly support UBI (Facebook’s very own Mark Zuckerberg has been a UBI advocate for a while). But some people believe the idea makes sense. (Although, technically, it’s still paying people to not produce anything, which is a disastrous model for any economy.)

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