Universal Basic Income (UBI) became popular last year after it was adopted by a few Western countries. In general, studies have found two flaws in UBI: (1) it contributes little to alleviate poverty as a whole and (2) it is expensive to administer
Adam Smith would be against UBI because (1) it can only be measured in nominal value and (2) it acts as an expense instead of as a capital. Smith would rather be in favor of microfinance because loans are supposed to serve as one’s capital, and are not supposed to be spent recklessly (expense).
“In towns principally supported by the residence of a court, the poor are chiefly maintained by the spending of revenue. The inferior ranks are generally idle, dissolute, and poor as in Rome, Versailles, Compiegne, and Fontainebleu. There is little trade or industry in any of the French parliament towns, except for Rouen and Bordeaux. In mercantile and manufacturing towns, the inferior ranks of people are chiefly maintained by the employment of capital. The inferior ranks are generally industrious, sober, and thriving as in many English and in most Dutch towns. Our ancestors were idle for want of a sufficient encouragement to industry. It is better, says the proverb, to play for nothing than to work for nothing.”
Neoliberals want UBI because it will give money to the poor who will then use it to buy goods and services of businesses. It increases sales and therefore profits, even if there is no assurance whether those poor people will spend it wisely. Governments of democratic countries like Brazil want it because it lets them buy votes. In both cases, the elite are able to use it as a tool on the poor to maintain their position of power.
Canada and Finland, which are experimenting with UBI, are coincidentally the 4th and 5th largest gambling nations according to CNBC. Ontario, where UBI will be tested in Canada, also has the largest 2008 gambling revenue of all the Canadian provinces.
The problem with microfinance, on the other hand, is that though it might not be spent on gambling, it is still measured in nominal value. Smith says nominal value (money) is dead stock and this is why people who get money loans usually get into debt slavery because what they are getting does not naturally reproduce their own value.
To fix this problem, our proposal called Social Resource Allocation (SORA) uses live stock in the form of goods and services themselves as the store of value. Instead of microcredit, we call them resource credits which are administered by our proposed institution called the SORA authority. This institution then regulates the supply of society to match its demand, through micro agreements. This creates less reliance on money, making people more economically independent and better off than if they were in UBI or microfinance.
In addition, the SORA authority can allocate the society’s resource credits to provide for the minimum requirements of the people, especially the poor, through the democratic process of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ through an app. In Smith’s time though, he said this process would be done in Parliament by the leaders of each sector.