Pros and cons of national vs community-based UBI



Andrew Yang is running for President in 2020 on a platform of making a Universal Basic Income for the USA. He produced a video and was recently interviewed on FOX News.

Sam Altman, president of YCombinator has personally and through YCombinator pushed for Universal Basic Income.

Robert Reich has advocated for Basic Income just recently as well.

People have been speaking in favor of a Universal Basic Income on the Left and on the Right of the political spectrum for decades, but in all this time hasn’t been done on a national level. Perhaps it is too big of a change? On a local level, things have been done:


The Alaska Permanent Fund gives each citizen of Alaska around $1000-2000 a year from the state’s oil revenues. And it turns out Alaska has the lowest inequality among states in the union, many years running. Here is its Gini coefficient. Coincidence?

The mayor of Stockton, CA has expressed interest in a local Basic Income. And some cities around the world have made experiments with Basic Income.

Experiments done in local villages in Africa have shown great promise and success

My own opinion is that, since the cost of living varies from place to place, the UBI should be based in local communities. Also, it’s much easier to implement something new in a smaller community than on a national level.

Scott Santens is a writer who spends much of his career advocating for Universal Basic Income. He has written an article why he thinks a National UBI makes sense.

What do you all think?


I should point out that Intercoin allows any community, regardless of size, to issue UBI. A person could belong to several communities (a city, a university, a religious organization, etc.)

So as far as Intercoin is concerned, if a country wants to implement UBI on a national or even federal level, they can do it the same as a local community. The technology is the same. I just think that it’s far easier to implement change on a local level first, and finally get UBI happening. Plus, it has more connotations of freedom and choice since you can more easily move from one community to another if you don’t like their policies. Otherwise it’s a bit tough to go beyond talking to actually getting into office and implementing it:


Well put, Greg. There are aspects of UBI that at first one might believe it could harm the incentives for people to work and move ahead with their lives and whether it’s implementation could be used by bad actors in governments to bias towards a political agenda, like it has been done with welfare programs in Brazil. That was my concern when the concept first came to my reading. After some research, I found articles and videos that stress the subject giving a broad perspective of it’s challenges and implications. Here’s one of them, that amazingly shows how this topic has gained relevance with 3 million views up to this date.


UBI is much better than traditional welfare or assistance programs. Most traditional programs use means-testing. This imposes a burden on the recipients to prove that they qualify, and it imposes a significant cost on the government agency administering the program to judge the qualifications. If the means-testing says that a person must earn under 20,000 USD per year to receive healthcare benefits or nutritional/housing assistance, what happens when they get a raise or increase their income? This creates a poverty trap. UBI addresses both problems. The biggest problem with UBI is that some people are resistant to the idea. The best approach is to show it can work in local communities.


That’s a good point Daniel. Interesting how this debate keeps deepening. Adding some more perspectives on it:


The interesting thing about UBI is not just the huge marginal benefit would create for people who are struggling to make ends meet. One of the most important arguments for UBI is that people know how to maximize benefit better than governments do. If you have outstanding payday loans, for instance, UBI would allow you to make the decision to prioritize repayment but the current welfare system would not.