Universal basic income is the main policy platform of presidential hopeful Andrew Yang. He proposes that every person gets a $1,000 stipend from the government monthly. I think this is an interesting idea that propositions my following thought exercise.
People are concerned that the free money will make people more lazy and dependent, but I think otherwise. Firstly, maybe it's a like a proxy for universal healthcare. I don't think UBI will make US citizens any more entitled than those citizens whose government takes care of them. I think that you can't do much with $1,000--it isn't enough to prosper and thrive, but it will be enough to act as a bridge to make health, rent, and other payments that will $1,000 will help people get up on their feet.
Yang says one of his primary rationales for doing so is the fact that automation will make some jobs obsolete. I haven't done much research beyond watching a John Oliver segment and reading McKinsey reports (1,2,3) on it, but it's easy to intuit that we're facing a future where we don't need as much human labor to sustain the resources and lifestyles that we have today. Furthermore, workers will need to transition to more jobs oriented on communication and creativity, and that $1,000 will support that transition period.
I think Scott Santens brought up salient points about the potential benefits of UBI that not many people expected by referencing Finland's continuing UBI experiment, like stimulus of the economy, more entrepreneurship, increased life satisfaction, increased trust in the legal system / politicians / other people, confidence, health, and more.
Also maybe another way to think about UBI is a reduction in taxes.