As reported on CNBC, “Spain is deploying a basic income to citizens to ease the coronavirus impact.” However enticing, some people say it is “an incentive to stay home without work.” The program is not intended for everyone, but rather to give the least earning and the unemployed a safety net that will guarantee their ability to provide for their basic needs.
I fully agree that in a reality of high, and growing, unemployment, it is necessary to provide a basic income to everyone. However, doing so without anything in return is a recipe for disaster. It is not only an incentive not to work; it will deprive people of a sense of purpose in life, the sense of necessity to struggle and advance. It will make them apathetic and a burden on society. And since there will be more and more people without income, a few years from now, this will be a huge social problem.
But Spain can prevent this dismal scenario from materializing if, instead of just giving money away, it will stipulate the benefits on participating in state funded courses. Spain can use these courses to direct people to jobs it wants to occupy, educate people about Spain’s history and culture and make them more connected to their country, as well as educate them about globalization and responsible social behavior in an age of pandemics.
People who attend these mandatory courses will either find new careers, become teachers themselves to the new arrivals to the government educational program, or go off the program altogether. Either way, they will have learned something that Spain wants them to know, and have become more connected to their homeland in the process. This will make future crises easier to go through and prevent social unrest in the immediate and near future. So in my view, basic income should be given, but only if recipients take classes in required jobs, understanding today’s globalized world, and where they can contribute to their country.