Argumentative Essay Project–Universal Basic Income
Background: Almost without noticing, humans now find themselves on the verge of replacement by machines. Autonomous vehicles, computerized algorithms, and robots, among other technologies, will lay claim to an estimated 47% of U.S. jobs in the coming decades. From transportation, finance, medicine, education, and manufacturing, few professions are exempt from disruption by machines. As jobs disappear to automation, so will people’s benefits and income, not to mention their sense of purpose, dignity, and belonging in society. How will we support ourselves? How can democracy survive? What will we do with our lives? The robot revolution demands answers to such questions.
One possible answer, known as universal basic income (UBI), is for the government to provide everyone with a monthly payment capable of meeting their basic needs whether they have a job or not. Supporters of UBI believe it will help keep the social fabric from unraveling as machines replace humans in the workplace. UBI opponents think that these fears of human obsolescence are overblown, that UBI costs too much, and that, if implemented, UBI would destroy people’s work ethic, plunging them into social isolation and despair. What do you think?
Essay Question: Is universal basic income a good idea?
Directions: Use the following readings, in addition to your own experiences and observations, to write an essay addressed to an educated audience that argues your opinion on the essay question. Remember, “An effective argument…makes a well-supported, well-considered point about an issue in an attempt to convince or persuade readers” (397). If you are to be convincing or persuasive in this essay, you must review the facts from the readings carefully to figure out where you stand and present your conclusions in a carefully written fashion.
1. “Should We Scrap Benefits and Pay Everyone 100 a Week?” John Harris, The Guardian
2. “A Guaranteed Income for Every American,” Charles Murray, Wall Street Journal
· Printed handout
3. “Why Murray’s Big Idea Won’t Work,” Atlantic
4. “The Conservative Case for a Guaranteed Basic Income,” Noah Gordon, Atlantic
5. “Why the Universal Basic Income Is Not the Best Public Intervention to Reduce Poverty or Income Inequality,” Vicente Navarro, Social Europe
6. “What Happens if Robots Take the Jobs? The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Employment and Public Policy,” Darrell West, Brookings Institution
7. “The Rise of the Useless Class,” Yuval Noah Harari, TED
8. “The Free-Time Paradox in America,” Derek Thompson, Atlantic
9. “The Link Between Opioids and Unemployment,” Olga Khazan, Atlantic
10. “A World without Work,” Derek Thompson, Atlantic
11. “The Meaning of Life in a World without Work,” Yuval Noah Harari, The Guardian
1. Take a clear, thoughtful position (thesis) on the question and support it with reasons and evidence from at least five sources on the class list (426-430)
2. Properly integrate (“sandwich”) your evidence and quote strategically (complete, partial, or block, using ellipsis marks and brackets to modify quotes as necessary)
3. Address valid and widely held counterarguments in the body (431-432)
4. Works cited page
5. 4-5 pages