From a mental burden perspective, universal basic income makes perfect sense. A basic income would relieve people of the mental burden of having to meet their fundamental needs, like food, clothing and shelter. Further, fewer people will have to work jobs they hate—also a source of mental burden. The mental energy they save can, if they so choose, go toward creative pursuits and innovation.

The key difference between basic income and current systems of strings-attached welfare is that each of those strings—every condition you put on people, whether it’s criteria they have to meet to get the income or restrictions on how they can spend their income—is an added mental burden. Drug testing welfare recipients, for example, has been found to be grossly inefficient for the state, and recipients are essentially trading one mental burden for another.

Of course, not everyone will have something creative to contribute, and not all innovation is necessarily good, but a population-wide relief of mental burden through basic income will undoubtedly reduce net suffering.

Advertisements