Failure to Launch and UBI
By David Henderson
A tough problem that many young people have in their late teens and early- to mid-twenties is “failure to launch.” They have trouble stepping out on their own and taking responsibility, whether it’s about money, jobs, studying, or a few other things. I was talking about that with a friend recently; he has a friend in his late twenties who, in his estimate, is “failing to launch.”
Various government policies have played a role in making it last longer. One is the huge subsidies to college students, along with the expectation that most high-school graduates will go to college. For some, that’s liberation and they take responsibility immediately. That was my case when I started college at age 16. For others, it postpones their taking responsibility, compared to what would happen if, after leaving high school, they got a full-time job.
The expectation that high-school graduates go to college does not, of course, count as a government policy. It’s more something that many prominent members of society push. But there is a government policy aspect, if only in the area of propaganda. President Obama pushed the idea that people should go to college after high school, for instance.
Another policy that would extend failure to launch even more is a universal basic income (UBI). Imagine 4 friends–for some reason, I’m picturing guys–who become friends in college and graduate at about age 22. With an Andrew Yang-type UBI, each would get from the federal government $12,000 tax free. They could then say, “Hey guys, let’s find a 4-bedroom rental house in a low-rent part of the country. We could probably get it for about $1,600 a month. That’s $400 a month per person. We would then each be left $600 a month to spend on food, booze, video games, and occasional drugs.”
At some point, even my hypothetic 4 guys would probably have higher aspirations and would get jobs, thus losing some of the $12,000 per year. But it’s easy to imagine their failure to launch lasting an extra 4 years. And that would be tragic.
Why would it be tragic? For two reasons. First, taking responsibility is good in itself and would make them into better people and better citizen; they would miss out on that. Second, the UBI takes from taxpayers. So other people are forced to subsidize their life style.
Here are some classic failures to launch; the picture at the top is a screen shot of a spectacular failure. There’s one big difference, though: they actually did launch. They just didn’t make it. When you try to launch, you will have failures. I can almost guarantee it.