It is an interesting problem, if basic income takes care of simple housing and a minimalist diet, what then will people do?
My thoughts are they will see their neighbor works (full, part-time, or as hobbyist) and has "nice things"; so they will decide they also would like "nice things".
How to get "nice things", the better food, bigger house, new phone, etc.? Work.
Just like now, people would work for money to use in exchange for goods and services, except unlike now there is less pressure to make sure the work pays "enough" and is stable "enough" before considering if you are willing to do it.
Maybe with UBI many people decide to work the same job they do now, but others quit and do open-source for free, and still others may try painting, writing music, inventing a niche product they always thought would be "awesome", driving urbers, or doing community service, who knows. It is hard to quantify the impact of people leaving / cutting back normal work hours to pursue these interests, but I feel it will be significant after a few years, especially if (and really reaching but hey why not) coupled with a student loan interest forgiveness program and universal healthcare.
But, I think the main benefit of a UBI is to those who are just entering the work force. People can take longer trying out different jobs... since they are not dependent on immediately getting the first job possible to get food on the table. A large number of people looking at college and not sure of their path, would have less pressure to "choose a career" immediately after high-school and have more time trying out a few before making that commitment.
I think this would lower the number of kids rushing off to college and spending 4 years drinking since they are only attending because teachers/parents/society told them to go, but they never had any real interest in it. (With positive side effect those attending university being a more academic and motivated population).
With a UBI, people looking to enter the work force could take the time to attend trade-school and apprenticeships and commit to their studies / training without taking out large loans or working 2 part-time jobs.
- Will some high-school graduates just sit at home and watch TV? Yep.
- Will they eventually get bored? Probably.
- Will they tinker, learn things on the internet, find a hobby? I would argue, yes, most would.
- Will some of these hobbyists make society better for others? Probably.
- Will they turn to crime? Maybe, but i'll admit I'm hand-waiving this one and guessing it's a smaller number than now.
I think it boils down to:
- For those in the workforce and keeping their current job, benefit is cheaper prices for better quality non-automated hobby, manual, and time-intensive products and services.
- For those looking to change the work they do, there is slightly less pressure on the immediate performance of their new endeavor. ( It is enough for most to be able to switch to their dream job? No. But it might be enough for some).
- For those looking to enter the work force, so they can afford "nice things", they have more freedom to experiment with several jobs before choose a career.
- For those that don't want to work, they can have a productive hobby, devote their life to community service, or just watching TV, and for some crime; the bet is that the former two outnumber the later two, and overall the TV watchers and criminals were probably not going contributing much to society with or without a UBI.
All in all, Universal Basic Income would not benefit everyone the same, some may be worse off, but as a whole I think the goal is to increase the number of people doing meaningful (to them) work, with less regard to the pay, and the assumption (which I believe) is that society will be better off for it.