Way back when I was in college, I wrote a paper for my Economics class, in which I suggested that structural unemployment would increase to the extent that after fifty years, there would be far more job seekers than there are jobs. I said the causes would be automation and the development of third world manufacturing. That was fifty years ago. I also determined that it would cause economic distress, because too many unemployed people would not have the income to buy those third world and automation products. Does this sound familiar? I suggested that since the needed jobs don’t exit, the solution is to change the manner in which we distribute wealth. I’ve mentioned this over the years from time to time. Other minds have fallen into the same ditch, and people are talking about it again.
Is the idea of cash handouts for everyone, no strings attached, a breakthrough solution for unemployment and social inequality, or a road to profligacy and idleness? Attracting left, right, and center, the idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is the perfect Rorschach test in the public debate over “the future of work.” For Americans, the universal benefits just might outweigh the universal costs.
The UBI model is radically simple: a basic payment designed to cover basic expenses. After giving to each according to need, people are freer to give according to ability. UBIvangelists argue that automatically providing for basic nutritional and shelter needs liberates people to ascend the hierarchy of needs and focus on more valuable activities, like developing social relationships and civic and cultural engagement. Others hope a UBI would foster a more harmonious, cooperative post-work society simply by countering scarcity and selfishness.
The idea of free cash has inherent public appeal. Surveys by the Economic Security project show that 46 percent of respondents favored giving every individual “a base income,” especially among youth and people of color, while 35 percent were opposed…
From <The Nation>
For more, you can visit basicincome.org. And think of all the activism this could enable.
I was surprised to learn today that someone I respect has also been playing with this idea.
Wooo Hooo! The Reich on the left is right!
There is a whole article without one single mention of you know who. Now…