Douglas Rushkoff, a great favorite of many of us around these parts, has a commentary up at CNN, arguing that in the age of automation it may not still be possible or desirable to center domestic policy on trying to make sure everyone has a job. He doesn't use the words "guaranteed income," but that's the concept: "We're living in an economy where productivity is no longer the goal, employment is. That's because, on a very fundamental level, we have pretty much everything we need. America is productive enough that it could probably shelter, feed, educate, and even provide health care for its entire population with just a fraction of us actually working."
It's an interesting essay. But this is, truth to tell, not a suggestion that originated with Rushkoff. Robert Anton Wilson said similar things many years ago, and before him, Philip Jose Farmer explored similar notions in his Hugo Award winning novella, "Riders of the Purple Wage" (one of my all-time favorite stories.)
But it's certainly a bold opinion to post at a mainstream site such as CNN, and there has been pushback.
Rush Limbaugh went on the air to read much of it aloud, and attack it. (Transcript here.)
Limbaugh claims not to know who Rushkoff is; I'm not sure if he meant it or just used it as an excuse to get off an amusing line ("Now, he's got a Wikipedia entry, but everybody has a Wikipedia entry ... ")
Limbaugh also mocks Rushkoff for being a "media theorist," but perhaps if Rush read Program or Be Programmed, he'd realize that Rushkoff's ideas deserve to be taken seriously. Rush can get off to a good start by reading my interview with Rushkoff.