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Sunday, January 25, 2015

More basic income discussion

John Higgs

A couple of articles reinforce the point that a basic income guarantee, once a radical idea discussed only by a few, has entered mainstream discussion.

John Higgs, who has been writing pieces on British politics for UsVsTh3m, has a piece on "Why ‘unconditional basic income for all’ fails the ‘splutter test’ but would liberate the world." John notes, "Variations on the idea have received support from people as different as Thomas Paine, Bertrand Russell and Robert Anton Wilson." Good job of slipping his name in there, John!

Nathan Schneider weighs in with a piece at Vice, "Why the Tech Elite Is Getting Behind Universal Basic Income." Nathan does a good job of naming some of the folks who are interested in the idea and I agree with Nathan that the details matter, although I disagree on whether it is a good idea to take the money from existing welfare programs. I think it is, because it is the only way to have a reasonably generous basic income -- I don't see how it's feasible, in an era of big deficits, to afford a basic income AND the existing welfare system. I do think, though, that a basic income would have to be combined with some sort of national health insurance program.


Anonymous said...

Hi (first comment here). Basic Income seems to have taken off in a big way (now adopted as policy by the Green Party in the UK, as Higgs notes - Greens currently polling around 9-10% of vote here).

What Higgs calls the "splutter test", I would call the "moral framing" test, and it's in this I think Basic Income will find its biggest obstacles (more so than how to fund it).

Incidentally, I see that David Graeber takes a line on *work* (see his "On the Phenonmenon of Bullshit Jobs") similar to the perspectives that RAW used to combine his RICH economy (incl. Basic Income) advocacy with.

If advocates for Basic Income start to use such moral arguments (regarding work), then we have something even more radical than Basic Income itself going on.

I've written about these moral arguments (in which I borrow some ideas from RAW & Graeber) here, if anyone is interested in taking up this theme:

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Thanks for stopping by. I'll check out your article. It seems to me that as automation eliminates more jobs, basic income will continue to be an issue that has to be on the table.

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