Saturday, May 19, 2018
Scott Alexander on basic income vs.a guaranteed job
Recently, a number of Democratic politicians have been talking about a government program to guarantee that everyone will have a job.
At the Slate Star Codex blog, Scott Alexander discusses a basic income guarantee vs. a jobs guarantee, and argues that basic income seems to be a much better idea. It's a long post, and you should read all of it, but here is just a little bit:
I have a friend who was stuck on a dead-end career path. His job paid a decent amount, he just didn’t really like where it was going. So he saved up enough money to live on for a year, spent a year teaching himself coding, applied to a programming job, got it, and felt a lot more comfortable with his financial situation.
And I had a patient in a similar situation. Hated her job, really wanted to leave it, didn’t have enough skills to get anything else. So she went to night school, and – she found she couldn’t do it. After working 8 to 6 every day, her ability to go straight from a long day’s work to a long night’s studying just wasn’t in the cards. And her income didn’t give her the same opportunity to save up some money and take a year off. So she gave up and she still works at the job she hates. The end.
Basic income would give everyone who wants to work the same opportunity as my friend – the ability to take a year off, cultivate yourself, learn stuff, go to school, build your resume – without it being a financial disaster.
Basic jobs would leave everyone in the same position as my patient – forced to work 40+ hours a week, commute however many hours a week, good luck finding time to earn yourself a ticket out of that lifestyle while still staying sane.
I think Scott makes a pretty good case.