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Time For A Guaranteed Basic Income?

The case for and against a government -guaranteed basic income. It’s got traction from unexpected quarters. We’ll hear the debate.

A triptych of signs promoting different aspects of a universal basic income, or UBI, in an unidentified public space in the United Kingdom. (Flickr / Russell Shaw Higgs)

A triptych of signs promoting different aspects of a universal basic income, or UBI, in an unidentified public space in the United Kingdom. (Flickr / Russell Shaw Higgs)

What if every American was guaranteed, by the government, a minimum basic income? It sounds radical, unthinkable by many old measures. But a surprising span of supporters – left and right – is now saying “think again.” The new economy is so unpredictable that people need a floor to stand on. And a guaranteed income would be instead of a whole lot of existing welfare programs. This hour On Point, the surprising chorus of voices saying guarantee Americans a basic income.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Megan McArdle, economics, bussines and public policy columnist at Bloomberg View. Author of the book, “The Up Side of Down.” (@asymmetricinfo)

Karl Widerquist, professor of philosophy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network. Co-editor of “Basic Income.” Author of the book “Independence, Propertylessness and Basic Income.” (@karlwiderquist)

Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. (@veroderugy)

Albert Wenger, managing partner at Union Square Ventures. (@albertwenger)

From Tom’s Reading List

Bloomberg View: Four Reasons a Guaranteed Income Won’t Work — “Not a few libertarians have embraced the idea as an alternative to the welfare state. Get rid of all the unemployment insurance and just cut everyone a check once a month. There’s a lot to like about this: It has minimal overhead, because you don’t need to verify eligibility beyond citizenship, and it may reduce some of the terrible incentives that poor people face under the current system.”

Fast Company: A Universal Basic Income Is The Bipartisan Solution To Poverty We’ve Been Waiting For — “There’s a simple way to end poverty: the government just gives everyone enough money, so nobody is poor. No ifs, buts, conditions, or tests. Everyone gets the minimum they need to survive, even if they already have plenty.”

Continuations: Basic Income Update — “My own view on Basic Income has also evolved. I now see it firmly as an integral part of making the transition to an information society. In my talk about that transition at DLD in 2014, I already had the sense that something profound was happening but I didn’t have the right framework to really think about it. More recently this has become a lot clearer: we are facing another shift in scarcity, this time from capital to attention.”

 

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