A Universal Basic Income – Notes on Recent Press

As a brief aside while writing up my version of a Universal Basic Income for the United States, I wanted to point to some recent press to show I’m not the only one following such things.

A semi-recent Planet Money podcast pointed out the idea of a negative income tax was proposed by not-so-liberal economist Milton Friedman way back in the 70s. I’ll go into the negative income tax and why I generally prefer a monthly paycheck system instead in an “problems, issues, and questions” article later on.

The Washington Post dares to daydream about such an idea in a Wonkblog post. Not a bad introduction, other than using the Utopian to describe the idea, since it’s eminently practical.

The BIG version of a UBI is proposed here, along with a response from an economics blogger here. If I read this correctly, the argument for their BIG seems to be that a UBI is necessary due to increased productivity rendering the idea of working moot. I don’t agree. While automation and technological advancements have increased productivity greatly, there are still many, many jobs that only humans can do. Those jobs might require more training and education, but hey, we’ve got all that extra free time from increased productivity, right?

A second post from the same blogger goes into more details against this particular BIG implementation of a UBI. Some criticisms aren’t applicable to our UBI, such as the cost, since we’re changing no costs in our version. The idea of an employer of last resort (ELR), however, is something worth thinking about in a future post.

It’s good to get people talking about this great idea. I hope my version contributes something to the discussion as well. Especially if that something is the realization that individual government handouts are already comparable in cost to a UBI, and can be easily converted into a pure form with far greater individual and societal benefits.

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