Why a universal basic income may not be the silver bullet

In Uncategorized on 03/01/2017 at 6:30 am

Or the stake in the heart of populism* or fascism that liberal elites think will appease the mob.

The liberal chattering classes are peddling the idea of a citizen’s wage or universal basic income (an interesting economic idea to deal with the coming displacement of humans by robots in many jobs and professions**) as a means of fighting back against what they consider as the rise of fascism or populism. They conflate the two either out of stupidity or out of duplicity (Out trumping Trump).

A universal basic income

means everybody gets a basic wage, whether they are working or not. President Obama*** is evidently attracted to the idea. So is Labour’s John McDonnell***.

The BBC’s Mark Madell raises several interesting points on why this approach may fail:

This may go against the spirit of the age. The voters’ anger with their economic circumstance is frequently tangled up with the complaint that the elite are mollycoddling the undeserving, whether domestic scroungers or immigrant workers.

A plan to dramatically increase welfare provisions to all-and-sundry, from feckless billionaires to the work-shy underclass, might not prove politically popular.

Nor is there any real sign that life on “basic” would be any more satisfying, ennobling or less divisive than life on the dole. It seems there are no easy or obvious solutions to either the revolt of the Rust Belt or the coming rise of the robots.

Michael J Sandel who teaches political philosophy at Harvard University puts it this way

  1. Your piece and some of the reference comments about the UBI are missing a crucial point – the UBI is not a total gimme and is not restricted to the huddled masses. Everybody gets the UBI including the fatcats. It is also meant to replace most if not all social transfers and benefits from the state…… whether voters are happy with it is unknown. Revisit this point about the voters once sufficient middle class voters drops into the low income bracket.

    • Ya I forgot that it’ll replace every other state payment. But somehow I don’t think that will ever happen, juz like I don’t think the 1% will get it. Idea will need a lot of work and taz why I’m annoyed that it’s being peddled as a magic bullet.

      • UBI is very difficult to implement in Singapore politically. It requires a vast expansion in government expenditures because most of the UBI expenditure will be additional spending, not as in the case of Europe in particular, a partial or full replacement of current social spending.

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