Basic Income

We live in a disruptive world: think technological change, trade, pandemics! We need an efficient way to handle disruption, not haphazard half-solutions. Basic income offers that way. If we had basic income now, Americans in need wouldn’t have to worry about when McConnell and Pelosi agree on stimulus packages. And we wouldn’t have needed to rush to give trillions of bailout money to airlines, Shake Shack, and other connected corporations.

Not all disruption is bad. The innovation of markets creates societal wealth. The fact that we grow food, build houses, make steel much more efficiently, and are replacing coal and oil and paper products make for a richer, cleaner world.

But even good disruption upends traditional jobs and careers and threatens people’s means of support. This will only get worse as technology accelerates. We need a way to help people through disruptions.

Our current support system is haphazard and wasteful. We have a huge bureaucracy administering (at least) 79 federal means-tested programs (at least).  How about instead of wasting money on bureaucrats, we just give the money to the people and allow them to decide how they want to spend it?

Giving money to people removes the argument for corporate welfare. When coal companies or farmers (actually multi-billion dollar agribusinesses) beg for money to “protect their workers”, we can point to basic income, and politely decline to give them handouts.

There several implementations of basic income. While I prefer Negative Income Tax (somewhat similar to the Earned Income Tax Credit), I am open to any solution, including UBI, provided it fulfills the goal of providing a robust safety net that we as a society can afford.

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