7 May 2020

Per Capita’s Emma Dawson [$] sounds a warning about Universal Basic Income: “[T]here’s a reason that the UBI has been championed by heroes of conservative and neoliberal politics such as Charles Murray and Milton Friedman: it’s an effective tool by which to reduce the size of government and increase people’s reliance on the market. Handing out unconditional cash from taxpayer funds gives great grist to the argument that government should stop delivering essential services and expect people to buy them from private providers. … Persuading the government to raise taxes, or even print money, to distribute to working people means that, no matter how badly you pay them, they can still afford to buy your stuff. Essentially, the UBI is just another measure to funnel the products of our national economy into the hands of those who control the means of production. It exacerbates the concentration of capital amongst those at the very top of our economic system.” One great advantage of the UBI is that it attracts widespread support (a survey published this week found 71% of Europeans agree “that EU member states should pay all citizens a basic income, regardless of their employment status”) but that is partly because it is still a nebulous concept. If progressives want a UBI it must be carefully designed and implemented in conjunction with UBS.