Nathan Heller writes about Citizen’s Basic Income in the New Yorker

An article by Nathan Heller in the New Yorker, ‘Who really stands to win from Universal Basic Income?‘:

… People generally have a visceral reaction to the idea of a universal basic income. For many, a government check to boost good times or to guard against starvation in bad ones seems like an obviously humane measure. Others find such payments monstrous, a model of waste and unearned rewards. In principle, a government fixes the basic income at a level to allow subsistence but also to encourage enterprise and effort for the enjoyment of more prosperity. In the U.S., its supporters generally propose a figure somewhere around a thousand dollars a month: enough to live on—somewhere in America, at least—but not nearly enough to live on well. …

An interesting aspect of this article is its discussion of the Speenhamland experiment in the eighteenth century. It is unfortunate that the article does not distinguish between the Minimum Income Guarantee schemes that it discusses, such as Speenhamland and a variety of US proposals, and Basic Income – a Minimum Income Guarantee tops up incomes to specified levels, whereas a Basic Income is an unconditional and equal payment to every individual of the same age – but what it does useful achieve is a balanced assessment of the Speenhamland experiment. In particular, it shows that it was not the employment disincentive disaster that some people at the time thought it was. q

 

 

 

 

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