Who Makes Policy Campaign 2016 Edition

The Basic Income Guarantee

I know that this is another post not about Russia, but it is one that is near and dear to my heart: The Basic Income Guarantee. Before I get into a Vox article, I read this morning I want to invite you to read a great piece on libertarianism.org (a Cato brand) “The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income.”

The basic income has come in many flavors, from Milton Freedman’s “negative income tax” to the so-calledĀ “citizen’s dividend.” It is an idea that creeps up every once and a while, and while it reeks of socialism, there are many libertarians who defend the idea (though they come to that defense in a way that might make some liberals cringe).

In fact, there is a “basic income guarantee” program that is alive and well in America today: The Alaska PermanentĀ Fund Dividend. It works in Alaska because they have partially socialized oil extraction (not lost is the irony that Sara Palin was their governor).

While, from a moral and ideological standpoint, I agree with the concept of a basic income I also realized that in America the idea of giving people something for nothing is antithetical to our national Puritan work ethic. Politically I do not see how we can achieve something like this.

But we may not have a choice in the near future.

I was reading this piece on Vox this morning, and it hit me, probably because the author made the point quite well, that as we move to a world of autonomous cars and trucks where will people labor. Labor is, in fact, being replaced by capital and as capital can increasingly do the work of labor many will find themselves on the proverbial bread lines.

The Vox piece puts this issue front and center in my mind. While libertarian conceptions of markets make a lot of sense I have to wonder if these conceptions work in the technological age. If we no longer need truck drivers and waiters and cooks and janitors and drivers and train crew and… then what will all those people do? Can we change the minds of people as to what work is in a world where there is an increasingly small number of traditional jobs?

Author: Jonathan Gibson


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