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The Growing Precariat: Why We Need a Universal Basic Income


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The politics of time must include measures to enable people to feel more in control of their time, which means they must feel less insecure. 

Chronically insecure people easily become irrational. This is why the politics of time should include moves toward a society in which everybody, in principle, should have a universal basic income as a right. This means every man, woman and child should have a modest monthly basic income, without imposing arbitrary behavioral conditions and not being dependent on marital, sexual or work status.

It is affordable, especially in a society in which billions of dollars are spent on giving affluent folk subsidies for which they have done nothing. There should be a bonfire of such subsidies; they distort market mechanisms, promote inefficiency, and are regressive.

A basic income would help people be more rational, more long-term in their outlook, and more prepared to take entrepreneurial risk. 

It would not reduce labor supply. This was shown by our pilots in India, in which we were able to provide over 6,000 men, women and children with a basic income for 18 months and monitor what happened by comparison with a larger number not provided with one, through a randomized control trial. It has also been shown in experiments in the US, Canada and several European countries.

Top Reddit comment:

In the US, per capita government spending is around $19,000 for federal, state and local government.

In theory, that would be enough money to provide a basic income for all but we can't just shut down government and give everyone a check. 

Most of that money is spent on public goods like health care, education, defense, cops, prisons, interest payments on debt, etc. and can't just be reallocated.

  • Pensions $3,880.90
  • Health Care $4,221.50
  • Education $2,872.00
  • Defense $2,538.60
  • Welfare $1,414.10
  • Protection $847.7
  • Transportation $862.7
  • General Government $473.8
  • Other Spending $1,234.70
  • Interest $1,040.40
  • Total Spending $19,386.40

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