Cutting every citizen a monthly check, regardless of whether they work, is no longer as radical an idea as it once seemed. Some form of government-ensured universal basic income — or UBI, as it is more commonly known — is now embraced by some libertarians, futurists, and (of course) socialists. But that’s not to say UBI has grown uncontroversial. It has, however, grown more politically feasible, as the Overton window continues to widen.

To discuss UBI — it’s history, its track record, and its future — I was joined by Annie Lowrey, a contributing editor for The Atlantic magazine, a former economics writer for the New York Times, and author of the new book “Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World.”

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There are 5 comments.

  1. Coolidge

    It is a Trojan unicorn. I didn’t hear any compelling reasons to implement this, though I’m fine with the woman in Maine simply turning in her grades as “proof of attendance” rather than having a stupid sign in sheet. (Streamline and simplify programs that are useful. Discard programs that aren’t.). 

    • #1
    • August 13, 2018 at 7:19 am
    • 1 like
  2. Lincoln

    It doesn’t seem like we can afford our existing welfare programs which are theoretically targeted at helping people who need them, how could we possibly afford a universal basic income?

    • #2
    • August 13, 2018 at 1:29 pm
    • 2 likes
  3. Coolidge

    Joe D. (View Comment):

    It doesn’t seem like we can afford our existing welfare programs which are theoretically targeted at helping people who need them, how could we possibly afford a universal basic income?

    I got the impression that you get rid of all the other welfare programs, and that funds this. However, as the host pointed out, it’s politically difficult to do this. The “how flat is your flat tax” discussion was good.

    • #3
    • August 14, 2018 at 8:35 am
    • 1 like
  4. Lincoln

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Joe D. (View Comment):

    It doesn’t seem like we can afford our existing welfare programs which are theoretically targeted at helping people who need them, how could we possibly afford a universal basic income?

    I got the impression that you get rid of all the other welfare programs, and that funds this. However, as the host pointed out, it’s politically difficult to do this. The “how flat is your flat tax” discussion was good.

    Right, but the other programs should already be cheaper than a Universal Basic Income as they are already targeted at poorer people, so covering everyone would inherently be more expensive.

    • #4
    • August 14, 2018 at 9:07 am
    • 1 like
  5. Coolidge

    Joe D. (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Joe D. (View Comment):

    It doesn’t seem like we can afford our existing welfare programs which are theoretically targeted at helping people who need them, how could we possibly afford a universal basic income?

    I got the impression that you get rid of all the other welfare programs, and that funds this. However, as the host pointed out, it’s politically difficult to do this. The “how flat is your flat tax” discussion was good.

    Right, but the other programs should already be cheaper than a Universal Basic Income as they are already targeted at poorer people, so covering everyone would inherently be more expensive.

    Fair enough, but there was a “means testing” attribute that goes back to the “how flat is FLAT” discussion. Or… if everyone got a check, including Bill Gates, to keep the thing “universal,” then the government would simply raise a different tax on Gates that would cancel that check out for him.

    Seems nonsensical, but I think the whole thing sounds stupid, whatever libertarians preach. ;)

    • #5
    • August 14, 2018 at 2:55 pm
    • 1 like