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UNITED STATES: Jason Murphy talks about basic income on the David Pakman Show

On December 11, anti-poverty activist and scholar Jason Burke Murphy appeared on the popular David Pakman Show to discuss basic income and how to implement it in the United States. Murphy is assistant professor at Elms College. He serves on the National Committee of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network and the BIEN Executive Committee.

The conversation touched on the reasons for introducing a universal basic income, and the practicalities of implementing it.

Murphy traced the beginnings of his basic income activism back to his experience of working with low-income communities in Arkansas in the 1990s:

All the neighbourhoods where I was knocking doors, almost nobody had a plan that would do anything significant in that neighbourhood. The city wanted to raise taxes to build the sports arena. The federal government has weapons purchases. And every time a job program was announced, the jobs were not a significant improvement, or they just were not coming to the areas we were working in. So this seemed the only thing that would actually get to the people I was working with.

jasonmurphy

Jason Murphy, BIEN Executive Committee.

Murphy’s anti-poverty perspective shapes his views on how to implement a basic income. He noted that the bureaucracy faced by those wishing to access current welfare benefits like food stamps is extremely complex. This means that many people who are entitled to these benefits do not actually receive them. Basic income would overcome these problems, and would also eliminate the poverty trap; as it is an unconditional payment, people would not have to worry about losing their benefits when they find employment.

Murphy stressed that implementing a basic income does not necessarily entail the immediate and total phasing out of other benefits:

We could keep things like food stamps or some disability services, there is nothing barring us from doing that. But we ought to have something that unconditionally belongs to everybody.

According to him, basic income should not be part of a race to the bottom:

It needs to be progressively funded from progressive taxation. Why? We have a serious problem with inequality and I see nothing that directly approaches that like a progressively funded basic income dividend.

Murphy also stressed the need for ecological taxes as another source of financing for basic income, as this would ensure that wealth would be redistributed in an environmentally sustainable way.

Watch the full video below.

Vito Laterza

About Vito Laterza

Vito Laterza has written 16 articles.

Vito Laterza is a research fellow at the University of Cape Town and the editor of the Human Economy Blog. He is an anthropologist, labour expert and political analyst focusing on politics, economy and society in Africa and the West. He writes regularly for international media such as Foreign Affairs and Al Jazeera English.

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