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Magazine Australian Options features section on basic income

The Autumn 2017 issue of the left-wing political magazine Australian Options includes a special “viewpoints” section dedicated to basic income.

The issue can be read in full here.

The section on basic income consists of three short articles:

  1. “Basic income: An idea whose time has come?” by Troy Henderson (PhD Candidate in Political Economy at the University of Sydney)
  2. “Basic income: Political economic considerations” by Frank Stilwell (Professor Emeritus in Political Economy at the University of Sydney)
  3. “Basic income or job guarantee: What is to be done?” by Neale Towart (Unions New South Wales).

Henderson provides an overview of the idea of basic income, and then addresses four concerns facing its implementation in Australia: cost, cultural opposition to giving “handouts” to the poor and unemployed, lack of agreement between left-wing and right-wing proponents of basic income programs, and lack of mass social support.

Stilwell briefly articulates five political economic reasons in favor of basic income: sharing the nation’s abundant wealth, quelling anxiety about the future of work and technological unemployment, reducing inequality, simplifying the social safety net, and increasing individual freedom. He weighs these advantages against two main concerns: “could the nation afford to pay a BI?” and “would a BI have a big cost in terms of national output because people might decide not to work?” Stilwell offers tentative support for basic income, but only if combined with a strengthening of public health services, education, housing, transportation, and utilities.

Towart argues in favor of a job guarantee as a way to harness the potential of automation to free people from unfulfilling toil while ensuring well-paid employment in “work that we need done to create a fairer, sustainable society.” He raises concerns that a basic income would act as a subsidy for low wages and fail to empower workers to the extent of a well-designed job guarantee.


Reviewed by Russell Ingram

Photo (Lake Clifton, Western Australia) CC BY NC-ND 2.0 inefekt69

Kate McFarland

About Kate McFarland

Kate McFarland has written 484 articles.

Kate has previously made a living as a professional student, with her most recent academic interests including philosophy of language and pragmatics, and is now a freelance writer, editor, and researcher. She received a grant from the Economic Security Project to work for Basic Income News in 2017.

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