As we spend so much time debating who’s right about whether robots will take most of our jobs and whether there’ll be a need for a basic income, other arguments for such a policy get “crowded out” of the discussion.
The non-productive among us could be very busy writing poetry, composing music, playing it, or engaging in other pursuits. What makes one non-productive isn’t a lack of effort or initiative but the lack of a market for their goods or services.
Less work would result in more social isolation, as well as less purpose and meaning in people’s lives. However, many people don’t work for social connections — they work for money. And they may be able to find more connections, meaning, and purpose spending less time at work.
A major news outlet in India has claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi intends to introduce a universal basic income, inaccurately attributing the claim to an interview with BIEN cofounder Guy Standing. Standing has clarified that he never made such an assertion.
Experiments on basic income encourage asking whether the policy “works” — but whether a basic income “works” might not be the right question to ask. (Originally written for an editorial in USBIG Network NewsFlash.)
The Green Institute, an Australian non-profit organization devoted to education and action concerning green politics, has published a collection of essays on the ideas of universal basic income and a shorter working week (Can Less Work Be More Fair?, December 2016).