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).
We have reason to support a universal basic income over a job guarantee even if we grant that most people would be happier when employed than when not. Two points are key: a UBI does not prevent individuals from working; a UBI, but not a JG, would benefit the minority of individuals who do fare better outside of traditional employment.
Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby, the authors of Only Humans Need Apply, favor a job guarantee (JB) over a universal basic income (UBI). In this first part of a three-part article, I review their main argument, and assess one their central claims: the supposition that joblessness causes people to be less happy (irrespective of income).