Sir Christopher Pissarides, a Nobel prize-winning economist and the Regius professor at London School of Economics, expressed his support for a universal basic income, at one of the debate sessions of the World Economic Forum at Davos, on 20th January 2016.
Professor Pissarides said:
The pie is growing bigger, there is no guarantee that everyone will benefit if we leave the market alone. In fact, if anything, we think that not everyone will benefit if we leave the market alone. So we need to develop a new system of redistributions, new policies that will redistribute inevitably from those that the market would have rewarded in favour of those that the market would have left behind. Now, having a universal minimum income is one of those ways, in fact, it is one I am very much in favour of, as long as we know how to apply it without taking away incentive to work at the lower end of the market.
[Transcribed by Toru Yamamori from the video. Any inaccuracy belongs to him.]
The session ‘A World Without Work’ was held in partnership with NHK, the Japanese national broadcasting agency. In addition to Pissarides, participants included:
- Erik Brynjolfsson, Director, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, MIT – Sloan School of Management, USA
- Yoshiaki Fujimori, President and Chief Executive Officer, LIXIL Group, Japan
- Dileep George, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Vicarious, USA
- Troels Lund Poulsen, Minister for Business and Growth of Denmark
The session was moderated by Hiroko Kuniya, an anchor for NHK and other speakers also discussed basic income. You can watch the highlights form the panel here:
The full session can be viewed online:
“World Economic Forum Annual Meeting: A World Without Work?” World Economic Forum. 20 January 2016.
“Davos 2016 – A World Without Work?” YouTube, 20 January 2016.
There are so much better things to say about basic income. It was kind of a disappointment. They made it sound like socialism and welfare for the future Jetsons. It is better than the minimum wage. It would create jobs and make good jobs easier to find. It would be Keynesian in that it would more evenly distribute money in the economy, avoiding gentrification and softening the blow of boom/bust cycles, better than Social Security. And if it is the right range, like $800-1200/month, it is enough to survive on but would still encourage someone to look for work to improve their situation without having to work a 60+ hour work week which was has become very common, with the other more common part-time job. There would be no need for unions and minimum wage. Workers would have more bargaining power. It would be justice for all the systemic injustice of our economic system, such as agrarian, banking and monetary, and corporate welfare. Furthermore, as jobs do become more and more automated, there would be room for more service industries and make the arts a possible career choice to raise a family. And it would be one program that would actually help the working lower and middle classes who are struggling to make ends meet, not just the corporate and banking welfare queens.. An important side note is that big banks would favor the program since they can earn transactions fee far exceeding the $6-7B Chase Bank currently makes on the food stamp program. It also means more disposable income to purchase products and services from businesses. Unlike minimum wage, it would improve everyone’s condition and create a diverse range jobs rather than destroy them.
Important to note that if minimum wage laws are reduced and replaced with basic income, it would help make a nation more competitive with cheap foreign labor. It would also help revive communities and would inject money supply in all communities.
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