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Matt Bruenig on “passive income”: viral article and video interview

Attorney and writer Matt Bruenig has published frequently about universal basic income within the past several years.

One of his most recent articles on the topic went viral after it was published on the blog site Medium and in the American left-wing journal Jacobin. In this article, Bruenig contends that, far from being an outlandish notion, passive income — that is, income not derived from work — already exists in capitalist societies: capital income earned by the wealthy is an example.

[C]apitalist societies already dedicate a large portion of their economic outputs to paying out money to people who have not worked for it. The UBI does not invent passive income. It merely doles it out evenly to everyone in society, rather than in very concentrated amounts to the richest people in society.

Moreover, Bruenig notes that we do not worry that the rich will experience “meaninglessness, social dysfunction, and resentment” due to receiving money without working for it.

Bruenig later appeared on The Benjamin Dixon Show, a progressive talk radio show, to discuss the article. In a 23-minute video interview, Bruenig addresses questions about what rebuttals others have given in response to his claims about capital investment and what the feedback he has received reveals about hurdles to the implementation of UBI. He additionally describes how UBI would promote entrepreneurship and stresses the strategic importance of connecting UBI to the notion of a sovereign wealth fund (the idea being that all people have shares in the nation’s collective assets).



Read the article:

Matt Bruenig, “The Rich Already Have a UBI,” Jacobin, January 2, 2017.

Reviewed by Cameron McLeod

Photo: Wall Street Bull, CC BY-NC 2.0 Thomas Hawk

About Kate McFarland

Kate McFarland has written 512 articles.

Former lead writer and editor of Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

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