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Scott Santens, “Why we should all have a basic income”

The World Economic Forum has published an article on unconditional basic income (UBI) by prominent advocate Scott Santens as part of its 2017 Annual Meeting, commonly referred to by its location, Davos.

Santens’ article explains the concept of UBI for newcomers and tackles common reservations and misconceptions. Responding, for instance, to those who argue that it is wasteful to provide a UBI to those who don’t need it, only to recoup this amount in taxes (as prominent economist Thomas Piketty does in a recent blog post), Santens draws an analogy with seat belts. He claims that, while it could be said to be similarly wasteful to install seat belts in the cars of drivers who never crash, “we recognize the absurd costs of determining who would and wouldn’t need seat belts, and the immeasurable costs of being wrong. We also recognize that accidents don’t only happen to ‘bad’ drivers. They can happen to anyone, at any time, purely due to random chance. As a result, seat belts for everyone.

Beyond defending UBI against such practical critiques, Santens encourages imaginative thinking about its far-reaching implications, outlining some aspects of its transformative potential: “UBI has the potential to better match workers to jobs, dramatically increase engagement, and even transform jobs themselves through the power UBI provides to refuse them.

The World Economic Forum is a nonprofit foundation, “committed to improving the state of the world” through public-private cooperation. Its flagship annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, recently included a panel on basic income, featuring Guy Standing, cofounder of BIEN.

Read the full article here:

Scott Santens, “Why we should all have a basic income“, World Economic Forum, January 15, 2017.

Reviewed by Dave Clegg

Photo: Davos, Switzerland, CC BY 2.0 TravelingOtter

About Genevieve Shanahan

Genevieve Shanahan has written 20 articles.

Genevieve is a graduate of University College London, with an MPhil in philosophy. She currently works at the Grenoble Ecole de Management, assisting with research on young people and work in Europe, and otherwise reads and writes about basic income.

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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