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Article: Edwin G. Dolan on why libertarians should take Basic Income seriously

In his first piece for the Niskanen Centre, Edwin G. Dolan presents “three types” of libertarian who might be sympathetic to the idea of a universal basic income (UBI).

Dolan writes, a “UBI is a policy for pragmatic critics of well-intentioned but ineffective government, for classical liberals, and for advocates of personal freedom.”

For libertarian pragmatists, the issue with government – philosophical concerns aside – is that it so often does not get done what it sets out to get done. A UBI would dismantle today’s policies which diminish work incentives. With no benefit reductions, you would pay nothing but income tax which itself is low for those in poverty. UBI could also replace the benefits afforded to middle and upper class households. The result, for Dolan, would be no impact on the federal budget with a general streamlining of the system.

Secondly, Dolan argues classical liberals are more open to the legitimacy of the social safety net than we might imagine. For classical liberals the appeal of a UBI is its administrative efficiency. UBI administered as a universal demogrant is even superior, in the eyes of Dolan’s classical liberal, to Milton Friedman’s negative income tax.

Finally, the appeal for the lifestyle libertarian is the freedom to utilize the UBI as he or she sees fit. The UBI, for Dolan, stands in contrast the “nanny state mentality” of today’s policies, and offers a strong incentive for libertarians to ditch their rigid opposition to the redistribution of wealth.


Credit Picture CC khrawlings

Reviewed by Jenna van Draanen



About Cameron McLeod

Cameron McLeod has written 6 articles.

Vancouver and Victoria, BC Canada

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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