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.
Edwin G. Dolan, “WHY SHOULD A LIBERTARIAN TAKE UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME SERIOUSLY?” Niskanen Center, February 6 2017.
Credit Picture CC khrawlings
Reviewed by Jenna van Draanen