The California Research Bureau hosted a panel on March 23, 2017 regarding current issues facing the state of California, and one of the topics that arose was Universal Basic Income.
The panel, hosted by Anne Neville and featuring three experts — Nicholas Davis; Rachel Hatch; Irena Asmundson — focused on various topics of inequality facing Americans in the state of California. From housing, to health care, to inequality itself, many of the themes focused on how to reshape and adjust society for the wellbeing of its citizens. At one point during the panel, the topic of Universal Basic Income arose, and all three experts took time to explain their views on it during a roundtable discussion.
Nicholas Davis, who was the most connected to the concept of a basic income, spoke in favor of it. Davis argues there are three reasons why a discussion on UBI is essential: the first is about creating security for people in current social climates of instability and insecurity; the second reason focuses on empowering personal freedom, to escape the issues of governmental paternalism; and the final point addresses social justice, which focuses on inclusiveness so that the gains of technology are shared with all instead of a few.
Irena Asmundson then took the response to Davis’ remarks, talking about the economic cost to introducing a UBI. The representatives main point regarding affordability for a UBI in California in terms of taxation would be that the state would need to obtain four times the amount of money it currently does from citizens. However, the largest form of aversion Asmundson expressed was on America’s failings to introduce affordable housing and health care to its citizens, and that these issues need to be solved before a UBI can be considered feasible. In her view, she believed the failure at addressing baseline needs like housing and health care to be far more crucial than assuring a minimum floor, which in comparison UBI may seem more nuanced and not direct at addressing those issues.
Finally, Rachel Hatch expanded upon Asmundson’s position on inequality, and worried that a UBI may not deal with the issue of wealth inequality. Hatch believes a basic income may assure people a minimum financial base, but that it will do very little to address systemic inequality, where just eight men own as much wealth as the bottom half of the human species.
Watch the alluded conversation below.