Covering the philosophy of freedom, an explanation of universal basic income and the economics behind it, Karl Widerquist, vice-chair (at the time of the interview he still was co-chair) of Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), was interviewed by Sam Barton from Talk of Today in Australia.

During the interview, Widerquist talks about what it means to be a fully free person and argues people should regain their freedom from forced labour. “If you are a free person, you can choose to be given and follow orders for 40 hours a week, but you can also choose not to,” Widerquist states. Many people can only survive by paying for resources that are owned by others, and according to Widerquist, people should be “compensated financially for that so they don’t have to work for others if they don’t want to.” As most people can choose their employer, the labour force cannot be compared with slavery, but “to say you are fully free, you have to be free from oppression”, and many people are not, Widerquist argues.

Widerquist explains a Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a means to create a market economy where income doesn’t start at zero and where you can get a higher income from a job on top of that. Some wages will rise as a result of UBI according to Wilderquist. But at the moment, “there are so many people that need their jobs to survive that employers put the wages down.”

UBI can replace a lot of programs that don’t work so well. It will have to be high enough to meet people’s basic needs, but people with special needs, such as paraplegics, will have to get some additional support, as they will need more to meet their basic needs. Other things, such as campaign contributions, can be cancelled in order to finance UBI according to Wilderquist.

Whether or not UBI will cause inflation depends on the balance between taxing and spending, which is a task of the government, with or without UBI.


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Special thanks to Josh Martin and Dawn Howard for reviewing this article