USA: David Simon, creator of ‘The Wire’, says that a “Guaranteed Income” would be a massive boon for the US economy
David Simon. Credit to: Flickr
During an interview with David Remnick on The New Yorker Radio Hour on the 29th of September, when asked about the nature of his politics given the content of his journalism and shows, Simon said that he was a “lefty” on “around 85% of the issues” citing a “guaranteed income” as an example of a policy he supported. He explained that, as far as he could see, “we’ve reached the death of work”, and “where we’re going as a society” in terms of “automation” means that we should be guaranteeing people some sort of income. Whilst it was not clear from the interview whether Simon was referring to a Universal Basic Income (UBI) or some form of Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI), he explained that direct cash transfers to the financially poor were economically viable since the “20 or 30 or 40 thousand dollars” people would receive would go “right back into the economy”. He also pointed out that former US president Richard Nixon initially supported a form of GMI in the 1970s, alluding to the fact that even those who weren’t traditionally seen as being in favour of governmental welfare based solutions to economic growth could be amenable to related mechanisms.
Simon’s thoughts are somewhat of a continuation of the ideas he expressed in a talk at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney in 2013. In a critical analysis of the prevailing iteration and implementation of capitalism, he lamented the idea that ‘profit’ was the metric through which we judged the health of both an economy and a society. Although he was unwavering in his support of capitalism as an economic model through which growth and progress occurs, he said that the use of it as a framework to assess the moral justness of people’s experience was mistaken and has led to ‘greed’ being considered as good. In order that we fulfill the notion of what he considers society to be – “that everybody feels as if, if the society succeeds, I succeed, I don’t get left behind” – he believes that “labour doesn’t get to win all its arguments, [and] capital doesn’t get to [either]”, but rather that “it’s in the tension, it’s in the actual fight between the two, that capitalism actually becomes functional”. In this regard, his advocacy of some sort of guaranteed payment policy chimes with other social commentators such as Peter Barnes, author of ‘With Liberty and Dividends for All: How to Save Our Middle Class When Jobs Don’t Pay Enough’, who see basic income as a social dividend rightfully distributed to everyone as a way of representing the fact that the majority of wealth is created together by society.
More information at:
David Remnick, ‘David Simon on the Rise of Pornography’, New York Public Radio, 29th September 2017
‘About Basic Income’, Basic Income Earth Network
Peter Barnes, ‘With Liberty and Dividends for All: How to Save Our Middle Class When Jobs Don’t Pay Enough’, Amazon Books, 30th August 2014