“Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity”, by Simon Johnson & Daron Acemoglu (two well-known MIT economists), is critiqued by BIEN member Geoff Crocker who argues that this book, just published in May 2023, presents a selective narrative, unsupported assertions, and wrong assertions about basic income. This opinion is contrary to extensive praise of the book, that you can read about here.

With regard to basic income, Crocker writes “The superficiality of their argument is particularly evidenced in their dismissal of universal basic income (p416-417) which they regard as ‘defeatist’ and ‘fanciful’, arguing instead for conditional targeted benefits and creation of new work opportunities from technology. They make no reference to the literature on UBI, to the huge deficiencies of conditionality creating unemployment and poverty traps as well as intrusion, humiliation, and low take-up rates. Working hours per week have reduced consistently over many decades and are set to continue to fall. In-work poverty and rising household debt show that work and wages are insufficient for household income. Technological automation is sucking income out of the economy and increased non-labour income is required, the best proposal being UBI.”

Read the full review here.