Social Experiments 101: A Short Primer for UBI Observers

Social Experiments 101: A Short Primer for UBI Observers

In principle, I’m a UBI supporter and have been for about 20 years. I qualify my support by saying “in principle” in order to signal that I recognize there are questions surrounding how such a plan would work in practice. At least some of them will need some pretty clear answers before we should take the plunge and implement the plan. And it may be that if we can’t answer some key questions, such as how to finance a UBI in a way that wouldn’t make currently low-income people worse off, we shouldn’t implement a UBI at all. As someone who supports UBI and who’s read most of Widerquist’s book, I’m worried about some of the commentary I’ve seen on the recently released findings from Finland’s basic income experiment.

For the full article, please visit the USBIG Blog.

Basic Income and the something for nothing objection

Basic Income and the something for nothing objection

Michael A. Lewis

Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College


One of the main criticisms of basic income is that if the government gave us money we did not have to sell our labor for, we would work less. Perhaps not all of us would reduce our labor supply but enough of us would render the policy unsustainable for example, if you are in a lawsuit you won’t be able to sustain your financial status since you would be struggling, therefore lawsuit loans would be able to help you and prevent you from drowning under financial stress. This is an important criticism and much of the basic income debate is centered around it. What I want to do in this post, however, is address another related criticism. I will call it the “something for nothing” (SFN) objection to basic income.

The SFN objection goes something like this. Even if giving people money they didn’t have to work for didn’t result in a significant decrease in labor supply, we still shouldn’t enact such a policy. The reason is that it’s simply wrong to give able-bodied people money without requiring something in return. I realize there’re those who’d object to the word “nothing” in the SFN objection. Many who received a basic income would work part-time, go to school, take care of others, or engage in a host of other activities we might not think should be characterized as nothing. Although I agree with this sentiment, for the sake of this post I’ll put it to one side. That’s because I want to address the SFN objection head on and believe the best way to do so is by conceding, for the sake of argument, that recipients of a basic income would do nothing.

The wrongness of giving people something for nothing is often couched in paternalistic terms. Here’s an example from economist Isabel V. Sawhill:

“Liberals have been less willing to openly acknowledge that a little paternalism in social policy may not be such a bad thing. In fact, progressives and libertarians alike are loath to admit that many of the poor and jobless are lacking more than just cash…. A humane and wealthy society should provide the disadvantaged with adequate services and support. But there is nothing wrong with making assistance conditional on individuals fulfilling some obligation whether it is work, training, getting treatment, or living in a supportive but supervised environment.”


But, as pointed out by economist Guy Standing in his book Basic Income: A Guide for the Open-Minded, many seem perfectly fine with people receiving something for nothing under other circumstances.

Take the cases of inheritance and gifts. Wealthy parents, grandparents, etc. are allowed, upon their deaths, to transfer vast sums of money or wealth to their heirs. And while alive, they’re able to make such transfers as gifts. Yet recipients of such bequests and gifts are under no obligation to work, receive training or treatment, or live in supportive environments. It’s rare to hear basic income opponents criticize this form of something for nothing. There’re several possible reasons for this absence.

Perhaps basic income critics opposed to such transfers among the wealthy do not say much about them because they are thought to be beyond the reach of public policy. That is, perhaps these critics believe it’s wrong for the kids, grandkids, etc. of the wealthy to receive something for nothing but feel such immorality must be tolerated because there isn’t much public policy can do to stop it. But this underestimates the reach of public policy, at least from a technical point of view.

Bequests and gifts are regulated by estate and gift taxes. So, technically, we could change tax laws to make it very difficult or impossible to transfer money or wealth to one’s descendants or heirs. Alternatively, we could allow such transfers to take place but require recipients of them to provide evidence that they’re working, or receiving job training, or in school, or have graduated from school, are receiving drug treatment if necessary, etc. To my knowledge, we currently do none of these things.

Another reason for lack of criticism of SFN transfers among the wealthy might be the view that we shouldn’t tell wealthy people what to do with their money and assets. If they want to leave a million dollars or a couple of homes to their kids, who are we to tell them not to? This raises a complicated economic and moral question: how much of the money and wealth we possess is ours? This may seem like a strange question to ask because the answer seems so obvious: all the money and wealth we possess is ours. But now consider the following autobiographical story.

I am currently a professor at a public university in New York City. I worked very hard to get where I am, having spent almost 25 years in school, culminating in a PhD. I’m not exactly wealthy but neither am I poor. I’m currently living, as many say, “comfortably,” as a result of making a “decent” salary. And I own (well co-own with a spouse) a home. Now here’s a question: what supports did I require to get to this point?

First, I was raised within a family. People don’t get to become professors, or anything else for that matter, without being socialized by a caring family of some kind, whether biological or not. Second, I spent 13 years in K-12 educational institutions. I, of course, did not teach myself but was taught to be a dedicated teacher. This continued throughout college and graduate school. Third, not only was I taught by teachers, but I took part in a number of group study sessions. This resulted in me learning a great deal from my classmates, as well as from teachers. Fourth, the things I learned were, in most cases, neither invented/discovered by my teachers nor my classmates. None of my teachers or classmates were Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Emile Durkeim, Adam Smith, Marie Curie, Shirley Ann Jackson, Rosalind Franklin, Ada Lovelace, etc. That is, a host of people no longer with us played an indirect role in helping me get to where I am today.

I could go on but suspect I’ve made my point: any income or wealth I currently possess is not an individual accomplishment. On the contrary, it is a collective one in which many others, dead and alive, played a role. And it’s very difficult to quantify how much of what I have now is due to what I did and how much a result of what others did. That is because what I have been able to do is so intertwined with what others helped make it possible for me to do. This doesn’t just apply to me; it applies to all of us, no matter how wealthy or successful.

To be clear, I am not saying people should have no say in how they allocate the money or wealth they possess. Perhaps they should have more say in deciding this than anyone else. That is, the point of my autobiography was not to support the assertion that the government can just confiscate people’s money/wealth for whatever purposes it sees fit. But it was intended to support the conclusion that government may have more of a claim on “our money” than many of us typically think. That is because government plays a big role in creating the legal/cultural environment which allows for the various collective accomplishments I spoke of earlier. It helps to define and enforce property rights, “nurtures” markets, and helps to curtail acts of violence and aggression, acts which could be quite destabilizing for any socioeconomic system. Thus, basic income opponents who worry about something for nothing transfers among the wealthy may have more room to maneuver than they think.

A third possible reason for reticence when it comes to criticizing SFN transfers among the wealthy may be their voluntary nature. When wealthy folks make transfers to heirs, this is something they’ve chosen to do. Current social welfare benefits (and this is likely to be true of any enacted basic income) are financed by taxes. If people do not pay taxes, they can be fined, jailed, or both. That is, social welfare SFN transfers are involuntarily financed. Perhaps this gives taxpayers the right to demand something in return from social welfare beneficiaries, a right they do not have when it comes heirs of the wealthy.

This is a fair point. But I think it implicitly takes us back to the question of whose money and assets wealthy people are transferring to their heirs. That is, implicit in the voluntary transfers argument is the notion that wealthy people can transfer any money or assets they want to their heirs because it’s their money and assets to do with what they please. But if what I said earlier about how achievements are collective, as well as individual, achievements facilitated in part by the government, perhaps the rest of us do have some say in what children of the privileged have to do in return for gifts and bequests from their rich friends and relatives.

There’s another point to raise about this voluntary transfers argument. The U.S. federal government currently has in place a number of tax expenditures. These are policies where the government allows people to reduce their taxable incomes or, in some cases, their actual tax bills. Those which allow people to reduce their taxable incomes are called deductions. Those which allow taxpayers to reduce their tax bills, that is, the amounts they owe in taxes, are called tax credits. I can make the point I want to make here by focusing on deductions, one in particular.

Under certain conditions, people who borrow money to buy a house can deduct the interest they pay on the loan used to finance that purchase. That is, when it comes to calculating their income which is subject to taxation, taxpayers in this situation can subtract the amounts they paid in interest before determining their taxable incomes. This could put them in a lower tax bracket and cost the government, that is, taxpayers lots of money in forgone revenue. The policy is arguably a kind of housing subsidy. Yet people do not have to work, take part in job training, prove they are staying off drugs, etc. to receive it. That is, this looks a lot like a “subsidy for nothing” policy. Why allow this one, as well as others like it, but not a basic income?

For the sake of discussion, let us put aside some of the things I have been saying in the past few paragraphs. That is, let’s assume any money or wealth people have is solely theirs to do whatever they please, and government has no claim whatsoever on these resources. Where does that leave us? Well it might leave us in the following situation.

The wealthy could continue transferring something for nothing to their kids because we would have no right to shape public policy to stop it. We could, by enacting a basic income, create a more equal playing field by allowing all of us the opportunity for a similar transfer. Yet if we could not tax people (wealthy or not) who did not want to be taxed, we might not be able to obtain enough revenue to enact a basic income. In fact, we might even be able to obtain enough revenue to enact the kind of conditional system Sawhill advocates. That is, if people had the right to decide what they wanted to do with their money/wealth and government had no claim on these resources, we might not be able to finance a social welfare system at all. That’s because folks might not want any of their money and wealth taken to finance such a system. So, the something for nothing objection to basic income, if taken seriously, could lead to the “free market Libertarian’s” first-best paradise. I wonder if something for nothing objectors to basic income have thought about this possibility.


Acknowledgements: I’d like to thank Michael D. Tanner and Eri Noguchi for their helpful comments on this piece. In contrast to what I said in the essay about accomplishments, I take full responsibility for any errors that remain.




Economic Security for All: Questions about Chris Hughes’ Guaranteed Income Proposal

Economic Security for All: Questions about Chris Hughes’ Guaranteed Income Proposal

Facebook and Economic Security Project (ESP) co-founder, Chris Hughes has a new book out. Called Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn, the book is part memoir, part policy proposal. The memoir chronicles Hughes’ childhood growing up in a North Carolina working class family, his school days, including four years at Harvard, his co-founding of Facebook, his failure as owner of the New Republic, and his efforts trying to figure out how best to give away his new-found fortune. The things Hughes learned during this thirty-year journey led to the policy proposal part of the book.

Hughes advocates what he calls a guaranteed income (GI) and is clear about how his proposal differs from a universal basic income (UBI). A UBI would periodically provide everyone with a certain amount of money without any means-test or work requirement. Hughes’ guaranteed income proposal has two provisions which distinguish it from a UBI: it is means-tested and it does have a work requirement. His idea is that we should provide every adult living in a household with an income of less than $50,000 a year a guaranteed income of $500 per month. So if Tara and Willow were a couple with a household income of $45,000 per year, each would each receive $500 per month. Thus, each would end up with $6,000 per year or $12,000 per year for the two of them. If Buffy and Angel had a household income of $60,000 per year, they would be ineligible for the program.

One reason Hughes is so interested in distinguishing his proposal from UBI is that he believes UBI has become too associated with automation. That is, the most frequently heard argument for UBI is that as robots and automation destroy jobs, we will need to reorganize society so people will be able to get their needs meet without having to sell their labor. Hughes rightly points out that there is a fair degree of debate about the extent to which jobs will be destroyed and, therefore, the extent to which concern about automation is a compelling enough reason to advocate UBI. Hughes also rightly reminds us that whether or not automation will destroy all, most, or whatever number of jobs; the job market is already unstable enough for there to be a need now for a policy that promotes economic security. And he believes his GI proposal is that policy.

As an “old timer” in the basic income “movement” I feel obligated to point out that UBI was discussed long before folks in Silicon Valley were paying attention. And many of those discussions had little to do with robots or automation. Thus a name change, from UBI to GI, is not necessary to suggest there may be reasons to support UBI other than worries about robots taking our jobs. But here we get to the crux of the matter: Hughes’ proposal does not appear to be just a name change but a different policy altogether. As I said above, GI would not be universal and would not be granted to those who are not working. The means–tested nature of GI is clear: those in households with incomes under $50,000 per year would get it, while those in households with higher incomes would not. I’m not a fan of this aspect of Hughes’ proposal, but, for the purposes of this essay, I’m going to set this aside. The work conditioned nature of Hughes’ proposal is less clear. This is what I want to focus on in the rest of the essay.

Even though Hughes’ GI would require people to work in order to receive it, however it does not have to be wage-work. That is, Hughes is willing to expand the definition of “work” to include care work, such as uncompensated child and elder care, as well as studying for a formal degree or training programs. So someone caring for their child or studying for a B.A. would be considered a worker and, therefore, eligible for the benefit, as long as their income was under $50,000 per year.

Hughes places such emphasis on work because he believes it is good for us; he tells us that it makes us, “happier, healthier, and more fulfilled” (p. 103).

As I was reading this discussion of the problems faced by the unemployed, I found myself wondering how much stem from an inability to find something fulfilling to do and how much from stigma. I do not think it is unfair to say that our society denigrates people whom we think can work but choose not to.

But let’s say Hughes is right and people do feel more fulfilled if they engage in wage work. Let’s say that engaging in wage work makes us less prone to depression, irritability, and insomnia. Going to college or caring for one’s kids is not wage work. So what do studies showing we are less prone to psychological and physical problems when we engage in wage work have to do with the kinds of non-wage work Hughes wants to compensate with his GI? I suspect it’s fulfilling, at least some of the time, to take care of one’s kids or to attend college. Is this why care takers and students, along with wage workers, should be compensated with a GI? But if something being fulfilling is sufficient to warrant compensation, why stop at wage work, care work, or going to school? People do all kinds of things, besides these three, they find fulfilling. Why not give them a GI too?

On page 92 of his book, Hughes says that, “everyone who contributes to their community” should receive a GI. It seems that engaging in something fulfilling is not what warrants receipt of a GI — making some social contribution does. This raises the question of whether being a wage worker, care taker, or student are the only ways to contribute to one’s community. Hughes’ answer seems to be “no.” On page 112, he argues for a more expansive definition of “work” which would include not just wage work, care work, and studying but also community service, religious service, and artistic work.

Here I found myself wondering how far Hughes is willing to go. That is, how expansive a definition of “work” does he want? The more expansive his definition becomes, the more fuzzy the distinction between GI and UBI (the unconditional part) becomes. To see what I’m getting at consider the following example.

In downtown Manhattan, there’s a famous, at least among many basketball lovers, outdoor basketball court on 4th Street and 6th Avenue. Basketball, in a sense, is a very communal game. A person may shoot jump shots all by themselves. But to play a full-court pick-up game requires ten people. So if someone decides to play, even for the “selfish” reason that they get fulfillment from it, they benefit the other nine players as well, simply by making the game possible. Now the folks who play at this Manhattan court are quite good. Many of us who’ve seen games at this court think it’s some of the best pick-up basketball we have ever witnessed. In fact, the quality of games at this court is so high, that large crowds of people usually gather just to watch the action. Presumably, these spectators get a great deal of enjoyment from watching these folks try to get the “ball in the hole.” Now here’s the question: are the players at this court, simply by playing, making a social contribution? They are not doing wage work, care work, art work, or religious service. Are they doing community work? If Hughes’ GI were enacted and all these players were from households with incomes of less than $50,000 per year, should they receive it?

Another way to get at the question above is this: under an expanded definition of work what would not qualify as work? If it turned out that anything done during one’s waking hours was work, then the difference between GI and the unconditional part of UBI would simply be semantic. Hughes could respond that semantic distinctions are not “merely semantic.”

In a society where work is a fundamental value it may be necessary to call something work, as well as convince others that it is, in order to give the person engaged in that activity a guaranteed income. This is a response I would agree with. But I would add that the importance of semantics cuts both ways.

Requiring an activity to be considered work before the person engaged in it can receive income support is also sending the semantic, or symbolic, message that only working people deserve economic security. I can understand why we might want to do this in a hunter-gatherer society where all are living on the brink of starvation. But do we really need to in the richest society the world has even known? Consider something that may at first appear unrelated.

The U.S. currently imprisons about 1.5 million people. Anyone familiar with the U.S criminal justice system is aware that our prison population is, arguably, one of the most despised groups of people in the nation. Yet we grant all these prisoners a right to food. Prison life is no doubt hard. And we certainly do not feed incarcerated people the best food possible. But we do feed them, and I suspect anyone who proposed that we stop doing so would not get very far. Now here’s a question: is refusing to make a social contribution worse than the most serious violent crimes we have imprisoned some people for committing? If not, why propose a policy which sends the semantic message that non-working people do not deserve income support, income that could help them obtain food, as well as meet other basic needs? Why send a semantic message which implicitly amounts to the claim that non-working people are worse than some of our most violent prisoners?

To anticipate a possible misunderstanding, I am not claiming that non-working people are better than some of our most violent prisoners. My point is simply that if all prisoners have a right to subsistence, why not grant non-working people that same right? Prisoners, non-working people, and all the rest of us are human beings in need of food and other means of subsistence. A UBI, at the semantic level at which I am speaking, acknowledges this. Hughes’ GI proposal does not.

Thanks to Chris Hughes for his very helpful comments on this piece. Any mistakes or errors are, of course, my responsibility alone.

About the author:

Michael A. Lewis is a social worker and sociologist by training whose areas of interest are public policy and quantitative methods. He’s also a co-founder of USBIG and has written a number of articles, book chapters, and other pieces on the basic income, including the co-edited work The Ethics and Economics of the Basic Income Guarantee. Lewis is on the faculties of the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and the Graduate and University Center of the City University of New York.

‘Me too’ and the basic income guarantee

‘Me too’ and the basic income guarantee

On the evening of Sunday January 7, 2018, The Golden Globes Awards program aired. For those who may not know, this is a U.S. television program which airs each year and highlights the accomplishments of actors, directors, and others in the TV and movie industries. This year’s awards program was the first to be aired since the revelations about movie producer Harvey Weinstein surfaced.

For those who may not follow events in U.S. popular culture to the extent I do, Harvey Weinstein was a major Hollywood movie producer. It was revealed that he sexually harassed a number of women or engaged in other sexual transgressions. After it was revealed that he’d engaged in such behaviors, a number of other women came out to accuse other powerful men of sexually inappropriate behaviors of various kinds. In fact, a few of these revelations have had political ramifications.

In one case, they led to the resignation of U.S. Senator Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota. In another, they resulted in Doug Jones being the first Democrat the state of Alabama has sent to the U.S. Senate in 25 years. This cascade of revelations, following upon those about Harvey Weinstein, has been dubbed the “me too moment.”

Initially, much of the attention paid to the “me too moment” or, as some would argue, “me to movement” was focused on relatively privileged actors in Hollywood, although they weren’t necessarily that privileged when the sexual transgressions occurred. But eventually someone pointed out that movie stars or would-be stars aren’t the only working women who deal with sexual harassment and assault. Those working in restaurants, hotels, and other low wage industries do so on a daily basis, and whilst some can find a sexual harassment attorney, it can be difficult on their income to do so.

In fact, I’ve heard it said that women in low wage industries suffer the most. That’s because they can’t challenge those men they work with who engage in sexually inappropriate behaviors. Such challenges might result in these women losing their jobs. While listening to a discussion about the “me too movement” on the British Broadcasting Service (BBC), I heard a guest say that the way to empower women on the job is to pay them higher wages. Now I support paying women higher wages, but that might not be the best way to empower them to challenge sexually abusive men they work with. In fact, paying women more, although helpful in other respects, might make it harder for them to challenge such men.

As Bowles, Gintis, and Osborne point out in this paper, the cost of losing one’s job increases with one’s wage. Think about it. Suppose someone is volunteering their services. A volunteer is effectively working for a wage of 0 cents per hour. If this person decides not to volunteer, there is no pecuniary cost of doing so because they don’t forgo any money by ceasing to volunteer. The more money one makes from selling their labor, the more they give up if they quit their job. This is what I meant when I said “the cost of losing one’s job increases with one’s wage.” Quitting one’s job is, of course, one way of losing it.

Now suppose a woman is being sexually harassed on the job. There are a few of ways she might challenge this behavior. She could directly confront the person, she could report them to her boss, she could quit, or she could even contact some Colorado labor lawyers to get their opinion on the matter. Employment law is a tricky business but if a woman is being sexually harassed, something needs to be done. Some of these interventions on her part might get her fired. But is that morally correct? Should someone be fired if they are merely just bringing up the fact that they are being sexually abused? Quite a lot of people would argue this, and with the help and expertise of Employment Solicitors, the correct decision on whether this could be an “unfair dismissal” will soon be known. Of course, that’s if the woman wants to keep her job in the first place. If she quits, she’d lose her income just as she would if she were fired. And the bigger her income or wage was, the bigger the loss from being fired or quitting.

I think that if we want to empower women in their dealings with abusive employers, a way to do so is to provide them with a source of income they don’t have to sell their labor to receive. And the bigger we could get this non-wage income, the more we could empower them. This is because the income loss from quitting or being fired for challenging sexual abuse at work, would be made up to some extent by the non-wage income. Knowing this is the case might embolden women in their dealings with sexually abusive employers and co-workers. A generous BIG, assuming we could afford it, could serve this function well.

Basic income and the ‘job ethic’

Basic income and the ‘job ethic’

Written by: Michael A. Lewis

I was recently listening to a talk show on public radio. The first segment was about President Trump’s tax proposals. It included a debate between a supporter of Trump’s plan and an opponent of it. The supporter is associated with the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. Her conclusion was that Trump’s proposed tax cuts would be great because they would lead to more economic growth and, therefore, more jobs. This is, of course, the supply-side/trickle-down economics reasoning, which could be a subject of debate itself.

A later segment on the talk show focused on New York City’s attempt to persuade Amazon to set up its headquarters in the city. For those who may not be aware, New York City’s mayor is widely considered to be politically progressive. If you are more familiar with European politics, you can think of him as something like a Social Democrat. He did not appear on the radio program, but one of his deputies did. The deputy said a primary reason the city wants to attract Amazon is that such a move would generate a lot of jobs.

Thus, there was a representative of a progressive mayor and a conservative, both of whom argued for two very different proposals on the same basis — jobs. This is not that unusual. The U.S. political Right and Left disagree on plenty: tax cuts, the proper role of the federal government, how best to improve U.S. schools, what the U.S. Constitution says about the right to own a gun, and a host of other issues. But both sides can always be counted on to agree that whether someone has a job or not is an issue of utmost importance.

Conservatives may argue that the best way to generate jobs is for the government to get out of the way and let businesses “do their thing.” Progressives may counter that the private sector will never create enough jobs for all those who desire one, and that the only way to assure people can find work is for the government to guarantee a right to work, even if it must do the hiring. But for both sides of the U.S. political spectrum, jobs are what matters.

It makes sense that both the Right and Left would be so focused on jobs. The main source of many, if not most, incomes in the U.S. is a wage or salary. For many people, if they lost their job, it would not be long before things became dire for them. For many of those currently without jobs, things are already quite dire. It is in the nature of capitalism for most of us to toil away as “wage slaves” as the Marxists define it. But it seems that over time, this economic necessity has developed into something many people call the work ethic, but which I have come to think might better be called the job ethic. The job ethic is the culture which develops when what we have to do to survive becomes not just a source of income but also one of social recognition.

In her book Justice and the Politics of Difference, the late philosopher Iris Marion Young has an essay on the definition of “oppression.” That essay is called The Five Faces of Oppression, and one of those “faces” is marginalization. Marginalization is what happens to the involuntarily unemployed. Obviously, those faced with this situation have a serious financial problem, given that they are living within a system which requires them to have money to meet their needs. But, according to Young, this is not the main reason involuntary unemployment is oppressive. The main reason is that those who are unemployed lack something which grants them access to being recognized and esteemed by their fellow citizens/residents — a job. It is this lack of a job which makes the unemployed feel cast aside and marginalized. The fact that someone is not willing to hire them results in their feeling socially worthless.

Being a philosopher/political theorist, Young does not support her argument with figures and statistics. But I think she may be onto something. A number of opponents of basic income seem to think so, too. Anyone who has followed the basic income debate has heard the argument that basic income is imprudent public policy because it would result in less work. Less work would mean people would be less inclined to engage in an activity which provides them not just with income, but also with meaning and social recognition. What these individuals are really saying is that basic income is bad social policy because it would result in fewer people having to obtain meaning and social recognition from what they have to do to “put food on the table.”

In the past, I have questioned whether basic income would have this effect. But I’m also inclined to wonder: So what if it does?  As important as making a living is, humans do a lot of other things besides sell their labor. They spend time with children, spouses, and friends, they enjoy hobbies of various kinds, they engage in pursuits of higher learning, they become involved in civic pursuits to make the world a better place, and a host of other things. Can’t at least some of these things be sources of social recognition, as well? As long as capitalism and tasks that cannot be completed by machines exist, there will be a need for humans to sell their labor. But if a basic income freed some of us up to spend more time doing other things which provide us with social recognition, would that really be so bad?

About the author: 

Michael A. Lewis is a social worker and sociologist by training whose areas of interest are public policy and quantitative methods. He’s also a co-founder of USBIG and has written a number of articles, book chapters, and other pieces on the basic income, including the co-edited work The Ethics and Economics of the Basic Income Guarantee. Lewis is on the faculties of the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and the Graduate and University Center of the City University of New York.