In the past, when technology displaced jobs, many other opportunities for jobs were created by the same technology. However, an article by Federico Pistono in the New Scientist says that increasing automation of work may require governments to experiment with the Universal Basic Income (UBI).
Previous experiments’ results have been “promising but not conclusive”, Pistono said. For example, research showed that people receiving a basic income continued to work and the general well-being of those receiving the basic income was improved.
To determine whether the UBI should be implemented across an entire country, though, the New Scientist recommends first running experiments across several large cities.
Federico Pistono, “As tech threatens jobs, we must test a universal basic income” New Scientist, Sept. 17, 2015.
The global economy is rapidly transforming as technology captures an increasingly greater share of human workforce, leaving many behind. The answer to this issue is a basic income guarantee, according to a recent Foreign Affairs article.
Credit to: freedigitalphotos.net
In the last century, the welfare state has not kept up with technological development, as humanity transitions to a digital economy. There are still going to be winners and losers in this new economy, but stable and routinized jobs will largely go away to be replaced by intermittent ad hoc work, authors Nicolas Colin and Bruno Palier argue.
As a result, social services will have to be reorganized to meet this new economy’s needs. The article suggests a universal unconditional income as an alternative to provide people with the ability to choose jobs and lives as they want. However, Colin and Palier believe that unconditional income is both “extremely expensive and insufficient.”
In addition to a universal unconditional income, the article indicates that other structural reforms should be put in place, such as removing barriers to entrepreneurship. It advocates “flexicurity”, which the authors defines as guaranteeing access to health care, housing and other necessities, while also deregulating labor markets.
Nicolas Colin and Bruno Palier, “The Next Safety Net” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2015.
After the resounding commercial and critical success of Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the twenty-first century”, the author himself responded, in the form of an article in the latest release of Basic Income Studies, to critics and to proponents of Basic Income (BI). As Michael Howard puts it in the introductory paper of the referred edition of Basic Income Studies, “he is wary (…) of treating a cash transfer as a ’magic bullet’.”. However, Thomas Piketty has been a defender of progressive taxation and some forms of BI ever since 1997, particularly the negative income tax (NIT). Although he remains consistent with his prior views on the role of the welfare state, he supports “universal cash transfers for dependent children” and “basic income for all adults with insufficient market income.” Nevertheless despite disagreements, he views basic income as a valid subject of discussion.
In the same Basic Income Studies volume, other authors discuss Piketty’s book from various perspectives. For instance George Grantham evaluates whether Piketty’s view can be reconciled with mainstream economics, while acknowledging that capitalism is surely compatible with a modest basic income. Also Louise Haagh in her article underscores, like Piketty, that BI is not a magic bullet, but indeed an important component for a progressive agenda which promotes social equality and development. In turn, Karl Widerquist stresses that not only entrepreneurs have a tendency to become rentiers but also that inequality depends both on the difference between the rate of return of capital and growth rate of the economy (the famous “r > g” inequality) but also on how much capitalists actually spend in the economy. He adds that, besides progressive taxation, resource taxes should also be imposed, coupled with some form of resource dividend or basic income.
All these authors, among some others that also shared their views on “Capital in the twenty-first century” in the latest issue of Basic Income Studies (Ruben Lo Vuolo, Geoff Crocker and Harry Dahms), essentially agree that social problems are caused by inequality and that new forms of redistribution (or reinforcement of present forms) are essential to restore social balance, or at least reduce inequality for the time being. In the background, remaining to be addressed is the dark cloud of political control, at the moment very much tilted towards the wealthiest members in our society.
Basic Income Studies (cover)
More information at:
Thomas Piketty, “Le Capital au XXIe siècle [Capital in the twenty-first century]“, Catalogue Sciences Humaines et Documents SEUIL.com, September 2013
Ed. by Haagh, Anne-Louise / Howard, Michael, “Basic Income Studies“, De Gruyter, 2015
Credit picture CC Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Juliana Bidadanure and Robert Lepenies (credit to: European University Institute)
This article rests on an interview with two Max Weber Fellows, Juliana Bidadanure and Ropert Lepenies, who are also Basic Income enthusiastic defenders and organizers of a summer conference on Basic Income at the European University Institute. The article discusses interactions between Basic Income and the welfare state, its implications on work, the benefits for workers, women and society at large. It also addresses some limitations of Basic Income, among which the inability to solve the root causes of inequality and alienation in society.
Olivia Arigho Stiles, “Universal Basic Income – treading the ‘capitalist road to communism’?“, European University Institute, July 2 2015
Emancipation Day (credit to: timeanddate.com – Emancipation Day in United States)
This essay by Daniel Raventós and Julie Wark is a thorough yet condensed analysis of today’s situation of the Basic Income activism, particularly the one within Spanish reality. It acutely focuses on Basic Income’s implications at the political, philosophical and economic facets, while showing the shortcomings of the usual right-wing criticism. The discussion runs long and deep, but at the end it boils down to one simple issue: that rich people do not take well the idea of being swept aside, in favor of an emancipated vast majority who finally gets enough freedom to live “according to their own lights and in defense of their own dignity”.
Daniel Raventós and Julie Wark, “The Basic Income debate: political, philosophical and economic issues“, Counterpunch, August 21 2015
Daniel Raventós and Julie Wark, “The Basic Income debate: political, philosophical and economic issues“, Truthdig, August 26 2015