The Green Party and its presidential nominee Jill Stein has made overtures to the guaranteed basic income. However, Stein recently clarified her position on CNN, saying that the basic income is only a “visionary goal” at this point.
Stein’s clarification that the UBI is not a “practical” policy to push is extremely disappointing. She could have helped bring the UBI to the forefront of the debate as voters search for an alternative choice to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Perhaps Stein does not want voters to confuse her position with that of conservatives and libertarians such as Charles Murray, who want to replace most social services with a $10,000 universal basic income.
Instead of dismissing UBI outright, Stein should advocate for creating pilot programs to test the efficacy of basic income around the United States. Not only does this sound completely reasonable, it is likely the inevitable first step toward implementing a full basic income throughout the country.
Alternatively, Stein could use the carbon tax as a method to promote the UBI through a carbon dividend. This would motivate those passionate about the environment and basic income.
The biggest problem with Stein’s comments to CNN is that they may deflate some motivation to push for a basic income. Stein has billed herself as a revolutionary candidate and yet she is hesitant about the guaranteed basic income. That may give some potential basic income supporters hesitation about the policy.
After Stein’s new comments, it is unclear which candidate is the most friendly to basic income. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson said he was “open” to a basic income and supports a Fair Tax, which includes a prebate check that would essentially create a universal basic income.
Hopefully, Stein will take a more proactive approach with the basic income and support experiments to determine whether she is right about its practicality.
Basic income is not just a vision. It is a critical movement for the twenty first century.
Image By Paul Stein – https://www.flickr.com/photos/kapkap/7999998562/sizes/m/in/photostream/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21702881