Popular calls for universal basic income (UBI) are driven by fears of mass unemployment caused by automation.
The idea is not new, but it has been popularized by Andrew Yang who was running for Democratic presidential nomination for 2020. He also ran to become mayor of New York City for 2021. The new book and party he created are both entitled ForwardUBIs were a central part of the agenda for President Barack Obama. According to polls, the majority of voters supported it last year. Cities like Los Angeles and Newark, St. Paul and Atlanta are considering or trying out UBIs.
Yang tells Nick Gillespie that cash payments are better than government programs for the same reason that the libertarian economist Milton Friedman advocated slashing social welfare in favor of direct subsidies to the poor—because it’s more effective and humane to put unrestricted cash directly in the hands of those who need it.
However, has automation led to less jobs in the recent past? What does America’s past experience with COVID-related stimul checks, which went to 90% of American households, and increased unemployment benefits tell us about the serious negative effects of UBIs on the labor force participation rate and federal balance sheets?
See also:“Andrew Yang: “Political violence is becoming more and more of an inevitability.”
John Osterhoudt edited. Regan Taylor and Isaac Reese contributed additional graphics.
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