Canada, The Netherlands make strides to implement ‘basic income’
THE NEW YORK TIMES – PETER S. GOODMAN/PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
One need not be a card-carrying revolutionary to deduce that global capitalism has a problem.
In much of the world, angry workers denounce a shortage of jobs paying enough to support middle-class life. Economists puzzle over the fix for persistently weak wage growth, just as robots appear poised to replace millions of human workers. At the annual gathering of the global elite in the Swiss resort of Davos, billionaire finance chieftains debate how to make capitalism kinder to the masses to defuse populism.
Enter the universal basic income.
The idea is gaining traction in many countries as a proposal to soften the edges of capitalism. Though the details and philosophies vary from place to place, the general notion is that the government hands out regular checks to everyone, regardless of income or whether people are working. The money ensures food and shelter for all, while removing the stigma of public support.
Some posit basic income as a way to let market forces work their ruthless magic, delivering innovation and economic growth, while laying down a cushion for those who fail. Others present it as a means of liberating people from wretched, poverty-level jobs, allowing workers to organize for better conditions or devote time to artistic exploits. Another school sees it as the required response to an era in which work can no longer be relied upon to finance basic needs.