Basic income would be given to everyone, including you. The problem with work requirements are that they’re expensive: you need lots of government bureaucrats to define a job (Creating a startup? Caring for a sick relative? Sorry, those don’t count.) and monitor recipients to see if they’re really working enough to deserve the payments. We already spend ~$1T/year on antipoverty programs, which generally have about ~10% overhead; that’s $100B that could be saved in taxes or used to increase payments.

Also consider the millions of people whose jobs are about to be replaced by automation, such as the 3.5M truck drivers (autonomous trucks are already being tested). If those people lose their jobs and can’t meet the work requirements for benefits initially, they may give up and just go on disability, from which very few return to the workforce.

Supporting everyone’s subsistence is cheaper, acknowledges nontraditional work, and is resilient to technological advancement.

Written by

Economist. Founder and president of the UBI Center. Studied at MIT and UC Berkeley. YIMBY. Former Google data scientist.

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