Imagine getting a check from the government every month. $600 guaranteed. It’s happening in Finland, where a pilot program is being launched to test what’s known as a “universal basic income.” As technology transforms the workplace, jobs and income will become less reliable. The idea is that a universal basic income could serve as a tool to combat poverty and uncertainty in a changing society, and provide a cushion that empowers workers, giving them latitude to take risks in the job market. But some argue a guaranteed income would take away the incentive to work, waste money on those who don’t need it, and come at the expense of effective programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Is the universal basic income the safety net of the future? Arguing for the motion is Charles Murray, a W. H. Brady scholar at American Enterprise Institute with Andrew Stern, former president at Services Employees International Union and senior fellow at Economic Security Project. Arguing against the motion is Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and former chief economist to vice president Joe Biden with Jason Furman, former chairman of council of economic advisers. John Donvan moderates. This conversation was taped on March 22, 2017.
· As industries become more automated, the need for human workers will decrease. In the face of such disruption, a guaranteed basic income would be an effective way to ensure economic stability for everyone.
· In the face of growing inequality, a universal basic income would substantially reduce poverty and address a spectrum of social issues including food security and access to health care and housing.
· Without the pressure to earn a basic income, people would be able to pursue their career interests, leading to greater societal innovation and professional satisfaction.
· A guaranteed income would disincentivize work and stifle productivity. Automation in the workplace should be met with innovation in worker training and education rather than financial handouts.
· Rather than giving money to those who are not in need, the government should direct federal funds to successful existing programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
We can't afford it: according to CBPP, if everyone received a UBI of just $10,000 a year, it would cost the federal government more than $3 trillion.