Universal basic income could become reality

David Brancaccio Dec 5, 2016
Share Now on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Joe Raedle/Newsmakers

Universal basic income could become reality

David Brancaccio Dec 5, 2016
Joe Raedle/Newsmakers
Share Now on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY

One big idea is re-emerging as automation and software take over many jobs formerly held by humans. It’s called universal basic income, a policy in which all citizens would get money from the government. There are already a number of experiments going on around the world based on universal incomes. 

Marketplace’s senior economics contributor Chris Farrell explains why this concept is returning to the discussion table.

On why economic conservatives are seriously discussing the idea of a universal income:

Universal basic income is one of those ideas that attracts strange bedfellows. Huey Long in the 1930s, Louisiana — he had a Share the Wealth program. Then in the 1960s, conservative economist Milton Friedman, he suggested the idea of a universal basic income. In more recent history, Charles Murray — he’s a conservative at the American Enterprise Institute, and he is promoting a $13,000 universal basic income. Here’s the twist, and here’s the attraction for conservatives. You’re going to get your universal basic income, and we’re going to get rid of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and so on. Get rid of the whole social safety net in return for universal income.

On how a guaranteed basic income could become reality during President-elect Donald Trump’s term:

Donald Trump’s promised to bring back a lot of high-quality mining, manufacturing jobs. But what if they don’t emerge? An alternative is people to say, “Hey, let’s use the universal basic income to raise the wages, the living standards of these workers.” So Silicon Valley and manufacturing could come together and really give this idea some life.

Click the above audio player to hear the full interview. 

Production by Chole Marie Rivera. 

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.