What would you do with a basic income?

Most people think that if they had a basic income, they would do something creative and constructive with it. Most people think that if other people had a basic income, they would laze around. Understanding which is right – and understanding whether there is any meaningful distinction between them – is an important element in planning for the future of work.

Cutting the Gordian Knot of Technological Unemployment with Unconditional Basic Income

This is a powerfully argued article on the strategic case for a UBI – in this case, with a very strong stress on being unconditional. The problem of technological unemployment can be solved only by breaking the strong assumption that income should be linked to work. Doing that is hard because we have been so strongly conditioned to seeing them as inexorably linked – but breaking that link creates new social and economic possibilities and increases overall welfare levels, as well as creating the conditions in which people are far more strongly empowered to exercise their basic human rights. The conclusion is quite a radical one, but the real question is less whether it is right or wrong, and much more whether the starting analysis is well founded.

Scott Santens – Medium

Basic Income – a good work intervention

Universal basic income can be seen as a way of sustaining society in a world beyond work. Or it can be seen as a way of supporting a society and economy which is still based on work.  The latter may open up more interesting possibilities and opportunities than the former, but this post argues that the debate is much less constructive and open minded in the UK – or rather in England – than it is in a number of other countries, with particular criticism for the recent report from the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

Anthony Painter – RSA

Basic Income: A Sellout of the American Dream

A critical look at the idea of a basic income, from a US perspective, arguing that costs and perverse incentives outweigh potential benefits – unemployed people given a basic income will tend to sleep and watch television, rather than develop new skills or seek new kinds of work. The premise of the article, though, is that new jobs are still being created, and that there is no evidence of structural unemployment from automation, so the implications if that were to happen are not explored.

David Freedman – MIT Technology Review

Basic income and the new universalism

Universal basic income is often talked about as just another form of social welfare, a sort of universal credit without the tapers. But it can also be seen as a much more radical political and social shift.

This essay digs deep into those issues in a very readable way, ranging from philosophical underpinnings through to links to the fear of automation, a fear that is itself perhaps becoming more universal as automation spreads into white collar work.

Roope Mokka and Katariina Rantanen – Demos Helsinki

The Automation Argument for a basic income. Does it add up?

A dissection of the ‘automation argument’ for a basic income – interesting not so much for arguing that automation won’t lead to a life of well-rewarded idleness as for suggesting that a basic income is an inadequate, and ultimately very conservative, approach to the problems automation might bring. Also notable for including a reference to the shoe event horizon.

Katharina Nieswandt – World Economic Forum

The future of not working

Universal basic income – examined not in Scandinavia but in rural Kenya. This is either Silicon Valley on a very long distance guilt trip or a radical approach to extreme poverty. Are there implications for rich countries?

And despite the title, this isn’t really about not working at all – all the stories are about people being liberated to work smarter once given the margin which allows them to make the change.

Annie Lowrey – New York Times