universal basic income

This post on BillMoyers.com runs some of the numbers on the idea of a universal basic income.

The UBI would be for those who truly needed it — those who could not endure traditional full-time employment, either because of age, illness, disability, caretaking or student status. As baby boomers grow old and need care, as students struggle to earn an education without becoming hideously indebted, and as parents yearn to stay home with infants and very young children, a UBI would truly revolutionize society.

Proposals vary, with costs depending on whether or not UBI would be paired with other social programs, like universal health care. Karl Widerquist, a Georgetown professor of political philosophy, estimated that at $6,000 per child and $12,000 per adult, the net cost of UBI would be $539 billion per year.

This number may sound astronomical, but to put it into perspective, Widerquist writes, a UBI would cost “less than 25 percent of the cost of current US entitlement spending, less than 15 percent of overall federal spending, and about 2.95 percent of Gross Domestic Product.”

Wealthy and powerful people don’t like ideas to share the wealth, of course. But they should recognize that if we get to a point where there is enough wealth to go around, but not enough jobs to go around, there has to be some way to share the wealth or else there will be no possibility of a stable society.

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