Between Labor Day and chatting with some very bright people about the future of finance at Escape Velocity this weekend, it felt like a good time to post something about the future and universal basic income (UBI).
One of the things I like about Dylan Matthew’s article in Vox about the Roosevelt Institute’s recent study on the potential effects of implementing UBI is that he explores the premises behind both the study and the critics of said study.
I’ll update with related articles on the study if I come across them.
So, I’ve been really busy working on this convention coming up next week, which means I haven’t been able to blog as much.
One of the things I wanted to do was follow up on my occasional posts about basic income. Switzerland voted on whether to give all its citizens universal basic income earlier this month. The vote failed, but as Dylan Matthews mentions in Vox, it might set the stage for progress on basic income in Switzerland and other countries.
I’ve been following various articles about basic income (or Universal Basic Income – UBI) as I find it an intriguing potential solution as we trundle towards ever-greater automation in every aspect of the economy.
Matthew Yglesias over at Vox writes about how UBI could tackle poverty — and indeed for some conservative and libertarian proponents of UBI, its potential to tackle poverty and related ills more efficiently than other social programs is one of its appeals.
Ezra Klein responds to the article (also in Vox) about how, beyond the aspect of how we afford it, implementing UBI would force a change on how we view work — and whether changing that view could even be done. Given how automation is upending what ‘work’ entails, I think our view of ‘work’ has to change — and it could be a very welcome improvement in our society if we were not overwhelmingly defined by our jobs-of-the-moment.
One of the reasons I’ve become more interested in learning about basic income and future potential economic models has been what appears to be the growing automation of everything. In other words, we’ve moved beyond automating factory and manufacturing processes (though we still automate that and refine that automation), and into automating service and analytical processes.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the race to implement the self-driving car, because when the self-driving car becomes more omnipresent, it will absolutely shake up delivery and transportation paradigms we live with today.
I’ve read a number of different pieces about various companies’ attempts to implement the self-driving car and their varying successes. This longer piece by David Roberts in Vox goes into how the future of transportation will radically re-define “how we get around” in terms of autonomous (self-driving) vehicles, vehicle electrification, and the integration between those two.
Somehow, this seemed fitting on the eve of one of the great commuter holidays.
A couple weeks ago, FiveThirtyEight did an in-depth look on universal basic income and I talked about it briefly here. This is a great group to look at it because they are so wonkily numbers-driven.
They’re back with a quick video recap, but the whole thing makes me feel I should be writing more about it here on the blog. As we humans face more and more automation, it seems like we need to find an elegant and effective solution for a populace that may not be able to be employed at the same levels it is even now. It’s weird: when I read Frederik Pohl’s classic short story, “The Midas Plague,” its vision of required consumption seemed so fanciful, but now it seems less so.
I’ve been reading a lot about basic income over the past year or so, from activist like Scott Santens as well as actual studies that have been and are being done.
So I was very pleased to see that the data-driven news site FiveThirtyEight decided to do a feature length article about it. If you want to get an idea about what basic income is all about — and what we really know about what it can do at this point, this thorough article by Andrew Flowers is a good introduction.