Showing posts with label basic income. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basic income. Show all posts

Monday, 2 May 2022

Just End Poverty Now: The Case for a Global Basic Income

According to the World Bank’s latest figures, around 700 million people live in utter destitution, on less than $1.90 per day, poorer than the average pet cat in the rich world. It is easy to agree that this is a terrible thing. It has so far been much harder – even for philosophers – to agree on what should be done about it. Peter Singer, for example, argues that rich people should donate more to effective charities. Thomas Pogge argues that rich world citizens should stop their governments from supporting less than ideally just global institutions. Yet this intellectual debate is an unnecessary distraction. We already have all the moral agreement we need to act. Ending extreme poverty is not an intellectual problem but a practical one, and not even a particularly difficult one. We just need to find the people who are poor and give them enough money so that they aren’t poor anymore.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Reparations for Women

Even in supposedly liberal societies women remain systematically disadvantaged in what is expected of them, how their contributions are evaluated, and what they are taken to deserve. One of the more obvious signs and consequences of this injustice is the gender income gap - that men tend to earn much more over their lives than women do. We should stop dithering and just end this.

Friday, 30 May 2014

The Robot Economy and the Crisis of Capitalism: Why We Need Universal Basic Income

The success of capitalism depends on technology as well as markets (and social norms and state institutions). Markets enhance the efficiency of a society's allocation of resources, such as labour, between competing projects so that we spend them where they will create the most total value. In factories for example rather than in tiny subsistence farms. But there is a limit to the gains from better logistics. If that were all there was to capitalism then economic growth would have ended long ago - as the classical economists feared.

What saves us from a dead-end economy in which anyone's gain is someone else's loss (the kind of economy that some benighted environmentalists dream of) is technology. Technological innovations, from electricity to computing don't merely rearrange the resources we have, they multiply the value we can get out of them, the productivity of our economy. Thus, for example, from a black goop of compressed zooplankton we created a fuel source that transformed the cost-structure of transportation and made the horse redundant. And it doesn't end there. Recent developments in lithium battery technology and artificial intelligence are once again transforming the price of moving from A to B, making the human driver redundant.

In 1930 the famous economist JM Keynes made a prophecy about the Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren: Within 100 years the relentless trend of rising productivity would solve the ‘economic problem', the struggle to overcome scarcity that has characterised the human condition since our beginning. Finally, we would be able to turn as a society to considering what our enormous wealth can do for us, rather than what we must do to get it.

With the birth of the robot economy, Keynes' prophecy is coming true. Yet this is not a time for complacency. Unless we intervene, the same economic system that has produced this astonishing prosperity will return us to the Dickensian world of winners and losers that characterised the beginning of capitalism. Or worse. The problem is this, how will ordinary people earn a claim on the material prosperity of the capitalist economy if that economy doesn't need our labour anymore? 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Just Give Money to the Poor: The case for a Global Basic Income

Poverty used to be a reflection of scarcity. Now it is a problem of identification, targeting and distribution. And that is a problem that can be solved. (The Economist's briefing on poverty)
Poverty may be the natural condition of human beings, but it is not inevitable. Extreme scarcity, like the ancient scourges of cholera or polio, has been eliminated by our own efforts from most of the world. We could eliminate it entirely if we chose. The world as a whole is now so rich that we could easily afford to simply give every destitute person an unearned claim on our collective economic wealth sufficient to lift them out of extreme scarcity.