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Thursday, March 1, 2018

48% of Americans support a UBI

A UBI is a "universal basic income" (also called  "the social wage" or "negative income tax").  The various proposals differ slightly, but essentially all schemes involve a fortnightly or monthly income from the government, which is given to everybody, but which is "clawed back" for each dollar or pound or euro you earn after that.  The claw back rate suggested is somewhere between 25 and 33.3 percent.  A slightly different proposal is that all income except the UBI be subject to income tax, which amounts to much the same thing as an explicit claw back rate, but is administratively simpler. The UBI would replace unemployment benefit, the old age pension, disability pensions, family income support and other tax credits.  The advantages in switching to a UBI are several:

  1. The impact of the "poverty trap" is reduced.  This occurs when any income supplement (for example, the dole) is withdrawn when the recipient earns some income.  It is a powerful disincentive to getting work, especially where the only available work is part time.  In Australia, for example, the effective claw back rate for people on unemployment benefit can reach 80%.
  2. A UBI raises income for the working poor, not just the unemployed or old age pensioners.
  3. The rules are dramatically simplified, making them easy to understand and administer
  4. The large bureaucracy required to administer the dole, the old age pension, etc., can be eliminated.

About half of Americans would support a Universal Basic Income for workers who lose their jobs to artificial intelligence, according to a new survey from Northeastern University and Gallup.

The results, which came from 3,297 adults in the U.S. ages 18 and older, showed that:

  • 48% of Americans support a universal basic income program
  • 46% of supporters would pay higher personal taxes to support it
  • 80% of supporters say companies should pay higher taxes to fund the program

“It represents an enormous increase in support,” Karl Widerquist, an associate professor at Georgetown University in Qatar and an advocate for a Universal Basic Income, told CNBC. “It’s really promising.”

[Read more here]

Support in Europe is also high.  (Interesting--support in countries with existing robust welfare systems is not high.  Presumably they believe that with existing systems, a UBI isn't needed, but in fact the UBI would replace many existing welfare programs.)


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