26 minutes | Nov 12th 2018

Episode 6: It’s Time to Take the Universal Basic Income Seriously

Giving money to every American - no strings attached - sounds like a parody of liberal governance. But the policy, once proposed by Richard Nixon and suggested by colonial pamphleteer Thomas Paine, is gaining traction among a unique coalition of thought leaders, Silicon Valley executives, and politicians from across the ideological spectrum. This concept, known as the Universal Basic Income or UBI, is seen as a possible answer to a range of pressing policy conundrums: financial instability, a coming wave of unemployment driven by automation, and climate change spurred by greenhouse gas emissions. Many have raised concerns about the potential consequences, particularly whether this could cause an exodus from the labor market while simultaneously bankrupting the government. Luckily, the UBI is not new, and we have decades of data to guide our understanding of what to expect from a large-scale UBI. Here in the United States two large programs have been operating for decades: Alaska’s Permanent Fund, funded by fees paid by oil and mining companies, has paid a dividend to every Alaskan since the early 1980s, and the Eastern Band of Cherokees have paid tribe members a share of profits from its casino since the 1990s. On this episode of Bending the Arc, we speak with Hawaii Representative Chris Lee, who sponsored a resolution to explore the UBI in his home state, to understand the grassroots support and enthusiasm, and Dr. Ioana Marinescu, Assistant Professor at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice and a recognized expert on the topic, to learn what history tells us and how the UBI can be an effective policy tool. Guests Rep. Christopher Lee Dr. Ioana Marinescu Other Resources to Learn about the UBI Hawaii’s Resolution to Explore the UBI No Strings Attached: The Behavioral Effects of U.S. Unconditional Cash Transfer Programs The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends The Stockton, CA Experiment led by SP2’s Dr. Amy Castro Baker