Basic Income?

Relax, I am not talking about Basic Instinct (the 1992 Crime Thriller starring a scantily clad Sharron Stone). I am talking about the idea that every citizen is paid a basic income from the government, regardless of whether they work or not.

The idea is similar to that of unemployment benefits, however would apply to all citizens. Like unemployment benefits, it’s meant to make sure every person in society can meet basic living standards. But it differs, in that there is no work requirement or means test — meaning you could have a job and pocket the $30,000 cash on top of your wage, or not work at all and live off the $30,000 alone.

Just when you thought to yourself “yeah right!”, consider these examples. It is already being trialed in the Netherlands with 300 residents of the town of Utrecht among a number of Dutch pilot sites, while the Indian government has also embraced the idea, and previous small-scale experiments have been hailed as great successes. Switzerland is even due to have a referendum on the idea next year!

But what about the inevitable inflationary effect of everyone having money? Writing in Medium, basic income advocate Scott Santens, provides two real-world examples where that proved not to be the case: Alaska in 1982, and Kuwait in 2011. In both cases, inflation actually decreased after the government introduced a partial basic income to citizens.

So there it is, a far fetched but perhaps not crazy idea. Maybe it’s creators just watched season three of House of Cards and copied the “America Works” program or maybe that’s where their creators came up with their ideas….What was that phrase I wrote about recently, “life imitates art”……

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