State handouts for all? Europe set to pilot universal basic incomes
Switzerland is poised to hold a referendum on introducing the concept, and Finnish and Dutch pilots are set for 2017
To its acolytes, it is the revolutionary policy idea whose arrival is as urgently needed as it is inevitable. In a future in which robots decimate the jobs but not necessarily the wealth of nations, they argue, states should be able to afford to pay all their citizens a basic income unconditional of needs or requirements.
Universal basic income has a rare appeal across the political spectrum. For those on the left, it promises to eliminate poverty and liberate people stuck in dead-end workfare jobs. Small-state libertarians believe it could slash bureaucracy and create a leaner, more self-sufficient welfare system.
In an increasingly digital economy, it would also provide a necessary injection of cash so people can afford to buy the apps and gadgets produced by the new robot workforce.
Crucially, it is also an idea that seems to resonate across the wider public. A recent poll by Dalia Research found that 68% of people across all 28 EU member states said they would definitely or probably vote for a universal basic income initiative. Finland and the Netherlands have pilot projects in the pipeline.
This weekend the concept faces its first proper test of public opinion, as Switzerland votes on a proposal to introduce a national basic income. …
Read on in The Guardian for plenty more. Given the increasing automation of work – at all levels – it’s difficult to see a practical alternative to a UBI in the medium to long term.