Martin Sandbu (FT) spports the Basic Income

A Big Hitter with the Fnancial Times supports the Unconditional basic income.

This is a major step forward. Martin Sandbu airs a number of contrary views, notably by his FT colleague Rana Faroohar, but he then answers them., using a former Finnish Cabinet Minister with actual experience of implementing a partlal scheme. He also draws on the 40 year old Alaska Permanent Development Fund.

From a conventional point of view, he sets out a competent case. Although he does include a reference to means testing, he does not use this as the main objection when answering “Why give it to the rich?” It is means testing as a part of most countries’ welfare provisions, which means that most poorly paid workers face a work disincentive under their current purported anti-poverty arrangements.

Martn Sandbu is on record as being in favour of the basici income since 2017, but Covid means it should now be currently topical. I wish he had made more of this new relevance. He points out that the 18%  cost of an adequate basic income can be brought down to 5% of the money available. That would still be a huge sum, but the Omicron variant shows that the pandemic may well continue to  damage the economy for some time. At least the basic income will keep purchasing power as high as possible despite the loss of income from those parts of the economy which will have to be suspended.

But that leads to my major criticism: Inherently the basic income will help the economy to expand. Martin Sandbu may approve of this, but I came to the idea from a very different direction: as a part of the answer to climate breakdown. This is not mentioned anywhere in his case.  Post (failure of??) COP26, the time is ripe for some way of reducing human demands instead of growth being the norm.

I shall write to Martin Sandbu asking him to read my weblog. My wildest dream is that we might enter into a public dialogue.

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