Universal Basic Income and Minimum Wages: Progressive or Regressive?


The Real News Network has a short video Universal Basic Income and Minimum Wages: Progressive or Regressive?

KATHERINE MOOS: I think that it’s certainly the case that we have a large-scale problem when it comes to good jobs, and there’s a lot of concern about automation. And it’s something that economist Guy Standing calls “the global precariat,” which is precariously employed proletariat. And so, I think that this is a big concern. And what we see from the World Bank’s perspective is that they’re saying, “Work has changed, work is not going to provide for people’s basic needs, so there should be something done to provide [what they call] a societal minimum standard, but it might not come from work.”

Now, Bernie Sanders’ plan, which– the details have not been released, but the general idea is to invest in things like infrastructure, and also things like child care and elder care, which, while there are some technologies that automate these, much of this actually does need to be done by people in place, when we talk about caring for children, caring for elderly people, and even infrastructure projects. So, we’re seeing, now, a response, and different political points of view, of how to resolve this very serious problem of both poor quality of jobs and the threat of automation.


Finally a rational discussion about a real problem that needs to be addressed. Of course, this is just the beginning of describing the problem, and then starting to consider some of the factors that might go into a solution.

In this interview, Katherine Moos correctly explained that the answer to the headline question depends greatly on the details of the proposed program and the context into which it is placed. If is foolish to think that any program is absolutely good or absolutely bad without knowing these factors.

The other point that I believe is true is that automation of jobs is an inevitable outcome of technological advancement. We need to accept that truth, and figure out how society can adapt to the change to make sure it is of the most benefit to the most people. The UBI and the Jobs Guarantee can be two responses that address different aspects of job automation adjustment. UBI addresses the truth that traditional work may no longer be the complete provider of everyone’s support for a minimum acceptable standard of living. The jobs guarantree addresses the problem that there is socially useful work that needs to be done that is not financially supportable by a completely free capitalistic market.

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