As unemployment remains high and the threat of automation looms over any recovery, UBI is getting another look as a potential key to ongoing economic stimulus.
When Andrew Yang dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary in February, he had no way of knowing that within weeks one of the central pillars of his failed campaign would move from the fringes of American political conversation to the very center of global policy debates. Citing looming labor market disruptions brought on by accelerating workplace automation, Yang ran on the idea of instituting a universal basic income (UBI), an idea that’s lived at the outskirts of American political thought—though never quite in the mainstream—for 250 years. Specifically, Yang proposed the U.S. government pay each of its adult citizens $1,000 per month (in lieu of some of the benefits the government currently offers) to alleviate poverty and gird all Americans for the day the robots come for their jobs, a notion dismissed by its many, many detractors as fantasy.
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