Greatest obstacle to basic income has nothing to do with money

By Will Martin for Business Insider

The idea of a universal basic income is gaining traction in the mainstream.

It was once seen as a fantasy backed by dewy-eyed Utopians because the premise of basic income is to give people free money - a set amount of monthly cash to cover living expenses such as food, transport, clothes, and utilities, regardless of their income, social status, or anything else for that matter. No questions asked.

But it is now being talked about in serious economic and political circles.

Earlier this week, the UK's Labour party even said that it is "closely looking" at UBI as an idea, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell saying it "might be an idea whose time has come."

More and more cities are rolling out experiments with a basic income, with Utrecht in the Netherlands experimenting, Finland planning a study next year, and, despite the rejection of a nationwide UBI scheme, the Swiss city of Lausanne could also give the idea a go.

Despite this growing enthusiasm for UBI, the consensus view is still generally that the idea isn't really viable, largely because of the costs associated with giving every single person a fixed amount of money. However, the cost of basic income isn't the biggest obstacle to its introduction, according to Dutch author and basic-income advocate Rutger Bregman.

Instead, it is the "outdated definition" of work held by people across the globe that first needs to be addressed before it becomes a truly viable idea. 

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