The old line on the guaranteed annual income, or as it’s called nowadays the basic income guarantee, was that it had support across the political spectrum. Conservatives, it was said, liked it for its emphasis on reducing the traditional welfare system’s punitively high clawback rates on benefits, while liberals were attracted by its promise of a social safety net that was simpler to navigate and intruded less on people’s lives.
These days, it seems like the basic income enjoys something closer to bipartisan hostility. Not a day goes by without another piece attacking the idea as either a utopian fantasy or a Dickensian nightmare.
On the left, it is derided as subsidy to low-wage employers, relieving them of the obligation to pay a decent wage. Meanwhile, the right abides in the eternal suspicion that a guaranteed, unconditional income supplement must inevitably encourage indolence.
In part each side is reacting to the other.
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