An alternative view of basic income pilot projects

By Terrance Hunsley

*Editor's note: This column is the view of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Basic Income Canada Network.

Since the election of the Trudeau government, there has been increased interest in the concept of basic income (also known as guaranteed income, and negative income tax). The confluence of liberal governments in Ottawa and seven provinces, as well as two NDP governments, suggests that a political consensus may be possible to take a historic step forward. A guaranteed income, or negative income tax has been held up as a noble objective to eliminate poverty, an efficient replacement for a labyrinth of means tested and over-bureaucratized programs, and a more effective insurance system for the new economy, for a long time. It could also provide a significant offset to increasing income inequality.

Now there are people saying that this is a good time to launch one or more pilot projects to really test the concept. My view is that this is well-intentioned but wrong. We have ample historical proof that doing a pilot project and evaluating it carefully is a fail proof way of ensuring that the real thing will never get done.

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