Has the basic income idea been debunked? Not so fast

Andrew Coyne

The Globe and Mail

The concept of a basic income – combining several existing income and social supports into a single, income-tested but otherwise unconditional cash benefit – has been debated for more than 200 years.

It has drawn support, and criticism, from across the political spectrum, attacked or praised as either utopian socialism or minimal-state libertarianism. But has the whole debate just been settled?

You’d think so, to judge from some of the responses to the recent report of the British Columbia Expert Panel on Basic Income. It’s not hard to see why. The report’s authors are all highly regarded economists. 

Its research is voluminous. And its conclusions are, seemingly, unequivocal. Should B.C. replace its current web of support programs with a basic income? “Our answer is no. … The needs of people in this society are too diverse to be effectively answered simply with a cheque from the government.”

Well, there you have it, a number of commentators seemed to suggest: We can put that one to bed at last. Basic income? Rejected, discredited even. The experts have spoken.

Er, have they?

To read more, click here.