Time for a guaranteed income?

Winnipeg Free Press -- Editorial

When Expo 67 opened in Montreal in April 1967, it featured a futuristic geodesic dome. Star Trek was wowing audiences with technologies such as voice-recognition and machine-supported medical diagnostic systems. Children’s television cartoon the Jetsons imagined a future of robots and flying vehicles. In the era of the space age, the future looked promising, with the dream of increasing leisure time as robots took over the most mundane jobs and services.

In 2016, some of that has indeed happened. ATMs have replaced bank tellers. Pressing "1" has meant an end to hearing a human voice on the telephone. Swiping bar codes takes the place of cashiers. But the future isn’t bright because automation has resulted in job losses and wage stagnation that are expected to continue.

Which is why discussions about a guaranteed annual income (GAI) seem to be more animated. GAI is fairly self-explanatory; individuals receive a basic amount of money, whether they work or not. That amount is reduced as the individual’s paid wages go up, until it is eventually stopped. It would replace other social programs such as welfare and subsidized housing, and alleviate the need for the bureaucratic networks those programs bring with them.

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