February 14, 2018

A Universal Basic Income would be a societal dividend. No one should have the power to decide which shareholders get it and which not.

Sir, in response to Ian Goldin’s “Five reasons why universal basic income is a red herring”, February 12, you today publish 3 letters that are all against the idea of Universal Basic Income. Is that really “Without Favour”?

Lesley Spencer in his “The huge cost to society of every job replaced” correctly describes some of the problems with increased automation, like humans competing disadvantageously with robots and less fiscal revenues. That clearly calls for new sources of fiscal revenues, like taxing robots or, as he writes, “the company picking up the tax shortfall when it replaces a person with a machine.”

But why that should also signify that UBI does not have an important role to play in the adjustments our society must do in order to face these chaplinesque neo modern times beats me.

And Carol Wilcox, in “Some tasks simply can’t be handed to a machine”, states that “Ian Goldin is right to call out universal basic income as snake oil”, but then supports that solely by arguing that Goldin “is wrong to believe that automation is a threat to workers”

And finally Jonathan Berry with “Why are we drawn to the most difficult solutions?”, argues for the much more complicated route of handing out stock-market participation, to some, than a societal dividend to all.

Sir, be aware that the major enemies of the UBI are the redistribution profiteers, scared to death that would diminish the value of their franchise.

But of course even between the UBI defenders there are many disagreements. I for one firmly believe that a UBI should be set at a level in which it helps you to get out of bed, but never ever, as some do, to be set on a level that allows you to stay in bed.