Category Archives: Univ. Basic Income

New Article: UBI & Immigrants: Lessons From the Pandemic

Jennifer Gordon, UBI & Immigrants: Lessons From the Pandemic, L. & Pol. Econ. (Feb. 9, 2021). Introduction below:

Does universal basic income have a role to play in a more just political economy?  It is by now fairly well appreciated that, on the level of individual countries, much depends on the framing and design of the program: a UBI that replaces social insurance is not the same as one that supplements it.

But comparatively little thought has gone into the global perspective. Even the most progressive nation-based approach to basic income faces a fundamental justice challenge in the reality of human mobility.   Almost all basic income proposals focus on the country as a unit. (Exceptions include Philippe Van Parijs and Juliana Bidadanure.) Responding to the assertion that nations with UBI programs open to all would be overrun by outsiders seeking to access the benefit, most make citizenship a prerequisite for a grant.  A number also call for increased restrictions on immigration (other than of temporary laborers) in order to make such programs politically feasible. 

New Article: Basic Income, Care, and Wages for Housework

Almaz Zelleke, Basic Income, Care, and Wages for Housework, L. & Pol. Econ. (Feb. 10, 2021). Introduction below:

At its simplest, basic income is a social policy program–a cash transfer like Unemployment Insurance, Social Security, or the Earned Income Tax Credit. Each of these programs is meant to address a particular social and economic problem in an effective and efficient way. But, like each of those programs, basic income also embodies a normative perspective on capitalism, citizenship, and individual and collective responsibility for the basic economic security of individuals and groups. What distinguishes a basic income from other cash transfers is its universality, its unconditionality, and the individual, rather than household, basis of the benefit calculation. Rather than targeting specific demographic groups with different means tests and eligibility requirements, basic income targets economic insecurity through a single program open to all.

New Article: Universal Basic Income, Racial Justice, Climate Justice

Olufumi Taiwo, Universal Basic Income, Racial Justice, Climate Justice, L. & Pol. Econ. (Feb. 15, 2021). Introduction below:

Basic income could play a key role in reorienting how our social systems answer this century’s most basic political question: who and what will be secured when crisis strikes? It is encouraging, then, that the Movement for Black Lives policy platform made it one of its initial proposals, while building reparations into the program and its larger political perspective. These ideas fit well together in any era, but especially our era – one marked by the present scourge of racial capitalism, the coming climate crisis, and the grave risks for justice that their intersection will pose over the next century.

New Article: Basic Income and the Freedom to Refuse

Noah Zatz, Basic Income and the Freedom to Refuse, L. & Pol. Econ. (Feb. 16, 2021). Introduction below:

Criminal legal debt provides a revealing lens through which to examine universal basic income (UBI). It highlights a path to potential failure: fetishizing labor markets as the engine of economic inequality ignores how today’s criminal legal system carries forward racial capitalism’s techniques of targeted extraction. Yet recognizing this also opens a door to more robust visions of UBI that join together the powers of work refusal and debt refusal.

New Article: Considering and Critiquing Universal Basic Income: Introduction

Noah Zatz, Considering and Critiquing Universal Basic Income: Introduction, L. & Pol. Econ. (Feb. 8, 2021). Introduction below:

This week we’re opening up a symposium on universal basic income (UBI). UBI is both an important topic in its own right and a useful lens for examining recurrent virtues and vices in projects of partial decommodification and universal provision.

UBI typically is defined as an ongoing periodic cash payment (income) to pretty much everyone (universal) at a high enough level to meet (or at least make a substantial dent in) minimum subsistence needs (basic). UBI’s universality also entails unconditionality: no formal eligibility conditions, such as past or present work requirements. The strong form of universality associated with UBI also typically involves formal equality in grant size: everyone gets it and in the same amount. This entails rejecting means-testing (itself deeply connected to conditionality), the targeting of benefits only to those who lack other sources of income.

News Coverage: Stockton’s Basic-Income Experiment Pays Off

Annie Lowrey, Stockton’s Basic-Income Experiment Pays Off, The Atlantic (March 3, 2021). “A new study of the city’s program that sent cash to struggling individuals finds dramatic changes.” Click link above to read more.

New Article: From Stigma to Dignity? Transforming Workfare with Universal Basic Income and a Federal Job Guarantee

Lynn Lu, From Stigma to Dignity? Transforming Workfare with Universal Basic Income and a Federal Job Guarantee, 72 S.C. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2021). Abstract below:

By the summer of 2020, pandemic isolation gave way to mass protests supporting the Movement for Black Lives with calls to end anti-Black police brutality and mass incarceration, but also seeking to end exploitation of Black essential workers and increase attention to longstanding economic devastation of divestment from communities of color. With physical health and safety linked inextricably to material deprivation came heightened public demands for racial, social, and economic justice to help marginalized communities not just survive in times of crisis, but thrive every day.  

As the COVID-19 pandemic takes a catastrophic toll on lives and livelihoods across the United States, the harshest impact of the unpredictable virus has disproportionately fallen with foreseeable accuracy on Black, immigrant, poor, and elderly people, who are most likely to live and work in close contact with others and to have less access to health care or emergency savings. The speed and severity of the viral contagion has rendered devastatingly, undeniably visible the vast, racial gap between those with reliable health care, child care, housing, nutrition, household wealth, and income and those without, but that gap was already widening well before the pandemic amid accelerating economic inequality, racial disparity, and precarity for those fortunate enough to find paid work. 

This Article examines reinvigorated proposals for universal basic income (UBI) and a federal job guarantee (JG) to reduce poverty, income inequality, and the widening racial wealth gap. It examines the potential of such reforms to put more money into the hands of those most likely to use it while ending involuntary unemployment and boosting labor conditions for all, but especially Blacks and people of color with less access to generational wealth, higher education, and protection against employment discrimination. It concludes that both UBI and JG are necessary but each insufficient on its own to achieve greater economic security and mobility, with dignified work for all. 

Crucially, a universal minimum income untethered to any form of work requirement is essential to break the racialized and gendered stigma that frames economic need as welfare dependency; equally important is the guarantee of public employment at a living wage to those who voluntarily choose to avoid gaps in earned income and employment history but have historically been excluded from the best work-life options. Together, UBI and JG form vital pillars of social support for withstanding future crises, large or small, and for creating the future society we want.

Report: Basic Income in Cities

Report: Juliana Bidadanure, Sean Kline, Camille Moore, Brooks Rainwater, and Catherine Thomas, Basic Income in Cities, Nat’l League of Cities (2018) (https://www.nlc.org/sites/default/files/2018-11/BasicIncomeInCities_Report_For%20Release%20.pdf). Short excerpt follows:

Cities are uniquely positioned to lead the country forward through innovation and ferocious experimentation. As we near the 2020s, it is apparent that the nation will need a social welfare system built for this new century and its specific challenges. One proposal governments are increasingly exploring is a policy now widely known as “universal basic income,” or UBI.

New Article: EITC for All: A Universal Basic Income Compromise Proposal

New Article: Benjamin Leff, EITC for All: A Universal Basic Income Compromise Proposal, 26 Wash. & Lee J. Civ. Rts. & Soc. Just. 85 (2019). Abstract below:

Much has been written about a concept called universal basic income (UBI). With a UBI, the government gives every person a certain amount of money each year, or even each month. The UBI has broad appeal with thinkers on both the right and the left, but the appeal is partially because different thinkers have different visions of what the current state of affairs is with respect to government welfare policies and different theories about why these existing policies are inadequate or damaging. Reforming existing programs, rather than making a radical break with the past, could satisfy at least some of the interests that motivate support for a UBI. The purpose of this Article is to explore the possibility of modifying the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the largest and arguably most popular U.S. anti-poverty government transfer program, in order to capture at least some of the benefits associated with the UBI. This Article explores four problematic aspects of the EITC, each of which could be modified to make it function more like a UBI. These four aspects are: (1) the EITC creates disincentives to work for the so-called “nearly poor” because the credit phases out at moderately low income levels; (2) the EITC is fundamentally dependent on family structure, which is potentially unfair, invasive, and affects incentives to marry, divorce, and cohabitate; (3) receipt of the EITC benefit is temporally mismatched with recipient need, expensive for recipients to collect, and difficult for the IRS to administer because the EITC is integrated with the tax system; and, finally, (4) the EITC is too small to fully function as a hedge against underemployment and poverty. Modifying the EITC would make it more like a UBI and would make it more effective at achieving the goal of supporting financially struggling workers and their families while minimizing perverse incentives.

New Article: Something for Nothing: Universal Basic Income and the Value of Work Beyond Incentives

New Article: Jonathan Grossberg, Something for Nothing: Universal Basic Income and the Value of Work Beyond Incentives, 26 WASH. & LEE J. CIV. RTS. & SOC. JUST. 1 (2019). Abstract below:

Proponents and opponents of a universal basic income all acknowledge that the most significant political challenge to its adoption in the United States is that a universal basic income would not have a work requirement attached. Often, this is characterized as a problem involving incentives—the availability of a universal basic income would cause many people to stop working (or significantly curtail the number of hours that they work) and simply live off the universal basic income. This Article makes three contributions to the literature related to a universal basic income: First, it provides a typology for understanding the many reasons for valuing work; second, it argues that the United States is unlikely to implement a universal basic income because a universal basic income does not account for several aspects of the value of work; and, third, it argues that advocates of a universal basic income should instead focus on the more modest goal of redefining the activities that constitute work and broadening the social safety net by expanding existing policies through the use of a broader definition of work. This Article proposes that the value of work in American political culture has four primary dimensions: 1) reciprocity, that one receives rewards for one’s labor, that one gets what one gives and that no one should be a free rider, one who gets but does not give; 2) calling or vocation, that work is a calling or vocation that one should have or pursue, and that only those that have or pursue such a calling or vocation have moral standing; 3) self sufficiency, that work promotes self sufficiency, which is a necessary component of liberty and which is necessary to avoid dependency; and 4) incentives, of an economic kind, that society should encourage work because it increases the size of the economic pie. These categories provide a new framework for thinking about the value of work and for evaluating policies that relate to the working lives of Americans. As an alternative to the adoption of a universal basic income, this Article proposes that proponents of a universal basic income should focus on expanding and redefining current policies, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit so that they more closely resemble a participation income. In fact, a broader definition of work has even been used in recent conservative policy ideas, such as the Medicaid work requirements that some states have introduced, which include within their definition of work the activities of education, job training, and community service. This Article closes with an outline of a proposal to adopt an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit that resembles a participation income and addresses each of the dimensions of the value of work.