I used to think that it might be a good idea for the federal government to guarantee everyone a universal basic income, to combat income inequality, slow wage growth, advancing automation and fragmented welfare programs. Now I'm more skeptical...
It's fair to ask whether a universal income guarantee would be affordable, but my doubts run deeper than that. If two able-bodied people live next door to each other, and one works and the other chooses to live off universal basic income checks, albeit at a lower standard of living, I wonder if this disparity can last. One neighbor feels like she is paying for the other, and indeed she is.BUT he wants to combat phony income inequality and phony automation concerns?
Has Cowen gone from being an economist to a Beltarian version of Paul Krugman?
Bottom line: If you offer to pay some people not to work, they will not work. If there is no "safety net," they will find a job.
This is not complicated.