Last week at San Francisco State University, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich endorsed the idea of a Universal Basic Income as being something that was “almost inevitable” in America, in the face of job losses due to the increase of technological advances in the economy.
The response came to a question during a Q&A session at the end of a screening for his documentary film, Inequality For All, in which Robert Reich discusses the widening gap between the rich and the middle class and the effect that it is having on our economy.
When asked by the questioner if he would support the idea of a fully funded Negative Income Tax, Secretary Reich simply answered "yes" but went on to say:
That is the original [Milton] Friedman idea of a negative income tax really was provided as a way of eliminating poverty. And I think that we do need to seriously think particularly as productivity increases, technological change provides us with great benefits but requires fewer and fewer people to actually do the work...We've got to seriously think about how we widen the circle of prosperity, how we get shared prosperity. Otherwise, who's going to be the customer? And a minimal guarantee with regard to income, it seems to me as almost inevitable in terms the direction that the structural changes of our economy are taking us in."
For those of you that don't know of what a Universal Basic Income
is, it is the idea that lieu of (or in addition to) certain welfare programs, the government would simply cut a check every month to all American citizens regardless of income or employment status. The amount would be small enough so that it would not encourage a high percentage of people to immediately quit the work force, but also large enough to help Americans pay for basic necessities, thereby reinvesting in the economy.
The link to the video is below and the segment about a Universal Basic Income begins at around the 46 minute mark, although you may want to start at the 44 minute mark if you're interested in what Secretary Reich has to say about the idea of Universal Healthcare eventually happening in America: