Basic income pilots are ongoing or starting soon in Finland, Ontario, Stockton, Jacksonville, East Africa and two other U.S. states to be announced. These represent some of the most exciting developments in the basic income space, but it’s worth taking a step back to think about why we invest the considerable time, energy and money it takes to run a pilot. In this discussion episode, Owen and Jim delve into what pilots have meant so far to the basic income discussion, and where they might take us in the future.
A big open question around universal basic income is how the policy would relate to organized labor in the United States. While Andy Stern, former President of SEIU, the country’s largest labor union, is very supportive of basic income, others in the labor world are far more skeptical. To hash out some of the concerns there, Jim spoke with Ed Wytkind, President of EW Strategies and Senior Advisor to the AFL-CIO.
As listeners of the podcast will almost certainly know, Stockton, California is planning a basic income trial for 2019. Jim spoke with Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs and project leader Lori Ospina about new details regarding how the program will be structured, how recipients will be selected, and the challenges and responses so far to the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration. For more information, you can go to StocktonDemonstration.org.
One of the leading ideas on how to implement a basic income is a social wealth fund, similar to Alaska’s Permanent Fund, in which a government maintains a fund of various assets and provides dividends to everyone who lives within its borders. Matt Bruenig, President of the People’s Policy Project, recently designed a detailed proposal for implementing a social wealth fund in the US that would be financially and politically stable. He spoke with Jim about how he crafted this design and how he plans to advance it.
GiveDirectly has been doing some of the biggest, most groundbreaking work in basic income and cash transfers. One of the first episodes of this podcast featured GiveDirectly CFO Joe Huston, and we invited him back on to discuss their village-wide basic income trials in Kenya, their work with Ugandan refugees, a new project in Liberia and with hurricane relief efforts in Texas and Puerto Rico. Joe discusses the promises and challenges of working in these different contexts.
The history of our social safety net, government benefits and anti-poverty programs are inextricably tied up with race. Racial narratives are embedded in the public discourse around these programs, and in many cases, into the laws themselves. The basic income discussion in the U.S. must inevitably include a conversation about race and racial narratives. Anne Price, who studies race and public policy as President of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, joins the podcast to discuss these issues and how they relate to basic income.
For so many people, including both hosts of the podcast, the entry point to basic income was concerns about automation and how it could create an economy that requires many fewer employees. In this discussion episode, Owen and Jim delve into the pluses and minuses of automation’s primacy in the basic income discussion, and what a more rounded rationale for basic income looks like.
It’s easy to forget that one U.S. state administers a universal cash dividend and has for over thirty years. Alaska came into a windfall from leasing its oil lands in the late seventies and early eighties, and made the bold decision to invest the revenue in a sovereign wealth fund, which provides cash dividends to every Alaskan on an annual basis. Alaska State Sen. Bill Wielechowski joins the podcast to discuss the past, present and future of the Alaska Permanent Fund, and if it could be a model for the entire country.
Recently, as our listeners will know, the new administration in Ontario, Canada, announced that they will cancel the ongoing basic income trials there. In response, Jessie Golem, a photographer and basic income recipient, started a project called Humans of Basic Income (@HumansBasic on Twitter). Golem takes portraits of other basic income recipients in Ontario holding up handwritten signs describing what basic income has meant to them. The project both humanizes the basic income program and argues for it to continue. Jim spoke with Jessie Golem about the Ontario program and the Humans of Basic Income project.
Recently, we got a very exciting announcement from Springboard To Opportunities and the Economic Security Project: the two groups are collaborating to create the Magnolia Mother’s Trust. This program will provide an unconditional basic income to a small group of low-income African American mothers. Owen spoke to Aisha Nyandoro, who works with low-income women in Mississippi and will be leading the program.
In this unusual episode, Owen takes a break from cohosting and becomes a guest. Owen ran for California Assembly in this election cycle, and Jim interviews him on his experience. Owen goes into the surprises and challenges of being a first-time candidate, and offers advice for anyone considering a similar move.
How has the economy changed over the last generation, and what do today’s workers have to contend with that previous eras did not? Jim and Floyd Marinescu, CEO of C4Media, discuss these issues and more on this episode, which focuses on basic income from the business perspective.
Recently we got the unfortunate news that the new administration in Ontario plans on cancelling the current basic income trials. At the time of publishing, the program is still happening, and political pressure on the Ontario government may be quite valuable right now. Jim talked with Basic Income Canada Network Chairperson Sheila Regehr about what’s happening with the pilot and what people can do to push back against its cancellation.
Basic income and jobs guarantee are often juxtaposed as two policies that are mutually exclusive, politically or policy-wise. Alyssa Battistoni, writing for In These Times, suggests that both are worth fighting for, and that the two policies could work in concert. Battistoni, a PhD student at Yale in Political Theory and editorial board member of Jacobin, spoke with Jim on how these two policies might work together.
Annie Lowrey, Contributing Editor at the Atlantic, has caused a buzz with her new book “Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World.” In addition to the book itself, she has furthered the conversation with a recent New York Times op-ed and an appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. She joined the podcast to discuss her book and the reactions it’s received.
We are watching the economy change before our eyes, and Zipcar Cofounder Robin Chase has been at the forefront of that change. She gives her observations on the platform economy, automation, self-driving cars, and how a basic income could be what smoothes the transition as we move to a different type of relationship between people and their work. This is a rebroadcast of a previous episode, and the final rebroadcast in this series. New episodes coming next week.
In this episode, which initially aired last October, Jim and Owen answer listener questions from how to pay for basic income, which country will implement a basic income first and how we will get there. You can send your questions to the Universal Income Project on Facebook or Twitter, or tweet at Owen (@owenpoindexter) or Jim (@dr_pugh).
Jim continues the discussion started on the Intelligence Squared debate over basic income with Jared Bernstein, who argued against the basic income. Bernstein explains various concerns he has with the concept, focusing on existing social programs, and a similarly radical proposal: a jobs guarantee. Bernstein is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and served as Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden from 2009-2011.
Most arguments against the basic income can be summed up in two words: “status quo.” Owen and Jim explore the thinking behind some of the most common objections to the basic income and why these arguments are understandable but ultimately shortsighted.
Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Co-director of Caring Across Generations, and MacArthur Genius Award recipient discusses the challenges faced by domestic workers in the U.S. and how a basic income could dramatically change things in that space.