Why a basic income won’t work

Man dressed as a pizza box © Rex Features
Where’s his incentive with a universal income?

The Universal Basic Income is the latest radical idea to gain some currency among political campaigners, including within the Labour Party. Last weekend, there was a referendum on the issue in Switzerland (it lost). John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has given credence to the idea. So what is it? A fairly simple one. Every citizen would get a basic cash payment from the government every week or month. It wouldn’t be means-tested, and there wouldn’t be any requirement to do anything in return. It would be a fundamental right of citizenship.

It’s not hard to see the appeal. Welfare systems are often a mess, with a baffling maze of different benefits. A basic income, much like child benefit, strips all that away and replaces it with a single payment.

More pressingly, the advance of robotics means that we might be facing a new wave of joblessness as machines take over many more jobs. If there is no work, you might as well pay people anyway, and let the robots do everything. Likewise, People’s QE and helicopter money aim to stimulate an economy when interest rates are already close to zero – and might be better than doing nothing.

These ideas, however, are dangerous. They sever the connection between income and work. Indeed, it would hardly be surprising if the two ideas merged at some point – the easiest way of distributing helicopter money fairly would be through a basic income, since chucking notes out of choppers was only ever intended as a metaphor, and doesn’t sound either very practical or very fair.

In reality, there are two big problems. The first, and probably most important, is that it destroys incentives. Sure, if you are a well-paid lawyer or banker (or a columnist who loves his work, come to think of it), you might well carry on working even if you didn’t really need to. But the Tesco delivery driver? The office cleaner?

At the bottom end of the labour market, it will be a lot harder to persuade people to clock in every morning if they can simply collect a cheque every week for doing nothing. Likewise, if politicians have to raise some money from their voters in taxes every time they make a spending pledge then they will be a lot more careful with their promises.

In both cases, the need to pay for things, and to find the money to do so, is a necessary discipline. Take that away, and the incentives will be lost – and restoring them will prove hard. Next, it will destroy the price mechanism. If everyone gets an income for doing nothing, then how will we know where we want people to work, or in what industries? How will we know when people should switch from one business to another?

If money is distributed for free, or used to fund government spending, how will we know who should get it, or what the state should be lavishing resources on? Price is a good way of deciding those questions – without it, there will be a mess.

There are other objections. A universal income will be horrendously expensive, and implies a massive increase in taxes, even if it replaces other welfare benefits. Helicopter money is not in practice much different from government borrowing, and creates tricky questions of distribution – what happens to people without bank accounts, for example, who probably need it more than anyone?

Most importantly, there is a strand of fashionable economic thinking that seems to have forgotten the value of work – and likes to believe that money can simply be conjured out of nowhere. But that is just not true. All cash represents some work done by someone somewhere. It is fundamental to the economy.

The harder, and more efficiently people work, the better off we will all be. Whatever the challenges facing our economy, it is very hard to believe that destroying the incentives to work, or for the government to spend sensibly, will ever be the answer to any of them.

  • Pish

    The results from places it’s been tried show increased employment, improved health and education outcomes, lower crime etc.

    If you’re interested in finding out the real effects look at Mincome, the Native American schemes, the basic income grants in India etc etc etc. It’s not very difficult to find the facts…

  • Clearly it depends on how it is implemented! You don’t want to put 16 year olds or new immigrants on a pension but at the rate we are going no one will ever get a pension. Maybe a negative income tax would be best, most people don’t want to be inert and if you have a safety net you can get rid of minimum wages and employment regulations that kill low end job formation. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

    It all comes down to tax in the end. A basic income must be funded via a better tax system on land values. Otherwise you still have the property owners getting tax rebates via capital gains on their land while renters are trapped on a basic income.

    • The trouble is, the people who stand to lose the most from a land value tax are the people who exert the most clout with our governments.

      • depends on how you go about it. At the very least local governments could start land banking so when they give planning permission they get the freehold gain, leasehold sale value and ground rents

        • rory

          Don’t need to, see above.

      • rory

        Agreed. However if the property-less got out and voted for change rather than just moaned into their flat lattes, things might be different.

      • John Hersey

        Only some people who monopolise land will loose out.
        .
        Monopoly also implies a smaller economy because factors of production are not used optimally. (Pareto efficiency)
        .
        While a person might loose out on the unearned rent of a larger monopoly, if he used Land productively, he would gain in a larger share in a bigger market.

        .

    • rory

      WE already have a perfectly good mechanism for taxing land value – it’s called CGT. Problem is, we don’t apply it to the land appreciating the fastest, i.e. the land under principle private residencies. Nor do we charge VAT on new-builds built on land with PP and therefore massively increased added value. The clue is in the words.

  • johnellis

    “But the Tesco delivery driver? The office cleaner?” These are exactly the kindvof jobs robots will take over, rather tgan lack of incentive to do these jobs, these jobs simply won’t exist, which brings us full circle back to the idea of UBI.

    • It’s not so much ‘take over’ as drive wages down to poverty levels (below minimum wage) for unskilled workers. Robots do robot tasks well, that changes jobs and frees labour up to do more productive work.

      • johnellis

        Driverless cars and drones will replace jobs completely, algorithms will completely supplant more and more complex white collar jobs. This is not a question of how, but of when. This has already happened in the newsprint and media where journalists are having to work for free and musicians are paid only for live work. This is only the beginning, there needs to be a whole rethink of the economic system.

        • that is what they said about cash machines but there still seems to be lots of bank staff. Robots just change the nature of jobs and drive down unskilled wages. We need less journalist but many more programmers to write blog software. The much greater problem is the integration of low and high wage economies, this has been a disaster for the western working class and needs to be halted e.g. via #Brexit

    • Delivery drivers, certainly. Cleaners, I doubt it. Yes, robots can hoover reasonably well now but if you think about all the jobs a good cleaner actually needs to do, a great deal of flexibility and manual dexterity is required. Think about your average office bathroom, all the nooks and crannies, behind and under the taps, round the back of the u-bend etc.

      It’ll be a long time until robots are capable of doing that, and longer still before they can do that more cheaply than people can.

  • Charles

    The problem with this article is that the method of funding basic income that I support is one from land value tax… which is a tax on being unproductive. So his whole premise is wrong.
    People will still work, just for their own interests instead of the interests of corporations or the for the interests of special interest groups(which is what happens when you socialize a service).

    lets not forget the fact that the article basically frames the issue as if poor people are naturally lazy and wont be self-motivated if they are given the option…. so its poor-shaming.

    • Ben Jamin’

      A LVT isn’t a “tax on being unproductive”. But your point is still valid. Without any changes to our tax/benefit system, a Citizens Income funded by collecting the £220bn of land rents, currently capitalised into rental incomes/selling prices, would give every man, woman and child an income of £3000pa.

      Reducing inequality (individual and regional), and allowing the market to allocate land/immovable property at optimal efficiency, reducing vacancy, under occupation, land banking and urban sprawl

      It would also reduce the selling price of land to zero, knocking two thirds of the selling price of an average UK home.

      Negating the need to build any extra new housing stock for the foreeeable future.

  • Steve Godenich

    Among the complement, enthused economic followers of IS/LM may welcome QE, ZIRP, NIRP, ever-growing national debt and Friedman’s helicopter money, but even Hicks saw it was the illegitimate brainchild of Keynes. These economic practices do, indeed, disconnect productive work from earned income to serve up contrived profits realized in real estate, carry trade and financial markets, at the taxpayer’s expense. This does expose limitations of Walrasian-based macroeconomic models or metaphorically speaking, not seeing the trees for the forest. The traditional Keynesian view was to save during the boom, spend during the bust and be refreshed anew for adventures in the next business cycle.

    The long and short of it is that we have piled on a titanic shipload of debt over numerous business cycles and a super wave can be seen on the horizon of our course that may founder us. Nurturing these accumulated money trees of debt to growth, with ever scarcer liquidity along the way, may sink us further into the debts, while lashing the crew on may not keep us out of harm’s way nor quench our thirst, but rather drown us in the debts.

    Fortunately for us, we do have the recourse of basic income to see us through and buoy us up when seen through the lens of a revenue-neutral poverty-line citizen’s negative income tax[1]. That is, a proper dose of main street liquidity complements may sustain us when entrepreneurial innovation creates technology disrupting destruction during Schumpeterian business cycles. Basic income may be sour to the taste so combine it with something like Edgar Feige’s APT tax reform[2] full proof blend to promote a sense of well-being for the formal sector and ward off any scurvy side effects, later.

    [1] The Negative Income Tax and Basic Income are pretty much the same thing | Adam Smith Institute
    [2] Alternative Proposals for Reform | C-SPAN | 2005
    https://www.c-span.org/video/?186687-5/alternative-proposals-reform

  • EdMSmith

    ‘The harder, and more efficiently people work the better off we will all be’ ! Sounds like a man with a whip in one hand expounding to a galley of slaves. If the need to work at a crappy job just to cover necessities is removed people will follow their desires and work in the field that their natural preference leads them to. When that happens you can be assured the better off we will all be in many more ways than just financial. I also disagree with the point that it would be horribly expensive and not for those without a bank account. The cost of the beurocracy to administer benefits and pensions would also be freed up to be used to provide the income too, just a simpler way of doling out the money and those without accounts would soon get one or be given one. The work incentive would not be removed, because if you work you get more, even a tesco delivery driver..would keep working, only this time he would be doing it to provide more. The way you say it sounds eerily similar to the reason the Barron’s justified not paying their miners or farm workers more money for ‘they would just spend it on more alcohol’ it was Bolloks then and is the same now. A UBI is a radical change but would be a very good one.

    • rory

      If you give everyone more money, the price of goods and services will rise to absorb that money and the rich (the owners of the means of production of goods and services) will profit, again, at the expense of the taxpayer. The poor? …will remain with us.

      • Radio Jammor

        You don’t get it. A Basic Income is not “more money”. It is a better re-distribution of the existing money.

        • rory

          What, you mean like more income paid to the poor from taking more tax from the rich? Sounds like welfare to me, the objective of which has always been to provide a ‘universal basic income’ and clearly still doesn’t work.

          • johnellis

            Inflation will occur if everbody received a basic income, but you have to consider that technology will leave most people jobless. If we work to earn money in order to buy things, what happens when no one except the big corporations have money? Money is only any use if it is circulated in the economy, if it is hoarded, it becomes worthless. It’s upto the government to take the first step in democratising money in the form of UBI.

            • rory

              I don’t disagree with your premise, but actually this isn’t a new problem and previously it has been clearly demonstrated that if you give people money, they may well spend it on what they want, not necessarily what they need. I would suggest that it may be more effective if the democratically elected Gov of the day taxes the corporations and provides the ‘things’ – we could call these like er… the NHS, er… social housing, er…. child benefit etc etc.

              • johnellis

                Unfortunately rapidly evolving technology such as 3d printers, driverless cars, drones and computer algorithms will put an estimated 50% of jobs in the USA at risk. The paradox deeply embedded in capitalism, the dreaded zero marginal cost will be impacting greatly in the next few decades and UBI is fast becoming the only option on the table.

                • rory

                  Possibly – but stop calling it UBI and call it what it really is – Institutionalised, arbitrary, wealth re-distribution – and then find enough of the political class to support it. Just being realistic!

                  • johnellis

                    I agree it’s unrealistic and arbitrary at the moment, but I’m guessing that when those 50% of jobs disappear, the ‘political class’ will have their work cut out.

          • You seem to be struggling with the concept of ‘universal’ there.

      • It’s a flawed assumption that everyone will have more money. A lot of people would probably scale back their employment to compensate and their incomes would remain broadly unchanged. Others might never bother getting proper jobs or careers, instead supplementing their incomes with bits of money for artistic, creative or sporting endeavours. We’re actually seeing that more and more in young people today – many aren’t bothering with conventional careers because home ownership seems such an unreasonable goal and if you don’t intend to buy a home, do you really need to have a full-time job? Increasingly, youngsters are living like students with bit-part jobs here and there.

        A lot of things would have to change, and inflation would likely jump about a bit, but I doubt they’d settle somewhere unsustainable.

  • rory

    If you give everyone more money, the price of goods and services will rise to absorb that money and the rich (the owners of the means of production of goods and services) will profit, again. The poor? …will remain with us. Sorry Pish, but UBI is UBI, giving money to poor special interest groups is welfare or income re-distribution if you want to be PC.

    • Radio Jammor

      You don’t get it. A Basic Income is not “more money”. It is a better re-distribution of the existing money. Check out https://medium.com/basic-income/wouldnt-unconditional-basic-income-just-cause-massive-inflation-fe71d69f15e7#.hid3w7gcq

      • DemiGod

        The inflation argument is obviously rubbish, ECB is currently printing €80 a month and they don’t have it yet, and as your link examples demonstrate but that is not what causes inflation. It is not necessarily ‘better’ but it is different. Confidence is the key, value is people and their time, confidence is the ability for these people to create value regardless of UBI. Some kind of negative income tax could work well to level the entry to compete; but it must go hand in hand with confidence to create value.

  • jacksaturday

    The “incentive” concern has been debunked many times over in basic income pilots. The stick (threat of the streets) is an inhuman incentive equivalent to the incentive for slaves. UBI would be a huge investment not only in the health of a nation (health care costs soar for the impoverished), and vastly lower crime rates, but in freedom and happiness. People would be more available for lousy part-time jobs because the pay would not be clawed back,and could be used to buy luxuries, not necessities, thereby stimulating the economy. But bosses and managers would have less “incentive” to harass and insult workers.

  • Panoramics!

    People will continue to work while being granted a basic income to make more money than a basic income provides. People love luxuries and get bored easily. People will continue to work.

  • Radio Jammor

    The author gives a nod to AI and robots and new technology, then ignore its with the rest of the article.

    The Tesco Delivery is going to get replaced with a driverless vehicle, with robots or drones loading/unloading. The cleaner by a robot, robots which already exist, btw. You can buy a basic one for £60, with more complex models costing no more than several hundred pounds.

    And if the author had bothered to do any homework, instead of making the same lazy assumption that uninformed journalists tend to make, he would have seen numerous projects, numerous polls and numerous accounts of how a basic income does not lead to people being lazy, but better able to determine for themselves how they live their lives and what their priorities are, rather than some boss somewhere, who would rather pay them as little as they can get away with, or nothing at all and use a machine (is there any security, job satisfaction or decent level of pay for someone walking up and down with a sandwich board? Could you find any better example of a soul-destroying, miserable, low-paid job that a robot wouldn’t mind doing instead?).

    With the author’s poor grasp of existing technology, let alone the technology that is in trial and on the design table, the author clearly has little idea how many jobs are going to disappear entirely to robots in the not too distant future. I wonder if he realises that there are not enough jobs to go round now? I wonder if he has checked the ONS stats on that.

    This article therefore goes down as a lazy, uninformed opinion piece that the proponents of basic income can laugh at and ridicule before moving on to other articles on the subject.

    BTW, I little personal statistic for you: Articles and pieces I have seen that are negative and/or wrong about a basic income and can be debunked, corrected or refuted: 100%.

    This one was easy. Next.

    • Regarding cleaning robots – there are ones available that perform some aspects of cleaning, but if you think about everything the average cleaner has to do it’s clear that robots are a long way from having the required level of manual dexterity, flexibility, observation and judgement skills necessary to do the job well. They’re even further away from being able to do the job well for less money than a human.

  • Darcie

    Having a basic income and combining it with this horrible job may allow this man to not live in poverty, it may afford him the opportunity to take some classes or permit his wife to stay home with the children.

  • Keumars Afifi-Sabet

    “Sure, if you are a well-paid lawyer or banker (or a columnist who loves his work, come to think of it), you might well carry on working even if you didn’t really need to. But the Tesco delivery driver? The office cleaner?”

    If that’s the case then perhaps employers would be more inclined to offer these undesirable jobs a much, much better wage – and provide their employees with greater benefits. Now I can’t see anything wrong with that, can you?

  • Phil

    Like the idea or not, this is going to be classed as normal in the not so distant future. What people are failing to see, who do not like the idea, is when the robots and drones take over millions of our jobs, there are going to be millions more unemployed. What then, let everybody starve, I should hope not. An universal basic income is the only sensible answer.

  • dean

    The value of work is being undermined by unscrupulous employers though, so if we provide a basic income to everyone the worth of these low skill jobs that need done but no one wants to do will have to be reassessed. You make that very point yourself when you link wages and work in your article. You would continue working because you enjoy your job but the minimum wage tesco employee wouldn’t. Not everyone has the qualification/aptitude to be a journalist but this doesn’t mean that their work isn’t difficult, just that it has been devalued. Ultimately, this bill could give some much needed power to employees which lets be honest here, are the majority of the population. The current Marxist position we are in whereby the people who hold the means of production hold the all the power is disproportionate and should be confined to the dustbin in any society that wants to call itself a democracy.

    • rory

      I always thought that ‘whereby the people who hold the means of production hold all the power’ sic. is capitalism and marxism is ‘paying everybody the same wage irrespective of effort, talent, or value’ i.e. a UBI. And where has Marxism ever worked?

      • dean

        It is the Marxist definition of Capitalism (I worded it poorly). Capitalists see it differently.

  • Robin De villiers

    Hi Matthew. I don’t buy your point about ‘destroying the price mechanism’. For prices to be discovered, you need 3 things; scarcity in money, scarcity in what is priced and volume in transactions.

    A universal wage is not QE, instead its paid by tax revenue, and as such is a redistribution of money. So scarcity in money remains.

    On the third point, more money in more people’s hands means more transactions, so if anything, more volume and better price discovery.

    I think you are talking about the forces driving supply. But the industrialist will happily replace us all with robots, since its to his profit, so people being in work doesn’t affect the supply side. In fact the assumption with universal wage is that technology is doing exactly that; putting people out of work.

    And once the robots have done that, who will have any money to buy anything? We need universal wage.

    Also this ‘experiment’ in Switzerland doesn’t exactly pan out, as unemployment is only 3.5%, so universal wage is not something they need. They are the last country I would expect to be negatively impacted by the replacement of the working/consumer class by technology since their economy is mostly driven by banking and therefore the more riches consolidated in their banking institutions the better for them.

  • Cameron Holder

    I’m for this if it test well and we can implement it properly apart from the question of how we pay for it but this is a more fundamental question.

    For years corporate tax has been a race to the bottom with the logic that business creates jobs, we have shifted the burden of taxation to the workers. So what happens when business replaces most of the workers with robots and AI?

    We better work that one out quickly because it is going to happen, basic income or not!

  • dfjkbvdjkf

    To my mind the biggest drawback to UBI is the second generation.

    When parents on UBI have kids, there will be little or no incentive to have their offspring educated. Since they won’t need to work, what would be the point in spending 14+ years attending school? Especially when one of schools’ prime functions (to look after children while their parents are working) is no longer required. Since those parents would have no income except for UBI, it would be very difficult to sanction them as they would have nothing to pay any fines with. You couldn’t imprison them without having to take responsibility for their children.

    So UBI generation #2 will not only not HAVE to work for a living, but they will be UNABLE to, since they have no education. Step up to the next generation and there won’t be any teachers who COULD educate so the whole possibility of reverting to a work / pay regime is lost.

    And when nobody is working and all the work is done by robots, what will happen when the robots need repairing, replacing, modernising, reconfiguring for different tasks? Or when they simply decide they don’t want to work, either?

    In practice I doubt it would be as clear cut as generations #1, #2 and #3. But the principle is there and the route from an upward direction of self-improvement, education ad betterment by means of rewards soon turns into a downward spiral of disincentivisation, finding the lowest acceptable level and increasing dependence on “them”.

    • That’s actually a bigger problem with UBI than anything mentioned in the article. Without the career ladder, the rat race, what would happen to the incentive to become educated? Some people would ensure their children did well at school out of principle, but a lot wouldn’t. Many members of my extended family thought I was wasting my time at college, then wasting my time and taking on unnecessary debt at university. I now earn at least twice what they do, but they’ve let their children bimble lazily through school and become unemployable wretches even before UBI. They just don’t see the value in education. Take the capacity to earn out of the equation and how for do people like that go?

  • While I agree with your summary of the basic pros and cons of a Universal Basic Income, I find your conclusions a bit hard to credit.

    “At the bottom end of the labour market, it will be a lot harder to persuade people to clock in every morning if they can simply collect a cheque every week for doing nothing.”

    Will it, though? The incentive to go and work is not going to disappear because of UBI. Given the choice between doing nothing and being handed the means to live a very austere life or supplementing that income by working, a very large majority of people would seek to supplement their UBI one way or another.

    You’re trying to present the Bad Thing as people not bothering to work, but what you’re really worried about is that given the choice between no job or a job where you are treated badly for bottom dollar, people will choose no job and that isn’t something our economy will be able to easily accommodate as it currently exists.

    You’re making out that no one will do the ‘crap’ jobs, but that’s not actually true. Lots of people enjoy cleaning and would be happy to do it in return for money. You may turn your nose up at the idea of driving for Tesco, but that’s actually one of many jobs I did for Tesco to pay my way through university and you know what? If my basic living expenses were covered by the state, I’d have no qualms about doing that kind of work again to bolster my disposable income.

    The problem is not that people won’t do ‘crap’ jobs. The problem is that people won’t do ‘crap’ jobs for crap employers. It’s one thing to do a job that’s menial and/or physically taxing, but it’s quite another to be effectively paid below minimum wage because you’re expected to service an unrealistic number of rooms per hour. It’s another for a care worker to be given a handful of appointments across a full working day and spread all over town, and then not be paid travel expenses.

    So the problems you’re attributing to UBI are not actually problems with UBI at all, they’re problems with a neoliberal capitalist economy that can’t function unless people have no choice but to work in bad jobs for poor pay under poor conditions. That’s actually a major failure of our economy, so why aren’t you highlighting that?

    Besides, the real reason UBI won’t work in this country is far simpler: our housing market is badly overinflated and the government aren’t in a position to exert any meaningful control over it. That makes UBI unaffordably expensive straight off the bat unless, perhaps, you adjust it for an individual’s housing costs (which is pointless, because you’re then bogged down in administration again). It might, might, work in countries where social housing is available for pretty much anyone who wants it. The Nordics, perhaps. It would still take an incredible leap of faith though and it’s probably wiser to just create a modern and comprehensive welfare system. Plenty of countries do just fine with systems that are far more generous than our own, because often these things pay for themselves in other ways – less crime, less sickness etc

  • Brian John

    I thought this was comedy gold. I did not know whether to laugh or cry. In answer to the question, ‘what is his incentive’? Well, how about aspiration. It certainly beats the choices of starvation or humiliation.

    • TheLyniezian

      I took it as his “incentive” to become a walking advert for a take-away pizza company, not to aspire to a better job. That makes the whole picture and caption even funnier. Who the heck would do such a job excpet because one needed the money, or at least it was an easy sort of ready cash? It is in itself an almost meaningless job, excpet to maybe help someone know that the pizza shop exisits slightly more than they might otherwise have done. WIll anyone care if no-one will do it because they found an easier source of ready cash?

  • Winstanley66

    It will only work if we pay for it by scrapping unfair inefficient taxes on work and trade and introduce Land Value Tax.

    • Ben Jamin’

      A Citizens Income would work paid from a LVT and no other changes to our tax/benefit system. Why shouldn’t it?

      Naturally though it would be even better if it did substitute for taxes on output, it would increase rental value of land and thus the tax base, for a start.

  • John Hersey

    No human can survive on this planet, without access to Land (incl. natural resources).
    .
    All your survival needs of water, food, fuel, clothing, shelter and medicine are derived from Land and natural resources.
    .
    We have a economic system, in which a handful of people (>1% plutocracy), hold a complete monopoly over Land rights, effective denying the greater majority of the worlds population, the right to life, unless the monopolists “benevolently” create employment for us.
    .
    In every civilisation and culture, for 5000+ years, it’s been accepted, that Land and Natural Resources, were not created by mankind, and are therefore the collective and communal property of the entire population, however thugs with power, have never accepted this philosophical position, and have enforced economic systems of enslavement on people.
    .
    There are two solutions:
    1.) The plutocracy either agree to pay Rent on the economic value of the Land they hold monopoly rights on, which gets divided equally between the rest of the population as a citizens dividend, so they can buy their survival needs; or
    .
    2.) The people will eventually wake up and overthrow you.
    .

  • TheLyniezian

    The opening image contradicts this argument perfectly. Where is the incentive for a man to be a walking advert for a company that delivers overpriced and unhealthy food? Why does there need to be any? It is the ultimate form of crass marketing and apparent dehumanisation- the worker is reduced to a walking advertisment. In the same way, the link between work and pay, the implied need to work simply to not starve and the commodification of work, all lead to such perverse “incentives”. The requirement to do work which is not of any real value to society, to make and sell stuff which may or may not be really needed if we applied any rational, critical thought to our buying processes instead of the demand being (as it often – albeit not always – is, do not try to deny it) induced by clever marketing tricks?

    Do the writers and editors responsible for this article not realise the irony in their own publication?

  • douglas redmayne

    Lynn is missing the point: a citizens income will become necessary once it is cheaper for robots to do all nabaul jobs. The price of goods will become then detached from the quantity if skill efgort and “sweat” applied and didincentivisation will be irrelevant. A citizens income funded by helicopter money, which would not be inflationary, would be necessary in this world to maintain returns to capital. It may also be necessary because if governments don’t do this then there would be a revolution with neo-liberals like Lynn the first to mount the tumbrils.

    In the future there will be no place for the labour value theory of economics, the Protestant work ethic, or the boring Calvin is notion that effort should equal reward: we will all be able to live perfectly happy lives free of material discontent.