Could a basic income displace the damage to the labor force anticipated by automation and robotics?

Hi Professor Wolff, On your program a few weeks ago, you were pointing to the perilous road ahead for labor, specifically as the rapid growth of automation and robotics threaten to create a jobless economy within the next decade or so. It occurred to me that along with worker cooperatives, (which you have so marvelously explained and championed on a number of shows) another strategy to explore might be the implementation of a basic income. Two potential guests come to mind. Steve Shafarman (Basic Income Action) who has written several books on the subject, and has been a proponent of the idea for decades. His plan is fixed amount for every person in the country, with no means test for income, as a way to completely eradicate dire poverty and provide an economic base for every person in the country. He outlines how it is economically possible, and given your expertise, you would be able to further amplify his concepts and lend support to its feasibility. The other potential guest is Robert Ashford, who has a plan that does not give money to people in the form of a monthly check, but instead provides every citizen with a capital investment. His plan is a little less direct, but here again, your command of economics and ability to teach, could really help educate us as to how this idea works and how it might look in practice. The idea of a basic income is virtually unknown in our society, but would have majority support were people to know and understand the concept, making it politically possible. The time is now for this discussion, as a way to offer people a strategy to displace some of the damage that is anticipated with the further evaporation of the labor force. It’s a potential left/right issue too, as the right might embrace it as a way to reduce social services. After all, Nixon supported the idea (at the urging of Milton Freidman) in the early 70’s for this reason. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to let me share my thoughts and for considering using your show as a way to explore this idea and potentially move it forward. Lee Metcalf

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  • lee metcalf
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-11-19 22:19:37 -0500