My Weekly BIT, week of Oct 8 2017
Happy (late) Sunday!
Apologies for sending out the newsletter a bit later than normal.
Before jumping into the headlines, I wanted to quickly share that I was interviewed about UBI for a podcast! I will share more details and links once I have them.
(IJR.com: Independent Journal Review)
Several high profile Democrats were asked about their stances on UBI, and their responses ranged quite a bit. Across the eleven politicians asked, the responses went from “I disagree” to “Let’s discuss further” to “I don’t know what UBI is”. The most positive responses came from Sen Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sen Kamala Harris (D-CA). No one came out in total support, but it’s important to learn where leading Democrat leaders currently stand, their understanding of the idea, and what concerns are holding them back from “evolving” on this issue.
The creator of 'The Wire' says the US needs a basic income due to the 'death of work' from automation
David Simon, the creator of HBO shows “The Wire” and now “The Deuce”, shared his support of UBI on a recent interview on the New Yorker Radio Hour Podcast. His concerns center on the threat of automation to many of today’s jobs, and he believes that UBI “an incredible boon to the country, and it would honestly take into account that we don't need as many Americans to run this economy as we once did...You give families that kind of money, it's all going back into the economy”
RECENT PODCASTS FEATURING BASIC INCOME
The great podcast 99% Invisible recently had an episode where they started to explore the idea of Universal Basic Income. Specifically they looked at an experiment in Finland, looking at what happens when 2,000 unemployed Finns receive a partial basic income, even if they find paid work. It will be in contrast to the current system, where unemployment benefits are immediately cut as soon as any income above a very small amount is earned, disincentivizing paid work.
While I feel that they missed an opportunity to go further into looking at existing evidence and addressing some fears expressed in the interviews, it’s clear that more nuanced discussion about UBI is starting to be covered more widely and often, and that’s definitely a good thing.
MY QUICK THOUGHTS
Even though no currently serving Democratic leaders have yet championed UBI, it was a huge step to just find out where some of them currently stand on the issue.
The only way more politicians will feel that it is politically safe to support UBI is to demonstrate the support of the community, from many different constituencies and backgrounds.
In a lesser covered story, California moved its Presidential Primary to March 3 (aka “Super Tuesday”) to provide Californians more influence over the Presidential nomination process. That means that politicians interested in the party’s nominee will need to convince the voters of California more than ever before.
If we can continue to grow support in California and demonstrate the wide foundation of supporters here, nominees will have to consider UBI as a strong economic policy that can bring voters to their side.
Hillary Clinton may have been the closest so far to run on a UBI policy, but I believe with our continued efforts, one if not several Democratic nominees will be supporters of UBI by the 2020 election.