Mincome was a prototype of an idea that came to the fore in the sixties, and that is now popular again among economists and policy folks: a basic income guarantee. There are many versions of the idea, but the most interesting is what’s called a universal basic income: every year, every adult citizen in the U.S. would receive a stipend—ten thousand dollars is a number often mentioned. (Children would receive a smaller allowance.) — James Surowiecki, “The Case for Free Money,” The New Yorker (June 20, 2016 issue).
So what would you do with extra cash?
The idea of a universal basic income is not new — and neither are the criticisms of such a program.
- People will waste the money you give them.
- Giving people an income will take away the incentive to work.
- It costs too much.
Of course, these are valid concerns and I am sure there are other consequences to consider.
The New Yorker article, however, has some interesting info worth glancing through.
The town of Dauphin, for instance, sent checks to thousands of residents every month, in order to guarantee that all of them received a basic income. … Decades later, Evelyn Forget, an economist at the University of Manitoba, dug up the numbers. And what she found was that life in Dauphin improved markedly. Hospitalization rates fell. More teen-agers stayed in school. And researchers who looked at Mincome’s impact on work rates discovered that they had barely dropped at all. The program had worked about as well as anyone could have hoped.
What would I do with an extra $10k?
- Pay off my student loan.
- Upgrade my health plan (admittedly, I have a pretty good plan right now).
- Take more courses and attend more conferences.
- Give more time to local charities and organizations.
While I’m sure a universal basic income will not come about in the near future (and I probably wouldn’t qualify for such a grant), I look forward to the day when serious conversations and debates about the idea surface.
What would you do with the extra money?