Kenya women coffee Dea/G. Wright

The Pie-in-the-Sky UBI

According to the conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley, robots will soon eat everyone’s job, and a universal basic income will become necessary. But this hypothetical future has not yet arrived, and proposals for a UBI in the US risk diverting policymakers' attention from the many more pressing challenges confronting workers today.

BERKELEY – According to the conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley, robots will soon eat everyone’s job, and a universal basic income will become necessary. Lately, tech titans are especially eager to extol the results of a UBI pilot project in Kenya that is being funded largely by Silicon Valley philanthropists.

While the idea of UBI often arises during periods of economic and social stress, this is the first true test of it. The Kenya project provides a guaranteed poverty-ending income for those who receive it. In 40 poor, remote villages, 6,000 adults are now receiving 75 cents (yes, cents) per day – or $22 per month for 12 years.

We hope that the experiment in Kenya works. Cash assistance shows much promise for eliminating extreme poverty in developing countries. But, to be effective, it must be delivered directly to those in need over a sustained period of time, and in adequate amounts. In poor developing countries, a UBI can disintermediate expensive aid programs that fail to address the targeted population’s needs, and that are often undermined by corrupt regimes.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/l17FaRX;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.