The city of Newark, New Jersey, plans to hop on the Universal Basic Income bandwagon rolling across the nation.
Democrat Andrew Yang has made Universal Basic Income (UBI) a major plank on his presidential campaign’s platform, helping to boost the idea’s popularity.
UBI has even attracted some disillusioned Trump supporters who, having to compete with the massive influx of inexpensive labor from the south and the Pacific, have given up on the idea of being able to support a family on a single income here in the United States.
Last week Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced the creation of a task force and pilot program to test the feasibility of this program. By going through with this program, Newark will be the largest city in America to experiment with the UBI so far. Under a UBI, citizens will receive a stipend regardless of whether they are employed or not.
Baraka claims that one-third of Newark lives in poverty, and this requires the government to take action. Baraka says, “We believe in Universal Basic Income, especially in a time where studies have shown that families that have a crisis of just $400 a month may experience a setback that may be difficult, even impossible to recover from.”
Baraka did not provide more details on the specifics of plan— how it would be funded or when an official decision would be made.
Despite the UBI’s rosy marketing, the results worldwide have been a mixed bag. In 2017, Finland kicked off the UBI campaign by giving 2,000 randomly selected Finns a monthly stipend of roughly $634. However, after two years, the Finnish government decided to pull the plug on the project.
The Finnish government’s decision was reasonable. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Finland would have to raise income taxes by 30 percent to fund its UBI program. On top of that, the UBI scheme could increase the Finnish poverty rate by 11.4 percent to 14.1 percent according to the OECD’s research.
Finland wasn’t alone. Ontario, Canada pulled the plug on its UBI program citing that it was “not sustainable” and “expensive.”
Some economists believe that the focus on the UBI is misplaced. Economic growth does not happen through income redistribution, as our current tax code has demonstrated for the past century. Rising living standards are the product of increased worker productivity. According to market analyst Troy Vincent, “investment in capital goods like tractors, or welders, or production facilities” is needed for more goods to be created, which in turn translates into economic prosperity.
Other economists like Dan Mitchell argue that a UBI could have negative cultural effects. Mitchell sustains that “Having a job, earning a paycheck, and being self-sufficient are valuable forms of societal or cultural capital.”
The economist also believes that the welfare state is here to stay and that if a UBI were implemented, he doesn’t “trust that the rest of the welfare state would be abolished”.
Moreover, I worry that universal handouts would erode the work ethic and exacerbate the dependency problem.
The economist argues that replacing the welfare state with a UBI “would probably make the system simpler, but at a potentially very high cost in terms of cultural capital.”
The consensus that has emerged among free market economists is that UBIs could be experimented with at the local level but not turned into a national program. For them, reduced taxation and regulations are still key for generating economic growth for all.
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Did Bernie Sanders Just Endorse a Neocon Regime Change Foreign Policy?
Is Bernie Sanders the anti-war candidate that many non-interventionists are making him out to be?
Journalists Jacob Crosse and Barry Grey presented some interesting observations about Sanders’ foreign policy views.
Sanders criticized the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani in January and also stressed his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
During the Iowa presidential debate, Sanders loudly boasted, “I not only voted against that war, I helped lead the effort against that war.”
However, Sanders changed his tune when chatting with the New York Times.
The answers the Sanders campaign gave the Times showed its flexibility when it comes to foreign policy.
In other words, the Sanders campaign signaled to the military and intelligence apparatus that Sanders won’t present a threat to their interests and may actually carry out their interventionist agenda.
One question in the survey that the Times sent the Sanders campaign stuck out above the rest.
The third survey question asked, “Would you consider military force to pre-empt an Iranian or North Korean nuclear or missile test?”
The Sanders campaign responded, “Yes.”
Based on this response, Sanders’ is signaling that he’s willing to continue Bush-era policies of “preemptive war.”
Like Obama, Sanders’ opposition to the Iraq War was a matter of politics rather than a principled opposition to regime change wars.
His campaign was also asked, “Would you consider military force for a humanitarian intervention?”
Sanders responded, “Yes.”
Some of the wars that the U.S. carried out in the name of “human rights” have been the Bosnian war and the bombing of Serbia in the 1990s along with the aerial campaign against Libya in 2011 and the Civil War launched in Syria.
All in all, Sanders’ pro-peace/non-interventionist image is at best window dressing.
Under a Sanders presidency, the interventionist status quo will likely stay in place.
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