We All Deserve An Income Floor: Why the Bold Policy of Guaranteed Income Works

Feb 05, 2020, 11:00 AM

How would a universal basic income open up the potential of all people in this country?

If guaranteed income is an attempt to provide people with more resources—resources that come with very few restrictions—it demands a conversation with the people who would most benefit from it. It also demands a conversation about deservedness. When we ask “How much would it be?” “Who would get it?” And “How would we pay for it?” what we are really asking is who deserves more and who doesn’t.

I’m not the only one who thinks Guaranteed income is a realistic option, either—it’s actually being tried out as we speak. Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang advocates for Guaranteed Income as part of his platform. Aisha Nyadoro’s project—The Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which you heard about in Episode 2 [link to episode]—is getting ready to launch their second round of a guaranteed income project in Jackson, Mississippi. The city of Stockton, California, and its mayor Michael Tubbs are also running a demonstration of Guaranteed Income right now—they are working to build an economy that grants everyone the right to have enough to get by.

Over the last two years, I’ve talked to wide-ranging audiences about guaranteed income. One of the things that consistently gets fretted about is the boldness of guaranteed income. People have said to me, What will poor people do with that money? The Right will never go for it. How will we pay for it? And I can’t help but think of the people who thought that ending slavery was too hard, to bold an idea.

Too many of us have become convinced that the rules, as written by fear, scarcity, and avarice, are the ones we must play by.

We don’t. We have to be willing to dream our most courageously when it comes to policy and systems change, because we cut ourselves off from the best possible outcomes if we start compromising our ideal before we begin. So let’s be bold, let’s be courageous, and let’s start by recognizing that this country has more than enough wealth—enough money, enough talent, enough courage—for all of us.

Show Notes

More Than Enough was developed by Next River Productions. Created and hosted by Mia Birdsong. Audio engineering and music by Nino Moschella. Script development and production by Allison Cook. The content of this podcast was informed by the stories of hundreds of people across the country, only some of whom you heard from. Thank you to everyone who took the time to speak with me and share their story.

Support for the production of More Than Enough was provided by a few generous folks and the Economic Security Project, an organization advancing cash-based interventions in the United States and reigning in corporate monopolies.

More Than Enough is a project of The Nation Magazine.