Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

A conservative state that pays a basic minimum income to every resident

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Conservatism can take many forms. Alaska, a politically conservative state, pays each resident a basic income. As Brian Merchant writes in Motherboard:

Every year, the state of Alaska hands each of its citizens hundreds to thousands of dollars, no strings attached. The only requirement for receiving the cash is that a person has a) held residence in Alaska for more than one year and is b) alive.

To citizens in the state, the Permanent Fund Dividend is a deeply beloved if sometimes controversial policy. To those outside it, it’s often regarded as a curiosity. The annual payout makes headlines when it happens—Alaska’s giving people free money!—and has, typically, been forgotten just as quickly.

Recent years, however, have seen a groundswell of attention to the underlying concept. Interest in basic income ideas continue to percolate worldwide. As grim studies portend incoming job shortages, as inequality festers, and as automation threatens to throw economies into turmoil, the notion that a state could give a regular, guaranteed income—a minimum salary distributed to every citizen, regardless of age, employment, or social standing—has been sounding better and better. And Alaska’s been doing it for years. A miniature version of it, anyway.

“The Alaska dividend is pretty much the closest thing the world has to a universal basic income anywhere,” Scott Santens, who is perhaps the web’s most active basic income advocate, told me. Not only that, he says, but a basic income could help citizens fight the impacts of climate change. President Obama’s recent trip to Alaskawas focused on highlighting the calamity that human-induced warming is bringing to the region; perhaps we should be paying attention as well to a policy, found only here, that may help keep society stable and more equal in the face of a warmer, job-scarce future. . .

This year, the payment to every man, woman, and child (yes, children get the payment too, though it is entrusted to their guardians) is expected to surpass $2,000. . .

The world still doesn’t have a great longterm trial run of a large-scale basic income policy—the relatively short “mincome” program in Dauphin, Manitoba is the most-studied, and the cash grant program in Namibia is celebrated, but brief—so scholars, activists, and economists can extrapolate from the “partial basic income” in Alaska. Though it’s nowhere near large enough to live off of (in the contiguous US, the poverty threshold is $11,700, in Alaska, it’s $14,700), the state’s dividend has become a case study that basic income advocates use to bolster the case for instituting the radical-seeming free money policy on a larger scale.

Goldsmith notes that Alaska’s PFD “fits a basic income definition quite well.” It is, he writes, “essentially universal, individual, non-conditional, uniform, regular, and provided in cash.” It’s the universal quality—everybody gets a payout, no matter what, regularly—that makes it compelling to the basic income crowd. It only falls short because “the size of the annual payment fluctuates from year to year and is small relative to measures of poverty.”

So it’s not quite a basic income, it’s just the closest we’ve got to a working version. And given that a number of nations are currently hotly debating whether to launch their own versions of basic income—a referendum for an unconditional income isexpected in Switzerland by 2016, and the Netherlands remains divided over a proposal of its own—antecedents of any stripe are worth a look. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 September 2015 at 11:25 am

Posted in Business, GOP, Government

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