Noam Chomsky on Basic Income

Interviewer: In Germany there’s a lot of grass roots organization taking place around the concept of a basic income guarantee, whereby citizens receive an unconditional sum of money to cover the basic costs such as rent, food an electricity etc. Could you provide your assessment on this concept of basic income guarantee?
Professor Noam Chomsky: Actually that’s an interesting concept. It comes from the right wing originally. Milton Friedman proposed it for example. From his point of view it was part of an effort to undermine welfare state measures. But it doesn’t have to have a reactionary component. It can be interpreted as something progressive. That people have rights. In fact if you read the universal declaration of human rights, 1948, take a look at article 45. It says people have rights to adequate food, nutrition, health, employment, security and so on. Those are minimal rights. Any society ought to guarantee that. Well, you know, one way to guarantee it would be through a socially acceptable form of a basic income. In fact, to an extent that’s what so-called welfare states try to provide in a certain way. So, sure, that’s something that could be proposed. I mean, I don’t think it goes far enough, but as a short-term way of alleviating major problems it’s fine. And there are elements in various societies that do provide things like that.