Thoughts on basic income

In our existing economic systems, there seems to be a gap between economic potential, measured as a the amount of stuff that we can produce today, and the actual economic output, which is the value of stuff that we are actually producing. This gap is because of lack of demand from consumers. As we start automating more, this disconnect will only increase; automation allows us to produce a lot more but who can afford them? Ignoring my concerns about confusing economic output with societal progress, this disconnect is something that should be addressed for us to move forward as a society. However, it requires us to rethink a lot of our assumptions about productivity, work and income, and maybe even our economic models. If one earns a wage for the work one does, who will earn for the work that machines do? If it’s just the one who owns them, then the owners over invested on their own survival, because they are one of the few who can afford to consume what the machine produces. Alternatively, if society as a whole “earns” on behalf of the machine, and everyone gets an equal share, we will all be able to benefit from the outputs of the machine. What if that “equal share” is given out as a monthly income? Doesn’t that sound like basic income? It sounds like a pretty solid way to move forward to avoid massive unemployment. Such an income will probably stabilize our economic systems as well, because of the guaranteed safety net it provides.

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