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Universal Basic Income: What Everyone Needs to Know®
Universal Basic Income: What Everyone Needs to Know®
  • Provides readers with the best arguments for and against a Universal Basic Income
  • Brings together legal and philosophical expertise to provide an overview of all dimensions of the UBI debate
  • Breaks a complex debate down into a series of short, simple answers to the most important questions about a Universal Basic Income
  • Examines examples and UBI pilots globally

From Finland to Kenya to Stockton, California, more and more governments and private philanthropic organizations are putting the idea of a Universal Basic Income to the test. But can the reality live up to the hype?
The motivating idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is radically simple: give people cash and let them do whatever they want with it. But does this simple idea have the potential to radically transform our society? Is a UBI the ultimate solution to the problem of poverty? Is it the solution to automation-induced unemployment? Can it help solve gender and racial inequality?
This book provides the average citizen with all the information they need to understand current debates about the UBI. It recounts the history of the idea, from its origins in the writings of 18th century radical intellectuals to contemporary discussions centered on unemployment caused by technological advances such as artificial intelligence. It discusses current pilot programs in the United States and around the world, including how much (or little) we can learn from such experiments about how a large-scale UBI would fare in the real world. It explores both the promises and pitfalls of a UBI, taking seriously the arguments of both supporters and detractors. It also explains why the UBI has attracted supporters from all across the ideological spectrum--from conservatives to liberals, libertarians to socialists--and what the implications of this fact are for its political future.
How much would a UBI cost? Who would be eligible to receive it? Would it discourage work? Would people squander it on drugs and alcohol? Would it contribute to inflation? And how is it different from existing social welfare programs? This book provides an objective, expert guide to these questions and more, and is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand what could be the 21st century's most important public policy debate.


Part 1: The Basics
1. What is a basic income?
2. Who first thought of the idea?
3. Who are some recent supporters of a basic income?
4. So, has a basic income ever been tried?
5. What are the main arguments in favor of a basic income?
6. What are the main arguments against a basic income?
Part 2: How Would it Work?
7. How big would it be?
8. Would rich people receive a basic income?
9. No, really, why are you sending a check to billionaires like Jeff Bezos?
10. Would a basic income replace existing welfare policies or supplement them?
11. How much would a basic income cost?
12. How could a basic income be funded?
13. Would a basic income be paid to individuals or households?
14. Would children receive a basic income?
15. Would seniors receive a basic income on top of Social Security benefits?
16. Would immigrants and noncitizens receive a basic income?
17. Would a basic income be adjusted for regional differences in cost of living?
18. What's the best level to implement a basic income - a country? A city? Globally?
19. Would a basic income be subject to asset or wealth tests?
20. Will people be able to sell or borrow against their basic income?
21. How frequently would a basic income be paid?
22. Which agency would administer the basic income?
23. How would a basic income be delivered to beneficiaries?
Part 3: Common Alternatives
24. How does a basic income compare to traditional welfare programs?
25. How does a basic income compare to in-kind or restricted cash transfers?
26. How does a basic income compare to programs for the unemployed and disabled?
27. How does a basic income compare with benefits for workers, like the Earned Income Tax Credit?
28. How does a basic income compare with child allowances or child tax credits?
29. How does a basic income compare to a Negative Income Tax?
30. How does a basic income compare with proposals like Baby Bonds or a Basic Endowment?
31. How does a basic income differ from a guaranteed employment program?
Part 4: Examples
32. Doesn't Alaska have something like a basic income?
33. Didn't the United States run some experiments on the basic income back in the 1970s?
34. What about Canada?
35. Has a basic income ever been tried in the developing world?
36. What are some other current basic income experiments?
37. How much can we really learn about a basic income from pilot programs?
Part 5: Advantages
38. Could a basic income help us deal with increasing automation and artificial intelligence?
39. Could a basic income end poverty?
40. Could a basic income reduce inequality?
41. Would a basic income be simpler and more efficient?
42. Would a basic income enhance autonomy and dignity?
43. Could a basic income improve the position of people of color?
44. How will a basic income affect families?
45. How would a basic income affect communities?
46. How would a basic income affect the problem of "bullshit jobs"?
47. Could a basic income help us to address environmental problems?

Part 6: Objections
48. Would a basic income be too expensive?
49. Would a basic income discourage people from working?
50. Why support people who could work but choose not to?
51. Won't people just waste cash?
52. What about the children of negligent, mentally-ill, drug-addicted, or alcoholic parents?
53. Could a basic income make the poor worse off?
54. Will a basic income increase hostility to immigrants?
55. Will a basic income cause inflation?
56. What happens if someone wastes their basic income and is still hungry and homeless?
57. What would stop a basic income from getting bigger and bigger over time?
Part 7: The Politics of a UBI
58. Is a basic income politically feasible?
59. Is the basic income a socialist idea?
60. What do conservatives think about a basic income?
61. What have feminists said about a basic income?
62. What do progressives think about a basic income?
63. What do libertarians think about a basic income?
64. Is a basic income likely to be implemented anytime soon?
65. Are there any organizations advocating for a basic income?
66. Where can I learn more about a basic income?

About the author: 

Matt Zwolinski is Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego and director of USD's Center for Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy. His research focuses on the intersection of philosophy, law, and economics, with a special interest in issues of exploitation, basic income, and libertarian political theory. He is the editor of Arguing About Political Philosophy, and with Benjamin Ferguson, editor of the Routledge Companion to Libertarianism and the forthcoming Exploitation: Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. With John Tomasi, he the author of The Individualists: Radicals, Reactionaries, and the Struggle for the Soul of Libertarianism.
Miranda Perry Fleischer is Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law who was named a 2020-2021 University Professor. Her research focuses on the interaction of distributive justice and tax policy relating to wealth taxation, charitable giving, and redistribution to the poor. She has published numerous articles and book chapters on those subjects, most notably including The Architecture of a Basic Income, 87 U. Chi. L. Rev. 625 and Atlas Nods: The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income, 2017 Wisconsin Law Review 1189.

"In this important book, Zwolinski and Fleischer provide a clear and comprehensive introduction to universal basic income in all its forms, including stakeholder grants, the earned income tax credit, and the child tax credit. As UBI spreads across the United States and the world, this new work is essential reading." -- Anne Alstott, Yale Law School

"A complete, thorough, and practical breakdown of UBI. Whether you're a supporter or a skeptic, Zwolinski and Fleischer's work is a must-read." -- Andrew Yang, Entrepreneur and Former 2020 Presidential Candidate

"This book provides a balanced, comprehensive exploration of Universal Basic Income, deftly tackling its many facets in an approachable manner. Without getting mired in excessive detail, it covers many frequently asked questions, serving as an essential primer for anyone wanting to participate in this crucial policy discussion. An accessible, bipartisan guide, it is an ideal starting point for better understanding this transformative idea that I personally believe is the most important policy discussion of all to be having this century." -- Scott Santens, Senior Advisor for Humanity Forward

Product details

ISBN : 9780197556221

Matt Zwolinski; Miranda Perry Fleischer
256 Pages
140 x 210 mm
Pub date
Oct 2023
What Everyone Needs to Know
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Universal Basic Income: What Everyone Needs to Know®

Universal Basic Income: What Everyone Needs to Know®

Universal Basic Income: What Everyone Needs to Know®