Intelligence Squared

Wednesday, April 12 at 2:00 pm 

The Universal Basic Income Is The Safety Net Of The Future

Imagine getting a check from the government every month.  $600 guaranteed.  It’s happening in Finland, where a pilot program is being launched to test what’s known as a “universal basic income.” As technology transforms the workplace, jobs and income will become less reliable. The idea is that a universal basic income could serve as a tool to combat poverty and uncertainty in a changing society, and provide a cushion that empowers workers, giving them latitude to take risks in the job market. But some argue a guaranteed income would take away the incentive to work, waste money on those who don’t need it, and come at the expense of effective programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Is the universal basic income the safety net of the future?

The Debaters:
Charles Murray is the W. H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. A political scientist, author, and libertarian, he came to national attention in 1984 with the publication of Losing Ground, which has been credited as the intellectual foundation for the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. His 1994 New York Times bestseller The Bell Curve, coauthored with the late Richard J. Herrnstein, sparked controversy for its analysis of the role of IQ in shaping America’s class structure. Murray’s other books include What It Means to Be a Libertarian, Human Accomplishment, In Our Hands, Real Education, and Coming Apart. His most recent book, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission urges Americans to stem governmental overreach and use America’s unique civil society to put government back in its place.

Andrew "Andy" Stern is the former president of the Service Employees International Union and is currently a senior fellow at the Economic Security Project. Previously, he was a senior fellow at Columbia University's Richard Paul Richman Center for Business, Law and Public Policy.  As both a labor leader and an activist, Stern is a leading voice and a prominent advocate for people who work. He is the author of A Country That Works, which outlines a practical, cooperative approach to promote economic growth in America, and Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream.  In early 2010, Stern was appointed by President Obama to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. He was named one of the 50 Most Powerful People in D.C. and has been featured in national publications including the New York Times, the Economist, and the Washington Post.

Jared Bernstein is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Bernstein was the chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama's economic team. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Bernstein was a senior economist and the director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Between 1995 and 1996, he held the post of deputy chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. He is the author and coauthor of numerous books including his latest book, The Reconnection Agenda: Reuniting Growth and Prosperity. Bernstein has published extensively in various venues, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Financial Times and is an on-air commentator for CNBC and MSNBC.

Jason Furman is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.  Furman was previously the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), where he served as President Obama’s chief economist and a member of the cabinet. Prior to this, Furman served as the principal deputy director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president. Furman was economic policy director for the president’s campaign in 2008 and a member of the Presidential Transition Team. He worked at both the Council of Economic Advisers and National Economic Council during the Clinton administration and also at the World Bank. He was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and also has served in visiting positions at various universities, including NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Policy.

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