I was open to the idea before. I had read I think it was a Matt Yglesias article about basically just sending people money a few years back.
After reading all of the material linked to (thanks!), yes, I'm sold. I'm officially an advocate for a guaranteed income.
It only makes sense that you could gain huge efficiencies by eliminating large bureaucracies involved in Food Stamps, AFDC, Public Housing, and just send people the money instead based on what their income is.
It reminds me of the health care debate. The fact is we already guarantee people health care. People can not be denied care at an ER. It's a matter of how to best deliver it.
Same principle here. We already guarantee a certain standard of living for all intents and purposes through all the federal, state and local welfare programs. Lets just send people the money and let them decide how to best allocate it.
The fact is, people will have different needs. A single mother with a child may be able to live with family members, and not need housing assistance, but needs the money for transportation or food. A single person may need less food support but needs a place to live.
Food Stamps and Public housing and other welfare programs have a very intrusive eligibility screening and follow up that start getting involved in who is living in the house, what the relationship is, what do you own, and other BS.
Just send people the money, and trust that individuals are smart enough to allocate the resources in the most beneficial way to make their lives easier.
And get the government out of the business of trying to manage your life. We only do this with poor people. We don't demand to know the driving habits of commuters to determine if they are using the roads more than their fair share.
I agree with the idea that the government should engage in policies to put a floor under wages and establish a basic standard of living. I think guaranteeing Healthcare and Income can be two big parts of it.
Also, government hiring. To take a very simple example, clean streets are a public good. If you have unemployment of 8%, hire street sweepers at wages hirer than the basic Guaranteed Income, with the target of getting the unemployment to 4%. In conjunction with minimum wage laws, this could serve to put a floor under wages. The intent would be simply a temporary jobs program targeted at lower income people during higher periods of unemployment, not a career. The idea would be to provide the dignity of a job to those who can work, until they can move into a construction job building infrastructure, or as an installer of Photo Voltaic in the renewables industry, or learn a trade like an electrician to hang LED lighting fixtures.
My biggest fear is that it would evolve over time into a bloated unsustainable government program and people would consider it a career rather than a stepping stone to a career or trade. .
On a little bit different tangent, I think the subject of Mutual Obligation touched on in one of the articles is interesting.
However, I think there are several factors that allowed this type of pervasive attitude that may be unique to the post WWII period. The U.S. severely limited immigration in 1924. By 1970, immigrants made up less than 5% of the population, 4.7% according to this link. That number has tripled, it is now 13.4%
Veterans also were a much bigger share of the population, 14% in the mid seventies, compared to 7% now. As an aside 75% of congress had served in the military in the 1970's compared to 20% now.
My point being, we had a more homogeneous, mostly assimilated population that had bonded together during WWII and the post war (Cold war) period in which I think military service, either volunteer or draft, was a big part of it.
I just don't think we will see that same strong sense of mutual obligation we experienced in the post war period with the kind of high rates of immigration and low rates of military service we have now. I hope I am wrong.