Cash Rules Everything Around Me : Conceptualizing Universal Basic Income Within Capitalism and Across Political Ideology
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One of the most prominent ideas currently being tossed around in the public policy arena is that of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). Defined as "an income paid by a political community to its members on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement" (Van Parijs 2004, 8), UBI has become important to study for its potential to combat economic inequality and poverty in society. This piece analyzes UBI within the framework of our capitalist society and across a broad spectrum of differing political ideologies that support the proposal. In it, The author addresses the question: how does a UBI garner support from these wide-ranging ideologies? Part one of this work examines the benefits and points of contention surrounding a UBI, looking at the program's ability to lift people out of poverty, as well as its cost and potential effects on work. Part two analyzes the program from different points of view across the political spectrum, relating each proposal to its advocate's ideas about the welfare state. Part three looks at three different programs - the Alaska Permanent Fund, the casino dividends from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, and the 1970s negative income tax experiments - to review empirical evidence, given that the programs are all similar to a UBI. Finally, the author concludes that no matter the costs or other barriers, we cannot pretend to care about ending poverty in this country unless we enact a UBI.