How To Pay For Universal Income


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By James K. Boyce and Peter Barnes

LATELY there’s been renewed discussion of universal income: regular cash payments to everyone, regardless of race, gender or need. Past proponents of the idea have included the essayist Thomas Paine, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., free-market econ­omist Milton Friedman and President Richard Nixon. Today’s interest has been sparked by the income stagnation experienced by America’s middle class and working poor, and by the per­sist­ent slow growth experienced by our economy.

The idea finds support across America’s ideological spectrum in an era when hardly anything else does. Liberals, or at least some of them, like it as a way to preserve our middle class when jobs no longer pay enough. Conservatives, or at least some of them, like it as a way to reduce dependence on a byzantine maze of welfare programs.

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