A Universal Basic Income

NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor Dr. Mike Walden working in a recording studio.

Dr. Mike Walden

“Well this concept’s been discussed for a while in Europe. There are some economists who’ve talked about it here in the U.S., and it’s actually very simple. Every person in the country, man, woman and child, would get an annual check from the government regardless of their income, and presumably the annual check would be enough to allow that person to live some adequate standard of living if they had no other money. So we’re talking about, some have said five thousand dollars a year, others have said ten thousand dollars a year.”

“It doesn’t matter if you’re already poor or rich. You get the money. Now you might say, ‘Well why would we give rich people this money?’ Well the notion is this would reduce a lot of red tape, a lot of bureaucracy. Right now our poverty programs, and there are many of them, there’s a substantial amount of money spent on people making sure that the folks who are getting the money are eligible. Making sure that there is no fraud. And this system could be run very simply. It could be run by the IRS.”

“Now it would be expensive depending on how much money each person receives. We’re talking in the trillions of dollars, maybe one trillion up to three trillion. I’ve seen some estimates. But supporters say, ‘Not only would it be simple, not only would it reduce a lot of bureaucracy, but you could therefore eliminate all the other anti-poverty programs we have. From food stamps to Medicaid to housing vouchers et cetera. So, this is an idea that folks may start to hear more about as we enter the Presidential election campaign. I will say the country of Switzerland actually put this notion to a vote recently, and the Swiss voted it down.”

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