A universal basic income is effectively a cash grant that goes to everyone in society by right. In so doing, it provides a basic “floor” of support below which one cannot fall. And universal basic income can be practical. During the height of the pandemic, for example, in the United States, cash payments from the government functioned as a (temporary) quasi-universal basic income. There are also local examples; for example, in Alaska, since the 1970s every resident gets an annual payment, based on royalties from oil companies.
Universal basic income is not a substitute for other social benefits. But providing cash to people makes a positive difference. Even more significant, it gives working people breathing space to experiment—in the arts, for instance; or to start a business of their own. In so doing, UBI can become a building block of a broader solidarity economy.
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