American Consequences - October 2017


who have much more political clout than Upper West Side New Yorkers... These people are, again, not easily slotted into “left” or “right” political categories. These people are Silicon Valley powers-that-be. According to articles in the San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere, Elon Musk wants a Universal Basic Income. So does Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, along with Zipcar founder Robin Chase. Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, has donated almost half a million dollars to a UBI pilot program in Kenya. Plus, there is a long history of UBI proposals that span the ideological spectrum... Thomas Paine argued for one. Napoleon Bonaparte argued for another. Fans of UBI include Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman – two gods of free-market economics who were mere misguided mortals on this subject. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, towering intellectual of the 20th century left, hatched something called “GMI” (Guaranteed Minimum Income) in cooperation with Richard Nixon, the towering dirtbag of the 20th century right.

If the Universal Basic Income idea really gets going and smashes into the single-payer health care idea, the collision will leave American society a total wreck.

In March, the non-partisan Intelligence Squared organization, which holds debates on current affairs around the world, conducted a debate about UBI at the Kauffman Center on the Upper West Side of New York. Arguing in favor of UBI was the sternly libertarian conservative sociologist Charles Murray (a dear friend – and never more so than when we disagree). Charles had been recently chased off the campus of Middlebury College for his politically incorrect views. With Charles on the “yea” team was Andy Stern, the very liberal former president of the Service Employees International Union. On the “nay” team were, of all people, two stalwarts from the Obama administration – Jason Furman, former chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, former economic advisor to Joe Biden. I listened to the debate on NPR and am glad to say that the audience of Upper West Side New Yorkers, whom one would expect to be of lefty tendencies, rejected Universal Basic Income by a margin of 63%. But there are people in favor of such a plan

48 | October 2017

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