August 18, 2016


Universal Basic Income and the New Corporatist Democrats : One of the boldest ideas for making Americans more economically secure may finally have a champion. (Alexander Holt, 8/17/16, Pacific Standard)

[A]s the parties re-align, Basic Income may find a champion with the new corporatist, quasi-libertarian Democrats, while being vilified by the populist Republicans.

If you believe there is a coming re-alignment, then the future of the Democratic party is big business, and big business, especially the technology sector, will love Basic Income. The tech sector likes minimal government regulation, which has allowed them to gain monopoly power, amass giant profits, and control and manipulate entire areas of the economy. These companies are very opposed to heavy-handed market interventions such as breaking those companies up (Google, Amazon) or heavily regulating what it means to be an employee (Uber).

The tech companies will argue that they are efficient and keep prices low for consumers, and that heavy regulation will hamper innovation. With Basic Income, these companies don't have to change their behavior, but everyone would become more economically secure. Uber employees will be financially secure, even if they don't get paid much, and are automated away later by driverless cars (the same logic explains why Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, supported Obamacare).

No company wants to pay higher taxes, but they would trade higher taxes to fund Basic Income if it allows them to continue to dominate the market. Greg Ferenstein, who used to write for TechCrunch and has studied the political views of Silicon Valley elites said in a recent interview: "It is absolutely false to consider Silicon Valley anti-tax. They are not anti-tax, and they are not anti-re-distribution. They are generally anti-regulation, but they are pro anything that uses their wealth to help the common good in way that doesn't inhibit economic disruption and innovation." Marginally higher taxes are not an existential threat. Market controls are.

And besides, these companies, often funded by advertising dollars, understand that money needs to continue to circulate in the economy in order for consumers to keep buying things, which thus justify the business model of many of the tech companies' services.

And while it's especially true in the technology sector, the leaders and workers of large U.S. companies are increasingly coastal, cosmopolitan elites, which means the values of their companies will reflect their own values. Those values are not only socially liberal, but that the government should help people efficiently and with limited bureaucratic interference.

Cosmopolitan elites will also like how Basic Income helps prevent the proletariat from revolting without too many invasive policy solutions. Urban poor will like Basic Income because it will increase their incomes, and also frees them from demeaning parochial meddling of administrators telling them how they can and cannot spend their money (i.e., food stamps).

The process will only be accelerated by the declining numbers of workers.

Posted by at August 18, 2016 3:48 PM