Julianne Tveten and Paul Blest in Current Affairs:

To see why Silicon Valley policy-making would be so insidious, we should look at a plan that seems, on the surface, like one of its most progressive ideas: the tech community’s recent embrace of the “Universal Basic Income” (UBI). The idea of a UBI is that all people should be guaranteed a baseline income from the government, which would ensure that they can subsist and that nobody would be in dire poverty. It would be a truly universal guarantee, in that there would be no requirements for receiving it. The idea has long been a favorite of the left, since it would ensure the downward redistribution of wealth, based on criteria of need rather than “merit.”

But even though the UBI has often seemed like a utopian leftist pipe dream, in recent years it has picked up support in an unexpected place: Silicon Valley. A number of tech entrepreneurs have begun to publicly endorse it. Mark Zuckerberg has publicly signed on. And Y Combinator, the most prestigious and obnoxious of the Silicon Valley startup incubators, announced it would launch a local universal basic-income pilot program, giving monthly disbursements of $1,000 to $2,000 to 100 families throughout Oakland and seeing what happens after six months or a year.

That Silicon Valley—home of the callous libertarian billionaire—has come to embrace what’s traditionally viewed as a principle of leftist origin may seem contradictory. Why would a hotbed of private enterprise suddenly latch onto something that sounds an awful lot like socialism?

The answer lies in the concept’s malleability; there are many kinds of “UBI,” and the socialist UBI and the Silicon Valley UBI are not one and the same. One of them is an attempt to create a world of equality and prosperity for all. The other is an attempt to offer bare subsistence as a replacement for government programs, while leaving a fundamentally unequal economic and power structure fully in place.

More here.

Like what you're reading? Don't keep it to yourself!
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on Reddit
Share on LinkedIn
Email this to someone