Short answer: no. There is no way a reasonable Basic Income Guarantee (BIG), be it $700 a month or $1500 a month, would eliminate poverty. For one thing, there will always be people who are bad with money, whose budgeting skills leave much to be desired - the net result being their checks run out before the basic necessities are provided for, even if they had even money to begin with. For example, there are about 3 million Social Security beneficiaries who have “Representative Payees” because they can’t manage their own money. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg, since these are only the SS recipients for whom help is requested. In addition, plenty of SSDI, SSI, and TANF beneficiaries manage money poorly, not surprising, given the prevalence of mental disorders within their ranks. (See also and Bottom line: there will still be a need for social support services for a substantial number of people whose problems will not be solved by a regular basic income. There will still be homeless alcoholics and drug addicts; mentally ill folks will still get kicked out of their places; single moms will still be abandoned by their mates and find themselves suddenly unable to pay the rent. People will lose their jobs or their health and not have the funds to keep their homes. Sure, a BIG will help soften the blows and arrows of outrageous fortune – but bad stuff will keep happening and plenty of us will still need additional help to get through the tough times.

So it is unrealistic to completely eliminate the social safety net, to be replaced by a BIG, with the entire safety net budget transferred to support BIG (as some advocate). Unless, of course, one takes the hard-nosed attitude that once everyone is guaranteed a basic income, the government washes its hands of them, hard-luck cases be damned. That’s not my position.