I’ve written a lot about the Basic Income Guarantee, aka BIG, which is a proposal that all adults get some non-means-tested check from the federal government every month. Arguments for the BIG come from both the left and the right. Progressives consider it a compassionate way to eliminate poverty. Libertarians see it as an efficient way to provide a safety net. Of course, the left’s version of a BIG would be more generous than the right’s and would require hefty tax increases to fund. The right’s version would not increase taxes, being paid for by funds previously allotted to safety net programs being replaced. I’m in favor of a modest BIG that wouldn’t increase taxes much. Check out the prior BIG posts for details.
My support notwithstanding, a BIG is fraught with peril. If not done right, a BIG could do irreparable harm to the economy and social fabric, resulting in greater poverty and civil discord than we’ve seen in a long time. A serious BIG proposal would consider all the things that could go wrong and address them one by one. A serious proposal would also acknowledge that we just can’t know all the things that could go wrong, because the BIG is an experiment that hasn’t been done on a large scale before.
In the next several posts, I’m going to address a bunch of things that could go wrong with a BIG - starting with the possibleimpact on labor market participation.