Annie Lowrey is a contributing editor for The Atlantic. In Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World she examines the impact of giving people a stipend with no expectations. The amount she suggests – and that has been suggested by others – is $1000 per month, a universal basic income.
Lowrey compares the effect a universal basic income has had in various countries with the impact of government programs such as welfare, employment insurance or housing subsidies. In every case, a universal basic income compares favourably. The research proves that a universal basic income helps the poor, but it also helps those who have lose their income periodically because of seasonal work or illness or a decision to leave work to return to school or care for family members.
Perhaps the most important aspect of a universal basic income when compared to a patchwork safety net is the dignity it confers by recognizing that people know best what they and their families need.
In Give People Money, Lowrey makes a compelling case for a universal basic income and the need for wealthy countries like Canada and the United States to seriously consider this measure. Unfortunately, governments shy away from providing a universal basic income often because of a sense that only those who “work” deserve support. North Americans believe that if you give people money, they will stop working, but none of the evidence supports this. The evidence is that a universal basic income allows people to find work more suited to their abilities, again promoting dignity and a more productive workforce.
(Note: I read the 2018 Crown Publishing Edition of this book.)