With each economic crisis that has hit since 2008, we have witnessed the central banks of many developed nations engaging in ever more voluminous quantitative easing. Against this backdrop, we should not have been surprised that supporters of universal basic income (UBI) have been ever more emboldened. Emboldened, that is, to argue that if central banks can freely print money or use sovereign balance sheets to bail out ‘reckless bourgeois capitalism’ then they should do the same to support the fortunes of the proletariat, without whose labour our economies could not work.
After all, how in these enlightened times can one argue against the creation of money to guarantee a level of income to all, without any form of discriminatory means testing? Well, I will do just that. Let us be clear: UBI is a monetary leap well beyond minimum wage. Different too from what is colloquially known as ‘unemployment benefit’. Also far removed from what has become the controversial system of universal credit that currently exists in the UK. UBI would not merely deliver a subsistence payment to all, but the guarantee of ‘comfortable income’.