EconLog small logo  

Munger on the Basic Income Guarantee

The Economics of the Affordabl... The Great Californian Bag Surp...

UBI.jpg In a very lively EconTalk episode this week, listener favorite Mike Munger returns to discuss his support for a basic income guarantee, or BIG. It's a pretty heated conversation, especially for BFFs Munger and Roberts...We'd like to know where you stand on the issue.

Munger advocates a BIG primarily on grounds of efficiency and transparency. But he and Roberts disagree as to what the effect on the size of government would be under a BIG regime. Nor do they see eye to eye on where the greatest DISincentive effects of a BIG would fall.

The conversation ends on a philosophical note. Munger makes a characteristically startling claim (to be fair, he makes several throughout), that "Jobs are overrated." It's an important point, and one on which Roberts seems to agree. That is, throughout recent history, we seem to have defined ourselves in reference to our jobs. Isn't that what people mean when they ask, "What do you do?" It's refreshing to imagine a future in which we respond with answers like "spending time with my children," "volunteering at the animal shelter," "building gardens," etc. How would you like to answer? And how might a BIG (or another policy alternative) help to effect such a change?

The conversation in the Comments section is as lively as the episode, and we've an Extra coming soon. You can find both, and join in the conversation, at EconTalk. We'd also be really grateful if you'd take a few minutes to complete our annual listener survey and help us make EconTalk better!

Comments and Sharing

CATEGORIES: EconTalk , Political Economy

COMMENTS (2 to date)
Craig writes:

There was a bit of confusion that Arnold Kling identifies.

I would summarize it thus: If you give me a cash benefit for poor people that phases out ("so it costs less") and a set of tax rates, I can give you a BIG with somewhat higher tax rates above the beginning of the phase out that ends up with identical net transfers from the government to the individual.

Money is fungible, so a phase out of a cash benefit is equivalent to a cash benefit that goes to everyone with higher taxes.

Larry writes:

Under a BIG the conversation would be:

What do you do?

Drink beer and play video games. You?

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top