118. What universal income tells us about social democrats and conservatives

Universal income is one of the most interesting current social concepts. This is the idea of paying a salary to every citizen, sufficient for the basics of a dignified living, just because of being a citizen. The concept is particularly well researched and explained by the brilliant historian Rutger Bregman in, amongst others, ‘Utopia for realists’. Universal income is vehemently resisted by most of the population. This is surprising, as it would seem to benefit the great majority, whose standard of living would rise and whose long term security and work choices would be enhanced. The reasons are many. Some regard it as unaffordable, although Bregman’s analysis may tell you otherwise. I think, however, that the biggest reason is your belief, or lack of it, in human nature, and a generous or mean spirit. Acceptance of universal income hinges on your answer to the question: ‘What do I prefer, having honest unlucky people starve or lazy people taking advantage of society’s generosity’

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