Basic Income: A Critical Reader

The debate over Basic Income on the Left is not going away anytime soon. As governments across the world experiment with versions of Basic Income schemes, the Left will have to grapple with both the specific policies and the wider political and economic merits of Basic Income. As a critic of both the real-world Basic Income policies being rolled out by neoliberal governments and the idea a progressive Basic Income can exist under capitalism I have assembled a Basic Income reading list highlighting these critiques. This critical reader compiles articles and studies looking at the broader political and economic issues, but also specific analyses of real-world Basic Income proposals in Ontario and Finland. The articles written from places actually grappling with Basic Income schemes pushed by governments, like Ontario, have produced some of the richest and most concrete analyses. This list is not comprehensive, but I hope provides a valuable tool for those working through the question of whether the Left should support a Basic Income.

The Politics of Basic Income

Basic Income and the Left: Political and economic problems by David Bush

Basic Income as a Neoliberal Weapon by John Clarke

What Basic Income means for disabled people by Aj Withers and John Clarke

Basic Income: Libertarian wedge or a plank towards a socialist future by Christo Aivalis

Who wants a universal basic income? by Leigh Phillips

How progressive is a basic income? left and labour perspectives by Toby Sanger

Basic Income by What’s Left

The Conversation About Basic Income is a Mess. Here’s How to Make Sense of It by Yves Smith

The False Promise of Universal Basic Income by Alyssa Battistoni

Basic Income: A Sellout of the American Dream by David H. Freedman

Basic income: Progressive dreams meet neoliberal realities by John Clarke

The Economics of Basic Income 

A policy maker’s guide to Basic Income by David MacDonald

Beware of Basic Income by Michal Rozworski

Basic income – too basic, not radical enough by Michael Roberts

Universal Basic Income May Sound Attractive But, If It Occurred, Would Likelier Increase Poverty Than Reduce It by Robert Greenstein

Ontario and Basic Income 

The Basic Income debate by Pam Frache

The scheming Liberals’ Basic Income plan by Nora Loreto

Ontario’s Austerity Government Sets Basic Income Trap by John Clarke

Looking the Basic Income Gift Horse in the Mouth by John Clarke

In opposition to the Ontario Liberal government’s “Basic Income Guarantee” by What’s Left

Four (more) arguments against real-world basic income by Michal Rozworski

Understanding Basic Income: OPSEU position paper by OPSEU

Basic Income and Finland

The UBI Bait and Switch by Matt Bruenig, Antti Jauhiainen, and Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen

Finland’s Basic Income experiment: A step backward disguised as progress by Edmund Schluessel and Sosialistinen Vaihtoehto

Universal basic income ‘useless’, says Finland’s biggest union by Raine Tiessalo

Even in Finland, universal basic income is too good to be true by Declan Gaffney

History and Future of Basic Income 

The Failure of a Past Basic Income Guarantee, the Speenhamland System by Yves Smith

Why We Need a Federal Job Guarantee by Mark Paul, William Darity Jr, & Darrick Hamilton

Job Guarantee Versus Basic Income Guarantee by Yves Smith

Basic Income or a reduced work week? An old labour debate by David Bush

Automation and the Basic Income: Beyond the hype by David Bush

Workers Hold the Keys by Vivek Chibber

If robots took our jobs, could they do them? by Joseph Choonara

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