News that Scotland is considering implementing a universal basic income (UBI) scheme came just as I was finishing reading Ryan Avent’s excellent The Wealth of Humans . as background for my sabbatical project. Avent is a proponent of UBI, while also recognizing some of its faults. I am too, because UBI can not only reduce poverty, but can also support both early stage entrepreneurs and artists. Avent notes that UBI could free people to “support a socially valuable (if frequently unprofitable) life producing art or music, or craft goods or services.” UBI could likewise support early stage entrepreneurs who would not otherwise enter the market with an innovative new product because of both the opportunity cost and risk to basic subsistence. UBI can fill in the gaps created by automation (think about the supplemental income that will disappear when Uber buys a fleet of self-driving autonomous cars). Finland begins its UBI experiment this month. The world is watching; the arts sector, especially, should be.
(Photo by innoxiuss – Somewhere under the rainbow, Finnieston area of Glasgow, CC 2.0)