The craze for a universal basic income: everything you need to know | The Mandarin

It’s the one thing libertarians, lefties, tech gurus and feminists agree on. But does that mean government should pursue it?

Basic income is a simple, radical idea. In essence, it is that a government should give each of its citizens enough money to live on, with no strings attached. What people do with it is entirely up to them.

It could end poverty and the indignity of the welfare state at a stroke, while making mincemeat of red tape and regulations. Or it could turn us into feckless layabouts and destroy the economy. It depends who you ask.

Either way, it has people’s attention. The governments of Finland, Ontario, and numerous municipalities in Holland are launching experiments to test basic income. The charity GiveDirectly is running one in Kenya with 30,000 participants. Y Combinator, a tech industry incubator, is doing its own, secretive trial in Oakland, California. And just this week Scotland committed to several local basic income tests.

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