Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Conservatives, liberals, techies, and social activists all love universal basic income: Has its time come?

Conservatives, liberals, techies, and social activists all love universal basic income: Has its time come?

If there’s one thing that many anti-poverty activists and free-market advocates agree on, it’s that our existing social safety net isn’t capable of dealing with the challenges presented by the evolution of the economy and of the very definition of work.

That may explain why an idea that dates as far back as Thomas Paine (in 1797) and has enthralled figures as diverse as Huey Long, Milton Friedman, Martin Luther King and Richard Nixon, is getting a very close look today. It’s known as universal basic income.

The basics of universal basic income are simple. A check goes to everyone, guaranteed — whether they’re employed or not. No strings attached. No means test. No...

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