The basic income and the welfare state

By Paul Walker 10/08/2014 2


Cato Unbound is hosting a month-long debate on “The Basic Income and the Welfare State.” The lead essay, “The Pragmatic Libertarian Case for a Basic Income Guaranteei” by Matt Zwolinski, is up now. In it, Zwolinski argues that libertarians should regard a BIG as significantly better, on libertarian grounds, than the current welfare state. It is cheaper, less paternalistic, and less prone to rent seeking. And while it might not measure up to strict standards of libertarian purity, it has a much better chance of actually being adopted in a world where 99% of people reject that purist vision.

Responses from Mike Huemer, Jim Manzi, and Robert Frank will go up over the next week.

A related audio: Libertarians for a Guaranteed Minimum Income? featuring Matt Zwolinski. This is the Cato Daily Podcast for December 5, 2013.


2 Responses to “The basic income and the welfare state”

  • Interestingly enough I first come across the idea of a citizen’s income idea in the book Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach (It’s an environmental utopia; great story I recommend it to you).

    Normally I am suspicious of anything from the Cato Institute given that it is a right-wing-coal-money-climate-denier NGO but the idea of a citizens income is one that makes sense to me. (And I find this whole right/left analysis is boring and unhelpful as most of us live in middle line mixed economies anyway).

    The Guardian has a comment on this too: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/aug/10/tax-benefits-citizens-income-self-employment

    Maybe worth thinking about. Of course the details of implementation would be critical.

    • The Cato Unbound debates are well worth reading regardless of what you think of the Cato Institute. They try to get the strongest parties on each side to make the case. So when they argued paternalism and nudges, they had Richard Thaler against critics. They don’t put up straw men.