Segments in this Video

Debate "Housekeeping" (05:15)


Donvan frames the debate on universal basic income (UBI), instructs the audience to vote, and introduces panel members.

For the Motion: Andrew Stern (06:18)

Economic Security Project Senior Fellow and former Service Employees International Union President, Stern quotes Milton Friedman, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Martin Luther King. He cites statistics on income and poverty; only 34% of Americans feel financially secure. A universal basic income could be a supplement to work and end poverty for 43 million people.

Against the Motion: Jason Furman (06:31)

Peterson Institute for International Economics Senior Fellow and former Council of Economic Advisors Chairman, Furman states that universal basic income is based on a faulty premise and would exacerbate many problems. The money for a UBI has to come from somewhere—cutting benefits or raising taxes.

For the Motion: Charles Murray (06:26)

American Enterprise Institute W.H. Brady Scholar Murray states that the working class has many problems. A universal income would provide individuals with a qualitatively different life and moral agency. Murray cites examples of UBI possibilities; it would augment dignity and independence.

Against the Motion: Jared Bernstein (06:38)

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Senior Fellow and former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, Bernstein states that the recent recession pushed an additional 14 million people into poverty but anti-poverty programs resulting in poverty being essentially unchanged. A UBI could undermine poverty reduction. Bernstein would guarantee low and moderate income individuals a job.

Position Summary (02:07)

Donvan summarizes the panelists' positions on universal basic income. He wants to segment this round of the debate by topics.

Rapid Job Elimination? (06:51)

Furman states there is no data evidence to support the idea that robots will overtake human jobs. Stern states that ignoring the possibility of a massive job disruption would be a critical mistake. Bernstein argues there are employment possibilities while Murray claims software will displace jobs.

Future Income (06:22)

Stern states that a UBI can be a supplement, not a replacement. Bernstein highlights the problem of "universal" in a UBI; it undermines poverty reduction programs. Murray cites the trouble with means-tested programs. Stern cites statistics on money allocation.

UBI Cost and Benefits (04:57)

Bernstein argues that a UBI eliminates anti-poverty programs, resulting in a loss for individuals rather than a gain. Murray states that those who receive the most benefits, single women and children, are not winners or losers with a UBI. Furman cites examples of bureaucratic hoops for benefits. Stern argues that giving people choices gives them dignity.

Distribution and Dignity (04:30)

Bernstein would support providing low income people with extra resources but the problem is income restraints. Murray summarizes the panelists' views on human beings. Donvan highlights points that both sides have not addressed; Stern and Furman respond.

Social Fabric (02:57)

Murray states that UBI triggers feedback loops. Bernstein states that the existing system is problematic but it does help people.

Q/A: Reallocating Funds (02:19)

Furman understands the argument for lowering defense spending but questions the use of the funds. Stern states that a UBI would life 43 million people out of poverty.

Q/A: Funding UBI (02:27)

Bernstein supports the idea of finding mechanisms that can derive more revenue but does not like the idea of giving money to those who do not need it. Murray argues the use of trendlines in budgets.

Q/A: Negative Social Pressures (03:12)

Stern states that a UBI presents individuals with freedom and choice. Bernstein argues that the $12,000 annual UBI benefit is not enough of a "strike fund;" put funding into a guaranteed job.

Q/A: Connections with Poverty (02:36)

Murray, Stern, and Bernstein cite experiences with those living in poverty.

Q/A: UBI in the Future (01:16)

Furman is more concerned with preparing people for jobs rather than assuming artificial intelligence will overtake them.

Q/A: Inflation and UBI (02:09)

Stern cites the Alaska dividend and states there is no evidence supporting inflation as a result of UBI. Furman states that inflation is a solvable problem with a benefit index.

Q/A: Universal vs. Population Subsets (02:41)

Stern states that dividing the population does not work; he cites the welfare program as an example. Furman cites the success of the Earned Income Tax Credit; it only serves low income individuals.

Q/A: UBI Trojan Horse (00:54)

Stern likens a UBI to "repeal and replace"; he would not implement the program without the means to support it.

Q/A: UBI Success Stories (01:22)

Murray states that the knowledge of the UBI's permanency affects decisions and outcomes.

Q/A: Funding Responsibility (03:58)

Bernstein states that the GI Bill fits closer to the model of getting funds to those who need it; he would raise funds to improve progressive taxation. Stern states that taxes should not be focused on particular companies. Furman believes technology companies should pay more in taxes.

Concluding Statement For: Stern (02:41)

The safety net that was built is not the right fit for the 21st century. A UBI is flexible, human, and ends poverty.

Concluding Statement Against: Furman (02:24)

Americans are more likely to get the jobs of the future if they have a good education. Fix the current programs and use resources in an effective, targeted way for the people who need them most; it will have the highest return.

Concluding Statement For: Murray (01:50)

A UBI does not stage manage lives or provide guidance; it allows choice. "Your future is in your hands."

Concluding Statement Against: Bernstein (02:21)

Individuals must have the ability to realize their economic, educational, and spiritual potential. A UBI will not ensure secure housing, adequate nutrition, quality childcare, a good job, and more.

Time to Vote (04:23)

Donvan instructs the audience to vote, thanks panelists for their participation, and discusses donations. He introduces future debates, and highlights several ways to watch Intelligence Squared debates.

Audience Vote Results (01:02)

Pre-Debate - For: 35% - Against: 20% - Undecided: 45% Post-Debate - For: 31% - Against: 61% - Undecided: 8%

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The Universal Basic Income Is the Safety Net of the Future: A Debate

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Imagine getting a check from the government every month—$600 or $1,000 guaranteed. It’s happening in Finland and other countries, where pilot programs are being launched to test what is known as a “universal basic income.” Such programs, supporters argue, simplify the social safety net, combat poverty and income inequality, treat all citizens equally, and provide a cushion for workers, giving them latitude to take risks in the job market. But to afford such a program, opponents point out, the government would have to eliminate the rest of the safety net, such as Social Security, food stamps, and housing vouchers. A universal basic income, they argue, would take away the incentive to work, waste money on those who don’t need it, and come at the expense of targeted and effective programs that help the poor. Is the universal basic income the safety net of the future?

Length: 97 minutes

Item#: BVL133131

ISBN: 978-1-64023-688-2

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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