Why America needs both a universal basic income and a job guarantee

First, numerous studies on UBI-style experiments are clear: People don’t squander the money, but invest in themselves and their families, especially their children. Sometimes they participate in the job market a little more, sometimes a little less. But they’re certainly not succumbing to drugs or alcohol.

As for the jobs guarantee critique that says we already value work too much, I’m sympathetic but ultimately unconvinced. Malesic’s arguments rests on the notion that we unfairly stigmatize people who can’t work. That’s certainly true, but the question is why. Ultimately, most Americans aren’t cruel. They’re desperate: They feel like they’re fighting over a shrinking pie even when they work because virtually all of the income gains from the last two economic expansions went to the 1 percent. By definition, this means most people are running in place or falling behind in absolute terms.

This is where UBI and the jobs guarantee can work together.