Billionaire backlash shows the power of basic income

Al Jazeera

Last month, the US state of Iowa enacted a law banning local governments from adopting basic income programmes. This follows similar developments in Arkansas, Idaho, and South Dakota.

In Texas, after lawmakers failed to get their own such law adopted, the state’s attorney general filed a case to prevent Harris County from launching the basic income pilot that its officials had authorised. Declaring the pilot “unconstitutional”, the attorney general has taken his case all the way to the Supreme Court of Texas. What is going on here? And why do the intricacies of seemingly obscure local US politics matter?

To answer these questions, we have to look into the radical potential that basic income has to reshape our social relations. Defined as a regular cash payment given unconditionally to all, a basic income can be thought of like a pension, only for everyone. Its purpose is to provide a permanent, base level of financial security for all people independent of work, recognising that if we lack money or the means to make it in the world of the market then we are in deep trouble.

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