2020 Democratic candidates and the universal basic income

How to help workers impacted by job automation ?

Whether they call it a Freedom Dividend or a baby bond, some 2020 Democratic contenders have embraced the tenets of a universal basic income (UBI). Proponents of UBI — including Tesla TSLA, -1.38%   CEO Elon Musk and Facebook FB, -1.21%  CEO Mark Zuckerberg — argue that it would help workers impacted by job automation and provide Americans with a safety net.

About 36 million Americans — or 25% of U.S. jobs — have “high exposure to automation” over the next few decades, according to a Brookings Institute analysis published in January, with more than 70% of their tasks “at risk of substitution.” Jobs in food preparation, office administration, transportation and production are at greatest risk for automation, the report said.

But the concept of guaranteed income didn’t originate with 2020 Democrats — in fact, figures as varied as Martin Luther King, Jr., former President Richard Nixon and economist Milton Friedman have all backed versions of such a policy.


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