UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME
The U.B.I. would edge us toward a more gender-equal world. The extra cash would make it easier for a dad to become the primary caregiver if he wanted to. A mom with a job could write checks for child care and keep her earnings, too. Stay-at-home parents would have money in the bank, more clout in the family, and the respect that comes from undertaking an enterprise with measurable value. And we’d have established the principle that the work of love is not priceless at all, but worth paying for.
A COUNTRY that gives every citizen enough cash to live on whether she needs it or not: It’s got to be either a fool’s paradise or a profligate Northern European nation. And lo, in November, the Finnish government proposed paying every adult 800 euros or about $870 a month. Fits of this seemingly irrational generosity, called a universal basic income or U.B.I., are becoming surprisingly common. The Swiss will vote in a referendum on basic income this year. The Dutch city of Utrecht will soon start a basic-income pilot program. Canada’s ruling Liberal Party recently adopted a resolution calling for a similar experiment.
Still, it couldn’t happen in the USA. Or could it? Over the past few years, a case for the U.B.I. has emerged that could make it appealing not just to the poor, who don’t vote in great numbers, but to women, who do.