A de­cent stan­dard of liv­ing

Belleville News-Democrat - - Opinion -

I make an ef­fort to greet the re­cep­tion­ist on my vis­its to the med cen­ter, but it is not nec­es­sary be­cause I en­ter my name on a screen to let my ther­a­pist know I am there for my ther­apy ses­sion.

That sim­ple ac­tion is sym­bolic of an im­pend­ing eco­nomic prob­lem. Jobs.

Bad enough that tech­nol­ogy has made some jobs be­yond the skill or train­ing level of many. AI, au­to­mated in­tel­li­gence like voice recog­ni­tion has elim­i­nated sim­pler tasks like re­cep­tion­ist.

So, se­ri­ous economists are look­ing into the con­cept of UBI, Univer­sal Ba­sic In­come as a pos­si­ble rem­edy for the up­com­ing jobs prob­lem.

A uni­ver­sity in Ger­many is start­ing a pro­gram in­volv­ing se­lect­ing 250 un­em­ployed in­di­vid­u­als to sub­si­dize for three years with money from pri­vate donors. This comes as Fin­land is end­ing their two-year sim­i­lar project with 2,000 un­em­ployed with fi­nanc­ing from pub­lic funds.

And in the Ukraine, two cities, Paviograd and Podol­skoe, are set­ting up sim­i­lar ba­sic in­come pro­grams with pub­lic and pri­vate fi­nanc­ing in an ef­fort to en­sure a de­cent stan­dard of liv­ing for their cit­i­zens.

Here in the good old U.S., there many of the mind­set who feel this kind of hand­out will in­evitably wind up as a wel­fare trap. So it will be as Win­ston Churchill said of us: “You can trust Amer­i­cans to do the right thing, after they have tried ev­ery­thing else.”

Right now our govern­ment gives hand­outs to the top 1 per­cent.

– Ray Holl­mann, Fairview Heights

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