THE GLOBE deserves congratulations for running Leon Neyfakh’s piece on guaranteed income (”Money for all,” Ideas, Feb. 9). As the global economy churns out epic levels of inequality, our greatest challenge will be to craft an alternative system that will be both sensible and moral. As Neyfakh expresses it, we’ll need to decouple people’s “value in society from their ability to do a job.”
The recession is so stubborn because it’s not really a recession at all. Rather, we’re in a historic shift, in which technology and economy are permanently diminishing the value of human labor. The longer we deny this reality, by scolding the swelling numbers of unemployed and underemployed as moral failures, the harder it will be to embrace potential solutions like the guaranteed income. Our long-term future will veer in one of two directions: large-scale redistribution of the fruits of economic productivity, or full-blown collapse. And if it turns out to be the latter, we can be sure that the over-moralizing about labor, to defend unsustainable levels of inequality, will have played a major part.