Raising the floor: how to stop the machines from making almost everyone poor

Andy Stern is a former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and now teaches at Columbia University. In his new book, “Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream“, Andy Stern makes the case for a universal basic income. He argues that economic growth is becoming more and more decoupled from job creation, as more and more jobs are done by machines.

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Andy Stern believes that a guaranteed universal basic income for all citizens is a key change in social policy that is required to sustain demand in the economy.

In an interesting interview, he points to the fact that advances in robotics, artificial intelligence and human-machine interfaces made possible by Moore’s Law will make more and more jobs amenable to being handled by machines. Furthermore, these advances tend to concentrate wealth in a small number of people and organizations that have the ability to conquer global markets, increasing inequality and reducing the salary for jobs in the lower tiers.

The argument concludes that the only way to stop this increasing inequality, caused mostly by technological changes, would be a radical change in income redistribution mechanisms that is incompatible with existing social security schemes. One such possibility is, certainly, universal basic income.

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