Last month, Canada became the latest country to experiment with a “basic income,” offering up to $13,000 to selected low- and middle-income citizens with no strings attached. These trials have spread as developed nations search for ways to cope with stagnant wages and joblessness—problems likely to worsen as globalization and automation increase over the coming decades.
While writing my most recent book, which examines poverty in the twenty-first century, I consulted the work of Charles Murray. For decades, Murray has blazed a trail for thoughtful commentary on poverty, beginning in 1984 with Losing Ground, an early critique of the welfare state. Given Murray’s sterling record on the subject, I was surprised to find that his latest work, In Our Hands, recommends implementing a universal basic income—effectively extending welfare to every American.