Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why now

Of all the possible answers to the suggestion of a guaranteed annual income, I for one didn't see "how can you speak of such a thing at a time like this?" as a particularly likely one. But since it seems to be the stock response, let's point out just how little sense it makes.

Sure, we may have come to see as an iron law of politics that policy proceeds in two phases. Step 1, business blowhards and their right-wing cronies inflate easily-foreseeable bubbles for nobody's benefit but their own; step 2, progressives clean up the mess in the public interest just in time to set up the next spell of irrational exuberance.

But just because that sad story has played out repeatedly doesn't mean it's inevitable. And now is exactly the time to ask whether we should respond to a boom by extracting as much as possible for the benefit of foreign owners, or whether we can put the resources we enjoy to better use.

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