This US state just became the first to support universal income

Bridie Pearson-Jones
Friday 07 July 2017 13:15
news
Picture:(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Hawaii has become the first US state to pass a bill to support universal basic income.

The bill, called HCR 89, means the Hawiian government will convene "a basic economic security working group", which many are touting as the first step towards a nationwide basic income programme.

Last month Chris Lee, a state representative for Hawaii wrote a piece on reddit to "introduce a conversation about our future". In the post he wrote:

Planning for the future isn't politically sexy and won't win anyone an election, if anything it tends to bring out opposition that doesn't want to see things change. But if we do it properly we will all be much better off for it in the long run.

Hawaii is quickly gaining a reputation of the most progressive state. In June, it became the most the first in the US to formally accept the provisions of the Paris Climate Agreement after President Donald Trump withdrew from it. It's a bit of a historic pattern for Hawaii, who were the first state to sign in the Equal Rights Amendment, and the first to legally mandate employer-sponsored healthcare in 1974.

Additionally, in 1970 it legalised abortions - two years before the rest of the US.

What is Universal Basic Income?

It means that every citizen will be granted a fixed income regardless of their socioeconmic status.It's regarded as much better than the current welfare programmes in the US, however, opponents argue it could encourage lower productivity and be difficult to fund.

Finland and Germany are currently piloting universal basic income schemes, and Canada are planning on trailing one.

Research indicates that typically when given an universal basic income, people use it to pay for necessities like home repairs rather than luxuries like holidays.

Speaking to Business Insider, Chris Lee, the State Representative who introduced the bill said:

I think it's pretty clear that we have the ability to reduce costs for everyone and keep people out of poverty and improve quality of life more cheaply than it would be to let our existing social safety net be overwhelmed by the changes we're seeing in our economy.

Pursuing hard work enough to make a decent living no longer applies in an economy in which automation and innovation have taken that away from so many people.

Lee added: 

We're on a clock. We're feeling it right now, and surely we'll be feeling it significantly more so in the future.

I think we have a long history of taking action because it benefits everybody here.

And I hope we have an opportunity to try out some of these new options that have never been tried before, because the benefits could be enormous.

The measure will allow researchers to compare data on different forms of wealth distribution, and possibly fuel further study.

More: The unexpected benefit of universal income for your mental health

Trending