By Andre Jones
Ingrid LaFleur, Detroit mayoral write-in candidate recently announced the implementation of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for Detroit residents as part of her plan of action.
“Because automation will be taking over a significant portion of our work force and Detroit faces a near 64% poverty rate, we must be strategic in developing a system that no longer perpetuates the cycle of poverty,” LaFleur recently told Detroit constituents at a “co-creation” meeting.
Indeed, it appears that LaFleur has done her research. According to CNN.com, a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study shows that while millions of workers worldwide are at risk of losing their jobs to automation, America should be particularly worried. “The gap between rich and poor could get even wider,” said PwC’s chief economist in the U.K. “With 38 percent of American jobs at risk for automation in the next 15 years, he warned that U.S. workers, “would be doing more routine tasks that are easier to automate than that of, say, an investment banker in London.”
Though LaFleur’s plan of action details improvements such as city revitalization and adoption of a Water Affordability Plan, implementation of a UBI for Detroit residents is her central focus. She maintains that her plan “allows for Detroit citizens to cover basic expenses–flood, shelter, utilities, transportation–and also helps to grow the local economy. UBI paired with a local cryptocurrency is the way forward,” she explained.
Finland is already experimenting with UBI, having launched their test run at the start of this year. They have provided 2,000 unemployed Finnish citizens between the ages of 25 and 58 with a monthly basic income of 560 euros – or $581.48 USD – which will replace other social benefits. These citizens would continue receiving this income even if they found work. Marjukka Turunen, head of the Legal Affairs Unit for Kela – which runs Finland’s social security system – said in a press release, “For someone receiving a basic income, there are no repercussions if they work a few days or a couple of weeks. Incidental earnings do not reduce the basic income, so working and self-employment are worthwhile no matter what.”
UBI is hotly contested as a viable solution to economic inequality, with some saying that it would reduce incentive to work and exacerbate economic strain, while others like Andrew Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union disagree, stating that a UBI would be “humane, flexible, it promotes choice and freedom, and offers security to individuals.”
LaFleur has proposed that every Detroit citizen receive $2000 per month, with one-half being digital currency issued using blockchain technology and the other half in the form of cryptocurrency such as BitCoin and Dash, that LaFleur has dubbed “D-coin.” D-coin would only have value for goods and services inside the city limits, with residents given the ability to earn extra D-coin by doing community service.