Articles by Ben Spies-Butcher

Ben Spies-Butcher is a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Masters of Policy and Applied Social Research in the Sociology Department at Macquarie University. He has a PhD in Economics from the University of Sydney and his work focuses on the political economy of social policy. Ben is a Research Associate at the Retirement Policy and Research Centre at the University of Auckland, Board member of Shelter NSW and member of the Policy Advisory Group of COTA NSW. His most recent co-authored book is Market Society published with Cambridge University Press. Ben was the Co-Convener of the Australian Greens during the 2013 election.

Not Just a Basic Income

On the 9th December, 2016, the Green Institute published the paper Can Less Work be More Fair: a discussion paper on Universal Basic Income and Shorter Working Week. As part of this release Green Agenda will be republishing a number of essay from the paper.

The second paper we are publishing is from Ben Spies-Butcher, “Not Just a Basic Income.

One of the great attractions of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is the breadth of its support. Not only are progressives like Martin Luther King and Eric Olin-Wright strong supporters, but so too are free market advocates like Milton Friedman and tech-savvy entrepreneurs. The libertarian impulse behind a basic income—allowing people to spend money as they see fit and without judgment—creates interesting alliances, but it also potentially conceals important points of difference. Depending on both the level of payment, and the other policies it complements or replaces, a UBI can have radically different implications. A basic income can potentially help break down the stigma and conditionality of many government payments, and improve work incentives and equity. However, where it is used to replace other components of social policy—whether through ‘buying out’ public services or reducing the ‘need’ for fair labour laws and job creation, it may instead serve to entrench the inequalities of a neoliberal world. Continue reading →