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Spain Is Moving Towards Permanent UBI — And So Should The United States

Spain, with more than 146,000 cases and 14,000 deaths a result of the coronavirus, has been among the European countries hit the hardest by the deadly disease.

The human cost has been tremendous, but the economic toll has also been vast. As a result, Spain is now moving to implement a permanent universal basic income (or UBI) as a measure to aid workers and families affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Spain’s Minister of Economic Affairs Nadia Calviño says that his government is planning to introduce a UBI scheme of cash handouts as part of a series of policies designed to jumpstart the economy and get Spaniards back on their feet. Although she didn’t mention a specific date of when such a plan would be implemented, she said the government hoped it would become “a permanent instrument.”

“We’re going to do it as soon as possible,” she said. “So it can be useful, not just for this extraordinary situation, and that it remains forever.”

It’s not immediately clear what basic income could look like in Spain, but it most likely would be targeted to aid low-income Spaniards.

Universal Basic Income or simple “UBI” was an economic policy thrust into the mainstream by former popular 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang. Calling it the “freedom dividend” and saying it was necessary to blunt the consequences of incoming automation in the US economy, Yang not only popularized this one-time conservative idea in Democratic circles, but he also got conservative Republicans like Mitt Romney thinking about including it in coronovirus relief packages.

Faced with millions of now unemployed and displaced workers — as well as a total dearth of consumer spending — UBI is something that the United States should be seriously thinking about implementing as we remain unsure of when Americans get permanently return to work.



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