As someone who writes frequently about universal basic income — the idea of giving everyone enough money to live on, no strings attached — the most common argument I hear against the proposal has nothing to do with its cost, or the potential that it'll discourage people from working, an attack that former Vice President Joe Biden used this week.
The most common criticism I hear, rather, is that basic income would cause massive inflation.
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This idea has some intuitive plausibility to it. Imagine the government printed and handed out $1 billion for each person in the country. It seems obvious that this wouldn't actually make everyone billionaires — that is, it wouldn't let everyone live in Four Seasons suites and fly Gulfstream jets everywhere. A lot of people would just stop working because of their newfound riches, corporations would have to jack up wages dramatically to keep their labor force, those higher wages would lead to higher prices, and the resulting inflation would wipe out most or all of the gains.
Handing out $12,000 to every American adult every year, as basic income advocates like former Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern have suggested, is a much smaller change than that. But it seems like the same principle should apply. If everyone going to a given Trader Joe's suddenly has $1,000 more per month to spend, shouldn't Trader Joe's jack up prices in response?