Economic Affairs

It's time to talk about a universal basic income

In a time of economic disruption, it is gaining support from both US tech entrepreneurs and left-wing politicians. But it is not without many potential pitfalls

On Christmas Day in 1956, a struggling writer in New York named Nelle Harper Lee got an unusual present from a couple of friends. An envelope stuck to a tree contained US$10,000 and an accompanying note, which read: "You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas."

Lee quit her full-time job as an airline reservation agent to write To Kill A Mockingbird, which went on to sell more than 40 million copies, was hailed as the novel of the century, and made into a successful movie.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2019, with the headline 'It's time to talk about a universal basic income'. Subscribe