The Ontario government is rolling out its basic income pilot project later this year. Roughly speaking, the idea is to provide everyone in a given area—a town, province, or country—a guaranteed set amount of money to meet living expenses, independent of any criteria other than their existence there. While that might sound like the stuff of a socialist’s dream, it’s also been embraced by free-market obsessives, like economist Milton Friedman, who see paying citizens a meagre amount as a way to eliminate welfare programs and undermine the power of the labour movement.
One thorn in the side of any progressive arguing for a universal basic income is the sheer amount of money it would cost to implement; Friedman et. al. have their answer for that, which is that they’d slash other programs to the bone. But if you want to provide a basic income in addition to other social programs, you’re going to need to come up with a lot of money very quickly.
Thankfully for the provincial government, a coalition of anti-poverty groups in the province has just the thing in mind: a maximum income project.
A maximum income is essentially a wage ceiling, a legal limit on how much income an individual can earn.