Icons of the Right Debate a Guaranteed Minimum Income

A televised conversation between Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley

In recent weeks, items in The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and The Economist–along with my most recent Orange Country Register column–have aired the idea of a guaranteed minimum income paid by the government to all adults, in place of today's welfare spending. Is that a visionary way to end poverty? An invitation to perverse incentives? If Switzerland's voters pass the guaranteed income proposal before them in their next election we may get some empirical evidence.

Meanwhile it's worth noting that libertarian icon Milton Friedman, an advocate of a guaranteed minimum income (framed as a negative income tax), once conversed about its merits with conservative icon William F. Buckley. Here's their debate:

When people express disdain for Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck, among others, and insist that the right should be able to find better public voices—this is what they mean.

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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