Is a Universal Basic Income too Utopian to Work?


Is a Universal Basic Income too Utopian to Work?



Politicians agree that there is something wrong with the welfare system; they all suggest that we should give less public assistance with stricter rules. But what if they have it backwards? What if the solution is not to limit entitlements’ help but expand them? This is the solution offered by those who advocate for a Universal Basic Income, the government program that gives the poor the money they need to rise above the poverty level, every year, no strings attached. This episode’s guest is one of the most compelling advocates for this position.

Rutger Bregman (1988) is a historian and author. He has published four books on history, philosophy, and economics. His History of Progress was awarded the Belgian Liberales prize for best nonfiction book of 2013. The Dutch edition of Utopia for Realists became a national bestseller and sparked a basic income movement that soon made international headlines. The book will be translated in 22 languages. Bregman has twice been nominated for the prestigious European Press Prize for his journalism work at The Correspondent. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, The Guardian and on the BBC.

Click to watch his Ted Talk: “Poverty isn’t a lack of character; it’s a lack of cash.”

His webpage can be found at:

Buy his book Utopia for Realists at

This episode was made possible, in part, by a generous donation from William Sheridan of Grand Forks, North Dakota. If you would like to help keep Why? on the air, please donate today. Click here to donate.


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Institute for Philosophy in Public Life



Is a Universal Basic Income too Utopian to Work?