Guest professor at the Universities of Louvain and Leuven
The idea of a universal minimum income gained momentum in 2016 thanks to an experiment in Finland, a Swiss referendum and French presidential candidate Benoît Hamon.
Then, in 2020, during the pandemic it became a much less outrageous idea to pay everyone – albeit temporarily – an individual income.
For Philippe Van Parijes, a modest basic income that would not entirely replace pre-existing social welfare schemes could largely fund itself.
Moreover, he believes that an unconditional universal income could help to eliminate so-called ‘bulls**t’ jobs and encourage occupations that pay little or irregularly but are meaningful in themselves.
Lecturer at Sciences-Po, HEC and En3s, columnist and director at Éclairs
Advocates of universal income fit into various intellectual and political categories; some with the aim of reinforcing the welfare state as a universal base, whilst others push for universal income as way to even overpower said state.
Historically, even though social welfare is public, it remains a charitable or philanthropical service.
For Julien Damon, universal income is not a magic wand; if its objective is to fight poverty, it would not work because pre-existing social welfare schemes have never achieved that.
Rather, he says that as it is envisaged by its advocates, universal income has another objective: to allow freedom in a society where everyone will be able to choose between, for example, a boring but well-paid job or a meaningful but almost unpaid job.
Editor of Telos and author, Richard Robert teaches at Sciences Po. He directed the Paris Innovation Review from 2012 to 2018. Latest books: Le Social et le Politique (dir., with Guy Groux and Martial Foucault), CNRS éditions, 2020, La Valse européenne (with Élie Cohen), Fayard, published in March 2021.