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When Basic Income Meets Professor Pangloss: Ignoring Public Administration and Its Perils


Basic income advocates propose a model that they believe will dramatically improve on current welfare programmes by alleviating poverty, reducing involuntary unemployment and social exclusion, redistributing care work, achieving a better work–life balance, and so on. Whether these expected social effects materialise in practice critically depends on how the model is implemented, but on this topic the basic income debate remains largely silent. Few advocates explicitly consider questions of implementation, and those that do are typically dismissive of the administrative challenges of implementing a basic income and critical (even overtly hostile) towards bureaucracy. In this contribution we briefly examine (and rebut) several reasons that have led basic income advocates to ignore administration. The main peril of such neglect, we argue, is that it misleads basic income advocates into a form of Panglossian optimism that risks causing basic income advocacy to become self-defeating.