Category: The Contrarian

A Left Defense of Universal Basic Income

IN A WORLD in which fiscal policy becomes more complex with each passing administration, an alarmingly simple proposal like universal basic income brings all parties into a state of shock. At its core, UBI seeks to give citizens a periodic, no-strings-attached cash grant to do whatever they want. Whether you are rich or poor, from San Francisco or from Bakersfield, every so often you receive a check in the mail for a fixed amount directly from the government. You could spend it all in a one-night extravaganza or save it to buy the car you always wanted—you could even burn the money in a bonfire if you like (though I would not recommend doing so). The fundamental principle behind UBI is for citizens to choose what they want to do with their money, whatever that choice may be.

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Don’t Dismantle Legacy. Expand It.

AT GREAT universities like ours, the privileged children of alumni and faculty don’t need to bribe their way in—that’s what legacy admissions are for. Since the bribery scandal broke, plenty of ink has been spilled on the ethical implications of legacy admissions. Seldom, however, are the arguments in favor of legacy taken seriously: let’s break them down.

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In Defense of Utopia

When I first came to Stanford, I had high hopes for the diverse intellectual atmosphere I would encounter here. And although I have met some incredibly bright and interesting people, I feel we have lost the art of discussion around campus. Conversations lack intellectual idealism and tend to narrow viewpoints to simple binaries, leaving little room for nuance. We judge ideas solely on their practicality, and have a tendency to dismiss as out of hand controversial ideologies, decreasing our ability to effectively evaluate ideas, especially those ideas we disagree with. To put it bluntly, we seek comfort, not intellectual rigor, from our discussions both inside and outside the classroom. But in so doing, we leave our opinions unchallenged, and with it, the ability to both defend and criticize our views – a tool we cannot afford to lose at a university.

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The Libertarian Case for Universal Basic Income

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a welfare scheme in which all adult citizens receive a regular cash payment regardless of employment status. At first glance, it is easy to see why those self-professed bastions of American freedom – libertarians – oppose this measure so vociferously. Right-libertarians see UBI as overly generous to unemployed, able-bodied people (so called “lazy people”), and also as implying redistribution on a large scale, which conservatives see as a radical expansion of the welfare state. But the impression that UBI is exclusively leftist is a misguided one.

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