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.
ON JUNE 28, Beto O’Rourke announced a plan for a War Tax—a system by which, upon the formal declaration of war by Congress, a progressive tax on families without service members or veterans would be levied to pay for the latter’s care. It was a bad idea and roundly mocked by the Democratic commentariat. The New Republic called it both “empirically wrong” and “deeply cynical.” Newsweek called it “not just dumb, but un-American.”
WHO WILL challenge Donald Trump in 2020?
It’s a question that Americans have been asking since before Trump even took office. The Democratic Party was in shambles after the 2016 election; it had bet the kingdom on Hillary Clinton, only to suffer a crushing and unthinkable defeat. With only one other serious contender during the primaries—one whom critics viewed as an outsider and a sore loser—Democrats were at a loss as to who would be next to take on Trump.
IN AMERICAN politics, Bernie is something of an anomaly: a socialist above the age of thirty. In other parts of the world, politicians like Bernie fall closer to the political center—and, in a few notable cases, surprisingly far from the political center. So we asked the Sphere’s international writers (and Jacob Kuppermann) to answer the question, “Where would Bernie fall on the political spectrum of [Country X]?”
These are their responses.
WE’RE ALL going to die and no one is doing anything about it. The response from our political leaders in the face of impending climate catastrophe has amounted to little more than cursory acknowledgement. Never mind the deniers—the 2018 midterm elections ended up running a large fraction of the true climate deniers in Congress out of office as part of an overall shift towards Democratic control of the House. It’s the rest of the political system we have to worry about. Even the politicians who believe in anthropogenic climate change have not made it a priority—they put out gravely-worded statements on the latest UN report, joked about the President’s misreadings of it, and went back to their signature issues. Climate change, if left unopposed, will transform the totality of life on earth. And no one really seems to care.