Ellison: Idea of Universal Basic Income ‘Has a Lot of Merit’

Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, recently praised the concept of a universal basic income, saying it "has a lot of merit."

Ellison made the comment at a forum in Minneapolis, where he discussed the issue of people losing their jobs due to technological advancements.

"I personally do think that universal basic income is a [sic] idea that has a lot merit," Ellison said. "I don't think that universal basic income means that people sit around; I think it means do other things that are necessary."

"There are things that are valuable and important that don't necessarily have a market value that we should have people doing," Ellison continued. "You know, like in the 1930s, we paid artists to basically document the Depression. We went out and had writers document rural life in America. There were still people who had been enslaved who were still living. During the Depression we paid people to go interview them so we can keep that knowledge, and you can go to the Library of Congress and listen to them today because of it."

"I think that it is a very important idea. I've written on it," Ellison added. "I've actually thought about having a community meeting on universal basic income because I think it's—to folks to who know anything about it, there's a lot of unanswered questions."

Proposals for universal basic income programs can vary, but they generally involve the government ensuring that all citizens make a certain minimum amount of money every year, including people without an income.