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Hawaii becomes first US state to pass a bill supporting Universal Basic Income



It’s hoped that Universal Basic Income will act as a support net for individuals who loose their jobs to automation, and Hawaii’s state legislature now officially support the idea.


As automation continues to bite into the global workforce, whether it’s taking jobs on Wall Street or in Japan, over the past couple of years many governments, from the US to the European Union (EU), have asked the question what happens when the majority of your citizens jobs have been automated away either by Artificial Intelligence (AI), bots, drones and, or robots and the answer they keep coming up with is to provide a “living wage,” or Universal Basic Income (UBI).


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At the start of this year the EU published a report saying that it “strongly urged all E27 members to investigate and experiment with UBI” and last year a report on the impact of AI and automation by President Obama’s administration stated that “the introduction of a national UBI scheme should not be ruled out.”

In the past months we’ve seen a flurry of countries, from Canada and Finland to Scotland, as well as charities such as the Grantcoin Foundation that are using it already to lift 22,000 children out of poverty, trial small scale UBI schemes but now Hawaii has gone one step further and passed a bill called the House Concurrent Resolution 89 (HCR89) Bill.

I think you’ll agree it’s catchy…

The bill, which was first proposed by Chris Lee, a Hawaii Representative, has two major provisions. First, it declares that all families in Hawaii are entitled to basic financial security, and the second establishes a number of government offices “to analyse our state’s economy and find ways to ensure all families have basic financial security, including an evaluation of different forms of a full or partial universal basic income.”


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“As far as I’m told, it’s the first time any state has made such a pronouncement,” says Lee. So Hawaii, it seems, is the first US state to pass any sort of UBI positive legislation but legislation is one thing and deploying it is a different challenge entirely.

“Planning for the future isn’t politically sexy and won’t win anyone an election […]. But if we do it properly, we will all be much better off for it in the long run,” says Lee, and if the worst case scenario does happen and, as Oxford University’s future of jobs report plays out where 45 percent of people are unemployed then at least the people of Hawaii will be prepared.

If things play out as some people predict then maybe we should all move to Hawaii. Then again, with sand, sea, sun and surf do we really need a reason!? I’m packing my bags already.

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