Hawaii is rumored to be considering a minimum income for every one of its millions of residents. According to Hawaii News Now, the 50th state in the U.S. recently passed a bill that creates a work group to study whether a minimum income would help to offset the growing problem of technology eliminating jobs. News of Hawaii’s idea for a fixed minimum income quickly spread online last week, but critics say that a universal basic income for every resident would possibly “discourage work,” rather than simply help families to make ends meet.
Civil Beat calls a minimum income in Hawaii just a “germ of an idea” since the bill was just passed during the last legislative session. The final meeting of the current legislative session in Hawaii was held on May 4, as reported by U.S. News & World Report. While “many bills died” at the end of the legislative session, the bill called HCR89 passed on April 28. The bill was introduced into the Hawaii Legislature during a meeting on March 8 and requests several departments to “convene a basic economic security working group” to explore the idea of providing a fixed minimum income.
Mother Jones shared that the bill was unanimously passed by both houses of the Hawaii state legislature and declares that every resident in Hawaii “deserves” a basic minimum income. Details of the bill are published for the public to read on Hawaii’s government website. According to the bill, several factors, including automation and innovation, will continue to displace jobs in Hawaii and make it more difficult for families to keep up with the high cost of living on the islands. The bill cited self-checkout lines, self-driving vehicles, and companies, such as Airbnb and Uber, as examples of where human jobs are being replaced by technology.
“Hundreds of thousands of Hawaii jobs may be replaced in the near future due to innovation, automation, and disruption.”
— Roopinder Tara (@rtara) June 20, 2017
Hawaii was listed by Forbes last Friday as one of the worst states in 2017 to make a living. In fact, Hawaii took the lowest ranking on a list of 10 states, mainly because of the high cost of living and the high state income tax. HCR89 defended a minimum income for Hawaii residents, adding that Finland’s basic universal income has been successful. Finland’s minimum income has been an experiment since January of 2017, but the guaranteed monthly income has already lowered stress levels for some 2,000 Finland residents, according to Business Insider. While not enough to live on completely, Finland’s minimum monthly income of $600 is enough to put “people’s anxiety at ease.”
"Hawaii [..] highest income of renters: Workers need to make $35.20 to rent a two-bedroom there, and the state minimum wage is just $9.25."
— aaaahhhh!!!!! (@souldesu) June 22, 2017
A minimum income in Hawaii may or may not become a reality after the work group — that will include people from Hawaii’s Department of Labor, as well as the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism — completes its study, but Hawaii says that a universal minimum income is necessary to ensure future economic survival and to provide basic needs to every citizen. Citing “rapidly growing income inequality,” the goal of HCR89 is to make sure every resident in Hawaii can maintain a minimum standard of living, regardless of whether an individual works part-time or full-time hours.
“The Legislature declares that all families in Hawaii deserve basic financial security and that it is in the public interest to ensure economic sustainability for our people.”
HCR89 [NEW] Requesting DBEDT To Analyze the Impacts of Internet Retail on Hawaii's Economy https://t.co/TaMphS3fnk
— LegiScan HI (@LegiScanHI) March 10, 2016
The Blaze recently published an article that asked whether the government should provide a minimum income to every citizen. Comments mainly criticized the idea of Hawaii offering a minimum income, asking where the money will come from and saying that the people working for a living will be taxed even more to provide a minimum income to those who don’t work. Other comments stated that a minimum income program would probably eventually be expanded to include other basic needs. A more fitting solution, according to comments, would be for Hawaii to instead address how to replace jobs that are lost due to technology, rather than simply provide a basic minimum income for all citizens.
— Matt Middlebrook (@MMiddlebrookSF) June 22, 2017
One advocate of Hawaii’s idea for a fixed minimum income, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, said in the article on Civil Beat that “we should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.”
The article on Mother Jones says that the rumored fixed minimum income in Hawaii “still has a long way to go” before it becomes a reality.
[Featured Image by Cory Lum/Getty Images]