- The Washington Times - Monday, September 18, 2017

Former Vice President Joe Biden says tech titans like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla CEO Elon Musk are fundamentally misunderstanding the importance of work by calling for a “universal basic income.”

A blog posted published by the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute on Monday unveiled a “worker first” initiative that rejects “no strings attached” policies prompted by influential billionaires while also fueling speculation about a possible 2020 U.S. presidential run by the former vice president.

“Economic transformations due to rapid advances in technology have created not only significant anxiety but also a legitimate debate about whether there will be sufficient jobs to sustain a vibrant middle class,” Mr. Biden’s piece began.

“Some argue that these changes won’t lead to significant net job loss, so we need not worry. Others argue the risks are so great we should close up our borders to minimize the damage. One idea that has gained prominence, particularly among leaders in Silicon Valley, is universal basic income. The theory is that automation will result in so many lost jobs that the only plausible answer is some type of guaranteed government check with no strings attached.”

Former President Obama’s right-hand man in the White House continued by saying that work is a virtue that brings with it an intrinsic value going beyond a paycheck.

“I believe there is a better way forward. I believe we can — we must — build a future that puts work first,” Mr. Bidensaid. “My father used to have an expression. He’d say, ‘Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about your self-respect. It’s about your place in your community.’ And every coal worker in West Virginia or steelworker in Scranton who lost their job will tell you they didn’t just lose a paycheck but much more.”

“While I appreciate concerns from Silicon Valley executives about what their innovations may do to American incomes, I believe they’re selling American workers short.”

The new initiative comes roughly six months after Mr. Biden told a New York audience that he regretted not running for president.

“I had planned on running for president and although it would have been a very difficult primary, I think I could have won,” Mr. Bidentold said at Colgate University on March 24.

“I don’t know, maybe not. But I thought I could have won … I had a lot of data and I was fairly confident that if I were the Democratic Party’s nominee, I had a better than even chance of being president,” Mr. Biden continued. “But do I regret not being president? Yes.”

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