Andrew Coyne: Guarantee a minimum income, not a minimum wage

National Post

With a new government — the first really new government in 44 years — Alberta politics is alive with possibilities for new directions and fresh approaches. Two ideas in particular have the province’s political class abuzz.

The first is the possible introduction of a guaranteed minimum income, known to be an area of interest to the province’s new finance minister, the former city alderman and poverty activist Joseph Ceci. The second is an increase in the province’s minimum wage to $15, as promised in the NDP’s election manifesto.

The two might be thought to work in parallel, both with “minimum” in their name, both aiming — or professing to do so — to improve the lot of the worst off in society. In fact, they are opposites.

The guaranteed minimum income has been the desideratum of generations of economists and welfare theorists, from the left and the right. The idea…

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