SINGAPORE (Jan 28): In 1942, British economist and social reformer William Beveridge issued an epoch-defining report that established a model for welfare states in the post-war era. He recognised that the old social protection system had broken down and that it was “time for revolutions, not for patching”. The challenge, Beveridge said, was to slay five giants: disease, idleness, ignorance, squalor and want.

Today, it is the post-1945 income distribution system that has broken down irretrievably, threatening economic failure and jeopardising what economist Klaus Schwab calls “Globalization 4.0”. Today, we must fight eight new giants. To do so, we urgently need a 21st-century income distribution system in which a basic income plays a central role. Such a system might not slay today’s eight giants, but it would significantly weaken them.

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