Faculty Writing: UBI, Concentration Camps for Kids, and Hope through Despair

In In These Times, Alyssa Battistoni tackles the emerging debate between Universal Basic Income proponents and advocates for a federal job guarantee. Why not both, she asks: “Though UBI and JG are typically counterposed, it’s entirely plausible they could coexist.” “My hunch,” she writes “is that the JGUBI debate has become so loaded in part because passing any left-ish legislation seems hard enough right now—so people want a policy that can do as much as possible all at once. (I’ve been guilty of this myself!) But we don’t need a single silver bullet: We need a strong Left movement.”

In the Revealer, Patrick Blanchfield identifies America’s immigrant detention centers for what they certainly are: concentration camps. Citing historian Andrea Pitzer—”[W]here camps exist predominantly to isolate refugees … or become permanent purgatory for detainees unable to return home, they begin to take on characteristics of concentration camps”—Blanchfield writes: “This is precisely the territory in which we find ourselves today.” Moreover, “We all know where this goes. Such facilities already are—and only will be more so—incubators for abuse, violence, and health epidemics, mental and physical … They are glimpses of a present incubating a future that only promises worse.”

As a kind of companion to Patrick’s piece, Michael Stevenson, also in the Revealer, weighs the philosophical cases for optimism or pessimism, and concludes that justified hope is freedom from the fear of despair: “What prevents our optimism from being warranted is our overeager adoption of it … the only thing that could properly validate optimism [that is, make it a reasonable position to hold] is actively and consciously working on breaking down any psychological barriers we may have put in the way of becoming pessimistic.”