Noah Zatz Considers Universal Basic Income, Debt Refusal and Work Refusal in Reshaping Structures of Power

Noah Zatz (’01), Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law, contributed two pieces to the Law and Political Economy (LPE) Project website, opening a symposium on universal basic income (“Considering and Critiquing Universal Basic Income: Introduction,” Feb. 8). “UBI is both an important topic in its own right and a useful lens for examining recurrent virtues and vices in projects of partial decommodification and universal provision. . . . Indeed, all the contributions to the symposium, whether critical or supportive of UBI, might most fruitfully orient us not to the narrow band between UBI and the status quo but to the wide horizon along which UBI might operate as part of broader transformations.” Noah’s further post considered UBI through the lens of criminal legal debt (“Basic Income and the Freedom to Refuse,” Feb. 16). “The legal architecture of UBI could be designed not merely to neutralize the threat from criminal legal debt but to incorporate a broader politics and pragmatics of debt refusal. This would both complement and advance UBI’s more familiar project of work refusal. . . . Achieving that ambitious prospect will, perhaps most dauntingly, require addressing the criminal legal system’s capacity to demand work and payment. It will not do to don the blinders of separate spheres and look only to ‘the market’ as the problem, thereby missing much of how racial capitalism operates today.”