Is anybody doing work on the potential spatial effects of a Universal Basic Income?

I’m still pretty sick with anxiety about all the harassment stuff going on USC, but I have decided that I can’t think about it anymore. I’ve spent years trying to wake people up about it, I was tuned out, and now that it’s all out there in the world, if anybody needs my input, they know where I am. I’m still dealing with lots of triggering–I think lots of women are, as it’s been an endless loop of predation after another. Our young people deserve better. As far as I can tell, I failed to be a good, supportive mentor to one person coming up (another, I think, just didn’t like me, and there’s only so much I can do about that), but I feel a lot of guilt that I failed this person–and God knows, I never undermined her actively. I just should have been nicer, less sensitive, etc. What makes a person get up in the morning thinking they are entitled to another’ body…toxic, indeed.

So I decided I would spend some time thinking about universal basic income and the potential spatial effects. I’ve decided that I am not too worried about the potential inflationary effects–if somebody wants to convince me otherwise, I’m all ears–and I assume that we wouldn’t do it in some half-ass way (but we, being the United States, probably would), so that it would be in general welfare-enhancing for impoverished people. What’s got me kind of excited is the possibility that people might live where they want–no moving to the city because you really have nothing to do in your home town–and the possibility for a little more money flowing into rural areas. Some small-town downtown resurgence?

The labor economist in me suggests the following, which because it’s from economics, will sound horrible and dehumanizing: some labor isn’t really ever going to be productive enough in the urban context to be able to compete for urban land space. Sure Hayek’s point still holds: if you let people build contingent, small temporary spaces, they will be able to catch onto the wave of urban productivity and locate where they are most productive. But there are probably some diminishing returns to that, even if a place could up-zone to the point where urban land markets and housing prices hit a relatively stable equilibrium. (LA/most US cities if not all are long ways from that, so don’t go getting all up in my grill thinking this is an anti-upzone argument. It’s not.)

Saying more kindly, there are probably people who would prefer not to live in cities in small spaces for terrible jobs, and giving them an alternative would work much like a minimum wage, only better, by making locations actually competitive (if you want waiters in your restaurant you pay them what it takes to live there), and dealing with the potential unemployment effects that sometimes accompany minimum wage rules.