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These days, universal basic income—a policy often glossed as “paying people for being alive”—is gaining popularity both in the United States and abroad. Because basic income is politically ambiguous, it also has the potential to act as a Trojan horse for the left or right. The version of basic income we get will depend, more than policies with a clearer ideological valence, on the political forces that shape it. Which is why the prospect of pushing for basic income in the United States right now—when the right controls everything—should be cause for alarm: UBI’s supporters on the left should proceed with caution. But that doesn’t mean basic income is a lost cause.