11 US cities are piloting Universal Basic Income programs, with more to come

From Bloomberg City Lab:

Fueled by a growing group of city leaders, philanthropists and nonprofit organizations, 2021 will see an explosion of guaranteed income pilot programs in U.S. cities. At least 11 direct-cash experiments will be in effect this year, from Pittsburgh to Compton. Another 20 mayors have said they may launch such pilots in the future, with several cities taking initial legislative steps to implement them. 


The ultimate aim of the mayors coalition is to pass a federal guaranteed income program. Every city that joins is eligible for $500,000 in pilot funding; they've partnered with the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice to produce research reports, and will share best practices throughout. The effort has gained high-profile philanthropic supporters, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who donated $3 million to the group in July and another $15 million in December. 


Although the U.S. programs announced thus far can serve only hundreds of residents per city, advocates say their immediacy, simplicity and emphasis on radical trust are an antidote to the biases and bureaucracies that hinder other welfare programs.

I've been a huge proponent of UBI for years; I've previously shared here on Boing Boing about the awesome work being done by GiveDirectly, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus. As the last year has evidenced: people don't want to do nothing, and they will absolutely use their time to improve their education or skills, or come up with new solutions and services to solve new problems as they arise. That's a big part of why UBI has such bipartisan support, from Libertarians to Socialists alike—it's a safety net that actually provides for more choice, more independence, and more economic activity and innovation. Whenever someone asks, "Yeah but how do we pay for it?" I point them Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream by former SEIU President Andy Stern, which actually does all the math for you and lays out 7 different plausible funding scenarios.

Of course, those people usually don't want an actual answer from me. But I'll wear them down in time.

2021 Will Be the Year of Guaranteed Income Experiments [Sarah Holder / Bloomberg City Lab]

Image: 401(K) 2012 / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)