I'm a huge fan of GiveDirectly, who does tremendous work with direct cash transfers for people in poverty — essentially, micro-scale experiments in Universal Basic Income, with long-term data impact studies. As they describe themselves:
GiveDirectly is the first — and largest — nonprofit that lets donors like you send money directly to the world’s poorest. We believe people living in poverty deserve the dignity to choose for themselves how best to improve their lives — cash enables that choice. Since 2009, we’ve delivered over $140 million in cash directly into the hands of over 130,000 families living in poverty. Cash allows individuals to invest in what they need, instead of relying on aid organizations and donors thousands of miles away to choose for them. Isn’t this what you would prefer?
Despite the fact that UBI has such a wide range of support — from Nixon to MLK, from Socialists to Libertarians — many people are still resistant to the idea of no-strings-attached monthly cash payments in lieu of other poverty-assistance/welfare programs. I think this largely has to do with America's 300-year experiment in villainizing the poor. But time and time again, UBI experiments have demonstrated that people do not waste their money on drugs and alcohol. They do tend to work about 5-7% fewer hours on average, but they fill the rest of their days by finding new ways to be productive and contribute to society without succumbing to soul-sucking jobs. Instead of stressing to make ends meet through desperate wage-slave labor, they invested their time, money, and energy into things like education and entrepreneurship, which makes everyone happier overall. Read the rest
It was initially reported that the $2 trillion Economic Aid package would include $1,200 per person making under $75,000 (less than a month's rent is many cities) and extend unemployment benefits by four months. But people like Sen. Rick Scott complained that a few lucky poor people might get a teeny bit more than they deserve. And the GOP can't have that. Oh no.
So Senator Sanders took to the floor and made a rousing speech about the GOP's constant and compulsive need to punish and humiliate the poor at all costs.
He's right. If a trillionaire suddenly decided to give $100,000 of their own money to every American, the GOP would stop them for fear that it might benefit one or two poor people who (they believe) is lazy and mooching and thus morally undeserving of the cash. Punishment takes priority over progress, every time. It's why an actual, functional Universal Basic Income package would never pass in this country — even if it was fiscally responsible, and ultimately reduced the National Debt, the GOP simply couldn't sleep if there was one single poor person who used it as an opportunity to sit back and relax. Read the rest
In a new essay, Douglas Rushkoff examines Universal Basic Income, writing that it's not a gift but a "scam" and a "tool for our further enslavement."
Here's a snippet:
To the rescue comes UBI. The policy was once thought of as a way of taking extreme poverty off the table. In this new incarnation, however, it merely serves as a way to keep the wealthiest people (and their loyal vassals, the software developers) entrenched at the very top of the economic operating system. Because of course, the cash doled out to citizens by the government will inevitably flow to them.
Think of it: The government prints more money or perhaps — god forbid — it taxes some corporate profits, then it showers the cash down on the people so they can continue to spend. As a result, more and more capital accumulates at the top. And with that capital comes more power to dictate the terms governing human existence.
...As appealing as it may sound, UBI is nothing more than a way for corporations to increase their power over us, all under the pretense of putting us on the payroll. It’s the candy that a creep offers a kid to get into the car or the raise a sleazy employer gives a staff member who they’ve sexually harassed. It’s hush money.
Read: Universal Basic Income Is Silicon Valley’s Latest Scam
photo by photosteve101 Read the rest
Two competing (or, possibly, complementary?) proposals for resolving income inequality and the hole that four decades of demand-side Reaganomics has dug us into are Universal Basic Income and a federal jobs guarantee (the former being a kind of "venture capital for everyone" that provides enough money to live without having to work for an employer; and the latter being a guarantee of a good, meaningful job of social value in sectors like infrastructure, education and caring professions).
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Boing Boing favorite Steven Johnson (previously) has written at length about the emerging politics of "liberaltarianism" in Silicon Valley, which favors extensive government regulation (of all industries save tech), progressive taxation, universal basic income, universal free health care, free university, debt amnesty for students -- but no unions and worker acceptance of "volatility, job loss, and replacement by technology."
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Tim O'Reilly has his finger on the pulse of technology and the people who make it in a way that is unmatched by anyone in the world; the publisher of the world's best-loved computer books, the host of technology's best-loved conferences, the convenor of the most important conversations about tech and its people, O'Reilly is literally uniquely situated to understand the arc, trajectory, and possible destinations of technology and its impact on real people, which is what separates his breakout business book, WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us
, from rest of the field.
Universal Basic Income isn't just one proposal: it's a whole spectrum of ideas, with different glosses and nuances coming from the right and the left, from libertarians and those of a more paternalistic bent. Read the rest
Last year, according to a recent study by Oxfam International, just eight people owned as much wealth as half of the world’s population. That's bad. Many people suggest Universal Basic Income as a way to help solve that problem. My friend and Institute for the Future colleague Marina Gorbis suggests that we need something more -- Universal Basic Assets. From her provocative essay on Medium:
The answer may be in the concept of Universal Basic Assets (UBA), which in my definition is a core, basic set of resources that every person is entitled to, from housing and healthcare to education and financial security...
In designing Universal Basic Assets we take into account access to traditional physical and financial assets like land and money, as well as the growing pools of digital assets (data, digital currencies, reputations, etc.). We also recognize and assign value to exchanges we engage in as a part of maintaining the social fabric of our society but that do not currently carry with them monetary value (caring, creative output, knowledge generation, etc.).
In essence, we need to look at the concept of assets in its broadest sense, considering three classes of assets: private, public, and open.
‘Universal Basic Assets’: A new economic model that could save the other 99% Read the rest
Every year, Bruce Sterling closes the SXSW Interactive Festival with a wide-ranging, hour-long speech about the state of the nation: the format is 20 minutes' worth of riffing on current affairs, and then 40 minutes of main thesis, scorchingly delivered, with insights, rage, inspiration and calls to action. Read the rest
The promise of self-driving cars is to take our vehicle fleets from 5% utilization to near-100% utilization, reducing congestion, parking problems, emissions and road accidents. But what if the cheapest way to "park" your autonomous vehicle is to have it endlessly circle the block while you're at work? What do we do about the lost jobs of bus-, truck- and cab-drivers? How will we pay for roads if gas-tax revenues plummet thanks to all-electric fleets? Read the rest