6,000 people will receive a livable salary just for existing. And you could be next.

What if we paid everyone a basic, bare-minimum livable wage — in exchange for absolutely nothing?

Nothing fancy, mind you; you'd still have to work in order to afford the finer things in life. But enough to cover food, housing, health care, and other essentials without all the frills.

That's the fundamental concept behind universal basic income (UBI), an economic model that's garnered support from all across the political spectrum.


Lose your job? Too overworked to take those higher education courses you wanted? Scared to launch that company you've always wanted to start? UBI would have your back. Instead of worrying about how to make ends meet, everyone — regardless of their income — would have their basic needs taken care of, freeing them up to actually, you know, positively contribute to society in whatever way that they saw fit.

Photo by Stefan Bohrer/Flickr.

It might sound ridiculous. It might seem impossible. But it's happening as we speak.

UBI has already been or is currently being tested in places like Germany, Finland, Namibia, and Canada. And those experiments have all yielded some pretty remarkable evidence in favor of this radical idea.

Contrary to popular assumptions, free money didn't turn people into lazy drunks. Sure, some of them worked a little less — like 5-7% fewer hours on average. But they also invested more time, money, and energy into education and entrepreneurship, and their overall happiness vastly improved.

Photo by Heikki Saukkomaa/Getty Images.

But most of these experiments only lasted for a couple of years at best. No one's ever tracked the long-term impact of UBI ... until now.

The nonprofit GiveDirectly just announced a comprehensive plan to study the effects of UBI through a decade-plus social experiment.

"We’ve spent much of the past decade delivering cash transfers to the extremely poor through GiveDirectly, but have never structured the transfers exactly this way: universal, long-term, and sufficient to meet basic needs," GiveDirectly Chairman Michael Faye and Director Paul Niehaus wrote in an article for Slate. "And that’s the point — nobody has and we think now is the time to try."

If all goes according to plan, GiveDirectly will provide 6,000 people in a Kenyan village with a universal basic income for the next 10-15 years. The exact number all depends on how much money they can raise.

Photo by Tony Karumba/Stringer/Getty Images.

Why Kenya? Because most Kenyans already live on the equivalent of less than $1 a day.

As such, GiveDirectly expects the total project costs to run around $30 million, less than 10% of which will go to general administrative costs.

Nothing fancy here. Just the bare minimum that someone would need to live.

A similar initiative in a developed country would cost more than a billion dollars. And unfortunately, that's not a practical price to pay for an experimental program — even one that, if successful, could improve living conditions for everyone across the board.

Photo by Tony Karumba/Stringer/Getty Images.

But that question of cost does tend to pop up pretty quickly in conversations around UBI.

It's why some people are skeptical about the idea from the start. It's probably why no one's attempted such a grandiose plan as GiveDirectly until now. And that's exactly why their mission is so significant.

For now, GiveDirectly is soliciting donations to provide these 6,000 Kenyans with their salaries. Other economists have suggested funding UBI through standard taxes, the same way we fund our current social programs; others have pointed out that the potential income from untaxed loopholes for the wealthy would be more than enough to cover the cost.


Photo by Tony Karumba/Stringer/Getty Images.

The truth is, there are some things that we just can't know until we try — and that's why GiveDirectly's new initiative is so exciting.

The theoretical evidence all looks to be in favor of a universal basic income, but there are still some things that can't be solved on paper until they're put into action.

Worst-case scenario? GiveDirectly improves the lives of 6,000 Kenyans for a while. Best case? In 15-20 years, someone could be paying you to live as well.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

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