+

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 allacrossthepoliticalspectrum.


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 lazydrunks. 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.

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

Honorees, speakers and guests on stage at We the Peoples

True

Some people say that while change is inevitable, progress is a choice. In other words, it’s a purposeful act—like when American media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner established the United Nations Foundation 25 years ago.

Keep ReadingShow less

Fox was granted the award for his contributions to Parkinson's disease research through his foundation.

Following his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease back in the early '90s, beloved “Back to the Future” star Michael J. Fox became an unwavering advocate for others living with the condition. His Michael J. Fox Foundation, founded in 2000, has become the leading provider of funds for Parkinson's research in the world. A large chunk of that research goes into investigating potential cures for the disease.

His contributions to Parkinson's research were highlighted at the 13th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, Nov. 19, in Los Angeles as a recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which honors individuals "whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”

As the now-retired actor took to the stage to accept his honorary Oscar, he delivered a speech full of emotion, grace and a sense of humor that shoots straight to the heart.

Keep ReadingShow less
True

Innovation is awesome, right? I mean, it gave us the internet!

However, there is always a price to pay for modernization, and in this case, it’s in the form of digital eye strain, a group of vision problems that can pop up after as little as two hours of looking at a screen. Some of the symptoms are tired and/or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain1. Ouch!

Keep ReadingShow less
via Reddit

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


When Michael Todd started his freshman year at MLK prep school in Memphis, Tennessee two years ago, he only had one outfit to wear to school. High school kids can be incredibly cruel and Michael was mocked for three weeks for wearing the same clothes every day.

"I really don't have clothes at home," he told KTVI. "My mom can't buy clothes for me because I'm growing too fast."


Keep ReadingShow less

Pink sings "Hopelessly Devoted to You."

Pop royalty Pink paid a heartwarming tribute to fellow music icon Olivia Newton-John at the 2022 American Music Awards, which aired this past Sunday, Nov. 20.

Newton-John, who led a lustrous career—including winning 10 AMAs herself—as well as a life dedicated to philanthropy, died of breast cancer at the age of 73 in August of this year. Though Newton-John had a wide variety of beloved hits throughout the years, Pink chose to sing arguably one of her biggest hits of all time, “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”
Keep ReadingShow less

Chris Hemsworth and daughter.

This article originally appeared on 08.27.18


In addition to being the star of Marvel franchise "Thor," actor Chris Hemsworth is also a father-of-three? And it turns out, he's pretty much the coolest dad ever.

In a clip from a 2015 interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Hemsworth shared an interesting conversation he had with his 4-year-old daughter India.

Keep ReadingShow less