Story at a glance
- Tech industry leader Jack Dorsey has given $3 million to a project experimenting with universal basic income and its socioeconomic effects.
- He believes a basic income would act as a cushion against stressful economic conditions.
On Thursday, billionaire and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey announced that he has pledged $3 million into a pilot program that tests the idea of a universal basic income in partnership with the organization Mayors for a Guaranteed Income.
$3M to @MichaelDTubbs and @mayorsforagi for #guaranteedincome programs in cities across the country. This is one tool to close the wealth and income gap, level systemic race and gender inequalities, and create economic security for families. #UBIhttps://t.co/1APG505xZH— jack (@jack) July 9, 2020
Business Insider reports that Dorsey’s donation could affect about 7 million Americans residing in 14 different cities, including Los Angeles; Newark, N.J.; Stockton, Calif.; and Jackson, Miss. The goal of the pilot will be to see if giving a federally supported guaranteed basic income will help close wealth disparities by facilitating the emergence from poverty.
Dorsey is a recent supporter of the guaranteed basic income, made mainstream with 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s proposal to give every American adult $1,000 a month to bolster the economy in tumultuous times and help reduce rates of poverty in the U.S.
Yang proposed to fund a universal basic income through merging other welfare programs to cut costs and adding a value-added tax of 10 percent on products. In May, Dorsey donated another 5 million to Yang’s organization called Humanity Forward to continue experimenting with guaranteed basic income. He also recently donated $1 billion to coronavirus relief efforts.
Business Insider notes that Dorsey has a net worth of approximately $7.5 billion.
As of 2018, 38.1 million Americans reported living in poverty, per data from Poverty USA. This could likely grow, given the onset of the coronavirus pandemic that resulted in a sharp recession and the loss of millions of jobs due to mass closures.
Even when the economy recovers from the coronavirus shock, there will still be multiple threats to employment, such as the technological automation of certain industries.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Dorsey touched on the safety net he believes a universal basic income could provide in the face of economic changes.
“Every single field is going to be touched by automation, and UBI to me represents a floor,” Dorsey said. “A floor that people can stand on, and have the knowledge and peace of mind that they could survive and eat and feed their children while they are learning how to transition into this new world.”
In late March, a poll conducted by the University of Chicago’s GenForward Survey Project found that a 51 percent majority of young voters, or voters in the range of 18 to 36, supported the idea of a universal basic income distributed by the federal government.
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