Zuckerberg: Universal basic income is a 'bipartisan idea'

Zuckerberg: Universal basic income is a 'bipartisan idea'
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is floating the idea of creating a universal basic income in the United States.

During the Alaska leg of his 50-state speaking tour, Zuckerberg advocated for giving individuals a lump sum of money annually, calling it a “bipartisan idea.” 

Zuckerberg in a Facebook post praised Alaska’s own universal basic income system, which is known as the Permanent Fund Dividend. The state puts a portion of its annual oil revenue into the fund, which is then distributed to Alaskan residents at roughly $1,000 per person, depending on the year. 

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The added income can be “especially meaningful if your family has five or six people,” Zuckerberg said.

He said there are aspects of Alaska's program that should appeal to Republicans.

“First, it's funded by natural resources rather than raising taxes,” Zuckerberg noted. “Second, it comes from conservative principles of smaller government, rather than progressive principles of a larger safety net.” 

The Facebook CEO also touted universal basic income's application among Native Alaskans, via a program in which Native Corporations — private businesses owned by Native Alaskans — pay out annual dividends to their shareholders, who are also largely Native Alaskans.

He said that such programs could have interesting applications on a national level.

During his commencement speech at Harvard in May, Zuckerberg also spoke favorably of such programs.  

“We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas,” Zuckerberg said. “Giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn’t going to be free. People like me should pay for it. A lot of you are going to do well, and you should, too.”

Other major technology executives have proposed exploring looking at universal basic income as a solution to job displacement.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has said that it could be a solution to "digital refugees" that he thinks AI could create. Bill Gates has called for a robot tax to mitigate issues stemming from automation.

Businessman Mark Cuban, on the other hand, has called universal basic income the “worst possible response” to unemployment that could come from automation.