To Test Basic Income, 6,000 People Will Get a Salary Just for Being Alive

To Test Basic Income, 6,000 People Will Get a Salary Just for Being Alive
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

The concept of basic income is gathering steam. It's not too surprising that people would be excited about the idea of everybody getting a paycheck just for being alive. What's extraordinary is that some people are willing to pay those salaries.

GiveDirectly, a charity that sends cash to people in Kenya and Uganda, is raising $30 million to fund a program that will give 6,000 Kenyans a basic living wage, no matter what, for 10 years, the Verge reported.

Basic income addresses a big technological question posed by the slow tide of robot automation: What are humans going to do when all of the jobs and money are gone? 

A futurist's vision of society says robots will create all of the resources that we need to live, and a minimum salary will make sure the humans can still buy those goods.

But if a radical welfare reform like basic income were passed into law, it would be after rigorous testing and hard evidence that it works, and that evidence doesn't exist yet. The GiveDirectly founders hope this test will prove a theory that for century was just a dream.

"At worst, that money will shift the life trajectories of thousands of low-income households," the founders wrote for Slate. "At best, it will change how the world thinks about ending poverty."

Source: Flickr

Cash, please: We already have social safety nets in the form of food stamps, Medicaid and other means-tested assistance programs. Basic income advocates say these systems should be replaced with a direct payment: cold hard cash that people can spend however they choose.

GiveDirectly is partnering with MIT academics to examine what happens when people start receiving a basic salary without any strings attached or prescriptions about how to spend it. Do they spend more time with their children? Do they use the money on leisure and entertainment? Do they reinvest it?

If all goes well, it could be the kind of cue that some countries need to start properly investigating basic income — for everyone, not just those in need — as a basic staple of human life.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Jack Smith IV

Jack Smith IV is a senior writer covering technology and inequality. Send tips, comments and feedback to jack@mic.com.

MORE FROM

German president signs legislation legalizing same-sex marriage

According to the German president's office, the bill will come into effect on Oct. 1 at the earliest.

‘New York Times’ interview sparks latest wave of GOP frustration with Trump

The President’s “disturbing” comments on Jeff Sessions and Special Counsel Robert Mueller drew sharp rebukes from his own party.

Jordan Edwards’ mother speaks out after Monday’s indictment of the officer who killed her son

“We will not allow Jordan’s death to be another statistic.”

Trump keeps saying he wants to “let Obamacare fail.” How would that happen?

There are several ways the administration could sabotage the law, experts said.

AIDS deaths are almost half of what they were in 2005 — but experts worry Trump could reverse that

Trump's proposed budget cuts could be detrimental for those living with HIV.

German president signs legislation legalizing same-sex marriage

According to the German president's office, the bill will come into effect on Oct. 1 at the earliest.

‘New York Times’ interview sparks latest wave of GOP frustration with Trump

The President’s “disturbing” comments on Jeff Sessions and Special Counsel Robert Mueller drew sharp rebukes from his own party.

Jordan Edwards’ mother speaks out after Monday’s indictment of the officer who killed her son

“We will not allow Jordan’s death to be another statistic.”

Trump keeps saying he wants to “let Obamacare fail.” How would that happen?

There are several ways the administration could sabotage the law, experts said.

AIDS deaths are almost half of what they were in 2005 — but experts worry Trump could reverse that

Trump's proposed budget cuts could be detrimental for those living with HIV.