Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey is dedicating a small portion of his wealth to fund basic income projects around the country. Dorsey, also the founder and CEO of Square, is giving $15 million to Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a coalition of 29 mayors who want to establish and fund programs that provide cash to residents monthly, no strings attached.
These programs are decidedly in the pilot phase, and as such, they focus on small subsets of the population, like hundreds of residents of a city for a period of time. The eventual goal, however, is that the results of these pilot phases will turn into a truly universal basic income that will alleviate poverty, ameliorate the effects of systemic racism, and hopefully provide all Americans with the same benefits UBI recipients around the world have enjoyed, from improved happiness to better educational outcomes to increased spending and overall health.
Universal basic income was once a pie-in-the-sky radical proposal, but it’s inched closer to the mainstream thanks to advocates like Michael Tubbs, the mayor of Stockton behind the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income who is supported by another tech magnate, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, and Andrew Yang, who made a $1,000 per month UBI a foundation of his surprisingly effective presidential campaign.
It’s easy to see why the tech dudes are drawn to UBI. It’s a simple idea, pay people so they can buy the things they need, that’s amoral in a way that mirrors the Silicon Valley tenet that machines can solve humanity’s problems. It’s also disruptive as hell, and there’s no buzzword that gets these guys going more than disrupt.
Dorsey’s gift will be split among the cities represented in the coalition, up to $500,000.
“I think this idea [of UBI] is long overdue,” Dorsey said on Yang’s podcast in May. “I think the only way that we can change policy is by experimenting and showing case studies of why this works. And a number of other countries have proven small experiments as well, but we have to do it here.”