New World Same Humans
New World Same Humans
New World Same Humans #56 – Audio Version

New World Same Humans #56 – Audio Version

Free money for everyone: why the debate on UBI is about to explode.

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This Wednesday in New Week #25 I wrote about Stockton’s recent experiment with a Universal Basic Income.

Stockton is a small city in California, not far from Silicon Valley. Despite bordering such wealth, it’s one of the poorest in the country; 25% of its 310,000 inhabitants live below the poverty line. Boarded up homes and shops are commonplace; the city was ravaged by the 2008 housing crisis and never recovered.

For two years starting in 2018, 125 low-income families were sent $500 a month no strings attached.

The results are now in. Recipients paid down credit card debt, spent on food and essentials, and worked more than those in a control group who received no UBI. All while reporting improved physical and emotional wellbeing.

Interesting in its own right. But it’s the wider context here that makes all this so urgent. Fuelled by massive cash payments to citizens during the pandemic, a wave of job destruction, and a radical new economic theory, the conversation about UBI has moved to a new place.

UBI is set to be one of the defining issues of the coming decade. So this week: where is the argument at now? What lies ahead? And is UBI, as critics claim, nothing more than an empty dream? Or can it be a practical path to a world that is fairer and more free?

Go ahead: hit play!

If you prefer to read this week’s instalment go here for the text version of New World Same Humans #56.

Links in this week’s instalment

1. In the UK some members of the legendary Beveridge Committee, whose recommendations led to the creation of the modern welfare state in 1945, floated ideas that sounded much like a UBI.

2. Dutch historian Rutger Bregman has written on how close President Nixon was to enacting an unconditional income of $1,600 a year – around $12,000 in today’s money – for every poor family.

3. See the results of the recent Stockton experiment on UBI.

4. A recent large-scale trial in Finland, which saw 2,000 people receive EUR 560 per month, came to similar conclusions.

5. In 2016 Democratic presidential race, Andrew Yang proposed a ‘freedom dividend’ of $1,000 a month for every adult.

6. Today, Yang is standing for mayor of NYC; his proposal for an unconditional income for the city’s poorest 500,000 seems standard, even relatively tame.

7. A Pew Research poll in August 2020 found US citizens under 30 were two to one in favour of a UBI.

8. A 2019 British study found that a £60 a week UBI for every adult in the UK would cost £28 billion and return UK spending on benefits to 2010 levels.

9. South Korean politician Lee Jae-myung, who supports a basic income, suggests new taxes on carbon emissions and digital services to help pay the bill.

10. A controversial new theory called Modern Monetary Theory says that we’ve long misunderstood the nature of government debt.

11. Superstar futurist Yuval Harari says automation will create a ‘new useless class’.

12. The UK population of over-85s, for example, is set to treble to 5.1 million by 2066.

Fully automated luxury lifestyles

Thanks for listening this week.

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I’ll be back on Wednesday with New Week Same Humans; until then, be well,


David Mattin is the founder of the Strategy and Futures Research Unit. He sits on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Consumption.

New World Same Humans
New World Same Humans
New World Same Humans is a weekly newsletter on trends, technology and our shared future by David Mattin.
Born in 2020, the NWSH community has grown to include 25,000+ technologists, designers, founders, policy-makers and more.
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