Billionaire Joins Team Of Philanthropists To Bring Free Money To The World
Billionaire and founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar, has joined the team of philanthropists, Tesla and SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk and Y Combinator president Sam Altman, in their support universal basic income (UBI).
Pierre Omidyar’s investment firm, the Omidyar Network, has begun supporting the UBI by offering basic income to a small community in Kenya as an experiment. The experiment itself is being implemented by the charity organisation GiveDirectly, which is currently running a test on a few Kenyan villages.
When the program will be launched fully over the next following months, it will be the largest UBI project in the world, covering some 26,000 recipients in total. These people will receive free money from the billionaire, either in a lump sum, or spread out over a period of 12 years, maybe less.
The Give Directly charity has already raised $23.7 million of its $30 million target, with the Omidyar Foundation pitching in $493,000 to fund the program.
“Omidyar Network’s foundational belief that empowering people frees them to better themselves, their families, and their communities has great evidence in the growing literature around the benefits of cash transfers,” manager Tracy Williams and partner Mike Kubzansky wrote in a press release.
The logic behind the UBI is not just to help the impoverished; it also has a lot to do with what’s in store for us in the future. Nowhere in history has the world been so engaged in automatization and digitisation, with self-driving cars, bots that do all sorts of work, automatic robots in assembly lines and so forth. This new technology which will bring abundance to everyone across the globe without people actually having to work or spend time doing will also bring up the issue of mass unemployment.
And since money is no longer a medium through which people can acquire commodities, and is, in fact, a commodity itself, has to be part of that freely acquired abundance or the whole thing will spell disaster. In other words, robots and machines will do all the work for us and will produce everything we will ever need, but people will no longer have the money coming in every week in order to buy these things because there will no longer be any jobs to be had. Now, this test trial will be particularly aimed at how well a UBI will work in real life over a prolonged period of time.
“The existing evidence [on UBI] comes from several small-scale pilots, but no study to date has been conducted with sufficient size, rigour, timescale, or universality to truly test the impact of a full-fledged UBI program,” according to Williams and Kubzansky.
Like with everything else, UBI also needs a lot of large scale trials in order to see what works, what doesn’t and what is the best way to implement it on a global scale as streamlined as possible. And as we said before, this is not the only place where UBI is being tried out. Countries like Finland and Canada, as well as the blockchain-based company Grantcoin, are trying it out.
This billionaire funded project will hopefully answer some of the questions surrounding a UBI project. The biggest of which is how will it actually affect its recipients. A basic, guaranteed income is believed that it will not actually deter people from getting jobs, even though critics of the problem do. Another key problem will be to see how sustainable is one such program and how feasible will it be for a government. In Finland, for instance, they believe that one such program will actually be a better alternative than actual welfare programs. With this large scale program, some of these questions, at least, will be answered.
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