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A brilliantly reported, global look at universal basic income—a stipend given to every citizen—and why it might be the answer for our age of rising inequality, persistent poverty, and dazzling technology.
Imagine if every month the government deposited $1,000 into your checking account, with no strings attached and nothing expected in return. It sounds crazy. But it has become one of the most influential and discussed policy ideas of our time. The founder of Facebook, President Obama’s chief economist, Canada and Finland’s governments, the conservative and labor movements’ leading intellectual lights—all are seriously debating versions of a UBI.
In this sparkling and provocative book, economics writer Annie Lowrey looks at the global UBI movement. She travels to Kenya to see how a UBI is lifting the poorest people on earth out of destitution, India to see how inefficient government programs are failing the poor, South Korea to interrogate UBI’s intellectual pedigree, and Silicon Valley to meet the tech titans financing UBI pilots in expectation of a world with advanced artificial intelligence and little need for human labor. Lowrey also examines the challenges the movement faces: contradictory aims, uncomfortable costs, and most powerfully, the entrenched belief that no one should get something for nothing.
The UBI movement calls into question our deepest intuitions about what we owe each other. Yet as Lowrey persuasively shows, a UBI—giving people money—is not just a solution to our problems, but a better foundation for our society in this age of marvels.