Universal Basic Income (UBI)

Universal Basic Income (UBI)

Updated Mar 10, 2019 at 03:45AM EDT by Y F.

Added Mar 07, 2019 at 04:08PM EST by Matt.

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Universal Basic Income (UBI) is an economic theory and practice that the government guarantees its citizens a minimum amount of money to pay for necessities, such as food, shelter and clothing.


Among the earliest references to the UBI appeared in Sir Thomas Moore's satirical work of fiction Utopia. In the book, Moore argues that the government should pay its citizenry a guaranteed income to keep them from poverty.[1] Over the next several centuries, the theory was touted by English radical Thomas Spence and American author and political theories Alexander Paine.


Online Relevance

On September 12th, 2012, the /r/BasicIncome subreddit launched to create "a community space for discussion and advocacy of Basic Income schemes, with four main goals: Educate, Discuss, Organize and Connect."[2] In seven years, the group has received more than 58,000 subscribers.

On November 14th, 2014, the YouTube channel for the Vox media outlet posted a video entitled "Basic income, explained." Within five years, the post received more than 1 million views (shown below, left).

Three years later, on February 16th, 2017, a video of Tesla founder Elon Musk said at that "World Government Summit 2017 in Dubai" that UBI was "going to be necessary" in the future. The post received more than 216,000 views in two years (shown below, right). Two days later, the video was posted on the /r/Futurology subreddit.[3] The post received more than 40,000 points (75% upvoted) and 6,100 comments in two years.

Several months later, Redditor[4] shikana64 posted "Finnish citizens given universal basic income report lower stress levels and greater incentive to work" in the /r/worldnews subreddit. The post received more than 36,000 points (69% upvoted) and 4,700 comments in one year.

On December 7th, the YouTube channel Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell posted the video "Universal Basic Income Explained – Free Money for Everybody? UBI." The post received more than 4.4 million views in two years (shown below).

Andrew Yang 2020 Presidential Campaign

In November 2017, Venture for America founder Andrew Yang filed to run for president of the United States in the 2020 election as a Democrat. The cornerstone of Yang's campaign is the universal basic income, proposing a $1,000/month "Freedom Dividend" to all U.S. citizens over the age of 18.

On February 2nd, 2018, Yang's campaign posted a video for the Freedom Dividend as a form of compensation for citizens transitioning in a changing economy threatened by such factors as automation. The post received more than 111,000 views in one year (shown below, left).

The following year, Yang appeared and defended the theory on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. A video of the interview received more than 2 million views in one month (shown below, right).

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