From Poverty to Hedge Fund Manager to Basic Income Advocate

From Poverty to Hedge Fund Manager to Basic Income Advocate

Darryl Finkton, Jr. is a hedge fund manager turned community organizer. Raised in a poor black family in Indianapolis, Indiana, Darryl went on to graduate from Harvard College and Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. In his new book End Poverty. Make Trillions, Darryl shares how he rose from rags to riches and searched for a way to end poverty. In 2021 he left his job as a hedge fund partner to promote the adoption of a universal basic income to end poverty in the U.S. with the help of venture dollars via his EPMT (End Poverty. Make Trillions.) fund, and then came up with a proposal to ensure everyone has an opportunity to generate wealth.

He calls his proposal “The Seed Money Act”. It would establish an unconditional, permanent, regular grant to every US household, set to an amount that’s equal to the federal poverty guidelines. “For example, for a single-person household in 2020, the amount would’ve been $1,063.33 per month.” Darryl also helped found a pilot basic income project in which recipients tell their own stories on a YouTube channel, Basic Income Works. He says “I want that program to be about the participants so I don’t want to promote the details of the pilot, just provide a platform for people to tell their stories.”

South Africa’s RightfulShare wins recognition as an innovator

South Africa’s RightfulShare wins recognition as an innovator

RighfulShare: An Income Movement  is the first unconditional basic income transfer with GoodDollar in South Africa. The project is growing in strength, pioneering fairer income access bringing both resources and web3 solutions to the small town of Groblershoop in the Northern Cape.

 “We need a new approach to addressing poverty in South Africa. The current system is not working and we can no longer pretend that there will be enough jobs for everyone. By bringing visibility to the benefits of a digital basic income transfer, we’re expanding the possibilities for South Africans”, says Karen Jooste, Founder of RightfulShare.

The participants are using their monthly basic income to alleviate day-to-day financial stress and open up space for creativity and entrepreneurship.

For example, Darryl Wessles who has been building his pig farm to address a gap in the market for smaller meat parcels for the community. Meanwhile Joyberne Neels has picked up an interest in cryptocurrencies and the potential global digital financial ecosystems can provide.

 All the participants are bringing their own life experiences and outlooks, providing diverse stories and outcomes to this UBI project. However, each has spoken to how relieving the constant burden of unemployment has been life changing. See more testimony by participants here.

 The project was recently recognized by the Swiss/South African Blockchain Innovation Challenge as one of the most innovative projects in the blockchain space.

Currently, RightfulShare is teaming up with GlobalGiving for Giving Tuesday, an effort to connect nonprofits to donors to create targeted meaningful impact. All donations go towards supporting more young entrepreneurs in South Africa kickstart their dream venture, escape poverty and overall reduce income inequality. It is super easy to donate, simply click on the link below. All donations will be matched on the 28th November 2023

Life on Basic Income: Stories from Southern Ontario

Life on Basic Income: Stories from Southern Ontario

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

A Canadian research team recently presented a new report on the Ontario Basic Income pilot during a launch event organized by their community partners, the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction. The report, which includes a special foreword from Ontario’s former Premier Kathleen Wynne, who implemented the pilot and also spoke at the event, builds upon the same team’s previous quantitative findings. The new research delves into a qualitative exploration of the Ontario Basic Income, highlighting the personal narratives, perspectives, and lived experiences of participants to provide a nuanced understanding of the policy’s effects on different aspects of well-being. The event’s agenda featured a documentary screening, a panel discussion, presentations on national basic income trends, the unveiling of a zine, and more. The occasion was covered by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which reported on the event and its key discussions.

This South Korean Presidential Election is Vital

This South Korean Presidential Election is Vital

There are rare moments when a combination of threatening circumstances leads to a wonderful transformation that only a short time before would have been unimaginable. This year may be such a moment. The Republic of Korea could set an example to the world that would bring happiness to millions of Koreans, and to many more around the world.

The risks if politicians are too cautious are enormous. Before COVID-19, the global economy was already heading towards a crisis. For over three decades, more and more of the income and wealth were going to the owners of property, financial, physical, and “intellectual”. The commons, belonging to everybody, were being converted into the source of profits and rents. A new class, the precariat, was growing everywhere, suffering from multiple forms of insecurity, drifting deeper into debt. It was incredibly high debt – private, corporate, and public – that made the global economy uniquely fragile.

Meanwhile, the public across the world were realizing the threat posed by global warming and destruction of the environment. Nothing was being done. If that continues, life for our children and grandchildren will be impaired. And it is clear that mistreatment of nature has helped make this an era of pandemics. The COVID-19 outbreak is the sixth pandemic this century.

In these circumstances, policies that merely try to go back to the old normal will not work. We need a bold transformative vision, one of courage, one designed to give people basic economic and social security, one designed to make the economy work for society and every citizen, not just for the bankers and plutocracy, and one designed to revive the commons and our natural environment.

Jae-Myung Lee is campaigning for the Presidency in the March 2022 presidential election with an exciting and feasible strategy, based on a promise of a basic income for every Korean man and woman, paid equally, as a right, without conditions. It is affordable. What is important at this stage is not to set some ideal amount, but to be on the road towards living in a society in which everybody has enough on which to survive, even if they experience personal setbacks.

What makes the proposal for a basic income so profound is that Jae-Myung Lee has come from a humble background, knowing poverty and insecurity from his childhood. He understands two fundamentals. First, the income of every Korean is due to the efforts of all those Koreans who lived beforehand, and it is based on the commons, nature and resources that make up the country, which belong to all Koreans. Those who have gained from taking the commons, most of all, the land, owe it to all Koreans to share some of the gains. A modest Land Value Tax, or levy, is justifiable and fair, and should help fund the basic income.

He also understands that pollution and global warming must be combated by a carbon tax or eco-taxes. The rich cause more pollution than the poor, the poor experience the bad effects more than the rich, including bad health from exposure to poisonous air. So, the solution must include carbon taxes to discourage global warming and polluting activities. But by themselves such taxes would hit the poor harder, because the tax would amount to more of their income.

The only sensible solution is to guarantee that the revenue from eco-taxes will be recycled through a Commons Capital Fund to help pay for the basic income, as Carbon Dividends. The poor will gain, while society will be on the road to fighting global warming and ecological decay. A basic income will also encourage more care work and ecological work, rather than resource-depleting labor. It will stimulate the desirable form of economic growth.         

The second fundamental Jae-Myung Lee and his advisers have understood is that basic security is essential for rational decision-making and mental health. There cannot be individual or societal resilience against pandemics or economic crises unless there is basic security, so that people can behave rationally rather than in desperation. Experiments have shown that a basic income improves mental health and the ability to make better decisions, for oneself, one’s family, and one’s community.

In the Korean edition of my book Plunder of the Commons, I paid respect to the ancient Korean ethos of hongik ingan, which helped found Korea in 2,333 BC. It expresses a historically-grounded wisdom that Koreans should be re-teaching the world in an era of self-centered individualism and consumption-driven “success”. It conveys the sense of not just sharing in benefits of production but sharing in the preservation and reproduction of a sense of community, our sense of participation and our relationships in and with nature. A basic income would pay respect to that ethos. Jae-Myung Lee should be commended for having pioneered it in Gyeonggi Province, and would set the country on a new progressive road if elected President on March 9.


A Korean translation of this article was published by Pressian – a political news website headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. 


BIEN | FAQs What is a Basic Income? A Basic Income is a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement (a Basic Income is sometimes called a Universal Basic Income, a Citizen’s Income, or a...