Launched on Thursday, December 8, the US-based Economic Security Project (ESP) — co-chaired by future of work expert Natalie Foster, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, and Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren — has committed to donate $10 million over the next two years to projects related to exploring “how a ‘basic income’ could rebalance the economy and ensure economic opportunity for all”.
The goal of ESP, in the words of its press release, is to help Americans interested in basic income achieve the transition from “conceptual discussion to meaningful action”.
Stressing both the potential of basic income and the need for further investigation, Warren states, “We believe we can end the downward spiral for working families in America by providing a guaranteed basic income for every man, woman, and child – but the precise approach for implementing a cash benefit system needs additional research.”
Mission and Belief Statement
ESP released its Belief Statement at its launch, accompanied by more than 100 signatures from entrepreneurs, academics, activists, artists, politicians, and others who share the vision of the initiative (including Basic Income News editor Kate McFarland, as well as many people more famous than she).
We believe people need financial security, and cash might be the most effective and efficient way to provide it.
The time has come to consider new, bold ways to make our economy work again for all Americans. In a time of immense wealth, no one should live in poverty, nor should the middle class be consigned to a future of permanent stagnation or anxiety. Automation, globalization, and financialization are changing the nature of work, and these shifts require us to rethink how to guarantee economic opportunity for all.
A basic income is a bold idea with a long history and the potential to free people to pursue the work and life they choose. Now is the time to think seriously about how recurring, unconditional cash stipends could work, how to pay for them, and what the political path might be to make them a reality, even while many of us are engaged in protecting the existing safety net.
The undersigned commit to work over the coming months and years to research, experiment, and inspire others to think through how best to design cash programs that empower Americans to live and work in the new economy.
The ESP Belief Statement continues to gather numerous signatures online.
ESP has selected six initial grant recipients, to which it has already dedicated over $500,000 in total:
- The Center for Popular Democracy, a progressive advocacy group that is beginning to explore how to strengthen America’s safety net in ways that could lead to a universal basic income.
- The Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank that has recently released a report on basic income, and which is now undertaking more extensive research on UBI and cash transfers, including macroeconomic modeling, behavioral research, and public opinion surveys and focus groups.
- The Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank that has published frequently on basic income and other cash transfer policies, such as a universal child benefit. The center plans to carry out policy research on various means of implementing cash transfer programs in the US.
- The Alaska Group American Center, which is fighting recent cuts to Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, the unconditional cash payment to state residents that has been influential in much discussion of basic income.
- The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, which is investigating the potential to use taxes on carbon to fund social dividends at the municipal level (as the group’s Camila Thorndike talks about on The Basic Income Podcast).
- The charity GiveDirectly, which is launching a 12-year basic income experiment in Kenya, wherein approximately 26,000 individuals will receive cash transfers. GD will also examine how its experimental results might have implications for the US.
ESP indicates on its website that it is open to funding a variety of projects — from scientific research to advocacy campaigns to artistic and cultural projects — and accepts proposals online.
ESP is preparing to launch a series of articles, written by project advisors and diverse other contributors, on themes related to the path to a basic income in the US.
Photo CC BY-SA 2.0 401(K) 2012