Opinion; The Independentarian

One-minute video answering the question, “Would it be possible to fund UBI in America?”

Of course, it is possible to fund UBI in America. Based on my calculations from a forthcoming article in Basic Income Studies, this one-minute video argues that a UBI large enough to eliminate poverty in the United States will cost 2.95% of the GDP per year–even if no other entitlement programs are replaced or reduced.



About Karl Widerquist

Karl Widerquist has written 954 articles.

Karl Widerquist is an Associate Professor of political philosophy at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, specializing in distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and now serves as vice-chair. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIEN’s news website, Basic Income News, the main source of just-the-facts reporting on UBI worldwide. He is a cofounder and editor of the journal Basic Income Studies, the only academic journal devoted to research on UBI. Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media. He has appeared on or been quoted by many major media outlets, such as NPR’s On Point, NPR’s Marketplace, PRI’s the World, CNBC, Al-Jazeera, 538, Vice, Dissent, the New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, which called him “a leader of the worldwide basic income movement.” Widerquist holds two doctorates—one in Political Theory form Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He has published seven books, including Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press 2017, coauthored by Grant S. McCall) and Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (Palgrave Macmillan 2013). He has published more than a twenty scholarly articles and book chapters. Most Karl Widerquist’s writing is available on his “Selected Works” website (works.bepress.com/widerquist/). More information about him is available on his BIEN profile and on Wikipedia. He writes the blog "the Indepentarian" for Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.


  • It’s very simple. The amount of funding available for a Residents’ Dividend can be measured in the price of land. The price of land measures the amount of rent the landowner can steal from the commons.

  • Martin Lago

    I´ve made my own calculations:
    46.4 million people, live in Spain of which, 9 million are less than 18 years. The cost of the RB would 8400 euros per year per adult and 1.680 for children under 18 years. This gives a total of 329.280 million euros. This is the gross cost of a RBU in Spain. To get an idea, this represents 29.4% of the GDP of Spain in 2016.

    • Karl Widerquist

      You’re forgetting that the “gross cost” is meaningless. It’s not a real cost. It says nothing about the real tradeoffs involved in providing a UBI. For that you have to look at the net cost.

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