Events; News; News & Events

UNITED STATES: Zoltan Istvan and the future of Basic Income, at the Worlds Fair Nano

“Grand staircase” in Utah. Credit to: Reveal.


Zoltan Istvan continues to walk his path to be California’s Governor. His campaign involves a controversial plan to “develop California lands and use the revenue to form a Universal Basic Income for all California households”, as he told Basic Income News in a previous occasion.

Zoltan has given a major speech at the Worlds Fair Nano, which has happened on the 10th of March, 2018, at San Francisco’s Pier 48. The Worlds Fair Nano, an international fair event focused on technology, innovation and future inspired ideas, went on during the 10th and 11th of March, featuring presentations and exhibitions around technical advancements, food, art and thought.

Zoltan Istvan at the Worlds Fair Nano.

Zoltan Istvan at the Worlds Fair Nano.

His talk was focused on the rise of the machines, which is based on the notion that humans cannot possibly compete with these in most non-creative tasks, which leads to the obvious question of how all these newly unemployed people will be made to survive in the next decades. This is where Zoltan introduces his preferred view on financing a Basic Income (BI), the Federal Land Dividend. According to him, this is the only way to finance BI without taking from the rich or increasing taxes for everyone. He estimates that “developing” “empty federal land” can generate 150 trillion dollars, potentially providing each American with 500 000 US$ (which could be divided into approximately 1700 US$/month for life). The caveat here, of course, revolves around the notion of “developing”, and exactly what that would entail when private developers had access to “empty federal land”.

In any case, Zoltan Istvan stresses the importance of eliminating poverty in the United States, and that, according to him, is worth the effort and risk of leasing out public lands to private developers.


More information at:

Tyler Prochazka, “Interview: California gubernatorial candidate proposes state-wide basic income”, Basic Income News, May 15th, 2017

Zoltan Istvan, “Leasing out federal land could provide free money for all Americans”, Business Insider, July 10th 2017

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 217 articles.

Activist. Engineer. Musician. For the more beautiful world our hearts know it's possible.

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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.


  • Thorstein Veblen

    This guy is out of his mind. He just wants to privatize our beautiful national parks. No! No! No!
    You fund UBI by taxing the rich. Period. There’s 14 trillion dollars of untaxed wealth sitting on 5 tax havens right now.
    We can’t have a conversation about UBI without talking about a wealth tax. Who do these rich people think they are?

    • Actually he explicitly excludes the national parks:

      If 85% of $150 trillion of federal land was leased out — which would
      allow all national parks and their 80 million acres to remain
      untouched (something I would insist on)

  • Taxing the rich? That just means you admit taxes are theft. It is not an argument, it is admission of a crime.
    Taxing everone? Same thing, except now everybody loses.

    Money comes from the state, so there is no need to increase taxes or anything to create an UBI (and other programs like a Job Guarantee). What you need to do is the opposite of what he proposes: To curtail rent-seeking (i.e.: To penalize private holders of unused land, regardless of who owns it), as that is one of things that can actually render a UBI worthless.

    If there are resources you do not need worry about funds; you already have them. If you do not have resources, well then, how are you going to get them if not by hiring people to locate and exploit them?#LearnMMT

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