From the web; News; News & Events; Popular Media Articles

United States: The Social Wealth Fund plan already exists

There is a plan for distributing dividends, unconditionally, for all Americans. It has been coined as the Social Wealth Fund (SWF), an idea developed and pushed by the People’s Policy Project (3P) founder Matt Bruenig, a known lawyer, blogger and policy analyst in the United States. 3P is a think tank founded in 2017, focused on studying policies benefiting citizens at large.


This plan, described in greater detail in a booklet, rests on the idea of turning national a kind of wealth fund such as the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF). However, unlike the APF, the SWF would have to rely on other sources of revenue (other than oil). Bruenig’s suggestions range from voluntary contributions, managing state-owned physical assets through the fund, various kinds of taxes (including eliminating tax breaks for the rich), leveraged purchases, to monetary seigniorage. This income is supposed to come from the highest earners in society (ex.: corporate taxes, financial taxes, philanthropy, stock exchanging), distributing it by all people.


Peter Barnes, an advisor to the Economic Security Project, has written about the SWF. According to him, the SWF is “refreshing”, because apparently none of the past policies have solved or even reduced inequality, such as “greater funding for education, infrastructure investment, low interest rates, a higher minimum wage, trade wars, tax cuts, or even a federally guaranteed job”. The inequality problem runs deep in society, and that’s where an unconditional dividend distribution of commonly owned assets could really be effective.


As for distributing dividends, Bruenig’s idea is to set this as a percentage of a five-year moving average of the fund’s market value. This could equate to a withdrawal rate of, say, four or five percent. If, at a given moment, the total fund value is $10 trillion, then the available dividends for distribution are $400 billion (Note 1).


On an article published by Anne Price and Jhumpa Bhattacharya, on wealth funds and racial inequality, the concept is summed up nicely:

“Often referred to as a Social Wealth Fund, Citizens Wealth Fund or Sovereign Wealth Fund, this concept rests on the principle of shared ownership, and builds from the foundational vision that all Americans have a right to reap benefits from wealth that we all created together.”



Note 1 – billion = 1 thousand millions


More information at:

Matt Bruenig, “Social Wealth Fund for America”, People’s Policy Project, 2018

Peter Barnes, “Opinion: All Americans would get an income boost under this new plan to share the country’s riches”, Market Watch, September 10th 2018

Anne Price and Jhumpa Bhattacharya, “Why a Social Wealth Fund Must Account for Racial Inequity”, Medium, September 19th 2018

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 290 articles.

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

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.


  • Randy

    Nice but the amounts discussed are always with the exception of the recent Swiss proposal (which came close to enactment) pathetically low.

    Lets give the wealthy a chance to show they are value added:

    Divide the gnp by the population and then distribute that amount yearly as a guaranted annual income to all citizens. That gives the wealthy a chance to prove they are value added instead of just rent seekers using rent seeking and property to convert everyone else into property. In the US for 50 years we have had the parasitic reverse where programmed in inflation has been delinked from wages so that the difference between flat wages and inflation has been accuring year after year to the wealthy for less and less contribution and where even in an of age automation others are working more and more for less and less so that single women work more than full time to pay similarly situated strangers to raise their chidren while going into debt to support this theft. This is about driving the divide through things like defacto segregation-incarceration- gentrification and straight theft of time, attention and volition- a totalitarian use of money to control for the sake of control instead of reducing it to voucher or less coercive mere means of exchange.

    The comparatively wealthy as a class in the US as elsewhere are a glutinous unaffordable luxury and their being able to exploit people is not the point of society, on the contrary real society in the democratic sense is meant to prevent this.
    Their whip cracking was a net negative and nothing to base an inheritance on. What they have in the US especially is a massive debt based on the difference in the quality of life deprived the people since about 1970 whic is due immediately with interest. The fruits of society including the fruit of the automation the people put in place are due to the people immediatly. Any contribution by the wealthy real ot imagined has already been paid off countless times and the former self appointed land lords have nothing but 5 decades of reverse mortgage due the people who now not only own everything but always had and always will have the prior and final claim.

  • Randy

    Just divide the GNP by the population and distribute that amount from birth to death unconditional and indexed.

    That way the wealthy as a class can prove they are value added and are responsible for lifting all boats and not merely thieves that owe reparations and a massive debt due immediately.

    Ontario said BI provides a disincentive to work. Work for whome- a bunch of sit on there ass oppressors. What they should have said was a BI provides a disincentive to slavery which they call work!

  • shawn

    The western hemisphere is in a pickle. Countries with no birth control and weak economies will have an exodus of people who want to live in a UBI country. We need to fund create their fund first.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.