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United States: Another unconditional cash-transfer pilot project is launched

It’s called the Workers Strength Fund, and is financially and operationally backed by Commonwealth, Google.org, the Rockefeller Foundation and Prudential Financial. This new organization is unconditionally giving $1000 to 500 (randomly selected) precarious workers living in the cities of Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco and New York. The cash is intended as a one-off payment, much like an emergency package to face unexpected expenses that many Americans cannot afford (the Federal Reserve estimates that 40% of Americans cannot face an unexpected 400$ cost).

This particular unconditional cash transfer pilot project, running since July and going through the end of this year, is collecting data on how subjects spend the money, as well as trying to understand how their feeling of security is affected by knowing they can draw on an emergengy 1000$ if the get the need for it. Proponents of the pilot are convinced people will feel less burdened and hence better able to make informed decisions, if their feeling of security increases.

Not being an Universal Basic Income experiment, since, in this case, it doesn’t provide a regular payment, nor covers monthly basic needs, nor the beneficiaries sample covers the whole of American society (but only a small subset of precarious low-wage workers), it is nonetheless an experiment on unconditionality, hence trust.

Rachel Schneider (economy expert, author of “The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty”) and David Weil (Dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University and the Worker Strength Fund’s Lead Policy & Research Advisor) are two of the main thinkers and movers of this project.

More information at:

Sarah Holder, “A Free $1,000 That Isn’t Andrew Yang’s UBI“, Citylab, September 2nd 2019

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 336 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.

6 comments

  • It is ok.It is very good to see some elements that can be linked to the UBI but obviously it is not a UBI and only a correctly made UBI is the consequentnes or on the way to the third path that human society has long sought.

  • And: Do not you think that the UBI is the fundamental pillar of the third way of human development that so many people seek!?

    • Is it not better to be Piloting regular payments to a trial group on the model of UBI to see how their lives change rather than a one-off payment of $1000? If UBI is possible we need good data from realistic tests?

  • Brian

    At last, we see the advocacy of the UBI, in all its social ramifications, in the Yang2020 candidacy. These ideas that were promulgated by some of the deepest thinkers of the 16th century forward, are now, once again, being taken seriously. The ratification of the “Permanent Fund” by the great state of Alaska, albeit modest, has reintroduced the idea of our basic rights of ownership.

  • DH Fabian

    No question, there is a marginal degree of interest in those who are still fortunate enough to have jobs. We dismiss the rest of the country as mere “surplus population,” something less than human. Of course, there is no such thing as a “basic income guarantee” that excludes those left jobless.

    • gerdur palmadottir

      UBI is not basically focused on ´jobless´ people, there are millions of people working on vital projects without payment. Most creative work is done outside employment as when in employment people are working FOR someone who determines what it should be and/or decides if it is worth pursuing or not, and then the consideration is mostly his own profit but not the good of society or the creator of the project. UBI is a circular solution to poverty as poverty is sustained by a lack of cash. Poverty is a very costly business.

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