Podcast: The largest basic income trial in history

Podcast: The largest basic income trial in history

Joe Huston, the CFO of GiveDirectly, speaks with the UBI Podcast about the largest basic income trial in history.

The trial is in its earliest stage and will expand later, giving entire communities a basic income in Kenya.

A 12-year basic income will be provided to 40 villages, 80 villages will receive basic income for 2 years. A lump-sum payment will be given to 80 villages. There will be 100 villages that will act as control groups.

One interesting takeaway is that Huston said they are already seeing some “spillover benefits.”

“I expect there will be spillover benefits. We kicked off in one pilot village, and already the surrounding villages have mentioned people are buying more services and goods,” Huston said.

When discussing pilot programs, the environmental impact of basic income is often overlooked. Huston said that GiveDirectly does not take a position on this, but he said developed countries should take the lead on the environment.

“My personal view is for these environmental goals you’d want to solve through other means, international treaties or the developed world stepping up, verses trying to slow down development of very very poor areas,” he said.

As the research begins to come out about basic income, Huston said he hopes it can inform the debate about how to best form the social safety net.

“I think evidence from the UBI study showing those who are just poor but receive money and put that toward investment that have big life-changing effects, I think that could change how social protection is done in those countries,” Huston said.

Previously, even after cash-transfer pilots end, Huston said that they continue to see positive effects.

“GiveDirectly’s first study measured effects up to a year after payments stopped…and you still saw pretty strong effects on earnings, assets, food security, reduction in stress levels,” Huston said.

Stress was measured through looking at cortisol levels, which saw significant declines after cash-transfers were administered, Huston said.

Once the 12-year study ends, Huston said he expects they will continue to follow up with these villages to see if there are permanent effects of basic income on these areas.

“We have the potential to end extreme poverty globally, many countries have the potential to end whatever they consider their national poverty line. And that potential…is extraordinarily exciting. It is a huge opportunity for our generation,” Huston said.

“Then the question is, ‘why wouldn’t we test this?'”

Interview: ‘Bootstraps’ documentary launches crowdfunding campaign

Interview: ‘Bootstraps’ documentary launches crowdfunding campaign

The team behind the upcoming Bootstraps documentary, which will follow a group of actual basic income recipients, has launched a crowdfunding campaign.

Conrad Shaw and Deia Schlosberg, the Bootstraps team, announced the campaign on the UBI Podcast to raise $50,000, in the next two months, to start a pilot program with real people.

Once the first $50,000 is raised, Shaw said they can begin handing out the basic income, initially, to a small number of recipients. Each recipient will receive $1,000 a month for two years.

For each $50,000 raised, they will be able to fund two basic income recipients.

Every time $50,000 is raised, a member of the Bootstraps newsletter can choose an American to participate in the documentary and receive a basic income.

In addition, those that contribute to the crowdfunding campaign can get rewards, such as a Bootstraps t-shirt or even tickets to the premier of the documentary.

The overall purpose of the campaign is to bring awareness of basic income to the “public at large” in the United States.

“The reason our pilot is different is that it is designed to facilitate storytelling,” Schlosberg said.

To carry out the campaign, the team is working with Handup, an organization that is focused on helping homeless individuals. Shaw said the leader of Handup is a proponent of basic income.

Schlosberg is confident that greater media interest will follow once they raise enough money.

“A lot of people have said ‘Sounds great. Get back to us once it is up and running.’”

Each day, the team will release a UBI thought of the day, which will often be accompanied by an interview with one of many basic income scholars they have interviewed.

“We’ve been interviewing a lot of thinkers on UBI and we have hours and hours of amazing material,” Schlosberg said. “We want these great thoughts out there.”

So far, most of the academics whom the team has interviewed have been proponents of the basic income. The larger resistance to the idea, Shaw said, has been from people on the street.

“What we find, in general, is it is all about how you sell the idea. Basic income sells itself,” Shaw said.

In the last six months, during the initial stage of the documentary, the general public has become much more aware of the basic income, Shaw said.

For Shaw, the campaign is an important step in establishing a Universal Basic Income throughout the country.

“You have to pick which projects have the best chance of having a large impact and we designed this project to fill a hole that we see,” Shaw said.

The crowdfunding campaign can be found here.