23 votes

Andrew Yang’s new non-profit is giving away $500,000 in free cash as a UBI experiment

28 comments

  1. [7]
    skybrian
    Link
    From the article:

    From the article:

    Thursday, Yang said his new organization will give away $500,000 in free cash payments to the residents of one (as yet unnamed) town in New York state as part of an initial pilot program to demonstrate there are benefits of UBI.

    The $500,000 UBI giveaway was revealed as part of the launch of Yang’s organization, dubbed Humanity Forward, which has an official mission to “build the movement to rewrite the rules of our economy and society to make it work for us, the people, and create a human-centered America,” according to a written statement.

    9 votes
    1. [6]
      Amarok
      Link Parent
      Yang's tech bro colors are showing. If what you're doing isn't working, pivot pivot pivot. From candidate to commentator now back to running a nonprofit, and I'm sure back to candidate in 2024.

      Yang's tech bro colors are showing. If what you're doing isn't working, pivot pivot pivot. From candidate to commentator now back to running a nonprofit, and I'm sure back to candidate in 2024.

      6 votes
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        He's also starting a podcast interviewing people. These things all seem like suitable gigs where a politician/celebrity can use his skills to keep people watching in the off-season, while figuring...

        He's also starting a podcast interviewing people.

        These things all seem like suitable gigs where a politician/celebrity can use his skills to keep people watching in the off-season, while figuring out what next to do. Talking about politics in front of an audience is probably something he could do in his sleep at this point. A podcast lets him talk about different subjects to keep things interesting. Asking people for money is something he has lots of experience with too. Raising money for a charity that also supports your core message: what's not to like?

        9 votes
      2. [2]
        clone1
        Link Parent
        Is that necessarily a bad thing?

        Is that necessarily a bad thing?

        1 vote
        1. Amarok
          Link Parent
          Not at all! I think he's teaching other politicians (though not Trump) a thing or two about staying relevant and getting media coverage.

          Not at all! I think he's teaching other politicians (though not Trump) a thing or two about staying relevant and getting media coverage.

          6 votes
      3. [2]
        Kuromantis
        Link Parent
        Honestly I feel like he could have done a lot of good as a CNN commentator if he managed to be one of the moderators in a debate. Maybe they wouldn't let him and so he left them.

        Honestly I feel like he could have done a lot of good as a CNN commentator if he managed to be one of the moderators in a debate. Maybe they wouldn't let him and so he left them.

        1. Jedi
          Link Parent
          I can't find anything on him leaving? Starting a non-profit doesn't necessarily mean he left CNN.

          I can't find anything on him leaving? Starting a non-profit doesn't necessarily mean he left CNN.

          2 votes
  2. wycy
    Link
    A UBI experiment was done in Manitoba, Canada during the 1970s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincome

    A UBI experiment was done in Manitoba, Canada during the 1970s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincome

    6 votes
  3. [4]
    bleem
    Link
    The human fund : money for people

    The human fund : money for people

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      AnthonyB
      Link Parent
      Who could've realized George had our solution to automation 25 years ago.

      Who could've realized George had our solution to automation 25 years ago.

      3 votes
      1. tlalexander
        Link Parent
        Well Marx had (part of) the solution 150 years ago. We all need to own the machines collectively.

        Well Marx had (part of) the solution 150 years ago. We all need to own the machines collectively.

        5 votes
  4. [7]
    grahamiam
    Link
    For a similar, private organization-backed initiative, check out GiveDirect, especially the TAL episode that compared their work in Africa with Heifer International. These are charity based and...

    For a similar, private organization-backed initiative, check out GiveDirect, especially the TAL episode that compared their work in Africa with Heifer International. These are charity based and thus have a much different motivation from Yang, but it's a similar conversation around the implementation.

    2 votes
    1. [6]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      Yep, that's GiveDirectly. They're doing good work as far as I can tell. I posted about some findings last year.

      Yep, that's GiveDirectly. They're doing good work as far as I can tell. I posted about some findings last year.

      4 votes
      1. [5]
        Amarok
        Link Parent
        That paper really clinches UBI for me. Proves the inflation is so low it can't even be measured, proves the economic multiplier is real. It's also a 15% GDP transfer, which is massive, so we'd...

        That paper really clinches UBI for me. Proves the inflation is so low it can't even be measured, proves the economic multiplier is real. It's also a 15% GDP transfer, which is massive, so we'd expect to see large effects.

        The open question now for me is what happens when you do this over a sustained period of time, say five years, with transfers that large.

        1 vote
        1. [4]
          skybrian
          Link Parent
          The thing with these studies is that you always have to worry about external validity. It worked in villages in Kenya, but will it work in villages in another African country? (I'm guessing yes.)...

          The thing with these studies is that you always have to worry about external validity. It worked in villages in Kenya, but will it work in villages in another African country? (I'm guessing yes.) It worked in remote villages, but it would it work in the city? (Seems harder to say?) How about India? And then extrapolating to developed countries that have basically no sustenance farmers anymore along with modern, competitive retailers and a higher cost of living seems pretty iffy.

          We probably need studies done in a variety of places and circumstances to see what the differences are.

          4 votes
          1. [3]
            Amarok
            Link Parent
            We've been studying this all over the world in one form or another since the 60s. The studies say the same thing - it works, with some local caveats and quirks, like any policy. Hundreds of...

            We've been studying this all over the world in one form or another since the 60s. The studies say the same thing - it works, with some local caveats and quirks, like any policy. Hundreds of economists have signed off on it including legendary conservative economists like Friedman. The jury is back on this, just like on climate change.

            We're past study at this point. It's time to figure out a workable implementation. The only way we're going to learn more about UBI is by putting it into practice.

            Start small, then scale up - that's the safe bet. It's one thing to trial it with a subset of a population, it's quite another to put the universal aspect into play for real and watch what happens.

            Frankly I can think of a few places in the USA to pilot this, like Detroit and Flint. Target the most stressed areas in the beginning.

            5 votes
            1. [2]
              skybrian
              Link Parent
              I don't think we'll ever be past study. Finance and economics are not like physics where you can learn a scientific law once and for all - you need to keep tracking effectiveness because policies...

              I don't think we'll ever be past study. Finance and economics are not like physics where you can learn a scientific law once and for all - you need to keep tracking effectiveness because policies can become more or less effective depending on circumstances, or even stop working altogether.

              It's unlikely that economists will ever stop studying minimum wage laws, for example.

              I am in favor of going beyond pilot studies, but if it's not happening then we need to keep doing them.

              3 votes
              1. Amarok
                Link Parent
                Of course. My point is merely that it's time for this one to leave the testbed and go out into the real world. Honestly, I'd say the most serious fault remaining in the studies is that nothing...

                Of course. My point is merely that it's time for this one to leave the testbed and go out into the real world.

                Honestly, I'd say the most serious fault remaining in the studies is that nothing done so far is truly long-term. It's the 5 year, 10 year, 20 year marks that are big questions right now. We know what it does in one year.

                2 votes
  5. [5]
    Greg
    Link
    Any distribution of wealth to those who need it seems like a good idea to me, but I do wonder what the actual goals are here. It's getting publicity, which I guess is beneficial, but a year's UBI...

    Any distribution of wealth to those who need it seems like a good idea to me, but I do wonder what the actual goals are here. It's getting publicity, which I guess is beneficial, but a year's UBI for ~40 people doesn't seem enough to demonstrate the benefits to the community as a whole. I worry that'll be used as ammunition against the concept: "see, Yang tried it and nothing really changed".

    He's an intelligent man with an intelligent team behind him, so I'm sure the questions have been thought out more than this article suggests; I'd be interested to know what he's thinking in the long term.

    2 votes
    1. skybrian
      Link Parent
      I imagine they would do more if they get more funding, and part of the point of publicity is to do that. The website for Humanity Forward is currently just a placeholder that lets you send money....

      I imagine they would do more if they get more funding, and part of the point of publicity is to do that.

      The website for Humanity Forward is currently just a placeholder that lets you send money. It doesn't even say what they're doing. Its Twitter account has been around since July 2019, though.

      1 vote
    2. [3]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      As a pilot program it makes sense to start small and scale up. You can, at least, see how it applies to the people getting it. If you document it as a randomized, controlled trial you can then use...

      but a year's UBI for ~40 people doesn't seem enough to demonstrate the benefits to the community as a whole.

      As a pilot program it makes sense to start small and scale up. You can, at least, see how it applies to the people getting it. If you document it as a randomized, controlled trial you can then use that to make the case for a bigger test, and a bigger one, and then start tweaking it as a serious policy to propose as legislation.

      1. [2]
        Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        Depends on the flavor of random. I think one of the downsides of giving UBI to people in different places is it won't show the aggregate effects that happen when say, an entire town gets it....

        If you document it as a randomized, controlled trial you can then use that to make the case for a bigger test,

        Depends on the flavor of random. I think one of the downsides of giving UBI to people in different places is it won't show the aggregate effects that happen when say, an entire town gets it. Especially if that town is small, isolated, and shrinking.

        4 votes
        1. NaraVara
          Link Parent
          That would be a phase III or phase IV I would think. First you want to see its individual effects.

          I think one of the downsides of giving UBI to people in different places is it won't show the aggregate effects that happen when say, an entire town gets it. Especially if that town is small, isolated, and shrinking.

          That would be a phase III or phase IV I would think. First you want to see its individual effects.

          1 vote
  6. [4]
    Loire
    Link
    A little off topic but am I wrong in thinking we will need to start taxing automation equivalent to the replaced manpower for a UBI system to work? All these mincome studies seem to focus on what...

    A little off topic but am I wrong in thinking we will need to start taxing automation equivalent to the replaced manpower for a UBI system to work? All these mincome studies seem to focus on what people can do with the money but none really focus on the how. When 20% or more of the workforce is displaced by automation where will source the revenue to provide the UBI?

    1 vote
    1. Amarok
      Link Parent
      Well, Yang's plan specifically used this funding model. I was skeptical about the new revenue part until that Keyna study measured a 2.6 multiple, which proves it will work at least on some level....

      Well, Yang's plan specifically used this funding model.

      I was skeptical about the new revenue part until that Keyna study measured a 2.6 multiple, which proves it will work at least on some level.

      There are plenty of ways to fund this, so Yang's plan isn't the only way to do it. I'm partial to letting economists sort out those details - whatever the funding model is, it's got to keep economic distortions to a minimum. That's how we get in trouble long term with policy like this.

      3 votes
    2. stu2b50
      Link Parent
      No, that was Yang's entire platform.

      we will need to start taxing automation equivalent to the replaced manpower for a UBI system to work

      No, that was Yang's entire platform.

      1 vote
    3. skybrian
      Link Parent
      Yes, the money has to come from somewhere. As a result, they are only studying part of the problem with these pilot programs, and it's the easier part. But people have enough concerns about giving...

      Yes, the money has to come from somewhere. As a result, they are only studying part of the problem with these pilot programs, and it's the easier part. But people have enough concerns about giving other people money that it's worth doing.

      1 vote