Steven Shafarman
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Basic income is in the news, often called UBI, Universal - or unconditional - Basic Income. Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are promoting it. Keith Ellison, vice chair of the Democratic Party, has endorsed it. Hillary Clinton mentions it in her latest book. Pilot projects are underway or about to begin in Oakland and Stockton, California, and underway in Finland, Holland, Canada and Kenya. The idea is to set some amount, say $1,000 a month, and provide that to every adult citizen. The same amount for everyone. Funds would come from cutting programs that become superfluous. I've been a basic income activist for more than 30 years. And I find that this idea can attract, excite, and unite Liberal Democrats and Conservative Republicans and people who are normally apolitical or anti-political. We can end hunger, homelessness and extreme poverty, and make real rapid progress on health care, education, immigration and so on. Consider climate change. Economists and environmentalists and politicians from the left and the right endorse the idea of tax and dividend. This plan puts the dividend first and will likely lead to a consensus on tax reform. This idea is not new. In fact, it goes back to the America's founders: Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and others. In order to truly secure our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, basic income is imperative. Life requires food and shelter at least. Without an income, liberty is precarious and happiness elusive. A majority of Americans supported related ideas in the 1960s. The House of Representatives passed a bill to provide a guaranteed income for families by a vote of two to one, but the Senate then blocked it. Alaskans already have a small basic income, the Permanent Fund dividend, and I recently met with a state senator from Alaska who's looking at ways to expand it. Hawaii now has a law declaring that every family is entitled to financial security, and they've launched a task force for basic income. One of the proponents in the 1960s was Martin Luther King. He had a dream, and we can make it come true. I believe that we can have a peaceful democratic revolution within the next three to five years. You can play a leading role. Let's make history. Thank you. (Applause)