8 Best Books on Universal Basic Income

Best Books on Universal Basic IncomeT

 hroughout history, most of societ was poor. Today, there are a lot of wealthy people in the world. Nevertheless, the ideas of universal basic income is to allow the poor to begin with a more solid financial base, in the hope that they can also contribute to the global economy. The idea is that when people are constantly trying to survive it becomes hard to be productive. Therefore, when everyone is on productive mindset it contributes to everyone. 

What is Universal Basic Income?
Best Books on Universal Basic Income: The List
Final Thoughts on Best Books on Universal Basic Income

What is Universal Basic Income?

A governmental public program meant for regular cash payments to its population without any test and minimal or no given criteria comes under the name of Universal Basic Income, guaranteed annual income, citizen’s basic income, or basic living stipend. The basic idea behind this is to increase the income of its inhabitants in accordance with the International Monetary Fund.

Best Books on Universal Basic Income: THE LIST

1.  Fair Shot
2.  The War on Normal People
3.  Utopia for Realists
4.  Give People Money
5. Basic Income
6. The Case for Universal Basic Income
7. Raising the Floor
8. Our Future
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1 – Fair Shot | By Chris Huges

The first half of Chris Hughes’ life played like a movie reel right out of the “American Dream.” He grew up in a small town in North Carolina. His parents were people of modest means, but he was accepted into an elite boarding school and then Harvard, both on scholarship. There, he met Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz and became one of the co-founders of Facebook.

In telling his story, Hughes demonstrates the powerful role fortune and luck play in today’s economy. Through the rocket ship rise of Facebook, Hughes came to understand how a select few can become ultra-wealthy nearly overnight. He believes the same forces that made Facebook possible have made it harder for everyone else in America to make ends meet.

To help people who are struggling, Hughes proposes a simple, bold solution: a guaranteed income for working people, including unpaid caregivers and students, paid for by the one percent. The way Hughes sees it, a guaranteed income is the most powerful tool we have to combat poverty and stabilize America’s middle class. Money―cold hard cash with no strings attached―gives people freedom, dignity, and the ability to climb the economic ladder.

A guaranteed income for working people is the big idea that’s missing in the national conversation. This book, grounded in Hughes’ personal experience, will start a frank conversation about how we earn in modern America, how we can combat income inequality, and ultimately, how we can give everyone a fair shot.


2 – The War on Normal People

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The shift toward automation is about to create a tsunami of unemployment. Not in the distant future–now. One recent estimate predicts 45 million American workers will lose their jobs within the next twelve years–jobs that won’t be replaced. In a future marked by restlessness and chronic unemployment, what will happen to American society?

In The War on Normal People, Andrew Yang paints a dire portrait of the American economy. Rapidly advancing technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation software are making millions of Americans’ livelihoods irrelevant. The consequences of these trends are already being felt across our communities in the form of political unrest, drug use, and other social ills. The future looks dire-but is it unavoidable?

In The War on Normal People, Yang imagines a different future–one in which having a job is distinct from the capacity to prosper and seek fulfillment. At this vision’s core is Universal Basic Income, the concept of providing all citizens with a guaranteed income-and one that is rapidly gaining popularity among forward-thinking politicians and economists. Yang proposes that UBI is an essential step toward a new, more durable kind of economy, one he calls “human capitalism.”

Quotes from The War on Normal People;

“Grit, persistence, adaptability, financial literacy, interview skills, human relationships, conversation, communication, managing technology, navigating conflicts, preparing healthy food, physical fitness, resilience, self-regulation, time management, basic psychology and mental health practices, arts, and music—all of these would help students and also make school seem much more relevant. Our fixation on college readiness leads our high school curricula toward purely academic subjects and away from life skills. The purpose of education should be to enable a citizen to live a good, positive, socially productive life independent of work.”

“Are we not, as the citizens of the United States, the owners of this country?”

“The market rewards business leaders for making things more efficient. Efficiency doesn’t love normal people.”

“The idea that poor people will be irresponsible with their money and squander it seems to be a product of deep-seated biases rather than emblematic of the truth.”

“Our lack of family leave for new parents is barbaric, antifamily, sexist, regressive, economically irrational, and just plain stupid.”

“There’s a big distinction between humans as humans and humans as workers. The former are indispensable. The latter may not be.”

“Scarcity will not save us. Abundance will.”

“Time only flows in one direction, and progress is a good thing as long as its benefits are shared.”

“There is limited or no market reward at present for keeping families together, upgrading infrastructure, lifelong education, preventative care, or improving democracy.”

“In places where jobs disappear, society falls apart. The public sector and civic institutions are poorly equipped to do much about it. When a community truly disintegrates, knitting it back together becomes a herculean, perhaps impossible task. Virtue, trust, and cohesion—the stuff of civilization—are difficult to restore. If anything, it’s striking how public corruption seems to often arrive hand-in-hand with economic hardship.”


 3 – Utopia for Realists | By Rutger Bregman

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After working all day at jobs we often dislike, we buy things we don’t need. Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian, reminds us it needn’t be this way — and in some places, it isn’t. Rutger Bregman’s TED Talk about universal basic income seemed impossibly radical when he delivered it in 2014. A quarter of a million views later, the subject of that video is being seriously considered by leading economists and government leaders the world over. It’s just one of the many utopian ideas that Bregman proves is possible today.

Utopia for Realists is one of those rare books that takes you by surprise and challenges what you think can happen. From a Canadian city that once completely eradicated poverty, to Richard Nixon’s near implementation of a basic income for millions of Americans, Bregman takes us on a journey through history, and beyond the traditional left-right divides, as he champions ideas whose time have come.

Every progressive milestone of civilization — from the end of slavery to the beginning of democracy — was once considered a utopian fantasy. Bregman’s book, both challenging and bracing, demonstrates that new utopian ideas, like the elimination of poverty and the creation of the fifteen-hour workweek, can become a reality in our lifetime. Being unrealistic and unreasonable can in fact make the impossible inevitable, and it is the only way to build the ideal world.

Quotes from Utopia for Realists;

Let’s start with a little history lesson: In the past, everything was worse.

“The past was certainly a harsh place, and so it’s only logical that people dreamed of a day when things would be better.”

“In the 19th century, inequality was still a matter of class; nowadays, it’s a matter of location.”

“Political scientists have established that how people vote is determined less by their perceptions about their own lives than by their conceptions of society.”

“We live in a world where the going rule seems to be that the more vital your occupation (cleaning, nursing, teaching), the lower you rate in the GDP.”

“The GDP…does a poor job of calculating advances in knowledge.”

“It’s quite simple, really. Time is money. Economic growth can yield either more leisure or more consumption.”

“The time has come to put paid to what Duflo calls the three I’s of development aid: Ideology, Ignorance, and Inertia.”

“The bottom line is that wealth can be concentrated somewhere, but that doesn’t also mean that’s where it’s being created.”

“Borders are the single biggest cause of discrimination in all of world history. Inequality gaps between people living in the same country are nothing in comparison to those between separated global citizenries.”


4 – Give People Money | By Annie Lowrey

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Imagine if every month the government deposited $1,000 into your bank account, with nothing expected in return. It sounds crazy. But it has become one of the most influential and hotly debated policy ideas of our time. Futurists, radicals, libertarians, socialists, union representatives, feminists, conservatives, Bernie supporters, development economists, child-care workers, welfare recipients, and politicians from India to Finland to Canada to Mexico—all are talking about UBI.

In this sparkling and provocative book, economics writer Annie Lowrey examines the UBI movement from many angles. She travels to Kenya to see how a UBI is lifting the poorest people on earth out of destitution, India to see how inefficient government programs are failing the poor, South Korea to interrogate UBI’s intellectual pedigree, and Silicon Valley to meet the tech titans financing UBI pilots in expectation of a world with advanced artificial intelligence and little need for human labor.

Lowrey explores the potential of such a sweeping policy and the challenges the movement faces, among them contradictory aims, uncomfortable costs, and, most powerfully, the entrenched belief that no one should get something for nothing. In the end, she shows how this arcane policy has the potential to solve some of our most intractable economic problems while offering a new vision of citizenship and a firmer foundation for our society in this age of turbulence and marvels.

Quotes from Give People Money;

“Of course, as the United States built a safety net that excluded and punished black families, it created a wealth-building apparatus to buoy and enrich white ones. It is not market forces and individual effort alone that determine who succeeds and prospers and who remains impoverished and excluded in the United States, but government policy and deep-seated cultural and societal mores.”

“Right now, the poverty gap—the amount of money it would take to lift every man, woman, and child across the World Bank’s extreme poverty line—is about $66 billion, as estimated by Laurence Chandy and Brina Seidel of the Brookings Institution. That’s about what Americans spend on lottery tickets every year. It is half of what the world spends on humanitarian aid.”

“They were not charity cases. They were businesses waiting to start, individuals striving to prosper, families searching for a better life. The main thing they lacked was cash.”

“Pressing financial concerns, it found, have the same cognitive effect as pulling an all-nighter, or losing 13 IQ points.”

“When I told my parents, John and Celine, that I was writing a book, my dad responded, “I always knew you’d write one!,” which was exactly what I needed to hear.”

“Here, poverty in the United States is a choice. Stagnant middle-class incomes are a choice. Technology-fueled mass unemployment is a choice. Racism is a choice. The patriarchy is a choice. This is not to discount how deeply entrenched existing policies, interests, and tendencies are – but to recognize that while they might be entrenched, they are not immutable.”

“Others thought that GiveDirectly was aligned with the Illuminati. That they would blight the village with giant snakes. That they performed blood magic. (More benignly, they also heard the money might be coming from JaKogelo himself.)”


5 – Basic Income | By Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght

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It may sound crazy to pay people an income whether or not they are working or looking for work. But the idea of providing an unconditional basic income to every individual, rich or poor, active or inactive, has been advocated by such major thinkers as Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill, and John Kenneth Galbraith. For a long time, it was hardly noticed and never taken seriously. Today, with the traditional welfare state creaking under pressure, it has become one of the most widely debated social policy proposals in the world. Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght present the most comprehensive defense of this radical idea so far, advocating it as our most realistic hope for addressing economic insecurity and social exclusion in the twenty-first century.

The authors seamlessly combine philosophy, politics, and economics as they compare the idea of a basic income with rival ideas past and present for guarding against poverty and unemployment. They trace its history, tackle the economic and ethical objections against an unconditional income―including its alleged tendency to sap incentives and foster free riding―and layout how such an apparently implausible idea might be viable financially and achievable politically. Finally, they consider the relevance of the proposal in an increasingly globalized economy.

In an age of growing inequality and divided politics, when old answers to enduring social problems no longer inspire confidence, Basic Income presents fresh reasons to hope that we might yet achieve a free society and a sane economy.


6 – The Case for Universal Basic Income | By Louise Haagh

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Advocated (and attacked) by commentators across the political spectrum, paying every citizen a basic income regardless of their circumstances sounds utopian. However, as our economies are transformed and welfare states feel the strain, it has become a hotly debated issue.

In this compelling book, Louise Haagh, one of the world’s leading experts on basic income, argues that Universal Basic Income is essential to freedom, human development, and democracy in the twenty-first century. She shows that, far from being a silver bullet that will transform or replace capitalism, or a sticking plaster that will extend it, it is a crucial element in a much broader task of constructing a democratic society that will promote social equality and humanist justice. She uses her unrivaled knowledge of the existing research to unearth key issues in design and implementation in a range of different contexts across the globe, highlighting the potential and pitfalls at a time of crisis in governing and public austerity.

This book will be essential reading for anyone who wants to get beyond the hype and properly understand one of the most important issues facing politics, economics, and social policy today.


7 – Raising the Floor | By Andy Stern

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In 2010, troubled by watching families chase the now-elusive American Dream, Andy Stern began a five-year journey to investigate how technology will impact jobs and the future of work. Stern, formerly the head of the nation’s most influential and fastest-growing union, the Service Employees International Union, investigated these issues with a wide range of CEOs, futurists, economists, workers, entrepreneurs, and investment bankers who are shaping the future.

The sobering assessment that emerged from his research-across the political spectrum, from libertarians at the CATO Institute to the leaders of the progressive left-is that this time is different: there will be meager benefits that come with full-time work and fewer good jobs overall. Facing such a challenging moment, Stern’s solution is fittingly bold: to establish a universal basic income by eliminating many current government programs and adding new resources. At once vivid, provocative, and pragmatic, Raising the Floor will spark a national conversation about creating the new American Dream.

Quotes from Raising the Floor;

“I’ve heard a lot about robot caregivers, and I know they’re in development all over the place, from MIT to Japan, and to the extent that some of those robots can help minimize injuries, particularly in lifting and transporting the elderly, I see them as an important supplement to what caretakers do,” Poo says. “But I don’t see them as a replacement for people. Too often, technology ends up being about convenience rather than quality of life. And we overmedicalize elder care when what’s really needed is human touch and a more humane set of solutions and choices.”


8 – Our Future | By Steven Shafarman

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In this conversational, thought-provoking, carefully researched book, Steven Shafarman invites us, unique individuals, to think about what we want for ourselves, our families, and our communities. And he presents a viable plan to unite us, We the People, for real progress toward solving our problems and achieving the country we deserve.

The key is basic income, also called Universal Basic Income or UBI. Shafarman is a leading proponent and has been talking and writing about it since the mid-1980s.

Our Future shows us that basic income is more than money. With any amount, version, or variation, everyone will have monthly reminders that we – each of us, all of us – are equal citizens, with a direct personal stake in working together to make our government trustworthy, effective, and accountable.

We, individuals and our country, have been trapped for decades in the dysfunctional politics of left versus right, liberals versus conservatives, Democrats versus Republicans. Our Future presents a powerful alternative: We the People versus special interests and the status quo.

We can end hunger, homelessness, and extreme poverty. We can succeed in reforming healthcare, immigration, education, etc., and can slow then stop global warming. We can have a government of, by, and for the people, with liberty and justice for all.

Here’s the plan, with strategies and tactics. This is Our Future.


 Final Thoughts on Universal Basic Income

Ideas can change the world. Ideas also have consequences. Getting something that seems so basic appears to be elementary, however, may even be catastrophic in nature. 

Do you see a book that you think should be on the list? Let us know your feedback here.

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