Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has joined Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in endorsing a universal basic income proposal, which would guarantee a minimum cash handout to all Americans.
Doesn't have to be much, but giving people even a very small safety net would unlock a huge amount of entrepreneurialism.
— Stewart Butterfield (@stewart) August 4, 2017
“Now it’s our time to define a new social contract for our generation. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things,” Zuckerberg argued, claiming that he’s unsure Facebook would have come into existence if he had spent his childhood working to support his family.
“If I had to support my family growing up instead of having time to code, if I didn’t know I’d be fine if Facebook didn’t work out, I wouldn’t be standing here today,” Zuckerberg argued in his Harvard commencement speech in May.
Y-Combinator President Sam Altman is also in favor of a universal basic income plan. “I’m fairly confident that at some point in the future, as technology continues to eliminate traditional jobs and massive new wealth gets created, we’re going to see some version of [UBI] at a national scale,” he writes.
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, who also co-founded Flickr, argues that a universal basic income plan will “unlock a huge amount of entrepreneurialism” by providing Americans with a small safety net so that they might take more risks or invest their time in profitable ventures like a startup.
The universal basic income plan has an interesting history. It has been endorsed by conservative and libertarian thinkers such as Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, and Charles Murray. Despite this, it has been derided by many free-market conservative and libertarians who believe it will expand the welfare state. However, Murray argues that the universal basic income would mean doing away with a host of welfare programs. Others argue that a universal basic income plan will be necessary if or when society transitions into post-scarcity, meaning that automation and artificial intelligence is responsible for a great majority of production.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org