Facebook co-Founder Chris Hughes said in a recent interview that the modern digital economy is “going to continue to destroy work” in America.
While speaking about the topic of universal basic income on CNBC, Facebook co-Founder Chris Hughes discussed how the digital economy is affecting the American workforce. Hughes recently published a book titled “Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn” which suggests that American workers who make less than $50,000 per year should receive a government payment of $500 per month. In order to do this, Hughes suggests taxes on the wealthy be raised by 1 percent.
Hughes said during the interview, “I don’t have a crystal ball on exactly where technology is headed. But I do think that it’s going to continue to destroy work.” He continued to discuss the digital economy that has been produced via companies such as Uber, “So we talk a lot about Uber drivers, Lyft drivers, Postmates, the ‘gig economy,’ that is up and to the right” in terms of expansion, said Hughes. But Hughes argues that the workers in these “alternative work arrangements,” suffer from “deeply unstable,” incomes. As more jobs become automated and performed my computer programs or robots, Hughes said “The future is already here. Work is already changing in America.”
Hughes proposed his new plan saying, “As long as you’re working for your country, your country takes care of you.” He continued to say, “If you make less than $50,000 a year, and you’re working, you get $500 as a guaranteed income in the background every month via direct deposit or a debit card.” Hughes compared his program proposal to earned income tax credit (EITC), which gives a financial boost to low and moderate-income families. Hughes argues that the EITC “needs to be expanded” and modernized. Hughes stated that the EITC needs to be “made flat so people actually know how much money they’re getting.” Hughes believes that currently the EITC is operated by a “complicated government formula.”
Hughes has previously criticized the company he co-founded in an op-ed for The Guardian. Hughes stated, “The same forces that made Facebook’s rise possible have created financial instability in the lives of working Americans.” He continued, “I’m proud of the work that I did [for Facebook], but the fact that I could make nearly a half billion dollars for three years worth of work — while at the same time half of Americans can’t find $400 in case of an emergency — is a testament to what is wrong with our economy.”
Hughes joins Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson of Virgin Group, and Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX as wealthy individuals who support the idea of universal basic income. Hughes is also the co-chair of the Economic Security Project.