Mark Zuckerberg – Basic Income

Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech for the Harvard commencement ceremony this year (2017). In it he advocated for a universal basic income, which is something I’ve been thinking and reading about for a few years. The most important question about a basic income is “Who pays for the basic income?” Some people have thought about this more than I have. You can read about how one guy thinks we should pay for a basic income here. There have even been a few basic income programs in the past. You can read about one happening in Finland here, as well as in Kenya here.  

When you have an idea as big as a basic income you need a path to get there. You don’t just implement a basic income to a whole country. I am often trying to figure out how to implement ideas fast, not necessarily perfectly.

I am excited that someone with as much wealth (from Facebook stock ownership) as well as a desire to change the world for the better (as self reported by Zuckerberg multiple times) is interested in a basic income. Luckily Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire and his stock is rising, literally. Facebook is worth more every year. This gives Zuckerberg the rare opportunity to implement his own basic income study! No one can stop him! And if it goes well he will be able to prove to people that a basic income is a good thing that should be implemented wider.

If Zuckerberg owns $63 billion in Facebook stock. it should grow at at least 4% a year, which means he could sell $2.5 billion a year, and use that to provide a basic income. Which means he could give 25,000 people a basic income of $100k a year!

Since this is a test and that’s a lot of money and this is supposed to be a basic income, he could provide an income of  $30k to say 500 people, this would be $15 million a year, a pittance that Zuckerberg wouldn’t even notice! I think he should do this for say 5 years, and see what happens with those people.

We need this kind of leadership to show us that this type of program could work.

$30k*500 people =$15 million *5 years = $75 million over 5 years.
How much to manage this program? $25 million maybe? (maybe way less!) For a cool $100 million over 5 years.

Until someone is willing to run this type of program and shows that the people who receive the money come out more successful than otherwise, and that they aren’t just being lazy, it won’t receive large scale acceptance.

I believe this is a program Zuckerberg should take on with his new Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC (not a charity, which is fine, I think businesses can potentially make more changes in the world than charities, or at least it takes all kinds!). If he wants to contact me to discuss further why I think he should do this he can find me at hooglandaxel@gmail.com

Alternatively, he could contact the nice people at Give Directly, who I mentioned earlier. They seem more versed in administering something like this and could probably run the program for less than $25 million!

The Last Hungry Person

*Note* To foster long term thinking I now use 02016 to indicate the year 2016. See Long Now Foundation

“There are genuinely sufficient resources in the world to ensure that no one, nowhere, at no time, should go hungry.” – Ed Asner

I am interested in what is killing people. Is it diseases? Is it accidents? Is it aging? Many times things like that will catch us off guard and that is unfortunate. Most people I know aren’t interested in dying. I have a real soft spot for those who are dying from things that could be easily prevented, especially starvation and malnutrition, which are things that they might not be able to prevent themselves but they might be able to with a little help. I came upon a very interesting website today while looking up this type of information. http://www.worldometers.info/

When I looked at it 766,867,865 people in the world out of 7,434,785,500 people (9.69%) were listed as “Undernourished”. The great news is it was going down at the rate of about 1 person a second! That comes to 365 days x 24 hrs x 60 minutes x 60 seconds = 31,536,000 seconds in a year. Which mean that 31,536,000 people a year are moving out of malnutrition. With that simple math it will take 24 years and 4 months for there to be no one on the world who is suffering from malnutrition. If we could assume exponential growth in the rate of people leaving the “malnourished” category we’d be there even faster! I really hope I am able to look out my window in 02041 and say “There are no hungry people today.”

While I am excited to see that it is going down that is still a long time and in the mean time there are thousands of people dying every day from hunger.

There are 2 organizations that I like right now that are working to combat hunger (which is usually a result of poverty).  

Children International. You can sponsor a child for $32 a month. For many families that is what they make in a month. This helps provide health services for the kids of the family as well as helping keep them in school. The cool thing about this one is you can write your kids and get letters from them. You can even visit them.
Another I am interested to see what they do is Give Directly. They are starting a new basic income study based on the success of a previous study that I am hoping to (start and) finish reading about soon.

If you don’t like the idea of giving away money there is another option, Kiva (or other microloan companies). They partner with loan companies in developing countries. You provide the capital. Some of the companies charge interest, some don’t. You don’t make interest on your money but you can learn a lot about the world just by reading about what people are applying for loans for.

Here’s a few examples:

A loan to a person in Haiti  “A loan to to import and stock clean energy products such as solar lights or improved cookstove”

A loan to a person in Colombia “A loan to help pay for school supplies.”

If you want to learn more about Kiva you can listen to or read The International Bank of Bob which follows one man’s journey as he meets some of the people who have received the micro loans. .

While these measures might appear to be short term solutions I would argue they are not. They are investments in our world’s most precious resource, people, their minds and their bodies. It will help develop into a long term solution when people are able to take care of themselves once they are able to think ahead of where they will get their food the next day. We can’t afford not to help others.

I know I have at least 1 friend who will argue that the governments of the countries that have high poverty rates are criminal or at least exploitive of their citizens, which may be true. He would argue that we should work for freedom and that will let people determine their own futures and provide for their own security. While I certainly would agree with some of that line of thought, I don’t think physical fighting is particularly useful these days. What I think is a better revolution is a revolution of the mind. If we can feed and educate enough people they will demand their own freedom from tyranny.


So we can acknowledge that there are challenges but on the bright side things are moving in the right direction. How can we push them that way a little faster? Well I shared a few with you above. Are there any others you like personally? Will we be able to make hunger a thing of the past in our lifetimes?
The last bit of good news. As I finished writing this there were 766,864,120 undernourished people (down 3,745!)