Fabian Wendt and Doug MacKay in The Well
The idea of governments giving residents no-strings-attached cash payments is picking up steam, due in part to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Last June, Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, California, created Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a coalition to “advocate for a guaranteed income — direct, recurring cash payments — that lifts all of our communities, building a resilient, just America.”
Durham Mayor Steve Schewel joined the group. In January, Schewel announced that Durham was one of 30 U.S. cities being considered to receive a $500,000 slice of a $15 million gift from Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey. The money would fund Universal Basic Income pilot projects, such as the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration. Durham council member Mark-Anthony Middleton announced that Durham’s proposed project would guarantee $500 per month to 55 formerly incarcerated residents until the pandemic ends and the city’s economy recovers.
Before the pandemic hit, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang put UBI, also known as guaranteed basic income, on the map by making it his signature policy. His proposed “Freedom Dividend” — $1,000 per month payments to every American adult — was a response to job displacement by automation.
For a deeper understanding of this issue, The Well spoke with two Carolina faculty members who have studied UBI. Fabian Wendt, a teaching assistant professor in the College of Arts & Sciences’ philosophy department and the philosophy, politics & economics program, first came across UBI while studying theories of distributive justice. Doug MacKay, associate professor in the College’s public policy department, grew interested in UBI through research into paternalism in the U.S. social safety net.”
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