If you watched the Democratic US Presidential debates in the past few weeks, you undoubtedly heard Andrew Yang calling for a Universal Basic Income in the United States. UBI is a provocative idea, a guarantee of monthly cash disbursed by the US government to every citizen, whether you are working or not. It’s literally an allowance from the government. No matter what happens in your life or in the broader economy, the fundamental premise of UBI is that the government will give you regular payments of a small sum of money to keep you afloat for the rest of your life, no questions asked.
Yang, a 40-something tech entrepreneur has totally recast himself as the great guarantor of economic stability, but voices are increasingly being raised against the idea of UBI, and not just from the right. For while UBI guarantees income, it fails to address the underlying structural problems that have led to unprecedented global inequality. The main problem? UBI income is often spent outside local economies, at large businesses and corporations, ultimately enriching those at the top. Instead of helping communities learn to fish on their own, UBI simply serves up free fish. As author Douglas Rushkopf recently said, UBI “keeps the wealthiest people (and their loyal vassals, the software developers) entrenched at the very top of the economic operating system. Because of course, the cash doled out to citizens by the government will inevitably flow to them.”
But what if there was a better way to let communities worldwide become participants in economic systems that meet their needs, instead of the needs of centralized czars seeking economic expansion?
Bancor, a blockchain-based liquidity protocol, has introduced an alternative to UBI that bears watching. Called Liquid Community Currencies,