Earlier this month during his commencement speech at Harvard, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — one of the college’s most famous non-graduates and among the world’s wealthiest people — put forth a really dumb idea: Universal Basic Income.
This is the scheme by which everybody gets “free money” from other people, including yourself. Sounds to me about as wacky as sitting on a couch all day playing Xbox while logged into Facebook and getting paid for it by your neighbor. It’s socialist and stupid.
Perhaps Zuckerberg should lead by example. Surely he can rally a dozen of his Silicon Valley billionaire buddies and actually do something about the current and potential future unemployment problem caused by technological displacement.
If Americans are unemployed, there is unemployment insurance available to them while they try to go out and find work. And that’s a great thing. And many end up finding work when there are opportunities in the economy.
That said, times are still hard for those still displaced by the low levels of full-time work with benefits over the past 10 years. The Obama economy, with all of its excessive, redundant regulations, turned America into a stagnant, Federal Reserve-dependent, low-growth economy.
And during that time, many became dependent on taxpayer handouts like food stamps, which under Obamanomics skyrocketed to an all-time high in 2013 of 47.6 million participants. It currently serves around 43 million, and that’s still way too high — and way too insulting to Americans’ dignity.
Here’s my plan: Zuckerberg takes $50 billion of his own money, combines it with half of the Gates Foundation’s endowment, which would be $22 billion, and add that to $50 billion from Bill Gates’ $89 billion personal net worth.
Then go visit Elon Musk and ask him to throw in $10 billion and $5 billion from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Get Warren Buffett to pry open his wallet and throw in $35 billion, just because he should have done more long ago.
Voila, we have $172 billion. But wait — there’s more! Let’s get Harvard University’s endowment to pitch in $28 billion of its $37 billion, because that’s what an educational endowment is all about anyway.
That’s a grand total of $200 billion to start. With these brains backed by their own billions, I bet we can find a solution to underemployment, stagnant wage growth and technological displacement, which is their creation.
Give them a tax break for every dollar actually put into the project and let’s see what happens. Because between welfare and food stamps, the government is spending about $228 billion of taxpayer dollars to help support people.
But let’s not force any American to underwrite this scheme through another inefficient, government-run program.