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Universal basic income cause gets a $3 million boost from Jack Dorsey

Andrew Yang explains Universal Basic Income
Andrew Yang explains Universal Basic Income 01:07

Jack Dorsey, the billionaire co-founder of Twitter, is donating $3 million to help fund a group of guaranteed income pilot programs that will put cash directly in the hands of Americans who need it the most in more than a dozen cities across the United States. 

The recipient, an organization called Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, founded last month, is a network of mayors who say they believe all Americans should have an income floor, also known as a universal basic income, to help reduce economic insecurity in the U.S..

"This is one tool to close the wealth and income gap, level systemic race and gender inequalities, and create economic security for families," Dorsey said in a tweet announcing his donation Thursday.

Dorsey in April pledged $1 billion for coronavirus relief efforts; this donation is part of that promise. The tech entrepreneur also donated $20 million to Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative from former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden that is working to prevent pandemics. 

The founder of the guaranteed income group, Stockton, California, Mayor Michael Tubbs, is also the leader of the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED), the first government-led guaranteed income initiative in the U.S. The Stockton demonstration project randomly selected125 local residents to receive $500 a month in free money through pre-paid credit cards that they could spend however they choose. The 24-month project is scheduled to conclude in January 2021. 

Mayors for a Guaranteed Income include the following mayors and their cities:

  • Ras Baraka; Newark, New Jersey
  • Keisha Lance Bottoms; Atlanta
  • Aja Brown; Compton, California
  • Melvin, Carter; St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Jenny Durkan; Seattle
  • Eric Garcetti; Los Angeles
  • Robert Garcia; Long Beach, California
  • Alex Morse; Holyoke, Massachusetts 
  • Chokwe Antar Lumumba; Jackson, Mississippi
  • William Peduto; Pittsburgh
  • Adrian Perkins; Shreveport, Lousiana
  • Satya Rhodes-Conway; Madison, Wisconsin
  • Libby Schaaf; Oakland, California
  • Victoria R. Woodards; Tacoma, Washington

Advocates for a guaranteed income or a universal basic income argue that COVID-19 has only exacerbated wealth and income inequality and has disproportionately affected Black and Brown Americans. 

Long Beach Mayor Garcia, who plans to test a guaranteed income program in his city next year, said a guaranteed income for Americans will also help offset some of the longer-term job losses that are expected to accompany more automation and innovation. 

The high cost of a middle-class life 01:22

"Income inequality is getting worse, and will require a new way of thinking about how people make a living and have enough money to take care of their families," he told CBS MoneyWatch. 

The coronavirus pandemic has only made the need for direct assistance more urgent. "I just think the time is now," Garcia said. 

The concept of a universal guaranteed income has gained attention in the past two years. Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang's "Freedom Dividend," a version of a guaranteed income, was one of the hallmarks of his campaign. 

Yang notably gave families in Iowa and New Hampshire $1,000 a month for one year, paid out of the businessman's own pocket, to prove the policy's efficacy. 

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