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Give People Money: How Universal Basic Income Could Change the Future--For the Rich, the Poor, and Everyone in Between

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,492 ratings  ·  273 reviews
A brilliantly reported, global look at universal basic income--a stipend given to every citizen--and why it might be necessary for our age of rising inequality, persistent poverty, and dazzling technology

Imagine if every month the government deposited $1,000 into your checking account, with nothing expected in return. It sounds crazy, but it has become one of the most
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 26th 2018 by WH Allen
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Yvonne Though the author is very much American, the book is clear that UBI is an international movement and, in addition to cities across the U.S., she…moreThough the author is very much American, the book is clear that UBI is an international movement and, in addition to cities across the U.S., she travels to document UBI pilots in Kenya, India, and the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.(less)

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Start your review of Give People Money: How Universal Basic Income Could Change the Future--For the Rich, the Poor, and Everyone in Between
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The concept of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is something that has been of interest to me since I first came across it in a book a couple years ago. How would it work? Would it be good for the economy? Would people just stop working en masse and become mindless (or MORE mindless!) seekers of entertainment if not forced to work? I was excited to see this book, hoping it would answer some of the questions I have about UBI.

Annie Lowrey did her homework before writing this book, though it's not as
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2018
My review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, also can be found on my blog.

A balanced introduction to the concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI), Give People Money considers why so many people, from libertarians to progressives, are starting to advocate for this radical idea, which proposes giving every individual an unconditional sum of money each month. Across ten chapters journalist Annie Lowrey argues that UBI might help address impending waves of technological unemployment ("the
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'UBI' is not a social disease but refers to a concept that has been around for a very long time--the idea that by giving everyone a basic income--enough to live on--society can end poverty and economic injustice. Would you believe that President Nixon supported the idea in the 1960s? Or that Thomas Paine wrote about it? Across the world communities and countries have been trying a Universal Basic Income on a small scale.

41 million Americans are living in poverty. What if they received $1,000 a
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
A very interesting and potentially game-changing idea. This book deals with the promise and perils of a Universal Basic Income. It has the potential to address so many potential problems in rich and not so rich countries and eliminating poverty. It is also fraught with many perils if implemented in an inadequate way. The usual suspects (right-wing politicians) could do much mischief in their designs of antipoverty programs and UBI. The book reminds the reader that all solutions to problems are ...more
ashley c
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As I'm reading this book, I'm struck by how neatly put together it is. My colleague, when I told her I'm reading a book about UBIs, said (jokingly), "Oh, like because of the robot uprising?" I have never heard of a UBI before I read this book, but it must be a common angle in which talk on a UBI come about because that was what Lowrey addressed in her opening as well.

She went on to present a compelling argument for UBIs, covering a number of issues and concerns, making it sound like a feasible
Samantha (AK)
I received free access to an advance galley through the Penguin First to Read program.

Going into this I knew almost nothing about the conversation surrounding Universal Basic Income (UBI). I knew that there was a conversation, and I knew that people felt very strongly about it. But my economics classes hadn’t discussed it and it didn’t dovetail with any of my other studies, so until now I’ve ignored it.

Then I threw an entry token at this book on a whim, and (because the universe likes to push
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m usually to be found at the fluffier end of the non-fiction spectrum, enjoying books with colourful pictures and ingredient lists.
But I’ve heard of the concept of a Universal Basic Income – a regular payment, paid to every citizen, just for being alive. Could it eliminate poverty? Would it be more effective than means-tested welfare programmes? I wanted to know more.
Lowrey brings her research alive with stories of ordinary people and some of these (most memorably in the chapter The Poverty
Mar 22, 2019 marked it as to-read
"Are Robots Competing for Your Job?
By Jill Lepore
March 4, 2019

He has no patience with advocates of universal basic income, either. “We have reached a point where the rich think paying everyone else to go away represents compassionate thinking,” he writes.

Like Hyman, Cass blames mid-twentieth-century economic thinkers for the current malaise, though he blames different thinkers. In the middle decades of the twentieth century, he argues, economic
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
79th book for 2018.

The UBI has the simplicity of a child's idea: The most efficient way to get rid of poverty is just to give poor people money.

It's initials UBI stand for: Universal (everybody get's it), Basic (high enough to remove poverty, not too high to discourage work), Income (Cash - not other stuff).

Lowrey explores the history of the UBI (Nixon, amongst others toyed with the idea) as well as its current initial trials, both as a direct form of developmental aid in Africa and as a
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating read that at first hear sounds like NEVER going to happen. But Ms. Lowrey slowly and meticulously builds a case for the unimaginable. I read the following and thought wow, yes radical and elegant but can’t envision it happening in the US in my lifetime.

“Imagine that a check showed up in your mailbox or your bank account every month. The money would be enough to live on, but just barely. It might cover a room in a shared apartment, food, and bus fare. It would save you from
Lowrey does a great job of explaining, through many and varied real-world examples, why a UBI-type program is needed and how it's improved life in some places that have started testing it out. She also gives a good (if not entirely successful) effort at addressing and trying to dispel the common myths and complaints that come up whenever someone brings up the topic: that it would encourage laziness, that people will misuse the funds, that it's not necessary to give money to people who aren't in ...more
Adam Floridia
So, assuming that the ultra-wealthy are not just purchasing this book en masse and then promptly burning it to keep it out of the hands of the lowly proletariat, then it would be safe to venture that anyone who does buy the book is, at the very least, open to the idea of a universal basic income (UBI), right? Regardless, the latter includes myself, and myself does tend to be very open-minded and I like to consider myself discerning of the merits of ideas through sound, thorough debate fueled by ...more
Donna Hines
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
UBI is closely examined as we find ourselves facing technology advancements including robotic futures that will break our economy down further than where we now find ourselves.
With rising unemployment, stagnant wages, degrees falling to the waste side, high student loan debts, lack of jobs, long term unemployment and failure to secure unemployment compensation, and lack of financial resources and or future savings, loss of pensions, low seniority status if any at all, paid vacations and benefits
Monica **can't read fast enough**
Really interesting subject that I had never given much thought to, but I found the execution of the book wasn't able to engage me fully and keep me interested in the way that the information was presented. I'm glad that I read and I did learn something from it, I just wouldn't pick this one up again.

You can find me at:
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Nicole O
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is interesting, incredibly well-written, and thought-provoking! Without even knowing Annie Lowrey's background, it's apparent that she must be a researcher or investigator of some sort, because the topics/arguments presented within the book's pages are very well-researched, and she has the data and facts to back it up.

While I've heard about the concept of a UBI in passing, I've never looked into the economic policy in depth. It's a testament to Annie Lowrey's quality of writing that
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I have a friend who is a big advocate for UBI, and I always thought the idea was a bit extreme, unrealistic and would never work. Seeing the title of this book, I decided to hear the author out. Despite its very literal action-calling title, readers can rest easy that this book is no manifesto on UBI, nor is it a how to guide on implementing UBI. Lowrey does a good job on giving the primer of UBI, overviews on small case studies of UBI and challenges for UBI in developing and developed ...more
Aaron Arnold
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The concept of a Universal Basic Income has been around in various forms for quite a while, but it's become more politically relevant recently for several reasons: rapid technological change combined with international supply chains, growing global wealth yet widening inequality, and the sense that not only do we now have the social structure to truly end poverty forever, but that the best tool is also the simplest. There are many examples in miniature of what a UBI could look like; Lowrey ...more
Oct 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lady-writers, new
“The rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, the elites and the slaves: all worked and worked hard.”

“(In a particularly postmodern moment, a man in a Boy Scout shirt gave us directions when we got lost.)”

“(Would you want a recent felon watching your three-year-old? Would you want a high-school dropout bathing your grandmother?)”

A very hard no to this trite, shallow, almost offensive book. This is Malcolm Gladwell-lite (which is saying something).
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
In Give People Money, Annie Lowrey demonstrates that every time we see an economic revolution (agricultural, industrial, etc.), wonks ponder some form of UBI. Now, with machine learning and artificial intelligence before us and with the recession just behind us, people are once again wondering.

Some contemporary context. Facebook already uses AI, and it had to shut one down when it developed its own language. The gig economy seems to suck for workers, perhaps because workers seem to have so
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The idea of a Universal Basic Income, or UBI, has as the author points out been around for a long time. In the 16th century as mercantile capitalism began to alter land rights and use, the idea of a UBI to provide basic necessities to displaced peasants took hold. Men as diverse as John Stuart Mill and Martin Luther King also advocated for it. In “Give People Money” Annie Lowrey looks at the historical antecedents for providing a monthly set income for each and every citizen, why it should be ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
According to Jason Hickel, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, global inequality, has attained damaging and dangerous proportions. In a fascinating piece titled, “How Bad is Global Inequality, Really?” and published on his website, Mr. Hickel observes that, “the poorest 60% – the ones depicted as the “winners” in the elephant graph – continue to live under the poverty line of $7.40 per day (2011 Purchasing Power Parity).” The elephant ...more
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Contrary to what the title says, this book isn't a diatribe on Universal Basic Income (UBI). It's a careful look at what might be possible. With the increasing use of robotics and AI, Lowrey makes the argument that we will need to plan for and envision what that future might look like and how we might survive and even thrive. It means re-imagining work and life as we now know it. If you want to be challenged to think in a different way, I'd recommend reading this book.
Becky Gallego
Oct 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
A universal basic income to wipe out poverty. One of the basics of communism is wealth is divided among citizens equally or according to individual need. This book explains how the democratic party will repackage communism/socialism in a new package and present it as something the United States needs. Along with a universal basic income there would be a universal work program.

I really tried to have an open mind when I started reading this book. I didn't know much about a UBI and wanted to gain
Brian Weisz
Aug 12, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A book about universal basic income - the idea of giving each person a basic monthly income. This would be available for everyone, with no means testing, no restrictions. Free money. Are you interested? Of course you are. We would all love an extra $1000 a month.

But the author spends the first 9 out of 10 chapters describing how awful it is to be poor. As if we don't already understand. In the last chapter she starts to get into the details a tiny little bit, but left SO much untouched. I
Sounds good. Let’s do it.
Jason Furman
Annie Lowrey’s book is a beautiful example of combining the power and insights that come from telling people’s stories (aka journalism) with a wide range of social science research, policy thinking and lots of passion for addressing injustice and making the world a better place. Her range is truly impressive: reporting from Maine to Kenya to India and on everything from AI to welfare programs to development economics. I learned new things even from the chapters I have thought a lot about (e.g., ...more
Colin Marks
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Annie Lowrey fully supports UBIs (Universal Basic Income) - amongst other ideas, she poses convincing arguments on how it would end poverty, fight racism and gender inequality, make our society able to tackle the pending robotic workforce upheaval, and how it could prevent Trumps and other populist political disasters from reoccurring.

This book comes across like a life mission, it's very well researched and very passionate about the benefits that UBIs could provide. I'm not convinced it had the
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Universal Basic Income is a great idea. Would have been nice if there was a more serious analysis of the counter-arguments. Also a bit eyebrow raising when the author suggests governments simply print more money, since perhaps the biggest concern with a UBI would be the impact on inflation. Much of the book is spent describing how fucked up the United States is, which is all true, but there is also a fair bit of discussion about India, Kenya, and the Nordic nations. Much of the book is spent ...more
Fred Fisher
I found this an interesting concept that I found attractive. Being semiretired, I still work through a hiring hall and my calls come a few times a month. This suits me just fine. I can live simply on my Social Security and work when I want too and I don't feel copelled to work 9-5, 5 days a week. I'm doing what I want. I hadn't heard of this concept applied to everyone. Reading this book has brougjt me into the fold as an adherent. It has been tried in many places around the world with great ...more
Alex Abboud
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good overview of the concept of a universal basic income, with a look at examples of where the concept is being tried and how it might work in the United States. An important idea that’s worth learning more about.
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Annie Lowrey is a contributing editor for The Atlantic. A former writer for the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, and Slate, among other publications, she is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. Lowrey lives in Washington, DC.
“Of course, as the United States built a safety net that excluded and punished black families, it created a wealth-building apparatus to buoy and enrich white ones. It is not market forces and individual effort alone that determine who succeeds and prospers and who remains impoverished and excluded in the United States, but government policy and deep-seated cultural and societal mores.” 1 likes
“Here, poverty in the United States is a choice. Stagnant middle-class incomes are a choice. Technology-fueled mass unemployment is a choice. Racism is a choice. The patriarchy is a choice. This is not to discount how deeply entrenched existing policies, interests, and tendencies are - but to recognize that while they might be entrenched, they are not immutable.” 1 likes
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