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

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  675 ratings  ·  148 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 in
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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Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, favorites
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 pros
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
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 H
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 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 refor
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 destit
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
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.

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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 n
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 countries ...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 cover ...more
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 i ...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).
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
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.
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lowrey treats the idea of a Universal Basic Income with the seriousness it deserves, with optimism and hope and skepticism and doubt. She looks at why the U.S. will probably need it in the near future (AI) and why we probably won't do it (racism and that Puritan work ethic). She looks at how it works as foreign aid (really well). And she discusses how expensive it would be, and how that money might be raised. A UBI is an idea I had a little familiarity with before I read, and I feel much better ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to be so in favor of an idea that makes so much sense, but that will face such huge opposition by people who are so invested in their own bad ideas that they won't even try. UBI is an idea that we should seriously consider, it's been tried and tested, as the author here lays out in detail, with overwhelming positive results, so much so that they aren't afraid to share the failures that also come along the way. After all, if automation is coming, does it really matter if people drop out ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Economic research shows this effect is common, with poverty acting as a kind of tax on mental bandwidth, along with its many other health, wealth, and wellness effects. "The poor must manage sporadic income, juggle expenses, and make difficult trade-offs," argues one seminal study of the kind of fog and fatigue poverty inculcates. "Even when not actually making a financial decision, these preoccupations can be present and distracting. The human cognitive system has limited capacity. Preoccupatio ...more
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Annie Lowrey's exploration of universal basic income (UBI) helps uncover and demystify the basic tenants of a system that many politicians and countries are beginning to see as a viable policy for their citizenry. Though the idea of UBI has been around for thousands of years, most experts, and even Lowrey, note that there is a need to consider and vet a plan carefully to avoid current issues with assistance programs.

During Lowrey's deep dive, she explores how our economy and jobs may shift with
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What would you do with an extra $1000 a month? To me, someone rooted in the disappearing middle class, it would still mean something to me. I quit my job when I had my son because the annual cost of child care equaled my pittance of a salary. I could pay for childcare and go back to work. Or I could pay off my student loans from ten years ago in one year. Or we could afford to take our son on his first vacation... something I did several times as a child but is out of reach to us now. Or we coul ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
What if everybody in the US received $1K a month -- regardless of age, ability, gender, race, etc.?

That's the research question of this book. The author does a good job giving examples where poor people received cash, rather than food, clothes or other goods, and turned their lives around. In her opinion, a Universal Basic Income (UBI) would end poverty, revolutionize the idea of work, and "remake the world."

However, only a small portion of the book is about this idea. Most of it is an examinat
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
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I am ambivalent about the concept of "universal basic income". I have heard of it through newspaper articles and I like the idea of "money for nothing" but I can't quite understand how it works. The author here is very thorough in her research and in her reporting but the book is not dry and academic. It is a fairly easy read with lots of examples in many places. The writer and her slant is American so it may not be so easily replicable in the UK where our welfare system is different. But the at ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: I received a free ecopy in exchange for an honest review via Penguin Books First to Read.

The title of this book grabbed my attention and left me feeling skeptical. Lowrey raises a question that apparently has been going on for a while now related to a universal basic income (or UBI). Essentially, the idea goes that the government should be giving everyone enough money to meet their basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) in an attempt to eliminate poverty. It is clear where Lowrey stan
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Journalist Annie Lowrey takes a provocative idea, universal basic income, and gives it the serious policy treatment. The idea is simple: give everyone living somewhere a standard amount of money, say $1,000, every month, just for being alive. It sounds crazy, right? Well, Lowrey is here to explain why the idea isn’t so crazy.

Most forcefully, Lowrey argues that a universal basic income would go a long way in eliminating poverty. She most persuasively talks about this in India, which is home to on
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What will we do when the robot apocalypse arrives? When automation and artificial intelligence turn us into Star Trek, the Jetsons, or the Hunger Games? It's already happening, and we should pay attention.

Universal Basic Income or U.B.I is a program (already instituted in some parts of the world) in which citizens of a country would receive a guaranteed sum of money from the government. Annie Lowry's book is extremely well researched and gives many examples of how UBI could alleviate poverty (es
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
"Give People Money" by Annie Lowrey is a nonfiction book about many aspects around and about universal basic incomes (UBIs). Within the book are pages on a private cash program set up in Kenya, Indian government attempts to help those in poverty, the state of welfare in the US, the effects of racism on welfare, and the movement that’s been developing behind UBIs.
One thing in particular that this book reminded me about is that I hate end notes. Why do more nonfiction books not use footnotes?

On th
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"'The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself.'" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

"Economists have long known that women's work--in particular, women's care work--has unrecognized, and in some ways unrecognizable, value. Giving birth to and raising children, tending to the disabled and the sick, aiding the elderly, and giving succor to the dying: few things are of more societal importance.
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