Movement to Provide All People a Basic Income Gains a Following

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A campaign group backing an unconditional minimum income in Switzerland set a Guinness Record for the world's largest poster on May 14, 2016. (Fabrice Coffrini /AFP/Getty Images)

What if the government guaranteed an income to all people, regardless of their financial means? Known as a “universal basic income,” the concept is gaining followers on the political left and right who see it as a tool to reduce income inequality and prepare workers for a future where many jobs will be automated. Critics argue that it would be prohibitively expensive. Pilot programs, including one in Oakland, are exploring the effects of a guaranteed income at the local level and yesterday, in a historic referendum, Swiss voters decided against adopting a universal national income.


Natalie Foster, advisor, The Aspen Institute and Open Society Foundation ; fellow, Institute for the Future; co-founder, Peers

Matthew Krisiloff, manages the basic income project, Y Combinator

Mike Tanner, senior fellow, Cato Institute

Scott Santens, writer; subsists on a basic income provided through crowd funding.