How Basic Income Changes Lives

Photo credit: bobistraveling, CC BY 2.0.

Today in “an example of what might happen if we institute universal basic income,” we go to Wired:

The casino money made it possible for [Skooter McCoy] to support his young family, but the money his children will receive is potentially life-altering on a different scale. “If you’ve lived in a small rural community and never saw anybody leave, never saw anyone with a white-collar job or leading any organization, you always kind of keep your mindset right here,” he says, forming a little circle with his hands in front of his face. “Our kids today? The kids at the high school?” He throws his arms out wide. “They believe the sky’s the limit. It’s really changed the entire mindset of the community these past 20 years.”

These biannual, unconditional cash disbursements go by different names among the members of the tribe. Officially, they’re called “per capita payments.” McCoy’s kids call it their “big money.” But a certain kind of Silicon Valley idealist might call it something else: a universal basic income.

This is a longread, but it is very much worth reading—it’s the story of what happened to a Native American community when the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened a casino and started sharing profits with members of the tribe. It’s also the story of what happens when people receive income that isn’t associated with a job, and how it changes their lives.

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