Give People Money by Annie Lowrey

Give People Money

Annie Lowrey

Economics writer Annie Lowrey travels to Korea, Kenya, Finland, and many other places to reveal the promises and challenges of universal basic income. 

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A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Shortlisted for the 2018 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

A brilliantly reported, global look at universal basic income—a stipend given to every citizen—and why it might be necessary in an age of rising inequality, persistent poverty, and dazzling technology.

Imagine if every month the government deposited $1,000 into your bank account, with nothing expected in return. It sounds crazy. But it has become one of the most influential and hotly debated policy ideas of our time. Futurists, radicals, libertarians, socialists, union representatives, feminists, conservatives, Bernie supporters, development economists, child-care workers, welfare recipients, and politicians from India to Finland to Canada to Mexico—all are talking about UBI.
In this sparkling and provocative book, economics writer Annie Lowrey examines the UBI movement from many angles. She travels to Kenya to see how a UBI is lifting the poorest people on earth out of destitution, India to see how inefficient government programs are failing the poor, South Korea to interrogate UBI’s intellectual pedigree, and Silicon Valley to meet the tech titans financing UBI pilots in expectation of a world with advanced artificial intelligence and little need for human labor.
Lowrey explores the potential of such a sweeping policy and the challenges the movement faces, among them contradictory aims, uncomfortable costs, and, most powerfully, the entrenched belief that no one should get something for nothing. In the end, she shows how this arcane policy has the potential to solve some of our most intractable economic problems, while offering a new vision of citizenship and a firmer foundation for our society in this age of turbulence and marvels.

Advance Galley Reviews

Penguin First to Read ARC. Rating: 4 of 5 stars. The policy of UBI, Universal Basic Income is the concept of giving everyone enough money for free to cover the basic requirements from Maslow's hierarchy of needs would allow for a blossoming of human creativity. How can we all get there? What prejudices need to be overcome for this to become true? How do we get to a world like Star Trek where UBI is a reality?

Well-researched and well-written book. Although the author does a good job of humanizing the stories to understand the Universal Basic Income, it is not light reading but definitely thought provoking.

I made the initial request because I enjoy reading nonfiction and I didn't know much beyond the basic concept of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). I was ready to be persuaded on how this may be a solution to a huge, global problem. After finishing the book, I have to say that I was not persuaded. I think that this would be best received by readers who are familiar with the idea of a UBI, and already see this as a viable solution. I appreciate that this book wasn't overtly divisive against those who disagree with the author. At the same time, I didn't find it persuasive either. The author gives us examples of how UBI programs have been successful in some pilot programs. However, I did not walk away with a reasonable expectation that this works on a larger scale throughout the U.S. or globally.

This is a very well-researched, reasoned explanation of how UBI could be a valuable tool to address both current and present societal needs. Especially interesting were the discussions of countries and states that had implemented some form of it, as well as theories and realities. The parts about the people falling through the cracks was less novel but important, though could have been better connected to how UBI would be more effective and which programs it could replace. Some things I wish it would have included were discussions on the economic impact, such as more spending leading to more sales/income taxes to help offset the costs, as well as potential inflation from increased demand. I thought more proposals on adjusting corporate taxes to account for more profits with less employment due to robots/automation would be valuable as well in determining how to fund it. Overall, great way to make this topic accessible and interesting.

An interesting collection of stories about people dependent on welfare and in particular about those cases when it does not quite work. Author is very neutral on the whole UBI question even though the name of the book betrays her position. Not the easiest read, but worth the effort.

A surprisingly interesting read. I normally don't read a lot of non-fiction, but this one was definitely an interesting one. It's certainly worth reading for anyone interested.

I received an Advance Copy of this book to review; this is not normally in my reading "wheelhouse." In fact, I was afraid this might be a dry, dull read, but it was quite the opposite. The author did a good job of keeping the reader interested and engaged by providing plenty of real life people and examples. This book gave a good overview of Universal Basic Income, highlighting both the good, the bad, and the unknown. She did not shy from questioning how it could help or exacerbate good and bad circumstances, nor did she refrain from questioning how it could successfully implemented. Very informative and, I think, unbiased.

Informative and interesting. Takes many separate strings and timelines together in a cogent narrative for universal basic income.

Clearly someone who writes a book titled 'Give People Money' is going to have an opinion on the matter; yet Lowrey conceals this between informative and thoughtfully incorporated statistics and anecdotes that highlight the concept of an universal basic income. Not only had I not heard of this before, but now consider myself a convert. The book convinced me so easily because it offered all sides of the argument, using facts as well as compassion to show that all humans deserve to live without the ingrained fears of poverty.

Universal basic income is a thought-provoking notion to curb potential problems of the future. As automation increases and the demand for skilled workers rises, traditional economic models have failed to account for the changing tide of employment. This book is not a direct guide to enacting a UBI and does not pitch propaganda to institute universal basic income, instead, it looks at small case studies where UBI has seen interesting results. Lowrey also answers several issues and moments of resistance to UBI in the hopes of uncovering the reason behind our most intractable economic problems.

I requested this book from Penguin's First to Read program because I wanted to learn more about ideas for alleviating economic differences in our country. I felt the author's discussion of the current social welfare programs to be comprehensive and easily understood. The chapters describing UBI programs in developing nations were the most interesting. I feel that many groups engaged in charitable giving would benefit from reading those chapters and thinking about how best to help people in other countries. While the author makes a good case for UBI, it was hard for me to see how it could be implemented in the US.

This is an in-depth look at how a Universal Basic Income system would not only work, but could be absolutely necessary.  Studies included are the the decline of the automobile industry and the current minimum wage economy. Imagine what you would do if you received a $1000 check every month to do with what you will.  Now imagine what the family of four next door who is only one paycheck away from homelessness would do.  Imagine what the rich person living up on the hill could do.  Imagine not having to rely on a broken welfare and social security system.  Imagine people finding work they love instead of work they need to barely scrape by.  Imagine donating that $1000 to your favorite charitable organization.  Imagine...imagine...imagine...The possibilities are endless. Okay, I went off on a tangent there, but seriously...if you've ever wondered how a UBI system could work, this is an informative view.  Extensive bibliography included.   I received this book through First To Read in exchange for an honest review.  5/5 stars.

I really enjoyed this thought-provoking work. I wondered about the UBI and how I would apply it to my life. I constantly struggle with unemployment and paying bills. It stuck out about some the 1 percent didn't want the lower class or minority to benefit from the money. I only wish Give People Money was longer. It is well worth the read

This book is interesting, incredibly well-written, and thought-provoking! Without even knowing Annie Lowery'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 Lowery's quality of writing that no prior knowledge of UBI is necessary in order to read and understand the book. While in every instance that I've heard about the UBI, it's been presented as some sort of fantastical, utopian theory, Annie Lowery brings the real possibility of implementing a Universal Basic Income to the forefront. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is even remotely interested in economics, societal issues, or wants to learn more about a Universal Basic Income.

This book is fascinating. Annie Lowery produced a well-researched book on the concept of universal basic income (UBI.) She supported her thoughts on the subject with plenty of facts gleaned from all over the world. In the end, she sold me on the idea. While the logistics of UBI will be difficult, it does have plenty of potential and can solve quite a few problems. This book is well-written and incredibly researched. I recommend it to anyone interesting in the idea.

This book may be a little ahead of its time. But as it forces us to think about where we want to be in the future—when there may be fewer jobs and where money may be even more unevenly distributed than it is now—it also makes us think about where we are now. It focuses, of course, on UBIs, Universal Basic Incomes. A dollar amount that could be given to every person in the community. Not based on need. Not based on worth. I don't know that I'm convinced (and I'm not sure the author is either) that it’s a workable idea. But after reading this book, I am definitely better prepared to consider it. At least now I can let it stew in time in a more educated way. Author Annie Lowrey fills the book with statistics and ideas and theories. She does a good job staying on track, keeping the theme of the book—giving people money—front and center. She provides both pros and cons to help us keep an open mind. As more communities put this into practice, we’ll have more data to consume. In the meantime, we can continue to learn more about the how and why of universal basic incomes. Here are some excerpts: “Yet the research we have on UBI-type programs suggests that even a large unconditional cash transfer might have less of a labor-market effect than that Economics 101 analysis implies, and that the people who chose to work less might do so for socially beneficial reasons, like raising a child or getting a better education. A UBI need not make an economy more sclerotic, need not divide makers and takers, and need not become a pacifier.” “Right now, the poverty gap—the amount of money it would take to lift every man, woman, and child across the World Bank’s extreme poverty line—is about $66 billion, as estimated by Laurence Chandy and Brina Seidel of the Brookings Institution. That’s about what Americans spend on lottery tickets every year. It is half of what the world spends on humanitarian aid.” “It is clear that dollar for dollar it is better to give a family money rather than to send in volunteers to improve their house, or to give a family cash rather than to supply them with clothes and books.” “We judge, marginalize, and shame the poor for their poverty—to the point that we make them provide urine samples, and want to force them to volunteer for health benefits. As such, we tolerate levels of poverty that are grotesque and entirely unique among developed nations.” “This poverty comes at an extraordinary cost—not just to the people experiencing it, but to us all.” “Providing everyone with the dignity of a stable life away from the poverty line need not be just an act of charity, in other words. It would also be a simple investment in the lives of people with creativity, ingenuity, and work to give to the greater good.” My thanks to First to Read for the review copy of this book.

Personally 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. Overall this book has made me more open-minded about UBI.

This book was incredibly thought provoking and well written. It’s written in an almost conversational tone which I really liked. I was reading it while on a beach trip with some friends and kept stopping to talk to them about points made in the book. I didn’t know much (at all) about UBI before reading Give People Money but im now intrigued. I’m also horrified by the situations described for Americans living in extreme poverty and feel compelled to take action. Great read.

It took me a little while to get into but it covers a wide range of info about UBIs (universal basic income). Lowrey discusses the basic premise of giving people “free” money and gives examples of different governments experimenting with the system. The possible benefits and potential drawbacks are also covered in the book. Although, the UBI movement is finally gaining some traction, Lowrey doesn’t do much to show actual benefits, with most of the pros being listed as fairly intangible. For example, the author lists the UBI as a good way to counter the impending wave of automation. I appreciate how she realistically talks about the obstacles that a UBI would face, especially here in America. The section highlighting Americans’ obsession with the virtue of work was particularly insightful. She traces this obsession back to the early settlers and how it is so deeply entrenched in our society that many Americans would balk at a UBI, considering it a handout. I won’t say that this book has sold me on the idea of UBIs because it hasn’t and at times the vocabulary used was a little grand for me. I got the gist of what was being said but couldn’t understand why Annie Lowrey decided to use “SAT” words on top of financial terms... Kind of annoying but that could be just me. Overall though, I enjoyed reading this and discussing what I read with others led to some good conversations.

Fascinating book about the positives of UBI implementation. In the current political atmosphere, doesn't have a chance of happening due to the increased power of the 1%. A topic to revisit in the future.

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 dire need of it, etc. And that's all good food for thought. However, where Lowrey falls short here, is in arguing for HOW to implement and fund UBI. It's not until the 10th and final chapter of the book that we actually get down to brass tacks here, and even then, it's a half-hearted effort. Frankly, at points it's genuinely laughable - for example, when Lowrey states, "Still, the knee-jerk opposition to some form of UBI - crying that it is too expensive or unrealistic - feels over-wrought," and then in the VERY NEXT SENTENCE utters this absurdity: "Raising enough revenue for a $1,000-a-month UBI is more a matter of will than of mathematics." Huh? That's some wonky view of economics. But this piece of nonsense got the biggest eyeroll from me: "It also seems worth raising the issue of whether a UBI needs to be 'paid for' at all. The Bush tax cuts were not 'paid for.' The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not 'paid for.' The United States controls its own currency, and has far more latitude in financing new programs than even most progressives would care to admit...the federal government spends first and raises taxes later. Save for a few whispery moments, it has not bothered to balance its budget nor has it raised enough money to cover its spending in the postwar era." ::FACEPALM:: In the end, I tried to approach this with an open mind as I didn't know too much about the details of UBI, but I have to say after reading and thinking about this, it's left me with the same thoughts that most of Bernie Sanders' proposals did in 2016: Great in theory, not much realistic thought on how exactly to pay for them, ultimately unlikely to happen any time soon.

While I take interest, as an American, in this country's substandard welfare programs that consistently fail the people who need it most, I had very little knowledge on the concept of a UBI. Lowrey lays it all out in clear and manageable terms, and explains both sides of the story through a series of other attempts across the world. The book was engaging in its writing, as well, which is something I frequently struggle with for nonfiction. I feel considerably better informed and like I have a basis on which to form my opinions - I learned!

I had never heard of the idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), so I was quite interested to read this book. Lowery lays on first the ways in which the current safety net system not only fails to serve those who need it most but the ways the holes are actually built into that system so that people fall through. Additionally, with ongoing increases in automation, jobs loss is only likely to become more prevalent. She also describes how many efforts, while thoughtful and well-meaning, fail to help people where they need help the most. She then lays out the concept of a UBI: giving a certain amount of money to each person each month regardless of needing and doing away with welfare and food stamps. An important emphasis is how this would de-stigmatize aid for the poor. She illustrates both how this could succeed in diminishing desperate circumstances as well as how it may fail. She also suggests some ways this could be implemented on a national scale. While she is clearly advocating for this type of approach, she acknowledges that carefully crafting a UBI would be vital to both the likelihood of it being implemented as well as its success. I found this book fascinating. The idea of a UBI seems like a good one, allowing the very poor or simply those who are struggling to increase their options, use the money the way that works best for them, and plug the holes in the safety net. I feel much more informed as we move forward to understand this issue when it comes up in the national discourse, as Lowery fully expects. I found the book very readable. Definitely worth the time.

Give People Money Anne Lowrey I chose this book, because I was interested in the concept of giving everyone in the country an base income and I was hoping to get some insight on the idea. However, I could not get pass the first few chapters. It talked of robots taking over all of the jobs making jobs for humans scarce, but giving every person, no matter what age an base income. Supposedly, it got better in the later chapters, but I just couldn't get interested enough to read on. To me, the book read like a transcript of a college economics lecture. I believe that the information given is sound, but it was difficult to keep interested. I received this from Penguin's First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

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 stands on the issue, so expect some bias going in. I liked this book because she manages to cover a lot of important issues related to the topic, such as how a program like this would be implemented and the costs associated with it. She does provide some examples where a form of UBI has been enacted and even includes examples of how this type of program might not work. It is certainly possible to go more in depth on any one of the issues Lowrey raises in the book. This is a complex topic and I feel like Lowrey's goal is to get people talking about it more. As more types of work become automated, something like this might become necessary and creating awareness before that happens would be key to a smooth transition. I'm not sold on the idea myself, but I am interested in seeing how some of the examples she provided play out. Time is going to be a factor in determining whether UBI can be successful.

I tried....but I just could not get into this book. Partially because of my own limited understanding of economics (a catalyst for requesting this, in the hopes that I might learn a bit), but also because of the constant back and forth: this is why UBI would be wonderful! to this is why UBI will never happen! The further I read, the more confused I became. Again, I don't look to the author for that. I actually found her writing style to be engaging! But it was like throwing erasers at the chalk board expecting something to stick.....just wasn't happening.

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 educated by a careful, clear writer. I highly recommend this to anyone even remotely interested in just economies of the future. I got a copy to review from First to Read.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I found it to be an interesting foray into the topic of a universal basic income(UBI). I did however have some points that kept recurring to me as I read it. First of all, it is written as a definite slam on capitalism. Secondly, I found the studies which she describes are mostly trials of new welfare programs that are promulgated under the more politically correct term of UBI. The idea of a UBI is fascinating in that it is a biblically based concept that is being considered by individuals who have difficulty talking about church and state in the same sentence. Overall, I think it has been a good starting point for me about the topic. That said, I would recommend it to anyone seeking more information on the subject.

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 me) was approved for an advance galley. Ignorance was no longer an option. "Money… is universal and universally fungible." (p.175 ARC) Despite the title, Lowrey doesn’t open her book by saying ‘I think we should give people money and this book is going to explain why I’m right.’ Instead, the introduction starts by asking the reader to contemplate possibility. ‘Hey, so there’s this crazy idea floating around, and I’d like to have a serious conversation about it.’ Universal Basic Income. Universal, in that it is available to everyone. Basic, in that it is sufficient to cover basic needs. Income, in that it is money that the recipient is free to spend as they will. It is kind of a wild idea, and Lowrey knows that. And Lowrey is willing to take the time to explore it in a way accessible to general audiences, knowing that her general audience is going to be resistant to the concept. More than, ‘we need to give people money,’ the message of this book is that we can’t afford to keep our heads in the sand. ‘We should consider our options.’ Annie Lowrey’s been a name in economic journalism for a while, (Currently, she writes for The Atlantic) and I was pleasantly surprised by her balanced approach. (This less a comment on Lowrey specifically and more on popular nonfiction in general). Broadly, this book explores the relationships between UBI and work, poverty, and social inclusion, with a concluding epilogue to cover the potential design of such a policy shift. In just over 200 pages, Lowrey covers automation, the gig economy, causes of poverty, pros and cons of the current social welfare net, and--of course--how UBI relates to and could impact all of these things.There were a lot of things I hadn’t considered before (changing structure of the labor force, history of various social welfare programs, the results of UBI and cash-transfer pilots around the globe, etc.), and if I came away with more questions than answers, at least now I have an idea of what questions to ask. The epilogue is a weak point. I enjoyed the Star Trek vs. The Jetsons exploration, but in order to make a UBI work in the real world, Lowrey’s arguments twist and contort on themselves until the result looks more like our current social safety net (if slightly improved) than a UBI as described in previous chapters. At least one of her proposals (‘why not just print more money to foot the bill?’) deserves a couple high-controversy books of its own. I don’t know if Lowrey just felt the need to close on a more definitive note, but there’s an attention to detail in the main body of the text that is missing from the final pages. I also have a couple major stylistic complaints. First of all: citations. Because of the format of the galley I received, it was not immediately clear that there were endnotes at all. They’re not referenced in the body of the text, but if you’re curious you’ll find them in the very back of the book organized by page number with reference to their subject sentence. (Does anyone know what style this is? I’ve seen it in a couple of other popular nonfiction books so I assume it’s standard somewhere, but I’m not familiar with it and Google is failing me.) [A Quick Note for the Above: I reiterate that I read an advance, unedited proof. If anyone can confirm that the citation format has changed for the final copy, please let me know. This was one of the most frustrating aspects of my reading experience.] Second, but related to the first: In the absence of hard data, Lowrey has a tendency to build up maybe/perhaps statements to make her conclusions. On the one hand, she’s given me a lot to think about. She’s clearly an intelligent woman and she’s spent a lot of time pulling this book together for a general audience. On the other hand, too many maybes in a row give me hives. That’s not an argument. It’s a pipe dream. And yet I have to credit Lowrey for what she’s accomplished here. It’s not the most academically rigorous work, but as an introduction to the conversation around UBI, I think it’s ideal. Lowrey’s not going for straight advocacy-journalism here, she’s starting a conversation. And she’s clear-eyed about the hurdles such a conversation will face in the U.S. I don’t think UBI is necessarily a bad idea, but I don’t know if we can make it work, and I also don’t know if it’s the best of potentially feasible options. One thing I do know is that we’re undergoing some economic rebalancing, and however we come out the other side is going to look different. I know more than I did before reading this, so that’s something. Recommended to people who--like me--were looking for a starting point.

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 destitution if you had just gotten out of prison, needed to leave an abusive partner, or could not find work....Let’s say that you could do anything you wanted with the money.....You would not have to be a specific age, have a child, own a home or maintain a clean criminal record to get it.....This simple, radical and elegant proposal is called a universal basic income, or UBI.” That is the thrust of Annie Lowrey’s Give People Money. She is clearly an advocate and proponent of UBI and has made me a believer. She tackles the hows, pros, cons and costs of what a UBI might look like and even embedded herself in communities in India and Kenya to observe the functions of UBI like programs there. She makes a compelling case for implementing such a system, and she doesn’t shy away from dealing with the tough issues that make this a non-starter for a large swath of the population. The biggest hurdle is the mindset of American people, how comfortable can most of be seeing people get something for nothing, even if we are getting the same ourselves? The one major challenge to bringing this idea to fruition here in the US, besides the cost factor is the racial element. A unique feature of US society that prevents ideas that could provide poverty relief from ever being realized. “In 2001, three top economists....asked why the two economies on either side of the Atlantic were so different in that way, given how similar they were in so many others.” The above referenced quote is in relation of Europe to the US and the former’s greater effort in blunting the effects of income inequality. Their ultimate conclusion was, “Within the United States, race is the single most important predictor of support for welfare. America’s troubled race relations are clearly a major reason for the absence of an American welfare state.” Annie adds to this summation, “Any of the thousand ways that those researchers test it, studies show that relatedness intensifies reciprocity, that closeness inculcates altruism. We humans do not trust faces that do not look like ours.” So, aside from that reality taking the wind from my sails and dare I say, any real chance for an American UBI, Annie will make you seriously consider the possibility of a UBI and ponder the what-ifs. Despite being wonky in parts, this book is very readable and as work continues to diminish in the US, we must be able to arm ourselves with the knowledge of new ideas. Give People Money goes a long way towards that effort. Thanks to First to Read a Penguin Random House Books program for an advanced DRC. Book will drop July 10, 2018.

This book should be required reading for everyone, not because the ideas presented are necessarily correct, but just to get people thinking about other people and about the future of this country and the world. While I did not completely agree with everything that Ms. Lowery wrote, I do agree with the idea that every citizen of every nation regardless of race, citizenship, or circumstances should have a livable income. This book should cause everyone to examine their mindsets and hearts and try to figure out why they (Americans in particular) are so against everyone receiving at least a minimal level assistance to get them out of poverty. I absolutely liked how Ms. Lowery pointed out the hypocrisy of people who feel entitled to receive "benefits" yet do not think of these as government assistance (like the child tax credit or mortgage interest credit). It reminds me of several years ago when President Obama instituted "Cash for Clunkers" and several people I knew utilized this benefit even though they did not really need any assistance, yet still looked down their nose on people receiving "real" assistance. This book's overall theme, poverty, is a subject near and dear to my heart and, quite frankly, has appalled me at how many people look down on other human beings just for being poor. Like being poor makes you less of a human being? Unfortunately, this book only heightened my awareness, but, fortunately, it made me even more empathetic and wanting to help others. I highly recommend this book: it angered me, intrigued me, and left me wanting to do something to effect change, whether that is through implementing a UBI or something similar or something else entirely different.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Penguin's First to Read in exchange for my honest review. The idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is thoroughly addressed in this book. In clear language, the author explains the premise and its consequences, as well as discussing the real-world experimental implementation of a UBI in several different countries. She discusses how a UBI is an answer to many of the most pressing problems in modern society including extreme poverty, stagnant wages, advanced technology changing the needs of the labor force, etcetera. However, she realistically surmises that adopting a UBI is not something likely to happen in America any time soon due to the mythos of self-reliance. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

'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 month, no strings attached, to do with as they need. The Federal government could shut down a whole slew of social programs such as food stamps. Annie Lowrey became obsessed with the idea of UBI and asked was it "a magic bullet, or a policy hammer in search of a nail?" Her book considers what UBI is and the cultural prejudices that surround it, how its implementations have succeeded and failed, the impact it would have on poverty, and how a UBI would cut through all social and racial classes. I loved how she began the book at the Cobo Center North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The birthplace of the auto industry was abandoned very early when auto companies moved their plants outside of the city. But the showcase of the cool new vehicles takes place there. Lowrey talks about the technological changes being shown, the 'cars of the future' that drive themselves. Imagine taxis without drivers. Next thing we know, semi-trucks will be self-driving. Drones will deliver small packages. The Obama administration set the numbers between 2.2 and 3.1 million jobs lost to self-driving vehicles. This is nothing new. Technology has been depriving humans of jobs since the industrial revolution. Yes, robots will take over the world. We humans can spend our time painting and climbing K2 and volunteering and making quilts...Only if the huge profits (made when business and industry replaces all the workers) is shared. We are already seeing a few people holding all the money. It's not going to get better. And the programs we have now are meant to be gap measures, for short-term needs. When unemployment becomes permanent--what then? Sure there are some jobs that are unfilled. Fruit and vegetable pickers, for instance. Michigan is in sore need of them. Take asparagus picking in West Michigan. All you need to do is lay on a board attached to a tractor, hovering over the field, picking asparagus all day in the hot sun. Here in Metro Detroit, our town needs summer help with yard waste pickup. They can't get people to apply for the jobs. Of course, neither pay a living wage. Unions were strong when my dad was supporting us kids. He made a good living with overtime pay working at Chrysler. Today union membership has dropped from one in three to one in twenty. Woman's salaries still lag behind men's. Companies no longer offer pensions or health care. They hire more contract workers and part-time workers. The companies get tax breaks and subsidies while their employees get tax-funded food stamps and assistance. It's a win-win for business and a lose-lose for citizens. One study found that $130 million dollars a year are spent on WORKING families whose wages can't cover their basic need. What we have is a crisis situation that won't be getting better. We can't just GIVE PEOPLE MONEY! I hear you thinking it. Why not? It's the AMERICAN way, you reply. People pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, they work hard and rise, God helps those who help themselves. And a lot of other old chestnuts come out of the closet. And besides, you think, 'those people' will just use the money for cigarettes or drugs or alcohol or a fancy car or a fur coat or to take a cruise. Because we can't trust 'those people' to have the values we approve of. Balderdash. When my husband pastored in the inner city it was a big concern that handing over cash meant people going directly to the corner bar, or later the corner crack house. So the church had local grocers and gas stations in partnership to give commodities instead. Sure, there are a few bad apples. But giving things you think people need is not very useful either. Lowrey talks about a village overrun with Tom's shoes. But give people cash and they can get what they really need. Most people will buy another cow, make sure the kids are eating right, make sure the kids can afford to go to school instead of going to work to help support the family. Lowrey went to Kenya to see a UBI project called GiveDirectly and to India to see how the country's Public Distribution System was working. "Done right, cash works" she writes. Ontario, Canada has tried a pilot program and so has Stockton, CA. I was appalled to learn that America's "safety net" design flaws trap people in poverty--and have a racist bias. European countries whose safety nets eliminate poverty are those whose population consists of native-born citizens. The 'us vs. them' factor does not come into play. Like Finland. My exchange student daughter lost her job in the recession and she married a man who also lost his job. They came to America to study at their denomination's school and visited us. I wondered how they could afford an apartment and food and such. In America, they would have long lost unemployment and health care and housing and would not have been able to marry. Finland has national health care, too. It did in 1969 when I had a Finnish exchange student sister. Two years later I was married and we had no health insurance for three years. Discrimination abounds in the safety net. Especially on the state level. The 1935 Social Security act excluded farm and domestic workers--who were mostly African American. The Federal Housing Administration funds fewer houses in black neighborhoods. The GI bill helped more white than black men since fewer schools accepted black students. The Clinton administration made benefits contingent on work, which affected single mothers. The Supreme Court allowed states to opt out of the Obama Medicaid expansion to over nondisabled, childless adults. A UBI for everyone would be color and gender blind, disabled and able treated the same. Stay at home mothers would be compensated, and what work is more important than raising families and providing a stable home life? America is the only country with no support to new mothers and we don't have enough quality daycare especially in rural areas. A UBI would help new mothers stay home. I had to take leave of absence from a job to care for my dying father. I lost income. A UBI would have made that more comfortable. How would a UBI be distributed? Could it be targeted by fiscal hawks? How would we pay for it? There are questions to be answered. I felt Lowrey's book was a good balance to Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman, which I read last year. I especially appreciated the section that showed the challenges in rural India for distribution of cash. She raised issues and questions I had not even imagined. Read an excerpt of the book at I received a free book from First to Read in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Fascinating take on a topic of growing interest. As automation eliminates low skill jobs, society will need to confront the changes. A universal basic income if implemented appropriately may be a way to help address poverty, increase wages through competition, and decrease wealth disparity. Lowrey provides an insightful analysis of the topic and a compelling argument in its favor.

I had heard about Universal Basic Income (UBI) but had not delved into the details. This book presents a relatively balanced view of UBI with a slight bias toward Implementation. Personally, I came away wanting to know more. I would recommend this book as a start in your research into this policy decision.

I had never heard about Universal Basic Income (UBI) until I started listening to the podcast “The Weeds” (co-hosted by the author’s husband). I was excited when I found out that this book was coming out. The basic premise of UBI is to just give people money instead of a basket of non-monetary benefits like food stamps, housing vouchers, etc. Of course, the fear is that people will take the money and spend it on drugs and alcohol instead of food and rent. In the experiments done with UBI, that hasn’t happened. People have used it to make improvements to their houses, buy livestock, send their children to school, and start small businesses. UBI can work better than non-monetary benefits because there are no hoops to leap through to find out if someone is eligible for that benefit or that benefit and how to keep the benefits. There has also been a history where benefits end up being race based. For example, when social security first started, a Southern senator put in an amendment making domestic and farm workers ineligible for it. The difference with UBI would be that everyone got it. Even though UBI is universal, people still don’t want “others” to get it. In European countries, people polled were all for UBI until they found out that immigrants would be eligible. It’s an interesting concept, but I personally don’t see it happening in the USA. Unfortunately, too many people think people are in poverty because they don’t work hard enough. They would believe that UBI would encourage the poor to not work at all. I enjoyed the book. Now I want to sit down with the author and just ask question after question about how this would work.

It's a great idea! When you think about it, everyone in the country contributes to the economic success of a country, they should be entitled to receive some reasonable compensation in return. A fair basic income from the government would go along way to providing everyone with security.

I received a free copy of this book from Penguin First To Read. An interesting look at a popular policy proposal. This idea gets thrown around, but the details are fuzzy. Lowrey looks at the pilots and data that exist so far, discusses the several motivations for support from various camps, examines the history of the concept, and lays out some information about poverty and what that means to individuals and society. Not a full on cheerleading effort, does present negatives along with the positives. Very interesting and engaging style.

There are three key assertions in Annie Lowrey’s slim, contemporary, issues-based text in my takeaway. The first is that current systems for addressing welfare, wealth distribution, employment considerations, and racial/gender inequality, as well as future planning for an autonomous workforce and AI advancement, are insufficient or misguided. Society is cracking, basically, without any chance to cover it up. The second assertion is that a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is one possible approach that could have beneficial, if not utopian, benefits in the short- and long-term track of the human race. The third assertion is that we oughta try *something*. This last reason is the most compelling argument, in my view, to pick this book up. I had the privilege to read Lowrey’s text through Penguin's First to Read, reserving an advance copy out of interest in the proposed concept and the attempt to analyze the dysfunction of 21st Century life that saturates news media and daily, anecdotal interactions. The writing is crisp, if occasionally repetitive, with some humor and verve. The use of footnotes or citations, rather than a bibliography, might add some more weight to some of the claims, which can lean scattered on occasion. I encourage anybody wanting to put the book aside to push through to the final chapter (“$1,000 a Month”) and postscript (“Trekonomics”). The idea of a UBI is appealing, and, in Lowery’s evidence, supported by small- and large-scale agents, including governments local, regional, national, as well as NGOs and even Ancient World civilizations. There is a kernel of UBI for almost all political and attitudinal stripes, but the author is clear-eyed about resistance to any such initiative, diving into logistical concerns and behavioral opposition. It is important to state that this book is not a how-to nor a report of a descriptive, definitive study – most of the work needed for a UBI in practice is undergoing now or would need a truly-supported attempt. This is an important and urgent book for our current political and moral landscape. Whether or not you agree with Lowery’s UBI conclusions, I think we owe it to each other, as a species, to try something that will affect the fortunes of the world’s disenfranchised and devalued. Lowery’s work is a compelling argument to enact change, with several reasonable and reliable options included. It’s much better than nothing.

Annie Lowrey’s Give People Money is an imperfect book which appears to have the aim of supporting a Universal Basic Income (UBI) considering the subtitle. The book is full of anecdotal stories from around the world which serve more as personal pleas to emotion than as strong evidence for a UBI. Indeed, despite the excess of qualitative evidence - brazenly asserting that things will be effortless to implement, straightforward to fund, and ultimately just work better - the book seems to lack sufficient quantitative evidence to make its principle argument. Arguably, the book does a better job convincing this reader that existing welfare and support systems are ineffective as well as often inconsistently and unfairly administered; further, that direct money transfers are more effective and more fairly administered then the hodgepodge of programs currently being employed. The book needs an edit both for stray, poorly worded sentences as well as clarity of intent – is Give People Money about a UBI, giving people money instead of other programs, or the sorry state of our altruistic efforts?


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