I'm excited to share that I'm now the Founder and President of the Income To Support All Foundation, a new non-profit whose purpose is to accelerate the implementation of unconditional universal basic income by just doing it and by telling the stories of those whose lives have been transformed by it. Please make a point of signing up to the ITSA Newsletter to make sure you don't miss anything we're hoping to accomplish with the help of as many people as possible by 2025.
I urge everyone to visit the website to see who all is involved so far and to see what projects the ITSA Foundation is looking to get off the ground first, but to give a quick summary here of what we're looking to do, we're looking to go about philanthropy in a potentially disruptive way.
Quite frankly, philanthropy as it exists should not exist. It exists as it does because of the lack of universal basic income, and because of an abundance of distrust against cash giving. Some organizations have been doing great work to change this status quo, most notably GiveDirectly which has been a pioneer in the cash-giving space internationally. More recently, local nonprofits like Miracle Messages have also begun to discover that to best meet their mission statements, unconditional cash provision should be a part of what they do, as have the nonprofits donating to the many guaranteed basic income pilots across the US to make them possible.
Here's what Kevin Adler, the Founder and CEO of Miracle Messages, had to say in an interview for Fast Company after how successful their provision of cash to unhoused people was in getting them successfully housed:
“I think nonprofits in general should have in the back of their mind kind of a plan to work themselves out of a job. If your staff and expenditures and budget would almost be better allocated by giving directly to individuals on the streets... at some point you have to ask, am I making the biggest difference that I could? Or should I essentially just disband and give out all the funds?”
Most every nonprofit's ultimate goal should be to not exist. Whatever problem a nonprofit is looking to solve, the ultimate goal should be for that problem to no longer exist. But many nonprofits seem to now exist mainly to employ people within the nonprofit system, where money donated to help solve a problem occasionally reaches those suffering from the problem that the donor dollars are allegedly meant to alleviate.
The charity industry has a problem — namely that it's an industry — one full of inherent paternalism built on an assumption that people can't be trusted with cash, and therefore need charitable dollars to be transformed into anything but cash. This is said to be out of a fear that cash can be misspent, but it's really based on the notion that it's a good thing for the ultra-rich to exist, because if that money had just flowed to people as cash, that would lead to "bad outcomes", so it's a good thing the ultra-rich are around to decide how money should be spent.
I believe the opposite is true. Great wealth exists because a structure has been built to funnel vast quantities of money into fewer and fewer hands because of a complicity that exists between corporations and government to withhold people's fair share of productivity growth. For decades, lower taxes have combined with falling union power, automation, and offshoring, to depress wages and concentrate GDP growth into the hands of the top 10% who are then encouraged to donate some of it to charity, and where that charity for the most part is actively prevented from taking the form of the cash that should have flowed directly to people in the first place as paychecks.
Universal basic income would solve this, but the grassroots demand for UBI is not even close to being strong enough yet, and even if it were, the US government is currently non-responsive to the real needs of Americans. So something has to change. I believe we're looking at a chicken and egg problem where if UBI already existed, people would be empowered to make the changes necessary to win UBI.
So that's what ITSA Foundation is looking to do — get a small UBI going as the missing foundation upon which to make a larger UBI possible.
It's a foundation!
To accomplish this goal as fast as possible, we're looking to get a platform called Comingle launched which has been in slow development for years. One of its creators is Conrad Shaw who previously created the UBI Calculator that enables anyone to plug in their income and find out what their net benefit or tax increase would be from various UBI plan proposals. With Comingle, the goal is to get every member of the community a dividend of around $50 a week, by every community member committing 7% of their weekly income.
This design is essentially a voluntary UBI funded by an automated deposit tax. Those in any given week earning above the average income will be net donors to those falling below the average, in proportion to the distance from the average. Someone with zero income would get $50 for a net gain of $50 that week. Someone paying in $50 would receive $50 for a net gain of $0 that week. And someone paying in $150 would receive $50 for a net donation of $100 that week.
Personally, I really want this option to exist as simply a better way of giving. Some people may prefer to go on GoFundMe and find one person with one story to donate $200 to. I'd prefer to know my $200 is going to a huge number of people in a way where, combined with the donations of others, they may no longer even need to make a GoFundMe page at all. I'd much prefer preventing someone from ever falling than trying to only help them after they've already hit the ground. I believe there are others like me out there who also want to donate to others on a perpetual basis, but who would prefer it be done as a perpetual UBI.
Are you one of them?
Some people will reply that UBI is about only the richest people and corporations paying everyone else, but I believe that UBI is ultimately about solidarity. It's something we will together all make possible. By relying on each other, sometimes we will be the ones above the average, and sometimes we will be the ones below the average, but together we'll all know that there is a level below which we won't allow any of us to fall. That mutual agreement will be unifying.
If you're interested in this project, get ready for a big announcement in September and be sure to catch it by signing up on the Comingle website.
There's also another big UBI project that's been in the works for years, where twenty-one people all across the United States were provided a UBI and filmed by Emmy-award winning documentary director - Deia Schlosberg. For almost three years, adults received $1,000 a month and $333/mo per kid as part of the Bootstraps docuseries project. It's currently in post-production and meant to be a ten-part docuseries examining UBI with an unbiased investigative lens, for better or worse, telling the real stories of UBI's real impacts.
I believe in the power of stories and the need for this project to be completed, just as I believe in the potential of Comingle. Additionally, I believe in the combination of these two projects working together, where viewers of the Bootstraps docuseries can be encouraged to sign up for Comingle to start immediately living with a basic income, and to start making it possible for others to live with a basic income too. This can be the mechanism for communities that have hosted guaranteed basic income pilots to avoid just watching them end. A community can use its pilot to encourage people to opt into Comingle's perpetual UBI.
If ITSA Foundation succeeds in our goal of getting both Comingle and Bootstraps fully funded, within a year both can be launched, and by the end of 2025, hopefully at least 100,000 Americans will be living with a perpetual, monthly, and fully voluntarily-funded basic income of around $250 a month. And a docuseries showing the entire world what it's really like to live with a basic income will have found a home on a streaming service somewhere and also be touring the US going from community to community with powerful stories, growing the number of people living with their own UBI and hopefully the number of people mobilizing for it.
With ambitious UBI projects like this in the world, and hopefully more like it, showing everyone what basic income is like so they can truly understand it, I think UBI becomes much more possible.
I could not tell you how many UBI-related project ideas people have proposed to me over the years as being what they think is needed. After the launch of ChatGPT, I decided I needed to pick two with the greatest chance of success and put what weight I have behind them. So that's what I'm doing.
I've also been told over the years, and have seen others be told, that if we believe in UBI so much, we should just do it. Okay. Challenge accepted. I will be among the very first people to voluntarily pledge 7% of my income to others as UBI.
If you want to help make this all happen, then let's go!
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