It's been tried in parts of Canada, and parts of Europe. The Green Party has a form of it in their plan, and Elon Musk says it will likely be forced into being as robots take over more and more jobs and replace human workers. It's been called Universal Basic Income, Guaranteed Living Allowance, and Mincome.
It would go to everyone, but it would start by going to the under-waged. It means giving each person in Canada about $1400/mo, enough money to afford housing, food, clothes and medicine. And with no strings attached, and no obligation to seek work. It would replace welfare and disability with one new program, the GLA/UBI.
But some say "Everyone will become lazy!" and "Where will that money come from anyway?"
So have they all gone nuts? Or do they know something we don't?
But let's look for a moment at a similar situation: homelessness, and how it has been almost completely resolved in the American state of Utah:
Utah's homelessness problem was bad. Like many places in North America. So someone proposed an unusual solution: "Why don't we give them homes?"
So thats what they did, they gave them homes. And 85% of those people not only got jobs, but they began to build a life, and became contributing members of society again. And some went into detox, many successfully for the first time. Only a very small percentage of them ended up back on the street. By far the majority of them became employed and stayed employed. They didn't become lazy or stay home and watch TV all day - which is what some people expect will happen with the GLA.
So what do the experiments with the GLA actually show?
In a small town in Alberta the GLA was tried a good 30 years ago. And they found that most the residents who received the GLA continued to work and live normally. Only teens and new mothers worked significantly less. The project was shelved when the government changed, but it is now being seriously considered by many governments, as the above image shows.
My view is that the GLA really isn't free money. And it won't go out just to people on welfare - it will go to everyone. The GLA really expresses the fact that we all have a natural human right to shelter, food, clothing, and medicine - basics. And that when those things are safely, securely, and consistently received, people are no longer burdened and they begin to live their lives with less stress and more creativity.
And the idea that everyone will stay home and do nothing is just an idea.
As anyone can tell you who has been unemployed for a while - staying home with no extra money for an extended time is extremely hard. You can only read so many books or watch so much TV. $1400 a month doesn't give you anything extra. The average 1 bedroom in Vancouver is now $1200... all of the GLA will go out to rent, food, clothes, phone, medications, etc, and people will continue to work and create in order to make more money, just like in the pilot project in Alberta.
The GLA/UBI doesn't magically take away people's desire for a more comfortable life-style.
What the GLA/UBI/Mincome does do is it helps end the poverty cycle of people on welfare or disability - by lifting them up to a place where they can join the rest of us in beginning to actually live their lives - and not just exist. Social Assistance in BC at the time of writing this article is $710 a month (2018).
Just like giving free bachelor apartments in Utah solved their homeless problems, giving the under-waged a secure monthly basic income might just solve our remaining poverty problem.
And that, in my opinion, is why Elon Musk and many others are recommending it. And especially since a robot workforce is coming which will also force a new relationship to money. No matter who you are, jobs are going to be scarce.
Like many things, our first thoughts about it are often not true. But if we continue to look into it, we find the truth about it. And as we do that collectively, this evolution of ideas expresses as changes within culture.
Notable Welfare in BC, Canada is presently $710 a month, enough for a room in the worst shared accommodation in Vancouver, with about $100 left for food, phone and transportation - nearly impossible to live on. Contrast that with Canada's Prime Minister's pension: after just 4 years in office, he will get $175 000 a year for the rest of his life, regardless of whether he was good for the country or not.