Mark Zuckerberg calls for a universal basic income amid rumours of presidential bid by Facebook founder

The idea would give anyone the space to try out new ideas

Andrew Griffin
Friday 26 May 2017 13:32 BST

Everyone should be paid a universal basic income, Mark Zuckerberg has said.

The Facebook founder said that making sure everyone received basic pay would allow them to take more risks and try out new things, while knowing that they would still be able to afford the basic things they need to live.

The idea of a universal basic income, or UBI, has become popular among technologists and people in Silicon Valley. It allows for more redistributive policies and will be important when automation takes their jobs, they say.

Mr Zuckerberg suggested that the universal basic income would be part of a “new social contract for our generation”. He made the recommendation during a Harvard speech that many said looked as if he was planning to become president.

“We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful,” he said. “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.

“We’re going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable child care to get to work and health care that aren’t tied to one company. We’re all going to make mistakes, so we need a society that focuses less on locking us up or stigmatising us. And as technology keeps changing, we need to focus more on continuous education throughout our lives.

“And yes, giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn’t free. People like me should pay for it. Many of you will do well and you should, too.”

The speech – which concentrated on political and public policy issues – is just the latest event to lead to speculation that Mr Zuckerberg may be planning to launch a presidential campaign. He has been on a tour around various parts of the US meeting people and posting his policy recommendations for improving their lives, but has repeatedly denied that he is gearing up to try and lead the US.

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