During 2016, the world's 500 richest people got even richer. Their combined fortunes rose by 5.7%, adding $237 billion to their total net worth. The worldwide basic income that we at WBI propose is $10 per person per month. That requires $75 billion per month to fund.
Imagine if the world's richest people had all decided that this year, for once, they just didn't need any more money, and decided to share out this year's gains around the world. This would have funded more than three months of world basic income – a crucial cash injection for every woman, man and child on the planet.
To understand how our proposed $10 basic income would help families, we took a look at some information gathered by Dollar Street, who interview real families about their spending and consumption. All the families pictured here are farmers – their work keeps the world alive. For these families and millions more, the $30 per person that the billionaires could have provided would have represented a whole extra month's worth of income in 2016.
Imagine receiving a whole extra pay packet. This money could have bought better farm tools, paid school fees, repaired leaking roofs. It is bus fares to take crops to market, phone credit to stay in touch with family, medicine when you need it. It is hard to imagine that money being so useful sitting in a billionaire's bank account.
Here at World Basic Income, we are not really suggesting funding that basic income by taking 100% of billionaires annual gains, tempting as that idea might be.
The funding models that we discuss could include a global wealth tax however, to take a small progressive slice of people and companies' immense fortunes each year. To work in the long run, it's probably best that the world basic income has a number of funding streams, so if some dry up, others can take up the slack. These could include common corporate share dividends, carbon taxes, royalties on intellectual property and many other small charges applied to people who profit from using natural and collective resources. Details and estimates are discussed on our Finding the Money page.
Nevertheless, the immense gains made by billionaires do show just how much money gets made each year by people who really don't need it. There's more than enough money out there to fund a world basic income. We just need to create mechanisms to harness it.
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Title photograph by Koustav2007 (Own work), CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons