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If America ever does take the radical step of introducing a universal basic income (UBI)–that is, a regular payment to all citizens to cover their basic needs–presumably the idea will need something like universal support. To pay for such a scheme might cost more than 1 trillion dollars, and generally America doesn’t spend that sort of money unless the people are broadly onboard (except perhaps during war time).
So far, say filmmakers Deia Schlosberg and Conrad Shaw, basic income has yet to make sufficient headway beyond Silicon Valley or Washington, D.C., where it has plenty of supporters. And the way it’s discussed tends to be dry and serious, rather than human and urgent. To change that, they want to make a documentary following 20 UBI recipients (paid for by the filmmakers) across the country over two years. It’s only by showing how UBI affects people’s lives–including their choices about work, food, shelter, and family–that the idea can gain mainstream acceptance, they argue.
“The pitch to the American people needs to be done in a way that speaks to their hearts,” Shaw tells Fast Company. “You can’t have an academic paper and just reach out to the Silicon Valley types. What we found in the last election is the middle of the country is ready for something new. They need to speak up if we’re going to pass UBI, because it needs to be bipartisan and something that everyone votes for.”