Countries like Finland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands are more likely to see a universal basic income before the United States, the author says, because they are smaller and more homogeneous. They are also already more supportive of government services.
"When you have more racial divisions and so forth, politically it will be harder to pass strong safety net measures," says Ford.
"This idea of giving people money for nothing is a real adjustment for people [in America]. It goes against our basic values, a Protestant work ethic and all."
That said, there is currently one privately-funded, short-term pilot program being run by the Silicon Valley accelerator, Y Combinator, in California. The goal is to see how people react in the U.S., says Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator Group. The program gives "unconditional" payments to selected residents of Oakland. The administrators write, "we hope basic income promotes freedom, and we want to see how people experience that freedom." If it is successful, the plan is to follow up the pilot with a larger, longer-term program.
"I'm fairly confident that at some point in the future, as technology continues to eliminate traditional jobs and massive new wealth gets created, we're going to see some version of this at a national scale," says Altman, in a blog post about the project. "50 years from now, I think it will seem ridiculous that we used fear of not being able to eat as a way to motivate people."