Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes thinks the government should give cash handouts to people with the lowest incomes in order to fight income inequality. And he thinks the money should come from higher taxes on wealthy individuals and even big tech companies, like Facebook.
Hughes, 34, was one of Facebook’s co-founders, along with Mark Zuckerberg and three of their Harvard classmates, in 2004. He was Facebook’s spokesperson for the company’s first three years, before leaving to finish his Harvard degree and then to work on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign as a media strategist.
“That is indicative of a fundamental unfairness in our economy. Income inequality in our country has not been this bad since the Great Depression. And even though we’re reading the headlines that unemployment is at 3.9 percent and the stock market is at record highs, what’s actually happening is that the median incomes in our country haven’t budged in nearly 40 years. At the same time stories like mine create an illusion of economic opportunity," he told Techcrunch contributors Adriana Stan and Tom Goodwin on their "Interesting People in Interesting Times" podcast.
Hughes, author of “Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn," is not necessarily a believer in the idea of universal basic income (UBI) — championed by entrepreneur Andrew Yang and also supported by billionaires such as Richard Branson and even Facebook’s Zuckerberg — which would see a standard cash payment handed out to all citizens no matter their employment status. UBI “is infeasible in America today,” Hughes explained on the podcast, because making payments to everyone in the U.S. is an “unaffordable” proposition.
However, Hughes believes a reconfigured U.S. tax code could effectively transfer money from wealthy people like himself to those in need, from the unemployed to American workers struggling to make ends meet. He says on the podcast that the "most urgent thing we can do" is roll back tax code changes that lowered rates on corporations and the 1 percent and instead give a $500 monthly tax credit to every working American who currently earns less than $50,000 per year to create an “income floor” — a minimum amount of money that people earn.