Power Players

Twitter's Jack Dorsey is giving $3 million to help test free cash payment programs for Americans

Jack Dorsey, chief executive officer and co-founder of Square Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017.
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Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who is worth more than $7 billion, is pledging $3 million to support experiments in free cash payments to Americans, he announced Thursday.

Dorsey is giving the money to Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a coalition of mayors who advocate for universal basic income, as well as invest in pilot programs around the United States. Universal basic income, or guaranteed income, is a policy by which people receive cash payments from the government, irrespective of employment status. 

"This is one tool to close the wealth and income gap, level systemic race and gender inequalities, and create economic security for families," Dorsey tweeted on Thursday.

In April, Dorsey said he moved $1 billion worth of his Square stock into a philanthropic organization called "Start Small LLC" to fund Covid-19 relief organizations, universal basic income projects and girls' health and education initiatives.

At the time, the stock represented 28% of Dorsey's wealth, and it is currently worth more than $2 billion. The value and disbursements are viewable on a public Google Sheet.

Mayors for a Guaranteed Income includes Stockton, California Mayor Michael D. Tubbs; Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba; St. Paul, Minnesota Mayor Melvin Carter; Newark, New Jersey Mayor Ras J. Baraka; Compton, California Mayor Aja Brown; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins; Oakland, California Mayor Libby Schaaf; Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Stephen Benjamin; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; and Tacoma, Washington Mayor Victoria R. Woodards.

"Direct, unconditional cash gives people the freedom to spend money on their most immediate needs — be it food for their household, repairing a car to get to work, medicine to treat a loved one or simply rent," the mayors wrote in a Time op-ed in June.

Many of the mayors have launched some form of free cash payment experiment in segments of their respective communities. 

Tubbs, for example, piloted the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED): In 2019, 125 randomly selected individuals began receiving $500 a month for 24 months. 

According to the Time op-ed, "early data" from the program show recipients are "spending the money like you and we would: on basic needs like food, transportation, utilities and rent."

For his part, Dorsey said he never expected to be so wealthy and hopes to give away all his money in his lifetime. 

"I'm in a situation that I never imagined when I was a kid or [even] when I was 25," Dorsey told former Democratic presidential hopeful and universal basic income advocate Andrew Yang on a May episode of the "Yang Speaks" podcast. "I didn't have any aspect of what money would mean until I was, probably 35." (Dorsey's first appearance on the Forbes billionaires list was in 2012.) 

"I'm so grateful, but part of gratitude is not just saying I'm grateful, it's doing," Dorsey told Yang. 

"I want to give out all my money in my lifetime. I want to see the impacts, selfishly, in my lifetime," Dorsey told Yang. "I want to make sure that we're helping people."

See also:

Twitter billionaire Jack Dorsey on giving away his money: 'If someone is in pain, I am in pain'

Pope Francis: 'This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage'

What it was like to tell my kids I lost my job: 'Aren't you important' Mom?

Elon Musk and Andrew Yang support Universal Basic Income — here's what it could mean for Americans
Here's what universal basic income could mean for Americans