Billionaire Richard Branson thinks America should give out free money to fix inequality

Tom Dulat / Getty Images for CNBCSir Richard Branson.
  • Richard Branson thinks the US and Europe should start giving citizens free cash.
  • He’s a supporter of universal basic income – a living wage provided by a nation’s government to all its people.
  • “I think with artificial intelligence coming along, there needs to be a basic income,” Branson told The New York Times on Saturday.

Richard Branson is an advocate of universal basic income.

That’s to say he believes that everyone should receive a living wage from the government, regardless of financial status.

“A basic income should be introduced in Europe and in America,” Branson told The New York Times on Saturday.

“It’s great to see countries like Finland experimenting with it in certain cities,” he said. “It’s a disgrace to see people sleeping on the streets with this material wealth all around them.”

The experiment Branson was referring to in Finland was shut down earlier this year. The Finnish government gave 2,000 unemployed Finns about $US690 a month, no strings attached.

Decision-makers pulled the brakes on the project and decided to invest in other areas of social welfare.

“Two years is too short a time frame to be able to draw extensive conclusions from such a vast experiment,” Olli Kangas, a professor who was one of the experts behind the basic-income trial, told Finland’s public-service broadcaster YLE.

Branson went on to say, “I think A.I. will result in there being less hours in the day that people are going to need to work.”

“You know, three-day workweeks and four-day weekends,” he said. “Then we’re going to need companies trying to entertain people during those four days, and help people make sure that they’re paid a decent amount of money for much shorter work time.”

Elon muskMark Brake / Getty ImagesElon Musk also supports basic income.

Branson is among numerous high-profile figures who believe that the rise of automation will necessitate basic income as the size of the human workforce is reduced.

Earlier this month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “Universal income will be necessary over time if AI takes over most human jobs.”

“Let’s face it: There is something wrong with our system when I can leave [Harvard] and make billions of dollars in 10 years, while millions of students can’t afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in his commencement address at his alma mater. “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.”

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