Money: Exploring Universal Basic Income and Beyond

Short thesis

The combination of a concept of the commons, for which taxes are levied for its use by the community, with the idea of a universal social dividend opens up new space within the tried and tested technique of the market economy. The talk presents different approaches that, taken together, can be interpreted as harbingers of a paradigm change. They move beyond the capitalistic growth paradigm and instead herald a new form of a social and ecologically oriented market economy.


For many people, the universal and unconditional transfer of money to all citizens of a community is a counterintuitive idea. Aren’t we taught in economics that everything is a commodity and thus has a price? Why should money be unconditionally distributed? Yet the fact is that the availability of land for money as a means of exchange is a prerequisite for a functioning market economy. Supply and demand can only be interchanged if all market participants have the means of exchange. 

Basic income pilot projects and initial use cases for other types of long-term social dividends have been popping up all around the world in the past years. For instance, in Namibia there was a basic income pilot project in 2008 and 2009. Aside from being successful in eradicating poverty and promoting economic activity, it additionally reduced existing social tensions – contrary to the fears of many observers. 

But the idea of a universal social dividend is also gaining steam, and not just due to universal basic income. More than 3,500 US economists, including 27 Nobel Laureates, are advocating a national, revenue-neutral carbon fee-and-dividend system similar to the Swiss model. In this model, the tax revenue is divided per capita to every citizen. Among the signatories: all the former chairpersons of the Council of Economic Advisers to the US presidents of the past twenty years as well as Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker – all four living former Federal Reserve chairpersons.


This talk will be the starting point for the the Ideation Lab focusing on the Future of Money, a session developed and facilitated in cooperation with the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).