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Summary

In this fascinating audiobook, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes argues that the best way to fight income inequality is with a radically simple idea: a guaranteed income for working people, paid for by the one percent.

The first half of Chris Hughes's life played like a movie reel right out of the "American Dream". He grew up in a small town in North Carolina. His parents were people of modest means, but he was accepted into an elite boarding school and then Harvard, both on scholarship. There, he met Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz and became one of the co-founders of Facebook.

In telling his story, Hughes demonstrates the powerful role fortune and luck play in today's economy. Through the rocket ship rise of Facebook, Hughes came to understand how a select few can become ultra-wealthy nearly overnight. He believes the same forces that made Facebook possible have made it harder for everyone else in America to make ends meet.

To help people who are struggling, Hughes proposes a simple, bold solution: a guaranteed income for working people, including unpaid caregivers and students, paid for by the one percent. The way Hughes sees it, a guaranteed income is the most powerful tool we have to combat poverty and stabilize America's middle class. Money - cold hard cash with no strings attached - gives people freedom, dignity, and the ability to climb the economic ladder. A guaranteed income for working people is the big idea that's missing in the national conversation.

This audiobook, grounded in Hughes's personal experience, will start a frank conversation about how we earn in modern America, how we can combat income inequality, and ultimately, how we can give everyone a Fair Shot.

©2018 Chris Hughes (P)2018 Macmillan Audio

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A vision for the future

The idea of a guaranteed income is a realistic and much-needed proposal for the 21st Century.

Chris Hughes is one of the entrepreneurs and philanthropists at the heart of the effort to raise awareness of the positive benefits of unconditional cash transfer programs.

He pragmatically distances himself from the concept of a full UBI given to all citizens. This is mostly a marketing tool to repackage the idea, but it also has unfortunate consequences. The commonsensical insistence on limiting the income support for people participating in the labour market (loosely defined) and making less than $50,000 a year adds a layer of bureaucratic complexity that worsens the model by loosening the "guarantee" part of the guaranteed income.

He also insists on raising taxes exclusively on the 1% (a controversial value judgment) and on keeping intact minimum wage laws (a bad idea) and a bunch of supplementary welfare services (another economically dubious solution). These, again, seem like unnecessary complications that distract from the simplicity of the idea.

The book is also rhetorically a bit boring and lacking in fire power. MLK the author is not.

Nor does the book offer great revelations about Chris Hughes the co-founder of Facebook. The book feels a bit too restrained and controlled in its delivery - as if ghost-written by a lawyer.

Despite these reservations, I think the book is worth listening to, since the basic idea is so powerful and revolutionary. If we cannot build bipartisan support for the idea of guaranteed minimum income (whether in the precise form as proposed by Mr. Hughes or hopefully not), we do not deserve to call ourselves civilized.

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  • Ivan Matos
  • 17-07-18

Wonderful!

Excellent book! Extremely thought provoking! For someone whom hadn't given this concept of a basic income much thought it has made me deeply consider this as one possible solution to inequality in our country.

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  • T. Pal
  • 22-03-18

Be Open Minded

I enjoyed this book and I could tell the ideas were well thought through. I bought it expecting to not like the idea, but was surprised to find that I did, especially as presented. I can see this being something that could gain traction on both sides of the isle. It’s an interesting concept....