Giving freely: Experimenting Basic Income in Kenya

Photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash

I remember a post a couple years back by Daniel Norris where he talked about the practice of handing cash to the homeless or marginalized. The common response by most is “I don’t want them to spend the money on alcohol (or the likes), so I’d rather just give them food”, but Daniel challenged that perspective reminding us that the most valuable thing you can give isn’t cash, but trust and respect.

The human and inspirational element of this isn’t the only consideration for this method of giving, as there’s also a growing movement for it on economic grounds. This movement is widely referred to as Basic Income, and is explained as “giving periodic cash payments delivered to all on an individuals basis, without means-test or work requirement.”

While entirely theoretical, there are a handful of quasi-experiments built on this idea. One that is particularly interesting, due to it being a non-profit (and thus using voluntarily given funds, as opposed to tax based) and run by a group of economists is the GiveWell. The GiveWell initiative in Kenya is like Basic Income in their giving of funds directly to the extreme poor for spending entirely at their discretion.

There’s plenty of skepticism around the idea, and for good reason due to it’s entirely unproven concept and complexity of execution, but it is an interesting idea worth exploring. Whether you buy into this or find yourself waiving it away as preposterous, there’s still plenty of reason for supporting a good cause in giving to GiveWell. Aside from helping to explore this idea, your minor gift can have a disproportionate impact on the extreme poor.

John Bogle, an investment innovator

John Bogle, the pioneer of index funds and the founder of Vanguard group, died at 89 yesterday. Those in the investment world, and largely in business too, appreciate his innovation and the impact it had for the common investor.

In an age where technology can solve everything and things of the past are treated as “outdated”, it’s worth pausing to recognize that the Index Fund is like robo-investing (e.g. Robinhood, Wealthfront) in it’s innovation.

Except, where robo-investing has potential, index funds have results.

RIP Jack.

p.s. An early 3-part series posted here on TILT was largely influenced by Jack’s index funds. You can read post 1 here.

Prison & Policing: How to amputate society

Photo by Feifei Peng on Unsplash

With a Criminal Justice degree and an obsession with finding economically and socially beneficial solutions, a recent post by Daniel Bier at The Skeptical Libertarian caught my eye (shout out to Alex Tabbarrok Marginal Revolution). Daniel provides an interesting and open look at spending ratios for prisons vs police in the U.S. and Europe.

This isn’t the blog to suggest the “simple solutions” to the complex challenge of reducing crime (Alex provides some suggestions here), but this is the place to show a similarity and call you to action.

Emphasizing prisons (via spend) over policing is like emphasizing amputation over wound care.

Prison cuts off members of our society and carries a heavy cost to us as a society (and more so to those individuals), just as the loss of a limb would to the individual. What can you do to positively impact the criminal justice system beyond your own life?