Poverty isn’t a lack of character; it’s a lack of cash | Rutger Bregman

August 13, 2019

I’d like to start with a simple question:
Why do the poor make
so many poor decisions?
I know it’s a harsh question,
but take a look at the data.
The poor borrow more, save less,
smoke more, exercise less, drink more
and eat less healthfully.
Well, the standard explanation
was once summed up by the British
Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
And she called poverty
“a personality defect.”
A lack of character, basically.
Now, I’m sure not many of you
would be so blunt.
But the idea that there’s something
wrong with the poor themselves
is not restricted to Mrs. Thatcher.
Some of you may believe that the poor
should be held responsible
for their own mistakes.
And others may argue that we should
help them to make better decisions.
But the underlying assumption is the same:
there’s something wrong with them.
If we could just change them,
if we could just teach them
how to live their lives,
if they would only listen.
And to be honest,
this was what I thought for a long time.
It was only a few years ago
that I discovered
that everything I thought I knew
about poverty was wrong.
It all started when I accidentally
stumbled upon a paper
by a few American psychologists.
They had traveled 8,000 miles,
all the way to India,
for a fascinating study.
And it was an experiment
with sugarcane farmers.
You should know that these farmers
collect about 60 percent
of their annual income all at once,
right after the harvest.
This means that they’re relatively
poor one part of the year
and rich the other.
The researchers asked them to do
an IQ test before and after the harvest.
What they subsequently discovered
completely blew my mind.
The farmers scored much worse
on the test before the harvest.
The effects of living
in poverty, it turns out,
correspond to losing 14 points of IQ.
Now, to give you an idea,
that’s comparable
to losing a night’s sleep
or the effects of alcoholism.
A few months later,
I heard that Eldar Shafir,
a professor at Princeton University
and one of the authors of this study,
was coming over to Holland, where I live.
So we met up in Amsterdam
to talk about his revolutionary
new theory of poverty.
And I can sum it up in just two words:
scarcity mentality.
It turns out that people
behave differently
when they perceive a thing to be scarce.
And what that thing is
doesn’t much matter —
whether it’s not enough time,
money or food.
You all know this feeling,
when you’ve got too much to do,
or when you’ve put off breaking for lunch
and your blood sugar takes a dive.
This narrows your focus
to your immediate lack —
to the sandwich you’ve got to have now,
the meeting that’s starting
in five minutes
or the bills that have
to be paid tomorrow.
So the long-term perspective
goes out the window.
You could compare it to a new computer
that’s running 10 heavy programs at once.
It gets slower and slower, making errors.
Eventually, it freezes —
not because it’s a bad computer,
but because it has too much to do at once.
The poor have the same problem.
They’re not making dumb decisions
because they are dumb,
but because they’re living in a context
in which anyone would make dumb decisions.
So suddenly I understood
why so many of our anti-poverty
programs don’t work.
Investments in education, for example,
are often completely ineffective.
Poverty is not a lack of knowledge.
A recent analysis of 201 studies
on the effectiveness
of money-management training
came to the conclusion
that it has almost no effect at all.
Now, don’t get me wrong —
this is not to say the poor
don’t learn anything —
they can come out wiser for sure.
But it’s not enough.
Or as Professor Shafir told me,
“It’s like teaching someone to swim
and then throwing them in a stormy sea.”
I still remember sitting there,
And it struck me
that we could have figured
this all out decades ago.
I mean, these psychologists didn’t need
any complicated brain scans;
they only had to measure the farmer’s IQ,
and IQ tests were invented
more than 100 years ago.
Actually, I realized I had read about
the psychology of poverty before.
George Orwell, one of the greatest
writers who ever lived,
experienced poverty
firsthand in the 1920s.
“The essence of poverty,”
he wrote back then,
is that it “annihilates the future.”
And he marveled at, quote,
“How people take it for granted
they have the right to preach at you
and pray over you
as soon as your income falls
below a certain level.”
Now, those words are every bit
as resonant today.
The big question is, of course:
What can be done?
Modern economists have
a few solutions up their sleeves.
We could help the poor
with their paperwork
or send them a text message
to remind them to pay their bills.
This type of solution is hugely popular
with modern politicians,
mostly because,
well, they cost next to nothing.
These solutions are, I think,
a symbol of this era
in which we so often treat the symptoms,
but ignore the underlying cause.
So I wonder:
Why don’t we just change the context
in which the poor live?
Or, going back to our computer analogy:
Why keep tinkering around
with the software
when we can easily solve the problem
by installing some extra memory instead?
At that point, Professor Shafir
responded with a blank look.
And after a few seconds, he said,
“Oh, I get it.
You mean you want to just hand out
more money to the poor
to eradicate poverty.
Uh, sure, that’d be great.
But I’m afraid that brand
of left-wing politics
you’ve got in Amsterdam —
it doesn’t exist in the States.”
But is this really
an old-fashioned, leftist idea?
I remembered reading about an old plan —
something that has been proposed
by some of history’s leading thinkers.
The philosopher Thomas More
first hinted at it in his book, “Utopia,”
more than 500 years ago.
And its proponents have spanned
the spectrum from the left to the right,
from the civil rights campaigner,
Martin Luther King,
to the economist Milton Friedman.
And it’s an incredibly simple idea:
basic income guarantee.
What it is?
Well, that’s easy.
It’s a monthly grant, enough to pay
for your basic needs:
food, shelter, education.
It’s completely unconditional,
so no one’s going to tell you
what you have to do for it,
and no one’s going to tell you
what you have to do with it.
The basic income
is not a favor, but a right.
There’s absolutely no stigma attached.
So as I learned about the true
nature of poverty,
I couldn’t stop wondering:
Is this the idea
we’ve all been waiting for?
Could it really be that simple?
And in the three years that followed,
I read everything I could find
about basic income.
I researched the dozens of experiments
that have been conducted
all over the globe,
and it didn’t take long before I stumbled
upon a story of a town
that had done it —
had actually eradicated poverty.
But then …
nearly everyone forgot about it.
This story starts in Dauphin, Canada.
In 1974, everybody in this small town
was guaranteed a basic income,
ensuring that no one fell
below the poverty line.
At the start of the experiment,
an army of researchers
descended on the town.
For four years, all went well.
But then a new government
was voted into power,
and the new Canadian cabinet saw
little point to the expensive experiment.
So when it became clear there was
no money left to analyze the results,
the researchers decided to pack
their files away in some 2,000 boxes.
Twenty-five years went by,
and then Evelyn Forget,
a Canadian professor,
found the records.
For three years, she subjected the data
to all manner of statistical analysis,
and no matter what she tried,
the results were the same every time:
the experiment had been
a resounding success.
Evelyn Forget discovered
that the people in Dauphin
had not only become richer
but also smarter and healthier.
The school performance of kids
improved substantially.
The hospitalization rate decreased
by as much as 8.5 percent.
Domestic violence incidents were down,
as were mental health complaints.
And people didn’t quit their jobs.
The only ones who worked a little less
were new mothers and students —
who stayed in school longer.
Similar results have since been found
in countless other experiments
around the globe,
from the US to India.
So …
here’s what I’ve learned.
When it comes to poverty,
we, the rich, should stop
pretending we know best.
We should stop sending shoes
and teddy bears to the poor,
to people we have never met.
And we should get rid of the vast
industry of paternalistic bureaucrats
when we could simply
hand over their salaries
to the poor they’re supposed to help.
Because, I mean, the great
thing about money
is that people can use it
to buy things they need
instead of things that self-appointed
experts think they need.
Just imagine how many brilliant scientists
and entrepreneurs and writers,
like George Orwell,
are now withering away in scarcity.
Imagine how much energy
and talent we would unleash
if we got rid of poverty once and for all.
I believe that a basic income would work
like venture capital for the people.
And we can’t afford not to do it,
because poverty is hugely expensive.
Just look at the cost of child poverty
in the US, for example.
It’s estimated at 500 billion
dollars each year,
in terms of higher health care
spending, higher dropout rates,
and more crime.
Now, this is an incredible waste
of human potential.
But let’s talk about
the elephant in the room.
How could we ever afford
a basic income guarantee?
Well, it’s actually a lot cheaper
than you may think.
What they did in Dauphin is finance it
with a negative income tax.
This means that your income is topped up
as soon as you fall
below the poverty line.
And in that scenario,
according to our economists’
best estimates,
for a net cost of 175 billion —
a quarter of US military spending,
one percent of GDP —
you could lift all impoverished Americans
above the poverty line.
You could actually eradicate poverty.
Now, that should be our goal.
The time for small thoughts
and little nudges is past.
I really believe that the time has come
for radical new ideas,
and basic income is so much more
than just another policy.
It is also a complete rethink
of what work actually is.
And in that sense,
it will not only free the poor,
but also the rest of us.
Nowadays, millions of people feel
that their jobs have little
meaning or significance.
A recent poll among 230,000 employees
in 142 countries
found that only 13 percent of workers
actually like their job.
And another poll found that as much
as 37 percent of British workers
have a job that they think
doesn’t even need to exist.
It’s like Brad Pitt says in “Fight Club,”
“Too often we’re working jobs we hate
so we can buy shit we don’t need.”
Now, don’t get me wrong —
I’m not talking about the teachers
and the garbagemen
and the care workers here.
If they stopped working,
we’d be in trouble.
I’m talking about all those well-paid
professionals with excellent résumés
who earn their money doing …
strategic transactor peer-to-peer meetings
while brainstorming the value
add-on of disruptive co-creation
in the network society.
Or something like that.
Just imagine again how much
talent we’re wasting,
simply because we tell our kids
they’ll have to “earn a living.”
Or think of what a math whiz working
at Facebook lamented a few years ago:
“The best minds of my generation
are thinking about how
to make people click ads.”
I’m a historian.
And if history teaches us anything,
it is that things could be different.
There is nothing inevitable
about the way we structured our society
and economy right now.
Ideas can and do change the world.
And I think that especially
in the past few years,
it has become abundantly clear
that we cannot stick to the status quo —
that we need new ideas.
I know that many of you
may feel pessimistic
about a future of rising inequality,
and climate change.
But it’s not enough
to know what we’re against.
We also need to be for something.
Martin Luther King didn’t say,
“I have a nightmare.”
He had a dream.
So …
here’s my dream:
I believe in a future
where the value of your work
is not determined
by the size of your paycheck,
but by the amount of happiness you spread
and the amount of meaning you give.
I believe in a future
where the point of education is not
to prepare you for another useless job
but for a life well-lived.
I believe in a future
where an existence
without poverty is not a privilege
but a right we all deserve.
So here we are.
Here we are.
We’ve got the research,
we’ve got the evidence
and we’ve got the means.
Now, more than 500 years after Thomas More
first wrote about a basic income,
and 100 years after George Orwell
discovered the true nature of poverty,
we all need to change our worldview,
because poverty
is not a lack of character.
Poverty is a lack of cash.
Thank you.

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  • Reply jj Ss July 14, 2019 at 5:01 am

    How can one look towards the future when the present in trying to kill them.

  • Reply Christopher Day July 14, 2019 at 5:20 am

    andrew yang 2020

  • Reply Night Shine July 14, 2019 at 6:23 am

    How do 3 families have more money than all of us combined and our dumb selves keep arguing about race. If all ppl dont get smart and get together and focus on the 1% center of power we will always be ripped off and taken advantage of collectively. Thats something all races in the usa have in common. We are all suckers and hand our money to them.

  • Reply Trent Sokol July 14, 2019 at 6:40 am

    YANG 2020!!!!!! #yanggang

  • Reply Andre Golden July 14, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    There is a difference between being broke and being poor.

  • Reply AnGry Savage July 15, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Wow ..

  • Reply DiaryofA WimpyCollegeGirl July 16, 2019 at 1:40 am

    this is why i LOVE bernie sanders

  • Reply Walker B July 16, 2019 at 1:57 am

    give me that mic. i'll tell you about poverty. no studies or theories required.

  • Reply dave kazamacus July 16, 2019 at 3:18 am

    well then can i work 4 days a week, making 1000$ a month, and still get a woman?

  • Reply tomimn2233 July 16, 2019 at 11:01 am

    Basic Income Guarantee
    So it's kinda like the Zakat, then?

  • Reply circe801 July 16, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    thatcher is a genetic defect. she is a mutant humanoid with no conscience or empathy.

  • Reply circe801 July 16, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    UBI is a neoliberal plot to make us poorer. it is designed to compeletely eradicate ALL current social safety net programs–medicare, medicaid, SNAP–all of it. the pittance that would be received–by the tRUMPs and the waltons as well as those who need it will ill serve to pay current bills as well as those new ones. it also has sweeping economic consequences, as in inflation, to name one.

    we need a #federaljobguarantee. with it, everyone who wants job will have one, at a living wage, with full benefits, and, most importantly, if you hate your job, you can simply get a different one. a job guarantee will very positively affect the economy—and NO ONE will EVER have to work 2 or 3 jobs ever again.

    a job guarantee will also force private sector employers to meet or exceed the wages offered by the JG. anyone who is genuinely interested in learning more–as well as how it will be paid for, please see:

    job guarantee vs UBI
    but DO NOT read/watch any of that until you read this:

  • Reply craginrock July 17, 2019 at 2:34 am

    damn socialist commies!

  • Reply Rick Watkins July 17, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    For all your "wind" all you are talking about is a minimum wage, go ahead, enact it tomorrow, and the next day the elites will just raise something else up, to Lord themselves over others. You sir, are well intentioned, but misguided, poverty has nothing to do with money at all!!!, It is about Ego!, and nothing else!

  • Reply Kiramode July 17, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    #Yang2020 let's kill poverty

  • Reply william simmons July 17, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    Andrew Yang mentions the concept of a mindset of scarcity #yang2020

  • Reply william simmons July 17, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    Andrew Yang is running for president on his main policy of a universal basic income. He will be in the second debate !!! SPREAD THE NEWS #YANG2020 #LETYANGSPEAK #GoogleAndrewYang

  • Reply A Hope Fiend July 18, 2019 at 1:27 am

    I am seriously going to save money and lower my anxiety so I can make better decisions I guess. Anxiety has made me make really poor decisions.

  • Reply bleu water July 18, 2019 at 1:51 am

    2/3 of child poverty in the United States would be eliminated immediately if the parents lived together and pooled their resources. Now there is a "radical" idea.

  • Reply Ryan Evans July 18, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    Rutger is a commie, marxist scumbag!

  • Reply connybob87 July 18, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    1.4k disliked this? I don’t understand that.

  • Reply 뻔뻔하게노라 July 18, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    Very good talk with an interesting solution. I like the idea of UBI, but it still doesn't adress the root of the problem, the system that puts and keeps people in poverty in the first place: capitalism.

  • Reply Alvin Finkel July 18, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    The Scandinavian countries in the advanced capitalist world, and the Indian state of Kerala, Bolivia, and Costa Rica are all demonstrating in their own way that increased social wages with guarantees of basic service for all create better societies. Guaranteed annual income experiments in Canada and the United States in the 1970s demonstrated that where basic income is provided to households, the kids are far more likely to graduate from high school and the families have better mental health that is reflected in fewer hospital visits. And the impact on people seeking work: zero except for new mothers who choose to stay home with their babies a bit longer before going back to work.  Unfortunately the results of these pilot projects have been poorly disseminated and so the old clichés about guaranteed incomes causing people to be lazy and self-indulgent persist when the research shows that in fact they become better educated and more self-reliant. Removing the constant, nagging fear of ending up on the street or having nothing to eat makes an incredible difference in how people perform day to day.

  • Reply Ben Grohmann July 19, 2019 at 4:38 am

    Milton Friedman had very mixed feelings about UBI. His final position seemed to be that it was a bad idea though, and at the very best could only even potentially work on a very small scale and applied only to the very very poorest of society. And most importantly, he thought the real benefit of it would be that it could serve as a wholesale replacement of ALL other forms of welfare – he would never have advocated for it to be added to the long list of programs already in existence.

  • Reply Keith Barrett July 19, 2019 at 11:30 am

    "If history teaches us anything. It is that, things can be different."
    Unfortunately that pendulum swings both ways.

  • Reply Alan Hendrie July 19, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    No capitalist is going pay enough money for workers to go on strike. Poverty is a necessary requirement for the capitalist system because it keeps workers compliant. If you want to get rid of poverty you have to get rid of capitalism and replace it with a "production for use" system.

  • Reply jesseus jam July 19, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Good luck dude it's to late Islam is taking over look at the birth rates

  • Reply Mark Hargrove July 19, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    Great talk. In some countries, poverty doesn't reflect a lack of character. However, in the US, it often does, and his data does nothing to dispel this. Yes, some bad behaviours diminished with the use of UBI, but that doesn't mean that there aren't some, if not many, whose poverty is due to a lack of certain character traits. That being said, I do think that we will eventually need to get to a UBI, and Yang's proposal for a VAT to fund it is probably the best solution I've seen so far. BTW, I live in a economically depressed area among poor people. I'm well above the poverty line, because I work my butt off. But in my apartment building of 5 units, I'm the only one who actually works. I'm the only one who actually does not smoke. Half, 2 out of 4, of my neighbors have multiple felony convictions. I've been a crime victim 4 times, most likely because while I'm at work my neighbors are stealing from me. On one occasion, my neighbor was caught because he was found to be selling items stolen from me to a pawn shop. While he was back in jail, I had items stolen from me, most likely by the other neighbor with multiple priors.

  • Reply zenful July 19, 2019 at 10:09 pm


  • Reply margaret johnson July 20, 2019 at 3:12 am

    maslow's heirarchy of needs: if you don't meet a person's basic needs they can't meet their higher needs. a starving person is not going to be interested in a 401K.

  • Reply John Tao July 21, 2019 at 2:45 am

    Eat less healthily, exercise less, smoke more, borrow more, save less, drink more

  • Reply Shapour Shahghasempour July 21, 2019 at 3:03 am

    That’s why Scandinavians are much head in this program than industrialized nations

  • Reply yuni wakamatsu July 21, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Interestingly Andrew Yang was in this ted talk.

  • Reply Nic A July 22, 2019 at 1:25 pm


  • Reply Sacred Atheist July 23, 2019 at 3:19 am

    Ever wondered why Europe is falling? It's because men, or should I say manginas like this. Just look at Holland, total soyboy Eutopia.

  • Reply ed osborne July 23, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    The trouble is, once everyone gets say $1000 a month all the scummy landlords are going to raise rent by $1000 a month. UBI can never work in a capitalist system

  • Reply MyPoint ofView July 23, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    The idea of universal income is great except it then gives government the ability to completely control how you live as they have done in the UK. For many years you could claim benefit and live as you wanted. Now these benefits have to be earned by working. If you cannot work you're demonized, assessed as "fit for work" and told to "get a job". During David Cameron's premiership even those dying from cancer were deemed" fit for work", told to get a job and their dignity removed from them as their lives ebbed away. The only way such a proposal would work us if all countries adopting it could not force people to work for it, nor could it be reduced to "cut government expenditure" and that sanctions against governments that did were imposed. Otherwise its just a pipe dream. Broadly I agree that poverty needs to be eradicated.

  • Reply the wizzard July 24, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    A perfect presentation explaining what is wrong with the world and how to fix it.
    but where would the rich find the slaves to do the rich mans work for him?
    If every person received the rewards of their labors, who would be left for the low minded conservatives to look down on?

  • Reply Fintan Parsons July 25, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    is this honestly a 15 minute talk telling me that giving people money will give make them less poor?

  • Reply Abe Lincoln July 25, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Its true, it takes money to make money!! The rich keep everyone else slaves!!

  • Reply sewuzy July 25, 2019 at 3:32 pm


    The argument that UBI disincentivizes work is rooted in a longstanding criticism of welfare: Giving people free money makes them lazy. The fundamental difference between welfare and UBI is that: Welfare essentially rewards people for not getting a job, because doing so would mean they can't receive money anymore. This disincentivizes work. In contrast, people wouldn't have to meet any conditions to receive Yang's Freedom Dividend, meaning there'd be NO DISINCENTIVE to contribute their services, to be creative, to produce, or to work.

    The Mother of Invention is Our Laziness and our need to create better, easier solutions to the difficulties in our Lives. Technology is how we make things easier for ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our family, our society. Technology is the product of our inventive search to reduce the hardship of our survival, our labors, in the procurement of our needs. Technology is the child of our capitalistic organizational product to increase efficiencies and reduce costs.

    However our focus on the benefits of technology overlooks the harmful effects from its displacement of human labor. More and more lower income people, lesser skilled people, lesser educated and lesser trained people, lesser adaptable people, and now even skilled workers, professional workers, and competent managers are being displaced from their sources of livelihood and income.

    The technological causes of their job loss are often obscured and not visible to those displaced. An employer shuts down its operations, displaced by more adaptive operations elsewhere. Technology is remotely centered in different office parks, in different industrial parks, in different automated warehouses, in a bank of servers linked to the 'cloud.'

    The resulting financial hardship for those of us losing our jobs, moreover overloads our senses with multiple stresses and the mindset of scarcity, and our IQ actually drops 13 percentage points.

    By providing core basic financial resources, Yang provides a base foundation of abundance and allows us to think harder in alternative creative ways when our jobs are displaced by technology. When things get tough, the tough get thinking harder. Andrew Yang says, "if we mistake money for the worth of a person, we are lost." Yang is making it possible for Americans to think harder in times of stress, become creative and inventive, with their time and energy to contribute, work and thrive in local communities of abundance in spite of technological displacement.

    MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., advocating for a Guaranteed Basic Income (UBI) said,

      "Beyond these advantages, a host of positive psychological changes inevitably will result from widespread economic security. The dignity of the individual will flourish when the decisions concerning his life are in his own hands, when he has the assurance that his income is stable and certain, and when he knows that he has the means to seek self-improvement. Personal conflicts between husband, wife and children will diminish when the unjust measurement of human worth on a scale of dollars is eliminated."

    The idea that there would be millions of idle aimless men walking around taking drugs and getting drunk is ridiculous. There happens to be millions of retired people who have "no purpose" and are perfectly fine. In fact they are some of the happiest people you will ever meet. This whole conversation is myopically American.

    When machines do all the work, humans will go back to being human beings, volunteering, caring for each other, and loving the planet, creating new wonders, being thrilled at new discoveries, new understandings, and new creations. Imagine a few billion people working on environmental projects. Planting trees, etc. Human beings instead of just human doings.


    Making Basic Income Universal,

    1. ELIMINATES the hated and counterproductive WELFARE CLIFF, which disincentivizes people from contributing, producing, creating, and working more;

    2. ELIMINATES STIGMA, resentment, recriminations, and potential strife between those who receive it and those who don't;

    3. ELIMINATES the angst, the invasion of privacy, the fear and BUREAUCRACY OF MEANS TESTING;

    4. ELIMINATES the temptation and INDUSTRY OF FRAUD, allegations of fraud, investigations for fraud;

    5. ELIMINATES tying up the CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM into determinations of fraud, obtaining restitution for fraud, and punishment for fraud; and

    6. GIVES the LIBERTY of CHOICE to citizen shareholders receiving the Freedom Dividend.

    7. BENEFITS —

    o Millions of spouses occupied at home for decades, raising their children.

    o Millions of singles who have to forego regular jobs to care for their children.

    o Millions of college students and older adults going to school to improve themselves to better contribute to society.

    o Millions of people who stay at home caring for incapacitated loved ones and family members.

    o Millions of seniors and others who have difficulty with their physical skills, endurance and abilities, and who have limited or no resources to help them.

    o Millions of people who have psychiatric problems who have limited or no resources to help them.

  • Reply Johannes Bekker July 26, 2019 at 6:23 am

    Basic income is like rearranging the Titanic's deck chairs; it is not addressing the root cause which is private ownership of land.

  • Reply Marcelo DeO July 26, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    YANG 2020!!!

  • Reply JohnnyCagePro July 27, 2019 at 1:30 am

    fucking communist

  • Reply elmateo77 July 27, 2019 at 3:17 am

    Shhhh, the CEO just works 10,000 times as hard as you do…

  • Reply Marques Eason July 27, 2019 at 12:56 pm


  • Reply vegaNora July 27, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    When you speak of the impoverished, please refrain from setting up a “they” / “we” dichotomy. That “they vs we” can become “you” & “me” in the blink of an eye.

  • Reply Trey Martin July 27, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    A few observations:
    -Before even presenting his argument, Bregman sets about characterizing anyone who disagrees with him as ignorant, unenlightened, and uncaring.
    -Falsely frames the opposing side of the debate as believing that poor people have "character flaws". Or that they're fundamentally broken somehow.
    -Poor habits would be closer to the truth. These habits are generally learned at an early age from family and friends, or as part of a 'present-time oriented' culture.
    -The premise that handing poor people free money is going to magically fix these habits is ridiculous. UBI pilot programs have been tested in the US and several other countries and all discontinued due to poor results. Bregman conveniently fails to mention that.
    -A better policy would be to provide financial planning education in childhood and teach children the principles of investing money.

  • Reply li d July 28, 2019 at 7:18 am

    " Loosing a nights sleep… "
    This comparison alone blew my mind. Astonishing.

  • Reply BasedSif July 28, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    Sponsored by Andrew Yang for President.

  • Reply Snappingturtle 267 July 29, 2019 at 12:08 am

    Nope. It’s a lack of effort. Capitalism works if you work it.

  • Reply Overcast Friday July 29, 2019 at 1:25 am

    "I'm going to have more children than I can afford…not because I lack character, but because I'm short on cash". Sure, that sounds right. Theory ended in 20 seconds.

  • Reply Gorgeous G July 29, 2019 at 5:27 am

    I'm trying to figure out why it took a study to enrich his knowledge regarding poor people. I thought this was such an obvious answer that being poor does not equate to victim-blaming, what's wrong with people. They are in fact dehumanizing poor people and acting as though it's their fault they are poor. Their stupidity blows my mind.

  • Reply RGP B July 29, 2019 at 6:08 pm


  • Reply Lester Brunt July 30, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    Poverty just means earning 15% less than average.
    Bet none of you knew that.

  • Reply Clare Stucki July 31, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    Poverty is not a lack of cash, it's a lack of productivity. If you give a poor person money (welfare), he only quits being poor until the money's all spent, then he resumes being poor.. If he begins to produce something, he's never poor again.

  • Reply BladeMasterz916 July 31, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    AndrewYang2020 Presidential candidate with a UBI plan!!!!!

  • Reply Frank Butler July 31, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    I just want to point out that when people call handouts socialist and undoable, it's from a standpoint of privilege. When they do it in America as white people, it's completely hypocritical. They were, by this government, given land out West for very cheap or free, really. This means whites who already lived here or were recent immigrants. It didn't matter, they got it, and many lived on this land for generations. It wasn't really US land, but they did this, anyway. The government did something similar with suburban homes being subsidized with mortgages that were government-backed from banks in the 50s and 60s… again for white people only. This was a giveaway. This gave whites an opportunity to gain equity and save money… to take out home equity loans…loans to start businesses or pay for college (if their kids didn't go to a cheap city college with almost nonexistent tuition, anyway) to pass down something to their kids for an inheritance.

    Poverty exists today because of colonization in most parts of the world. It's always about scarcity… and at one point, it was rich taking from local poor. Later, it would be 'Western' rich taking from world poor. Now, it's global rich taking from world poor.

  • Reply Rain Leaf August 2, 2019 at 5:02 am

    Really inspiring talk. Thank you.

  • Reply Fuzzy FluffBall August 2, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    1.4k dislikes and I am curious as to why?

  • Reply Silvanafromchester August 2, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    BRILLIANT talk. It is so obvious. Everyone needs a leg up to better their lot. I agree that we would have more inventors doctors researchers if more people had the means to fulfill their dreams. Basic Income is the only way to go.

  • Reply Olivia H. August 2, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    Thank you.

  • Reply veryexperiencedcamel August 3, 2019 at 5:52 am

    A manager I know works 95 hour weeks to get her ends to meet. I really don't understand why it's hard for people to grasp why UBI is a "bad idea". If you meditate on a mat and eat a grape a day you could live on $500-1000 a month. It's not so people can be lazy, it's literally to make sure if life or unfortunate events and circumstances that befall people of all kinds they won't literally starve. That way everyone can be stable and has a launch-pad to get their life together and get a job, hopefully improve themselves. I don't believe in "you can't help people" yes you can! Stability and direction can pretty far

  • Reply Kevin McCoy August 3, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    Yes SIR!!! @9:58

  • Reply Moni August 3, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    My 12 year old kid once told me- mom, it is actually sometimes good to not have money, because now if we brake something, it is fun to invent how to fix them, instead of buying new one. I was so proud.

  • Reply joeblackakareaper August 3, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    If I am willing and able to give a child a college education and they don't want it, should I help support them until I die? In other words send them a check every month for say $1,000 U.S. Dollars? Personally, I don't mind paying for their college regardless of how much it cost, but then that's it they should be able to make it on their own thereafter. What do you think? TheReaper!

  • Reply sam kim August 4, 2019 at 1:59 am


  • Reply Karen Bishop August 4, 2019 at 4:12 am

    I very much enjoyed your talk, I hope people listen

  • Reply Onotolei Wassermann August 4, 2019 at 7:18 am

    You don't teach how to swim those who live in desert.

  • Reply YipZone August 4, 2019 at 11:53 am

    and now Americans have a choice. Vote Andrew Yang.

  • Reply Sayuas August 4, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    That was probably the first time those farmers had seen an iq test. It makes sense that they'd do it better the second time. Wonder what they controlled for.

  • Reply TheCaptainKim August 4, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Rutger Bregman for president! I'm being serious.

  • Reply RhymeOfTheAncient Sub-Mariner August 4, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    9:53 it's not that it can't be done it's that people won't do it. It always blows me away when they show the numbers.

  • Reply annprehn August 5, 2019 at 12:25 am

    It worked small scale, but under capitalism, the cost of goods would go up and necessities would still be out of reach, wouldn't they?

  • Reply Some 1 August 5, 2019 at 12:38 am

    you also have a spelling system that contributes to preventing social mobility. Google 32 million words gap. i know it sounds innocuous and insignificant, but if you don't read well, it is hard to get a degree. the ess is the worst system of all western spelling systems. the barriers to entry are so great and also force teacher-led pedagogy, which all ed. gurus abhor. still, 250 y. on and it is still as is. status quo. no one would drive such a lemon, but some hire someone to cope and set them up to cope. others? go work the menial jobs.

  • Reply K B August 5, 2019 at 1:44 am

    Having lived in poverty motivates me to get out of bed in the morning so I keep working. Had I not struggled, I would have been a lazy spoiled brat with no motivation. I know not everyone is the same, but that is my truth… I was born upper-middle class and moved into poverty when I moved out at 17 years old, so maybe growing up privileged had something to do with my laziness and lack of motivation. Still, had I not struggled, and I was just given money that met all of my basic needs at that time in my life, I really don't think I would have grown to be so ambitious. I think for me, this would have been bad… Maybe this could work if prior to your prefrontal cortex being fully developed you had financial managers to ensure money was not being spent recklessly? I'm trying to see your side, and I'm aware for many, like single mothers, this would benefit their lives, but there are people out there (perhaps I am the minority in this, though I think it may be a large minority if so) that need an incentive to do.

  • Reply 2380Shaw August 5, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Before he said in his talk he was from Holland I was guessing he was Irish. He sounds Irish to me for some reason.

  • Reply 2380Shaw August 5, 2019 at 11:11 am

    They need to make getting patents easier. A lot of us poor people are ingenuitive because we tend to come up with the best solutions to trouble shoot problems and fix things with whatever we have available and cheaply. They call it "hillbilly fix it jobs". It's creativity and working with what's available.

  • Reply Christopher Lim August 6, 2019 at 4:06 am

    The root of competence is not ignorance, but lack of exposure/opportunity.

  • Reply Tore Schanke August 6, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    You can't change the cash for better skills of your mind and body

  • Reply Roger Hughes August 6, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    Setting aside drug addition and other health problems, poverty is caused by bad everyday decisions coupled with a lax of planning and goals (ambition) in the early years of life. Yes, economic conditions matter. Opportunities need to be present for many average citizens. In rebuttal, The Great Society created by President Johnson portrayed that welfare by its self was an addiction that was past on generation after generation.

  • Reply Nick August 7, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    Eliminating Thoreau's " lives of quiet desperation"

  • Reply Janusha August 8, 2019 at 2:01 am

    So basically a "socialist" revolution in america then… Good luck with that.

  • Reply Corri ander August 8, 2019 at 8:36 am

    Try telling the British government that! Constantly saying its not the money it's moving around today will get you out of poverty. The governments are keeping money from people from on purpose, who need it the most! The governments of the world are keeping people poor for their own greedy means!

  • Reply Amir Safari August 9, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    میخام ببینم کدوم خری زیرنویس فارسی اینو گذاشته مرتیکه نفهم

  • Reply Mixed Family Blessings Vlog Channel August 10, 2019 at 3:03 am

    I love this guy!!!
    He inspired me to speak Truth to power😁

  • Reply 김도윤 August 10, 2019 at 10:41 am

    No right comes without a duty.

  • Reply Lord Colin August 11, 2019 at 1:46 am

    Want to see a poor person? Look in the mirror. There is a 90% chance my statement applies to *YOU*. And me, obviously.

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  • Reply Christina Owens August 12, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    It's also a lack of education. Even our public schools do not provide the education that we need for everyday living. Specialized training is also not affordable. It took me 10 years to get out of being out of being homeless. I got help from one man for 3 months and was able to get my ID and a job. Minimum wage doesn't allow us to afford even three meals a day let alone rent clothes…

  • Reply Ron Swanson August 12, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    Believing that poverty is directly linked to character flaw is an indoctrinated notion. This sentiment is deeply ingrained in US society and even taught in some schools. This sort of division allows the rich to continue keeping the poor fighting the poorer and the masses never blame the true problem in our society, the filthy rich and their corporate structures. Unfettered capitalism and its abject failures to provide even basic human services to the populace. Medication, education, public transportation, decent infrastructure, incarceration etc. Everything is being privatized and the quality of service is in the dumps.

  • Reply jscudderz August 12, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    Universal basic income is putting a band-aid on the cancer of capitalism.

  • Reply John Linden August 13, 2019 at 2:21 pm


  • Reply John Linden August 13, 2019 at 2:25 pm


  • Reply John Linden August 13, 2019 at 2:30 pm


  • Reply Pat Gannon August 13, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Socially engineered poverty is an act of genocide. America seems to have perfected it and blames her very victims for their lack of green energy.

  • Reply Luvenia Vaughan August 13, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    If I were a member of the top 10% I would be working hard to
    get this passed and put into practice since in the long run I would greatly
    benefit from a guaranteed income. Think of all the money that would be put out
    into the economy, the very economy I depended on to get even RICHER than I am
    now. Greed is an ADDICTION and FEW ever DETOX from it. Capitalism is the DRUG
    of the RICH and until you get rid of the drug there is going to be NO RICH
    advocating for the rest of us. I truly believe the Rich have another addiction
    and that is the poverty of others. I think they get off on our misery.

  • Reply RogerWilco August 13, 2019 at 4:09 pm


  • Reply RogerWilco August 13, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    Believing something like this is a character flaw, is a form of discrimination. It makes it easy to ignore all the advantages someone has and is usually born with.
    There are people who cause their own poverty, but for most, it is the stress of living hand-to-mouth that creates the tunnel vision and lack of planning and foresight.
    Guaranteed income and healthcare does solve a large part of the issue for 99% of people.

  • Reply Dark Soul August 13, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    Your dream is simply dumb, or you're too ambitious dude
    Because if you're a historian, then you should know that poverty is a mandatory thing for power to stay in the fewest number of people and that poverty is what keeps the rich richer …
    Poverty is what keeps millions of persons unable to feed their families, so push them towards high interest loans… it's what fuels dreams that become greed then bad judgement and risky investments … Poverty is what make desperate citizens vote for a moron like Donald trump who's destroying the rest intact forests and water streams… Poverty is what keeps the populace fearful and unable to make a radical change … Poverty is what kills a future Einstein in his mom's womb for a lack of healthcare or simply because her poor uneducated husband denies her the right to be seen by a man doctor for her vagina belongs only to him.
    Poverty is what keeps millions and even billions needy and uneducated … And and even if educated, mislead … Poverty helps to keep the power balance … Poverty is as valuable as extremism to govern … they keep the needy fearful and the ignorant impotent…
    Poverty is the key to nowadays politics … How do you think that anybody would want it to disappear!! It's not utopian … it's antihuman … As humans are not just filthy and vicious but especially greedy and egocentric

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