This UBI program just got a $15 million boost

Plus, the stimulus package benefits you might have missed

Dec 28, 2020 | Current events | Government
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Who’s tweeting #ThanksJackDorsey?

Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, that’s who — a group of US mayors piloting guaranteed income programs at the local level. The Twitter CEO just donated $15 million to their cause, and now 30 cities will get up to $500,000 more to distribute to their constituents, however they see fit. But don’t think Jack Dorsey is the only tech leader who supports UBI: Mark Zuckerburg and Elon Musk share his point of view. And with many still losing jobs due to the pandemic and federal stimulus talks gridlocked for months, 2020 has made the case for UBI that much stronger. Most UBI pilot initiatives are funded through private donations, but donors like Dorsey hope these programs will someday inform larger federal policies. UBI may even win over the majority of Americans soon. While just 12% of Americans approved of a universal basic income ten years ago, 48% of Americans favor it today.

Benefits from the stimulus deal you may have missed

Your $600 check should arrive as early as January. Unemployed Americans will get $300 more per week through mid-March. But America’s second-largest stimulus deal ever includes much more that you might not have heard about. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance got an 11-week extension, too — so eligible freelancers and contractors will get $100 more per week. Congress also set aside $285 billion for PPP loans (Paycheck Protection Program) and closed a CARES Act loophole that let large, public companies claim the lion’s share of available funding. Stimulus checks this time around won’t be denied to citizens whose spouses don’t have a social security number. Plus, small theaters and music venues got a $15 billion boost, $35 billion will fund clean energy projects, and food stamp benefits (SNAP) will be 15% higher for six months. What didn’t make the bill? Student loan forgiveness. The stimulus doesn’t extend the freeze on federal student loan payments, but Biden may continue it via executive order, like Trump did twice.

What will it cost to close the teacher pay gap?

If virtual learning has taught us anything, it’s that teaching is no easy gig. So why are teachers in the US so underpaid? Since the 1990s, wages have remained stagnant or declined, and public school teachers today earn about 20% less than their private sector peers. And while generous benefits help to balance teachers’ small paychecks, many will need to work 25 years or more to reap the full value of those benefits. As things stand, many teachers across the US live below the family living wage line, a whopping 25% of them leave the profession each year, and 20% resort to taking on a second job. The fallout from the teacher pay gap is clear, but closing it is no small task. Experts say bringing teacher salaries in line with those of workers in other professions would cost close to $29 billion. And while calls for higher pay got plenty of likes and retweets this year, teacher raises may be far off with state budgets tight and federal aid in doubt.

The Botox Zoom boom

Plastic surgeons are reporting unprecedented requests for cosmetic procedures in 2020. The reason? For one, suddenly clear social calendars mean more people are able to recover at home post-surgery. For another, patients may be redirecting funds usually spent on vacations and entertainment to filler. But the most compelling theory is that more people are spending entire workdays on Zoom, and not liking what they see. One medical director in Cincinnati reported injectable procedures like Botox and fillers were up 90% year over year. Across the pond, phone inquiries for neck and face work jumped by 57%. And the global phenomenon comes with an economic upside — creating jobs for nurses and admin staff at some clinics.