Yusaku Maezawa Photo: REUTERS file
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Japanese billionaire Maezawa giving away ¥1 bil in 'social experiment'

26 Comments
By Sam Nussey

Japanese fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa is giving away 1 billion yen to his Twitter followers in what he says is a "social experiment" to see if the payment boosts their happiness.

Maezawa will give 1 million yen to 1,000 followers selected at random from those who retweeted a Jan 1 post, with the impact of the money to be tracked through regular surveys.

"It's a serious social experiment," said Maezawa on YouTube, adding he hopes to attract interest from academics and economists.

Maezawa, who is to be the first private passenger to fly around the moon with Elon Musk's SpaceX, is known for his high spending on art and sports cars but also has a predilection for musing on ideas like a world without money.

He tied the giveaway to the idea of basic income, or the theory of providing a periodic no-strings-attached payment to all citizens, that has gained traction in some political circles and is backed by Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

"Basic means a regular minimum amount offering a sense of security, what Maezawa is offering is totally different," said Toshihiro Nagahama, senior economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

Maezawa said that given that he "has the money and free time" to make the payments, he felt the need to try and inspire greater debate over the merits of the theory in Japan.

The idea of a universal basic income has gained support over fears technology such as artificial intelligence will wipe out large numbers of jobs but that concern is for now less pronounced in Japan with its tight labour market, said Nagahama.

Its the second, larger, giveaway by the entrepreneur, who in November secured a $900 million payday through the sale of his online fashion business Zozo Inc to SoftBank Group Corp.

Maezawa, who recently grabbed headlines after his split from actress girlfriend Ayame Goriki, has gathered almost 7 million followers on Twitter with his mix of displays of conspicuous consumption and folksy pronouncements on the meaning of life.

YouTube is the latest online outlet for the businessman, with videos including a tour of his private jet, a visit to the barber to dye his hair and updating his bank book after November's windfall.

The debate over basic income comes as income inequality continues to grow in the United States, where in recent years some of its wealthiest entrepreneurs, from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to investor Warren Buffett, have pledged to give away most of their wealth.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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The idea of a universal basic income has gained support over fears technology such as artificial intelligence will wipe out large numbers of jobs but that concern is for now less pronounced in Japan with its tight labour market, said Nagahama.

With "universal income" will come universal inflation. You give everyone money, earned or otherwise, a set income, costs will rise accordingly as that money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is taxes!

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

The debate over basic income comes as income inequality continues to grow in the United States, where in recent years some of its wealthiest entrepreneurs, from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to investor Warren Buffett, have pledged to give away most of their wealth.

While they may have "pledged" to give it away, they still will be "making money" as the manner in which they are giving away their fortunes benefits the companies that they have been involved with, and will keep a steady flow of income coming to them as well.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bill Gates to investor Warren Buffett, have pledged to give away most of their wealth

Sadly 99% of donations don't help the ones that need the most help. Bill Gates is one of the few that generally uses his money for good. But he is also the most terrifying billionaire in America. The legal means by which he has bent the government and laws to his will is truly terrifying. He's created and passed so many laws in the US.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

chodai

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Jeez, man. If you're going to give your money away, give it to someone who needs it. Not to a bunch of Twittering would-be fashionistas.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

@Yubaru it brings inflation but it helps those in poverty. That income given can mean life and death to some. The money also provides mobility as people who are in barely making ends meet can spend more time in self improvement.

There will definitely be people who abuse or misuse it but that's will be a separate problem to solve.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Money is not directly correlated with happiness. Giving it away to people who do nothing to earn and build wealth themselves is no different than throwing it away. They will eventually be right back to where they started - and probably unhappy again.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The money also provides mobility as people who are in barely making ends meet can spend more time in self improvement.

Don't just give someone a fish to eat! Teach them HOW to fish for themselves and they will learn independence and how to take care of themselves! (or something like that!)

Priorities are screwed up when people come to expect others will look out for them and they have no responsibility to do anything for themselves!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Reminds me of those old chain emails where Bill Gates would be giving away his fortune to people who forward this email to at least 20 people, but this time it's for real!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

With "universal income" will come universal inflation

If this would happen the Japanese government would be so grateful as the BOJ has been trying now for a decade to create inflation in Japan. Has not worked despite spending billions to do so. The reasons for this are complex, but based on that fact even if Japan did set a universal income level it would not be inflationary. It would however increase Japan's GDP which has been languishing for decades.

This is an old idea, first came from Milton Friedman as far as I know, the very famous Chicago economist who is a hero of the far right conservatives in the USA and worldwide.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_income_tax

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"With "universal income" will come universal inflation. You give everyone money, earned or otherwise, a set income, costs will rise accordingly as that money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is taxes!"

This is not "universal income", it is a one-off gift not meant to take the place of regular earnings. Inflation is not going to occur if money is redistributed from thos who won't spend it to those who will, increase economic activity by spending the money. There will be no net change in the amount of money in circulation, and even 1 billion yen of new money in the context of an economy this size would have a negligible effect on inflation.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is a stupid idea. Give people a million yen, then ask if they are happy? Of course they'll say "yes" because having a million Yen is better than not having it, but that doesn't really tell us anything useful that we don't already know.

Since this is a one-off gift it really doesn't have any relation to a universal basic income either. The idea of a universal basic income is to give people a dependable source of money they can rely on. This isn't that, its just a one time thing they can't rely on. So regardless of what one thinks about universal basic income, this "experiment" will tell us nothing useful about it since its completely different.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Is it not that there is more money around than the debt of all governments combined?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fish? The Royals of the world can't fish, just about all the founding fathers of the USA must not be able to fish either. Speaking of America, FDR and JFK, well.

Hmmm. Smells fishy. It's a stupid indoctrination that has been fead to the working class for decades. The facts are that income stability creates stability and in stability humans thrive.

Inflation? More bull than fact. The logic is that tax cuts for the wealthy is a stimulus to the economy but when that money is given to the working class, they all run out and buy, buy, buy. They are just too stupid to invest. Hmmm. And, the wealthy somehow are all experts on the economy. You know, Paris Hilton, Kardashian's, Prince Andrew, etc.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is not "universal income", it is a one-off gift not meant to take the place of regular earnings. Inflation is not going to occur if money is redistributed from thos who won't spend it to those who will, increase economic activity by spending the money. There will be no net change in the amount of money in circulation, and even 1 billion yen of new money in the context of an economy this size would have a negligible effect on inflation.

No, I am reply to the comment that I quoted from the article, and not Maezawa's "one off" payment!

Universal income is a monthly income given to everyone who qualifies, and that money will come from taxes!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The idea of a universal basic income has gained support over fears technology such as artificial intelligence will wipe out large numbers of jobs 

He’s been talking to Andrew Yang?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He will, make a lot of people happy!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another publicity stunt by this attention seeking narcissist

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Give away bitcoin instead.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The Japanese Government should provide an Unconditional Universal Basic Income of at least 3,245,550.00 yen (equivalent of $30,000 United States Dollars) to all of its citizens. Such Unconditional Universal Basic Income should remain in force for eternity. Further, the amount should always be adjusted for inflation. If an Unconditional Universal Basic Income went into effect, it would enable anyone who ever falls on difficult times to have a cushion. The Unconditional Universal Basic Income would be the equivalent of throwing someone who is struggling to swim a life jacket. The Unconditional Universal Basic Income should also begin and stay for eternity in neighboring countries like Mainland China and so forth.

In conclusion, if Unconditional Universal Basic Income went into effect for eternity, everyone would be able to sleep better at night, have less stress, not live in fear, competition regarding who has what and other materialism issues would be gone for eternity, one would be able to live in a better world where money is not everything and no one is ever judged by money and therefore have a better quality of life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

of course! with that kind of money, one could rent all the women and/or families they need for any event as long as they want!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Universal income is a monthly income given to everyone who qualifies, and that money will come from taxes!

It does not have to be monthly; Alaska gives its residents an annual $1000 to $2000 oil dividend. Every resident citizen receives an oil check.

The funding is unlikely to come from income or consumption taxes but could be from value added taxes on tech corporations who wiggle out of contributing. Amazon is a trillion dollar company but pays zero in taxes last year.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is an old idea, first came from Milton Friedman as far as I know, the very famous Chicago economist who is a hero of the far right conservatives in the USA and worldwide.

Yes, this is an idea advocated also by Thomas Paine. It was also what Martin Luther King was fighting for when he was assassinated. Nixon almost passed the bill.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese billionaire Maezawa giving away ¥1 bil in 'social media stunt'

There I fixed it!

Maezawa is another wannabe like Son and Horie. Every Japanese billionaire believes that they need to be the "Elon Musk of Japan".

Another publicity stunt by this attention seeking narcissist

Considering his previous stunts, it is hard to take him seriously. You don't need stunts or media attention to do good or help others.

Honestly, I think he is bored (Big fish in small pond), or he is craving the respect of his peers (foreign billionaires).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ummmm how do I sign up could really use that cash right now.

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Yes, giving $125,000 will make a difference in many people's lives. As long as it's given to responsible people. I'm willing to accept the experience of having the money to make a positive difference in my life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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