“Ideas can and do change the world,” says historian Rutger Bregman, sharing his case for a provocative one: guaranteed basic income. Learn more about the idea’s 500-year history and a forgotten modern experiment where it actually worked — and imagine how much energy and talent we would unleash if we got rid of poverty once and for all.



  • How much money do you think people need not to suffer from poverty?
  • Why do you think the poor are poor?





  • blunt uncompromisingly forthright
  • scarce insufficient for the demand
  • perplexed – completely baffled; very puzzled
  • take sth for granted – fail to properly appreciate 
  • tinker – attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way
  • unleash – cause (a strong or violent force) to be released or become unrestrained


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What did Rutger and Margaret Thatcher use to have in common?
  • What did the IQ tests performer on Indian farmers reveal?
  • What is the similarity between the poor and a computer running too many programs at once?
  • What did George Orwell say about poverty?
  • What is basic income?
  • What happened in the town of Dauphne?
  • What is the cost of eradicating poverty in the US?
  • What is poverty?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the mising words.

It all started when I accidentally stumbled  ________ a paper by a few American psychologists. They ________ traveled 8,000 miles, all the way to India, for a fascinating study. And it was ________ experiment with sugarcane farmers. You should know that these farmers collect about 60 percent of their annual income all ________ once, right after the harvest. This means that they’re relatively poor one part of the year and rich the ________. The researchers asked them to do an IQ test before and after the harvest. What they subsequently discovered completely blew my ________. The farmers scored much worse on the test before the harvest. The effects of living ________ poverty, it turns ________, 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, ________I live. So we met up in Amsterdam to talk about his revolutionary new theory of poverty. And I can sum it ________ in just two words: scarcity mentality. It ________ out that people behave differently when they perceive a thing to be scarce. And what that thing is doesn’t ________ matter — whether it’s not enough time, money or food.

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