Why Facebook's co-founder wants the wealthy to fund a guaranteed paycheck for the working poor

Would a $500 monthly check, no strings attached, help more working families succeed? It’s a bold idea that’s gaining proponents in Silicon Valley — and one that the co-founder of Facebook is pushing hard.

“If you’re working hard trying to make ends meet, you shouldn’t live in poverty in America,” Chris Hughes told CNBC in an interview. “It sounds so simple but unfortunately it’s not true.”

Also known as Universal Basic Income, Hughes said that giving “Guaranteed Income” – monthly cash to every working American making less than $50,000 a year — could help close the income inequality gap.

“What’s happened in reality is that jobs have become more and more unstable and half of Americans don’t have $400 in case of emergency,” Hughes explained.

He recently outlined his plan to change that in his new book, “Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality And How We Earn.” Hughes argued that America’s wealthiest, or the so-called “One Percent” could pay for the plan.

At the end of 2017, the Federal Reserve found the top one percent of Americans hold 39 percent of the country’s wealth.

“We have to be more honest about how much wealth the One Percent is getting, and how luck and fortune are playing a key role in order to talk about the other 99 percent people who are working just as hard but who haven’t gotten a raise in decades,” Hughes told CNBC.

He also acknowledged the role both hard work and luck has played in his life. Originally from a small town in North Carolina, Hughes was a student on scholarship at Harvard in 2004. Along with his roommate, Mark Zuckerberg, he was among a small group starting a social media site that became Facebook.

He worked for three years on the startup, Hughes told CNBC, “But by all accounts really getting what can only be called a ‘lucky break.'”

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