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Best New Ideas in Money: The case for paying every American a dividend on the nation’s wealth

Early in 2019, 100 randomly selected lower-income residents of Stockton, Calif., will start to receive $500 a month. In exchange, they’ll need to do, well, absolutely nothing, and can spend the money on absolutely anything.

This is free money, in every sense — and quite possibly a model for a not-so-distant-future U.S. economy, where a big share of Americans are retired and robots handle more jobs. In this America, men, women and children receive a government-guaranteed regular payment — a universal basic income — regardless of age or how much money they make, simply because they are Americans.

That is, if Americans can get beyond their ingrained belief that taking money for doing nothing — even to supplement their paychecks — is un-American.

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