Give People Money

Published September 21, 2018.

Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend. Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere. Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow. Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. Aminatou: We're talking about a thing that I care about a lot actually, universal basic income, with a person that I care about a lot Annie Lowrey who is one of our smartest friends and a journalist and the author of Give People Money, a book that is out now. So if you want to buy it you can literally one-click order that thing or walk to your closest bookstore and get it. [Theme Song] (1:54) Aminatou: Hi Ann Friedman. Ann: Hey, hey. How's it going? Aminatou: You know it's going good. [Laughs] I feel like I'm using my LinkedIn voice on you. It's going great. It's going pretty great. We're getting ready to go on the road so all of these episodes are pre-recorded and that makes me feel good. Ann: I mean all of these meaning many of our episodes this fall will be pre-recorded because yeah, we are like in motion on the road and far from our respective homes and closets where we normally record this thing. Aminatou: Well speaking of tour the tour is selling. You can find all the info for it on If you're on the fence about coming this is kind of the time you have to do-or-die make a decision because a lot of this is selling out fast. Ann: No pressure. [Laughs] Aminatou: No, no pressure. Listen, I buy tickets for everything I want to go to very early because I know that things sell out and I hate that feeling of not being able to go. But that said if you like living on the edge I'm not even telling you this as a buy a ticket to Call Your Girlfriend; I'm just saying if you do want to come these next couple weeks are that window where everything is narrowing down. Ann: Yeah, and also to be honest the fact that the news is moving at this rapid clip and we are in a constant state of rage depression what the hell is going on as a result of it, being on tour and talking about the news every night instead of every week means that if you want to check in with us and with some other listeners about things that are happening in real-time the live show is for you. Because frankly that's where we're going to be -- our heads and our bods are going to be in that space for a good several week chunk. So come see us. Get your tickets and it's going to be a good time. (3:50) Aminatou: It's going to be excellent. What's the other announcement? Oh yeah, we've been working on this new project where we need your help. We want stories about how you met your bestie. Did you post an ad on Craigslist? Did you find each other on an airplane? In the hospital? Were you arch enemies in middle school and now you're friends? Did you break up, get back together? Did you get introduced by another friend who nobody talks to anymore? Just leave us a message with a story of your bestie meet cute at 714-681-CYGF. Or even better you can call us with your bestie and tell us the story together. The number is 714-681-CYGF. If you don't want to call in you and your bestie can literally just record a voice memo on whatever device you use and email it to us. Ann: Ugh, and please do it. I never get tired of bestie meet cute stories. I love hearing about how people met their friends and about how like -- you know, I don't know, it just is so much more complex and there's so many different types of stories I feel like than romantic meet cutes. Aminatou: Yeah. Ann: And I am just dying to hear all of your cute stories about how you met. Aminatou: Yeah. You and I have an iconic meet cute. We met watching the prom episode of Gossip Girl, season one, and we were introduced by a mutual friend that we're still very good friends with so I feel good about all of those things. Ann: It's true. It's like our meet cute was foreordained. Like it really is also a story about having this very important person in common then and now. And yeah, I feel like a lot of friend stories are the same. A lot of them are a little more random, and yeah, so leave us a voicemail with your bestie. Get your tour tickets. Maybe your bestie meet cute will happen at a Call Your Girlfriend live show. It has happened before. Aminatou: Oh man, that's always the best when we ask people "How do you two know each other?" and they're like "We met in a line!" and it makes me so happy. Ann: Ugh, I just become a puddle of emotions. Nothing makes me happier. It's true. (5:50) Aminatou: It's the best. Boom, bitch! Today we're talking about a thing I care about a lot actually, universal basic income, with a person that I care about a lot Annie Lowrey who is one of our smartest friends and a journalist and the author of Give People Money, a book that is out now. So if you want to buy it you can literally one-click order that thing or walk to your closest bookstore and get it. So Annie's book is a reported kind of global look at universal basic income and universal basic income is a stipend that you could give to citizens basically in order to combat poverty. Annie's book is big picture idealism and it's a provocative kind of book I would say in the sense that a lot of people who study UBI don't necessarily want it for the same reasons that Annie outlines it. And so if you're somebody who cares a lot about inequality, you care about persistent poverty, you care about a thing technology could do to make the world better, if you're a futurist or you're a libertarian, if you're a socialist, if you're in a union, if you're a feminist, even if you're conservative UBI should be something that is on your radar. Ann: I'm interested in it also because sometimes I get really sick of what feels like a cyclical conversation about wages. Not only the persistent wage gap across gender and race lines but also the idea that it is the only way and that the way this conversation has been kind of locked in the same grooves for the long time . . . Aminatou: Yeah. Ann: Like people like Annie I think really help me think in a bigger way about what do I want the world to be like economically and how can we make that happen? Aminatou: Right. And also just make you realize that poverty is actually a big scam and there's no reason -- like there's no reason that we haven't eradicated poverty except for paternalism and, you know, like patriarchy in a lot of ways. And so it's just really interesting to think about what we think of as big problems and why we're not implementing real solutions to get there. (8:05) Ann: Can I also tell you one reason I love Annie and I love this book? And it's funny we were just talking about our meet cute, because you and I are nerds at heart. We love to talk policy. We love to talk about, you know, what are the big structural ways that things can change and shift? Like not just getting out in the streets or what's happening in culture but truly big structural stuff. And that is why I'm excited to talk about this. Aminatou: Yeah, you know, her brain is so sexy. It's the best friend compliment we give in this family. Ann: I love your brain, yeah. Aminatou: Yeah, I love your brain. And you know how you know people who you want their opinion about everything? Annie is one of those people, so I'm really excited that I got to talk to her. I hope that you enjoy it. [Interview Starts] Aminatou: Hi Annie Lowrey. Thanks for coming on Call Your Girlfriend. Annie: Thank you so much for having me Amina. I am so excited to be here. Aminatou: I mean I am super excited. You have a new book called Give People Money: How Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World. That's a lot. Annie: It's a lot. It's a big ideas book. It's a book about revolutionary ideas. So we have these big promises in there. Aminatou: You're one of the most impressive people we know so obviously the title is very apt. Annie: [Laughs] Aminatou: For the people who do not know can you explain in CallYourGirlfriendese what UBI is? Annie: Absolutely. So UBI is Universal Basic Income. So the idea is that everybody in a given country would get something like a social security payment. So right now you get social security if you are at retirement age and you have paid in in the United States. You need to have performed a certain amount of work and paid FICA which is payroll taxes then you get a monthly sum after that, like sort of a fixed monthly sum. (10:00) And so the idea here is that everybody in the US -- there's some debate, right? All citizens, all citizens plus permanent residents, would it just be adults or would it be adults plus kids, but some huge number of people, some universal number of people, would get like $500 or $1,000 a month no questions asked. Do what you want with the money. So that's this simple, radical proposal. Aminatou: I mean I'm from Africa so UBI sounds really cool to me because it's already at work in places like in the Great Lakes region, you know? Giving people actual money to end poverty, it sounds very simple and normal. But over here people are kind of freaking out that it's communism. Annie: Absolutely. And what's kind of hilarious about that is people are like "Oh, this is socialism" or "This is communism." And not to be a patronizing nudge about it but it really isn't, right? Nobody is talking about the state taking over industries here. This actually works really comfortably in a capitalist system. It's just that you're taxing more and you're spending more, right? But you're really right to point out that this is not such a crazy idea in lower- and middle-income countries. More than 100 of them have either unconditional or conditional cash transfer programs which are hugely effective at alleviating poverty. So I think in countries where there's less stigma around poverty because there's more of it there's more of a sense of all right, you want to get people out of poverty? You give them cash. Voila, they're out of poverty. Whereas here we have this very stigmatized, judgmental conversation about the reasons for poverty, how much is it is an individual thing, how much of it is a social thing? (11:42) And so we have these really judgmental anti-poverty programs and we're much more uncomfortable with just giving people cash which we know is like -- it sounds so tautological and so ridiculous. We know it's one of the most effective ways to get people out of poverty. Aminatou: You have pointed this out before too that all sorts of people get government assistance, right? It just depends how you want to qualify it. Like if you have a mortgage you're definitely getting government assistance of some sort. Annie: Yeah. Aminatou: If you benefit from the SNAP program which is essentially what people call food stamps you are also getting government assistance. So the stigma just depends on what class level you are at. Annie: Yeah, absolutely. So there's really amazing research by a political scientist at Cornell named Susanne Metler. And so she asks people across the income spectrum whether they benefit from government programs. And so high-income folks are really like to say "No, I don't." But those people absolutely do; it's just that the programs that they're benefiting from are not really cash programs. They're run through the tax code and so they're sort of subsumed, right? But then you look and they're benefiting from all sorts of things, right? The 529 college savings plan, the home mortgage interesting deduction, all sorts of different giveaways. And the government designs those so that they don't seem like welfare, right? It's just oh, we're letting you keep more of your money. But in an accounting sense that's not different than the government giving you money. They're just happening to do it by lowering your tax burden as opposed to sending you a check. Whereas if you look at low-income folks they tend to benefit from not insurance or tax incentive programs but welfare programs and they're very well aware that they're benefiting from them because those programs are blunt and obvious, right? We are sending you this money but you have to do these things in return. You know, so if you ask them if they benefit from government programs they say yes. And so this is one of the ways that our entire system of social insurance and social welfare is designed to be punitive and judgmental towards poor people and to be invisible towards rich people, to give them more choice over their decisions, to say it kind of happens invisibly for them and lets them think they are not beneficiaries when they really are. (14:00) Aminatou: Wow. Whew, girl, say it louder for the people in the back. How does UBI work? How much money are we talking? How long does it last? Who is going to pay for it? Annie: So I think that the lowest-hanging fruit, the most moral thing we could do for the biggest bang for the buck, would be to eliminate child poverty. It feels ridiculous even saying this. The United States has truly abhorrent levels of child poverty. We ensure that we do not eliminate child poverty in any of our welfare programs or our tax programs. You know, it's just hard to talk about it without getting angry about it. We could do this really cheaply, right? We just spent 80 billion dollars more on our military. One in five kids in the United States grows up in poverty. Through something like a universal child grant that number could be zero next year without raising a single dollar of taxes. Aminatou: That's wild. Annie: It's infuriating actually. It's disgusting. I don't know what else to say. Aminatou: Yeah, we're building a space force but kids are hungry. Okay. Annie: Yep. Yeah. You talk about solvable policy problems, there's lots of policy problems we don't really know how to solve. This one is not one of them. This is easy. And so then similarly though, you know, just eliminating poverty entirely through the tax code with something called a negative income tax costs something like 200 or 400 billion dollars a year. I'm not going to sit here and say that's not a lot of money, but compared to what our government spends it's really not. [Laughs] You know, it's easy to either raise that through the tax code or frankly just to reallocate it from elsewhere. But then the really grand idea of UBI is that we're providing a universal form of social insurance and we're saying that if you got the luck of the draw to be born American, the richest society that the planet has ever known, we're just not going to let you fall back into destitution. We're going to give you that boost and that bump. Even doing that, that big, grandest idea, it's not crazy, right? Our taxes would come in line with Europe's. They would have to change a lot but . . . (16:05) Aminatou: That's socialism, Annie. We don't want it, remember? We don't want . . . we don't want to be Denmark. [Laughs] Annie: It's still capitalism. [Laughs] I'm like let's do real socialism. Let's go take over important industries. Let's just go to Wall Street and be like "Surprise! You're all public businesses. You're all worker-owned collectives now." Aminatou: Wow, Queen Annie, nationalizing everything. [Laughs] Annie: I feel like we need to expand the ownership. [Laughs] Exactly. Take over the airlines. Like Yale University, you're not a public institution. We need somebody to come out and do this so that people will stop calling things that are not socialism socialism. Aminatou: Right. It's like let's do real socialism one time and then you people will shut up about it. It's nuts. Well, you know, one of the things that you've also written about and touched on that was kind of eye-opening for me honestly was this intersection of feminism and UBI. Annie: Yeah. Aminatou: Something that I was like oh, feminist policy? Tell me more about it. Annie: Yeah, and I know this is a topic near and dear to the podcast's heart but we have a system that, yeah, has led to the economic empowerment of how many millions of women? And especially now young women in some ways are doing better than young men, right? They're improving their educational credentials at higher rates. But you still have a system that is punishing to women and to parents and therefore especially to women, though certainly not exclusively. And so women do the lion's share of the uncompensated care work in this economy: taking care of parents, taking care of sick friends, taking care of children. (17:50) And so that work, we actually can assign an economic value to it and that value is in the trillions of dollars and it's an economic utility, right? The economy does not function without the care work that is predominantly done by women. Aminatou: You mean we don't do it out of the kindness of our hearts? There's actually being a caregiver is something you can put a value on? I'm shocked. Annie: Yeah, and it's important, right? And we can assign a value to it but economists have known and this is also to a certain extent it's just obvious, right, that you're not accounting it and therefore it doesn't show up in the national accounts. And it's just performed invisibly, right? It's discounted. And so UBI is kind of a way of providing social recognition for that and a way of saying that that work has value and a way of empowering not just women but all people to do more of it, right? What if, you know, a parent or a family member got sick? And it wasn't a given that the woman who in a partnership might be earning less was the one to go ahead and take care of it? What if that family or that household or whatever, even that group of people living together, instead got to make a choice about who did that? And there's a cliff around -- it depends on where you are, but around 13 or 15 dollars an hour. If you're not making more than that then it often makes more sense for you to drop out of the labor force to perform care work. And, you know, we've known about that but we haven't done enough to boost women's wages so that they can make that decision with more freedom, right? So feminists for a long time have talked about this as sort of a way of reorienting the whole economy and by extension the whole society around a recognition that your work is valuable even if it's not paid. [Ads] (23:15) Aminatou: The thing that a UBI would do is honestly address a lot of gender-based mistreatment at work. Annie: Yeah. Aminatou: You wouldn't have to stay at a job because you feel that your livelihood depends on it. It gives everybody better bargaining positions. You can negotiate for more flexible hours, that kind of stuff. Annie: Yeah. Aminatou: But one of the huge criticisms of this is people think if we give women free money they're all going to drop out of the economy because we're just going to buy face creams and not do work. That's something that strikes me as inherently condescending but I also think that it has some merit depending on the amount of money that we're talking about here right? (23:55) Annie: Yeah, absolutely. So we know from a bunch of different studies that when you give people cash some people -- the term in the literature which is kind of hilarious is reduce work effort. Aminatou: [Laughs] I'm making a t-shirt that says that. Annie: Reduce work effort. And so it's not so much that they drop out necessarily, although some certainly do. It's not a huge effect is the big thing. Even if you're giving people a fair amount of money the effect is small. And when you look at people who stop engaging in as much paid labor it tends to be young people who stay in school for longer, unemployed people who take longer finding and accepting a job so they often improve their job match which is a good thing in the long term, parents of young kids, older folks who start to step back from work or retire earlier. So that's not like everybody stopping working just to apply face creams and hang out at home and eat snacks. Those are socially beneficial things I think we can honestly have a conversation about. If we're in a country this wealthy do we want people to be able to do those things? To invest in their family and to invest in their education. To stop working so hard if they're older. Maybe they don't feel good, right? Like they're sick. Aminatou: Annie, what America do you live in? Annie: I know. Aminatou: What America do you live in? This is not what people want. [Laughter] People want to work every day until they're 84, tell everybody that they pulled themselves by their bootstraps, and then die the next day. That's what we want. Annie: Yeah, but you know, maybe that leads to lower GDP and maybe that shows us that GDP is not the actual yard stick that tells us the most about a society and how it's thriving. It's hard to argue with those choices. Those are all good choices that make sense. And I do think that actually a point that you kind of alluded to earlier, which is what if we make it so you can leave a shitty, abusive partner? How great would that be? Aminatou: Yep. (25:50) Annie: You know, what if we do actually provide this insurance that's there for all of these kinds of circumstances? What if you do just want to stop working? I mean I get why that can be a hard thing and you get to this whole kind of makers and takers phenomenon of oh, we'll have a nation of layabouts. But there's just nothing in the evidence to suggest that that is a true concern and there's a lot to suggest that in fact people would be doing pretty good and useful things and they might be happier. Aminatou: Right. Because the thing that's exciting to me about UBI is that it's not aimed at households; it's aimed at individuals, right? So you get to make decisions about your marriage, about cohabitation, about all of the stuff that you can do as a single person. It just seems to make sense but also we don't like it traditionally when women have rights as single individuals in the world. Annie: Yeah, indeed. Instead we want to have them make these really crummy economic choices, and it's funny, there were some big studies that were done mostly in the '70s that kind of in a sort of hilarious historical wrinkle were run in part by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. These were income maintenance experiments that tell us a lot. This is kind of the closest that the US actually got to UBI. They ran these huge experiments giving people cash. And the initial results seemed to indicate that giving people a sort of UBI was actually a sort of related policy called a guaranteed minimum income and would increase divorce rates. And they freaked out over this. They're like "Oh gosh, we can't do that." But now looking back on it -- so first of all that wasn't true; it was some sort of strange statistical artifact. But second of all I don't know, I think that increasing divorce rates by giving people more economic freedom sounds like a good thing. [Laughs] Aminatou: Right, sounds . . . Annie: Flee in support. [Laughs] (27:45) Aminatou: I mean but this is what you're touching on, right? Is this issue of paternalism. Annie: Yes. Aminatou: That runs through all of our policy in this country. It's like this is how they justify limiting women's rights. This is how we ban abortions. This is how we ban sex work. Paternalism is why Republicans freak out when they think that poor people are using their SNAP benefits to buy hot food or junk food. I think that one of the promises of a policy like this is if you make the benefit universal then you can get rid of the stereotypes. Annie: Yeah, totally. And it gets to I think a really important part of this, and touching on the intersectional part of it, the policies that we have that are the most paternalistic, most judgmental, are those we associate with black women. So cash welfare being the kind of prototypical example here. Welfare recipients are predominantly women or disproportionately women. They are disproportionately black but still most welfare recipients are white. But nevertheless it has over the course of decades become this policy that we've just associated with negligent black moms. And so we ask the people who participate in this program who are mostly disproportionately single parents, often very low-income, to perform a work requirement. And so I was talking to a woman who receives TANF and she was a mom who is also enrolled in community college and to meet the . . . Aminatou: Sorry, can you explain what TANF is? Annie: Sorry, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, so this is welfare, our cash welfare program. And so as part of the programmatic requirement she had to go to the community college and have her professors sign a sheet attesting that she had been in class in order to receive her state benefits. And this was so humiliating to her, right, to have to go to your professors and be like "Oh hey, I'm a mom and can you sign this to show . . ." But that's the point, right? Do this or else. Or else we're going to take your benefit away and then what are you going to do with your kids? (29:55) And it's just it's infuriating, right? We don't have any of these kinds of requirements for the programs that are aimed at rich folks. You do not have to pee in a cup to get a home mortgage interest deduction. You do not have to meet a work requirement. You don't have to show . . . Aminatou: We should make them meet all these requirements though, are you kidding me? Annie: I know, it'd be great. An asset test. You know, you're going to have to reapply every three months in person. You need to meet with a social worker. You have to justify that turret and your golf cart. [Laughs] Aminatou: Right. Like we're giving you a lot of money. I want to know that you're not going to snort it all up your nose. Thank you rich person. Annie: Yeah, exactly. And just as a general point when you look at which programs have work requirements, which programs are harder to use, which programs are more paternalistic, which programs have more stigma, it's those programs where we're trying to discipline and punish the poor. So when you have these universal programs where the sense is the money is just yours, that it's just a right of yours, you don't have that same level of stigma and judgment. Aminatou: You know, but the thing too that this makes me think about is because for now I'm just like wow, this sounds like the dream that the '70s feminists tried to sell everyone, right? Annie: Yeah. Aminatou: Here's panacea for all women's problems. But the truth is migrant women are always exploited for super cheap care work by wealthier white women for example or, you know, thinking about what actually reproductive labor or care work looks like for black women is very different. And so I do wonder if there are feminist policymakers who are thinking about this, how it's nice to say women but the truth is there is not a universal experience of being a woman in this country. (31:45) Annie: Gosh no. And I think that you're right to point -- you know, I feel sometimes UBI's boosters think of it as being this silver bullet that solves all problems and I don't like that idea. No, it's not. It's probably better in some ways than what we have but we have so much more work to do and absent other policies, you know, we're not going to have the equitable thriving society that we want to have. And so there's a bunch of issues that this doesn't even come close to touching. So stronger labor standards and a higher minimum wage, that's going to be necessary. This might touch the black/white income gap a little bit but it's not touching the black/white wealth gap at all. We haven't even started the conversation exactly at a national level about solutions for that even though there are definitely solutions out there. There's so many other issues, right? This is one sort of star in this constellation of ways in which the economy is really working for some people and really not working for others. Aminatou: Like I love that we're having this conversation but in our current political dilemma I'm like this sounds like the most wild, farfetched . . . I'm like maybe we can convince people that, I don't know, we should give children healthcare and we'll insure the kids at least but everything else is off the table. Annie: Yeah. Aminatou: Do you think that . . . 1) what is it going to take to have a political future where a talk about something like this, it's actually real and not abstract? And, you know, for the CYG listeners who are like "I'm fired up about UBI" what can you actually do to make sure that it's part of our political conversation? Annie: It's a great question and I feel like right now we are in this hyper-polarized political climate in which the parties have moved away from each other. And it's actually in some ways I think been great to see a Democratic party that has been aggressively centrist move to the left and start saying like "Hey, we hear you that we're ten years into this recovery and things are still not exactly working for people and we're going to try some bigger, bolder solutions whether it's Medicare for all, whether it's actually working on student debt, right?" (34:05) And so I feel like on the left there is just so much energy around these big, bold ideas. I've never seen anything like it, right? Where the scope of the possible has just radically expanded. And I think it all comes down to first supporting the laboratory of democracy at the state and local level. You know, one of the great changes in the past couple of years has been the elevation of the minimum wage and that's happened at the state and local level and it's helped millions -- actual literal millions of people. And so supporting these kinds of initiatives at the state and local level is so important and then it sounds so ridiculous, right? But gosh, vote. [Laughs] Getting people to vote. Aminatou: [Laughs] Annie: Helping more people vote and being politically attuned as the conversation goes forward I think is the real thing. And it's hard too because in so many ways on these kinds of questions of universality and simplicity and non-paternalism and government programs the Trump administration is going in the opposite direction, right? They're adding work requirements to things, they're gutting the ACA from the inside, and those are policies that can be stripped back and changed in the future but none of this happens without people willing elections first. And so yeah, I'm really hopeful that as much as this sounds crazy at the moment the benefit of this maybe more polarized climate is that the pendulum could swing really hard in the other direction. Aminatou: Right. Make America Denmark please. That's the shirt I want to see. [Laughs] Annie: Exactly. Hey Canada, what up? [Laughs] Aminatou: I know. I'm going to do a very bad feminist thing now. Annie: Yeah? (35:45) Aminatou: You know, now that we've talked about serious policy. Okay. What would you buy -- what decadent thing would you buy with your money if you didn't need it for anything else? Annie: When I got one of my book checks I threw out all of my underwear and socks and replaced them. Aminatou: [Laughs] Annie: It didn't even cost that much money but I felt like a princess. I still feel like a princess. All of my socks match. All of my undies fit my booty. Aminatou: Wow. Annie: Those small luxuries are everything. Aminatou: Yeah. Annie: So I feel like with my -- if I was going to do something maybe I would move on to bras, but they're so much more expensive and they're difficult, you know? They're fussy. Aminatou: That's true. Underwear is the way to go. My mom would make us hand-wash all of our underwear. Annie: Oh? Aminatou: And she was like -- because that's not a job you can outsource according to Mama Sow. So you had to hand-wash your own underwear and she was very meticulous about inspecting it. Annie: [Laughs] Aminatou: And so I feel like an adult it was the first time I had -- that I could start buying my own underwear I just bought black underwear. Annie: Yeah. Aminatou: I was like if you buy only black underwear nobody will know what's up with it, and it's not like my mom still inspects . . . but I feel like you've given me some hope for the end of summer. Maybe this is what I'll do is get some -- I think I own three pairs of socks and they definitely do not match. Annie: No! Aminatou: So maybe I'll go through the sock and underwear drawer and do some work there. Annie: Yeah, and I feel like if it's possible, if it's in your budget, I feel like actually just doing the sort of decadent thing of getting rid of everything and just replacing it no questions asked . . . I basically never wear socks really but it is nice having a nice pair in the event that you do need to put them on. Aminatou: I know. I don't wear socks, but then every time I hang out with Ann and Gina they're always wearing fancy socks. Annie: Oh man. Aminatou: You know, it's always some cool pattern, some cool design, whatever. And it is truly one thing that makes me feel uncool is how I don't have any sock game. Annie: I'm brimming with jealousy at socks I've never even seen. I'm like where do they get their socks? I'm going to get texting immediately. No more work done today. Important sock questions. [Laughs] (38:00) Aminatou: That's right. Annie: So what would you do? Do you mind if I ask you the same question? Aminatou: What would I do with my UBI? Annie: Yeah. Aminatou: With my fake UBI money? Well Annie, I would invest half. Hello? Just kidding. I would do no such thing. I would go on a stupid vacation. Annie: Yes. Aminatou: Like very stupid. There's this sailing company that I've been looking at for a while where you basically can rent . . . you can rent the boat and then you get a chef and some hand decks or whatever. So it's like below deck Mediterranean but the Brooklyn hipster version of that. Annie: Wow. Aminatou: And this is all to say this is why I'm not half of a power couple or anybody smart because this is what I do with money that I'm supposed to save for something else. But you know what? We're going to be fine. This is why we have feminist policies. And probably also I would buy . . . here's what would be decadent for me is if I only used one brand for all of my skincare. Annie: Oh man. Aminatou: You open the cabinet and it's all Chanel face wash or it's all name another ridiculous thing. Annie: Yeah. Aminatou: That's what I would do. This is why they don't give us the cash transfers because this is what we would do with it. Annie: Yeah, this is also I feel like, you know, so New York's Grub Street Diet is like my favorite feature and every once in a while you get somebody who actually accurately reports what they eat. Because I feel like everybody else, it's all like "Oh, I ate nine burgers" or whatever. Similarly I'm not sure that I've ever seen a shelfie where it's like this is actually just the stuff that you use. Because it's like a trash fir in my cabinets, it's such a disaster in there. Aminatou: Exactly. Annie: Yeah. (39:42) Aminatou: Yeah, whenever I read the Into the Gloss things I'm just like no, I want to know your real skincare routine, not your inspirational skincare routine. Annie: Exactly. I'm like nobody's bedroom looks like this. [Laughs] Aminatou: Nobody's does. You know what? Let's start doing real shelfies. That'll be us. It's like here are the seven things I put on my face and one of them burned me today. [Laughs] Annie: Trash shelfies. We just are so dedicated to reality here. [Laughs] Aminatou: Trash shelfies. Ugh, Annie, thank you for coming on CYG. Will you come more and talk to us about real money shit? Annie: I would absolutely love to. Aminatou: This makes me very happy. You're one of our best fighters so I'm glad that you're out there teaching the children about real stuff and also I feel like you write in a field that is so thoroughly dominated by men and it is so refreshing to just be like hmm, here is what it sounds like when somebody who is not an old white man talks to you about the economy so thank you. Annie: Thank you so much for having me. This was so delightful. Aminatou: Where can we find your work? Annie: So you can find me at The Atlantic. That's where all of my writings happen. And then my book is published by Crown and you can get it wherever books are sold. Aminatou: Love it. Thanks Annie. Annie: Thanks Amina. [Interview Ends] Ann: Ugh, Annie, the best. Aminatou: She's so smart. She's so great. Let Annie run -- make Annie Lowery king and let her run everything. You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website, you can download the show anywhere you listen to your favs, or on Apple Podcasts where we would love it if you left us a review. You can email us at We're on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. Our theme song is by Robyn, original music is composed by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs, our logos are by Kenesha Sneed, our associate producer is Destry Maria Sibley. This podcast is produced by Gina Delvac.