Something miraculous has happened in the past century. For the first time in recorded history, humanity now has more people dying of obesity-related diseases than dying of starvation. More people now get too much to eat (and not enough exercise) than they do too little.
That’s not to say there aren’t parts of the world that are still starving – there certainly are. But they’re not starving because the food doesn’t exist, it’s just local political and economic forces are preventing the food from getting there.
In many ways, the issue of food is very much the same as the issue of wealth. The world as a whole is a much wealthier place than it was several centuries ago. People are on average richer, have more things, healthier, and live longer, more productive lives. The only issue is sometimes that wealth doesn’t get to where it will do the most good, and you have the same problem as obesity – some people with too much money while others have too little.
Some countries have decided to tackle this problem head-on and redistribute wealth in radical ways. You could say that they’re so rich they’re just giving away cash. How they give that cash away differs from country to country, and in some places, it’s questionable as to whether or not they’re giving that cash to the right people.
Here are 15 counties that feel they’re so wealthy they can just give their money away.
India doesn’t strike everyone as a wealthy nation, but they’re apparently wealthy enough to start a basic income project of their own. This one was designed to help bring India’s rural farmers out of abject poverty and get their kids into the education system.
In 2012 the Indian government selected 20 villages to take part in the basic income project. Eight villages got free money while the remaining 12 did not to serve as a control group for the experiment. The villages that received basic income saw conditions improve in a number of ways, including more money spent on food and healthcare, children’s school performance improved 68%, children spent three times more time in school, personal savings tripled, and new business startups doubled.
Poland is another country one doesn’t normally associate with massive wealth, but they too have caught the universal basic income bug. But they’ve instituted it in a bit of a bizarre way: rather than give money to everyone, they’re only giving it to families with more than one child.
They call the program “500+”, since every second, third, and so on child’s family is given 500 Polish złoty (or about €120) per child. The idea here is to help out poor families with lots of children, especially since Poland has a distinct lack of kindergartens.
The problem is the government isn’t keeping a watchful eye on how that money gets spent like in any of the other countries toying with a basic income. It’s seen more as a payment to families simply for having children rather than as encouragement for those families to find work or get their kids to school. Having just begun this year, it’s still too soon to tell what effect the program will have on the Polish economy.
13. Saudi Arabia
Now we’re getting into real wealth. The most oil-rich nation on earth is naturally one of the richest nations too. So rich in fact that the Saudi king just sent everybody in the country a huge payday. In 2015, the newly crowned King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud decided to spend some of Saudi Arabia’s massive wealth by giving it back to the people directly. How much wealth did he spend? $32 billion worth.
There were catches of course. Only state employees, soldiers, students, and pensioners would receive the cash, but since most of the country works for the state that was still around 3 million people out of Saudi Arabia’s 5.5 million population. The payout amounted to about two months salaries for most people.
It may still be less than a century old, but Israel has done pretty well for itself. So well that it’s seen annualized GDP growth at a fairly consistent 4% year after year. Israel spends a lot of that wealth on defense, but it also spends some of that wealth in a pretty weird way.
Ultra-orthodox Judaism, or Haredi Jews, have been consistently getting paid by the Israeli government for decades. First, everyone in Israel gets paid a certain amount for each child in the family regardless of their religious belief, but since Haredi Jews have a birth rate twice the national average this amounts to more going to them.
Second, the government has a program that pays adult students to go to school, but the government considers studying the Torah to be school. So, Haredi Jews are spending their entire lives studying the Torah and being paid by the government to do it. It’s not going to result in a Nobel in Economics, but if you want an easy life, move to Israel and start studying the Torah.
The United Arab Emirates is another one of those oil-rich Middle Eastern countries that just seems to have more money than they know what to do with, Dubai being a great example. But even the UAE government gets in on the money train with sweet government giveaways.
In 2011 the president announced a $2.7 billion fund to pay off citizen’s debts. The problem was that despite the UAE being an incredibly wealthy country, some people managed to pile up too much personal debt and wound up going bankrupt. But bankruptcy isn’t the slap on the hand it is here in the West. There, you go to jail.
If you’ve got a savings account, then you know how bank interest rates work. For keeping your money with the bank, the bank will give you money down the road. It’s usually a small amount, but it’s something.
In Japan, things work a little different. The country was so hard-hit by the global recession in the 2010s, and its populace is so reluctant to spend cash, that they’ve had a negative interest rate since 2016. That means the bank will actually charge you to save money. The idea here is to encourage lending and spending and drive economic growth.
So where’s the free cash? The government is actually giving it away since any savings they have in a bank is being charged. Thus, the government is giving money to banks. And so far it’s not exactly working as intended.
Another country that’s having some trouble deciding who to give money to is the US. Rather than give money to the poor, they give it to billion dollar corporations.
They do it in a few ways, but easily the most notorious are through tax loopholes. There are dozens of profitable corporations that record zero taxes paid due to being able to write off various expenses. There are so many tax deductions available that the normal 35% corporate tax rate becomes zero by the time tax season ends.
What’s worse, if a company is not profitable they can defer their losses to another year when they are profitable, avoiding paying taxes that year too. It amounts to an enormous government handout to corporations that is only now under scrutiny due to the latest tax reform legislation efforts.
We already know that Poland and Israel love their babies (in the form of government handouts), but France takes the whole baby-bounty thing to a whole other level.
France will pay you for every child (after the second) a flat rate of €82.52 per kid. Doesn’t sound like much, but then there’s also a family supplement of €169.87 or €237.89 for every family with three or more children under the age of 21, and then there’s basic allowance for every kid under three. Then there’s an education allowance, discounts on bus and train fare, moving allowance, and even discounted movie tickets.
After decades of internal strife, Myanmar (also known as Burma) is one of the poorest countries in Asia. Its wealth is heavily concentrated among supporters of the former military regime, and has one of the widest income caps on the planet. And yet, Myanmar has topped the World Giving Index in charitable donations since 2014 as the most generous nation on Earth.
How’s that work? Gallup World Poll runs a survey in every country asking residents, among other things, how much they donate their time or money to charity. Myanmar citizens give the most per capita of any other country, making little Myanmar the most generous country.
If you’re looking to become a technology startup, then Chile might be the place you look at first for your home office. The reason for that is Chile is giving away cash to anyone who wants to base their technology company in the country. And it’s not an insubstantial amount: $50,000.00 USD to be exact.
The program is called Start-Up Chile and there are, as usual, a few catches. You have to be able to convince the program administrators that your startup will not only be successful but also successful on a global scale. If you can do that though, you get tons of perks like the aforementioned cash, a 1-year work visa, and business and political contacts to help get your enterprise off the ground at record speed.
5. New Zealand
The country that served as the grand vistas in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy also wants to pay you to move there. Or more accurately, a specific town there.
Kaitangata has around 800 residents, which really isn’t that many. The town also had around 100 job vacancies that just couldn’t be filled because there were literally no people to fill them. To fix things, in 2016 they decided to start offering a “home and land package” for new settlers to the area – to the tune of $230,000.00.
That’s a lot of money. And it caused a lot of problems. The real-estate agent in charge of the program received 9000 emails practically overnight. The program had to be suspended so that the agent could sort through the offers to see how many people really wanted to move there versus how many were just looking to resell the land for a profit.
Ireland is looking to be a leading technology-based economy too, and much like Chile, they’re offering big cash handouts for startups to move to there.
The program is called Enterprise Ireland, and it’s already been a huge success. Ireland is now a leading technology country, with Dublin being the center for technological advances around the world. Much like Chile, getting in involves convincing the administrators you’ve got a great idea and it’ll hit the global market in a big way. Manage that and you’ll have access to government supports, visas, you name it. The program will help anyone with a good idea no matter where they are in their development, from just spitballing ideas on a blackboard to already having a working prototype.
Chile is nice, but it has earthquakes, and Ireland gets really cold in the winter. If only there were a tropical paradise that would pay me to move my tech startup there…
Actually, there is one: Mauritius. The small island nation (located in the Indian Ocean just east of Madagascar) has been a tourist destination for decades, but only recently has decided to diversify its economy by getting into the technology sector.
They’re not offering much, however. A 20,000 rupee government stipend won’t get you far in terms of setting up shop internationally, but the low cost of living on the island means it’ll at least get you a nice apartment and food for a while. As usual, convince the program administrators you’ve got a great idea and you can develop it in an island paradise.
Having been consistently in the top 10 on the World Happiness Report since it began in 2012, and being a part of the G7 group of the most advanced economies on Earth, it should come as no surprise that Canada is loaded. So loaded in fact that they’re giving cash away in a number of different ways.
First off, you could get paid $20,000 if you decided to move to Saskatchewan. The money isn’t just handed over after you move there – it’s actually a tax credit for tuition, so you’d have to move there, go to school, and then you could claim it on your income taxes for the next ten years. The idea is to get more educated people out into the plains to start building up the cities there.
Or, if you don’t feel like going back to school, you could move to one of several Ontario cities and sign up for the Basic Income project, where residents get paid an annual income of $17,000 for doing absolutely nothing. The project is to test the feasibility of a universal basic income for everyone once robots steal all the jobs.
Another country that’s toying with the idea of universal basic income is Finland. But it wasn’t for fear of losing their jobs to robots that they started handing out cash.
For a long time, Finland had a busted government welfare system. If you didn’t have a job you would get money from the government (as a kind of employment insurance), but as soon as you got a job you were off the program. However, the amount of money the government gave often out-paid the part-time jobs that were available, so rather than take the part-time work and take a pay cut, they stayed home and did nothing.
In 2015 a random selection of welfare recipients instead got a lump-sum of cash every month with no strings attached. The idea was that those people could then get part-time or freelance work to supplement their government income. The Finnish government is still examining the results, but so far the results sound positive.
- Ad Free Browsing
- Over 10,000 Videos!
- All in 1 Access
- Join For Free!