Corporations have printed money for years. Why can’t we?

a proposal for the creation of a locally-issued, UBI-supporting currency to build a more robust and humane economy

Richard W. DeVaul
13 min readJan 28, 2021



So, I’m here to talk about money. Specifically, I’m here to tell you about a new kind of money, a locally issued UBI currency I call the LUD, and the ways in which this new kind of money could make for a stronger, better, more humane economy. Along the way, I’ll also talk about universal basic income and some ideas from modern monetary theory, but this is not the best place to learn about those concepts — see the references section at the end to learn more.

By the end of this article, I hope to convince you that while a locally-issued currency supporting UBI may sounds strange, it’s actually a good idea and something you and your community might want to try.

I’m not going to get into all of the details here — for the nitty gritty, you can see my white paper, Introducing the LUD. This article is about what a local UBI currency is and why we need this, right now.

the problem to solve

We are in the midst of a global pandemic and near-universal economic slowdown, stacked on top of years of economic disfunction. While the pandemic triggered a sudden crisis, the US economy has not been functioning very well for all its citizens for some time now. The roots of this go back decades, past the great recession of 2008, back to at least the 1970s, when the rising tide of growth stopped lifting all boats.

change in income distribution since 1970: the rich get richer, everyone else gets poorer
Share of aggregate income by income tier, since 1970 (source: Pew Research)

For the last 50 years, the rich have been getting richer. One of the fundamental problems with this income distribution is that it takes money out of circulation, since rich people spend a much smaller share of their income than the poor and middle class. Because the US economy is driven by consumer spending, this is a vicious cycle.

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Richard W. DeVaul

Founder, mad scientist, moonshot launcher. Writes on innovation, entrepreneurship, and social/queer issues. ex-CTO of Google X. @rdevaul on twitter