The idea of a minimum or basic income has been around for almost 500 years.

According to the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN — the French word for good), 16th Century humanists such as British author and statesman Thomas Moore first floated the idea as a way to reduce theft, often perpetrated by the poor.

Moore’s contemporary, Italian philosopher Johannes Ludovicus Vives, is considered the “true father” of the idea for suggesting cities pay a basic income to the poor as an efficient way for society to live up to its moral responsibility to care for the disadvantaged.

More recently, economists and activists on the left and right of the political spectrum have supported the idea, including American conservative Milton Friedman, who in the early 1960s saw it as a way to abolish the minimum wage and limit the “welfare state.” His liberal contemporary, John Kenneth Galbraith, championed it as a way to end poverty.