Bankrupt California city wants to give a universal basic income to residents

Bankrupt California city wants to give a universal basic income to residents
A pedestrian walks by a Stockton Record newspaper rack displaying the headline 'Bankrupt!' on June 27, 2012, in Stockton, California. Through the Economic Security Project, Stockton is testing a universal basic income for a select group of families to see whether the program could evolve into a broader policy. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Stockton, California, is testing a universal basic income for a select group of families to see whether the program could evolve into a broader policy, Fox News reports.

How will it work?

The plan is to give $500 per month to several dozen families, and then to monitor them and see how the money is used and how it impacts “self-esteem and identity.”

The money will come mostly from The Economic Security Project, which is donating $1 million toward the experiment.

Why are they doing this?

Mayor Michael Tubbs believes it will help improve the lives of recipients in a city where one in four residents lives below the poverty line.

“I think it will make people work better and smarter and harder, and also be able to do things like spend time with their families because we’re not robots,” Tubbs said. “We’re not just designed to work all day and run a rat race.”

Stockton went bankrupt in 2012, and many of its residents struggled financially as home prices increased and wages stayed the same.

What are opponents saying?

Robert Rector, welfare expert at the Heritage Foundation, said a universal basic income is the wrong response to failed immigration policies.

“Essentially, it says we will let the illegals come in and take all the jobs and then we’ll put American workers onto a kind of welfare reservation where they can live out their lives on that reservation,” Rector said.

Other critics say moving from traditional welfare to UBI could be detrimental to the poor, and give money to those who don’t need it as much.

About The Economic Security Project

The Economic Security Project is co-led by Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook.

From the website:

The Economic Security Project is a network committed to advancing the debate on unconditional cash and basic income in the United States. In a time of immense wealth, no one should live in poverty, nor should the middle class be consigned to a future of permanent stagnation or anxiety. Automation, globalization, and financialization are changing the nature of work, and these shifts require us to rethink how to create economic opportunity for all.

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