Universal Basic Income has somewhat come into a sort of renaissance lately, capturing the attention of politicians ranging from city governments to those interested in reforming the federal welfare system. One town in California sought to experiment with Basic Income (also known as Guaranteed Income) in order to see if these monthly stipends would help bridge income equality, as well as provide opportunities for greater cash flow throughout the local economy.
The town of Stockton, California was selected for this experiment by the Economic Security Project, a non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley which seeks to learn whether issues such as mental health and poverty could be alleviated by a no-questions-asked stipend of a guaranteed amount of money. According to Fox Business, the experiment was titled the “Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration,” and “the test involves at least 100 residents who are set to receive $500 each month in guaranteed income over the course of 18 months”. The money is distributed on pre-paid debit cards.
The program is funded entirely by private donations – including The Economic Security Project – a Silicon Valley-based organization. In order to qualify for the pilot program, residents must be at least 18 years old and live in a neighborhood where the median income is at or below $46,033. The pilot began in February and there has so far been little to report in regards to progress, according to the Los Angeles Times, which said it has reached out for interview opportunities multiple times.”
While this experiment is drawing interest from political partisans across the aisle ranging from Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2016 to Democrat candidate for president in 2020, Andrew Yang, previous attempts of a Guaranteed Income in the past did not show favorable results no matter where the experiments were implemented. In 2018, both the nation of Finland and the city of Ontario in Canada attempted to see whether the implementation of Basic Income would lead to better standards of living, increase the likelihood of full-time employment, and provide a better state of mental well being and financial security.
Critics of this program state that a guaranteed income would promote the opposite effects, leading to otherwise functional adults to opt out of the labor force entirely.
Time will tell as to whether or not this experiment for one repeats the outcomes of the past, or shows something brand new in the process.
Sources: Fox Business, RedTea