Free cash for everyone? Stockton, Calif.'s mayor plans to see if it works

3 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago Friday, October 27 2017 Oct 27, 2017 Friday, October 27, 2017 1:06:24 PM CDT October 27, 2017 in News
By: Lydia DePillis, CNN 
Stockton's mayor

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - As a kid growing up in Stockton, California, a little extra money would've meant the world to Michael Tubbs' family.

Tubbs' mother worked long hours as a cashier at a Discovery Zone and still had to borrow from check cashing places to get by. "If we had $300 a month, life would be less stressful, or we could move into another neighborhood," Tubbs says. "Maybe she would've been able to go back to school and get her BA, or pursue a passion."

Today, Tubbs is Stockton's 27-year-old mayor. Last week, he announced the launch of an experimental program that will give people like his mom about $500 a month, with no strings attached.

Stockton will likely become the first city in the nation to test out a version of universal basic income, an economic system that would regularly provide all residents enough money to cover basic expenses, with no conditions or restrictions.

Stockton hopes to launch its program next year and enroll several hundred of the city's residents for at least a couple of years, depending on the availability of funding.

The concept of universal basic income - or UBI - has been around for decades. Martin Luther King advocated for it in 1967 to create a minimum standard of living. Up until recently, it has mostly been a subject of discussion among academics. But universal basic income has started to gain traction as poverty has grown and fears of automation killing jobs have mounted.

Large-scale trials began this year in Finland and Canada to test whether the program improves outcomes like health and employment.

In the U.S., the movement's epicenter is Silicon Valley, where inequality is stark and labor-saving technologies like self-driving cars seem just around the corner. Tech leaders, from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to Tesla's Elon Musk, have endorsed the idea as insurance against a jobless future.

Now, some of them are putting serious money behind it. YCombinator, the tech incubator known for minting high-profile startups, is hosting academics who'll research the idea using a control group and a random selection of approximately 3,000 participants in Oakland, California starting next year.

Meanwhile, a recently launched non-profit called the Economic Security Project has committed $1 million to the Stockton effort, with funding from donors that include Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

"There was not significant money in the space before" these groups got involved, says longtime advocate Jim Pugh, a robotics PhD who runs a tech and analytics firm that serves progressive causes. "It was definitely a significant uptick."

Rather than a research paper, Stockton is planning a media campaign featuring program participants talking about their experiences. "Alongside the data, we need stories," says Natalie Foster, a co-founder of the Economic Security Project.

Backers hope larger cities and states will eventually adopt universal basic income programs, much like they've passed higher minimum wages and paid family leave laws while federal action has stalled. The hope is that, pressure would build to take the program nationwide.

There are some wrinkles in this plan, however.

In its purest form, every American would receive a basic income, which some estimates peg at about $10,000 per year. In the aggregate, that would add trillions to the budget annually.

Policymakers could lighten the burden by scrapping the rest of the U.S.'s targeted anti-poverty programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as food stamps) and Medicaid

That approach has attracted support from libertarians, who see a single-payment safety net as less bureaucratic and more market-friendly than the current alphabet soup of government programs. Conservative political scientist Charles Murray, known for his "bell curve" theory about the relationship between intelligence and income, is among UBI's leading proponents.

But many on the left see the idea as a Trojan horse for eliminating benefits that currently lift millions of people out of poverty.

"The risk is high that under any UBI that could conceivably gain traction politically, tens of millions of poor people would likely end up worse off," wrote Robert Greenstein, the president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in a blog post last month.

Left-leaning supporters insist that universal basic income should be an add-on to the existing safety net, not a replacement. But that assurance hasn't firmed up support across the aisle.

Joe Biden, former Obama Council of Economic Advisors chair Jason Furman, and Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden have all opposed the idea for another reason: They say giving people enough money to live on will drive them out of the workforce, and that having a job is essential for emotional health and social status.

Basic income proponents disagree.

"That seems to rest on a thin theory of how one develops a work ethic - that it takes either hunger or suffering or poverty or fear," says political scientist and Economic Security Project co-founder Dorian Warren. A recent review of decades of research on basic income-like programs in the U.S. and Canada found that, in most cases, participants reduce their work hours only slightly.

Within a couple of years, the Stockton experiment may shed more light on that question. Tubbs thinks that participants might use the extra income to take a break from work in order to advance their careers through education, or invest in their kids.

"My constituents in Stockton are incredibly resourceful, intelligent and hardworking," he says. "And oftentimes all they need is an opportunity."

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - The heavily traveled road Ballenger Lane has raised concern to homeowners and travelers due to its lack of... More >>
1 hour ago Tuesday, November 21 2017 Nov 21, 2017 Tuesday, November 21, 2017 2:20:00 AM CST November 21, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia education leaders are concerned Gov. Eric Greitens is playing partisan politics with the state's board of education... More >>
4 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 11:21:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
BELLE - The mayor of Belle, who is also a volunteer firefighter, crashed into the back of an ambulance that... More >>
5 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 10:32:54 PM CST November 20, 2017 in Target 8
BELLE - Abatement Officer Tony Baretich is under investigation for 13 complaints that were formally filed against him after he... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 8:16:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The city council met Monday night to hear the Visitors Bureau proposal to change the city's current definition... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 6:12:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The state of Missouri has announced an increase to the state's minimum wage Monday. Businesses will... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 6:01:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
FULTON - Police arrested a woman after she allegedly attempted to steal a car from a shop, then broke into... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 3:23:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Jack and Katie Hanney know probably better than anyone else that life can throw curve-balls when least expected.... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 3:03:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Mayors from across Missouri met in Columbia Monday to discuss a variety of policies they say are negatively... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 2:13:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - As videos surface of package thieves targeting many neighborhoods, residents are talking about the need for security cameras.... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 2:11:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The owner of the Broadway Hotel still plans to request a TIF from City Council for a $20... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 2:00:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Prosecutors charged an inmate at the Boone County Jail with damaging the facility after he allegedly flushed his... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 1:53:33 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal investigation will look into possible civil rights violations by police in the St.... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 1:44:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
FAYETTE - The special prosecutor in the case against a woman accused of bullying a teenager has filed more charges,... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 1:06:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - With the holiday season upon us, more people will be traveling, and Columbia Regional Airport announced another way... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 12:51:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — The governor of Missouri has appointed 16 people to help review child abuse cases after the state... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 12:35:38 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
POTOSI (AP) — An eastern Missouri police officer has died following an off-duty accident. The Daily Journal newspaper in... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 11:22:00 AM CST November 20, 2017 in News
MOBERLY - Authorities are investigating a possible explosion that led to a structure fire in Moberly Sunday night. The... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 10:25:00 AM CST November 20, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 44°
5am 45°
6am 45°
7am 45°
8am 44°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

4:00a
Early Today
4:30a
KOMU 8 News Today
5:00a
KOMU 8 News Today
4:00a
Paid Program
4:30a
Paid Program
5:00a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Voice
8:00p
This Is Us
9:01p
Chicago Med
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld