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

2 years 10 months 3 weeks 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
JEFFERSON CITY - Police are investigating a shooting incident that left four people injured. According to the Jefferson City... More >>
6 hours ago Sunday, September 20 2020 Sep 20, 2020 Sunday, September 20, 2020 7:00:00 AM CDT September 20, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A driver has been taken to hospital after a single vehicle crash on Saturday night. The... More >>
8 hours ago Sunday, September 20 2020 Sep 20, 2020 Sunday, September 20, 2020 5:40:00 AM CDT September 20, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA – While high school football has been happening so far this season in the wake of COVID-19, one part... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, September 19 2020 Sep 19, 2020 Saturday, September 19, 2020 6:47:00 PM CDT September 19, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg left lifelong impressions on two Columbia students. The students, a high... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, September 19 2020 Sep 19, 2020 Saturday, September 19, 2020 6:47:00 PM CDT September 19, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Monday night will likely be a long one for the Columbia City Council as it gets another... More >>
19 hours ago Saturday, September 19 2020 Sep 19, 2020 Saturday, September 19, 2020 6:14:00 PM CDT September 19, 2020 in News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a 19-year-old was fatally shot near the Missouri State University campus in Springfield. ... More >>
22 hours ago Saturday, September 19 2020 Sep 19, 2020 Saturday, September 19, 2020 2:46:00 PM CDT September 19, 2020 in News
As COVID-19 continues to spread, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about impacts in the community. Previous coverage: ... More >>
23 hours ago Saturday, September 19 2020 Sep 19, 2020 Saturday, September 19, 2020 2:14:00 PM CDT September 19, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - No one was injured in an RV fire in southwest Columbia on Saturday. No injuries have been... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 19 2020 Sep 19, 2020 Saturday, September 19, 2020 12:48:00 PM CDT September 19, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A fire at a Jefferson City home displaced two people early Saturday morning. According to a... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 19 2020 Sep 19, 2020 Saturday, September 19, 2020 9:43:00 AM CDT September 19, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- President Donald Trump hailed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a "brilliant mind" in a statement Friday... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 19 2020 Sep 19, 2020 Saturday, September 19, 2020 5:00:00 AM CDT September 19, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday , the court announced. She was 87. Ginsburg... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 18 2020 Sep 18, 2020 Friday, September 18, 2020 6:43:00 PM CDT September 18, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- For a father and son, a hug before the first game of football season is a special moment.... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 18 2020 Sep 18, 2020 Friday, September 18, 2020 6:23:00 PM CDT September 18, 2020 in News
Week four of Friday Night Fever has arrived. Before you head out to your team's game or tune in to... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 18 2020 Sep 18, 2020 Friday, September 18, 2020 5:56:00 PM CDT September 18, 2020 in Friday Night Fever
Games for high school football games will become available below. Final scores are in bold and home teams are on... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 18 2020 Sep 18, 2020 Friday, September 18, 2020 5:44:00 PM CDT September 18, 2020 in Friday Night Fever
Welcome to Week 4 of Friday Night Fever! Our game of the week features the Marshall Owls taking on the... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 18 2020 Sep 18, 2020 Friday, September 18, 2020 5:43:00 PM CDT September 18, 2020 in Friday Night Fever
STOVER - COVID-19 is affecting young and old alike in Morgan County. According to the Morgan County Health Center... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 18 2020 Sep 18, 2020 Friday, September 18, 2020 5:03:00 PM CDT September 18, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA — Battle High School canceled its game set for Friday against the Hickman High School Kewpies. Battle announced... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 18 2020 Sep 18, 2020 Friday, September 18, 2020 3:14:00 PM CDT September 18, 2020 in Sports
NEAR CRANE, Mo. (KY3) - The Missouri Water Patrol is investigating a deadly crash killing a father and son from... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 18 2020 Sep 18, 2020 Friday, September 18, 2020 2:00:00 PM CDT September 18, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 70°
2pm 72°
3pm 73°
4pm 75°
5pm 74°