The mayor of Stockton, California announced he’s going to give its poorest residents $500 a month, without any conditions whatsoever in his effort to make Stockton the first American city to guarantee a basic income.
Does this even sound like America? No, this doesn’t sound like America, but it certainly sounds like California. So how will this work? Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs explained it to NPR:
So from now until June, we’ll do a community engagement process to come up with the selection criterion for the families who will be selected. Those families will receive $500 a month for the next year to 18 months with the idea to really elevate the story of working-class people everywhere. People are working very hard and struggling and unable to make basic ends meet. So we were able to get a grant of $1 million from the Economic Security Project to really test this idea.
Well, the good news is that no taxpayer money is involved in this. (Which makes one wonder how long this will last…) It’s hard to imagine how giving people $500 helps a city that is already pretty rough around the edges. It will certainly will help to destroy the will to work in many people.
to my surprise, NPR’s host Ari Shapiro actually asked this very question. “One principle of capitalism is that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead… But the idea is that it gives people incentive to go to a job every day and earn money, even though it may be an unpleasant experience. This program and the idea of a guaranteed basic income seemed to guarantee that people will get money whether or not they earn it. Does that undermine the incentive for people to have a job and be productive members of society?”The mayor’s response, of course was a bunch of nonsense. “I would disagree. But I also think as a human being, there are some things that you don’t earn. Some things are rights. And I do think that people deserve a basic economic floor so the bottom doesn’t fall out under them.”
Good grief. Do you know how to get a “basic economic floor so the bottom doesn’t fall out from under them?” It’s called a job.
But my favorite part is the “no conditions” aspect of all of this.
Want to spend it on weed? No problem.
Alcohol? No problem.
Prostitutes? No problem.
Illegal weapons? No problem.
This mayor’s pie-in-the-sky experiment will do absolutely nothing good… Let’s see if NPR will follow up with a segment on the disastrous consequences of wasting all that money.
Image Credit: Garry Knight on Flickr
Hat Tip: NPR