California Town Experiments With Giving People Money No Strings Attached

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jul 10, 2018
Wads of Cash

Stockton, California will be the first city in the U.S. to experiment with a basic income system, selecting 100 residents to receive $500 a month with no strings attached and seeing what happens, according to CNN Money. The experiment is set to begin in 2019 and run for 18 months. Stockton is a city of 300,000 where a quarter live at or below the poverty line, making it an ideal location to test universal basic income. The experiment is meant to generate data that could be applied more widely, as the city will be monitoring how the payments affect things like school attendance, health, and entrepreneurship. 

A universal basic income is, at its most simple, giving people money on a regular basis with no strings attached. This is in contrast to the numerous welfare programs already in existence, which tend to have stringent means tests and other restrictions. Unlike many ideas, it has advocates among both the economic left and right, as well as critics. While proponents agree on the basic idea that people should get regular cash payments, ideas about how exactly to implement such a thing vary widely, as one might imagine for something backed by both market libertarians and left wing socialists. While the particulars may vary, nearly half of Americans believe that, in the wake of labor force disruptions brought on by mass automation, there should be some sort of universal income program for those replaced by machines. 

While this is the first basic income experiment in a U.S. city, others are, or have already taken place in other parts of the world. Ontario is in the middle of its own pilot program, which launched in 2016, Utrecht is in the planning stages of another such experiment, and Finland recently concluded a two-year program and is currently evaluating the results. 

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