Once again, coming from the state that gives us the very best of the worst liberal policies in the country, California is actually experimenting with universal basic income. Similar to Democrats such as 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Stockton, California thinks giving away free money to people who haven’t worked for it is a good idea.
As part of an experiment that offers “a trial run of a campaign promise, highlighting the benefits and challenges in real time” the experiment is testing “the impact of ‘universal basic income” according to the Associated Press. Although the experiment is an independent project it may provide answers to promises Democrats continue to make on the campaign trail.
In February, the city “launched the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, a pilot program spearheaded by a new mayor and financed in party by the nonprofit led by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.” Michael Tubbs, the city’s 29-year-old Democratic mayor said “I think poverty is immoral, I think it is antiquated and I think it shouldn’t exist.” The mayor is right, it shouldn’t exist. But it does and redistribution of wealth will not work, so it’s best he stops living in Lala Land.
As part of the experiment, the city “chose 125 people who live in census tracts at or below the city’s median household income of $46,033. They get the money on a debit card on the 15th of each month.” A “team of researchers is monitoring the participants.” Allegedly, “their chief interest is not finances but happiness. They are using what they call a ‘mattering scale’ to measure how much people feel like they matter to society.” A ‘mattering scale?’ This sounds like a psychological experiment being conducted on mice, not something derived from people who care whether or not people can survive off minimum wage.
One recipient, Jovan Bravo who is a 31-year-old construction worker who is married with three children is happier because “now he only works one Saturday a month. He used the other Saturdays to take his kids to the amusement park and ride bikes with them in the park.” A second recipient, Susie Garza also has been receiving $500 since February. “She uses $150 of it to pay for her cellphone and another $100 or so to pay for her dog’s veterinarian bills. She spends the rest on her two grandsons.” Garza is unemployed and was a previous drug addict. She has been sober for 18 years following time in prison. She says this project “is the coolest thing…I like it because I feel more independent, like I’m in charge. I really have something that’s my own.”
Of course recipients perceive this as the “coolest” thing and they are happier to spend less time at work and more time with their family. But what happens when the experiment is over? How will these recipients who have become accustomed to a $500 cushion handle when the checks stop just as seamlessly as they started? What happens when more and more people want to be part of a similar experiment and private donors get sick of paying for this expensive human experiment? Then what is your plan Andrew Yang and Democratic progressives?