Stockton, California Is Testing Universal Basic Income To Fight Poverty

Stockton Mayor testing Universal Basic Income
26-year old Stockton, California Mayor Michael Tubbs is testing Universal Basic Income. | Photo credit Wikipedia

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs has a solution for his failing city’s money woes-socialism. Tubbs believes that handing out free money will help improve the self-esteem of low-income citizens and restore prosperity. But are more entitlements really the answer?

In Stockton, with a population of 300,000 one in four residents live below the poverty line. The city filed for bankruptcy in 2012, after years of poor fiscal management. Their story is a familiar one across many American cities.

The mayor’s proposed solution to their troubles is not so familiar, at least not in the U.S.

Beginning sometime this summer, two dozen Stockton families will receive $500 a month no strings attached. The Economic Security Project, co-led by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, is donating $1 million to the Universal Basic Income experiment.

Dorian Warren, another co-chair of ESP, said the goal of the experiment is to gauge the “social and economic impacts” of a basic income. “What does it mean to say, ‘Here is unconditional guaranteed income just based on you being a human being?’” Warren asked.

While perhaps generous in theory, Universal Basic Income at its core is rooted in socialism.

UBI and Socialism

Universal Basic Income-UBI
Universal Basic Income poster. | Photo credit Socialist Appeal

Judy Beishon, a reporter for the Socialist Party of England and Wales, showed support for UBI last year:

“A socialist society would be able to provide vastly improved services – including for the elderly and the incapacitated – which would contribute towards a universally good standard of living, along with other measures like low cost housing and transport, and free education.”

As you can see, Beishon affirms that a socialist society (universal basic income) is the best answer to ensuring equality for the poor and middle class. However, contrary to her claims and those made by Senator Bernie Sanders, it’s not the answer.

The truth is, self-esteem and happiness, in general, is not derived solely from having one’s basic needs met. And what are the basic needs anyways? A house? Clothing? Wal-Mart or Macy’s? Food? Frozen Banquet dinners or steak and lobster?

If you ask ten different people that question, you’ll get ten different answers. Knowing that, the question then becomes: how much money it takes to meet everyone’s “basic needs?” The answer to that is as unique as the answers to the questions above.

Interestingly, proponents of Universal Basic Income often cite the Permanent Fund Dividend in Alaska as a success story. But is it really? Alaskans reap the benefits of oil profits, which is great, but if there were no oil profits would they still get this money?

The point is, like every other entitlement, Universal Basic Income is not self-sustaining. It kills responsibility, stifles personal growth, and defines work as a form of slavery rather than a path to economic freedom.

If “anything worth having is worth working for,” then UBI isn’t worth much.