A city is giving its poorest residents $500 a month — no strings attached

Marty Griffin and Wendy Bell
June 04, 2018 - 3:25 pm
Stockton, California

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - The mayor of Stockton, California wants to provide a universal basic income for the city's poorest residents. 

In 2013, Stockton became the most populous city in the United States to enter bankruptcy. The city of 300,000 was toppled when the housing bubble burst, its basic operating expenses dependent on developer fees and increasing property tax revenue that never came to bear.

Four years later, Stockton is still very much struggling. The median household income there is $44,797, well below California's median household income of $61,818, according to a statement from the city's 27-year-old mayor, Michael Tubbs. Stockton's unemployment rate is 7.3 percent, close to double the 4.3 percent national average. One in four residents live below the poverty line and 18 percent of Stocktonian residents experience food insecurity.

Starting this year, an experimental program called the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) will pay $500 a month to a few hundred of the city's low-income residents, no strings attached.

The idea behind universal basic income, or UBI, is to provide a degree of economic security for the most vulnerable people in a community. The goal is to counteract the destabilizing forces of globalization and technological innovation that has lead to job loss and wage stagnation for countless workers, according to CNBC.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg thinks society should consider giving everyone a universal basic income—a flat salary, regardless of employment, wealth, or need.

And who does Zuckerberg think would pay for such handouts? Rich people like he will.

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