Another California City is Trying a Universal Basic Income: Will it Work?

By Andrew Berryhill

Will this program be an improvement to the status quo, or just an ineffective waste of money?

Starting in 2019, the city of Stockton will join San Francisco and Oakland in testing a “Universal Basic Income” (UBI) program that could eventually be expanded to a state or national level. The official website for the initiative explains:

The [program] will provide at least 100 Stocktonians with a Guaranteed Income of $500 per month for 18 months. The Guaranteed Income will be unconditional, with no work requirements and no restrictions on how the money can be spent.

The Stockton experiment is 100 percent privately funded, with a one-million-dollar grant from the Economic Security Project co-founded by Chris Hughes (who also co-founded Facebook). In a CNN interview, Hughes argues that a guaranteed income can improve socioeconomic inequality and help Americans achieve their vocational goals:

At the core of America is the idea that people have the opportunity to live their own dreams, that they can be the person they want to be. If you want to be a teacher, nurse, artist or businessperson, you should have every chance to work toward that goal. That requires a good education and the ability to work your way up over time.

But every step along that journey requires cash of some sort—to pay for a security deposit on an apartment, the gas money to interview for a job, or for childcare while you’re in classes at the local community college. Right now, people have little cushion, and poor and even middle-class people have no savings to pay for basic expenses.

Tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have argued that a UBI can also shield people from poverty if they lose their jobs to machines and give them enough economic security to acquire new skills.

Be Wary of the Allure of UBI

While those on the right typically bristle at new welfare programs, many have come out in support of a UBI because it could drastically streamline the welfare state. A common argument is that if our 80+ welfare programs were replaced with a UBI, it would reduce perverse incentives, shrink bureaucracy, and boost overall effectiveness. Even celebrated libertarian economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman supported similar policies that would create a minimum level of income.

However, there are multiple reasons to be skeptical of a UBI improving the status quo.

One consideration is that any welfare program will dis-incentivize work to some degree, and a UBI is hardly an exception. As a Heritage Foundation report explains:

The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that able-bodied adults should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. This was the core principle behind welfare reform in the 1990s. As noted, the UBI abandons that principle. By removing work requirements from welfare, UBI would decrease work among the poor and increase dependence on government.

Discouraging work could have wide social consequences and goes against the American spirit of entrepreneurship that helps create new types of jobs for the modern economy.

Additionally, a UBI may only treat a symptom of a deeper problem. A recent chart created by economist Mark Perry shows that from 1997-2018 the costs of medical care, college education, and other goods and services skyrocketed. This has decimated the disposable incomes of average Americans.

Would we not be better off by getting government out of the markets and eliminating some of the thousands of American tariffs to lower the cost of living?

Finally, there are also concerns that implementing a UBI is impossible because of insurmountable political and logistical barriers. As Brittany Hunter explains in an article for FEE, repealing the dizzying array of welfare programs in favor of a UBI “would surely be political suicide since you run the risk of angering someone.” For this reason, Hunter argues that any large-scale UBI proposal would likely be a welfare addition, rather than a replacement:

If anything, incorporating a UBI in America would most likely result in an additional layer of the welfare being added on top of our existing programs. This would, in effect, increase the state’s power rather than decrease it. Governments are rarely keen on relinquishing their power, and there is great power in controlling the welfare of the citizenry.

Even though there are many reasons to be skeptical, Stockton’s UBI program could be a valuable experiment that helps inform the discussion of future policy proposals. Relatively little evidence exists regarding the effectiveness of UBI programs, and using small-scale implementations to gather data is a low-risk way to help ascertain the concept’s large-scale viability.

What do you think about the UBI concept? Would it be an improvement to the status quo, or just an ineffective waste of money?

Reprinted from Intellectual and sourced from

Andrew Berryhill is an Alcuin Fellow at Intellectual Takeout. He is a rising senior at Hillsdale College majoring in economics. Andrew has interned on Capitol Hill and was a research fellow for Hillsdale’s economics department. In his spare time, he enjoys practicing the violin and playing golf.

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3 Comments on "Another California City is Trying a Universal Basic Income: Will it Work?"

  1. Linda Joy Adams | July 21, 2018 at 11:23 pm | Reply

    Universal is where everyone gets the basic survival amount from birth.. And the cabal running the USA stops shuffling data and paper to make work and making the poor beg for it.And the intentional plan and plot to steal the free labor of machines and systems ends and that helps pay.. No one starves or in danger of hunger… And property ownership is racial even if a efficiency condo or small house.. The incentive is to earn more to have more.. BUT . if you wish to create families or share then one can…. and EVEN A BILLIONAIRE GETS HIS OR HER AMOUNT ON THEIR PLASTIC CARD , We have this mount already for the SSI programs at SSA. Same wit other programs like Snap and utilities each gets the basic subsistence amount and if you want more one can earn it.. or share expenses with others. FREEDOM IS NOT HAVING TO BEG WHEN IN NEED AND FREEDOM TO ALWAYS HAVE A HOME AND NOT FREEZE TO DEATH AND NOT STARVE. Since 2002 federal law the cabal of contractors now running the USA have NO OBERSIGHT AND TOO OVERN HAVE BLATANTLY STOLEN FROM THE PUBLIC TREASURY As for health care NO GOVT RUN HEALTH CARE SINCE 2002 EITHER SO DO NOT JUDGE THE UNIQUE PROGRAM PASSED BY HOSE ON RIGHT AND LEFT CALLED MEDICARE WHEN NO GOVT HAS BEEN IN CHARGE SINCE 2002 AND NOT MUCH SINC 1994 when much of the oversight was suspended and the contractors already running amok
    An inventor who does not have to worry about basics can invent even more and still have royalties, etc as the free labor of machines and inventions is used for all of us. ( they do not need health care or salaries etc.. This was intentionally done to us back in 1983 when the then new generations of systems was to be used.
    UNFORTUNATELY what many are proposing is more control by the cabal as they invade our privacy even more and no one can ever get ahead of the poverty level and the dehumanizing begging one goes through to ask for help in the first place of sharing all our info… As well as they get well paid and access to steal with no oversight of our govt we elect.. and WE NEED TO ELECT THOSE WHO WILL MAKE SURE OUR LAWS ARE UPHELD AND MONIES NOT STOLEN AND THIS HAS NOT HAPPENED SINCE 2002 LAW WAS PASSED AS NO BUDGET CAN BE SPENT TO MAKESURE ALL ARE BEING TREATED FAIRY AND LEGALLY AND CROOKS WHO STEAL AND HARM WHO GAIN UNFETTERED POWER THAT THEY NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAD GET PROSECUTED AND NOW THY CANNOT They own our data and records of govts around the world and service to humanity is not the prime objective.. And the more ethical companies have been forced out when there is no govt to make sure all play by some basic rules of fairness to get a govt contracts as that fairness is part of the free market system … WE have to have borders and boundaries for our private lives as well as nation and from respect for ourselves and others we can help others in need better then the mess that has been allowed to be created in this world by a few 95% NEED TO BE VOTING IN ALL ELECTIONS and none should have to leave their own country for fear etc when the people of the world are individuals who work together for good. and not all made into thought zombies with no free will BUT AS LONG A EVIL EXISTS TO TEMPT SOME WE DO NOT OVERSIGHT BY THE GOVT just to make sure our rights are upheld. Too often we have refugees all over due to illegal things done by some who take the help sent by nations and we did nothing to stop that either. as if some of our own were getting a kick back to let it go on.. .
    UNIVERSAL IS ALL anything else is worse than what we have now and its blatant daily stealing of monies and rights. by the cabal contractors now in control of USA, and 100+ nations and UN. contracts and in Fall of 2016 got the missile codes as hey are now inside the defense contractors who did keep oversight in 2002, but now are managed by this cabal and have gone and gotten the domestic contracts. + the govy is not snooping who can be prosecuted for misuse of info accesses in a sweep.. of our e mails and phone calls and other surveillance but this cabal is the snooper and can do as they please from black mailing a remember of congress to spying on their ex and causing harm and remember its the cabal contractor who scammed a few dollars and made the water unfit in Flint Michigan.
    They have fooled all and the media laid off research staff then also so they say govt did this or that and its ben them who HAVE ROUTINELY ILLEGALLY IMPERSONATED THEY ARE A GOVT [HONE NUMBER, ADDRESS OR EMPLOYEE STILL LEGALLY ACCOUNTABLE TO UPHOLD THE LAWS.. AND THEY ARE NOT.. .
    There is a Deep state who collude to let this happen but they would be exposed and prosecuted for crimes I for such but it takes being able to investigate both parties to any kind of bribery. Most local and state agencies have them as contractors also and the states have not had the feds to help with oversight since 2002. and sates who have taken this on themselves have lost or not been very effective on their own.. as much is federally funded programs and such and states never budgeting to have o be the federal law enforcers.
    Health care is virtually total under them and its a third world atrocity over what is going on now.. and altering medical info of ours on he unprotected national data base now has 20 million or 40 % of asthmatics with NO SAFE MEDS OR INHALERS TO TAKE as only those with allergies are counted. as our numbers grow daily with toxic exposure in one incidents , volcanoes or low levels over time… and the data base does not list us since 2010. Hillary care was a scam and not health care for all and too many have paid the ultimate prices for it.. I began blogging in 12/08 to warn all when a trillions dollar thefts of Medicare by the cabal contractors could not be stopped and we found out about this 2002 law hat is been well hidden even by congress putting a gag order on themselves over it And Michael Horowitz said that every bill has to have the oversight language in it or THERE IS NONE. and no matter how good the law, when contracted out expect the worse. The propaganda war is horrific now on all sides and it needs to end.. for the sake of all of us.. We did it once ad it can be done again in all our laws and programs to help all of us. THAT IS HOW WE GOT THE MOST UNIQUE HEALTH CARE PLAN EVER DEVISED Medicare and MEDICAID SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN PASSED AS THE ORIGINAL PLAN WAS FOR STATES TO BUY IN FOR THOSE IN NEED. Its an unequal rights programs and all should have the right of life as long as they choose to live.. And in this era HEALTH CARE IS RIGHT TO LIFE. Drs used to be able to have a hearing with a real govt to get some innovative way to provide good care but do it cheaper and get ok for payment and that is not possible as the hole appeals process is controlled by the cabal and cannot use ‘judgment : Judges get back logged and only given the cases and data and files he cabal whishes them to have in all agencies now. also . Thanks for letting me share this as both sides are being fed a lot of misinformation and the truth is being hidden but VOTE AND BE PART OF THE SOLUTION that is all elections and it may take a decades to fully have a heaven on earth we are told by my faith we can and should have.. Linda Joy Adams

  2. UBI was invented by a physician. It only treats the symptom, not the cause. Scrap it before we all drown in inflation.

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