Michael Tubbs, the 26-year-old mayor of Stockton, California, thinks handing out $6,000 a year to low-income residents (with no strings attached) is the way to lift people out of poverty.
“Stockton is absolutely Ground Zero for a lot of the issues we’re facing as a nation,” Tubbs told CBS San Francisco (video below). “Ideally, I would like to serve 100 families for 18 months at $500 a month.”
Stockton is experimenting with a welfare program called “universal basic income,” which gives low-income residents $500 a month, no questions asked. The money is coming from a private grant.
The California city, which went bankrupt in 2012, has recently made strides to become more economically viable, but is still struggling.
Mayor Tubbs, who was endorsed by Barack Obama, took office in January 2017. He is Stockton’s first black mayor, and its youngest-ever at age 26.
“I feel that as mayor it’s my responsibility to do all I could to begin figuring out what’s the best way to make sure that folks in our community have a real economic floor,” Tubbs said.
The money for the universal basic income project comes from a $1 million private grant from the Economic Security Project, which is co-chaired by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.
Dorian Warren, who’s co-chairman the Economic Security Project, said the program will keep track of what recipients do with the money, and how having a “universal basic income” affects their self-esteem.
“What does it mean to say, ‘Here is unconditional guaranteed income just based on you being a human being?’” Warren asked.
Giving money to poor people in need is an excellent idea, but as we’ve discovered through debacles like DACA, once you hand out free stuff, you can’t simply stop and expect no backlash.
Countless psychology studies show that people get used to free stuff, and then feel entitled to it. Mayor Tubbs and the city of Stockton should prepare for the uproar once they cut off the gravy train.
Renowned economists like Thomas Sowell have long maintained that merely handing out free stuff will never solve the poverty crisis, and it certainly won’t build self-esteem because that grows when an individual achieves something through their own merit and hard work — not through handouts.
“The political left’s welfare state makes poverty more comfortable, while penalizing attempts to rise out of poverty,” Sowell wrote. “Leaders of the left in many countries have promoted policies that enable the poor to be more comfortable in their poverty.”
Sowell is an African-American Harvard graduate and retired U.S. Marine who has authored numerous economics books. He says many American who live in “poverty” actually live fairly comfortably, and this comfort makes them complacent, especially if the government gives them free stuff without expecting them to work for it.
“Most Americans with incomes below the official poverty level have air-conditioning, television, own a motor vehicle and, far from being hungry, are more likely than other Americans to be overweight,” Sowell wrote. “But an arbitrary definition of words and numbers gives them access to the taxpayers’ money. This kind of ‘poverty’ can easily become a way of life, not only for today’s ‘poor,’ but for their children and grandchildren.”
It seems proponents of “universal basic income” have never heard the adage: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
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