18.06.06 Stockton

June 5, 2018
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Will $500 Per Family Solve Poverty in America?

Stockton, California is giving it a try, testing “guaranteed income.” Here’s why:

FLIP: For city's plan


  • Starting early next year,A 100 families will receive $500 per month – no strings attached.
  • Participation criteria undecided.
  • $1M grant from Economic Security Project funds program for 18 months.
  • Poverty plagues Stockton after the housing bust sent the city into bankruptcy in 2012.

It’s Actually
Not a New Idea…

“I’m now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. in his book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (1967)

Critics Argue the Math Doesn’t Add Up

“I would prefer an approach that tells people, we will help you get jobs. I don’t think the solution is to say, ‘OK, lets just start handing people cash.'”

Aparna Mathur, scholar at conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute
  • $10K/yr x 300M Americans = $3T =A 3/4ths ofA entire $4T fedl budget

Who are the backers behind the $1M Stockton funding? Click to learn more about the Economic Security Project and why they are doing this.

Natalie Foster, a co-founder of the Economic Security Project, an advocacy group formed to advance the concept of universal basic income. The project included Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder.

Within the Silicon Valley crowd, basic income had become a fashionable idea for addressing collective angst over the social consequences of technology. The masters of innovation were becoming stupendously rich via creations poised to make working people poor, replacing human labor with robots. Basic income was posited as compensation.

The Economic Security Project was keen to demonstrate another aspect of basic income — its potential to help communities facing problems in the here and now. It was shopping for a city that could serve as staging ground.

Ms. Foster”s group agreed to deliver $1 million for a new project — SEED, for Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration.

The sum was nowhere near enough to finance universal anything. It would not cover the basics of any critical need.

Still, it could produce a glimpse of what a guaranteed cash program might look like.

by Jenna Lee,