Universal Basic Income (UBI) seems to be all the rage today. The political equivalent of the pet rock is being promoted as the answer to today’s economic woes. Or a model for future economic equity. When you dig deep, you can see it is neither.
For starters UBI is neither universal nor basic as its name implies. To see UBI for the sham it is, one needn’t look further than my hometown of Stockton, California. While the mayor of the city, Michael Tubbs, promotes the $500 monthly stipend just 125 out of 315,000 people are receiving it. It’s being promoted as “the first city led UBI in the nation” but has zero to do with city business. It’s being ran via Tubbs’ nonprofit. It is a case study being funded by Silicon Valley millionaires like Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and facilitated by academics from out of state. Tubbs is merely the spokesperson using his elected status to sell it to the media on their behalf.
Hughes and Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang argue that UBI will balance the onslaught job automation will cause. It assumes all companies will choose “economic efficiency” and fire people to maximize profits. Natalie Foster, a co-chair of the Hughes’ millionaire funded Economic Security Project says, “America ought to be a place where if you work hard, you can get ahead – that’s the promise of the American Dream and the lesson we’ve been taught for generations. But far too many Americans are struggling to survive…Basic income could be the bold solution we need to remake the economy so it works again, for all of us.”