Universal income is an idea that has tried to instill itself at a national level for years, primarily among the most left-leaning of groups. And so, as the nation’s political atmosphere seems to move only more leftward, it would seem only natural that this concept would gain popularity.
If you’ve never heard of it, the idea of Universal Basic Income, or UBI, at its core is to provide some level of income to every living soul within the country, or at least the adults. It’s something that self-proclaimed socialist and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has pushed for years, although will little success of it gaining much traction.
However, it seems the city of Compton, located just to the South of Los Angeles in California, is willing to give it a go.
Now, to be sure, Compton is not the first city to try and structure some form of the idea into a working benefit for its citizens. Stockton, California, tried, unsuccessfully, to implement a plan for UBI once upon a time. But, as I hinted, things didn’t go as planned, and the program fell on its face rather quickly.
Compton is hoping to be different.
According to CBS News in Los Angeles, “Compton is launching the nation’s largest universal basic income program, with plans to distribute regular cash payments to about 800 low-income residents for two years.”
The plan is called The Compton Pledge, and if all goes as planned, will begin at the end of the year. The Pledge will seek to offer cash relief to “a pre-verified group of low-income Compton residents.” These residents will be kept anonymous and their “benefits” will be “rigorously evaluated” by a team of independent researchers.
In addition, the plan will offer no-cost financial services to those who currently don’t have a bank account.
However, there are already several problems that can be noticed right away.
Firstly, it doesn’t sound very “universal.” I mean, it explicitly states that the plan will serve only 800 people. And out of a city of 95,000 in which the poverty line is above what 20 percent of them make a year, that doesn’t equate to a lot.
Neither does the amount of the proposed payments. According to the plan, recipients will receive between 300 and 600 dollars a month, which may be a lot to some. But in California, and especially an area near Los Angeles, where the cost of living is one of the highest in the country, a mere $600 isn’t going to go very far.
The last bit of skepticism I hold is for just how the amounts and who gets the payments are determined. All the program is willing to say at this point is that those who receive any money are “pre-verified.” But verified on what level? Beyond saying they will be “low-income,” The Pledge doesn’t offer much insight.
Although, it does say that both “immigrants of various legal status” and those who have been formerly incarcerated may be eligible.
Well, in that case, I guess it’s a good thing that the money isn’t coming from the federal government, which might be the only sensible thing about the plan. Instead of using tax dollars, the plan will run on donations from several different sources. Of course, this means the way they spend their money really can’t be questioned too much.
The usual complaint with programs like this is that while they may help out a few people struggling to make ends meet, hard-working Americans feel that their earned tax dollars are being wasted. I mean, here you have people who are unable or even unwilling to work in some cases, and they are essentially getting a free ride. Meanwhile, millions of Americans have worked year in and year out to make ends meet the hard way.
Even without tax dollars being used, this is still a major issue. Sure, it’s no longer my money being used to pay for their work-free lifestyle, but they are still being paid to do nothing essentially. And there are already programs that are supposed to help the needy, right? If these people really needed help, why aren’t they applying to those?
In any case, the program may be good for a few and may even last a good bit, depending on the donations received. But I doubt that the plan will gain much more traction, and definitely on a national level.