This 27-Year-Old California Mayor Wants To Pay Residents $500 Cash Per Month

Michael Tubbs is the 27-year-old mayor of Stockton, California.

In October, Tubbs introduced an experimental program to give about $500 per month to at least some Stockton residents.

Universal Basic Income: The Program

This program – the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) – would make Stockton the first city in the nation to offer universal basic income, which is a system that regularly provides residents with sufficient money to cover basic living expenses, typically without conditions or restrictions.

Tubbs, who was born and raised in Stockton and elected to Stockton’s city counsel at age 22, hopes to launch the program next year and test universal basic income with several hundred Stockton residents.

 

He hopes the program will alleviate the economic burden that Stockton has faced in recent years, including the city’s bankruptcy in 2013.

Tubbs discussed with CNBC last month Stockton’s continued economic challenges. Tubbs noted that the median household income in Stockton is $44,797, which is significantly below California’s median household income of $61,818, and Stockton’s unemployment rate is 7.3{8139253ca906d8d68487924acd2bd6dddc706794ed2ab7afbf93cd9cbc023267}, which is approximately double the national average.

Universal Basic Income: From Martin Luther King To Silicon Valley

Universal basic income is not a new economic system. Martin Luther King championed the idea of a guaranteed income in 1967 to ensure a minimum standard of living and to combat inequality.

Today, growing concerns regarding poverty, artificial intelligence and workforce automation have spurred some to consider universal basic income as a potential solution.

In Silicon Valley, leaders such as Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk support universal basic income. Richard Branson has embraced the idea as well.

Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder, has helped fund the Economic Security Project, a non-profit that has contributed $1 million to fund the Stockton universal basic income plan.

Startup accelerator Y Combinator piloted a universal basic income program in Oakland, California and has plans for a larger scale program.

Will Universal Basic Income Reach National Adoption?

The debate remains whether universal basic income is a viable tool. Some believe that it is another government hand-out that would cost the federal government – if adopted nationally – trillions of dollars if each citizen or resident received $500 per month, for example.

Other proponents debate whether universal basic income should replace, or be be added to, various current government programs such as the minimum wage, family leave, food stamps and Medicaid.

The Roosevelt Institute, for example, argues that instituting a national program for universal basic income would increase economic growth and reduce unemployment.

Overall, Tubbs hopes that the SEED program in Stockton will be a launchpad to provide a guaranteed income for all Americans to help provide economic opportunity and security.