Government money can end poverty, says the mayor of Stockton, California.
Michael Tubbs, 27, wants to address poverty by doling out a “no-strings” guaranteed income of $500 a month for city residents, Reuters reported.
Tubbs plans to start small with an 18-month pilot program to see how the plan works. That kicks off in early 2019, he said.
“And then, maybe, in two or three years, we can have a much more informed discussion about the social safety net, the income floor people deserve and the best way to do it because we’ll have more data and research,” Tubbs said.
For now, The Economic Security Project will be footing the bill. The group, led by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, has called for the federal government to give $500 a month to every American who earns less than $50,000 a year. The $290 billion annual cost of the group’s proposal would be paid for by a 50 percent tax rate on wealthy Americans.
Tubbs said the project reflects his experiences.
“My mom was on welfare for the first five, six years of my life,” he said. “You’d get food stamps, but that’s not cash, and maybe food’s not the biggest need. … So this gives people more agency to kind of make the best decision.”
He also saw that work was not always a ticket out of poverty.
“People were working themselves to death,” Tubbs said, according to The New York Times. “Not working to live a good life, but working just to survive.”
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One issue he faces with the project is how to decide who gets the money.
“The trolls I’ve been dealing with on social media and in real life have very racialized views of how this is going to work,” Tubbs said. “As the first black mayor of this city, it would be very dangerous if the only people to get this were black.”
Not everyone in his city agrees with him.
“I think it’s not smart,” said insurance agent Evelyn Vega. “After Bill Clinton passed the welfare-to-work act, my mom had to go back to school and it eventually motivated her.”
Other said free money is already out there.
“We already give away billions of dollars to people who sit at home on welfare and make no effort to work,” said James Gonzalez.
Tubbs has also proposed giving $1,000 a month to anyone deemed a potential shooting threat under a project he calls Advance Peace, an 18-month counseling program.
“Let me be clear, Advance Peace is not a get out of jail free card,” Tubbs said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Participating in this program doesn’t erase the past, but it does help these young men learn how to make better choices for their own and our community’s collective future.”
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