Newark, New Jersey may not be the first American city to try out a universal basic income with its residents, but it may be the largest. Mayor Ras Baraka’s announcement that he will convene a task force to look into the feasibility of the program is the latest sign that Democrats are taking the UBI movement seriously.
“We believe in Universal Basic Income, especially in a time where studies have shown that families that have a crisis of just $400 a month may experience a setback that may be difficult, even impossible to recover from,” Baraka said.
The mayor has not yet told Newark residents how he intends to pay for the program or how much residents can expect to receive from the government.
Universal basic income has become a hot topic among millennials who believe it is the only way to ensure social justice and to protect the citizenry from the quickly-growing automation revolution in industry. Its opponents are…well, anyone who believes that America is a place where you can have anything you want as long as you, ya know, actually work for it. They see UBI as just another form of wealth redistribution and worry that it will turn into another Democrat plan that lacks any reasonable source of funding other than skyrocketing taxes.
Making things worse for proponents is the fact that UBI has been tried in many areas around the world with decidedly mixed results. Finland and Ontario are only two places where it has been tested; both programs collapsed within less than two years when the government realized there was no sustainability to it.
But those failures have not prevented American cities from flirting with the concept. There’s even a local lawmaker in Chicago who has proposed rolling out a small-scale test of UBI in one of the largest cities in the country. Neither the proposed Chicago plan nor a similar rollout in Stockton, CA are truly “universal” in their scope; they are targeted at low-income households only. In other words, this is essentially welfare disguising itself under a newfangled name. Which is exactly what conservative critics of the plan have been saying for years.
But there’s no question that the idea is catching fire slowly in Democrat circles. There is even a 2020 presidential contender who has UBI as the main component of his platform. NYC entrepreneur Andrew Yang wants to see the federal government hand $12,000 a year to every American citizen in the hopes of “reducing the stress levels” of the population.
Well, except maybe those who learned early in life that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But then, those people tend not to vote Democrat in the first place.