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Residents of Stockton, California to Receive $500 Monthly Stipend


Stockton infamously went bankrupt a couple of years back. Now, the tides seem to be changing. The city is set to become the first in America to be part of the  Universal Basic Income (UBI) initiative. Through the project, about 100 residents will be beneficiaries of a $500 monthly stipend over an 18-month period.

The goal of UBI is to facilitate the creation of an income floor that ensures no one sustains themselves below those standards. While the approach is somewhat nonconventional, citizens will be guaranteed sufficient funding

Surprisingly, UBI has been backed by Silicon Valley moguls like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson. They have each expressed their support for the initiative. At its very core, UBI seeks to lower poverty levels and shield the community from economic disruption that is often the result of automation.

Speaking during a Harvard commencement speech in May 2017, Zuckerberg shared that he believes more need to be done when it comes to exploring universal basic income. With proper policies in place, the tech icon mentioned that everyone in society will have a cushion to recline on.

From a historical context, the Stockton project is deep-rooted in Silicon Valley. The initiative receives funding from the Economic Security Project, launched by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. Through his fund, he seeks to help out research and cultural engagement centered around Universal Basic income. Most recently, Hughes chipped in with a $1 million contribution to the Stockton project.

Speaking to reporters earlier in the year, Hughes highlighted that being part of the nation’s top 1% earners was an eye-opening experience. Having noticed the imbalance in the economy, he got to thinking how best he could help change the narrative.

American Dream

Hughes pointed out that most people in America believe in the concept of working hard in order to make monetary gains. He however shared that while the notion is noble, that has not been the case in recent decades

Hughes is of the opinion that unless certain measures are effected, the levels of income inequality in the country will remain unchanged. He believes that the best way forward is for people to call to question our societal setup.

Stockton was considered the perfect candidate for the UBI initiative because of its demographic. The city has a population of about 300,000 and the poverty levels are alarming. Analysts posit that one out of every four people in the city is living in poverty.

As Natalie Foster, the cofounder and co-chair of the Economic Security Project shared, Stockton is an ideal city for the UBI initiative because has all the facets of what American cities look like.  Data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the median household income in Stockton is at $49,271, which pales in comparison to the national average of $57,617. Incredibly, about 70% of the city’s population is composed of individuals who would consider themselves minorities.

Thinking

Tubbs mentioned that during his young formative years, his mother liked to frequently remind him about the need for him to work hard and get out of Stockton. He now cites his life’s mission is to change the perception of Stockton and make it a place people want to live in. He also believes that the existing threat of automation should be a national concern. Tubbs shared that companies who come up with automation technologies should strive to ensure that they do not displace human workers while streamlining the manufacturing industry.

Lori Ospina, the director of the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, charged with overseeing the UBI project, said that the 100 UBI spots have already caused a stir in the town. She points to the fact that she is always receiving queries in his email inbox with residents eager to learn how they can get themselves on the program. The UBI project is set for kickoff in 2019 and analysts believe that data collected from the initiative will be instrumental in addressing some of the issues in society.

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