WASHINGTON, D.C. – Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime. Well, you have to give people life, in order to receive the revolution of redemption. Guaranteed Income does just that, give people the chance to dream again. That’s what former mayor of Stockton, CA, Michael Tubbs, had in mind when the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) was launched.
Based on a philosophy from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr that economic freedom can help eradicate poverty, Stockton, CA, was the first major American city to take measures into their own hands. One hundred twenty-five Stockton residents were randomly selected to receive $500 a month in a two-year pilot program. The cash was completely unconditional, with no strings attached and no work requirements. A report on the project’s results found that:
- Guaranteed income reduced income volatility, or the month-to-month income fluctuations that households face.
- Unconditional cash enabled recipients to find full-time employment.
- Recipients of guaranteed income were healthier, showing less depression and anxiety and enhanced wellbeing.
- The guaranteed income alleviated financial scarcity creating new opportunities for self-determination, choice, goal-setting, and risk-taking.
More cities in the United States are launching programs because their constituents need it. Guaranteed Income can eliminate debate on raising funds for social services through tax credits, temporary direct payments until the pandemic is over, or raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Private funding has deeply influenced this bi-partisan movement. What will it take to influence Congress, maybe mass eviction due to the lingering pandemic economic downturn? The people have the power, and decisions have consequences, so do elections. Want unhoused people off the streets? Guaranteed Income is a good start.