Universal Basic Income (UBI), also known as guaranteed income, is a government-sponsored program providing regular payments to citizens regardless of their employment status according to the balance. The idea behind this concept is to decrease poverty, prevent homelessness and provide financial security to individuals. By receiving a set amount of money, people will have the freedom to choose jobs they are passionate about rather than just the ones they have to do to survive.
UBI in a different form was evident during the Covid-19 pandemic when stimulus checks and enhanced Child Tax Credits were provided to Americans to support them during difficult times. Research conducted by MIT and Harvard found that UBI programs have little impact on employee behavior. While the extra-governmental spending required to fund the program has been a criticism, it has been noted that the data proves cash transfers work in providing support to people.
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Although there are no federal UBI plans in the US, several cities have taken it upon themselves to try the program. Some of these cities include Birmingham, Alabama; Phoenix, Arizona; and multiple cities in California such as Los Angeles, Mountain View, and San Francisco. Other cities trialing UBI programs include Denver, Colorado; Gainesville, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; New Orleans and Shreveport, Louisiana; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; and many more.
Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, California, an early adopter of UBI trials says that “What is the data or talking points that we need to get to the policymakers… to move their hearts?” The experiences of people like Elizabeth Softky, who participated in a pilot program run by Miracle Messages, support the positive impact UBI can have on people’s lives.
In conclusion, UBI is a concept that has gained traction in recent times and has been trialed in several US cities. It has the potential to decrease poverty, provide financial security, and give individuals the freedom to choose jobs they are passionate about. While the extra-governmental spending required to fund the program remains a criticism, the data shows that cash transfers work in providing support to people.
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