Universal Basic Income "Experiment" in Compton
Updated: Jan 15
During last few weeks the main stream media has been reporting about City of Compton introducing the largest "Universal Basic Income" program in the USA.
According to the news, City of Compton is launching the nation’s largest universal basic income program, with plans to distribute regular cash payments to about 800 pre-verified low-income residents for two years.
Recipients will be kept anonymous and the program will be evaluated by an independent research team, who will report preliminary findings at six-month intervals.
The Compton community is perplexed. After all, the initiative claims that it is COMMUNITY'S VISION FOR FREEDOM. Many folks in the community are rightfully asking questions:
Who is paying for this "Universal Basic Income" program which has been announced as the Compton "city" program?
Is the city paying for it?
Did the city council vote on it?
When did all this happen?
Who is getting the money?
Who qualifies? What are the qualifications?
If selected, do the recipients lose their welfare benefits?
Do the folks need to be unemployed, or can working folks with regular income also apply?
How do folks apply?
Who selects the recipients? And how? Is it a lottery?
How come undocumented are considered to be part of this program?
Did the city leadership hold a virtual town hall meeting with the community on this topic?
The answers to all questions are all "nope"...
One other peculiar term used in the news is that this program is an "experiment." And tests results will be monitored and reported for two years.
We wonder what these "experiments" are about precisely. Replacement of welfare benefits? What is being tested exactly? And, how is $800 per month going to make a dent on income inequality?
We believe that giving away free money to the people will motivate them not to work, as folks need not do anything to earn the subject income. Yet, if we teach the people how to earn money through education and creating high quality job opportunities, they’ll become highly productive members of our community and ably feed themselves forever.
So, who is paying for the UBI program?
Whose program is it if the community is kept in darkness? Well, the Compton Pledge website has some answers. It seems to be a partnership between a group of organizations with the Jain Family Institute (a NY based foundation) and the Fund for Guaranteed Income. http://comptonpledge.org/pledges/
According to The Compton Pledge’s fact sheet, the program has already raised upwards of $2.5 million in private donations and more in-kind support. All donations go to the Fund for Guaranteed Income, which is led by Nika Soon-Shiong, the daughter of LA Times owner and billionaire bioscientist Patrick Soon-Shiong.
Well, another one of the donors turns out to be the Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who is worth more than $7 billion. That is 7,000 million dollars, of which he is pledging $3 million to support "experiments" in free cash payments to Americans.
Let's put Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's donation in perspective. You have $7 thousand in your pocket, and you donate $3 of it. Quite generous! Such a "huge" donation gives a donor quite a prominent place with media headlines, especially when he is having problems with how Twitter is viewed lately.
We will have to wait and see what all this fuss is about.
One other interesting article is about UBI having been tested in some western countries.