UBI is dead; live income guarantee

Delighted by this success, Tubbs started an organization, Mayors for Guaranteed Income, to expand the pilot in his town. To date, 42 mayors across America have signed, and more projects are now being run in towns and cities from Hudson, New York, and Gary, Indiana, to Compton, California.

Because the the results of the first year of SEED were released in March, Tubbs is often asked what he learns from it. “I was tempted to say‘ No, ’” he told me at the end of March.

He explained that the pilot had not told him anything that was not yet obvious to him: he knew from personal experience that many stereotypes about poor people (especially poor Black people) were not, as as he puts it, “rooted in reality.”

Tubbs was born in Stockton to a teenage mother and an incarcerated father. He attended Stanford as a required scholar, and returned home after graduation. He was soon elected to the City Council, before becoming mayor when he was only 26.

Tubbs doesn’t need data to know that he can trust people to make rational financial decisions, but experience has helped him “discover the power of narrative.”

He recognizes that “sometimes ideology, sometimes racism,” colors people’s perceptions. Part of his job as mayor has been to “describe what is real and what is not,” he said. He saw the opportunity to “describe what the data actually supports and what the bias supports.”

The need to change narratives through research and evidence was also seen by Nyandoro, of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust. A few days before the third kooh started receiving money, I asked him what research questions he hoped would be answered this new cycle.

“We have more than enough data now to prove that cash is working,” he told me. Now his question is not how money will affect low -income individuals, but rather, “What are the data or talking points that we need to go to policy makers … to move their heart?” What evidence can be sufficient to form a federal income -level policy?

As it turns out, what makes the difference is not more research but a global disease.

The impact of the pandemic

If home orders shut down many businesses – and ruined jobs, especially vulnerable low -income workers – the gap for unequal Americans becomes even harder to ignore. The food lines came for many miles. Millions of Americans facing eviction. Students without internet access at home took refuge in sitting in public parking lots to get Wi-Fi so they could attend classes online.

This is all the worse for people of color. By February 2021, Black and Hispanic women, who make up only one-third of the female labor force, causing nearly half of pandemic unemployment among women. Black men, meanwhile, are unemployed at almost double the rate of other ethnic groups, according to Census data. analyzed at the Pew Research Center.

All of this also changes the conversation about the costs of guaranteed income programs. When comparing between core income and state of affairs, they are seen as too expensive to be realistic. But in the face of the pandemic-led recession, relief packages were suddenly seen as necessary to start the American economy or, at least, avoid what Jerome Powell, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, called, “Down spiral“With” terrible “consequences.

“Covid-19 really illustrates all the things that in our actually work, and work, and have relationships with, people who are economically insecure.”

“Covid-19 really illustrates all the things that in our actually work, and work, and have relationships with, people who are economically insecure,” Tubbs said. That is, poverty is not an issue for “people. Along with systems. It’s in the policies. ”

Stimulus payments and increased unemployment benefits — that is, direct transfers of money to Americans with no connections included — were passed with great public support. And earlier this year, an expanded Child Credit and Dependent Tax (CTC) was introduced that provides up to $ 3,600 per child, paid monthly, to most American families.

This new benefit, which is set to last one year, is available even to families who do not have enough money to pay income tax; they are not left over from previous versions of the credit card. And by sending a monthly payment of up to $ 300 per child, rather than a rebate at the end of the year, it gives families an even greater opportunity to plan and budget. It is expected to cut child poverty in half.

Washington may not use the language of guaranteed income, but these programs fit the definition.

CTC is a “game changer,” said Natalie Foster, a cofounder of the Economic Security Project, which funds several guaranteed revenue pilots, including both SEED and Mayors for Guaranteed Income. It “breaks down decades of punitive policies for the benefit of America,” he said, and sets the stage for more permanent policies.

While his organization originally thought it could take a decade of data from city-based pilot programs to “inform federal policy making,” the CTC explained that guaranteed revenue, most less temporary, arrived.

The stimulus bills and CTC also make Tubbs “stronger now than ever before” that the guaranteed income will soon become a permanent asset of federal policy.

“We live in a time of pandemics,” he said. “It’s not just covid-19. It was an earthquake next month. These are fires. All of these things happen all the time – not to mention automation. We need to have capacity for our countrymen to promote economic stability. ”

Responsibility for poverty is “in the policies,” said Michael Tubbs, the former mayor of Stockton, California.


Even if the rhetoric is shifted from UBI’s technological concept, Silicon Valley’s interest in universality has not disappeared. In April, Jack Dorsey announced a new philanthropic initiative, Start a Small LLC, to provide $ 1 billion.

Donations will focus first on covid-19 relief and after the pandemic, will be transferred to the universal income and education of women, she said. Putting money into these causes, Dorsey explained, represents “the best long-term solutions to the problems facing the world.”

Despite the announcement that it is focused UNIVERSAL basic revenue, StartSmall has become one of the largest funders warranty we. It provided $ 18 million to the Mayors for the Revenue Guarantee, $ 15 million to the Open Research Lab (formerly known as the Y Combinator basic revenue experiment), $ 7 million to Humanity Forward, the Andrew Yang foundation, and most recently -or $ 3.5 million to establish a Cash Transfer Lab at New York University to continue further research into the issue.

Yang, now running for mayor of New York City, has also shifted his focus on universality. Instead of sending a $ 1,000 check every month to everyone, he is now advocating for a guaranteed minimum income of $ 2,000 per year for New Yorkers living in extreme poverty.

Tubbs claims some credit for these changes. He remembers a conversation with Dorsey where he told the billionaire, “It will take time to get universal, but urgently we have a guarantee that we will… So look, we’re not going to … try a UBI. We potential income guarantee test. Let’s start there. ”

If his donations had any clue, Dorsey heeded Tubbs ’words. What is more unclear, however, is whether he and other tech leaders see the guarantee of revenue as a ladder of UBI or as an end in itself. (By Dorsey’s Start staff responding to requests for an interview.)

Scott Santens, one of the earliest “Basically we’re bros,” believes that UBI’s initial interest in the tech sector as a cure for unemployment is still relevant. The pandemic has led to increased sales of automation and robots, he said, pointing to reports that questions about Amazon’s call center tech have increased, as has the purchase of warehouse robots to replace workers in warehouse.

Meanwhile, Sam Altman, who helped start Y Combinator’s UBI experiment before leaving to lead the artificial-intelligence startup OpenAI, wrote recently manifesto about the situation. In it, he urges us to continue to focus on the larger picture: even if the pandemic provides a brief shock, it is the technology-specific artificial intelligence that has the greatest impact on work over time.

Altman called for UBI to be funded by a 2.5% tax on businesses. “The best way to improve capitalism is to improve everyone who can directly benefit from it as an equity owner,” he wrote.

But “everyone does” will include people of color, who already are damaged to unequal levels by AI’s slopes? And can a dividend be paid from the spoils of artificial intelligence for that damage? Altman’s manifesto largely leaves out any mention of race.

Coming to the commentary, he sent a statement through an OpenAI representative saying, “We need to build AI in a way that doesn’t cause more damage to traditional communities that are far away. In addition to building technology in a fair and equitable way, we must also find a way to share the benefits with the masses. These are important issues independently. ”

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