By Walter Einenkel
Stockton, California, is planning on becoming the first American testing ground for a basic income. The plan is to begin giving potentially 100 families $500 a month, “no strings attached.” The concept of universal basic income has been around for a long time and the hope is that in providing everyone a level of income, the stigma surrounding assistance programs like welfare will diminish, ameliorating some of the more destructive social inequalities that come in hand with income inequality.
In more modern times, Milton Friedman, darling of laissez-faire economics, embraced the idea of negative income taxes that put cash in the hands of the poorest people. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated “the guaranteed income.”
Dr. King’s legacy has currency in Stockton, which is now led by a history-making mayor, Michael Tubbs. At 27, he is the youngest mayor of a sizable American city, and the first African-American to hold the job here.