Chicago may become the largest municipality in the United States to test a universal basic income program. Ameya Pawar, a city alderman, proposed legislation that would provide 1,000 families with a $500 monthly stipend – no questions asked.
The bill already has the support of the majority of the city lawmakers. Pawar hopes to soon work with the legislation with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to get the program implemented.
“Nearly 70 percent of Americans don’t have $1,000 in the bank for an emergency,” Pawar told the outlet. “UBI could be an incredible benefit for people who are working and are having a tough time making ends meet or putting food on the table at the end of the month.”
Pawar previously campaigned and won a spot on the ballot for governor. He eventually withdrew after his opponent outspent him.
The legislation would not just offer $500, it would also make adjustments on the Earned Income Tax Credit program so that families could put their tax credit toward their monthly mortgage payment, according to the outlet.
My legislation calling for the creation of a Chicago #UniversalBasicIncome pilot has 36 co-sponsors! On to the Commitee on Workforce Development and Audit. Committee chair @40thWard is also a sponsor. More soon! #UBI pic.twitter.com/W7D5Hbx31E
— Ameya Pawar (@Ameya_Pawar_IL) June 27, 2018
Pawar noted that companies such as Amazon, Tesla and other car manufacturers are investing in automation technology. This will have the potential to disrupt millions of jobs and lead to more political destabilization.
Chicago wouldn’t be the only city testing the waters to give residents free money. Stockton, California has also proposed a universal basic income program with the backing of wealthy Silicon Valley moguls. That city will pay 100 residents $500 a month without any conditions. The program’s purpose is to ultimately ensure that no one in Stockton, with a population of 300,000, lives in poverty.
The program, which allows the 100 lucky residents to use the money for anything they want, will launch in 2019 and last 18 months. Officials will then decide whether to roll out the program citywide.
Alaska has given every resident of the state a check since 1976 as part of the Alaska Permanent Fund. That income is tied to oil revenue and varies on amount, but last year equaled $1,100, according to The Intercept.
Finland has also developed a cash transfer system. They recently ended a program that gave 2,000 unemployed working-age people 560 Euros per month.
Tech titans have declared their support for a universal basic income. Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted last month it “will be necessary over time if AI takes over most human jobs.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during a Harvard commencement speech last year that “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”
Business magnate Richard Branson has also called for universal basic income.
A 2017 Pew Research Center study found that 60 percent of Americans favor the government providing a “guaranteed income that would allow them to meet their basic needs.”