Liberals around the globe love the idea of free money. They call it “universal basic income” (UBI). It works like this: Taxpayers earn a bunch of money and send it to the government, which gives it to other people, whether they have jobs or not.
Pretty sweet deal, right? All the big tech moguls, like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, think it’s great. So do liberal politicians around the world. The socialist Scandinavian countries have all experimented with the program, and one California city is getting ready to do so in 2019.
But the new conservative government in Ontario, Canada, plans to end its experimental UBI program, calling it “expensive and unsustainable,” The Guardian reports.
The previous Liberal government launched the pilot program last year, touting it as a unique three-year foray into a policy touted as a panacea to poverty, bloated bureaucracy and the rise of precarious work.
The C$150m pilot recruited 4,000 participants across three regions of the Canadian province, ranging from people working in low-paying or precarious jobs to those on social assistance. Social scientists watched closely as the unconditional payments began to flow last year, tracking whether the funds would improve health, education and housing outcomes.
But the newly-elected government isn’t going to go along with the program. “On Tuesday, Lisa MacLeod, the Ontario minister responsible for social services, announced the end of the pilot, which she described as ‘quite expensive,’ adding that it was ‘clearly not the answer for Ontario families,'” the Guardian reported.
“It was certainly not going to be sustainable,” she said. “Spending more money on a broken program wasn’t going to help anyone.”
Finland has also decided to bag its UBI program.
But socialists in the United States, like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortz, a 28-year-old former bartender running for a House seat in New York, are pushing the idea.
Stockton, California, is set to become the first in the nation to deploy UBI. Under the plan,100 residents of Stockton will receive $500 a month in cash, with no strings attached. Work, don’t work, whatever.
The free-money program will start in 2019 and run for 18 months, costing the city $900,000.
But CNN has reported that there are “some wrinkles in this plan”
In its purest form, every American would receive a basic income, which some estimates peg at about $10,000 per year. In the aggregate, that would add trillions to the budget annually.
Policymakers could lighten the burden by scrapping the rest of the U.S.’s targeted anti-poverty programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as food stamps) and Medicaid. …
But many on the left see the idea as a Trojan horse for eliminating benefits that currently lift millions of people out of poverty.
“The risk is high that under any UBI that could conceivably gain traction politically, tens of millions of poor people would likely end up worse off,” wrote Robert Greenstein, the president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in a blog post last month.