During her recent campaign swing through California, Democratic socialist Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez visited the asparagus capital of America to meet with Mayor Michael Tubbs and explore ways to take a local universal basic income plan nationwide.
“We talked about the similarities between her district and Stockton, about increasing opportunity, and basic income,” Tubbs said of his visit with Ocasio-Cortez.
As I’ve written about before on Right By the Bay, Tubbs is pushing forward with a questionable plan starting next year to pay 100 people in Stockton around $500 per month for about 18 months.
The summit between Tubbs and Ocasio-Cortez comes as the Canadian province of Ontario announced it will abandon its universal basic income plan. The year-old program was implemented at a projected cost of $150 million per year.
A newly-elected conservative government immediately moved to end the program reports the Toronto Sun, writing that the new government determined “the program discouraged participants from finding work.”
Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod said that, “it really is a disincentive to get people back on track.”
“When you’re encouraging people to accept money without strings attached, it really doesn’t send the message that I think our ministry and our government wants to send,” she said.
Ontario’s move follows on the heels of Finland’s decision not to continue funding its universal basic income scheme past this year.
According to the New York Times, the government’s decision was “a reflection of public discomfort with the idea of dispensing government largess free of requirements that its recipients free work.”
Professor Heikki Hiilamo of the University of Helsinki told the paper that, “there is a fear that with basic income (young people) would just stay at home and play computer games.”
Ontario and Finland have both realized that basic income schemes are too costly to sustain, don’t lift people out of poverty, and really are about paying people to do nothing.
As was famously said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Let’s hope Tubbs and Ocasio-Cortez remember that adage, and take a cue from the abandoned universal basic income plans around the world before implementing what will surely be another failed plan here in the U.S.
Tim Anaya is communications director for the Pacific Research Institute.