National League of Cities releases universal basic income guide
- The National League of Cities (NLC) and the Stanford Basic Income Lab have released a guide to help cities that are considering pilot programs for universal basic income (UBI).
- The report offers case studies and best practices from UBI pilots around the world. It indicates that UBI has the potential to increase a city's social equality and equity, especially as wage growth stagnates and jobs are threatened by an increase in automation.
- NLC indicates that UBI is scalable to different cities and some aspects of the concept mirror features of the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and Social Security.
UBI is a program through which all adults in a designated area regularly receive a sum of money from the government, regardless of income level or employment status. Variations exist, but generally it is split into full or partial basic income and is intended to help residents meet their basic needs. They can replace or complement other government assistance programs.
UBI programs have been tested in places including Finland, Canada, Iran and Scotland. Stockton, CA this year announced a plan to give 100 low-income residents $500 a month for a year-and-a-half. The intent is to raise the income floor, especially in areas like Northern California where tech and robotics quickly are edging out human labor.
The concept tends to sharply divide people, with proponents wishing to guard against extreme poverty and critics saying it's a wasteful form of unearned welfare. Reports indicate that interest in UBI is on the rise. The new NLC toolkit should help interested cities navigate how to go about implementing a UBI program, or at least help them determine whether or not this type of program is a good fit.
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