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California Basic Income (CBI)

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We stand on the precipice of a technological revolution that will usher in a new era of unprecedented opportunities and daunting challenges.


The rise of AI and automation promises transformative innovations, yet also harbors the potential for widespread job displacement, economic instability, and deepening social disparities.


To address this, I will advocate for a California Basic Income, a statewide UBI starting at $1,000 per month for every adult over the age of 18.

I propose a UBI for the following reasons, underpinned by recent studies and pilot programs in California:

  • Financial Stability: UBI provides a financial safety net for all Californians. This buffer protects against job market uncertainties amplified by automation and AI, and grants the liberty to adapt, retrain, or venture into new paths without the dread of financial insecurity. 

  • Alleviating Poverty: UBI directly tackles poverty, providing a stable income that could notably reduce homelessness, food insecurity, and other socioeconomic issues in California. 

Please review the FAQ below to learn more.

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  • What is UBI?
    My proposed UBI plan, California Basic Income (CBI), is a statewide initiative that guarantees $1,000 per month for every adult and $300 for each child under 18. The idea of Universal Basic Income, or UBI, goes back as far as the 18th century. UBI provides everyone with a direct cash payment each month, with no strings attached, and would lift countless families and individuals out of poverty and support the middle class. If money is power, then let's give power to the people.
  • Why UBI?
    In addition to reducing widespread poverty, a Universal Basic Income of $1000 per month to every American adult and $300 for every child under 18 will cost less to implement than our current inefficient means-tested relief programs. The California state government would provide UBI payments directly into the hands of Californians through free public banking. Numerous basic income experiments have shown: Guaranteed Basic Income: UBI would provide a safety net for all citizens, ensuring everyone has at least a minimum income. This could reduce poverty and income inequality, as well as provide financial stability. Reduction of Bureaucracy: While it wouldn't replace welfare programs, a UBI could simplify them. Administration for targeted welfare can be complex and costly, whereas a UBI is straightforward - everyone gets the same amount, regardless of their circumstances. Prevention of Welfare Traps: Sometimes, traditional welfare programs can create disincentives to work, as people might lose their benefits if they get a job or a raise. A UBI wouldn't have this problem as it's not means-tested, so people could work without fear of losing their benefits. Addressing Job Loss Due to Automation: As automation and AI continue to displace jobs, a UBI could provide a safety net for those affected, ensuring they have a basic income while they retrain or find new work. Stimulating the Economy: With more disposable income, people would likely spend more, stimulating demand and potentially boosting the economy. Encouraging Entrepreneurship and Creativity: Knowing they have a safety net might encourage people to start their own businesses, go back to school, or engage in creative pursuits. Enhanced Bargaining Power for Workers: If workers have a guaranteed income, they may have more freedom to negotiate better working conditions and wages, as they aren't solely reliant on their job for survival. Support for Unpaid Work: UBI recognizes and compensates for unpaid work, such as caregiving and volunteering, that traditional welfare systems often overlook. Mitigating the Effects of Economic Shocks: In times of economic downturn or crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, a UBI can provide immediate and universal relief. Supporting Small Businesses: The Roosevelt Institute found that a UBI would create 4.6 million jobs and promote entrepreneurship and creativity. UBI would provide new business owners with guaranteed income in the early lean days of a company and acts as a safety net if the business fails. Furthermore, UBI has the potential to increase the economy by 13% and help revive pandemic-ravaged industries like retail and hospitality. While some gross cost calculations for the UBI program run into the trillions, the net cost, or “real cost” is calculated to be just a sixth of the oft-mentioned price tag — an investment that our nation can make at a lower net price than the current defense budget.
  • How will we pay for a UBI?
    Funding for Universal Basic Income (or CBI) would involve reallocating existing economic resources and implementing a tax system that primarily targets wealthy individuals and large corporations, rather than average citizens and small businesses. UBI will be funded by new revenue sources from taxes on AI, automation, and Big Data. Consider the following aspects: The U.S. annually spends $500 to $600 billion on welfare, food stamps, disability, and other safety net programs. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for more equitable safety net programs nationwide. Government COVID relief measures, such as stimulus checks and Child Tax Credits, have demonstrated the effectiveness of direct cash transfers in reducing poverty and financial stress. Over $1 trillion is spent yearly on healthcare, incarceration, and homelessness services. Implementing UBI could potentially save $100 to $200 billion annually, as individuals might take better care of their health, reducing emergency room visits, incarceration rates, and homelessness. A monthly UBI of $1,000 could be self-financing, as it helps people avoid costly institutions. Research suggests that every dollar given to a low-income parent can yield up to $7 in cost savings and economic growth. Additionally, UBI could stimulate new economic growth. The Roosevelt Institute predicts that UBI could increase the economy by about $2.5 trillion and create 4.6 million jobs over six years, generating roughly $800 to $900 billion in new revenue from this growth and related activities.
  • Has UBI ever been done before?
    Worldwide experiments with unconditional cash transfers have consistently shown effectiveness in alleviating poverty. Contrary to concerns that recipients might misuse funds on substances like drugs or alcohol, cease working, or increase family size, World Bank studies have refuted these fears, even indicating a decrease in such behaviors. Over the past five decades, more than 30 cash transfer programs have been evaluated. Highlighted below are some notable examples: The Mincome Experiment in Manitoba, Canada, which led to reduced hospital visits without affecting work hours. The BIG Pilot Project in Namibia, which saw decreases in crime and school dropouts, along with health improvements. Give Directly in Kenya, which resulted in greater assets and nutrition levels, without impacting drug use or violence. The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration in the USA, which reduced depression and financial insecurity, and increased full-time employment. COVID Stimulus Checks in the USA, which significantly aided in purchasing food and paying bills, reducing anxiety and depression. The most significant benefits were seen in the poorest households and those with children. The Child Tax Credit in the USA, which lessened childhood poverty, reduced food insecurity, and provided financial support during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The evidence is overwhelming: providing direct financial support significantly improves lives. Since 1998, there have been 461 research papers published on this subject, offering a comprehensive overview of these findings.
  • Have any UBI programs shown to reduce crime rates?
    Since 1982, the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend initially provided annual payments to all residents. In 1989, the program changed to exclude felons. Research on this program showed that when the dividend was given to all residents, including those with criminal records, property crimes decreased significantly. The research showed that a $100 increase in the dividend led to a nearly 200 crimes per 100,000 population decrease in property crime. This suggests that providing financial support to everyone, including those within the criminal justice system, can help reduce certain types of crime, like property crimes. My UBI proposal extends to all citizens above 18, regardless of their criminal record. However, it does not include people who are incarcerated, primarily because their basic needs like housing, food, and healthcare are already provided by the incarceration system.
  • Will UBI cause inflation?
    The belief that inflation is solely driven by factors like increased money supply or stimulus checks is a common but inaccurate view. In reality, inflation results from a combination of elements, including the money supply, demand for goods and services, and production costs. Take, for instance, the case of rising egg prices in the U.S., which was attributed by some to the distribution of stimulus checks. However, the actual cause was a new strain of bird flu that drastically reduced the chicken population, leading to a decreased supply of eggs. This example illustrates that inflation's roots can be diverse and not always linked to monetary policy. Beyond the issue of inflation, there's a broader aspect often overlooked. The very technologies implicated in job displacement are also the same ones poised to reduce the cost of goods and services. Automation is a prime example, with the potential to significantly lower production costs. As technology progresses, it generally leads to reduced costs throughout the entire supply chain.
  • Wouldn't UBI cause rent prices to go up?
    A Universal Basic Income of $1,000 per month is designed as a means to either fully cover or help with basic living expenses. While this amount might not cover the average rent in my area, existing tenant laws in California are in place to address such concerns. UBI presents a unique chance for landlords to positively impact the housing market. With the introduction of UBI, it would be a strategic move for landlords to invest in expanding housing availability. The reasoning for landlords could be: With more people having additional income, it's an opportunity to construct new housing units, broaden the scope of our business, attract new tenants, and retain current ones who are now more capable of committing to longer rental agreements. UBI, therefore, holds potential benefits for both landlords and renters, offering new opportunities for housing stability and business growth.
  • Wouldn't UBI just make people lazy?
    Universal Basic Income is set to empower those with ambition, offering them the freedom to chase their aspirations, a factor that has been linked to increased productivity in studies. In cases where some individuals might initially embrace inactivity, the evidence suggests this is likely to be a temporary phase. Over time, factors like social influences or personal reflection will motivate many of them. They may begin to explore their potential, such as launching new ventures, engaging in community service, or investing in personal development through therapy, fitness, or skill acquisition. At our core, we are driven by a quest for meaning and purpose, and it's reasonable to expect that this fundamental trait will continue to guide behaviors in the context of receiving UBI.
  • Will UBI replace existing welfare programs?
    Universal Basic Income (UBI) is envisioned as a complement, not a replacement, for non-means-tested social programs that provide essential services like healthcare, housing assistance, childcare, and food aid. Additionally, UBI is designed to supplement existing disability benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This is crucial since many disabled individuals depend on SSI not just for income, but also to qualify for Medicaid and Long Term Services & Supports (LTSS), expenses that exceed what $1,000/month can cover. Moreover, UBI aims to enhance Social Security retirement benefits. As these benefits are funded by individuals' lifelong contributions, they are essentially a return of their own money. For means-tested social programs, which provide benefits based on income, research indicates that they can inadvertently perpetuate poverty. They often penalize recipients for earning additional income or seeking employment, thus limiting their potential for financial advancement. Hence, where a $1,000/month UBI can effectively substitute these means-tested welfare programs, such integration should be considered. By granting every adult a $1,000 monthly UBI, alongside the aforementioned programs, we aim to establish a financial baseline for all Americans. This UBI would be unconditional, independent of employment status, freeing individuals from the often burdensome process of proving eligibility for means-tested benefits. It empowers them to seek employment and additional income, building upon the foundation that the UBI provides.
  • Wouldn't UBI cause people to stop working or looking for jobs?
    No, the fear that a Universal Basic Income would discourage people from working is largely unfounded. In fact, extensive research conducted over several decades on various cash transfer programs, both within the United States (such as the Alaska Permanent Fund) and internationally, has consistently found that cash transfers have little to no negative impact on work behavior. Specifically, studies have shown that the primary groups who tend to work fewer hours when given direct cash transfers are new mothers—who benefit from more time to care for their newborns—and children—who can focus more on their studies. Indeed, research has indicated a positive correlation between cash transfers and high school graduation rates, suggesting that UBI can promote educational attainment. Furthermore, there are instances where people have actually increased their work efforts after receiving cash transfers. For example, a study conducted by Harvard and MIT found no adverse effects of cash transfers on work behavior. It's also worth noting that a UBI could encourage entrepreneurial risk-taking by providing a safety net, leading to new business formation and job creation. Of course, it's important to monitor and study the effects of UBI programs to ensure they're achieving their intended benefits without undesirable side effects. But the evidence thus far suggests that fears of widespread work disincentives are largely misplaced.
  • Wouldn’t people spend the UBI on drugs and alcohol?
    Decades of research contradict the notion that economic assistance leads to poor decision-making. In fact, studies consistently show that decision-making abilities improve with increased financial security. Providing individuals with financial resources empowers them to make choices that can positively transform their circumstances. Dutch philosopher Rutger Bregman encapsulates this idea, stating, “Poverty is not a lack of character. It’s a lack of cash.” Evidence from numerous studies where cash was given directly to impoverished individuals reveals no spike in substance abuse like drugs and alcohol. On the contrary, many recipients used the funds to decrease their alcohol consumption or address other substance abuse issues.
  • What about differences in the cost of living for major cities and rural areas?
    All eligible individuals would receive the same $1,000 monthly payment under the Universal Basic Income program, regardless of their geographic location. Implementing varying UBI amounts based on location would complicate the system with unnecessary bureaucratic costs. By distributing a uniform UBI statewide to every citizen, regardless of their state, the program enhances the ability of more Americans to live where they desire and move across the country with greater ease. Relocation often demands considerable upfront financial resources, and the $1,000 monthly assistance would boost mobility for individuals and families, fostering a more dynamic labor market as people explore new areas and opportunities. Since the value of $1,000 can differ from one region to another, a uniform UBI payment could invigorate many communities, particularly those with a lower cost of living. This could result in a population shift away from expensive metropolitan areas, as people have the financial flexibility to move to more affordable locations.
  • Wouldn’t employers start paying less?
    No. UBI will actually empower workers, because with consistent, unconditional cash to cover expenses, every Californian would be able to be more selective about the working conditions they are willing to accept. With an increase in bargaining power, workers would have the leverage across the board to fight for higher wages and benefits and strengthen what has long been a stagnant labor market.
  • Will UBI be given to new residents of California?
    No, Universal Basic Income in California will be provided only to residents who have lived in the state for at least one year. This requirement is in place to ensure that the UBI program is sustainable and benefits long-term residents who contribute to the state's economy and community. By setting a residency duration criterion, the program aims to allocate resources efficiently and maintain a fair system for those who have established their lives in California.
  • Will UBI be given to undocumented immigrants
    No, Universal Basic Income is designed to be provided to citizens only. However, it's important to consider how UBI can indirectly benefit the broader community, including undocumented immigrants, through their family members who are legal citizens. When citizens receive UBI, they are in a stronger financial position to support their families, including undocumented relatives. This support can be in various forms – from direct financial assistance to helping with basic necessities like food, housing, and healthcare. By alleviating some of the economic pressures on these families, UBI can play a crucial role in helping undocumented immigrants stabilize their situation and potentially pursue legal avenues for residency or citizenship. The injection of UBI into local economies can create a positive ripple effect. As citizens spend their UBI, there can be an increase in job opportunities and community resources, indirectly benefiting everyone in the community, including undocumented immigrants. Therefore, while UBI is for citizens, its wider economic and social impacts can extend to support the broader community, including those who are undocumented.
  • Shouldn’t job training programs help with automation?
    While retraining programs are well-intentioned, they often fall short of their goals due to rapidly shifting job markets and technological advancements. By the time individuals complete a retraining program, the job they trained for might have evolved or become automated. Keeping pace with technology's rapid advancement is challenging, and it's also difficult to determine who should receive retraining. For instance, should retail workers from a closed mall be retrained, or call center employees if their jobs are automated? The effectiveness of retraining programs is questionable. For example, the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, a federal initiative for displaced manufacturing workers, reported that only 37% of participants found work in their new field. Michigan’s No Worker Left Behind Program saw similar outcomes, with one-third of participants remaining jobless after the program, comparable to the 40% unemployment rate among those who didn't participate. Between 2003 and 2013, approximately half of the Michigan workers who left the workforce ended up on disability and were not retrained for new jobs. A significant portion of the workforce at risk of displacement includes middle-aged or older individuals, many of whom have health issues. Retraining for them can be particularly challenging, and employers often prefer hiring younger employees with fewer job requirements. While the concept of training programs is commendable, history shows that we struggle to implement them effectively, especially in the face of widespread industrial changes. The notion of retraining a large population across various industries seems unrealistic and insufficient to address the job displacement caused by emerging technologies.
  • Why give UBI to the wealthy families as well?
    Indeed, Universal Basic Income is designed to be truly universal, encompassing all adults and children. This universality plays a key role in eliminating any stigma associated with receiving government cash transfers. A universal approach also addresses the issue of disincentives related to income brackets. Under typical welfare systems, individuals might limit their income to remain eligible for benefits. UBI removes this barrier, allowing everyone to receive the income regardless of their earnings. To balance this system, implementing progressive taxation within the UBI framework ensures that wealthier individuals contribute their fair share in taxes, similar to everyone else. This approach helps in maintaining fairness and equity in the distribution and funding of UBI.
  • Is providing UBI a partisan issue?
    If you see who has talked about Universal Basic Income in American history, they are leaders on both sides of the aisle. UBI has been championed by people of all political backgrounds. For conservatives, providing UBI means less red tape, less bureaucracy, and less government involvement in people’s lives, because the $1,000/month would be given consistently and without a complicated application process. For liberals, providing UBI means leveling the playing field and providing equal access, opportunity, and assistance to all.
  • What other effect would UBI have on the economy?
    The Roosevelt Institute found that adopting an annual $12,000 basic income for every adult U.S. citizen over the age of 18 would permanently grow the economy by 12.56-13.10 percent—or about $2.5 trillion by 2025—and it would increase the labor force by 4.5-4.7 million people. (Click here.) Putting money in people’s hands grows the economy, particularly when those people need the money and will spend it. In our district alone, UBI payments of $1,000/month would bring an extra $500,000,000+/month of additional income into the community, most of which would be spent locally. Then imagine that situation playing out in every community across the country, big and small. Districts all over America will have more vibrant local economies, creating more jobs and leading to new businesses.
  • Is providing Universal Basic Income a form of Communism or Socialism?
    Communism advocates for a radical transformation into a classless, moneyless, and stateless society based on communal ownership of production. Socialism, on the other hand, primarily focuses on the nationalization of production means, where the government would take control of major corporations like Amazon and Google. A Universal Basic Income of $1,000 per month to Californians does not align with either of these ideologies. Under UBI, both the government and private corporations continue to operate as usual. UBI's role is to ensure a basic level of income for citizens, aiding in covering fundamental human needs. The government's objective is to foster and enhance the welfare of its citizens. Redistributing funds through UBI payments aligns with this goal, as it establishes a financial baseline, ensuring that all individuals have fundamental financial support.
  • So, who’s supported Universal Basic Income before?
    The concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI) in America traces its roots back to Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers, who characterized such income payments as a “natural inheritance.” The momentum for UBI and related cash assistance programs started building during the early 20th century, around 1918, amid the industrial revolution. This period saw unprecedented production levels in developed nations, reigniting interest in the idea, which garnered support from several Nobel Prize-winning economists, including Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek. In the 1960s, the movement gained further prominence with endorsement from Martin Luther King Jr. Additionally, over 1,000 economists from more than 125 universities signed a letter addressed to President Nixon advocating for income guarantees. The concept reached a legislative peak in 1970 under President Nixon, with a proposal for a guaranteed income floor being passed in the House of Representatives. However, it encountered obstacles in the Senate, primarily due to Democrats advocating for a more substantial guaranteed income. Thus, Universal Basic Income is not a novel concept but an established idea whose relevance and urgency have resurfaced in contemporary times. Universal Basic Income is not new – it is an old idea whose time has come.
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