We can expect the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls to propose several socialist policy ideas such as a single-payer health care system and free college education. Another one is likely to be some form of guaranteed, universal basic income (UBI), which won’t work any better than other socialist ideas. But when has that ever stopped leftists from proposing, and sometimes passing, them?
Failure certainly didn’t stop California Democrats from making UBI part of the state’s Democratic platform.
And it hasn’t stopped two California cities from implementing a UBI demonstration project, funded by wealthy liberals. Oakland has a grant from Y Combinator Research to hand out $1,500 a month for a year. And Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes is giving Stockton funding to provide roughly 100 poor families with $500 a month for 18 months.
Look for widespread media and liberal praise for these efforts. But will they achieve their goal of reducing income inequality and, eventually, ensuring every person has a living income whether working or not?
Finland thought so, but the country just abandoned its effort.
The initial idea was a limited pilot project providing some 2,000 Finns with €800 a month (about $920). Unfortunately for the surrealists, if that amount were extended to every Finn—the ultimate goal—it reportedly would cost the government more revenue than it receives. So the monthly allotment was reduced to €560 (about $650).
However, when the Finnish social security agency recently requested funding for next year, the government said no. The pilot project apparently didn’t encourage recipients to work more nor did it reduce poverty. A full report on the results is expected next year.
Wait, you mean to say that handing people a taxpayer-funded check could discourage work? Who knew?
UBI defenders say it’s been tried and proven successful. The Alaska Permanent Fund is a state-owned investment fund that gives state citizens a check every year—$1,100 in 2017, or $4,400 for a family of four. Left-leaning Vox calls the Permanent Fund a “socialist miracle.”
(Note to leftists, who tend to be environmentalists: That socialist miracle in Alaska is funded by fossil fuel revenues.)
But even with that windfall, Alaska had the 22nd highest poverty rate among states in 2016, only one year after high crude oil prices meant a family of four received $8,288 from the fund.
So even though UBI schemes apparently don’t work—they’re too costly, don’t reduce poverty nor encourage people to work—Democrats still support the idea because failure isn’t an impediment for Democratic support, as long as it’s backed by good intentions. Just look at Obamacare.