Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A 'Universal Basic Income' will trap people in poverty

The town of Stockton, California is trying an experiment. They’re giving every low-income resident a “universal basic income” of $500 per month. There’s no catch, no obligation. Mayor Michael Tubbs believes it’s a way to end poverty. I’m betting right here and now that he’s wrong.

The Economic Security Project is contributing $1 million so they can gather data to see if this really works. What they’ll find is Stockton will become a magnet for people who don’t want to work. Bums are what we used to call them before the PC police drove that word from our lexicon. But bums are what they’ll see.

From the Los Angeles Times
The irony is some Silicon Valley tech moguls are pushing the UBI. This in the competitive world where meritocracy is how one gets ahead. Innovation and hard work drive the valley. Why would they think giving anyone a UBI would be the answer? Guilt. These people have gotten so rich so fast that they feel guilty about it. They believe that “giving back” means welfare. That’s exactly what people who are stuck in poverty don’t need.

How many times have you seen a guy standing at the off ramp with a sign claiming he’ll work for food? And how many times have you seen a motorist offer him work? Never. They give them money. The person rarely buys food with it. He or she uses the money to buy whatever substance that’s pushed them to the side of the road in the first place. They had it right with their sign. If they actually worked for food they wouldn’t be on the street. But most aren’t willing to work. That’s the problem. And offering someone a UBI will only exacerbate the problem.

Los Angeles’ homeless population has exploded in recent years. Why? Because they’ve made themselves a magnet for the homeless. The county of Los Angeles now spends over $1 billion a year managing homelessness. One of the brilliant ideas they’ve come up with is tiny homes for the homeless. I’m not kidding. There’s an organization called My Tiny House Project LA. They build cracker box houses for the homeless. Right now they’re mad at the city for not providing enough space to put these ridiculous little dog houses. They actually think that solves the problem.

I know this may sound counter-intuitive, but homeless people aren’t homeless because they don’t have homes. They’re homeless because they don’t have jobs. There are myriad reasons why they don’t have jobs. Until we get at that problem we’ll never solve homelessness. 

Many of these people are mentally ill. You can thank a judge back during the Carter era for turning them out on the streets. The rest mostly have substance abuse problems. Putting them in a tiny house is not going to solve either of those problems.

For the mentally ill we need to get them mental health care. And not just a diagnosis and a thirty-day supply of Xanax and put them back on the streets. Many of these people need to be institutionalized. Until we change the laws and overrule that court back in the ‘70s they will continue to roam the streets without proper mental health care.

As for the addicts, there’s only one solution and that is to get off the drugs or alcohol. That’s only going to happen when that person decides they’ve hit rock bottom and they want the help. Until then, giving them a UBI is only going to prolong their misery.

Stockton, unfortunately, will judge their success by how many people they suck into the government system.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

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