For some, Universal Based Income sounds like a great plan. For others, it just doesn’t make sense. After a lot of research, I would say it is not a bad idea.
Based on data, as a country, the United States (US) would thrive. Alaska and New York have shown through actual implementation and/or experimentation that UBI can work. Other countries have also shown that it can work.
The biggest concern opponents of UBI have is that it would lead to the abuse of the funds. Eventually, the funding would cost more than our current low-income assistance programs. Also, many people would lose out overall by having UBI rather than the current assistance programs. Let us take a deeper look. Then, you can judge for yourself whether New Jersey should start a UBI program or not.
Although studies have shown that it is costly to implement UBI, the goal is provide basic needs to all residents. It does not guarantee a monthly income for living. The biggest concern we found was that most believed our society would eventually become lazy and stop working. UBI is NOT the only means of income, PERIOD. Universal Base Income policies and programs are to alleviate some financial stress. It is a “a little bit goes a long way” philosophy.
The Canadian Example
For example, Canada tested a basic income guarantee between 1974 and 1979 to help low-income pregnant women. Each woman received an allowance of $64 USD per month, known as the Healthy Baby Prenatal Benefit. Doesn’t sound like much, right? Well, that small monthly allowance helped alleviate some of the financial burdens. Women had a little extra financial wiggle room to be able to provide their newborns with transportation to and from doctor offices and other newborn needs. Eventually, the studies showed that the children born into any family received, in essence, a fair chance at life.
The New York Example
In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg implemented the Family Rewards Program (FRP) from 2007 to 2010. This studied outcomes of families receiving the assistance. FRP assisted low-income families with cash assistance of approximately $240.94 per month over the three years. Let’s say it again: $240.94 per month. As we Americans know, $240.94 per month is not enough to cover your monthly basic needs (rent, utilities, transportation, and food). It just isn’t, especially for New York City. However, studies have shown that little added income allowed families to feel financially stable. Families were able to provide better health care for themselves. Families could improve their financial strategies and budgets. More importantly, families were able to have an improved sense of mental health with a reduction of financial stress.
How does this tie into the hope for some financial freedom for New Jersey residents?
Currently, Newark, New Jersey Mayor, Ras Baraka, believes that “… studies have shown that families have a crisis of $400 a month may experience a setback that may be difficult, even impossible to recover from.” Therefore, he recently decided to create the program study to test UBI locally.
Stockton, California has also begun a local UBI program to low-income residents by providing them with a $500 prepaid card. Realistically speaking, even if New Jersey residents receive $1,000 per month as proposed by Andrew Yang, that amount will NOT suffice a person’s monthly expenses. There’s just no way! Mississippi is the most inexpensive state in the US. The monthly cost of living there for basic needs EXCEEDS $1,000 per month.
Most of society’s concern stems from people becoming comfortable and lazy after receiving UBI. However, what we fail to recognize is that UBI is NOT meant to cover a person’s monthly expenses. Instead, it is meant to HELP ALLEVIATE FINANCIAL STRESS AND HARDSHIPS that people currently face.
Studies have shown that Universal Based Income “can work,” especially if it is provided in the form of food stamps or a health care only allowance. Additional monthly income would significantly help the poorest of New Jersey’s residents.