What comes to mind when you hear “Universal Based Income (UBI)?”
For some, it sounds like a great plan, and 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. Not only has Alaska and New York shown through actual implementation and/or experimentation that UBI can work, but the same has also been conducted in other countries.
The biggest concern opponents of Universal Base Income have is that UBI in the US would bring forth abuse of the funds in numerous ways. Eventually, the funding would cost more than our current low-income assistance programs, and many people would lose out overall by having UBI rather than the current assistance programs. Let us take a deeper look and let you judge for yourself whether the new Jersey should start a UBI program or just forget about it.
Although studies have shown that it is very costly to implement UBI nationally or even statewide, the point of UBI is to help towards the basic needs of all residents and 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 should NOT be considered as an only means of income, PERIOD. Universal Base Income policies and programs are meant to alleviate some financial stress, in the “a little bit goes a long way” philosophy. For example, Canada tested a basic income guarantee between 1974 and 1979 to help low-income pregnant women by simply giving them 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 by allowing those women to have a little extra financial wiggle room to be able to provide their newborns with the appropriate transportation to and from doctor offices and other newborn needs. Eventually, the studies showed that the children born into both the low-income and high-income families were offered in essence, a fair chance at life.
In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg implemented the Family Rewards Program (FRP) from 2007 to 2010 which 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, and more importantly, families were able to have an improved sense of mental health since the financial stress had been reduced.
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, and the monthly cost of living, for basic needs, EXCEEDS $1,000 per month. Most of society’s concern stems from people becoming comfortable and lazy after receiving UBI, but 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 they currently face. Studies have shown that Universal Base Income “can work,” especially if it is provided in the form of food stamps or a health care only allowance, and that additional monthly income would significantly help the poorest of New Jersey’s residents.