Mayor Bottoms Signs Atlanta Up for Basic Income Pilot Program
(APN) ATLANTA — In June 2020, City of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joined the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI), committing to participate in a pilot program to provide a basic income to a small number of Atlanta residents.
“I am honored to join this powerful coalition of mayors as a founding member in this privately funded pilot program,” Mayor Bottoms said in a press release.
“We know that economic security is a right and a necessity for all to thrive in this country. I look forward to the meaningful work we will do to continue to push our communities forward,” Bottoms said.
The idea behind Universal Basic Income–championed by erstwhile Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang–is that all families or individual households in the United States would receive a recurring basic monthly income that would keep them from falling into poverty or homelessness.
Each city will come up with its own plan for how to conduct its pilot program, including its own identification of funding sources, although some cities will receive funding directly from MGI.
In Atlanta, this will obviously require the support of the Atlanta City Council.
Some twenty-five mayors to date have pledged to participate in the program, founded by City of Stockton Mayor Michael D. Tubbs of Stockton, California.
In addition to Mayors Bottoms and Tubbs, mayors representing Newark, New Jersey; Columbia, South Carolina; Compton, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; St. Paul, Minnesota; Seattle, Washington; Providence, Rhode Island; Los Angeles, California; Long Beach, California; Hudson, New York; Holyoke, Massachusetts; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Jackson, Mississippi; Ithaca, New York; Mount Vernon, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Shreveport, Louisiana; Madison, Wisconsin; Paterson, New Jersey; Gainesville, Florida; Oakland, California; Richmond, Virginia; and Tacoma, Washington, have signed on to the initiative.
Jack Dorsey, the billionaire CEO of Twitter and Square, donated some three million dollars from his philanthropic LLC to MGI to support the initiative.
STOCKTON’S PILOT PROGRAM
So far, 125 Stockton residents have received monthly cash payments of five hundred dollars each, for some twenty-four months [two years], as part of the program. All of the funds raised in Stockton have been from private sources.
The residents were randomly selected from a larger pool of 4,200 residents who were deemed to meet the eligibility criteria, including living in a neighborhood with an average income below the median income in Stockton.
SEED is being evaluated by a team of two independent researchers, Dr. Stacia Martin-West of the University of Tennessee and Dr. Amy Castro Baker of the University of Pennsylvania.
The researchers will be following the cash payment recipients to see how the payments improve their well-being, in addition to following some two hundred control group members, who will not receive income payments.
ATLANTA’S “OLD FOURTH WARD ECONOMIC SECURITY TASK FORCE”
In Atlanta, a team of 27 local and national leaders have established an Old Fourth Ward Economic Security Task Force, which is tasked with designing a UBI pilot program in Atlanta.
While the Task Force was announced around the same time as Mayor Bottoms’s participation in MGI, the Task Force appears to be an initiative of Councilman Amir Farokhi (District 2) and unconnected to the MGI announcement.
While focused on a UBI pilot, it is limited to the Old Fourth Ward.
The Co-Chairs include Taifa Smith Butler, President and CEO of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute; Councilman Farokhi; former Mayor of Atlanta Shirley Franklin; and Dena Kimball, Executive Director of the Kendeda Fund.
Is Universal Basic Income an idea whose time has come?
The devastation of small businesses across the country in connection with the shutdowns ordered by state governments during the COVID-19 pandemic have brought about job loss and unemployment.
Yang has said in recent interviews that he believes the response to COVID-19 has accelerated the process of job losses that were, in fact, already inevitable – thus underscoring the need for UBI.
Rather than a welfare program requiring giant bureaucracies to intrude into people’s lives through all kinds of questioning and surveillance, cash payments have the virtue of being strings-free and less costly to administer.
Yang has founded an organization, Move Humanity Forward, which is promoting the concept of UBI nationwide. The organization held a Basic Income March in 45 U.S. cities on Saturday, September 19, 2020.
“The idea of a guaranteed income is as old as the nation itself and has deep roots in the fight for racial justice,” according to MGI.
“Early advocates included Thomas Paine and Thomas Moore; in the 1960s, supporters included economist Milton Friedman, President Richard Nixon, and Governor Huey Long,” according to MGI.
“Guaranteed income also has deep roots in the Civil Rights Movement, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Black Panther Party, and the National Welfare Rights Organization calling for direct cash payments,” according to MGI.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2020)