You wouldn’t expect the second most expensive city in the U.S. to give money away, but in San Francisco, that’s now a reality. As a part of a “basic income” experiment — a financial system that’s existed since the 16th century, but never really took off in the U.S. outside of Alaska — the golden city will redistribute $5 million to select families in installments of $1,000 to $2,000 per month, Hoodline reported.
“A focus on kids skirts a lot of the questions people usually have about basic income,” Sean Kline, the director of San Francisco’s Office Of Financial Empowerment (OFE), explained at a forum hosted by the Universal Income Project. (Namely, are they a bunch of commies?) According to Kline, direct cash as a benefit is “one of the most-researched things in the world,” and evidence consistently shows that when it comes to people with kids, it doesn’t lead to people buying drugs or alcohol. It’s spent to support the well-being of families and children.
The OFE (pronounced as “oof” by it’s critics) hopes that this will help the city study how children develop in families who receive basic income, compared to families who already receive social services, and those who receive no government aid at all — aka, those who eventually can’t afford to stay in Silicon Valley. Basic income advocates argue that it may be more efficient than providing social services because it eliminates administrative and bureaucratic costs.
The real challenge is getting the data to prove this through pilot programs, which isn’t cheap. Last year alone, the city proposed a similar program to the MacArthur Foundation that did not receive funding. Kline says this is a smaller-scale version to gather evidence for more money. Another experiment in Oakland, courtesy of the startup incubator Y Combinator, will similarly give 100 families from different socioeconomic backgrounds $1,000 and $2,000 monthly. And if both pilot programs work, who knows? Your city could be the next to give up that sweet, sweet cash.
[H/T] Business Insider