Facebook co-founder’s organization partners with mayor to fund income experiment

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In partnership with a philanthropic network co-chaired by a co-founder of Facebook, the mayor of a California city is planning to combat poverty by offering a guaranteed basic income to its residents.

Set to debut in the city of Stockton in 2019, the 18-month experiment will provide a select group of city residents with a monthly stipend, privately funded by a philanthropic network called The Economic Security Project. The organization plans to assess how citizens utilize the money, The Hill reported.

“And then, maybe, in two or three years, we can have a much more informed discussion about the social safety net, the income floor people deserve and the best way to do it because we’ll have more data and research,” said Michael Tubbs, Stockton’s 27-year-old mayor.

After approaching Tubbs to ask if his city would be interested in piloting a basic income program, The Economic Security Project, which is co-chaired by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, donated $1 million to fund the experiment.

“I jumped at the opportunity,” said Tubbs, who became familiar with the concept by reading the writings of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Hughes, 34, has proposed that the U.S. government provide all Americans who earn under $50,000 annually with a guaranteed monthly income of $500. In order to fund his proposal, Hughes recommended a 50-percent tax rate on income and capital gains for those who earn over $250,000.

The concept of governments providing a universal basic income to their citizens is not new. The government of Finland is conducting a two-year trial to provide 2,000 unemployed people with monthly payments of approximately $660.

In Alaska, each resident has long received an annual dividend check from oil revenues from the Alaska Permanent Fund. In 2017, the payout in Alaska was $1,100.

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