“I’m now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” – Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.
Inspired directly by the words of MLK, and by the struggles of his own youth and community, Mayor Michael D Tubbs of Stockton, California worked with the Economic Security Project to found Mayors for a Guaranteed Income in June, 2020. During the first crush of the pandemic, while 10 million Americans were suddenly without income or safety net, 30 mayors from all over the country began working together to establish guaranteed income programs in their cities.
“So many of our constituents were in food lines for Thanksgiving,” said Tubbs.
“Covid-19 has made it very, very clear to build back better we have to make sure everyone has an income floor,” he said. “We’re all taking considerable political risk in doing this, but we understand that the biggest risk is nothing changes.”
For Tubbs, the risk was almost certainly a factor in his defeat this November by Republican opponent Kevin Lincoln. However, leaving the mayoral office in January will not stop his participation in this program or his platform of guaranteed income.
At the debut of the program, Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square, donated $3 million to help launch its efforts. Now as the program gains structure and momentum, he has donated another $15 million, to be divided evenly among the 30 pilot cities ($500,000 each.) Each city will then decide how to allocate those funds. For instance, Stockton will be providing $500 per month to participants. Dorsey’s donation will cover a thousand of those payments.
“Thank you Mayor [Tubbs] and to all the Mayors of @mayorsforagi for these universal basic income pilots! I hope they inform federal policy in the future,” tweeted Dorsey on Tuesday.