The concept of the Universal Basic Income has come a long way since a form of regular stimulus check was proposed by Thomas Spence at the end of the eighteenth century. It was proposed on the national stage in the middle of the nineteenth century by Joseph Charlier.
As the Church and charitable individuals moved away from the task of looking after the welfare of the poor, it was left to the administration to take up the responsibility with regular stimulus checks.
Rather than regular stimulus checks being a reason not to work, advocates have suggested that it instead encouraged people to join the workforce. And the money also enables them to improve and look for a more permanent form of work as it frees them from the worries of immediate sustenance.
Los Angeles was among the first local administrative bodies to launch a universal basic income pilot program with a monthly payment of $1,000 to a select few residents of Los Angeles County. The stimulus check went out to three thousand residents for a year and there was no restriction on how they could spend it.
The only criteria for the stimulus check are that the applicants should be residents of the City of Los Angeles. They should be above eighteen years and have an Adjusted Gross Income that is below the federal poverty level. Parents and pregnant women are allowed to apply. And finally, they must have experienced either a medical emergency or acute financial hardship following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal poverty level is linked to the size of the eligible household. The federal poverty level is a measure of income that is issued each year by the Dept. of Health and Human Services. The poverty levels are helpful in determining the eligibility of applicants for certain benefits and programs. This includes savings on marketplace health insurance, and CHIP and Medicaid coverage.
The 2023 federal poverty level (FPL) income numbers that are released by the administration help determine the eligibility for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid.
The Federal Poverty Level starts with an income of $14,580 or below for individuals and rises to $50,560 for a family of eight or below. For every additional member, the rule is to add another $5,140. Hawaii and Alaska have higher Federal Poverty LEvel amounts.
With a family size averaging around four, a family earning less than $26,500 would fall under the federal poverty line. It has been seen that poverty troubles two out of every 10 households in Los Angeles. And the majority of them are either Blacks or Hispanics. The stimulus check program is called the Basic Income Guaranteed Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot (BIG LEAP).
The program had nearly $40 million in funding and council members at the City Council approved the program, informed South Los Angeles Council member Curren Price. Curren Price said that the stimulus check program would stand out as the largest among the guaranteed income economic assistance pilot programs in the history of the US. he termed it as a life-changing initiative.
The city said that the program would consist of unconditional, regular, and direct cash payments. He said there would be no restrictions on how the program money would be utilized. The payments would not be an alternative to existing welfare programs but would only supplement them, the City Council informed.
The Concept Of A Universal Basic Income Stimulus Check Goes Back Centuries
The concept of giving out what amounts to a regular stimulus check to deserving residents goes back to the sixteenth century. Juan Luis Vives, a Spanish humanist, first advocated such a system of unconditional welfare.
In modern times, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared his wholehearted support for the concept. It also was the cornerstone of Andrew Yang’s campaign in the Democratic Party presidential polls in 2020, which President Biden ultimately won.
The concept of a universal stimulus check has also found resonance among lawmakers from both sides of the political divide. The supporters also included a large group of US mayors. They have all advocated the introduction of universal basic income schemes even as the pandemic and the economic aftereffects both exposed and exacerbated the huge inequity in income after the pandemic.
Latest Round Of Stimulus Check Program Starts
The number of cities and local governments that have gone ahead with a universal basic care program has touched almost a hundred. Studies have revealed that a regular stimulus check for an extended period can pull whole segments of society out of poverty. Such boosts help families to push their way out of years of poverty and debt.
Even as the stimulus check seems consigned to the backroom, at least at the federal level, ninety-eight American cities have stepped in to help out low-income families and individuals through universal basic income schemes.
The amount and the coverage may have varied across these cities and counties, but the concept has remained almost the same. Some basic characteristics of the program include period stimulus checks. Rather than a one-off payment, eligible recipients receive a regular payment, mostly once a month.
The payments are sent through paper stimulus checks rather than with debit cards or direct transfers. Beneficiaries can cash their stimulus check and deposit it into their bank account or use it directly with the cash.
The checks are universal. While the pilot projects are limited to a small section of the populace, several cities have jacked up the payments in the second round to include more residents, building upon the success of the initial scheme.
Payments have both been made to households and individual citizens. But unlike regular stimulus checks, the annual income is not the sole criterion for being selected for the Universal Basic Income.
Other criteria for selecting a recipient include how best the recipient appears poised to use the money and make a better life for themselves. The goal thus is twofold. While it saves an often overlooked section of people, it also helps save taxpayer money and bring more and more people out of the unending cycle of the dole.