Town Square

In wake of the pandemic, Mountain View seeks to launch universal basic income pilot

Original post made on Apr 30, 2021

Calling it the right time to test the waters on an increasingly popular idea, the Mountain View City Council agreed this week to pilot a universal basic income (UBI) program for residents in the city.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 30, 2021, 1:47 PM


Posted by Santa Rita Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 30, 2021 at 2:50 pm

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"Popular idea"? I'm sure that it's popular with those who get money without working for it.

How popular is this idea with those who have to PAY for it?

Posted by SC Parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 30, 2021 at 2:55 pm

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I'm very disappointed to hear that this idea even came from Margaret. I thought she was the voice of reason on the Council.

BTW, the "U" in "UBI" stands for "Universal," so I don't know why "Abe-Koga said her preference is to limit the program to lower-income families."

Posted by JS
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Apr 30, 2021 at 3:54 pm

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I like the idea with some strings attached to incentivize working and not wasting taxpayer money.

1. The person only gets the money if they have worked on average 20 hours per week. I don't care if the job is menial job paying minimum wage, the person must work. There are jobs out there and beggars can't be picky. I've heard of way too many people not working because of it's cheaper to be unemployed during COVID (with the Federal unemployment boost)
2. If the person is arrested, the money stops immediately. It takes no effort to avoid getting arrested. Don't be stupid, do be responsible and you'll get money for free.
3. Mandatory (illegal) drug screening. 75000 people die each year from heroin (~6x that of drunk drivers and ~6x that of murder by firearms). I'm guessing it is way higher if you include meth, crack, cocaine, etc. Taxpayers shouldn't fund junkies who can't hold a steady job.

Posted by Me
a resident of North Whisman
on May 1, 2021 at 7:13 am

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Summary of the comments: The mayor wants us to have empathy for Mountain View's least well off during this incredibly challenging time, and is proposing an innovative, efficient, and compassionate program?

Screw that ... unless we get rid of the compassion and empathy!

Posted by Bruce Karney
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 1, 2021 at 8:49 am

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My first job out of college in 1974-76 was working as a research assistant SRI International on a well-funded federal study of "the negative income tax," which was very similar to the UBI concept. This may have been the largest social science research project in the nation's history. It investigated a wide variety of possible effects of providing cash benefits on things such as the divorce rate, higher educational attainment, preparation to change careers, and other potential outcomes. The results were published decades ago and you can read them here: Web Link
The primary outcome of this project was the creation of the Earned Income Tax Credit in Federal Tax Law. Most of the principal researchers (PhDs in economics, econometrics and sociology) are probably still alive in their mid-70s or older and many of them may still live in the area. It would be great if The Voice would track some of them down and interview them. None of the articles I've read in the last several years about UBI seem to reference the SIME/DIME experiment, which is a real shame as so many bright people did so much good research.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 1, 2021 at 9:10 am

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Glad MAK is showing her compassionate Public Policy side. As a more efficient government proponent / this / like the Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan critique of President Johnson's War on Poverty (welfare) program / seems efficient! Instead of employing many middle class welfare professionals - for a very small direct return to the poor families (very High Overhead), this puts money in the pockets of the most needy.

I totally agree with those above who ask for 'sensible restrictions'. I think MAK was also proposing some of those. THE BEST ADMINISTERED of these programs I believe have been shown effective (I'm not expert). Something like Bruce Karney's suggestion (above) with some Hard Headed recent researchers would be most interesting, particularly if there is a conservative Hoover Institution economist who has studied and yet Still supports this!

Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on May 1, 2021 at 9:41 am

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I'm a big supporter of universal basic income and negative income tax credit. They are cheaper and easier to administer than a lot of our social safety net programs, and preserve the dignity of the recipients. Have you seen all the absurdly complex rules and restrictions that apply to those that receive SNAP (food stamps)?

I'm just a little perplexed at the idea of administering this at the city level. Especially when the city and the region has a housing shortage. If Mountain View residents can get $500 a month, won't that just increase the rents by $500 a month? I feel like we need such programs to be administered at the state level or federal level so that people benefit wherever they are. Still, I applaud MAK for raising the matter.

Posted by MogensLauritzen
a resident of Gemello
on May 2, 2021 at 11:18 am

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There is no question this is badly needed. I hope the woman sleeping on a bench near my house will be one of the recipients, as will elderly woman R that I used to buy groceries for when I shopped at my grocery store. There's also the older Hispanic man with an injury often in the parking lot at that store. Let them all be the first line recipients!

Posted by Tal Shaya
a resident of another community
on May 2, 2021 at 6:55 pm

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The money is for COVID relief, and as such comes out of my pocket and yours. It's a clear misappropriation of funds to serve the mayor's pet program. Let me tell you why guaranteed income is a disincentive to work. When the recipient earns enough, they are disqualified from the program. A person on this program would never take a part-time job for 10-20 hours per week. When you pile the free benefits on top of unemployment insurance, there is a clear incentive to stay unemployed.

We created an artificial economy with sky-high living rates, and a caste of poor, illegal immigrants to serve it. Stop patting yourselves on the back. I'm sorry but it's still human trafficking. If you want to HELP people, find them jobs.

Posted by Mr. T
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 3, 2021 at 7:57 am

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Is employment a condition for receiving this? If not then it's another share the wealth disincentive for working.

Posted by sonnyt650
a resident of Castro City
on May 3, 2021 at 8:12 am

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I just scanned through that SIME/DIME link posted by Bruce Karney, correlates nicely to what I experienced growing up in the late 70's and 80's. To be up front and honest I don't view city government spending to be suitable as a lifeline for those within the borders, at most it should be a helping hand. I've lived in Mountain View nearly my entire life passing the half-century residency mark in a couple of years, and my youth involved handouts (call them what they are) to my low income family in the form of community swimming pool vouchers and school food lunch programs. I think city taxes for charitable intent are better spent on similar programs which encourage or enforce specific uses rather than as a blank check payout for which no results are guaranteed. Last I heard those old programs are still in effect, and in fact the school lunch programs at the height of the pandemic showed their value. I'd prefer strengthening them rather than gambling (again calling it what it is) that some form of UBI will buck the trend of the study results shown in SIME/DIME.

Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on May 3, 2021 at 10:42 am

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I get that championing UBI will look great in a 2022 political campaign. But If , as the council member claims, "UBI programs now have a track record of success across the country", what's the point of yet another pilot? Shouldn't it be time to move to a UNIVERSAL basic income program?
And if all the City can afford is another pilot, there are probably better uses for American Recovery Act funds that would help more residents financially affected by the pandemic get back in the labor market. For example, free transit passes, free childcare or even free ebikes... for lower income residents.

Posted by Raymond
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 3, 2021 at 3:01 pm

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[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

Posted by Bob Smith
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 3, 2021 at 7:28 pm

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Why do UBI in a city where Median house hold income is 140k (source: How about we try to tackle the housing issues instead, or increase wellfare assistance programs for those who actually need the money.

Posted by Dan Waylonis
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 4, 2021 at 2:34 pm

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Thanks Bruce Karney for some actual tested data. I, too, am a fan of the Negative Income tax. It helps people and doesn't disincentivize people from seeking their own success. I'd like to see all of our assistance programs rolled into one monthly payment that individuals and families can use to their discretion.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 4, 2021 at 2:38 pm

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This ARA funded money does not come out of my pocket or yours, it is the commuities to spend - on what the community (through it's elected representive legislature - Council) decides to spend it on. Or - it's federally borrowed money that will be mainly paid off by our kids!

I don't need the ARA money myself!

Posted by Polomom
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 5, 2021 at 8:49 am

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Our restaurants on Castro cannot find help to run their operations smoothly. Between unemployment and the stimulus payments the individuals formerly employed by our restaurants don't see an incentive to come back. How are we administering this $ 1 Mill. and prevent more disinterest in actual paid jobs? Tal Shaya, you are right....

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 16, 2021 at 9:59 am

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If the city does this, I hope the city council considers targeting any UBI experiment on MV's most vulnerable families. There is a solid body of research that child tax credits are used to impactfully improve their family's lives. Rather than repeating the experiment done in Stockton, a targeted benefit for our poorest families in MV would be unique, and could contribute to the policy research on UBI. Web Link Even more targeted and innovative would be seeding child college savings accounts for our poorest MV families. The research on how even small amounts for college change attitudes and trajectories over time is very compelling: Web Link