Three years ago, ravaged by the 2008 financial crisis and a seemingly endless wave of housing foreclosures, the city of Stockton, Calif., was bankrupt.
Next year, a random sample of the city’s 300,000 residents will get $500 per month with no strings attached.
The project — known as the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) — will be, in a way, the purest expression to date of Silicon Valley’s passion for basic income proposals, which many tech entrepreneurs and investors see as a necessary way to support Americans if artificial intelligence and other automation advances lead to unemployment for vast swaths of the population.
To the tech world, basic income is a way to redistribute the vast wealth that Silicon Valley creates to poorer people and localities left behind. And what better place to start than by redirecting part of a Facebook fortune to Stockton, an overwhelmingly nonwhite exurb of the Bay Area that became the largest city in the US to declare bankruptcy during the financial crisis?
Photo by Ramiro Mendes on Unsplash