United States: Stockton’s basic income trial already shows positive signs

United States: Stockton’s basic income trial already shows positive signs

Tomas Vargas, a recipient of Stockton’s “universal basic income” program.

Although the Stockton SEED (Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration) basic income-type experiment is still ongoing, some encouraging signs are already showing up. Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs already says that “I think the data shows that people make good decisions, people are healthier, happier”, and a few of the program’s beneficiaries have already given positive feedback.

That is the case of Stockton resident Tomas Vargas, who earns less than the official poverty line, which at the moment stands at 46000 $/year. His view of the program and his personal experience has been recorded on a short podcast on Capital Public Radio, after he knew he would receive 500 $/month, no strings attached, for 18 months (more details of the program in previous news articles). Although that value amounts to only about 20% of Vargas earnings, and to 13% of the poverty line, he still says that “It makes a difference on choices I can make”. He talks about a “big stress relief”, and has a clear notion that the experiment will have an impact for the future of the basic income policy, at least in Stockton.

Although briefly, Tubbs skimmed through the UBI experiment in the latest State of The City 2019, where he delivered an hour-long, much appreciated speech focusing on poverty, crime, housing and community building.

More information at:

Rich Ibarra, “Low-Income Stockton Residents Praise City’s ‘Universal Basic Income’ Program”, Capital Public Radio, May 22nd 2019

Rich Ibarra, “Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs Delivers 2019 State of The City”, Capital Public Radio, May 23nd 2019

Kate McFarland, “STOCKTON, CA, US: New Details Revealed in Planned Basic Income Demonstration”, Basic Income News, 23rd August 2018

YouTube Interview with Michael Tubbs

YouTube Interview with Michael Tubbs

A recent YouTube video from The Young Turks, a left-wing news-based channel with close to 4 million subscribers, focuses on the universal basic income (UBI) pilot project currently being planned in Stockton, California.

The video consists of an interview with Michael Tubbs, Mayor of Stockton, the youngest Mayor in Stockton history. He discusses the nature of the project, and what he hopes it will achieve.

The project has previously been covered in some detail by Basic Income News.


USA: Many in Silicon Valley Support Universal Basic Income. Now the California Democratic Party Does, Too

USA: Many in Silicon Valley Support Universal Basic Income. Now the California Democratic Party Does, Too

Credit to: Wikipedia.

The Democratic Party in California is supporting Universal Basic Income (UBI). It is now public that people like Elon Musk have supported the initiative, mainly justified through job losses due to automation.

However, this of course leads to questions about the source of the influence that is supporting a basic income in the California Democratic Party, which has adopted on the 25th of February its official 2018 Platform.

In the Californian Democratic Party scene, UBI is mainstream, apparently, since it now features in the Platform, but not in the US as a whole. Since politicians with a Democratic label have to read and support the party policies, one may conclude that the UBI concept has gained traction in the Californian state, at least.

A growing cohort of young political activist leaders have been adopting UBI in their political campaigns. One such examples is 27-year-old Michael Tubbs, the present mayor of Stockton, California. He has promoted and launched a pilot project in Stockton municipality (funded by the Economic Security Project).

Region 5 (a congressional district) Director for the California Democratic Party, Rocky Fernandez, said that he has been talking about UBI for several years. Bob Wieckowski has also played an important leadership role in having basic income become concrete and part of the platform. The UBI platform proposal went through and “was passed,” in the convention by “thousands of party delegates”.

UBI has now a main statement in the Economic Justice section of the California Democratic Party platform. However, the same platform reinforces traditional Democratic values, which focus on jobs to further economic mobility for all Americans. The Party platform justifies the UBI in order to eliminate poverty, while simultaneously supporting efforts to establish government guaranteed jobs, that will “help people climb the economic ladder.” This could be interpreted as being willing to secure basic economic conditions for all people, while not trusting that these people will work if they get to be economically secure.


More information at:

Shirin Chaffray, “Many in Silicon Valley support Universal Basic Income. Now the California Democratic Party does, too.“, Recode, March 8th 2018

Kate McFarland, “Elon Musk reaffirms UBI prediction at World Government Summit”, Basic Income News, February 17th 2017

Roger Phillips, “Stockton to pilot ‘basic income’ experiment”, Recordnet.com, October 18th 2017

USA: Forbes 30 Under 30 Names Stockton Mayor Pioneering UBI in California

USA: Forbes 30 Under 30 Names Stockton Mayor Pioneering UBI in California

Michael Tubbs. Credit to: Wikipedia.


Forbes published its “30 Under 30 in Law & Policy” and notes that these winners come from across the political spectrum. They have been associated with President Trump, the Democratic Party, and emerge from law schools and professional organizations.

Hundreds of online nominations came in for the listing. The nominations were judged by the CEO of Heritage Action for America Mike Needham, Harvard Law’s Laurence Tribe, FiscalNote’s Co-Founder Timothy Hwang, and the Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs at 3M.

Winners of this year’s 30 under 30 were people such as the co-founder of the National Trans Bar Association Alexander Chen, the co-founder of Upsolve Rohan Pavuluri, a top policy advisor for Medicare and Medicaid Services Jeet Guram, and numerous others.

One individual, Michael Tubbs, who is 27-years-old, is the mayor of Stockton, California was dubbed as “ambitious” in “an attempt to experiment with social policy.” In order to reduce the violent crime rate, Tubbs wants to replicate, at the time of the listing, the program from the Bay Area. The initiative “pays monthly stipends to young men determined to be likely to engage in gun violence to stay out of trouble, as well as provide mentoring, internships and travel opportunities.” Tubbs and the Stockton municipality had already been highlighted for the efforts concerning demonstrating basic income, which were intended to start effectively at the beginning of 2018.

Basic Income News has been reporting on the Bay Area initiatives in several news articles. You can find more information elsewhere (note 1).


More information at:

Avik Roy, “Meet The 30 Under 30 Activists, Washington Insiders And Legal Entrepreneurs Shaping U.S. Law And Policy Now”, Forbes, November 14th 2017

Sara Bizarro, “UNITED STATES: Stockton, California plans a Basic Income Demonstration”, Basic Income News, November 21st 2017


Note 1 – reference#1, reference#2, reference#3, reference#4, reference#5, and reference#6.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, US: California State Senator to address questions on UBI and carbon dividend

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, US: California State Senator to address questions on UBI and carbon dividend

The Universal Income Project, a basic income advocacy group headquartered in San Francisco, is hosting a Q&A with California state senator Bob Wieckowski on basic income and carbon dividends.

This free public event will take place on July 25 at Covo, a coworking space in San Francisco.

Bob Wieckowski, CC BY 2.0 Internet Association

Wieckowski, along with Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León, was a sponsor of Senate Bill 775 (SB 775), introduced earlier this year, which proposed to revise the state’s carbon cap-and-trade program and institute a small basic income in the state.

Under SB 775, a portion of the new carbon revenue would be directed towards a newly created California Climate Dividend Program, which would distribute quarterly cash payments to all individual residents of California. The bill proposed a Climate Dividend Access Board to work with state officials to develop a mechanism to deliver the quarterly dividends (see the previous Basic Income News article “California State Legislature to Consider Carbon Dividend”).

Many American proponents of basic income see a carbon dividend, such as that proposed by SB 775, as a politically feasible stepping stone to a universal basic income of a livable amount.

At present, however, California is unlikely actually to adopt such a policy: on Monday, July 17, the state legislature voted to extend the state’s current carbon cap-and-trade program, which had been set to expire in 2020, through 2030. This program does not include a dividend.  

For more information about the Q&A with Bob Wieckowski, see Eventbrite and Facebook.

Top photo: Coal power plant in southern California, CC BY 2.0 Rennett Stowe.