Oh, California. The liberal state spends money in hopes of getting everyone onto the same playing field. What they don’t realize is that giving away free money is not the answer. It will never be the answer. And, it only makes the people getting the free money even more dependent on the government than they already were.
Oakland, California has decided that they are going to start a guaranteed income program by randomly selecting families to receive $500 a month for 18 months. The money is “no strings attached,” which means that they can spend the money as they please.
The money, according to the program’s website, is meant to provide families “with the flexibility to decide how best to meet their needs.”
The guaranteed income concept is predicated on the idea that people are experts in their lives. Therefore, the ones in poverty are the best to understand how to get out of poverty. Rather than the government doing something specifically for them, they can determine the best way to use $500 extra a month.
There are three components to the Oakland Resilient Families Program.
One, 600 families will be chosen at random with low income and at least one child under the age of 18 to receive the money.
Two, BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) families are faced with wealth inequalities that are rooted in ongoing systemic racism.
Three, families can apply to be one of the randomly selected within the program.
The problem with the program is the problem with any of the other guaranteed income programs. Only a small percentage of the people actually do anything to improve their way of life for the long term.
The money can be used in any way possible. This means that some will choose to buy electronics or go on a vacation or even buy drugs or guns with the money.
Realistically, the money should be used to get an education or to take trade courses. It can also be used for childcare to make it easier to apply for jobs. It can be used to buy a reliable form of transportation to get to and from a job.
There’s a racial gap because people have become generationally dependent on the Welfare system. Many feel as though they don’t know how to get out of it. They watched their parents and their grandparents live hand to mouth so that’s how they’re going to live, too. And they blame it on systemic racism rather than a lack of motivation to change.
Plenty of BIPOC families are not facing wealth inequality. Why? They don’t believe in systemic racism. They took action to ensure that they weren’t going to be on Welfare.
There are more scholarships and financial aid programs for people of color than for white people. This means that there are more ways for BIPOC families to get a higher education so that they can get higher-paying jobs.
There are already programs to help BIPOC families get on their feet. From Welfare to Section 8 housing to countless other programs, they’re out there. It requires motivation. It requires a desire to work hard and reach out for the help. And, it requires an understanding that the help should be temporary – not forever.
The program in Oakland is being funded by private donations from Blue Meridian Partners. The philanthropic organization has raised over $6.7 million. They’re focused on helping the city fight poverty.
The question is – are the members of the community dedicated to fighting poverty? Has anyone actually stopped to ask them if they want to get out of poverty?
The harsh reality is that many don’t. They don’t want to be responsible for paying full price for housing. They don’t want to have to budget money out for groceries and childcare and health insurance. They want to rely on the government for all of it. And if that means taking a lesser job so that they continue to make below the median income for the area, so be it.
It may take 18 months for Oakland to realize it, but the guaranteed income program will be a waste of money. 600 families will be given the money, but only a few families will actually use the money to provide a long-term solution for them to move out of poverty. Why? Most don’t want to change the system. They just want more money – and Oakland is playing right into their hands.