Imagine if your income was less than the average yearly income for your city. Maybe you can already relate, or maybe just the thought of that makes you nervous. Now imagine that your city understands that you’re in a tight place and gives you $500 cash each month to help make ends meet, no strings attached.
Well, we can stop playing make-believe because Stockton, California is doing just that.
This might sound like a revolutionary idea in the United States, but around the world, countless low-income and high-income countries have already been offering this kind of financial support to their communities.
Many people are against this type of cash aid because they believe that it won’t be used responsibly, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The extra cash allowed low-income families in Stockton to rely less on local food banks, pay off debts, buy gas, and pay unexpected bills. Less than 1 percent of the money went to cigarettes and alcohol proving that families in need can benefit and spend the extra money wisely. Who wouldn’t want their neighbor to be able to pay for food or a roof over their head? This type of aid would give everyone an equitable chance of attaining their basic needs.
Contrary to what the haters may say, financial aid actually enables people to find and hold down jobs.
As seen in Stockton, a guaranteed basic income allows individuals to ensure that their basic needs are met. But the benefits don’t stop there. Having a guaranteed income each month provides stability that many low-income homes are lacking to find and keep a job. Having a guaranteed basic income each month can be a part of how low-income households can live sustainable, employed lives.
Last but not least, when your basic needs are met your mental health has the chance to improve dramatically.
The cash recipients of Stockton were happier and healthier and had fewer signs of anxiety and depression than those who did not receive the money. When you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to afford your next meal or how you’re going to pay for transportation to work, you tend to be a bit happier. With less income volatility we’re likely to be kinder to ourselves. We no longer have to beat ourselves up for not being able to make ends meet one month and instead can focus on all of our potential.