Stockton, CA; Another Test Run for Socialism?-“…why should Americans be concerned with continual forays into socialistic experiments?”
by Bill Lockwood
Bankrupt Stockton, California is to be the first US city to guarantee a “universal basic income” to low-income residents. Stockton has double the state average of unemployment, and half of those working earn minimum wage, reports G. Edward Griffin in NeedtoKnow News. Michael Tubbs, the 26-year-old Mayor who is leading the plan to give low-income families $500 per month, said “I think it will make people work better and smarter and harder and also be able to do things like spend time with their families because we’re not robots.”
The plan is apparently mostly funded by The Economic Security Project, which is contributing $1 million to the first-year pilot program. Families that receive the money will be monitored to “see what they do with the money” and “how it affects self-esteem and identity.”
The Economic Security Project is co-led by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, last year said such a scheme could mark a “new contract” between government and citizenry.
Oakland, CA is also thinking of a broad welfare program. The city plans to give about $1,500 a month to a handful of welfare recipients. The goal is to study how financial health affects low-income families.
What of Guaranteed Income?
Besides the fact that our Constitution absolutely outlawed such a state—but who cares what the Constitution actually says–why should Americans be concerned with continual forays into socialistic experiments?
First, America already is a welfare-state. Close to three-quarters of our federal budget is due to government-run social welfare spending. As a matter of fact, when looked at in total, per capita, America is the second-largest welfare state in the world. Inclusive in this is housing, health care, pension benefits, and public education and a host of other expenditures (Tim Worstall, Forbes, 10-5-2015).
Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, argues similarly. “Contrary to conventional wisdom … noted scholars Irwin Garfinkel, Lee Rainwater, and Timothy Smeeding conclude in Wealth and Welfare States: Is America a Laggard or Leader? That ‘Welfare state programs are quite large in the United States.’”
According to Politifact.com, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid collectively “account for a majority of federal spending.” Added to that is spending on food and agriculture and the percentage continue to rise while military spending, which is the only constitutionally authorized spending among these categories, is 16 per cent.
The point of this is simple. American already is a welfare state—the second largest in the world. Many students in high schools are living in subsidized housing, eating free or reduced lunches, living on welfare checks, bearing or fathering multiple children—all at the taxpayers’ expense.
And the social problems associated with each of these federal expenditures are increasing, not decreasing, because the basic truth is: the more money one throws at a particular problem causes that problem to grow.
Second, guaranteed income ignores man’s ability to make life choices and allowing people to bear the fruit of their choices. This is not to say that everything negative that occurs to people is always the direct result of personal mistakes, for that is certainly not the case. However, God has so constructed the world so that negative consequences are built into the system to encourage better selections in the future.
If two young men in jail for illegal drug use are both on the bottom of the income ladder, what are their choices when getting out? One man, Bob, chooses to continue a life of illicit behavior, perhaps ruining his health, bumping along on the bottom of society with multiple arrests, fathering several children, and looking like he is fifty when he is only thirty.
The second young man, Joe, decides to change his life when he is in his early twenties. He cleans up his life, his associates, and gets a job. A low-income job to be sure—but he is working and living above the law. He studies at night taking courses in college. After several years his sacrifices begin to pay-off. He lands a great job when he is thirty; buys a house, a car, is happily married with children.
There is absolutely income inequality between Bob and Joe. Now comes in Big Brother Government to “adjust” the “inequities” between Bob and Joe. Who will be in favor of forcibly taking from Joe to give to Bob? Their life-situations are primarily due to life-choices. What government cannot do—even in Stockton, CA—is make proper determinations as to why people are in poverty. It may be that Bob needs to suffer his consequences enough to encourage him to take Joe’s route.
Third, Stockton’s pilot program is flawed because it ignores the biblical model of man. It is an overtly anti-Christian doctrine which results when leaders drink from the wells of materialism and atheism instead of God’s Word. God designed work for man in which to find self-esteem and satisfaction—not a guaranteed amount of money regardless of how we spend our time.
Solomon wrote “There is nothing better for a man than he should … find enjoyment in his toil” (Ecclesiastes 2:24). This is “God’s gift to man that everyone should … take pleasure in his toil (3:13). “The best thing for a man was to be happy in his work; this is what he gets out of life” (3:22). Solomon went on to say (5:22) that this is man’s portion (lot or station) in life—to work.
This was God’s design from the beginning; that man should earn a living by the sweat of his brow. The Bible even mentions competition as a motivation to work (Prov. 27:17). “Iron sharpens iron.”
The New Testament is equally as clear. The apostle Paul forbade church financial assistance to those who could and should earn a living for themselves. He declared that people on indiscriminate assistance teaches them to be “idle, going about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies who talk nonsense … “ (1 Timothy 5:13). And as we can easily see from the streets of America, it gives many people not only room to be “busy-bodies” but lawbreakers as well.
What Stockton, CA will learn is that, not poverty, but idleness is a vice. It is a moral disease that is caused by a failure of the will that enslaves a person. Doling out money only encourages it. The final stage is that people will need to be managed like children. Any program that rewards idleness dooms itself in the self-image realm. On the other hand, real self-esteem is found in accomplishment, no matter how little. This is how God has made man.
As Robert Rector put it, “The key to improving self-sufficiency is to increase work … Increased self-reliance will lead to an enhanced self-achievement, a principal component of human well-being.” Only by productive work does man reduce poverty and increase his own happiness.
None of this is to ignore that real Christian charity is found in giving. But a “guaranteed income” monitored by government overlords does not qualify as charity. For this reason, Stockton, CA will see an increase in low-income families as people either re-locate there or quit low-paying jobs to qualify for “guaranteed income.” When California began MediCal in 1967 the initial program included 1 Million people. Within a couple of years the numbers had jumped to 2.5 million. When will California and America learn?