What's going on with Wausau's universal basic income program?
Why the new program hasn't gotten off the ground
It was easy to make #YangGang proclamations based on the news last fall about Wausau participating in a new experiment in just giving people money. The program, which started in Stockton, Calif., is designed to give a select group of people a certain amount of money each month. The idea is they would then spend that money to improve their lives.
That’s not exactly the universal basic income idea floated around by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, but is in line with his own experiments. The idea of UBI is that every person gets a certain amount of money each month to spend however they want.
Yang’s premise is that coming automation would wipe out huge sectors of employment in the coming decade. He frequently cited truck drivers as being in imminent danger, for example, as companies fine-tune autonomous trucks that will no longer require drivers. (And thus, putting a lot of people out of work.)
His vision was that we’ll eventually be moving into something of a post-work world and UBI will become a necessity.
Yang as part of his campaign randomly chose families to give $1,000 per month and see how they did. As might be expected, receiving the money helped a lot.
Wausau’s was similar in the belief that simply giving people money — in this case, some of the poorest of the city’s residents — unattached to bureaucratic programs would help them.
As it turns out, untangling money from those programs is a little harder in Wisconsin as several communities struggle with how to implement it, putting the idea in jeopardy. Here’s why it’s currently stalled in Wausau.
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