Forget welfare. Food stamps are so yesterday. The latest rage amongst the socialist political set is Universal Basic Income, or UBI.
Ever since the subject was broached by Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard commencement speech, leftists have flocked to the idea like, well, you know.
Like all other major cities run by leftists, the city of Chicago is hopelessly in debt and about dead broke. In fact, it ranks worst among the 116 major U.S. cities, according to the Fiscal Times.
The Times adds that, “Chicago’s position at the bottom of the ranking is no surprise to anyone who follows municipal finance. The Windy City has become a poster child for financial mismanagement, having suffered a series of ratings downgrades in recent years. Aside from having thin reserves and large volumes of outstanding debt, Chicago is notorious for its underfunded pension plans.”
In 2014 it was reported that just Chicago’s unfunded pension liability was $29 billion. That was approaching half of the city’s massive $63 billion overall debt.
IllinoisPolicy.org reported, “That’s more than $23,000 per Chicago resident, or more than $61,000 per household. The unfunded pension liabilities for which the city of Chicago and its sister governments (Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Park District) are liable equals $29 billion of the total debt.”
But these staggering debt figures will not deter one brave city council member from suggesting that Chicago become the first “major” city to offer a UBI of $500 per month to 1,000 residents.
I find this fascinating as it was the main topic of my video podcast just last weekend.
However, my monologue was not about Chicago, but the city of Oakland, California. It seems Oakland socialist Mayor Tubbs has the same idea. Give away $500 of “no strings attached” money to 100 residents. Oakland is also heavily in debt. In 2016, its debt burden equaled $20,700 per taxpayer.
But debt means nothing to these leftist city leaders. It’s not their job to “manage” the city. It’s to give away stuff.
Chicago Councilman Ameya Pawar is the one pushing this idea. According to his own Twitter page, Pawar is a “New Deal” Democrat. Well hooray for him! The second coming of Franklin Roosevelt.
So dedicated is he to FDR’s warped progressivism, that he has the Roosevelt “Second Bill of Rights” plastered up there. For those unfamiliar, here they are, spelled out as part of FDR’s State of the Union Speech, Jan. 11, 1944:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
Now as bad as these “rights” are, you may notice how far the left has fallen from even them. At least FDR spoke somewhat of work. Today’s leftists, as demonstrated by the UBI, don’t require any work at all. Now, one has the “right” to free cash confiscated from the industry of others. Frighteningly, Pawar’s legislation already has 36 cosponsors.
In their current state, there is no bringing these cities back. They’ve just slipped too far down the socialist rabbit hole. The only hope we have for these cities is tough love. With any luck they will be forced into bankruptcy before Trump leaves office. At least that way, we can be pretty sure there will be no federal bailout for them. Otherwise, we’ll all be on the hook for more silly schemes like UBI.