The Stockton Plan

The mayor of Stockton, California, is giving away five hundred dollars a month to one hundred city families for the next two years, starting this coming November. Hizzoner Michael Tubbs says he won’t be picking the families personally — in fact, no human being will be choosing the lucky families. It will all be done by an algorithm, randomly choosing one hundred families with a median income below 43 thousand a year.

In case you haven’t heard, this is the latest economic theory to combat the scourge of generational poverty. The eggheads hope that with an assured income for two years families battling continuing poverty will be able to use the extra income (which is not taxed, by the way) to help lift themselves up from the doldrums of pauperism.

It’s been tried in places like Germany and Finland, and several other countries are considering it. But so far there are no firm examples that it is working. Mostly because the program is too new. Most economists say it will take at least ten years before any decent statistics can be analyzed to see what effect this free lunch theory has on people.

But until then, how about we rent a van and head for Stockton? I hear the weather is nice this time of year. And with a population of just 307 thousand people, the chances of landing one of those 500 buck prizes is much better odds than the Lotto.