Los Angeles County Launches Largest Universal Basic Income Program in U.S. History

Big government socialism is on the march in Los Angeles County, where 1,000 residents will receive $1,000 per month over the next three years in the largest universal basic income (UBI) pilot program in the nation’s history. The program, known as “Breathe,” is described by its architects as a “pilot program which we hope will usher in something more expansive in the future that will serve more people in Los Angeles County.”

According to the Chief Executive Office of Los Angeles County, which oversees Breathe, “Early research suggests that a Guaranteed Income program can provide households with financial stability during sharp economic swings to breathe a little easier, alleviate stress, and broaden recipients’ horizons, allowing them the time to complete deferred education and job training, as well as plans to fully participate in their communities. Importantly, these programs come without the scrutiny and work requirements of certain public benefits.”

In other words, don’t worry about getting a job and becoming a productive member of society over the next three years, just demand the government pay your way while you pursue your dream of fully participating in your community–whatever that means.

Unsurprisingly, more than 180,000 Los Angeles County residents applied for the three-year cash giveaway, which will be paid for by California taxpayers, of course. Eligibility requirements are quite lax: one need only be over the age of 18-years-old earning less than $56,000 for a single household or $96,000 for a family of four.

Not that long ago, say five years back, the very idea of a UBI would have been met with scorn. Yet, things have changed quickly. Nowadays, UBI programs are cropping up in cities throughout America. From Seattle to Chicago, leftist mayors and city councils have embraced the socialist wealth redistribution ploy, in what I suspect is nothing more than an attempt to breed yet more government dependence, permanent voting blocs, and class warfare.

If the UBI is gaining this much momentum this quickly, I fear we could be on the cusp of a nationwide effort to implement a federal UBI. A few years ago, the Green New Deal included a harebrained scheme to enact a national UBI for Americans “unwilling” to work. It was dead on arrival then, however, based on current trends, I would not be surprised if it is resurrected in the not-too-distant future. From stimulus checks during the pandemic to President Biden’s student loan forgiveness scheme, Americans are becoming more amenable than ever to getting something for nothing. Yet, we must always remember that there is no free lunch, someone is paying for all of this.

PHOTO: UBI March. Photo by Patrick Maynard. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).