Stockton’s Having Trouble Doling Out Free Cash

You wouldn’t think government would have a hard time getting people to sign up for free money, but that’s exactly what’s happening in Stockton, California which is currently experimenting with universal basic income.

The city recently mailed letters to 1,200 households offering $500 per month, no strings attached. So far, the response has been underwhelming.

“We’re looking for at least half of the folks who have received the letter to respond back,” Mayor Michael Tubbs told CBS Sacramento.

Stockton will randomly select 100 people from the final pool to receive the monthly stipend. The 1,200 households were also randomly selected by a team of independent researchers. But with the sample size as small as it currently is, the city may need to start over.

Despite the publicity surrounding Stockton’s first-of-its-kind basic income program, many recipients may be under the impression these letters are junk mail or, worse, some type of hoax. They’re addressed to the household, not any particular individual, and they request personal information that some may feel uncomfortable handing out. In an age of sophisticated scams and ID theft, recipients have a right to be skeptical.

See a photo of one of the letters here.


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