Oren Cass writes in The City Journal about pilot programs for a proposed Universal Basic Income. Essentially, the pilot programs select a lucky few citizens and give them checks. Cass says that, “Handing out cash payments to a few hundred families will tell us nothing significant about Universal Basic Income proposals.”
Stockton, California, announced back in October 2017 that would will try out a new anti-poverty program that provides $500 per month for a small subset of eligible residents. The province of Ontario mailed its first monthly checks to 400 lucky Canadians at around the same time.
Advocates for a “universal basic income” (UBI) call these programs “experiments,” or “pilots,” and they hope that positive results will build support for their proposals. But these governments are not testing a UBI; they are running a free lottery. No one should be impressed or persuaded if its winners prove to be fans.