In 2009, then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel pontificated that you should “never let a crisis go to waste.” Suffice it to say, Chicago, otherwise known as Rahmaland, faces a myriad of crises – fiscally and socially. And Emanuel has ostensibly taken his own advice.
The Chicago mayor is hanging it up, announcing in early September that he will not be seeking re-election next year. Emanuel will go down as one of the least popular mayors in Chicago’s history, which isn’t surprising, considering that the city is plagued by debt, gun violence, and poverty. But before he calls it a day, Emanuel wants to impose one more destructive policy: a universal basic income (UBI).
Get ready for bloated budgets, widening deficits, and higher debt levels.
A Progressive Boondoggle in Chicago
Mayor Emanuel is set to establish a task force that will examine the implementation of a basic income guarantee in the city. In attempt to enhance his progressive legacy prior to exiting Chicago politics, the government will soon launch a pilot program that gives 1,000 families $500 per month just for living.
The new task force will be assigned with determining if such a welfare initiative could succeed – like other left-leaning jurisdictions, the bureaucrats and politicians already have the answer in mind.
Amey Pawar, an alderman representing the city’s North Side who proposed the resolution in June, will head the group. He claims that a UBI is an important measure to combat poverty, something he believes has been amplified in the age of automation and companies moving offshore.
He told The Chicago Tribune:
“Chicago would be the largest city in the country to take this step. I think the mayor sees this as a chance to lead the way as cities try to grapple with poverty and income inequality at a time the federal government is not addressing those things. This would be a legacy issue [for Emanuel].”
While the basic income guarantee will unlikely be instituted under Emmanuel, the costly boondoggle will be a burden to his successor.
Chicago Follows Other Jurisdictions
In recent years, many jurisdictions worldwide have been experimenting with handing out free money to citizens. Some have abandoned the cause, while others are still testing it out.
The California city of Stockton, which filed for bankruptcy in 2013 amid mismanagement of public funds and was tied for the fattest metro area in the country, thought it was a good idea to give households $500 per month “to make people work better and harder and smarter.”
Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur and 2020 presidential candidate, believes free money can save the economy from the robot revolution. Yang argues that a monthly payment of $1,000 would create 4.5 million jobs, which he says will be paid for by a 10% value-added tax (VAT) on corporations.
North of the border, the province of Ontario, run by a scandal-plagued Liberal government, launched a four-part UBI experiment in several municipalities. But it was scrapped this past summer once Premier Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservatives took power, leading to widespread protests, condemnations by recipients, and even lawsuits.
Overseas, Finland made international headlines when it proposed abolishing all of its welfare programs and replacing the system with a basic living stipend. The pilot project was implemented in January 2017, extending nearly $1,000 a month to Finns over the age of 18, no matter their employment or income status. After a little more than a year, the government ended the program, and it plans to release the results next year.
In Italy, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio is now encouraging the adoption of a so-called citizen’s income.
Europe may appear to be a sinking ship, but there is still some sanity left on board. Switzerland and its citizens have repeatedly rejected a nationwide basic income guarantee. That hasn’t stopped some proponents from both petitioning for more referendums and crowdfunding for free money.
UBI Adds to Entitlements
In recent years, the left has proposed some interesting political concepts to grow the economy, repair the nation’s finances, or remedy poverty. Some of these have included grandiose schemes like a $1 trillion coin or a $42 trillion spending plan. But free money may be the most ambitious and asinine policy to date.
Unfortunately, it is inevitable that the UBI will be added to the welfare state – not serve as a replacement – and add billions to entitlement spending, despite the U.S. being unable to afford the current obligations.
When will the left realize the U.S. can’t afford these progressive blunders anymore? Perhaps they’re waiting for an even bigger crisis to take advantage of to impose leftist destruction.
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