Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, commonly referred to as SEED, is a guaranteed income demonstration. Let’s take a closer look at what that means.
Guaranteed income, to put it simply, is a set amount of money a person or household would receive annually. The concept goes far deeper than that of course, but you may be surprised to learn that it’s not a new concept. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr began to advocate for a guaranteed income in his book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? published in 1967. Jordan Weissmann, former Atlantic senior associate editor, helps to explain Dr. King’s vision to end poverty in this insightful article. Reading excerpts of Dr. King’s book, you can see that his vision is as relevant then as it is today. Guaranteed income, also called universal income, is currently in practice in Alaska. The concept is a part of current political campaigns. Stockton, California is the first U.S. city to practice a demonstration project in collaboration with researchers, non-profit organizations, and The Office of Mayor Michael Tubbs.
RT: @stocktondemo shared current SEED results on Saturday, October 5, 2019 at the Data Dashboard Launch Event. You can see these results now at https://seed.sworps.tennessee.edu/Tweet
SEED randomly sent thousands of invitation mailers to households within neighborhoods where their average median income was approximately $46,000. Of these, 125 are participating in the 18-month long demonstration. There are no strings attached to the $500 monthly income however participants will submit regular surveys on how they decide to spend their money as well as other information. This data, which you can access on the Community Data Dashboard, will be collected to help answer several questions.
Looking into its Pre-Analysis Plan, SEED will research three main questions. How does guaranteed income impact financial uncertainty? How does this change in income effect one’s financial well-being, mental health, and physical wellness? Does guaranteed income increase one’s control of their future? After analyzing the data at the completion of the demo, the researchers intend to answer these questions and to place real stories with the concept of guaranteed income.
The evidence speaks for itself but some don’t want to hear it
In the SEED Discussion Paper, they believe guaranteed income can work because of the research found in No Strings Attached: The Behavioral Effects of U.S. Unconditional Cash Transfer Programs, written by Economist Ioana Marinescu, PhD and the Roosevelt Institute. It looks closely at the outcomes from the previous programs, negative income tax experiment, Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, and the Cherokee Nation’s casino revenue dividend. It was found that participant’s “educational achievement increased, health outcomes substantially improved, and there was no effect on labor market supply.” It’s also importantly noted that, “Other basic income experiments have seen no increase in alcohol and tobacco expenditures as well as a decrease in criminalized activity.”
Even with this and other reports, some don’t want to hear positive outcomes because they hold on to their own resentments, prejudices, or ignorance. I’ve shared my dysfunctional money story. I’ve had to struggle to keep things afloat and get ahead. I could argue that, “if I can do it so can they.” That’s resentment. I could point my finger and say, “They’ll just spend it on drugs.” That’s prejudice. I could read a false social media post and believe it rather than read SEED’s information or ask SEED a question for myself. That’s ignorance.
During this demonstration, now is the time to learn, discuss its progress, and ask questions.
How you can be an advocate for SEED
Understand the facts. The Community Data Dashboard was released on Saturday, October 5, 2019 to a standing room audience at the Haggin Museum. You can click on several buttons to view the data in various ways, by gender, race, employment, and how the money was used. It’s an interactive way to learn more about this program, the people involved and how its effecting their daily lives.
Follow SEED on social media to stay informed and share their news.
What does income insecurity mean to you?
What does income insecurity mean to you? What thoughts come to mind? What do you think people should know about financial uncertainty and the possibilities of a guaranteed income? When I think about guaranteed income, I remember my own struggles. I remember working hard but still missing payments for very important needs like my car payment, electricity, and water. I remember picking up a second job to pay our house payment and bills. I remember how much I missed my family while working that graveyard shift. What could a monthly guaranteed income of $500 have done to help our family at that time? I found the answer in one participant’s story.
The money has made Jovan Bravo happier. The 31-year-old Stockton native and construction worker is married and has three children, ages 13, 8 and 4. He said he didn’t see enough of his children when he worked six days a week to pay the bills. That changed when he started getting $500 a month. Now he only works one Saturday a month. He uses the other Saturdays to take his kids to the amusement park and ride bikes with them in the park.Time.com Sept 3, 2019