Lori Lightfoot, the mayor of Chicago, has announced a “basic income” program under which Chicago will set aside $31 million in 2022’s budget, used to “boost” monthly income by $500 to poor Chicago families.
The program was approved by the Chicago City Council as part of a proposed $16.7 billion 2022 budget the wokeist mayor classified as the most progressive budget in history.
The projected budget also, quite surprisingly, increased the spending of the Chicago police by as much as $200 million more than in the current year, so the police budget will amount to $1.9 billion.
The adopted program to help “the vulnerable”, provides a monthly payment of $500 to $5,000 to low-income Chicago families, and in order to qualify for the income, one has to be an adult earning less than $35,000 a year.
Buying your votes
This financial outlay was largely funded from a $2 billion financial injection that Chicago received as part of Biden’s rescue plan.
On the other hand, in 2020, the city, in response to protests advocating cuts in police funding, cut the police budget by $80 million, leaving 400 police officers without their jobs.
However, Mayor Lightfoot said at last week’s graduation ceremony of police recruits that there will be no further budget cuts and how she “learns from daily conversations with residents - they want more police officers, not less”.
These are pretty unexplainable statements if we take into account the loss of police jobs due to the reduction of the police budget and on the other hand the monthly financial assistance to the allegedly vulnerable.
In response to criticism of the new program, Lightfoot rejected critics without explanation and said that she found inspiration for the adoption of such a program in her childhood and the difficulties she had during it.
In 2019, a working group of the Mayor’s Office found that 18% of the city’s population, i.e. at least 500,000 Chicago residents live on the brink of poverty.
Chicago authorities’ decision is not the first to guarantee a basic income to a particularly vulnerable group.
In 2019, the city of Stockton, California, made a decision to award scholarships to 125 of its residents.
Of the more recent examples, the most famous is certainly the one of Los Angeles, where the city council approved a COVID-19 assistance program that guarantees $1,000 a month for more than 3,000 families.
New York has announced a program to help the homeless between the ages of 18 and 24, amounting to $1,250 dollars during 2 years, with no obligations for those to whom the money is given.
How much such financial assistance is deserved, justified, and how much it will really help those to whom it is given, is questionable to say.
Lightfoot’s aid program sets very shaky and rebuttable conditions as criteria for aid.
Namely, setting an income census as a condition for receiving assistance is a naive and easily circumvented criterion.
On the other hand, in addition to the dubious criteria for receiving assistance, justified criticism also relates to the fact that monthly financial assistance discourages and demotivates job search and employment.
Therefore, this move by mayor Lightfoot should by no means be welcomed with open arms but should be viewed critically for two main reasons.
The first reason is that the adopted program is extremely poorly made with a large number of weak links, and the second reason is the fact local government elections in Chicago are scheduled for 2023.
To conclude, it is doubtful whether this move by Lightfoot is just a pre-election vote insuring of the poorest residents of Chicago.