First Ward City Commission candidate Allison Lutz is advocating for Grand Rapids to use the money gathered from marijuana tax revenue to support local communities most affected by the War on Drugs. She proposes half of the money be used for infrastructure, and the other half be used to implement a universal basic income for a small population of residents.
If this plan were to be implemented, it would act as a form of justice for the low-income areas that suffered from heavy drug policing. It would be a practical way to help uplift some of the poorer areas of Grand Rapids.
Lutz’s plan would only grant the universal income to between 40 and 200 residents, so it likely would not have much of an effect on the community at large. However, it would still be interesting to see the impact on the affected residents.
There are advocates that say implementing a universal income on a wide scale could greatly benefit society. Such a system would help more people receive an education and have the tools to rise out of poverty.
It could help families afford childcare, or even allow parents to stay home with their children while they are young. It could give the workforce more bargaining power against their employer as they would be less reliant on their job. Some argue that it may become almost necessary as more jobs are lost to automation.
Some are, of course, less optimistic about the prospect of a universal income. Critics fear that it could just lead to widespread laziness since it would not be necessary to work to survive. People also wonder if it would even be fiscally feasible, and worry the resulting tax increases and budget cuts that would be necessary for its implementation would do more harm than the system would do good.
While it seems that the United States is far from implementing some form of universal income on a large scale, this experiment, if implemented, could prove important in the nationwide debate.
For now, we will just need to wait and see if Allison Lutz is elected and if she is able to put this universal basic income experiment into effect. Maybe her example is what we need — for better or for worse.