There is some proof that basic income sort of works. A basic income paid to members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina did help some children.
Kids whose families received a basic income payment of $595 every six months from the Band did better than children who did not, Wired reported. Jane Costello; a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, found that household income for the family received the payment went up over time.
Children whose families received the payment had 40% less behavioral problems than other kids, Costello estimated. Those kids also had a lower rate of drug and alcohol addiction. She also found that 14% of the Cherokee families that received the income rose out of poverty.
Basic Income might prevent crime and behavioral problems
A more interesting benefit was that a $4,000 yearly increase in household income reduced the poorest kids’ chances of committing a minor crime by 22%, Wired reported.
“This translates to fewer kids in jail, fewer kids in in-patient care,” Costello said. “Then there are the other costs you can’t calculate, the cost of people not killing themselves? That’s a hard one.”
The Eastern Band of Cherokee basic income comes from money raised by the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino resort which sits on their land. The casino makes around $300 million a year.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee is a group of Native American people who live in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. That section of Appalachia is one of the most poverty-prone areas of the United States, America’s “poorest white town;” Beattyville, Kentucky, is in that general area.
The Eastern Cherokee basic income; which is distributed to families with children, would be a good model for the use of the incredible amounts of money that Silicon Valley and Wall Street are generating. That revenue can be distributed to other Americans that are not participating in the boom. One way to emulate it would be to distribute those funds to low-income families with children who live in places like Beattyville.
Basic Income is Not a Total Solution for America’s problems
Wired writer Issie Lapowsky made a very good point about basic income in her piece’s conclusion.
“To imagine that a basic income, or something like it, would suddenly satisfy the disillusioned, out-of-work Rust Belt worker; is as wrongheaded as imagining it would do no good at all, or drive people to stop working,” she wrote.
“There is a third possibility: that an infusion of cash into struggling households would lift up the youth in those households in all the subtle but still meaningful ways,” she concluded.
That might be the best part of basic income; it may provide hope or help to the most desperate people in our society. If it helps the children, we should certainly consider basic income.