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  • Hope on Union

“Universal Basic Income”

On March 11, President Biden signed The American Rescue Plan Act 2021 into law. While the news outlets have emphasized the importance of extending unemployment payments and a $1,400 stimulus check for individuals, the legislation's seismic shift has been underreported. It is the Child Tax Credit Act of 2021. Under the new law, the tax credit per child has been increased from $2,000 to $3,000 and up to $3,600 for children under the age of 6. The seismic shift is that there is a philosophical change within that bill concerning how we view families and parenting. Under the new law, half of the Child Tax Credit will be sent in advance to families in monthly payments in the second half of the year. For the first time in U.S. history, parents will be paid because they have to take care of their children. This money will come without strings attached. This is known as Universal Basic Income (UBI). There have been many UBI programs worldwide and have been found to be the most effective means of combatting systemic childhood poverty and hunger. The programs’ impact has extended to improved health and wellbeing of children, increased educational opportunities and achievements, reduced population explosion, and most importantly, provided young people with hope. The longest-running UBI in the world is in the U.S. Since 1976, Alaska residents have received a dividend from its Alaska Permanent Fund and for the past 40 years have been receiving more than $1,000 per year per person. Had it not been for the Republican legislature reducing payout, Alaskans would have been receiving about $3,000 per year per person for the past decade. Studies have shown that UBI has been the most significant factor in reducing hunger, poverty, and other social problems in Alaska. Alaska’s success has prompted other cities to implement similar programs, including Stockton and Compton here in California. The necessity of creating a national UBI has been discussed since the 1990s, when the success of Alaska’s program was documented, but it was never acted upon because the Republican legislatures refused to believe the evidence and ignored the facts. They simply repeat lies and said that UBI would make people lazy, a myth that evidence has disproved time and time again here in the U.S. and around the world. Creating UBI is an important part of creating a more just and economically equitable society. Our work will be to ensure that the increased tax credit does not end in 2021 but will continue to grow until families can be financially stable. Also, the guaranteed monthly payments must become a permanent part of U.S. fiscal policy, not only for children but for everyone. For the first time in the U.S., the seismic shift is that the government recognizes that it has the responsibility to provide for all children. This is only the beginning, and we need to ensure that this is not only an experiment, but the idea that we need to take care of all people must become a permanent ethos of our country. This is a social, cultural, ethical, and moral necessity. This is our fight for faith, justice, and righteousness. Pastor Sunny

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