Proponents tout guaranteed basic income results

There is evidence that guaranteed income programs tend to have a positive effect on the job prospects and long-term economic stability of those who receive them. But many communities, because of ideology, stigma or other reasons, cannot get leaders to join. Nashville is an example.

Jamel Campbell-Gooch is a North Nashville defenseman.

“A lot of times when we bring up Nashville on the national stage, they bring up things like hot chicken or country music. But what’s interesting is that everything the average person knows about Nashville was born out of black people in northern Nashville,” Campbell-Gooch said. “We are constantly told that there is no investment for us in community programs. But when we look around, there are constantly new renovations going on.

These days, it looks like gentrification in North Nashville’s historically black community. But to community advocates, it feels like roadblocks and stop signs on an idea they believe can uplift its people.

The Guaranteed Basic Income gives people in need a fixed amount of money each month, with no strings attached. Over the past few years, it has evolved from an abstract idea to a proven approach to tackling poverty.

Laura Zabel has seen what guaranteed income does.

Last year, we flew to the Twin Cities to spotlight his nonprofit, Springboard for the Arts, and his plan to give $500 a month to artists struggling to work during the pandemic. Now he is seeing results.

“The artist spend data for our pilot is very similar to the pilots taking place across the country,” Zabel said.

Dozens of cities have launched guaranteed income programs for groups of all kinds. A group that followed nearly 6,000 participants found that they spent almost 70% of what they received at Target and Walmart, supermarkets and grocery stores.

“There is so much research on guaranteed income that people end up having better jobs at the end of their guaranteed income period because they may have had the time, space and resources to look for a better job. “, Zabel said.

This has proven to be the case even in Campbell-Gooch’s home state.

Six years ago, wildfires destroyed more than a thousand homes in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The Dollywood Foundation created a fund that gave $1,000 a month for six months to 900 families.

Gatlinburg is rural and predominantly white. Funding for its residents was entirely private, not taxpayers. And the money came after a singular tragedy, not decades of systemic challenges.

That’s why North Nashville organizers constantly have to make noise.

“We’re talking about building a $2 billion NFL stadium. But again, there’s no conversation at this level about a guaranteed basic income,” Campbell-Gooch said.

For Campbell-Gooch and his coalition, the movement will soon restart. They plan to approach city leaders with a set of programs to uplift the citizens of North Nashville. Among them is the guaranteed basic income.

“The movement with guaranteed basic income that is happening across the country? I think my main fear is that Nashville will be left behind,” Campbell-Gooch said.