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Sacramento City Hall. (Photo: cityofsacramento.org)

Sacramento Mayor Proposes Guaranteed Basic Income for Artists

‘Welfare’ for artists should be done through proper channels

By Katy Grimes, February 8, 2022 2:19 pm

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is proposing a Guaranteed Basic Income for Artists. Yes, the city is proposing providing government welfare payments to people who do not need it and are capable of supporting themselves.

Guaranteed income programs often drain funds from the most vulnerable who likely need the financial help. This government slush fund is what is causing so many able-bodied employees to opt out of work and stay at home.

The City announced on its website:

“The City’s Office of Arts & Culture is seeking input from local artists and creatives on a potential Guaranteed Basic Income for Artists (GBI) program.”

“Basic income programs have produced positive outcomes for individuals and families, and we are eager to try this approach in Sacramento,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “Many artists struggle to get by financially, and a small infusion of funds could give them the ability to focus on their work without fear.”

Most struggling artists supplement their art by working another job until they are established – as do many musicians and actors. With the labor market so stunted thanks to the ongoing government stimulus and unemployment checks, there are plenty of jobs available.

“Funding for the program would come from $10 million in Federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding, which was approved as part of the mayor’s ARP spending framework.”

Studies have found that universal and guaranteed income programs were shown to significantly reduce actual yearly hours worked among the income recipients. As we’ve seen with the COVID stimulus checks, people are working fewer hours and opting out of work altogether.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, also known as the COVID-19 Stimulus Package or American Rescue Plan, is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden March 2021, ostensibly “to speed up the country’s recovery” from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession.

“The City recognizes that artists and creative workers have experienced significant economic instability, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cultural and Creative Economy Manager Megan Van Voorhis. “We are interested in exploring different solidarity-economy concepts that address that instability, along with systemic racism and inequity, to support Sacramento’s creative workers.”

“Sacramento’s creative workers” are victims of systemic racism and inequity? How? People purchase art that speaks to them, inspires them, and moves them. This is pure blather.

And lest you worry that artists are the only group being considered:

“The program for artists is not the only guaranteed basic income initiative the City of Sacramento is exploring. As part of the Mayor’s ARP spending framework, the City Council also allocated $750,000 to expand the Direct Investment Program in Sacramento managed by United Way. This community pilot program offers a guaranteed basic income for residents, regardless of their profession.”

The Mayor’s “American Rescue Plan Act” spending framework is a piece of work focused on “strong racial equity language that acknowledges our city’s on-going commitment to racial equity and prioritizes it in our ARP funding decisions.”

The Mayor’s plan explains the funding:

“last year our city received approximately $89 million of federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). With your collaboration, we went right to work getting the money out to our neighborhoods where it was needed most. We adopted a four-category framework that expended $80 million of that federal funding into our community in an efficient and effective manner.”

Where did the remaining $9 million go?

“This past May our city received its first $56 million of funding with a second $56 million allotment arriving next spring. This brings us to a total of over $112 million of much needed resources.”

The government slush fund is massive. In addition to it is Steinberg’s “City Homeless and Housing Commitment” of $41 million. “I will soon introduce an ordinance calling for a legal right to housing for our city,” Steinberg says. “Combined with our Council-approved Comprehensive Siting Plan and unprecedented new resources, we have a chance to make a historic difference on these crucial issues.”

This is Mayor Steinberg conflating the actual few people who were one paycheck away from living on the streets, with Sacramento’s 11,000+ heroin and meth addicted, mentally ill, formerly incarcerated homeless. But the lure of this intoxicating steady stream of continuing federal funding for homelessness is winning over any real plan to help these people get off the streets successfully. And providing them a subsidized or free apartment doesn’t address the actual reason(s) they are homeless.

Homeless encampment downtown Sacramento. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

This means more and more subsidized housing in Sacramento, one of the most expensive rental cities in the country. A one-bedroom apartment in Sacramento averages $2,211 per month. A two-bedroom averages $2,827 per month. It’s these average rents that Sacramento taxpayers will be expected to subsidize for the people currently living on the streets, in tents, campers, vans and their cars.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that able-bodied adults should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid,” the Heritage Foundation explains. “This was the core principle behind welfare reform in the 1990s. As noted, the UBI abandons that principle. By removing work requirements from welfare, UBI would decrease work among the poor and increase dependence on government.”

Key elements of The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and provisions of the Act include:

  • Extending expanded unemployment benefits with a $300 weekly supplement through Labor Day (September 6, 2021), preventing benefits from expiring on March 31, 2021
  • $1,400 direct payments to individuals
  • the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits for 2020 not taxable for households with incomes below $150,000
  • Emergency paid leave for over 100 million Americans

Is it any wonder people stay home rather than work?

“Artists and creatives located in the city of Sacramento can provide their input on the potential program by filling out the brief survey on the Office of Arts & Culture’s website.

The Guaranteed Basic Income for Artists pilot program is expected to go to City Council for budget approval in the coming weeks, the city says. If approved by City Council, the project is expected to launch in the summer.

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14 thoughts on “Sacramento Mayor Proposes Guaranteed Basic Income for Artists

  1. Dear Mayor Steinberg,
    No one is forcing these people to be “professional artists”. If they earned a college degree in art, no one forced them to do so.
    How dare you subsidize them with taxpayer dollars. Instead, be an adult and tell them to get a real job.
    An Employed Engineer

  2. It is galling that Steinberg is “seeking input from local artists and creatives” regarding this outlandish guaranteed basic income program. He should be seeking input from taxpayers who have to pay for the City’s reckless and frivolous expenditures.
    Is this even legal? Did the Federal government stipulate any restrictions at all with the American Rescue Plan?

  3. Apart from the Marxist roots and potential to make more people weak and dependent —- and bonus points for stirring up resentment amongst the unchosen who must actually work for a living — I’ve never been quite sure why artists in particular have been anointed by progressive city governments. Except that apparently Dem leadership thinks of art as a “noble” pursuit and that can provide a cover of legitimacy for welfare programs that should never occur, as you said, for young and able-bodied people who can support themselves.
    In my lefty town I’ve attended meetings where local so-called artists were referred to as “first responders.”(!) They have also been lavishly funded and subsidized to produce “public art” (another scam). I’m no art critic but the stuff they come up with looks like hunk-o’-junk eyesores to me. A con artist with minimal skills can make a pretty good living just from churning out mock-ups of their intended public art projects, for which they are paid handsomely with taxpayer money, even though no final art is ever approved or created.
    Many years ago in City of Ventura, during the odious Rick Cole’s time as City Manager, housing was financed, built near the beach, and essentially offered for free to local so-called artists. Are they even “artists” who end up living there? Who knows.
    And now Sacramento “leadership” has the nerve to use federal “COVID relief” funds to hand out basic income to any Tom Dick or Harry who calls himself an artist?
    What a scam and a con job.

  4. I heard the infamous Hunter Biden is moving to Sacramento to collect a check.

    I think ShowandTell absolutely nailed it. My city just installed a hideous art display that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and it seriously looks like plastic sticks with frisbees on top.

    It would be interesting to know why politicians do cater these programs to the chosen few artists, in this case. If only Van Gogh was born in the here and now!

    Heck, I guess the gangs that spray paint the overpasses and train trestles should apply!

  5. Many of California’s most beloved artists teach/taught art at university or work(ed) in some other capacity to support themselves. You know, like any other responsible person would.

    Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for this unneeded and undeserved form of welfare.

  6. I see an increase in enrollment for the Arts program at Sac State. Also the criminals will find a way to qualify and use our taxpayer dollars to buy more guns, drugs and get away cars, they always do. They know how to cheat the system better than Gavin.

  7. STEINBERG. Everything that needs saying is said just by saying the name. STEINBERG. And, you can’t change or reform them, either. But you can vote them out or, better, never vote them in. Until then, eat this with a spoon and a smile ’cause voters put him there. Hahahahahahahaha!

  8. Printing money with the intent of government default to the World Bank. Criminals just dragging ‘artists’ into their cesspool.

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