A conversation with Michael Tubbs, former mayor of Stockton

...And now a special advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom!


Michael Tubbs is only 30 years old, but he’s already served the mayor of a city of over 300,000 people for 4 years AND been named as a special advisor to the governor of California.

During his tenure as mayor, Tubbs presided over the Stockton basic income experiment (officially called the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration), a privately funded initiative that gave $500 a month to randomly selected residents of poor neighborhoods. The program was a smashing success — instead of working less, the recipients worked more. They spent the money on daily necessities, and were able to concentrate on their futures instead of being overwhelmed with the tribulations of daily life. That seems to fit an emerging theory that poverty is not the result of laziness, welfare dependency, or bad behavior, but rather a function of multidimensional risks and hassles that keep poor people from being able to pull themselves out of poverty. And that implies that unconditional cash benefits, far from making people dependent on the government, are actually a liberating and empowering form of welfare — a handout, but also a hand up.

Now, Tubbs has been named as a “special advisor for economic mobility and opportunity” to Governor Gavin Newsom, where he will build on his work as mayor. His star continues to rise.

In this short audio interview, we discuss welfare, poverty, crime, transit, and other urban issues facing American cities today.