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Among the oblivious are Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle and the rest of her board. Last week she announced the county’s version of what’s often called UBI – universal basic income. Under the program, the county will send monthly payments of $500 to $3,250 to its residents who successfully apply for two years. At $42 million, it’s “the largest publicly-funded guaranteed income initiative in American history,” Preckwinkle says.

UBI programs are sometimes called “free money” programs, as in this column describing 13 similar programs in certain cities around the nation. “Free money” is a fair label because that’s exactly the point – to make cash handouts with no strings attached: no work, disability or training enrollment requirements, no regard for how much the recipient is getting from other assistance program and no real questions other than household income.
Eligibility is open to anybody 18 or older with a household income at or below 250% of the federal poverty level – or about $58,000 for a family of three. About 36% of all Cook County residents will therefore be eligible, Preckwinkle says.

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This is madness for so many reasons.

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