It's an idea that has a lot of people watching but one observer warns that a California city's basic income plan diverts the city from its real duties.
Thanks to a grant program from Bay Area tech entrepreneurs, the formerly bankrupt city government of Stockton will be handing out $500 a month to residents for two years - without any limits on how it is spent.
If it likes the way things are going, Stockton may continue with public funding.
The idea of a universal basic income is to help people cover basic expenses, and advocates say it could be a replacement for entitlement programs.
"Having one city hand out $500 a month to people for not working seems like a dangerously bad idea, "observes Steven Greenhut, senior fellow and western region director of the R Street Institute "And in reality we'll end up with the continuing programs that we have and then get a cash payment on top of it."
"In Stockton," he continues, "which is an impoverished city, a city that's been in bankruptcy, a city that has done all sorts of misspending - I know the city well - this is not a good idea."
In a related column for the Orange County Register, Greenhut questions how long before we see organized groups of people calling for a higher payment from the government.
"You can't just give people stuff and expect that to fix income inequality," says Greenhut. "Stockton needs to pave the roads, keep the streets safe, lure new businesses, (and) keep the tax burdens low. That would help it compete. That's what people want. That's what they need, are jobs."