Facebook co-founder gives California families a leg up

Several dozen families from a California city are preparing to receive $500 a month for a year with no strings attached in exchange for doing absolutely nothing.

The universal basic income plan is part of a program to study the economic and social impact of giving the poorest residents of Stockton, California, a chunk of cash.

“If you give people a base amount that they are receiving regularly, that can really be a hand up,” the Universal Income Project’s Jim Pugh told Claudia Cowan of Fox News. “That helps them to really gain their own economic success going forward.”

Stockton’s cash giveaway is privately funded by the Economic Security Project, a nonprofit spearheaded by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who has committed $1 million.

Some critics of the plan say that giving away money discourages people from working.

“People, they want to be engaged, they actually want to do productive things, but they need to have a reason to want to get up and go out and earn a living,” Alec Levenson of the USC Marshall School of Business told Cowan.

In Stockton, which declared bankruptcy in 2012 and where one in five residents is statistically poor, an extra $500 a month would be a big help for some families.

“I would definitely spend it in my community,” one resident told Fox News, "maybe buying local fruits and vegetables."

The test program will start this fall.