Who wants Free Money? The old saying “nothing in life is free” is getting turned on its head in the cities of Stockton and Oakland, California. CNN and CNBC report that the cities will be launching a program to give $500 to residents every month to help them with their expenses. There are no qualifications, job requirements, or educational levels required for the money.

The program stems from an economic idea called Universal Basic Income (UBI). The idea is to give people a guaranteed amount of money every month to help them pay for living expenses, save for emergencies, purchase healthier food, and pay for basic medical needs.

However, there would be no formal restrictions or accountability for how the money is spent.

UBI is not a new idea

The idea of a universal basic income has been around in some form or another since the 14th century. Over the years, the idea has been touted as a way for people to have a necessary amount of money every month so they could survive between paychecks, during periods of financial need, or while looking for a job.

Since the 14th century, many economists and philosophers have supported the idea of a guaranteed basic income. Numerous small tests were conducted around the world with varying results.

Many supporters want UBI to take the place of any other welfare provided by the state. However, not everybody agrees about how UBI is supposed to be incorporated into a family’s budget.

While many people believe it would be a replacement for welfare programs, others think it should be a cash supplement, not a replacement. Other people consider it a conspiracy to privatize and deny people welfare benefits.

Oakland, California is also trying out UBI

According to CNBC, Y Combinator is funding a basic income study in Oakland for periods ranging from three to five years.

The amount of money will vary, with some families receiving as much as $1000 a month and others who would receive $50 a month. The study will cover two states with some of the test subjects receiving UBI payments and others not receiving anything. Their living and spending habits will be compared to see how the UBI money affects people’s lives.

Giants in the tech world are very supportive of universal basic income. Heavy hitters such as Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson are supportive of the income as a way to combat poverty. Even conservatives, such as Richard Nixon, have shown an interest in implementing a basic income. Their hope is that a UBI will cut down on the vast bureaucracy surrounding current welfare systems.

The reason the tech world is so supportive of UBI is the enormous strides being made with automation. It is estimated that automation, as it improves, will cause mass unemployment among some of the more vulnerable populations in the world. Namely, people already living on the verge of poverty, the uneducated, and the elderly.