Good news! The American Dream is alive for the middle class … if the entire middle class lived on Elm Street.

Traditionally, the American Dream has always been centered around the notion that if you get a job and work really hard, you can have it all; dream big kid! That by working full-time, you should have the ability to provide for not only yourself, but also a family, all while putting away for your future dreams.

Being a child that was raised by a die-hard conservative father, this concept was drilled into my head from day one. It was also one that was typically followed by a comment that if you were on public assistance (welfare) of any kind, it was because you are lazy and choose not to work or contribute to society.

To my late father and everyone else who believes in these ideas; I’m sorry, but you live in a complete fantasy world. This version of the American Dream simply doesn’t exist, no matter who might be promising to make it great again. And it appears that the Denver Basic Income Project (DBIP) has provided ample evidence showing that this dream is definitely on life support.

Founded in 2021, the DBIP took all the applicants and broke them up into three groups. Group A participants received 12 monthly cash payments of $1,000. Group B participants received an initial direct cash payment of $6,500 and then got 11 monthly payments of $500. Group C participants received 12 monthly cash payments of $50. Thus far, the DBIP has provided over $6.5 million in direct cash payments to more than 800 individuals and families experiencing homelessness in both the pilot and current trial.

That’s a lot of money. And being someone who opposes simply throwing money at a problem with no results, I was glad to see the program was having an incredibly positive impact on the lives of its participants.

Midterm data released in October 2023 by the Center for Housing and Homelessness Research and the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work showed definite improvement. The report found that more participants from all three payment groups were living in rented or owned homes, fewer participants were sleeping outside and fewer were utilizing public health services, including emergency rooms.

In fact, the program has been so successful that earlier this year it was extended and will also receive more funding.

So, why have so many Republicans come out mocking these kinds of programs by asking questions like, “Is money a birthright now?”, all while trying to shut them down—a measure being tossed around in six other states?

I believe the quote that best exemplifies the answer/common theme shared by many conservatives concerning basic income programs comes from Republican South Dakota state Senator John Wiik. He describes these programs as “bureaucrats trying to hand out checks to make sure that your party registration matches whoever signed the checks for the rest of your life.”

Essentially, these programs do nothing but allow Democrats to buy votes.

To be honest, once you know the actual numbers and how the working class is being impacted, you begin to ask certain questions. Questions like, “When was crack legalized in South Dakota?” This is followed by wondering how many GOP members who share Wiik’s beliefs are also addicted, and for how long.

In 2020, once the census had been taken, the Government Office of Accountability compiled a myriad of data regarding different facets of American life. And it should come as no surprise that the economic information released about the middle and lower classes was incredibly grim.

The report found that over 14 million full-time working Americans were paid so little that they had to turn to public assistance of some kind—SNAP benefits, Medicaid, etc. It also showed the number of part-time employees using these programs is a little over six million.

Another group that’s struggling is referred to as ALICE—Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, and Employed. These are people who barely live paycheck to paycheck but have an income that is too high for most government assistance. Per Census Bureau data and cost-of-living estimates analyzed by United Way, 29% of American households fall under this category.

So, at the end of the day, the GOP wants people to work full-time without being able to address basic necessities, all while refusing to ask for assistance because that means you’re lazy.

When you combine this mindset with the fact that understanding minimum wage as a living wage is too complex of a thought process for them, it seems we need to lower the intellectual level of explanation and go to a completely remedial place.

Until we get half of the politicians in this country to understand just how broke people are and acknowledge the systemic issues that cause poverty, like the aforementioned living wage, nothing will change. Until these leaders understand that people need help, and the money for their survival has to be taken from somewhere—no matter whether it’s from Peter or Paul—nothing will change.

It’s either that, or we look into a third option: outright deception. If the Democrats can find a way to cook the books and make it appear as if NOBODY in America is on public assistance, everything will be fine. Given the response from GOP leadership over the recent trial results from their Supreme Leader, I doubt cooking the books will raise any eyebrows.