Andrew Yang Proposes Universal Basic Income in America



Abbey Black, Editor-in-Chief

 As the 2020 presidential election nears, Democrats seeking to acquire their party’s nomination have vehemently spoken on a variety of subjects ranging from climate change and healthcare to gun control and illegal immigration. One individual, however, has chosen to use his platform to bring attention to a different matter.

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has continued to argue that one of the biggest economic threats currently facing the United States is the automation of manufacturing jobs in states like Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. Some politicians and pundits have suggested that the creation of legislation to limit certain automation is the best solution to this problem. Unlike his counterparts, however, Yang is running on the idea of universal basic income (UBI), which he claims is the proper response to this new wave of technological advancement in manufacturing.

Yang’s UBI proposal, which he calls the Freedom Dividend, is a plan to give every American citizen over the age of eighteen $1,000 a month with no strings attached. According to the candidate’s website, the Freedom Dividend “would provide money to cover the basics for Americans while enabling [them] to look for a better job, start [their] own business, go back to school, take care of [their] loved ones or work towards [the] next opportunity.”

Many of Yang’s critics have been sure to target his Freedom Dividend proposal, questioning the cost and morality of the policy. To pay for the program, Yang is advocating for a Value-Added Tax (VAT), which would place a 10% tax on “the production of goods or services a business produces.” Furthermore, the candidate argues that his proposed policy would help to lessen federal spending on welfare, since individuals currently receiving government benefits would have a choice between their present status or $1,000 a month, rather than benefits in addition to a monthly check.

Yang also claims that the Freedom Dividend will help to stimulate the economy. He argues that the influx of capital in small towns will promote small business and allow communities to prosper through the addition of new businesses and job opportunities.

Though the idea of a UBI policy in the United States seems far-fetched, Yang’s website explains that it has already been established in Alaska (a unique situation because of its oil revenue and population), and it almost became a national practice in the 1960s. Additionally, prominent politicians, economists, businessmen, and civil rights activists have advocated for UBI throughout past decades. This list includes economist Milton Friedman, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President Barack Obama, and entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Yang’s distinctive platform based upon the idea of the Freedom Dividend has allowed him to make way in the 2020 presidential election; he is currently polling at an average of sixth place in national polls. Regardless of an individual’s political beliefs, manyㅡDemocrats and Republicans alikeㅡhave agreed that it is refreshing to hear about a new proposed solution in the time leading up to the next election.