Universally speaking, at least 50% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. I qualify it like that because it depends on the source of the statistic. Some place the estimate closer to 78% percent, while others are closer to 55%. Let’s just agree then that at least every other person is living paycheck to paycheck. Every. Other. Person.
A universal basic income proposal is nothing new. The idea to give the people a monthly no-strings-attached stipend has long been teased and, on very small scales, tested. I can’t imagine anyone that wouldn’t benefit from something of the sort, so then why haven’t we done it already? Systemic poverty isn’t new. Struggling individuals and families is by no means a product of the modern age.
Andrew Yang’s Plan For Universal Basic Income
The latest plan to implement a UBI comes from Andrew Yang. Once a corporate lawyer and entrepreneur, Yang is a 2020 presidential hopeful. His campaign, more than others, touts his plans to realize a guaranteed income to help subsidize our economy. Built upon a new “Value Added Tax” of 10%, his UBI program would situate itself as a choice for those currently utilizing welfare programs, disability, and homelessness programs, meaning, you can choose one or the other, but not both. This in turn would reduce the cost of either the UBI or the financial burden of these longstanding programs. All the same, the basic premise is that everyone over the age of 18 would receive it.
“What Would You Do with an Additional $1000 Each Month?”
This has become the question supporting the Freedom Dividend (Yang’s name for the UBI plan). In past small/medium scale tests of a universal basic income we’ve seen over and over that when people are given a free financial boost, they tend to use it to their benefit and not their detriment.
Sure, we all know that there will always be some people who ruin it for everyone else. A $12,000 dollar a year budget for beer and going out on the weekends would be pretty sweet. Although, I think we only really daydream like that because it’s all pretend, right? Win the lottery; buy a yacht, big house, 5 cars, or is that just what Cypress Hill taught us? No. If every month your bank account received an additional deposit of $1000, what would you do?
Personally, I would feel enabled. I would feel less pressure due to my student loans that I’m disregarding because I can’t afford the minimum payment. I would be inspired to tangibly save and invest my income. Dare I say it might even encourage me to be nicer to people because I feel less burdened by financial pressures. But enough about me, what about entrepreneurs?
How The Freedom Dividend Could Help New Entrepreneurs
With the Freedom Dividend, small businesses could be facing a future never before seen, and it doesn’t appear to be a negative one. Imagine having your idea, the one you’ve been trying to get off the ground, supported. What about a staff less encumbered, more free, to work as they please rather than as they need to. A happy staff has long been attributed to a productive staff. Moreover, Yang’s UBI could act as a cushion for those who’ve already started their businesses. Sure, it’s likely not enough to cover rent, but it could be the difference at the end of the month.
Yang sees this as an entirely plausible option, but could something like that ever really happen on a national scale? As a country, are we willing to try something so radical? I think a lot of people in my generation are already too jaded to believe it possible. But I say, why not? The US is already something like 22 trillion dollars in debt, so what’s another drop in the bucket? According to Yang, since this UBI model would be tax funded it would cost those poorest the least and those richest the most, thereby kind of sustaining itself. No matter where you stand with politics, any one of us can see that our nation’s debt and economy is laughable. Upward mobility? For who? Will my bachelor’s degree pay for itself? Unlikely.
For me, this article isn’t about who you should vote for. I’m not qualified enough to tell you that, but I can comment on the state of the economy and what I think a UBI could do for all of us. Overall though, if that were something that Andrew Yang is advertising, then maybe I’d listen to him. It’s time to try something.
How will Universal Basic Income benefit you? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.