I have always wanted to live in a world where we work to improve ourselves and the rest of humanity, instead of working 40 hours or more a week just to survive. I want human beings to live a life in which they can actually experience Freedom. Freedom is not simply absence of coercion. It is the ability to examine choices, the education to select the choice most likely to lead to the desired outcome, and the ability to act on the choice. And the Freedom Dividend can be a step down that road.
The Freedom Dividend is a proposal under which every American over the age of 18 would receive a check for $1000 a month. There is no means testing. If you’re an American, whether you are the homeless guy hoping to panhandle enough to get a pack of cigarettes, or you’re Jeff Bezos, you get the check. If you’re anywhere in between, it increases your Freedom by adding to the resources necessary to make your best choices.
Why is this such an extraordinary idea?
It will change lives in unimaginable ways. If you’re among the wealthy, and you don’t need it, you’re welcome to donate it to anyone or anything that does. If you’re among the poor, this gives you a chance you never had before. But it does much more.
Its benefits are not only economic. It affects the quality of life for millions. It helps to reduce the despair and hopelessness that leads to increased stress. That stress increases domestic violence and suicide. I have little doubt that it also contributes to mass shootings.
When people are poor, it just keeps spiraling downward. You can’t afford a good car, so you buy a cheap one. But that car requires constant repairs. That’s more money you spend. As Yang once said, “Poverty charges interest.” Let’s see if we can start paying down some of the bills of poverty.
Why are people poor? Isn’t it their own fault?
There are as many reasons for poverty as there are poor people. Is it the fault of the impoverished individual? I don’t know. I’m not nearly wise enough to decide who is “deserving” and who is not. I don’t believe anyone else is, either. With The Freedom Dividend, we don’t need to make that judgment. It goes to everyone. I can’t speak for all people; neither can you. I can, however, confidently speak from my own experience, and that’s why I believe in the Freedom Dividend. A minimum wage job isn’t enough, by itself. For more on that topic, see below.
I really can’t work very much anymore. I’m 56, my body is shot, and my diabetes lands me in the hospital with startling frequency, almost invariably from trying to push what’s left of me too hard. If you paid me $15.00 an hour, that would be a reasonable wage, and while I couldn’t survive well on it, even at 40 hours a week, it would make it possible for me to find some decent roommates and have a shot at making ends meet. I couldn’t live alone on that. I don’t know many people who could without government assistance.
I quit teaching 3 years ago because both physically and psychologically I was no longer capable of doing it. I teach Defensive Driving now, and I’m getting 4 to 5 classes a month. I make good money, at $200 per class, but it’s clear $1000 a month is all I have to live on. If my means testing works out, I might get disability. I’m too young for Social Security. I have, quite fortunately, state funded medical care and food stamps. That’s the whole ball of wax.
I have a roommate who is on disability, and she gets a monthly check that doesn’t quite cover rent for the three of us. My other roommate makes 15 bucks an hour, 40 to 50 hours a week, at Amazon. Between the three of us, we just barely survive. And that survival is by no means certain.
If there were a Freedom Dividend, my monthly income would double. If we see the three of us a family unit, the additional $3000 a month would cover all of our rent, utilities, and gas. All the money we bring in other than that would be to pay for groceries, vet bills, insurance, gas, and car repairs. We might even be able to afford to go to dinner sometimes, or perhaps see a movie.
A person who is too lazy to work deserves nothing from anyone else. I had to work hard for what I have; so should they!
I understand that feeling too. But I disagree with it.
I believe all people, whether I agree with their life choices or not, are deserving of the basics of human survival. This means all of us should have food, shelter, appropriate clothing for the climate in which we reside, medical care, a decent education, and the opportunity to communicate with others. What would that look like? You can see here:
Many people make important contributions to society for which there is no financial reward. This doesn’t make them lazy. It makes them unpaid. Instead of raising our own children, many of us need to pay someone else to take care of them while we’re at work. Wouldn’t it be nice if Mom or Dad could stay home and raise children for $1000 a month? Add to the Freedom Dividend the money they’re saving on childcare, and suddenly it starts to add up. Caregivers for their elderly parents have to find other means to survive, or spend money to put their parents into homes. They also profit from the Freedom Dividend.
What if people waste it, though? I don’t want to pay for someone’s drug habit.
This is their money. If they choose to waste it, that’s up to them. They can either use it to move forward and up in life, or not. That’s true of any money anyone gets. It’s a Dividend in the same way that Microsoft pays a Dividend to their shareholders. You’ve invested your life into this country. You’re entitled to get something back from us. You’re not paying for it. You’re getting paid by it.
Fine, but how are we going to pay for this?
First, I would like to point out that the only time… the ONLY time… this question is asked is when the money is going to be used for programs that help ordinary people. No one asked how to pay for a war that has lasted, with no idea of “winning,” for more than a decade. We decided it needed to be done, and we did it.
Having said that, he does have a plan for it that makes sense. To understand the point of the plan, it’s important to understand why this is necessary: Automation.
As Artificial Intelligence (AI )improves, and it will, there will be more and more jobs lost to automation. We’re only a couple of years away from trucks that drive themselves. We are already checking out our own groceries at Wal Mart. Telemarketers and customer service agents will be replaced by software that is so convincing it sounds like you’re actually talking to a person. Malls are closing all over the place because we order what we want from Amazon. Those are more people without jobs.
Instead of watching homelessness skyrocket as people lose their jobs, we’re providing everyone a safety net. The Freedom Dividend gives them time to find a job that is fulfilling, pays well, and is free from harassment. It puts the job applicants much more in the driver’s seat than the employers. They don’t have to take the first job that is available because they have to pay rent next week. They have that covered. Now, they can spend their lives doing something they like instead of working themselves to death for pennies.
To pay for it, Yang will introduce a Value Added Tax for corporations like Amazon. There are those who hate this idea.
That will only make things more expensive.
I suppose that’s true. However, unless you’re spending over $120,000 a year, you’re coming out ahead. Only about 6% of the population will pay more than they get.
That won’t be enough money to pay for all of it. What about the rest of it?
He’ll also make use of the end of much of Welfare. I would have to choose between my food stamps and my Freedom Dividend. I get $177 a month for food. That’s enough for almost two weeks. Take my food stamps, and give me my $1000 a month. The government will be making fewer decisions for us.
Money will be going back into the economy, creating more jobs. We’ll make more in taxes because more people are working. That pays for part of it.
If you want the nitty gritty details, check here.
You Democrats want to give everyone Something for Nothing. This is just Socialism, and Socialism never works.
No… it’s not. Socialism is when the government controls the means of production. That’s still controlled by the Private Sector. This is Capitalism that doesn’t start at $0. It just levels the playing field. And we’re not giving Anyone Anything for Nothing. We’re giving it to everyone who has helped to make us among the wealthiest and most powerful nations on Earth. This is Human Centered Capitalism.
We have been trying the Trickle Down Economy since Reagan. What have been the results? Where once a single person working 40 hours a week could earn enough to support a whole family, today full time work isn’t really enough to support even one person. Giving more money to the wealthy “Job Creators” (who don’t actually create jobs at all… that’s done by supply and demand and consumers) obviously didn’t raise the standard of living for the rest of us. They didn’t invest it into their employees, and therefore into the economy. They kept it for themselves.
The Freedom Dividend is an effort at a Trickle Up Economy. Instead of raining only on the top branches of the tree, we’re watering its roots at ground level. The economy grows because the money is injected immediately back into it. Those who have more, spend more. People can now patronize little stores that are more expensive, instead of being forced into Wal Mart where the prices are lower and most of the employees need government assistance even to buy Wal Mart groceries. This keeps small business running and it encourages entrepreneurs to start their own. The Arts, which are for me the most valuable part of any civilization, will grow because artists can now afford to do their work. This isn’t Socialism. It’s a means of saving Capitalism.
So… what’s your point?
I would like to live in a world that is concerned more with people than with little bits of green paper. We have spent 200,000 years getting to the place where we can now feed, clothe, and house all of humanity. But our path here led us to believe we never have Enough. We don’t have Enough Money. We don’t have Enough Food. But, you know what? Yes… we do. We’ve made it, folks. We’re standing on the shoulders of 200 millennia of human beings struggling for survival. We’re their crowning achievement. Instead of wage slavery of the past, we can have fulfilling lives. We have invented machines to do the most tedious and dangerous work. We don’t have to hunt for food or cut down trees to build our shelters anymore. We are a remarkable species who have cause to be proud.
We’re here so very briefly. Let’s try to make a world where we can enjoy the ride.