If you think about it, universal basic income, or the “freedom dividend” as Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang calls it, is really a conservative platform. Rather than let the government decide what to do with tax dollars, give the power back to the American people.
Of course, the opposition doesn’t see it that way. Anytime the word “Democrat” comes up, triggered emotions quickly respond with “socialism.” Admittedly, on the surface, UBI does conjure up stereotypical images of socialism. After all, the government is paying everyone – irrespective of economic value or individual worth – some monthly stipend.
But as Yang himself argues, we have to move away from traditional delineations, and instead, choose more relevant descriptors. For instance, Yang frequently mentions his wife, who is a stay-at-home mom. Under current economic measurements, his wife has a value of $0.
Is this accurate? Of course not! While she and many other stay-at-home moms aren’t punching clocks, they’re creating long-term value. For a start, the kids these moms rear will one day enter the workforce. A society producing more productive children rather than troublemakers will naturally benefit the country’s overall economic output.
The freedom dividend, Yang argues, in part recognizes the work that many women daily provide. Still, the overriding question: will this unprecedented experiment work?
The Freedom Dividend is a Very Real Proposal
I should caveat that UBI isn’t completely unprecedented. In Alaska, state residents enjoy UBI from the oil industry’s bottom line. Progressive countries have implemented UBI to some degree. But a nation like the U.S. That would be a true pioneering decision!
Obviously, people on all sides of the political spectrum have questions about sustainability. However, I think we’re somewhat thinking about the freedom dividend in the wrong way. Rather than viewing one specific policy as sustainable, we should ask what other factors brought us to this unstable point?
Our public debt has skyrocketed to $22 trillion, a previously unfathomable number. At this rate, we’ll add $1 trillion to the total every year. Eventually, if nothing is done, the debt load will spiral out of control. How then did we get here?
We can point to many contributing factors, but a glaring one is the military industrial complex. Historically, the military started life as a genuine institution of service. Now, it has become a bona fide corporation, with lobbyists and defense contractors angling for more tax dollars.
Combine that with a hegemonically-imposed love affair for the military, and you have a veritable (and willing) blank check. Stop this abuse against the American public, and right there, we free up untold billions.
Next, we look at unnecessary wars that we’re embroiled in. Since 2001, the U.S. has spent nearly $6 trillion on the Middle East. And for what? Freedom? Give me a flippin’ break!
Again, if we take out these abuses, we free up those trillions, and give them right to the American people. We haven’t even started talking about the value-added tax, which is another key proposal.
But the bottom line is this: the freedom dividend is sustainable. You just need to know where to look.