The Freedom Dividend
The most direct and concrete way for the government to improve your life is to send you a check for $1,000 every month and let you spend it in whatever manner will benefit you the most. The government is not capable of a lot of things, but it is capable of sending large numbers of checks to large numbers of people promptly and reliably. We have plenty of resources, they’re just not being distributed to enough people right now. Let’s build a new kind of economy – one that puts people first. If there’s one policy that would transform American lives for the better, it is Universal Basic Income.
Problems to be Solved
- Approx. 40 million Americans live below the poverty line.
- Technology is quickly displacing a large number of workers, and the pace will only increase as automation and other forms of artificial intelligence become more advanced. ⅓ of American workers will lose their jobs to automation by 2030 according to McKinsey. This has the potential to destabilize our economy and society if unaddressed.
- Good jobs are becoming more and more scarce and Americans are already working harder and harder for less and less.
- It is necessary to support and preserve a robust consumer economy.
- Many Americans are stuck in the wrong jobs because of a need to survive.
- There are many positive social activities that are currently impossible for many to do because they lack the financial resources to dedicate time to it, including taking care of a child or sick loved one, and volunteering in the community.
As President, I will…
- Implement the Freedom Dividend, providing Universal Basic Income of $1,000/month to all American adults between 18 and 64 years of age so that we may all share in the prosperity we have contributed to and participate in the new economy.
An Excerpt from The War on Normal People
Universal Basic Income, or UBI, is a version of Social Security where all citizens receive a set amount of money per month independent of their work status or income. Everyone from a hedge fund billionaire in New York to an impoverished single mom in West Virginia would receive a monthly check of $1,000. If someone is working as a waitress or construction worker making $18,000, he or she would essentially be making $30,000. UBI eliminates the disincentive to work that most people find troubling about traditional welfare programs – if you work you could actually start saving and get ahead. With the growing threat of automation, the concept has gained renewed attention, with trials being run in Oakland, Canada, and Finland as well as in India and other parts of the developing world.
Today, people tend to associate Universal Basic Income with technology utopians. But a form of UBI almost became law in the United States in 1970 and 1971, passing the House of Representatives twice before stalling in the Senate. Versions of the idea have been championed by robust thinkers of every political persuasion for decades, including some of the most admired figures in American life. Here’s a sampling:
Thomas Paine, 1796: Out of a collected fund from landowners, “there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance,. . . to every person, rich or poor.”
Martin Luther King Jr., 1967: “I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”
Richard Nixon, August 1969: “What I am proposing is that the Federal Government build a foundation under the income of every American family . . . that cannot care for itself–and wherever in America that family may live.”
Milton Friedman (Nobel-winning economist), 1980: “We should replace the ragbag of specific welfare programs with a single comprehensive program of income supplements in cash — a negative income tax . . . which would do more efficiently and humanely what our present welfare system does so inefficiently and inhumanely.”
Bernie Sanders, May 2014: “In my view, every American is entitled to at least a minimum standard of living . . .There are different ways to get to that goal, but that’s the goal that we should strive to reach.”
Stephen Hawking, July 2015: “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.”
Barack Obama, June and October 2016: “The way I describe it is that, because of automation, because of globalization, we’re going to have to examine the social compact, the same way we did early in the 19th century and then again during and after the Great Depression. The notion of a 40-hour workweek, a minimum wage, child labor laws, etc. – those will have to be updated for these new realities. What is indisputable . . . is that as AI gets further incorporated, and the society potentially gets wealthier, the link between production and distribution, how much you work and how much you make, gets further and further attenuated . . . we’ll be debating unconditional free money over the next 10 or 20 years.”
Warren Buffett, January 2017: “you have to figure out how to distribute it . . . people who fall by the wayside through no fault of their own as the goose lays more golden eggs should still get a chance to participate in that prosperity, and that’s where government comes in.”
Bill Gates, January 2017: “A problem of excess [automation] forces us to look at the individuals affected and take those extra resources and make sure they’re directed to them in terms of re-education and income policies . . .” (Gates later suggested taxing robots.)
Elon Musk, February, 2017: “I think we’ll end up doing universal basic income . . . It’s going to be necessary . . .There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better. I want to be clear. These are not things I wish will happen; these are things I think probably will happen.”
Mark Zuckerberg, May 2017: “We should explore . . . universal basic income so that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”