Why This is The Perfect Time For Universal Basic Income


Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons

Joe Sullivan, News Editor

With over 12 million people unemployed and 270,000 dead due to COVID-19, the U.S is in deep need for aid all across the country. As Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell struggle to compromise on a COVID-19 relief package, millions of Americans are hurting at the helm of the Senate. 

So where does the country go from here? Well, hopefully the government will pass a relief bill sometime soon. As a country, it’s only right to learn from the countless mistakes we’ve made following the pandemic. 

Of course the destruction and devastation from this pandemic is far from over, but our government needs to create more ways to aid American citizens. The ideology that could alleviate these issues is the philosophy of universal basic income.

Universal basic income (UBI) is a program where every citizen receives a flat monthly payment, regardless of whether they’re working and earning an income or not. Another way of looking at it is a government guarantee payment or citizens income.

How would this work you may ask? Let’s take a look at a certain politician who supports the idea of UBI.

In 2020, entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Yang, based his presidential campaign on America’s need for UBI, where he called it the “Freedom Dividend.” According to Yang’s website, “In the next 12 years, 1 out of 3 American workers are at risk of losing their jobs to new technologies.”

Before running for president in 2020, Yang worked to create jobs across the country. Several years ago, he started working with truck drivers in Iowa and across the midwest to learn more about the loaded industry. 

Truck driving is the most common job in 29 states, but with the automation business growing day by day, the industry is at risk of losing 3.5 million jobs to self-driving trucks.

It is one of the many businesses that will be devastated in the near future due to technological advancements. Other fields such as customer service and fast food services are also in jeopardy.

After dropping out of the election, Yang launched a non-profit organization Humanity Forward to further his focus on UBI. Yang’s proposal for UBI is to give $1000 a month to every adult in the U.S.

It could be argued that Universal basic income would be a financial catastrophe and would put our country in even more debt. This could also lower the determination or motivation that people carry with them when they work.

To pay for universal basic income, we would simply need to create a Value Added Tax “(VAT)” just like the other 160 countries and all of Europe that already have one. This taxes the production of goods and services that every business produces.

For example, Andrew Yang proposed a 10 percent VAT along with consolidating several welfare programs to pay for the Freedom Dividend. The Freedom Dividend would ultimately pay for itself by helping people avoid institutions like food stamps and other welfare programs.

As for the motivation, UBI isn’t just to give people money so they don’t have to work. It’s a foundation for the estimated 33 percent of Americans that will lose their job in the next 12 years due to the greatest technological shift in human history.

Our poverty rate in the U.S is 9.2 percent, and it’s essential that the government puts more money to ensure the life and liberty of Americans.

This issue has the potential to slowly damage our economy, and it’s something we can’t wait and face when it arrives. Universal basic income won’t solve these issues, but it sure will help.