Universal Basic Income in 2020
With the looming 2020 elections, the US is soon to find itself at a crossroads of such massive significance that it will be on a par with the gravity of the Declaration of Independence or the Civil War.
Not only is 2020 about removing the stain of Trump’s wannabe imperial presidency from the White House, but also about fundamentally tackling the grotesque wealth inequality that presently blights the US. Add to that how the American economy is fundamentally weakening with the onset of more and more automation, and the stakes for hundreds of millions of regular American workers and families have never been higher.
So it is that unparalleled problems require unparalleled solutions. And when it comes to foresight and vision, presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s proposed Universal Basic Income (UBI) is without compare. UBI would provide every American citizen over the age of 18, without exception and no questions asked, $2,000.00 every month – totaling $24,000.00 a year it mirrors current monthly enhanced $600 unemployment benefits that congress must convert to permanent UBI.
Putting aside the issue of massively skewed income inequality, there is a striking reason for Yang’s bold UBI proposal. He is especially mindful of how automation has already begun to fundamentally change the American economy, resulting in job losses. Critically, Yang identifies how: “…the smartest people in the world now predict that a third of all working Americans will lose their job to automation in the next 12 years.” The pandemic is the game changer a game changer that will plunge millions of Americans into poverty.
Not only does that mean that big business and industry reaps that benefit (more automation means potentially way more profit though having much lower wage bills) and the American worker loses out further, but the American economy takes a seismic hit. Millions less in work means less spending power to keep the American economy powered-up. Consumers need to spend for an economy to stay healthy. In the absence of spending power, the economy is at risk of recession or even depression.
Therefore, by arming every American with $2,000.00 every month, that means that increasing automation of the economy is not punishing regular American workers; it means keeping the economy flush with spending power. It also means that the issue of gross income inequality in the US will finally be tackled in a meaningful, genuinely effective fashion.
Let’s for a minute consider American spending on the apparatus of war. The US government currently pours over $600 billion dollars a year into defense spending (and that is of course to the endless joy of the industrial-military complex). That sort of spending is an affront to the American people. The only country in the world that could realistically challenge the US in a military sense? The US. So needless to say, such a challenge is never going to happen and therefore the amount of annual American military expenditure could be drastically reduced.
Likewise, the obscenity of Trump’s recent tax-breaks for the super-rich further skews the American economy further against regular hard-working Americans. As do sky rocketing costs such as medical bills, insurance, prescription drugs and college tuition fees. All of them bear down on regular Americans more and more, day after day, year after year.
UBI makes even more sense: Workers can afford to turn down exploitative wages from potential employers as they have UBI to empower their position.
UBI would stimulate small business entrepreneurship as newly established small business owners would have a financial cushion to fall back upon when things are initially tight. Small businesses are often touted as being the real backbone of the American economy – UBI would afford new small business greater opportunity to go on to grow and thrive.
Jobs for workers become a better, and therefore more productive fit, as workers who are stuck in a “bad fit” job are not financially obliged to stay where they are.
Consequently, with UBI, American workers will be able to seek out work that is better suited to them and therefore more productive, benefiting not only themselves but larger society too.
UBI is a radical proposal. Post pandemics are times that need radical solutions and the alternatives to UBI really don’t bear thinking about.