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ECONOMICS: Businessman holding money in his hands. Photo from Envato Elements.

Understanding the freedom dividend

A defining problem for 18 year olds within the United States is an increasing amount of college debt. Andrew Yang, former member of the Obama administration and entrepreneur, plans to change that.

Yang has championed the Freedom Dividend, the layman’s term for Universal Basic Income (UBI). The Freedom Dividend  is often misunderstood because of its idolization by Yang supporters; however, UBI in its truest forms can be successfully integrated into the U.S. economy.

Yang’s policies lie within the cracks of UBI, a theory in which each qualifying person gets a set amount of money each month, which is often seen as a policy that would further plummet the U.S. economy into the ground.

Yang’s significance and controversy arises because he has solely based his campaign on UBI, something that no other candidate from the Democratic party would ever do.

The Freedom Dividend depicts a pseudo-socialist distribution of money in the U.S. economy; in essence, you get $1,000 a month, unconditionally. No questions asked.

Yang made significant progress at the beginning of 2019 by appearing on leftist podcaster Sam Harris’ “Making Sense” and Joe Rogan’s centrist podcast the “Joe Rogan Experience”. Yang has gone as far as making a guest appearance on Republican Ben Shapiro’s Sunday show, the first Democratic candidate ever to be interviewed on the program.

While appearing on all these shows may have gained Yang significant publicity, it also brought up debates on how the U.S. would be able to afford the program and what would happen to current welfare problems and social security if UBI is actually implemented.

Many will ask the question, how will the U.S. be able to pay such an enormous amount of money?

For starters, Yang proposes a Value-Added Tax. This is a 10 percent tax on goods or services businesses produce, and according to Yang’s official policy website, “it is a fair tax and makes it harder for large corporations to avoid paying their fair share.”

This is often where people begin to stop paying attention and ask, “How will everyone get $1,000?”

However, a form of UBI was experimented with in the ‘70s with Nixon attempting to implement UBI for lower income households.

Unfortunately, the policy ended after the Ford administration came into office; however, there are forms of UBI already in Alaska which have been around for almost four decades.

Alaska, while not providing $1,000 a month, instead has a distribution of money that relies on the amount of revenue the state produces from oil production. If Alaska has no profit from oil, then residents will get no money from UBI.

No extra tax is imposed on large oil companies. The extra profit from the oil sold funds its income policies. Because of its success in Alaska, the public ought to increase awareness in domestic politics as it has the potential to solve problems such as social security.

While people attempt to understand the Freedom Dividend, they  simply lack information on how it works.

When someone hears that an upcoming presidential candidate is running a policy that takes money from bigger companies, it can make the Freedom Dividend appear to be a useless policy that would further drain the U.S. economy.

While people often dismiss the Freedom Dividend as a socialist concept, it has the potential to create new jobs. By putting money back into peoples’ hands and taking it out of the hands of pharmaceutical and corporate industries, it could raise the economy of the U.S. by 13.1 percent, according to The Roosevelt Institute. In fact, it would increase the number of people in the labor force by 4.5 to 4.7 million.

If Smalltown, USA had 5,000 residents qualifying for $12,000 a year, that would bring as much as $60 million back to the area, making local businesses more vibrant.

Though the average American is satisfied by McDonald’s and non-local goods from Walmart, it can crush small businesses and make American markets uncompetitive. By leveling the playing field through the Freedom Dividend, small communities are able to thrive independently.

It’s time we keep money here in the hands of Smalltown, USA citizens, and keep their hard-earned income out of the hands of billion dollar industries.

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