Since GritPost explored the importance of discussing basic income last fall, the concept has increasingly been featured in public discourse. From examining an experiment in Stockton, California to a new book on Basic, the conversation about the future of economics is coming into focus.
Basic might be an issue in the nearer future, too, thanks to Andrew Yang. Yang is another entrepreneur pivoting to politics. The founder of the nonprofit Venture for America has made a central plank of his platform the notion of a universal basic income of $1,000 per month for every adult.
Yang calls this particular band of Basic the “Freedom Dividend”, which is paid for by taxes on the companies benefiting from automation. Yang sees these investments as a necessary step in securing the future for the American worker. His view is outlined in his book “The War on Normal People.”
Yang doesn’t just talk the talk like some entrepreneurs-turned-politicians have been accused of, though. His campaign announced Thursday that it will begin a Basic experiment, Starting next year with a single New Hampshireite and a single Iowan, Yang will personally fund the $1,000 a month dividend. In fairness, that will probably play well in the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.
Obviously, two recipients does not a study make, but Yang’s stunt has drawn even more media attention to his core platform plank.
“I am in talks with various people that might want to fund more universal basic incomes for people around the country,” Yang told Motherboard. “I’m getting the ball rolling, but the goal is that we can make this initiative really significant. We have people waiting in the wings to potentially join me in this. And then we can really demonstrate the power of this freedom dividend.”
Yang’s got support. A grant funded by Silicon Valley is supporting Stockton’s Basic program, a Facebook co-founder is a major advocate for it and Canada has been studying the idea. There’s even a basic income cryptocurrency.
While Yang might be a long-shot candidate, his interest in basic income brings both the idea and the campaign to the forefront in two important primary states and setting it to be an issue 2020’s Democrats will have to consider.
Yang could not be reached for comment.