In this Spotlight series, The Features editorial team have dug deep to keep you informed on outsider stories that were missed in mainstream news.
With the 2020 elections looming, the news cycle is inundated with headlines meticulously analysing the big players such as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. However, if you blinked during the previous two debates, you may have missed rising-star Democrat candidate Andrew Yang.
Having never previously held political office, entrepreneur Yang has amassed a huge online following. The candidate has created momentum for himself primarily due to his advocacy of a ‘freedom dividend’ – a policy that’s come to be the raison d’étre of his campaign.
Yang promises to give all adult Americans $1,000 per month without any requirements.
The freedom dividend, pledged by Yang, promises to give all adult Americans $1,000 per month without any requirements. Whilst this idea may seem radical, it has been touted since the founding days of the United States. Political theorists and activists alike, such as Thomas Paine and Martin Luther King have advocated for some form of universal basic income.
Yang proposes this dividend as a way to offset the looming social and economic consequences facing modern-day America, as a result of the technological takeover or, as some experts refer to it, the “fourth industrial revolution”. The candidate has frequently warned of the havoc being caused by technological firms, as they shift from human labour in favour of automation. Yang has described technology as the “oil of the 21st century
American economy could grow by $2.5 trillion per annum as a result.
The freedom dividend promises to not only act as a social equalizer for Americans but also provide a safety net for many families and individuals who will be empowered to exploit their entrepreneurial and creative capabilities. The Roosevelt Institute has conducted research into universal basic income and has estimated that the American economy could grow by $2.5 trillion per annum as a result. They also suggested that millions of new jobs could be created by such a scheme.
Like most policies, universal basic income has come under great scrutiny from all ends of the political spectrum. Whilst some have criticised the policy for not tackling the issue of employee rights and corporate abuses of power, others have attacked it for creating a one-size-fits
This idea has [previously] been trialled and implemented
This idea has been trialled and implemented; granted – on a smaller scale than the US. Alaskans in 1982 began receiving credit from the ‘Alaskan Permanent Fund’. This fund, set up by former Governor Jay Hammond, offers a dividend from oil revenues. Contrastingly, in 2017 Finland piloted and green-lit a 2-year basic income scheme for the unemployed. Unlike the Alaskan fund, the Finnish government had aimed to encourage the unemployed to find work, through providing a financial comforter. Whilst many of the Finnish recipients reported feeling less anxious about their finances, the scheme did not prove successful in prompting people to find employment. Consequently, the scheme was not continued.
Having recently qualified for the September primary debates, Yang’s campaign has exceeded the expectation of many political commentators. Despite questions raising over some of his supporter’s links to white supremacist ideology and the infamous website 4chan, the ‘Yang gang’ appears to be growing from strength to strength. This fringe candidate is definitely one to watch.