Andrew Yang's Freedom Dividend (Universal Basic Income)

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  1. GA Anderson profile image92
    GA Andersonposted 8 days ago

    *hard sun's apparent support for Yang's Freedom Dividend sparked my interest in a discussion of it.

    The basics:
    Yang's idea is basically best described as a Universal Basic Income—free unconditioned money, (except for a minimum age), from the government

    It is not a new idea, it has been proposed and promoted, at different times, as far back as 1797(?), (Thomas Paine). And as recently as 1969, (Nixon's administration—the Democrats nixed it)

    For the details, here is Yang's Freedom Dividend information FAQ.

    After reading Yang's promotion it sounded like a good idea. But after searching to see if what sounded good in theory was really true and right, it turns out to be a different story.

    An important note is that it seems no developed country currently has a UBI. Also, Finland recently experimented with the UBI concept, (on a limited number of 2000 citizens), and did not adopt it because the experiment results did not support the concept.

    But perhaps the most important note is that Yang's proposed funding for his Freedom Dividend would only provide 50%, or less, of the costs of the program—as evaluated by several reputable sources.

    For me, that the usual Scandinavian nations frequently noted for this type of social conscience do not have it, (if there was going to be proof it was workable, those nations are where I would have expected to find it), and that Yang's funding methods, (as steep as they seem), are projected by non-Yang sources as only being about half of what he claims make this a proposal a no-go for me.


    1. hard sun profile image89
      hard sunposted 8 days agoin reply to this

      Hi GA,

      Did you read the actual report from Finland? It is not really even UBI "The Finnish study will be limited to people aged 25-58 who are currently in receipt of unemployment-related benefits. " https://www.forbes/sites/francescoppola … 290e1d1bcf

      From the preliminary report findings: The purpose of the basic income was to replace the unemployment benefits paid by Kela. So, while, it’s relevant, it’s certainly not a clear predictor of how the Freedom Dividend would play out.

      Also, I know the unemployment benefit experiment is getting the American media treatment, but the results were far from being as discouraging as you make them out to be. … inland.pdf

      Besides, isn't America supposed to be the trailblazers of the world? With automation, something like this will be necessary for all developed countries very soon.

      As for funding, what American policy these days is fully funded before implementation. the wall??? At any rate, I don't think the funding numbers include the money saved from eliminating SNAP.

      I understand it's easier to dismiss these types of changes off hand. This is what most everyone in America, even some of the supposed left-wing media wants to do with the Freedom Dividend. I mean, why is the media portraying the Freedom Dividend as being akin to the Finnish unemployment experiment? However, Yang has put more thought into this than people realize. And, we need to boldly go where others haven't..with well though out plans and qualified people in charge.

      Maybe it wouldn't work. But, We need big  ideas and the courage to explore them.

      1. wilderness profile image96
        wildernessposted 7 days agoin reply to this

        "Besides, isn't America supposed to be the trailblazers of the world?"

        No.  When it comes to socialistic, share-the-wealth programs we should leave that to Greece, Venezuela and others heading down the socialism road.

        "But, We need big  ideas and the courage to explore them."

        True.  But none of those big ideas we need are those building bigger government for no other reason than making people more dependent on that government and it's officials.  People are not designed to be dependent; they are designed with a mind and body that can be, and should be, used for their own needs and wants.  Leave the charity where it belongs; to those that cannot support themselves for whatever reason.

        1. hard sun profile image89
          hard sunposted 7 days agoin reply to this

          "But none of those big ideas we need are those building bigger government for no other reason than making people more dependent on that government and it's officials."

          There are MANY reasons to do this outside of just making people more reliant on government. Furthermore, particularly since this would be replacing a at least one government program, one could argue it makes certain people less reliant on the government by giving them a choice in our they spend their assistance dollars. We will get beyond this simplistic socialist vs capitalist type thinking or we will end up like Sourth American nations where the uber-rich fly home in helicopters and drive in bullet-proof vehicles to keep their family from being kidnapped and what not. I bet those uber rich would prefer not to live that way.

          With the current, and coming, technological changes I think the government has a duty to do what it takes to help ensure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare of its people. In fact, I think it's also the duty of the people to demand this of our government. I, for one, think life is about more than the pursuit of money. With this in mind, a great nation is full of people who have the time to develop their ideas. In turn, this benefits the world with unforeseen advances in science and the arts.

  2. GA Anderson profile image92
    GA Andersonposted 7 days ago

    Geesh, more reports to read.

    I had only read a couple of evaluations of the report's findings, so of course, I had to go read your link.

    What I understood of the report seems to agree with the evaluations I had already read. *(as a side note, one of those evaluations was the left-leaning The Guardian). But there is one important difference that should be noted. It seems the Finland UBI was only intended to replace unemployment benefits. It appears all other Finnish social benefit programs, (welfare programs), were still in place. This is different from the Freedom Dividend in that it is planned to replace several welfare programs.

    So, thanks for the link, but it didn't disagree with the evaluations I had already read.

    Now, for a bit of clarity, I think you may have read more bias and negativity into my OP than was there, (or at least intended to be there). I tried to keep my bias in check.

    The Finland example, although pertinent, is not really a comparable program because it was only intended to replace one benefit program—unemployment benefits. In essence, I agree with your first statement.
    *as a note, I don't think it is fair to say I made Finland's results out to be discouraging, I only noted that the results did not compel Finland to continue along the UBI road.

    Hey, I like the idea of being a trailblazer, as long as the trail is going in the right direction.

    Regarding SNAP, (and the other programs that would be contributory funding), yes those savings were included in the funding sources for the Freedom Dividend. But, because those programs are retained as a participation choice, (they are not "stacked" like SS and SSDI), their savings will contribute to the FD, (Freedom Dividend), funding, but the programs and their associated bureaucratic costs would remain. Those programs do not go away.

    Being fully funded is one thing, but when even the most optimistic projections only reach a 50% funding level is another.  The Tax Foundation estimated Yang's proposed VAT would have to be 22%, not the digestible 10% he is touting. And then there is the reality that such a VAT would certainly equate to a regressive tax on the poor.

    And then, (again), there is my biased reality that when Yang's numbers were challenged in an interview, his response was; "Well maybe we will have to do more."—as in a higher FD amount and a higher VAT and tax structure.

    My initial reaction to the FD was dismissive, but, I was willing to give it a look. I followed every FAQ on Yang's site. And the end result was that it sounded like a good idea—if it was as he says.

    So my next search was optimistic. I wanted to find support for his ideas because they seemed to make sense—as he presented them.

    But, real-world examples and facts contradict his grand vision of a Freedom Dividend. It is realistically unfundable, so it would have to be accepted as a worthy cost, (an estimated $1.5 trillion dollar annual cost), and it does not replace the social network programs we have in place. It seems that history would indicate that as long as they exist they will continue to be negative costs, so the bottom line seems to be that a UBI would be just another social program—not a replacement program.

    I understand that my response is negative to the FD concept, but I have at least tried to make it an unbiased negative.

    ps. Everything I found says that yes, Finland and Scandinavia have currently dismissed the idea of a UBI. The Swiss vetoed the idea in 2017 by a 73% to 23% margin.


    1. Ken Burgess profile image92
      Ken Burgessposted 7 days agoin reply to this

      I think as a nation, we are far closer to this concept than many likely believe.

      Close to 50% of America's population, receive some form of funding that would equate to what is being discussed, if not more.

      Yang is ahead of his time, there may come a time in the future when automation, human integration with the 'internet', artificial intelligence, etc. has moved our civilization beyond the point where people "work" for a living.  But I do not believe that time will come in our lifetimes.

      So through a variety of social support programs, 'tax refunds' that award people with thousands of dollars who contributed nothing to the system, housing and food programs, the government does give more than what Yang is suggesting to literally half the nation.

      The other half 'works' for their income.

      Other than a handful of much smaller and less populated nations, that have no infrastructure or military expenses to speak of, there is no one that offers more income, or more support, to those that do not produce for it, than America does.

      1. hard sun profile image89
        hard sunposted 7 days agoin reply to this

        "tax refunds' that award people with thousands of dollars who contributed nothing to the system,"

        I thought you had to work to get a tax refund. I also thought these people paid payroll taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, fees to drive, fees to fish and hunt, etc, etc. Most people who get big tax checks contribute a good deal.

        In fact, many teachers , firefighters, police officers, medical professionals ,etc get big tax refunds. They are contributing nothing though.

        The Freedom Divdend could provide these things with less bureaucracy and costs.

    2. hard sun profile image89
      hard sunposted 7 days agoin reply to this

      I appreciate your efforts GA, and I do think you are attempting to give the idea a fair shake, as I am acknowledging that I have no proof that it would work out as planned...neither does Yang at this point. However, nothing I've seen suggests the idea should be written off, and I'd be willing to bet that it resurfaces within the next couple of years somewhere in the developed world, if not the US. I'm conceding that Yang isn't going to get much of anywhere with this right now in the US.

      Choosing the dividend over SNAP still does provide some cost savings. I think that is what you are acknowledging.

      Yang has presented some other ways that the dividend would help pay for itself, and not all of these ways are monetary.
      "Overall, the cost of the Freedom Dividend will be offset by new revenue, fiscal savings, and economic growth. Areas where we'll see fiscal savings include the reduction of healthcare costs, lower incarceration rates, reduced homelessness, and bureaucratic downsizing. Additionally, the Freedom Dividend will boost GDP, increase consumer spending, create jobs, and lead to more tax revenue,"   "The plan would also be funded through a 10%  added tax (VAT) — which taxes the  added to a consumer product from the point of origin to the point of  — as well as new taxes on financial transactions, carbon emissions, tech companies and disruptive technologies like automation."  https://www.cbsnews/news/the-freedom-di … ican-1000/  ---I understand that some of these things are debatable, but it does indicate that Yang has given more though to this than simply, "maybe we'll have to do more." Besides, we would need A LOT more thought into this if it were going to truly be implemented. We need expert opinions, and a leader who will listen to those experts, on top of more research.---This plan is much more fleshed out than any Green New Deal, with the exception of maybe Jay Inslee's plan, which he's been working on for decades.

      As I stated before, how we are paying for something really doesn't seem to matter to Americans these days, unless it's something they don't agree with for whatever reason.

      I do agree that it seems Finland and Scandinavia have at least temporarily given up on the idea. However, as we also seem to agree, the Finland study was not actually UBI, so I don't think they have given the idea a fair chance either. It's also worthy to note that Libertarians have been known to support the UBI concept.

      I like Yang partially as he's willing to try out new things to correct our unbalanced economy and has demostrated he can put more thought into these plans than many other Democrats. However, it would take teamwork to get anything like this done. One man doesn't have all the answers, and one man cannot make America great.

      1. GA Anderson profile image92
        GA Andersonposted 7 days agoin reply to this

        It looks like we have ironed out the wrinkles of disagreement, and I think we ended up with a couple points of agreement.

        I think Yang has some very valid reasons for the coming necessity of a UBI. I disagree that the time is now, but maybe a decade from now.

        The primary one is his job loss via automation and AI technologies worry. I think he is right, we are approaching an age when there just won't be a need for as many human jobs as the working population will need.

        When we reach that point, one of his other points, the less tangible and more feely-feely, health and human welfare benefits of alleviating financial insecurities. I think pride-in-self and personal responsibility should be the path to that solution, but we both know that won't happen.

        I stumbled across a phrase in a quote about one English town's UBI experiment failure in 1795:

        ". . . a life without poverty is a privilege you have to work for, rather than a right we all deserve . . ."

        In the context of the full quote, this statement was considered a fallacy, but it would be my mantra in any UBI discussion, even accepting that there is no room for such a thought on the path our nation is taking.

        But of course, I could be as wrong as I think I am right. Maybe a government-dependent society is a natural evolution of progress for mass societies. I was born a small-town boy and will probably never grow out of many of those attitudes.

        It sounds like we don't really disagree about the future inevitability of a UBI program for the U.S.—we just disagree on Yang's proposal.


        1. hard sun profile image89
          hard sunposted 6 days agoin reply to this

          I see both sides to the "life without poverty statement." Ultimately, I agree with you that there will be little room for this idea moving forward. I think I understand why when I look at nations like Brazil where the rich have to drive bullet proof cars and land helicopters on top of their homes to keep from being robbed and kidnapped.

          If we take the "free market" and "small government" concepts too far, it will result in people just taking what they can get from whoever. I mean, isn't that the true "survival of the fittest" type mentality? Isn't that what we really get when we take government out of the equation. I've lived in this type of environment, and I really don't think America's rich want this. Yeah, they will be forced into something like UBI at some point. I was born, and raised, in a town of less than eight thousand.

          1. wilderness profile image96
            wildernessposted 6 days agoin reply to this

            "If we take the "free market" and "small government" concepts too far, it will result in people just taking what they can get from whoever."

            Very true.  And if we take those very same concepts too far the other way, we get the very same result, only with the "taking" being from a different group of people.  We're seeing a concerted demonization of a vaguely defined group labeled the "rich" and a constant attack on what they have - isn't this exactly what you said?  That one group (the one with the power to do so) will take whatever they can get from whoever?

            1. hard sun profile image89
              hard sunposted 6 days agoin reply to this

              I agree that the truth, and  path, is often somewhere in between.  I can tell you, I'm not attacking the rich. There is about one or two percent of the world, the uber-rich, who need to be checked though. Most people will, and should, take what they can. Some of us within the laws, others not so much. I think it would throw off the balance even further if the poor didn't try to get what they can. Don't you think we are also seeing "a concerted demonization" of the poor and lower middle class? I do.

              A thousand  a month for EVERYONE is not exactly robbing the rich and giving to the poor anyway.

              Edit: For clarification, I think there will be room for UBI in the future, but not in the next several years. Yang's Iowa performance is evidence of that.


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