Suppose you are an employee of a huge corporation where you’ve worked all your life. The company is phenomenally successful, largely due to developing and acquiring better and better technology—technology that streamlines efficiency and automates away the jobs of many employees in roles that are no longer needed. Now imagine that this company is the only employment option available; there is no practical way for you to quit and join another company.
Ask yourself, what should happen to the immense profits that the company accumulates? Should they all go to the executives in the upper echelons of management? Or should some reasonable share be distributed to all employees, whose hard work is essential in achieving those profits? What about the laid-off employees with no more opportunities in the company and nowhere to go? Should they get no further reward for the years that they contributed to the company’s profits? No options for them to spend the time and expense necessary to learn new skills and seek new ways to contribute again? Or should some reasonable share of the company’s profits be distributed to them, in the hope that they can once again join the workforce and continue to expand the wealth and well-being of all?
Now replace “employees of the corporation” with “citizens of the nation.” Does this make any difference to the moral and practical issues involved? All of us who are citizens of this country contribute to its success, or would gladly do so given the right incentives and rewards. I have no objection to rewarding the best contributors more than the least, but even the least of us have the potential to move us all forward with new ideas, new approaches, new infrastructure; nurturing and supporting our children and our communities; sharing artistic visions of the better society that we can aspire to; and the sheer application of hard work that advances our common goals. Isn’t that worth at least a minimal investment toward a better future for us all?
As citizens, we are all shareholders of the American Dream. If that dream produces great wealth, shouldn’t we all receive dividends from our shares? We all share in the failures of our society—crime, corruption, violence, discrimination, stress, depression, drug abuse, poverty, and environmental decay. Shouldn’t we also share in our country’s success? Won’t the nation prosper and succeed more when every citizen is personally rewarded for our common success?
This is the compelling argument for Universal Basic Income, aptly named the Freedom Dividend by Andrew Yang. The primaries and the upcoming election are the citizen shareholders’ meetings. If you don’t claim your share, it will be taken from you.
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