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Andrew Yang: ‘Freedom Dividend’ of $1,000 a month would boost state economy

  • Yang is running for president. Courtesy



For the Monitor
Sunday, September 16, 2018

Hello, people of New Hampshire. It’s good to be back. I spent two formative years as a high school student in New Hampshire from 1990 to 1992. But I haven’t been back since.

Now I’m running for president, which means you’ll see a lot of me over the next year and a half.

And not just me – there will likely be 20 to 25 candidates on the Democratic side alone. We will criss-cross the Granite State in the months to come. We will show up to cafes, community centers, house parties and anywhere a lot of people are getting together. For the next few months, some of us will play coy. “I’m just here from Ohio because, uh, I really want to find out more about what people in New Hampshire are thinking.” But come November and December, we will drop all pretense and start jockeying for your votes.

A few of us, you really want to hear from. You take your responsibility as the first primary state seriously. As Ray Buckley said to me, “New Hampshire is where candidates spend millions of dollars to win over popular opinion, to no great effect. We actually want to meet the person.” You know that the rest of the country will take its cues from you. That no one has won the presidency without finishing either first or second in your primary and that you have selected 11 of the last 16 presidents from both parties.

Yet this time, the field will be so crowded that it will be a bit of a mess. You will be invited to multiple events on any given night. Having a senator or congressperson or mayor or entrepreneur in your town who wants to share his or her vision for the country will become commonplace. Anyone you know who works in politics will be hired by a campaign and in your ear. You will be inundated with ads and messages on your Facebook feed and on the TV and on your radio in your car. The ads will blend together into a cacophony of messages funded by some of the richest people in our country (some of whom may themselves be running).

And then, in February 2020 – it will all end.

The whole caravan – smaller, since you will have winnowed it down to six or so – will move on to South Carolina, and Nevada, and California. You will look on with some relief and hope that your candidate continues to do well in other places. But the campaign will soon become something of a faded memory. And part of you will wonder, “What was that all for?”

That is truly the challenge – to make it all mean something.

I’m like many of you. I have lost faith in our political process. It’s a distasteful mess where the machinery outweighs the humanity. Regardless of who we send to Washington, D.C., the day-to-day problems in our communities only get worse.

Yet I’m a parent and look out at the future that my children will inherit and think, we need to do much better. And like it or not, the government remains one of the most impactful tools to change our future – aside from the more important work we do every day in our families, enterprises and communities.

My campaign is built around the Freedom Dividend. There are approximately 836,000 adults in New Hampshire between 18 and 64. Under my plan, every adult would receive $1,000 a month, free and clear, to pay your bills, care for your children, start a new business, go back to school or do whatever you want. It is called the Freedom Dividend because it is your dividend as a citizen and owner of the richest and most advanced society in human history. In total, the people of New Hampshire would receive about $1 billion per month, or $12 billion per year. This would increase the size of the New Hampshire economy by approximately 15 percent and create tens of thousands of new jobs. It would be paid for by a combination of current spending, a tax primarily on companies that benefit from automation, and new revenue from economic growth.

The single best thing that your government can do for you is to give you $1,000 a month and get out of your way. It’s one reason why libertarians from Milton Friedman to Friedrich Hayek supported a Universal Basic Income as well as figures like Richard Nixon and Martin Luther King Jr. If this seems far-fetched to you, consider that a nearly identical measure passed the House of Representatives in 1971 and 1,000 economists signed a letter saying it would be great for our economy and society, and that a similar policy has been in effect in Alaska for 36 years.

I have come to believe in the necessity of the Freedom Dividend as an entrepreneur who has worked in business, education and technology for nearly 20 years. The truth is that we are automating away millions of American jobs due to software, artificial intelligence, robotics and new technologies. New Hampshire has experienced this in manufacturing, but it is about to spread to retail, customer service, truck driving, food service and on and on throughout the economy. It is a rot that is spreading fast. We need to build a new kind of economy. There is not that much time.

I haven’t been back to New Hampshire in about 25 years. But I’m back now, and I’m on a mission. If I become president and pass the Freedom Dividend, it will reverberate throughout the towns and families of New Hampshire every day. It will improve hundreds of thousands of lives throughout the state and millions around the country. Isn’t that what these elections are supposed to be about – making your lives better?

(Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur, author and the founder of the nonprofit Venture for America.)