Yang’s model, the Freedom Dividend, or UBI, is similar. It allows adults over the age of 18 to choose $1,000 monthly stipend or continued use of their government benefits. That’s a bit different than what he initially promoted. New taxes on companies who profit from automation would pay for it.
Requiring companies that profit from this, despite even higher profits, is a distraction from the tax breaks they receive. In the new book, “The Triumph of Injustice,” economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman detail how for the first time in history the top 400 billionaires in the USA paid a lower effective tax rate of 23% in 2018, compared to 24.2% tax rate paid by the lowest half of American households.
A realistic study would examine the UBI as a liveable wage. The fact they are not makes it seem more of a publicity stunt. With billionaires backing this idea, I am automatically suspicious of its purpose.
This all feels like a big distraction to avoid fixing the real causes of economic inequality. For instance, why the federal minimum wage has not kept up with inflation for decades. Or why tax breaks for the wealthiest 1% have steadily increased. Let’s not forget that tax rates have been whittling down since the 1970’s when wealthy paid almost 70%. What’s laughable is that the wealthy are proposing solutions. They helped cause the problem! Silicon Valley billionaires moving into various neighborhoods has driven up housing across the state and homelessness has exploded.
Then there’s the question of owner vs. worker pay. According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute “CEO compensation has grown 940% since 1978” while “Typical worker compensation has risen only 12% during that time.” The CEO-to-worker compensation ratio was 221-to-1 in 2018. According to a study by Gabriel Zucman the wealth disparity in America has not been this severe since the economic crash of 1929 that led to the Great Depression.
These are the true factors that contribute to income inequality and poverty. Except that we do not hear the billionaire boys club addressing these issues. “Universal Basic Income” is a public opiate and diversion from addressing these problems. It’s time for the top 1% to pay their fair share to really begin alleviating the problems impacting our country.