Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles - Well the Freedom Dividend is a universal basic income plan where every American adult gets $1,000 a month starting at age 18 until the day they die. So every American adult gets $1,000. And when you get it, you can do whatever you want. $12,000 a year and it continues until you expire. Well first, to define the problem a little more thoroughly, I mean when I did research for my book, The War on Normal People, I was shocked at what I found where I studied economics in college. And if you study economics, you're presented with relatively positive visions as to what happens if you, for example, you get rid of a lot of jobs with technology, that the workers find new roles, the economy grows, productivity goes up, and everyone's pretty much okay. But then when I was writing my book, I found that that's not actually what happens on the ground, that half of the manufacturing workers that lost their jobs in Michigan and Indiana left the workforce, filed for disability, got drunk, died early deaths, and got addicted to drugs. I mean none of that was in my economics textbook, if you know what I mean. - I do. - So then I was like, oh my gosh! Like what we did to the manufacturing workers we're about to do to 8.8 million retail workers, the 2.5 million call center workers, and most importantly for you in this audience, the 3.5 million truck drivers and the five million Americans who work supporting truck drivers in facilities and truck stops and motels and diners around the country. - You call it a Freedom Dividend. How does the Freedom Dividend work? - Well the Freedom Dividend, if you can imagine a country where everyone's getting $1,000 a month as a right of citizenship, it would make our families stronger and healthier. It would create millions of jobs in our communities. It would improve our mental health. It would decrease our stress levels. Would improve relationships. To me the best path to create that is to put economic resources into people's hands in the form of a Freedom Dividend of $1,000 a month, which would then allow more people to do the sort of work that either they want to do or that their community has a need for. And the goal is to create jobs. And putting 1000 bucks a month into people's hands would create at least two million new jobs just because the buying power would just go right back into local businesses and communities. Now how many of you own stocks of public companies that issue dividends? Many of you do, Verizon, Microsoft, Coca-Cola. So when these companies reach a certain level of success and maturation, what do they do? They return money to shareholders. I'm going to suggest to you all that the United States of America is at the exact same point and that we need to start issuing a dividend to ourselves, the owners and shareholders of this country. And when Coca-Cola and Verizon and Microsoft issue a dividend, everyone says great job, great management. It's time for us to do the same thing for the American people. $12,000 a year would be a game changer. The main thing is that if you look at our history, this is a deeply American idea. Thomas Paine was for it at the founding of the country. He called it the citizens' dividend. Martin Luther King was for it in the '60s. He called it guaranteed minimum income and he championed it in 1967, the year, until he was killed the next year. Milton Friedman and 1,000 economists had this study saying this would be tremendous for America. It was called the negative income tax. And it passed the House of Representatives under Richard Nixon in 1971 twice. And then it became law 11 years later in one state, where now in that state, everyone gets between one and $2,000 a year. And what state is that? - [Crowd] Alaska! - And how do they pay for it? - [Crowd] Oil. - [Interviewer] Dividend that would go to every person in the US would be funded how? - [Andrew] So the headline cost of this is $2.4 trillion, which sounds like an awful lot. For reference, the economy is $19 trillion, up four trillion in the last 10 years. And the federal budget is four trillion. So 2.4 trillion seems like an awfully big slug of money, but if you break it down, the first big thing is to implement a value-added tax, which would harvest the gains from artificial intelligence and big data from the big tech companies that are gonna benefit from it the most. Slice, a sliver, of every Amazon transaction, every Google search, and because our economy is so vast now at $19 trillion, a value-added tax at even half the European level would generate about 800 billion in value. (ding) - Now the VAT, VAT is generally considered a progressive tax 'cause it's a tax on consumption and spending. And if you're low-income, yup, that's where your money's going. How much are you taking money back from the very people you're looking to give it to? - Well you'd have to consume an awful lot for a mild VAT to eat up $12,000 in additional income. And so it is true, in a vacuum, if you just adopted a mild VAT in the US, you might make it harder on working families. But if you are increasing the income of those working families by $12,000 per individual, you end up increasing the buying power of approximately the bottom 92% of the population. The second source of money is that right now we spend almost $800 billion on welfare programs. And many people are receiving more than $1,000 in current benefits. So we're gonna leave all the programs alone. But if you think $1,000 cash would be better than what you're currently receiving, then you can opt in and your current benefits disappear. So that reduces the cost of the Freedom Dividend by between five and $600 billion. I'm a Democrat and progressive, and the last thing I'm running on is to try and take benefits away from people that they're relying upon for their, you know, survival or day-to-day expenses. So the Freedom Dividend is opt-in. And so if you decide that your current situation is superior then you're left untouched and no harm done. I do talk to people who are on these programs. And some of them would vastly prefer $1,000 cash because one there's this constant uncertainty that they're gonna continue getting the welfare benefits. 'Cause there are generally requirements that are associated with them. They like live in fear. And there are also a lot of reporting requirements that are associated with them. So it's not that the existing structures are ideal for many of the people within them. But if you prefer your current situation, then the last thing I would wanna do is take that away from someone. Now the great parts are the third and fourth parts. So if you put $1,000 a month into the hands of American adults who right now, 57% of Americans can't pay an unexpected $500 bill, they're gonna spend that $1,000 in their community on car repairs, tutoring for their kids, the occasional night out. It's going to go directly into the consumer economy. And so if you grow the consumer economy by 12%, we get 500 billion in new tax revenue. (ding) And then the last 500 billion or so we get through a combination of cost savings on incarceration, homelessness services, healthcare. Because right now we're spending about a trillion dollars on people showing up in emergency rooms and hitting our institutions. So we have to do what good companies do, which is invest in our people. - The point of it really, they say if you give a man a fish, if you give a man a fishing rod, he can fish. If you give him one fish, he'll just eat that fish. Something like that. - People like my wife, who's at home with our two young boys, one of whom is autistic. And right now the market values her work at zero. The GDP values her work at zero. If you start putting resources into our hands, it actually expands what we think of as work. - Well, now you're talking about paying women for doing housework and doing work at home, being mothers. That's a good idea! - That is a good idea! - A game changer for the waitress at the diner who's getting harassed by her boss. It's a game changer for the single mom who's stuck in an abusive relationship. Like we need to put the economic resources into people's hands. - Is not universal basic income though kind of socialism by other means? - It's very much not. (laughs) It's capitalism where income doesn't start at zero. The socialism capitalism dichotomy is decades out of date and relatively useless. And I want to quote a friend of mine, Eric Weinstein, who said this. He said we never knew that capitalism was going to get eaten by its son technology. That's where we are. And so when someone's like are you a socialist? Are you a capitalist? They're essentially taking 20th century economic frameworks that never anticipated the economy of today. - Mass inflation? - No, it will not. - Why not? - Well, I'll give you a couple of data points on the inflation. So we printed $4 trillion for the banks during the bailout. And there was no inflation in consumer goods. And if you look at what's happening right now in your own life, a lot of stuff's getting cheaper and better. That's electronics, clothing, cars, media, food for the most part. All that stuff's staying essentially constant in price or getting cheaper or more sophisticated. Now what's going up in price? What's driving us all crazy? Housing, education, healthcare. And those three things are not being driven by the fact that we have lots of money to spend. It's not being driven by like purchasing power. - Universal basic income, you're taking away that dignity, that respect of having a job. - Well the Freedom Dividend is actually very pro-work because putting this money into Americans' hands, that money would circulate over and over through their neighborhoods and communities. It would create more than two million jobs around the country and would also recognize a lot of the work that's being done in our families and communities that is not being recognized by the market. The second thing is that, you know what's really destroying the dignity of work is people feeling like they have to do jobs that are somewhat exploitative just in order to survive and then us selling ourselves that oh that's actually super dignified.