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  • - 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.

  • (laughs) It's actually not dignified