Yang Was Right

The Guardian recently ran a headline that made me chuckle: “California Mayor Has Tried Universal Basic Income. His advice to Trump: Go Big.” The chuckle wasn’t due to the California Mayor’s conclusions about Universal Basic Income (UBI); it was a response to the demonstrably ridiculous idea that Trump would take advice from anyone about anything.

As federal lawmakers continued to squabble over the form of the zillion-dollar intervention(s) that are clearly required if we are to have any chance at all to avert a depression, the Mayor of Stockton, California was the latest to sing the praises of a UBI–the proposal that formed the centerpiece of Andrew Yang’s Presidential campaign.

Stockton launched a basic income experiment last year, and Michael Tubbs, Stockton’s mayor, has become an ardent advocate of providing direct cash assistance to people.

The idea of providing a universal basic income to citizens is not new, but it has found new supporters in recent years, as some tech industry leaders have embraced “UBI” as a possible response to rising inequality and a growing number of American jobs lost to automation. The Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes is among the proponents of the policy; the Economic Security Project, which he co-chairs, is helping fund basic income experiments in Stockton and elsewhere.

Stockton is just the latest in a global string of experiments with no-strings cash assistance. Results of those experiments have been extremely positive, as is the early data from this one, according to the academic researchers  running the evaluation of the program.

“If you give people free cash, how do they spend it? They’re very rational about it, and they make great decisions,” said Stacia Martin-West, an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work and one of the lead researchers.

Labor leader Andrew Stern has pointed out that, with a UBI, in contrast to welfare, there’s no phase-out, no marriage penalties, no people falsifying information. And support for the concept isn’t limited to progressives. Milton Friedman famously proposed a “negative income tax,” and F.A. Hayek, the libertarian economist, wrote “There is no reason why in a free society government should not assure to all, protection against severe deprivation in the form of an assured minimum income, or a floor below which nobody need descend.”

In 2016, Samuel Hammond of the libertarian Niskanen Center, noted the “ideal” key features of a UBI: its unconditional structure avoids creating poverty traps; it sets a minimum income floor, it raises worker bargaining power without wage or price controls; it decouples benefits from a particular workplace or jurisdiction; since it’s cash, it respects a diversity of needs and values; and it simplifies and streamlines a complex web of bureaucracy, eliminating rent seeking and other sources of inefficiency.

Hammond’s point about worker bargaining power is especially important. Today’s work
environment is characterized by vestigial unions and the growth of the “gig economy.” Employee bargaining power has eroded; wages  have been effectively stagnant for years, despite significant growth in productivity. In 2018, Pew Research reported that “today’s real average wage (that is, the wage after accounting for inflation) has about the same purchasing power it did 40 years ago. And what wage gains there have been have mostly flowed to the highest-paid tier of workers.”

If the U.S. had a UBI and single payer health coverage, workers would have the freedom to leave abusive employers, unsafe work conditions, and uncompetitive pay scales. A UBI might not level the playing field–but it would sure reduce the tilt.

It is also worth noting that a UBI would have much the same positive effect on economic growth as a higher minimum wage. When poor people get money, they spend it, increasing demand.

This is all, of course, pie in the sky so long as we have a self-absorbed, monumentally ignorant, mentally-ill President, and a Republican Senate led by the irredeemably  corrupt Mitch McConnell. It remains to be seen how the Coronavirus pandemic will affect November’s election, but if these men–representing the utter detritus of humanity–are still in office in January, the lack of a rational social-safety net will be the least of our problems.


  1. Our stable genius president, Dr. Donald Trump, has found a new way to use his full Amendment II powers to do as he pleases to endanger lives in this country by enacting the Defense Production Act and refusing to activate it. Manufacturers who could – and would – begin producing much needed medical supplies and equipment would be doing so with NO federal approval and NO federal funds to stay in business when the Pandemic is under control. He wants HIS economy returned to HIS full power.

    As Eugene Robinson so wisely stated last night on MSNBC, “The president knows what he knows even when he doesn’t know it.” And so far there is no one to stop him from pushing through his TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS so-called stimulus plans to further aid corporations and the 1%. Mnuchen’s “possible recession” is heading to a full depression and so far, any economic assistance from this government has been lip-service, empty promises and denial of stockpiled medical equipment where needed and medical tests for all. Indiana is hoarding thousands of face masks which have been deemed as safe for use by the Center for Disease Control in this medical disaster.

  2. And it raises people’s sense of self-worth as there are no food stamps or vouchers.

  3. Let’s see, apart from those individuals earning over one million dollars per year, that would leave somewhere around 300 million American citizens below that mark. So, by cutting welfare payments and using that money to pay for universal health care, we could “borrow” a mere $300 million from the military-industrial complex and make every citizen an instant millionaire. Now, everyone would be in the top tax bracket too.

    Then, of course, a non-corrupt government would also change the tax loophole codes to bring back the $30 TRILLION sitting in offshore banks as tax shelters. Now for the labor dilemma:

    Our new pan-millionaire society would immediately go out and buy stuff. Great. Then, I’d bet, after a six-month spending orgy, there would be nothing left to buy. Hmm. Well, we could bring back all those labor jobs from China, Korea, Thailand, etc., and pay our millionaire workers $2.00 per hour like they do in China, etc. That would keep us in cell phones and electric cars. Food, of course, would still have to be grown, harvested and shipped to stores. Those millionaire farmers would be able to shake off the yoke of corporate farms and return the halcyon days of family farming. But in order to keep getting that million dollar yearly salary, prices would have to have a hard ceiling, and the people would have to be employed or in school to receive the money. I’m sure all the smart people on this blog will add to this wild scenario.

    The possibilities are endless.

  4. Excellent point, Alphons!

    Considering Trump’s economic cabinet of wealthy CEO’s are willing to sacrifice workers to get their monetary extraction program working by Easter, this sentence:

    “If the U.S. had a UBI and single-payer health coverage, workers would have the freedom to leave abusive employers, unsafe work conditions, and uncompetitive pay scales.”

    As you can see, this is a giant oxymoronic concept.

    Do you honestly think the $1,200 per taxpayer coming our way is “for the people?” As one of the people in the article above mentioned, it will be spent. That $1,200 is a subsidy to corporate America and will be quickly extracted by banks, utilities, insurance companies, and landlords, etc.

    Will people even have enough remaining for groceries?

    Meanwhile, if you saw the photo of Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi bumping elbows after the passage of the government bail-out…it was cringeworthy…all political theater.

    The devil will be in the details of the pork bill to keep capitalism afloat.

    And the fact that it wasn’t a recurring payment until the sanctions are lifted like other countries honored tells me they will be forcing workers back to work sooner, rather than later.

    All those politicians who stood and cheered when the orange menace said the USA would never be a socialist country are now okay with socialism when it serves capitalism.

    Meanwhile, in a hospital near you, according to the WaPo, doctors and nurses will not be honoring the resuscitate plans of family members when their loved one is crashing from the virus because it’s too dangerous for staff.

    Neither party owned and controlled by the Oligarchy want Medicare for All. If you think it is just the GOP and their donors, you’ve been effectively manipulated by the press/media.

  5. A large part of our problem is that we don’t train people for the jobs we’re going to have, but for the jobs we used to have. I agree that UBI is a necessity, but I think we can all agree that, if we train people for new technologies, it will cost us a lot less in the long run.

    Too many potentially good paying jobs are being filled because people don’t have the required skills. If every company that had those jobs was given incentives to train their own lower level employees to fill those jobs, a lot of new people could be hired to backfill, then eventually move up themselves.

  6. Your closing paragraph is one of the most articulate summaries that I have seen on the state of the government.

  7. Cha’mal,


    Mercy, Love, Empathy, Compassion, Spare (as in life and justice), Concern, Protect (prevention of grievous situations), why not Cha’mal?

    In the Old Testament, the Israelites and before for them, the progenitor of the Israelites, “Abraham” were shown Cha’mal by God as “Abraham” was righteous hearted and compassionate towards his fellow man. Because of this one man, his offspring were blessed, not because they automatically were righteous hearted people, but because the weight of respect by the God of Abraham was unbreakable and produced a covenant, a covenant of destiny, a promise!

    Conduct matters, if, one wishes to have respect, one has to respect those under their purview. Just as the God of Abraham (called Jehovah) protected and bestowed Abraham (Abram) and his wife Sarah ( Sarai) with unimaginable blessings, Abraham constantly prayed and praised his God, as his God blessed Sarah with child! And not only a child, but the progenitor of Israel and the lineage of King David and the greater King David, Jesus Christ!

    If, one wants things to go well, one cannot work against being righteous hearted! Christians, or should I say most Christians have not shown Cha’mal towards their fellow man, they have not showed “Compassion” for their fellow man, they have not had “Empathy” for their neighbor, they have not “Protected” the lives and well-being of the fatherless child/orphans, they have not shown “Mercy” towards the widows/elderly, they have not shown “Love” to the foreign resident!

    Billy Graham was on this morning, LOL! With one of his infomercials, talking about his prayer line! Now, far be it from me to be critical of Billy Graham as an example, but I’m going to do so anyway!

    He has endorsed the most egregious conduct that I can recall towards his fellow man. And yet, he is claiming to pass along beseeching’s of mercy for a nominal fee, LOL! The hypocrisy is so rife with hypocrisy, LOL (is that even possible?) He reminds me of the Sanhedrin (Pharisees and Sadducees) where they basically would allow a person to die on the Sabbath, would allow the hungry to Starve on the Sabbath, all the while standing in the public square praying out loud as a spectacle (self-aggrandizement) asking for God to spare life and prevent the orphan, the widow, and the foreign resident from starving to death!

    Like Korah, Graham and those like him, pursue prominence. They like to express their own views in arrogant conduct and speech, arrogating to themselves a great deal of importance. They single out persons and show admiration for them (Trump), trying to cultivate them in the hope of gain in stature. Their objective is self-aggrandizement. In Jude 17 through 19 he points out; “As for you, beloved ones, call to mind the sayings that have been previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how they used to say to you: ‘In the last time there will be ridiculers, proceeding according to their own desires for ungodly things.’ These are the ones that make separations, animalistic men, not having spirituality.”

    And lastly 2nd Peter 3:1-4 which reads; “Beloved ones, this is now the second letter I am writing you in which, as in my first one, I am stirring up your clear thinking faculties by way of a reminder, 2 that you should remember the sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. 3 First of all know this, that in the last days ridiculers will come with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires 4 and saying: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as they were from creation’s beginning.”

    Those like Billy Graham Junior and Jerry Falwell Junior took after their father’s, not only their fleshly fathers but the father of those men, the man slayer, and the 1st liar! Just like their fleshly fathers, they had not made anything any better for any, they’ve sown Derisive conduct and strife, and they will and are receiving recompense for their actions. Somehow they feel immune to conduct unbecoming, but people are seeing the hypocrisy, and plotting recompense!

  8. how a about the reasons there is no basic living wage…the profits of corps,overlaping buying every other buisness who has a competition,buy em, and have the whole market laocked in.this has also complicated local buisness with no other outlets to buy the same products. the tech industry has bought out S.F.Cal,so,the working class moves to stockton. the greed of real estate is a major factor why,we dont have a living wage.. the profits to banks and loans alone,is the major why,real estate can not be bought,and paid for,by the working class,because of the unstable economy we produce..UBI ,who pays for that,im not against it,and see the issue as another flack,another reason why we dont aim at the source,wall streets greed,and wage theft..the rich ballyho about anything that will flack the real issues, wasted time. the issue is, greed,and wall streets control of almost every dollar in America. take a look at Robert Reichs new vid. read the text, seems ive been in this as long at Bernie,and now Robert..the money flows out of the profits,and and into the investors, and the working class, will never see a living wage again..main street crumbles, bezos becomes a god…no one has said a damn thing about reigning in that big tax cut,oooops, i guess buying back all their stock has left wall street cash poor,along with people smart enough to pull their money out of wall street and into gov bonds. at least it guarenteed to be paid back..like social security…and unlike your stock brokers dreams…….. best wishes, washdapaws..

  9. john,

    I was on the Penn Golf Team back in the middle ’50s. One of my teammate’s father was a Trustee of the University. Chuck got to spend the summer traveling with the Billy Graham Crusade. When he came back that fall, he was the most irreligious human being I have ever experienced. His faith was “shattered.”

    It got so bad, that our coach had to reprimand him for his actions; As a joke, he started saying a sacrilegious prayer, before teeing off against his opponent. It wasn’t that funny. It was sad.

  10. Todd, “Neither party owned and controlled by the Oligarchy want Medicare for All. If you think it is just the GOP and their donors, you’ve been effectively manipulated by the press/media.”

    I can hope that the people, I have talked and read comments in blogs, that said Medicare 4 All is a radical idea, that would be too difficult to implement will see the result of their intransigence and defeatism.

    Would Medicare 4 All have prevented Corona?? Of course not. If we had Medicare 4 All, people would not have to worry about can I or my family afford to go to the Doctor or Hospital.

    Remember Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, our DINO Senator. He said in a campaign ad: When the ad’s narrator said “socialists want to turn health care over to the government,” Donnelly responded, “Over my dead body.”

    Well the bodies are piling up and the bills for treatment will be sent out. Hell No, we will not have Medicare 4 All Socialism in America.

  11. Wage inequality is (next to Trump) our greatest domestic issue. It is not just the underpaid workers who are paying the price; it is also the economy. If, as it was during New Deal days up to Reagan when wage increases rose in tandem with the Dow and we had prosperity for all) we afterwards had had commensurate increases in across the board wages, it is not only the economy that would have hummed via strong aggregate demand but such increased wages would also have provided billions more in revenues to government with which it could fund important initiatives (like single payer, for instance).

    I am aware of the arguments for Yang’s central campaign argument – money for all – but I worry if we had such a program that employers would seize on such plan as an excuse to reduce the wages of their employees, thereby leaving their workers in the relatively same position they were in before the UBI became effective (and with correspondingly less revenues to government). Given such a drab (and I hope wrong) assessment, the UBI would amount to nothing more than a subsidy to employers. Perhaps the UBI legislation could prohibit such games among employers, but given the anti-labor animus of employers (who contribute to the reelection of those who write the legislation), don’t bet the farm. On the other hand, perhaps a sea change in how we redistribute the wealth will mark the end of capitalism as we know it, depending upon how we write up the transformation. Expect a brawl by those who want to live in tomorrow’s world with yesterday’s economy.

    With robots doing the work and with leisure time assured us humans the Puritan ethic of “no work, no eat” is in big trouble, as are terminal capitalists (who prosper with scarcity, pretended competition and tax breaks from bought politicians), all of which will be unnecessary in the new socialist state. Talk about a new social contract! Where is John Locke when you need him?

  12. One of the problems we created for ourselves in the endless search for more was progress so rapid that it is more and more rare for workers to get by with one career per working life. Switzerland addresses that problem by accepting that education is an equal partnership between employers and the state and students spend the appropriate amount of time split between education in schools and training in businesses. The path that evolves student by student is the result of both aptitude and performance testing that places students on tracks that they are able to be successful in. Another benefit is that businesses accept the need for them to teach as well as produce and they can use that capability for all their employees rather than merely discarding the obsolete but trainable ones.

    It seems inherently better to me for societies to reduce the impediments to working in some field (including family raising) rather than any other approach.

  13. Vernon,
    ‘…we could “borrow” a mere $300 million from the military-industrial complex and make every citizen an instant millionaire.’

    I used your impeccable math to check the accurateness of my calculator.

    $1,000,000 for each of 300,000,000 individuals
    $1,000,000 X 300,000,000 people = $300,000,000,000,000 (300 trillion dollars?) Can that be right?

    Still, perhaps Yang is thinking too small and needs to move more towards you.

    Consider: a one-time deal of one million dollars to each HOUSEHOLD (approx 100 million) (a 100 trillion dollar cost) is an interesting idea…with certain caveats and one sovereignty change:

    The United States of America would charter itself as a corporation of which every citizen immediately owns 1,000 shares.

    Then of the $1 million loaned to each family, that family must deposit $300,000 into a retirement account.

    Buy at least $300,000 worth of USA stock, from which subsequent payments in the form of dividends will be paid to the family each year.

    Deposit $200,000 into a National Health Plan.

    Deposit $100,000 into a Universal College Account

    So, then, each family is left with $100,000 to spend free of requirements, keeping in mind that none of the $100,000 needs to be used for health, education, or retirement.

    Future income for each family will depend on dividends* earned from USA stock + dividends from other stock + money derived from temporary jobs in a gig economy +/- any money made or lost in creating one’s own business.

    *Dividends from USA stock would rise and fall according to how well the country did any given year, and that dividend would calculate from an algorithm derived from several pertinent economic factors, including total profits of all corporations operating in the US, value of the dollar, GNP, etc., all TBDL.

    Of course, 1% of the households would find a way to thrive in this system, and 20% would find a way to botch it up, but still, the system would establish a base beneath which very few would fall.

    And, due to the dividend factor, nearly all would soon become extremely aware of the relationship between how well each citizen performs and how well the nation does.

    Talk about a revolution. Sometimes, if you can’t beat them (capitalists) it’s wise to join them…even if you use socialist means to do it.

  14. I like your thinking Larry, but why not just nationalize all the corporations doing business in the USA?

    Eliminate the board of directors and CEOs and democratize the corporations.

    In addition, confiscate all the wealth accumulated by the .001% of the population and redistribute to 99.9% of the people or set up a trust account to pay for our new health system, etc.

    Also, if the people owned the means to their production, they would quickly see how their productivity impacts the collective.

    What this would also do is reverse/eliminate the goals of maximizing wealth and the need for incessant growth. The demand for infinite growth on a finite planet is causing it to overheat. Instead of “living within our means” or adapting our lives to finite resources, we demand more and more and more to accommodate financial markets.

    Just some random thoughts…

  15. Marv,

    Billy Graham was a dyed in the wool Nazi anti-Semite, he was caught in Nixon’s web of recordings disparaging Jews! He supposedly apologized, but, when someone apologizes for being caught, well, that’s not really an apology! What someone says behind closed doors or around plugged ears, that’s the person they really are! I don’t know what stripe your friend was, but if he was that influenced by another man, then he had those leanings already!

    The point I was trying to make in my above comment, the religious element in government is preventing the proper function of government. It is preventing fair treatment towards all religious stripes and ethnic heritage! Whether those folks have had family in this country for generations, or, off the boat so to speak, yesterday! Those folks who have feet on the ground are supposed to be equally treated. But somehow, listening to Falwell and Graham, it’s like a back to the future deal. They support this treatment, although they act like apologists, are actually supporters of that mistreatment, they’ve constantly been meddling in this administration and others for many decades. They are leading their religion, and not just their religion, all religion in this country towards a cataclysm that will not be overcome for the religious.

    The current POTUS recognized hypocrites when he saw them/heard them! He knew that all they wanted was power and position of authority, (self-aggrandizement) they themselves wanted to be an idol, to have people worship them, which was the same desire of the current president. So, he gave them what they wanted, and they gave him their unwavering support no matter what! Unfortunately, most cannot rebut what is happening because either they’ve gone along with those who demonize Scripture, or, they don’t know anything about Scripture, or, they just go with the in vogue view, which is usually a hatred of religion. And that is unfortunate, because it’s not the religion, it is it’s human element. So, what to do? I doubt if everyone is going to try and investigate as I have for well over 40 years, but, why?

    Because if you have an affinity for something that others do not, you are considered a kook! And, last time I checked, I’m not too kooky. The religious element was recognized in our Constitution, everyone should have the right be treated equally, and because there are so many religions coming to a country made up of every nationality on the planet, there cannot be one religious ideal, and that’s why Christianity does not belong in our political leanings or discussions. That should be for every individual to pray about or discuss or listen to sermons in their own churches or the privacy of their own home. If someone wants to check out someone else’s church, that’s their right, if someone doesn’t want to go to church, that’s their right, if someone does not want to believe, that’s also their right, because in a secular society, everyone has to be treated the same under the law.

    That is not what is happening now, and the reason is, these religious con men and women are misleading their congregants and demonizing their neighbors. That’s why this situation is so out of control, they brought it upon themselves, and, when you’re saying certain areas of the country are experiencing calamity because God is punishing them, Hurricane Katrina as an example, HIV is another. BUT, when something is hitting everyone exactly the same, what is their excuse then? It’s going to be bad in the rural part of this country, it’s going to get there, Florida they’re going to be stacking folks up like cordwood I.e. Italy, I would venture to say, it’s going to make New York look like a picnic. The Red states are going to be Crimson after this is all said and done, and that is a really sad Outlook! And I really really really hope I am completely wrong!

  16. john,

    I doubt that you’re going to be wrong unless some miracle happens, and I’m not talking about a religious one.

    The point that I was making about my friend was that he witnessed the hypocrisy of Billy Graham from a very closs-up experience.

  17. Larry,
    the issue reamins,wall streets games for a few,,,if the bubble breaks,again,, so does the investments.
    there is too long a list to achive such a result,unless,you can get wall street to guarentee payment,if they fail,again.they have made such a change so deep and confusing for a reason,only they,the suits of wall street,have any clue,and ways to influence the numbers ..i would be happier with a savings account,insured,and my own money from a living wage,to garnish it. along with side work,i do for extra money,er,cash..
    if we didnt have wall street imbedded in our minds and lives,a living wage would be a primary need,not the numbers at 6..

  18. john,
    in regards to yesterdays subject,, soylent green,,,and ya wonder why i mentioned capitalistic holocaust as a plan, in previous subjects… maybe the mardi gras being a field of distruction,to spread,,,see commondreams.org for a story on cell phone tracking,after spring break,and new yorkers fleeing the spread,, rememeber,soylent red and yellow was better…

  19. Jack,
    LOL, I remember as young uns, we would use graham crackers as Soylent Green. I forgot about the other Soylents, cats and dogs? Hey, they did it in ancient Jerusalem, they were eating the neighbors kids! Talk about loving your neighbor?!?!?

  20. Since the plurality of these comments seem to be on some religious platform, regularly basted with faux-secularism, I’d just remind you all that the beginning of foolishness is basing your views on faith, a habit basic to our schools, which move from allegiance to the flag to blind allegiance to authority.
    I’m kinda missing argued views from evidence here, a characteristic of confirmation bubbles.
    Let’s have a discussion of the foolishness of religion, eh?
    I’ll begin. Faith is a foolish and dangerous way to run a society.
    YouTube: Any of the marvelously argued videos by Aron Ra. “Faith is not a virtue” is a good one.

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