At Thursday night's Democratic debate, 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang did something completely unexpected. In his first few moments of the debate, the presidential hopeful revealed his campaign would be giving a Freedom Dividend to 10 families across America for an entire year. Not only did his announcement shock the rest of the candidates, Andrew Yang's $1,000 giveaway sent Twitter into a total frenzy.
So what is the Freedom Dividend? It’s Yang’s term for a concept called Universal Basic Income (UBI), and according to his campaign website, if elected president, he plans to give every American adult over the age of 18 a $1,000 per month payment.
“This would enable all Americans to pay their bills, educate themselves, start businesses, be more creative, stay healthy, relocate for work, spend time with their children, take care of loved ones, and have a real stake in the future,” the website reads. “A Universal Basic Income at this level would permanently grow the economy by 12.56 to 13.10 percent—or about $2.5 trillion by 2025—and it would increase the labor force by 4.5 to 4.7 million people. Putting money into people’s hands and keeping it there would be a perpetual boost and support to job growth and the economy.”
During the debate, Yang noted that while most political campaigns pocket their funds and spend them in various ways, his campaign would rather invest that money in the Freedom Dividend. He said he would start by giving 10 American families $1,000 per month for a year and asked viewers to go to his website and sign up.
Viewers were quick to hit Twitter with their opinions of this move, starting with some who called it a bribe.
Others were quick to question whether or not the move is legal. Political campaigns in the U.S. are required to follow strict laws that regulate how funds are spent, and to ensure they aren't used to sway results. Some viewers took to Twitter to question the legality of Yang's plan.
Others were quick to point out that Yang wasn't using his own money to fund the Freedom Dividend, he is using the money collected through public fundraising and giving it back to the people.
While many Americans discussed the morality and legality of Yang's proposition, entrepreneur and millionaire, Alexis Ohanian Sr. tweeted out his admiration for the plan, and offered to fund it if Yang couldn't.
While Yang's Freedom Dividend may seem like a stretch, his website claims that it is going to be something Americans will need as Artificial Intelligence grows and technology eradicates more jobs.
"In the next 12 years, 1 out of 3 American workers are at risk of losing their jobs to new technologies—and unlike with previous waves of automation, this time new jobs will not appear quickly enough in large enough numbers to make up for it," Yang's website states. "To avoid an unprecedented crisis, we’re going to have to find a new solution unlike anything we’ve done before."
American's don't seem sold on the idea just yet, but if Yang's campaign dividend proves to be successful, it's quite possible more people will get on board.