The United States is the wealthiest nation on earth. In 2015 it was reported that the US had $63.5 trillion in total private wealth which reached almost $107 trillion in 2018. The path to such wealth includes many stories and narratives which have brought us all to a place in which education, infrastructure, and opportunity have created fertile ground for greater prosperity. One of the stories of this nation’s path to wealth includes that of Steve Wozniak—a man who managed to build the first personal computer in his garage. With Steve Jobs, Wozniak created the Apple computer and launched a company that remains one of the world’s most profitable. Steve Wozniak’s win was a win for us all. Andrew Yang understands this, and his candidacy can help the rest of us understand it too.
Ideas need time and financing to bring to fruition. The more people that are able to bring their ideas and dreams to fruition, the better off we will all be. Giving each person $1,000 a month with no strings attached speaks to this understanding and why Andrew Yang is proposing what he calls “The Freedom Dividend”. This idea is the antithesis of previous policies designed to ensure that there is a limitation on what the “other” may receive. From the “Muslim ban” to cuts in welfare and increases in tariffs, we are seeing a contraction rather than expansion. It is argued that denying the “other” preserves or increases resources for “us”. It does not.
Andrew Yang’s proposal asks us to embrace expansion and win/win scenarios. He asks us to think about investing in each other as a means of improving our own standing. This simple idea changes political discourse because there is no side that loses in such a scenario. If it works we all win and if it fails we all lose. This is a new concept, and a scary thought for many. It defies our concepts of individuation and self-containment—it brings us together again.
Discussing the Freedom Dividend forces us to think differently. Take abortion rights for example. Wherever one may stand on the issue, the Freedom Dividend can be argued as a means of altering the discussion. For those that are pro-choice, a $1,000 stipend can be a means for a woman to finance an abortion on her own, and or commute for the procedure if her state has restrictive laws on the matter. If one is pro-life, then a $1,000 stipend can be a means to help her finance the raising of that child, even if again, she is doing it on her own.
Maybe the story of Steve Wozniak is an isolated case. Maybe we are beyond such things and the only people that may create such innovations are already attending MIT surrounded by all the resources and time they need. This could be true, but I don’t believe that it is. I believe that we are going to expand our wealth as a nation by embracing each other’s potential. This requires us to view a win for our neighbor as a win for us too.
It requires that we suspend judgment. We are forced to put the argument to rest surrounding who is worthy and who is not. As Americans we can view ourselves as a team again sharing in our nation’s spoils. Discussing the Freedom Dividend is inherently unifying because no one will be excluded from its benefits. Whether one agrees with the concept or not, it asks us to see in the other the same potential we feel in ourselves. We can all win, and Yang dares to make that win a reality. This simple idea is worthy of careful consideration indeed.