This is a subject that has been around for decades, but is only now reaching a fever level of excitement for the general public. Andrew Yang was a big part of that push, giving a few lucky families $1,000 a month for a year as part of his presidential campaign — which ultimately failed. But that fight for income equality is only just beginning. Oddly enough, it seems the covid-19 pandemic might factor into making this happen sooner.
None other than Republican Senator Mitt Romney — another failed presidential candidate from a bygone era — floated the idea that all American adults should be granted $1,000 to dampen the financial impact that faces our nation because of the viral outbreak. That’s far from a universal basic income (UBI), but it could get the ball rolling if our Congressional leaders go for it. And that’s one big “if.”
How much support the idea receives both inside and outside of Congress is likely dependent on the hardships facing most Americans. We’ve heard the number 400 floated a number of times during this current campaign season. It’s the number of dollars Americans have to put toward an unforeseen emergency. A near-majority wouldn’t be able to handle even that much.
Should this outbreak continue into the future — as it is almost guaranteed to do — it’s easy to predict that many Americans are about to fall upon fall times. Not everyone can work from home. Not everyone can afford good healthcare when they need it the most (now).
The irony lies in how hard the media is trying to push the narrative that Joe Biden continues to come off as the 2020 Democratic candidate with the most pragmatic virus-related ideas when he has in fact stated that he would veto any push for medicare for all. It’s almost as if this coronavirus is shouting to the world “vote Bernie” if you want to have a chance at a good future, but the world isn’t listening.
It might shock you to know that the reproduction rate (or “R” value; i.e. how many people an infected person is likely to infect himself) of the seasonal flu is R1.3, meaning that an infected person would infect slightly more than one other person on average. The Spanish flu had a value of R1.8. Covid-19 has a value of R2.3 on average. It’s fatality rate falls only slightly below the Spanish flu, but much higher than the seasonal flu.
That means if we do nothing, millions could face death. Which is to say little of the financial realities facing us if we don’t take more drastic steps soon.
Is it time to fight for a universal basic income? Maybe so.