Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Why Andrew Yang’s “Freedom Dividend” Would Be a Disaster


I’m going to do what the media won’t — talk about Andrew Yang. Despite being “the hottest candidate this side of Elizabeth Warren” right now, Yang was allotted less than 8 minutes of speaking time during last night’s 3-hour Democratic debate, the least of any candidate in the field. This marginalization of Yang follows a week where NBC and CNN omitted him from graphics of the top tier Democratic candidates, which led to “YangMediaBlackout” trending on Twitter.

My take on all of this is that the establishment’s attempt to exclude Yang is both deliberate and unfortunate — because it is making his candidacy, and its atrocious signature platform idea, more powerful. The attempts to marginalize him appear quite overt, which fuels his movement’s anti-establishment rage. His supporters appear to hold faith in Gandhi’s old mantra: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

That’s why in the next debate, I hope Andrew Yang receives plenty of speaking time so he is forced to answer what his “Freedom Dividend” actually entails. In mere soundbites, viewers at home are left thinking that, if he is elected president, they will receive a thousand dollars every month of free money.

But as your parents probably taught you when you were a kid, money doesn’t grow on trees.

Andrew Yang knows the above to be true. He is, in his own words, “an Asian man who likes math.” So how does he propose to pay for the $1,000 per month “Freedom Dividend?” His website candidly reveals the answer — he wants to impose a European-style value-added tax on practically every single product and service that you purchase sans staple goods such as food and clothing.

In short, he is paying you $1,000 a month after taking it from you first. Sure, theoretically, the amount of value-added taxes you pay could be less than $1,000 a month, but if you are paying $650 a month in additional taxes and receiving a check from the government for $1,000, your net profit for that month is really only $350. While Yang is selling this plan as everyone receives a thousand additional dollars a month, the reality is that no one does.

Of course, many will be paying significantly more than $1,000 a month in additional taxes under Yang’s plan. That’s how redistribution works. The irony is that while Yang pitches the “Freedom Dividend” as a bold new idea, it’s actually an extraordinarily old idea — stealing money from one person and giving it to another. This forced transfer of wealth doesn’t constitute “freedom” in any sense of the word; it enslaves.

So next debate, let Yang speak. And call him out on his disastrous signature policy.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Jonathan Decker

Jonathan Decker is the Chief Economic Correspondent for

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