As is now well known, not a few people in the Dissident Right are sympathetic to Andrew Yang’s insurgent bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Though at present a minor candidate, Mr. Yang may well receive a bump after the upcoming debates, and regardless, as 2016 has shown, damn near anything is possible in American politics.
The sympathy is largely derived from his support of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), specifically, $1,000 a month for every citizen. While various economists and politicians have batted around this idea for some time, Mr. Yang backs it as a safety net for all those Americans facing long-term unemployment due to deindustrialization, automation, and the general “precariatization” of our economy. There is an obvious logic to this plan, and its seduction is understandable. With an economy that goes through dramatic changes every few years, perhaps the simplest and most charitable thing we can do for those left behind is give them a bit of money to make ends meet.
While this money would not make anybody rich, the working poor might suddenly be able to make rent and car payments with ease. Many think this UBI would increase fertility as well and (though not purposefully) increase the number of stay-at-home moms, a goal many traditionalists value quite highly. All of that is well and good. I have never viewed government support of the poor as some kind of burdensome overreach. Furthermore, a simple UBI would do much to cut back on the federal government’s unwieldy and inefficient bureaucracy.
But there is one big problem with this plan. In a word: drugs.
I have nothing but sympathy for the citizenry living paycheck to paycheck in our nation’s vast Rust Belt. But that doesn’t change that in the here-and-now, giving them a considerable amount of cash with no strings attached might not be the best thing for them. Some recipients would certainly use the money responsibly to dramatically improve their lot in life: pay off student loans, stop taking taking payday loans, etc. But quite a few others would indulge in America’s latest hobby with a reckless abandon that gives me goosebumps.