Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang took to Twitter on Saturday to express his belief that the polarization of the country is due to a “mindset of scarcity,” which he suggests can be countered by his flagship proposal of a universal basic income (UBI) — or “Freedom Dividend” — of $1,000 per month for every American citizen over the age of 18.
“What is making things worse in America is a mindset of scarcity — if someone else is doing well then I’m somehow losing out,” he tweeted. “The antidote is a mindset of abundance — if you are doing well that’s great for me too. The question is how to generate an abundance mindset in more of us.”
Yang claims that the U.S. economy creates this mindset of scarcity. He highlights that 78 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and approximately 50 percent of people cannot afford an unexpected $500 bill. The 44-year-old serial entrepreneur suggests that by changing this reality, Americans can reverse this mindset of scarcity, which he says “polarizes us and puts us against each other.”
The Democratic dark horse also pointed to research that suggests that not being able to pay your bills decreases functional IQ by 13 points. He believes that his UBI proposal would make Americans “more rational, reasonable, optimistic, generous and more able to solve problems.”
I can't fathom a country that is enjoying unprecedented wealth and at the same time, its elders are unable to retire with dignity and struggle to survive. This is why the #FreedomDividend would supplement seniors' hard-earned Social Security benefits. pic.twitter.com/9orgi7gtD8
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) July 20, 2019
Yang is referring to a study published in Science run by Princeton University researchers. The study found that poor people spend so much mental energy on financial concerns that their remaining brainpower is lowered, meaning they are more likely to make bad decisions and mistakes. These mistakes “may be amplified by — and perpetuate — their financial woes.”
The team found that people struggling with pressing financial concerns and preoccupied with money experience a decrease in cognitive function, 13 IQ points, which is equatable to a loss of one night of sleep.
According to the study, the mental taxation that poverty puts on the brain is separate from stress. While stress is a response to outside pressures that can actually improve a person’s functioning, financial stress is detrimental in a way that can harm performance on unrelated — but important — tasks.
While the poor reportedly focus effectively on pressing problems, this drains their capacity for dealing with others.
“It’s the other tasks where they perform poorly,” co-author Eldar Shafir explains.
According to Yang, UBI would reduce this mental strain and make unexpected bills an “irritation” rather than a “catastrophe,” giving them more energy to focus on things such as the arts, entrepreneurship, creativity, and time with children and family.