Businessman Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments who made headlines when he raised the minimum salaries of his employees to $70,000, took to Twitter to call on Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg to adopt universal basic income (UBI). Price also gave a shoutout to rising candidate Andrew Yang, who is currently running a campaign that centers around a UBI of $1,000 per month for every American adult, which he branded the “Freedom Dividend.”
“The freedom dividend is the quickest, most direct way to reduce income inequality that has been proposed in my lifetime. Thank you, @AndrewYang. Would be great to have adoption from @PeteButtigieg @ewarren @BernieSanders,” he tweeted.
Price’s decision to raise his employees’ salaries shocked many, as it required him to cut his $1 million salary by 90 percent. But according to the 35-year-old CEO, he felt it was the right decision.
“I’m sick of being part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution,” he said, per People. “Previously, I was making a million dollars a year and people working for me were making $30,000 a year and that’s wrong, I was feeding into the problem.”
Price’s decision to support Yang’s proposal isn’t surprising, as Yang is a fellow entrepreneur who appears to be similarly philanthropic. He announced at the recent Democratic debate that he would be giving 10 families $1,000 per month for one year each, echoing his campaign’s flagship Freedom Dividend proposal. Before Yang ran for president, he ran a non-profit called Venture for America, which places young entrepreneurs in American cities — specifically low-cost, struggling cities — to create jobs.
Although Sanders has expressed support for UBI in the past, he appears to have changed his tune. The Hill reports that Sanders believes a federal jobs guarantee as a better alternative to UBI, emphasizing that “people want to work” and “be a productive member of society.” However, Yang believes a UBI would also help create hundreds of thousands of local jobs as well as recognize work that is currently unrecognized in U.S. society, such as parenting and nurturing.
According to the cross-tabs data, support is strongest for UBI among males age 18-34 with 81% support. Support is also very strong within the black community, with 74% in support. Those without a HS degree also show strong support with 70% in favor of UBI.#Yang2020 #BasicIncome pic.twitter.com/i1srwTnFQe
— Scott Santens (@scottsantens) September 25, 2019
Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson are the only candidates outside of Yang who have expressed support for UBI. A recent The Hill-HarrisX poll revealed that support for UBI has increased from February to September. In particular, 49 percent of registered voters now support UBI, compared to just 43 percent in February. Given that Yang’s campaign began gaining traction in February following his appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, it’s not unlikely that his work has prompted a change in public perception on UBI.