As COVID-19, the novel coronavirus spreads across the United States, fears continue to swirl around the state of the economy, with some suggesting an imminent crash. In response, author and political analyst Anand Giridharadas noted that some industries would likely be eyeing bailouts and floated the idea that a universal basic income (UBI), as proposed by Andrew Yang, could be a possible solution.
“Some big industries might soon come begging for a bailout,” he tweeted before suggesting that the public should demand concessions in return for any such solution.
“You want us to bail out your industry?” he wrote. “Agree to pay such-and-such wage, stop using this loophole.”
Afterward, Giridharadas floated the idea of a UBI.
“Or, instead, this might be the right time to experiment with an @AndrewYang-style bailout. Try a universal basic income on a temporary basis during the crisis.”
Yang previously revealed he was friends with Giridharadas in a Facebook post, in which he talked about the former New York Times columnist’s book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. In the book, Yang says Giridharadas speaks of the efforts of philanthropists who focus on helping others but avoid changing the underlying system.
“The mantra is ‘Doing Well by Doing Good,’ positive thinking, getting along with each other, helpful TED Talks, and, ultimately, very little actual change,” Yang wrote.
As reported by The Guardian, Giridharadas has encouraged American institutions — in particular, “those involved in thinking and ideas” — to become “more mindful” of what’s going on in the lives of everyday people. He urged the Aspen Institute, the think tank that connects the wealthy and powerful via conferences, to focus more on listening to the people in American society struggling the most, as opposed to those that have had the most success.
Although Giridharadas did not endorse Yang during his presidential run, the pair appear to have overlapping goals and beliefs. Throughout his presidential campaign, Yang promoted a UBI of $1,000 per month for every American adult, which he branded the Freedom Dividend. As reported by Vox, Yang’s main post-candidacy project is Humanity Forward, a 501(c)(4) non-profit that focuses on reaching a “human-centered America,” which would include his vision of UBI and other ideas that his campaign promoted.
During his campaign, Yang proposed to pay for his UBI proposal with a value-added tax (VAT) that would target the biggest winners of the modern economy, including Amazon, Facebook, and Google. With this mechanism, Yang believed his proposal could largely be funded by the wealthiest in America, echoing Giridharadas, who has said that taxes — not philanthropy — are the solution to solving the world’s current inequality problems, per the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).