Fact-checking Andrew Yang on history of universal basic income

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tags: FDR, 2020 Election, Andrew Yang, universal basic income

"Thomas Paine was for it at our founding, called it the citizen’s dividend. Martin Luther King, champion in the ‘60s, called it a guaranteed minimum income for all Americans, and it is what he was fighting for on the day he was killed in 1968," Yang told Iowa voters on Sept. 21. "A thousand economists endorsed it. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives twice in 1971."


"Thomas Paine was for it at our founding, called it the citizen’s dividend."

Paine wrote that Earth in its "natural uncultivated state" was the common property of the human race. He believed that cultivation and private land ownership deprived non-landowners of their "natural inheritance." 

Paine suggested a national fund to compensate individuals for that loss, whether they were rich or poor. He proposed a one-time payment of 15 pounds to every person when they turned 21 years old; and that every person aged 50, and all others who arrived at that age, be paid 10 pounds annually for the rest of their lives.

Paine’s proposal in the 1790s pamphlet Agrarian Justice was in some ways an early version of the Social Security program and has an element of universal basic income, said Harvey J. Kaye, a democracy and justice studies professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. But it wasn’t the same thing.

Read entire article at Politifact

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