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Local Opinion: The imbedded feminism of a Universal Basic Income

Local Opinion: The imbedded feminism of a Universal Basic Income

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The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.

Recent polls show Andrew Yang may not be one of the top three Democratic contenders, but as a woman, a mom and a teacher, he has my attention.

If you are not following his campaign on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram you don’t know that Nov. 19 was Women For Yang Day, coinciding with Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. Women are getting his name and policies out there to any women who may be unaware of his run for president. I’m writing to do my part and encourage my Tucsonan sisters and feminist allies that, if you haven’t already, donate a dollar and get to know his policies that support women, as well as the passionate supporters who believe in his ideas, intellect and authentic concern for the American people.

His signature policy of giving every American citizen $1,000 a month has some critics scoffing, but many innovative ideas have had their naysayers. Visit Yang’s campaign website and you’ll get to know the personal stories that answer the question, “What would you do with an extra $1,000 a month?”

There are currently social experiments taking place, such as in Stockton, California, and examples of universal basic income, or UBI, have been implemented around the globe to find out what would happen from a dividend such as this.

In 2016, Sarah Gardner wrote in Marketplace about a 1970s basic income experiment that took place in a small town in Manitoba, Canada and lasted five years. The results were boxed away until 2008.

The results of trusting people with a basic income were positive and promising.

Some of the outcomes were women’s ablity to take longer maternity leave, kids stayed in high school because they didn’t need an additional wage earner in the family, and the rate of hospitalizations dropped, particularly for mental health issues and domestic abuse. For the critics of UBI, most participants kept working. Those who didn’t were mothers of young children and older children who had an opportunity to finish school.

Alaskans have received a dividend since 1982 and a recent survey states that some 71% of Alaskans agree it has enhanced their lives and is an important source of income. The demographic most impacted? Women.

Women of young children, unmarried women, women without college degrees, and Alaskan Native women.

Many of our most important life projects don’t involve making money. Women drop out of the workforce to care for children or aging parents or career shifts. It makes sense to honor all of this in an evolved society where plenty of automation will take over the repetitive jobs, and 80% of UBI supporters agree companies that benefit from artificial intelligence should pay higher taxes.

As a woman staying home to care for young children, and as an aging mother, I have just as much an interest and an input in the economy as a person earning wages for work outside the home.

The benefits of a safety net of $1,000 a month for our school staff, our families, and the kids in our communities is the relief we’ve been longing for, marching for and fighting for as teachers.

In a very recent Washington Post survey, Elizabeth Warren stated, “Universal Basic Income is an option to consider.” I have a feeling she may be a member of the YangGang too.

So, how about it ladies, do you have a dollar and an answer to the question, “What would you do with an extra $1,000 a month?”

Michelle Renzetti is an educator, a public voice fellow with the OpEd Project, and a mom with a vote.

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