Our family started our farm in Kentucky 15 years ago following my 20 years of service with the Marines. We were passionate about learning more about sustainable agriculture, contributing to our local economy, and getting to work with our own hands. While operating our asparagus farm, we also learned firsthand about the economic challenges faced by Kentucky farmers and working class people. A large part of why I’m running to unseat Mitch McConnell is to equalize economic opportunity for all Kentuckians and Americans.
Our son was an early supporter of presidential candidate Andrew Yang and, in his words, was “…seriously bummed out” when Yang dropped out of the presidential race. I was always curious what drew him to the “long shot” candidate in this year’s presidential race. His response made me proud of our kid; it was Yang’s message of fundamental economic fairness that made him choose his candidate to support.
It was fun being “schooled” by my now-adult son and father to our first grandchild. He was drawn to Yang’s platform of Universal Basic Income (UBI), not as a freebie, but as an acknowledgement of the essential fairness of an economic plan that valued life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness over speculation, inheritance and profit. A belief that the bounty of our land is the inheritance of everyone and not only those with the wherewithal to extract and exploit it.
My path to embracing UBI was longer and more studied, but the result was no less positive. I had the good fortune to have access to Scott Santens, a writer for the World Economic Forum and advocate for UBI. I asked the typical questions, mostly based in microeconomics. What about inflation? Isn’t this a disincentive to work? Why don’t we just give people ‘stuff’ instead of money?
We discussed the many resource-rich countries that have sovereign wealth funds, and that it is not even a foreign concept to the United States; Alaska has had UBI since 1982. Studies in Europe, Africa and India show that every single time, with a short adjustment period, UBI encourages investments in jobs and businesses and relieves poverty and indifference. In every case, I’ve been convinced that assuring a universal basic income will lead, in the balance, to thrift, industriousness and entrepreneurship, because financial security fuels risk-taking, and customers fuel small businesses. At the end of our conversation, I was thrilled when Santens agreed to join my campaign staff as a senior policy advisor on this issue.
I guess it depends on your assessment of human nature, but mine is positive. It is better to inject wealth at the bottom and let it filter up, than supplement industries making record profits off taxpayers’ dollars and, year after year, consolidating wealth and power at the top of the economic ladder. I’d rather see money spent locally, which stays local, than dumped wholesale into giant corporations. Instead of there being the odd news story of a bank or supermarket opening in an impoverished neighborhood, it should be a common occurrence. And, I’d rather see acknowledgment and compensation for the labor of a parent deciding to stay at home with their young children or a child caring for an elderly parent.
I’m committed to fighting for economic and social justice for all Kentuckians — for our farmers, our teachers, our veterans, and stay-at-home parents and caregivers. I’m adding support for universal basic income to my campaign platform to equalize economic opportunity for all Kentuckians and Americans. If we’re going to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, it seems to me the first thing we all need is the money to buy boots.
Mike Broihier is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, a retired Marine LtCol, and a farmer from Lincoln County, KY. To learn more, visit www.MikeForKY.com.