Study: Andrew Yang's UBI plan isn't popular among rich folks

A new survey suggests that free money isn't as popular as you'd suppose.

Study: Andrew Yang's UBI plan isn't popular among rich folks

Andrew Yang at the recent Democratic Debate

Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • A new survey shows a majority of people making more than $125,000 a year oppose a basic income plan.
  • The survey also showed how age and political affiliation relates to support for the idea.
  • This news should put a major damper on any hopes that the United States will get around to basic income anytime soon.

A new study has bad news for people who want to make basic income a reality in the United States.

According to a survey by Echelon Insights of 1,006 people in late June, support for a basic income program is divided by demographic lines, with support highest among lower-income brackets and minimal in the higher income brackets. Among those making more than $125,000 a year, 61 percent of respondents either "somewhat opposed" or "strongly opposed" the idea of giving a thousand dollars of cash to Americans en masse.

What else did the study say?

​An example breakdown of the survey data. Notice the question phrasing at the top. Similar results were found for age and political affiliation. 

Chart by Echelon Insights

The study — it probed an initiative similar to Andrew Yang's "Freedom Dividend" plan to give everybody $1,000 a month — found that income wasn't the only fault line, support for the UBI concept also split along ideological lines and age group.

Two-thirds of Republicans (67 percent) oppose the idea while only about a quarter (26 percent) of Democrats do. Age was also a significant factor, with a majority of people below the age of 39 supporting the idea and majorities above that point starting to oppose it. While the middle-aged were split, support among those aged 65 and over was a mere 19 percent.

Putting all this data together, it turns out that old, rich Republicans are opposed to new government programs based around giving people money.

Although, it is important to remember that there are plenty of well-thought out objections to basic income as a concept, despite its long list of prestigious supporters. Some oppose, for instance, the idea of giving people cash in fear those individuals will "waste" the funds. They instead support more targeted means of assistance, such as food stamps. Others are concerned about the cost itself — they aren't convinced that Yang has a feasible plan to pay for it.

What does this mean for basic income in the United States?

First and foremost, it means that the "Freedom Dividend" isn't as popular as Yang and his supporters think it is.

Andrew Yang has argued that he thinks he will be able to get a majority in Congress, even a Republican one, to support basic income as it would be politically impossible for Congress to vote against giving free cash to the people in their district.

"For the Republicans, they'll be like, 'Wait a minute. Do I really want to sabotage the Dividend that will help my constituents in rural areas and areas that have been devastated by automation?' Imagine their offices back home and phone lines. Cash is a hard thing to demonize. It's tough for Mitch McConnell to argue, 'The money will hurt you,' Yang said in a Reddit Ask Me Anything.

History, however, indicates that they are more than willing to do that with plenty of other things, such as Social Security, which gives cash to people.

Basic income is an increasingly popular idea for cutting down on bureaucracy, ending poverty, and making the world a little better. However, many people are still skeptical of the idea. If the results of this survey are accurate, you can rule out getting a check for $1,000 a month any time soon.

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.


Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

Learn the Netflix model of high-performing teams

Erin Meyer explains the keeper test and how it can make or break a team.

  • There are numerous strategies for building and maintaining a high-performing team, but unfortunately they are not plug-and-play. What works for some companies will not necessarily work for others. Erin Meyer, co-author of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, shares one alternative employed by one of the largest tech and media services companies in the world.
  • Instead of the 'Rank and Yank' method once used by GE, Meyer explains how Netflix managers use the 'keeper test' to determine if employees are crucial pieces of the larger team and are worth fighting to keep.
  • "An individual performance problem is a systemic problem that impacts the entire team," she says. This is a valuable lesson that could determine whether the team fails or whether an organization advances to the next level.
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Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
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