Lately things have been extremely difficult for me and my elderly husband as I'm without employment (and have been for a very long time, due in part to age discrimination and due in part to having been out of the workforce for many years). Therefore, I've been suffering due to a real severe lack enough income just to pay basic bills, and also just lost my SNAP benefits as well - which is why I was without Internet last month, and why I'm without my phone this month, and why I lost my car. All of which has permanently killed any possibility of me being able to get a job - something I've long ago lost hope that would ever happen for me as a poor marginalized older woman up against too many barriers to employment (age discrimination, sex discrimination, disability discrimination against those with Type 2 diabetes, work history gaps, etc.).
After begging all over Facebook for help, I finally got just enough money to get my Internet back on - for now (I still am one month behind and I'm expecting my electric to be shut off any day). And the first thing I saw after getting my Internet restored was an email notification that Scott Santens, who is at the forefront of promoting Andrew Yang's candidacy for president and Yang's Neoliberal/Libertarian version of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), had published an article putting progressives on blast and basically blaming progressives for the past 40+ year long ongoing War on the Poor - the reason why our social safety net programs (what's left of them) are so shitty, punitive, stingy and paternalistic.
Now, Santens is correct in his critique of how our social programs for the poor (or what's left of those programs, anyway) are miserably failing struggling poor people and leaving many in desperate need out in the cold. As an involuntarily jobless poor older woman who just got thrown off of food stamps, I know this all too well. His facts and figures regarding the shortcomings of welfare programs such as TANF, SNAP and SSI are not the problem - I agree with that part.
But Santens and others in the UBI camp are wrong to blame Progressives for the problem.
So I am addressing Scott Santens' critiques and accusations point by point to set the record straight. I've also attached a saved PDF copy of his article so that anyone wishing to read his hit piece against progressives in its entirety to reference my talking points can download it. Hell, save a PDF copy of this Patreon article too! Because as a real progressive, and as a member and volunteer writer and IT person who is proud to be a part of Steve Grumbine's group, Real Progressives, I'm not going to let misinformation and false accusations against genuine progressives slide when we're the only ones fighting to fix the problems that Scott Santens is talking about. Knowledge - like wealth and manure - is useless if it's not spread around.
If this was a truly progressive policy, I would agree. But how "progressive" is Yang's UBI plan?
Does it call for implementing a wealth/income cap to prevent price-gouging abuses and the hoarding of natural resources by the rentier class? No.
Does it it come with anything to give a price anchor to ensure that you can get what you need to live with your UBI dollars? No.
Does it address involuntary unemployment due to discrimination and other barriers to employment? No.
So far, that's three strikes against it right there.
A UBI of $1,000/mo - which is only $12K/year, slightly below the already austere federal poverty level for a single able-bodied individual with no dependents - will be the only income that's obtainable for many poor, discriminated and marginalized people who currently have zero incomes. Older workers (especially those over age 50 but under age 65). Women. Black people (and people of color in general). The very long-term unemployed. Anyone with health issues or any degree of a disability. Anyone in chronic poverty without a car and with ruined credit (largely due to involuntary unemployment) who are deemed "not a good fit" by the employers - a real catch-22 in and of itself that merits its own article. People who are economically disadvantaged who have no skills and only a high school diploma or GED or not even that. And the list goes on.
Yang's proposed UBI of only $1,000/mo and his obstinate refusal to provide a higher amount that's actually livable (a tact which Santens defends), will not lift any of these folks with zero incomes up out of poverty. It won't even lif them up to the federal poverty line. The excuse for digging his heels in about this paltry UBI amount despite being told by countless poor jobless/unemployable people that $1,000/mo is not enough, is that "we can't make the UBI too high or people won't want to work."
Mind you, Santens is talking about the very same people that have the least chance of getting a job - whether they want to work or not is irrelevant. Nobody has a choice to "not work" unless they're rich. The only parties at the job market table that have a choice in deciding who gets a job and who does not are the employers.
And if most jobs are going to be automated away anyway, why be so stingy with the UBI amount in order to coerce or punish "lazy" people into working at jobs that you cannot guarantee they'll get hired for, or jobs that don't exist for them?
Scott, your Neoliberalism is showing.
For those lucky to have no problem getting jobs, for those who've never suffered poverty due to discrimination, for those who are privileged because employers and the rest of society's social and economic institutions have always favored members of their group over so many others without privilege, Yang's UBI is huge bonus - a generous monthly allowance for middle class adults that they can use to invest in the stock market, real estate, or for spearheading their own startup, or stash in a Swiss bank account.
But what is "progressive" about refusing to give those with no chance of getting a job a generous enough of a UBI amount that would lift them above poverty and make their involuntary exclusion from employment, and from society in general, a whole lot less unjust and painful?
And spare me the "we can't afford it" excuse. We can afford to do right by America's poorest - the same way we could afford to give a multi-trillion dollar tax cut to the rich while also giving hundreds of billions more to the military. (Modern Monetary Theory, anyone?)
Forcing people to be involuntarily unemployed and condemning them to permanent soul-crushing poverty while doing nothing to eliminate job discrimination, and then telling them that they don't deserve to be comfortable with a more generous "basic income" as compensation for their involuntary exclusion from jobs and a chance for a good life is not "progressive" by any definition.
Depriving poor women, older workers, people from generational poverty, the long-term unemployed, the disabled, and people of color chances for good jobs while offering us the cheap kiss-off of a subpoverty level UBI and telling us to shut up and be grateful for whatever few stingy, begrudgingly doled out crumbs our overprivileged 'benefactors' deign to give us, is not "progressive", either.
Denying poor struggling disadvantaged people decent living wage jobs is about more than depriving us of the ability and opportunity to economically provide for ourselves. It's also about total social exclusion and keeping us down and then spitting in our faces for it. It's cruel. The only thing that's even more cruel is to do that and then further punish us for being poor and jobless, telling us that we don't "deserve" to be comfortable because we "don't work" - even though being pushed out of the economy was not our choice.
Nobody chooses to be jobless, excluded, and poor with no hope of ever having a better life.
Just like poor women and girls who suffer the brunt of poverty and homelessness due to domestic abuse and job discrimination, who ended up trafficked into prostitution as a result, didn't "choose" prostitution - those with the most privileges, wealth, and power chose it for them (Jeffrey Epstein, anyone?).
Meanwhile, the rest of society discarded them, turned a blind eye when 'johns' brutally tortured and murdered them, and wrote them off as having gotten what they deserved by claiming they "chose" prostitution and all the abuses and violence inherent in it as a "lifestyle choice." (Go ahead, ask me how I know this - I'll wait.)
The ultimate objectification, exploitation, and commodification of consumable, disposable people and seving up our basic human rights on patriarchy's sacrificial altar in economies of scale; keeping poor, marginalized and abused women and girls down in a permanent sexual, reproductive, and economic underclass while calling that "empowering" and legalizing exploitation in its ugliest form and calling it "sex work" - while refusing to eliminate systemic discrimination and guarantee everyone the right to a living wage job with dignity - is not "progressive." It's Neoliberalism.
And die-hard "YangGang-ers" saying that poor, marginalized, discriminated, "hard-to-employ" people whose only income would be Yang's sub-poverty UBI don't "deserve" to be "rewarded" for "not working" are anything but progressive.
It's the same pro-cruelty, pro-punishment stance that UBI proponents (rightly) criticize in the already-gutted means tested conditional social programs system. There's a reason why this "Yang-Gang" of alt-Righters and 4-Channers who are notorious for their misogyny, white male supremacy, and sociopathic tendencies support Andrew Yang instead of a real progressive like Bernie Sanders.
When these Yang-Gang guys say "Secure the bag!" on their subreddits and YouTube comments, what they mean is "let's take every last dime away from those undeserving poor people" - women, long-term unemployed older workers, the disabled, people of color and the elderly - by destroying what's left of our miserly inadequate social safety net and giving young, spoiled middle class/ rich able-bodied white males all that money instead. Because in their view they're the "makers" and therefore the only "real people" who matter while poor, discriminated, marginalized people are nothing but "takers." (Remember: Equality looks like oppression when you're privileged.)
Now you can say, "Well, it's not Andrew Yang's fault that some of his supporters are selfish, entitled, white male supremacists." But like it or not, the old adage that you're known by the company you keep rings true. If you swim in the same cesspool as Neoliberal/Libertarian/"alt-Right" turds, you're going to smell like a turd - and you probably are one, too.
I agree that poor struggling marginalized people deserve choices and incomes to be able to live in dignity. I don't know of any real progressives that would argue otherwise.
This is all 100% true. But what Santens conveniently omits is the fact that this is all due to the draconian Welfare Reform Act of 1996 - the result of a very well organized long, protracted Neoliberal/Libertarian launched and fueled War on the Poor in which America's poorest women (and children) were not merely collateral damage, but the primary target.
The result: Our skyrocketing human sex trafficking crisis (the majority of human sex trafficking victims in the US are American women and underaged girls, and so are the majority of pimps and traffickers - ask me how I know this), a burgeoning homeless population in "tent cities" across the country, and Third World poverty in what Chris Hedges refers to as economic "sacrifice zones" in his book Death of the Liberal Class.
The War on the Poor began with poisoning the well against poor single mothers and attacks on unions and the working class in general, with the dismantling of federal regulations of the airline and trucking industries starting in the late 1970's. The federal regulations of the airline and freight carrier industries included price supports that FDR enacted in 1935 as part of the New Deal, and unions and management worked cooperatively together. The workers in those industries, management, the company owners, and the public customers at large all benefited for the most part.
Prior to 1978, airlines were regulated like utility companies. Since the early 2000's, utility companies have been deregulated and privatized but before that they were regulated by the government and rates were more affordable for everyone - even the poor and for seniors and disabled people on low fixed incomes. You never heard of poor people dying from hypothermia in the winter or heat stroke in the summer because their life-sustaining utilities were shut off for lack of enough income to pay. You do now - even though mainstream media has been sqashing these stories for many years, effectively "disappearing" the poor.
Airlines were federally regulated before 1978, and were much safer, much more comfortable for passengers, and much less expensive - even senior citizens on social security could afford a coach ticket and be assured of a comfortable travel experience.
Most flights within the US were non-stop. Meals were offered on all flights except for the very short ones on "puddle jumpers" that make connecting flights. Flight attendants used to hand out menus on longer flights with delightful meal choices that were available even to coach passengers. Seating in coach was more comfortable with a lot more leg room and bigger storage spaces for carry-on bags. Seats were actually big enough so that you didn't have to be anorexic and non-pregnant in order to fit in a coach seat. Airline workers were unionized. The government determined the fares, routes, and flight schedules but also guaranteed private airlines a reasonable profit in returm.
But wealthy Neoliberal/Libertarian types weren't satisfied with this arrangement. They heavily promoted their "free market" poisonous deregulation and privatization Kool-Aid, and convinced (lobbied) Congress to deregulate the airline industry in 1978.
Initially, prices for flights decreased as new "low-fare" airlines entered the airline market. But none of those new airlines lasted. Neither did the low prices. The once-regulated airline industry quickly became an unregulated monopoly with CEOs calling all the shots instead of public officials.
The airline CEOs implemented cost-cutting measures that made air travel far less comfortable and efficient for passengers with much longer flight times as passengers were bounced between hubs instead of being flown direct to their destinations. Leg room for coach passengers was also eliminated, as was bag storage space. Smaller seats were installed, cramming coach passengers in like sardines in a can. Airlines eliminated meals and comfortable seating for coach passengers and began overbooking, packing almost every seat on every flight, which created even longer delays in boarding and exiting.
Ever since the airline industry was deregulated, the ethos of "the customer is always right" morphed into "the customer is the least important part of the transaction" (unless he/she is rich and paying top dollar). Now the customer is treated with contempt - as evidenced by the way United Airlines manhandled Dr. David Dao, a coach passenger who had paid for his ticket, physically dragging him from his seat when the airline "had to" bounce four coach passengers because the airline overbooked and suddenly needed those seats for four airline employees that needed to be flown to another hub.
Dr. Dao was assaulted by burly airline cops who knocked out some of his teeth and banged his head as they dragged him off the plane when he refused to "volunteer" to relinquish his seat as one of four randomly chosen passengers being bounced due to the airline's "need" to make room for employees.
First class passengers never have to worry about getting assaulted, tackled, and bodily dragged off a plane. America's airline companies bend over backwards to ferry their richest biggest-spending customers in the greatest of comfort. United and other airlines even provide wealthy high-end flyers with tight connecting flight schedules gate-to-gate chauffer service in Porches and Mercedes. Once aboard, these lucky privileged few can relax on fold-out beds with adjustable lumbar supports and bed linens from Saks Fifth Avenue, and are offered hot meals and wine.
And airline executives who are fired or pressured by shareholders and board members to resign over federal corruption charges (like United's former CEO Jeff Smisek) aren't physically hauled off company property like a paying coach customer. Smisek walked away with a golden parachute of $37 million in compensation, including a car, free flights, and free lifetime parking privileges at two major airports - all of which was paid for through subsidies provided by the public purse.
Isn't it telling when "free market" champions rail against government regulations and laws that protect workers from discrimination and other employer abuses, and screech like scalded cats at the mere suggestion that we should have social programs for the poor, calling such measures "theft of taxpayer dollars" and "socialism" while they help themselves via "theft" of public money that is redistributed to provide them with their golden parachutes?
Yeah, think about that for a minute. These "free market" Neoliberal/Libertarian cheerleaders have no problem with socialism so long as it's socialism for the rich and brutal dog-eat-dog capitalism for everyone else.
Neoliberalism's wrecking ball destroyed the nice things we once had - not progressives and progressive policies. Nice things that Yang and Santens were not yet alive to remember experiencing or observing.
Knowing the difference between before and after Neoliberalism's infestation is crucial. So is knowing the difference between a Neoliberal and a real progressive. Neoliberalism is why you now have airline pilots on food stamps and horrific abuses and exploitation of OTR truck drivers and truck driving job applicants.
OTR Truck driving used to be a middle class blue-collar job, now it's a last resort poverty profession. At least, for those who are lucky to be able-bodied and without any US DOT medically disqualifying chronic health problems (i.e. diabetes, Crohns disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, or depression just to name a few) that are exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - which Neoliberalism's "gig economy" has also renderd toothless, along with every other anti-discrimination employment law. Poor people struggling without employment or any other income who have health problems don't even have OTR driving as a last-resort job available to them.
Neoliberalism's deregulation of the airline and freight industries not only reduced the quality of air travel while making it more expensive (and making conditions more shitty for both customers and workers), it also shifted the entire onus of freight motor carrier safety and responsibility onto the drivers who are trucking company employees.
Neoliberalism's brainchild of deregulation and destruction of unions created the problem of low pay and increasingly shitty working conditions where OTR drivers are only paid for the miles they drive. OTR truck drivers are NOT paid for all the time they're forced to be a 24/7 security guard and babysitter for the trucking company's equipment and the freight inside of it during non-driving hours to protect it from theft/vandalism while they're a thousand miles or more away from home. Drivers are NOT paid for the hours spent sitting and waiting at shippers/receivers waiting to get loaded/unloaded -often while not allowed to use the bathroom on the premises.
Meanwhile the US DOT - which is owned and controlled by wealthy for-profit mega-carrier trucking companies in our deregulated Neoliberal wonderland - financially (and even criminally) penalizes the drivers for everything from unsafe company equipment they're forced to drive, to preventable acccidents arising from forced dispatch during inclement weather such as ice and snow, to vehicle weight violations caused by shippers that refuse to take responsibility for overweight loads that the driver - not the trucking company or the company's customers (shippers and receivers) - gets civilly and/or criminally penalized for, and the list goes on.
Now before anyone says that all these truck driving jobs are being automated away and hence the need for Yang's UBI, let me tell you that this is not likely for at least another decade. Maybe longer. Why? Because 80,000 lb commercial vehicles require a lot more skill and good human judgment to safely operate than just being able to hold a steering wheel. Artificial intelligence only goes so far, and most of those with high-paying tech jobs developing this artifical intelligence automationware don't know the difference between a steering wheel, a fifth wheel, and a Ferris wheel.
I have yet to see a robot truck that can tarp its own loads (i.e. "throw rags" in trucker vernacular), or vent and clean out its own tanks and bulk storage containers. I have yet to see a robot truck that can also chain up its own tires when necessary while traversing Donnor's Pass. What about exercising good judgment in knowing whether and when to pull off into a rest area due to invisible icy roadconditions?
I have yet to meet any rich techbros that ever drove a truck with a 53' trailer for a living, but I know plenty of poor women, poor black people, and poor older long-term jobless workers who invested precious time and money they couldn't afford into skills training for lucrative tech jobs only to get nothing but sent away poor and empty-handed without a job by the employers due to discrimination - many ended up resorting to driving truck just to try to support themselves/their families. I've personally met several when I went to a trucking company's orientation and "qualification day" (I wasn't hired because I failed the company's physical agility test - I can't lift 50 lbs, or push/pull 100 lbs).
You'd be surprised at how many OTR truck drivers are homeless and living in their (actually their employers') trucks - in a space smaller than the average bathroom, without the damn toilet and shower - because they lost everything due to long, protracted job searches in their middle-aged/older years and decimated 401(K)s in the wake of the 2008 crash - courtesy of Neoliberalism's deregulation of the banking industry ("The Big Short", anyone?).
The trucking industry is so desperate for drivers (due to crap pay and abusive working conditions) that they'll hire anyone who can pass a DOT medical exam and drug screen, and sometimes (although not always) a company's physical agility/weight lifting test. Several carriers will even hire drivers who are convicted murderers, rapists, and pedophiles.
But poor jobless 50+ year old women with zero incomes (other than whatever donations we can get to our Patreons) clean records but who can't lift 50 lbs, or who have Crohn's disease, or Type 2 diabetes or any other DOT disqualifying health conditions are shit out of luck when it comes to getting even one of those last-resort jobs - ask me how I know this. (HINT: I have a CDL Class A that I tried unsuccessfully to fall back on as a final resort after getting nothing but NOT hired at anything else while trying for 6 1/2 years to break into tech, due to rampant age + sex discrimination.)
Many mega-carriers have a driver turnover rate as high as 400%. Because in our Neoliberal dystopian pre-Elysium world, everyone is disposable and human rights don't exist.
No one cares about any of this enough to fight against it except real progressives like those championing the Federal Job Guarantee instead of Yang's UBI.
It was Neoliberal propaganda that sold dergegulation, globalism, harmful trade agreements, austerity and gratuitous cruelty towards the poor (especially towards poor women) to the public by convincing both the blue-collar and white-collar middle classes that they'd have more money for themselves and bigger fancier houses just like the rich if not for all the impoverished "useless eaters" and "takers" sucking up "all their tax dollars" while "not contributing anything of value to society."
Neoliberals were peddling this dogshit to the public while calling it chocolate candy. And those who were lucky to NOT be disabled, poor, marginalized and discriminated out of stable middle class jobs eagerly lapped it up as if it were foie gras.
Neoliberal propaganda nourished the politics of revanchism, made job discrimination against women and anyone not an able-bodied young white male acceptable, and then made it cool to punish the victims of poverty due to discrimination for the "crime" of being poor - all in the name of "freedom" and "personal responsibility."
They voted Ronald Reagan in for his second term, followed by Poppy Bush and "family values" right-wing Congressmen like Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich, while demanding political candidates cut off paltry AFDC benefits to the "welfare queens" as proud Dittoheads sported "Rush Is Right" bumper stickers on their expensive 4x4 trucks they'd have never been able to afford if not for their (and their white working class daddies') middle class blue-collar union wages and benefits that a whole hell of a lot of poor marginalized people across gender and racial lines from prior generations suffered, fought and literally died for but never got any benefit from due to systemic economic/job discrimination (which Neoliberalism accelerated and exacerbated with its "gig economy" 1099 contractor jobs that are rife with wage theft and discrimination - the "gift that keeps on giving").
Remember privileged right-wing blowhards like Rush Limbaugh who got rich by promoting hatred and harm against the poor, saying that instead of providing food stamps to poor women and subsidized school lunches for poor children the poor should just dumpster-dive for food?
How about South Carolina's Republican Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer who compared providing food assistance for the poor to feeding stray animals which only encourages them to breed?
We all know where progressives like Bernie Sanders was when all this was happening to the poor and downtrodden over the last 40+ years. Where was Andrew Yang? Where were Yang's rich Silicon Valley techbro buddies who support his UBI? What were they doing to help the poor? As I recall, they were too busy gentrifying places like San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, privatizing public transportation services, and then pushing for measures to criminalize the poor and homeless and push them out of sight because they didn't want to have to see all the poor people suffering in the misery that they've directly had a hand in creating - and got paid handsomely for causing. ("Got mine, fuck you!")
Nothing shows more contempt for the poor than telling us we're less-thans and barely deserve to eat from garbage bins - which supermarkets and restaurants began padlocking and pouring bleach into in order to keep desperate hungry poor people from even being able to eat any discarded food. And many of those same restaurant owners also lobbied their local governments to pass ordinances criminalizing organizations and individuals who volunteer to share food with the homeless poor.
It's not progressives who have contempt for the poor - it's Neoliberals and anyone else who opposes just, humane social and economic policies, worker protections, and industry regulations enacted and enforced by a government that actually looks out for the people.
It was Neoliberals, Libertarians, and your garden variety right-wingers who pushed for punitive means testing and reduced benefits for social safety net programs, and industry deregulation resulting in wage stagnation and a jobs pie that's been steadily shrinking since the 1980's due to globalism and anti-worker trade policies like NAFTA (which hurt both American and Mexican workers) - not automation - that permanently screwed the working class and the poor.
It was Neoliberals and Libertarians and right-wing authoritarians and fascists of every stripe who launched and continue to fuel the ongoing 40+ year War on the Poor.
It wasn't progressives who turned the poverty relief entitlement program known as AFDC into the block grant to states free-for-all known as TANF. Neoliberals own that.
And those "non-profit"/"faith-based" agencies that receive a significant chunk of this block grant money for their programs to "teach marriage" to poor unwed mothers was the brainchild of George W. Bush and his buddies in the Christian Right. Bush enacted it with the stroke of his executive pen by signing Executive Order 13199 (otherwise known as the "Faith-Based Initiative Act") into law on January 29, 2001.
Neoliberals helped bring that about by claiming that "government can't solve poverty", "the War on Poverty failed", and "private local charities are better at helping the poor." Which is bullshit because private charities regularly discriminate in providing help to people they don't like, or worse - re-exploiting and retraumatizing them. Ask any destitute homeless human trafficking survivor that tried to get helped from any of the many anti-trafficking charities only to get re-exploited and retraumatized, or simply turned away for being gay, or trans, or the wrong color, or a non-Christian who didn't want to convert.
Spending five minutes in the human trafficking survivor community will be a real eye-opener. There's no shortage of struggling survivors who can tell you about being re-exploited for their stories and then left having to beg for oatmeal while well-off white Christian male executives of these "faith-based" anti-trafficking NGOs were eating steaks off of donor generosity.
If you think that Bush and the Christian Right's lobbyists on C-Street who pushed for the privatization of aid to the poor through private "faith-based" charities and the voters who supported that are "progressive", you're an idiot that ought to be arrested for possession of brains with intent to use.
Neoliberalism is anti-woman, anti-family, and anti-human rights.
Progressives are the only ones who've been fighting against the destruction of social safety nets, worker rights, and industry deregulation over these past 40+ years while Neoliberals relentlessly attacked progressives by drowning out our voices, beating us down with the "Communist" cudgel and accusing us of seeking to overburden the taxpayers (code for "white males with good jobs") to pay for a "nanny state."
It was Neoliberals who deliberately collapsed the floor underneath the poorest of America's poor (the majority of whom were and still are women) with attacks on social programs for the poor starting under Reagan, and it was Neoliberals who put the final nail in the Great Society programs' coffin with Welfare Reform under Clinton.
And it's been Neoliberalism's economically privileged cheerleaders among the Right who've consistently demanded further "reforms" (read: punitive means testing and austere benefit cuts) to what's left of the shredded safety net in order to "prevent fraud" and ensure that only the "deserving poor" get anything.
Privileged people who latched onto Neoliberalism's siren song initially said that they didn't want to hurt the "deserving" poor, and then they decided that no one who is poor is deserving.
What's to stop these same privileged people from deciding behind closed corporate boardroom doors to undemocratically vote away any kind of a UBI for poor jobless/unemployable people whom they've already decided decades ago were "undeserving" of the most basic human rights to food, housing and medical care per the UN's UDHR?
What's to stop any president after 2024 from doing that (regardless of what the people want) via Andrew Yang's executive plan for an "automatic sunset" provision for all legislation in his platform?
This is what Neoliberalism looks like. And it's not real progressives who are supporting it - we've been the only ones fighting against it.
Real progressives know that poverty is economic terrorism committed against those who've been deliberately prevented from being able to access resources necessary in order to live as human beings in society.
Welfare Reform stuck us with the punitive and stingy TANF program, a food stamp benefit that's been slashed to the bone and now finally removed as an entitlement by the Trump administration. Which is why a poor older woman on SSI, getting a mere $700/mo to survive on, gets only $10-$15 a month in SNAP benefits now. Food is no longer a human right that every American is entitled to, regardless of their "use" to the employer/rentier class.
The Walmart near my house on the poor side of a poor Rust Belt town sandwiched between the Midwest, Lake Erie, and the ass-end of Appalachia used to be open 24 hours. Now it closes before midnight in response to the sharp increase in food theft during late night hours when there's only a skeleton crew of workers on duty. This happened following Trump's cuts to food stamps and his removal of food as a human right - even for the jobless/unemployable poor - just to provide privileged people with a tax cut.
Make no mistake about it, Trump's tax cut bill was a Neoliberal Murder-By-Proxy bill aimed squarely at the weakest, poorest, least-employable Americans - a disproportionate percentage of whom are older women.
But the real crime is that he did not have to cut already miserly inadequate SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid benefits in order to give society's privileged more money. The way governments in developed countries like the US and virtually every other Western nation provision themselves and fund government expenditures is through monetary sovereignty and fiat currencies that the governments are the sole issues of. Welcome to Modern Monetary Theory 101, kids.
Here in the US, the government literally spends money into action via digital keystrokes. That's why Trump was able to give hundreds of billions to the military while also giving money to rich people via tax cuts. His cuts in food stamps and Medicaid were simply an act of cruelty for cruelty's sake. I would go so far as to call it what it really is: premeditated murder against the poor - i.e. genocide.
Trump and his "base" of 4-Chan dwelling misogynist techbros - many who've switched to Andrew Yang's camp, comprising the majority of Yang's "base" - have expressed nothing but contempt for poor disabled people, poor sex trafficking survivors, and poor women - especially poor older women who've outlived their "fuckability" shelf-life (and therefore don't deserve to live, according to them). Some have even said that women shouldn't even be allowed to have access to ANY money.
It was Neoliberalism's Welfare Reform that gave us SSI benefit level freezes and blanket denial policies which penalize poor married disabled people by forcing one of them to leave the marital home and get a divorce as a condition of getting a $700/mo SSI check when one (or both) has a disability, hurting those with disabilities who can't work but who didn't get a chance fo earn enough social security credits to qualify for SSDI before becoming disabled, or build enough credits to get any social security old age benefits.
Welfare Reform's attacks on the SSI program not only harmed the least employable among the disabled community, it also harmed (and is still harming) the majority of older women who were deprived of any and all opportunities for middle class jobs (due to discrimination) while still young and able-bodied. And it is overwhelmingly harming older women who were mostly housewives that cared for children and/or elderly and disabled family members and didn't get to build up any/enough social security old age (SSA) or disability (SSDI) credits of their own as a result.
Congress has the authority to decide whether or not to re-authorize Welfare Reform, which has already resulted in an untold number of deaths from abject poverty among the poorest of America's poor. Congress has re-authorized the draconian Welfare Reform multiple times ever since Welfare Refrom was passed in 1996. Why? Because Neoliberal propaganda made it cool to hurt and even kill the poor by convincing the public that the only "human rights" anyone deserves are those that an individual can personally afford, turning basic human rights (per the UN's UDHR) into privileges. And we all know who has the most privileges in this society, don't we? (HINT: "It's a big club and you and I are not in it." ~ George Carlin)
Starving poor jobless people and throwing them off of food stamps and Medicaid just to punish them for being poor and unemployed won't help poor people get jobs - you can't "just get a job" when no one is willing to hire you.
These Neoliberal Murder-By-Proxy measures will result in more deaths, lower life expectancy rates, more suffering and social misery, an increasingly lower quality of life, and much higher crime, homelessness, preventable disability, and human trafficking rates.
Real progressives support candidates with proven progressive track records of defending the poor even when doing so was unpopular. And many of us are also among the poorest of America's poor whom Scott Santens purports to "speak for."
Why should Scott Santens expect any real progressive to support a plan like Yang's UBI that does nothing to mitigate the injustice of generational poverty, systemic discrimination, involuntary unemployment and total social exclusion, when a Federal Jobs Guarantee (FJG) to living wage employment with great health benefits (via a real Medicare For All plan) created through the lens of Modern Monetary Theory is clearly the better deal?
Since the proposed FJG is 100% voluntary, no one would be forced to participate. But it is the only plan on offer that ensures that those of us in deep poverty who face multiple barriers to employment actually can have a job and be fully included in society - and earn a genuine above-poverty income that surpasses that of the UBI, which will lift us up out of deep poverty.
Nobody likes to be excluded and forced out onto society's margins. Being denied employment is exclusion. An inaccessible job market that results in many members of traditionally discriminated groups being denied of jobs is not only depriving a whole lot of people of access to incomes and resources necessary to be able to live as a full person in this society. It's also about the injustice of deliberate total social exclusion from all facets of society.
You cannot have a just and fair economy without inclusion. The UBI does not offer social cohesion, inclusion or even the equivalent of living wage level of income that makes having a chance at a better life a reality. But the FJG does. Inclusion matters.
Further, the UBI plan offers no real solution to prevent price-gouging for basic needs goods and services. Do you really think that landlords and the executives and shareholders of deregulated utility companies are going to refrain from jacking up prices once they see that everyone - including themselves - is getting that $1,000/mo UBI?
We already have a problem with Big Pharma price-gouging the public, resulting in countless deaths among the diabetic community alone. And no, these pharmaceutical companies touting their "patient assistance" programs have not ensured that those unable to afford their diabetes medications are getting helped in order to NOT die or end up suffering preventable amputations, blindness, and kidney failure.
History and my own real lived experience has taught me that the only thing that has stopped abusive and exploitative practices of wealthy powerful private interests is a government that steps in to protect the public. Wealthy private interests have proven time and time again that, when left to their own devices, they run roughshod over everyone else and feel entitled to do so. And no amount of "charity" from the rich makes up for that.
"They would not need our charity if we hadn't denied them justice." ~ Anonymous
"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King
And that is the reason for raising the taxes on the wealthy - not to pay for social programs for the poor. It is to restrict the amount of resource-hogging by the rich who monopolize non-replenishing resources and deny everyone else access to those resources (such as fresh water and arable land, to name two).
Taxing wealth is also to restrict the wealthy's ability to buy governments and essentially put the entire CIA in their back pocket (Jeff Bezos, anyone?) and restrict practices that inflict significant harm against a whole lot of vulnerable people - like human trafficking (Backpage, anyone?), and abusing the public's personal data (Facebook ring a bell here?).
So don't get it twisted.