UBI is Social Security for the 21st century. Andrew Yang's plan would help Americans.

Universal basic income” provides a floor under which no one can fall. It is not a handout to poor people, or to those who barely eke out a living, but a share in the prosperity this country has achieved by dint of the contributions of a vast majority of the people.

Only 4 in 10 Americans could cover a $1,000 unplanned expense, so a monthly payment of $1,000 as proposed by candidate Andrew Yang would go a long way in relieving the precariousness of their situation.

It is also worth noting that $250 a week is the amount the United Auto Workers is paying its members who are striking against General Motors Co. demanding to share in the profits GM generated after the workers’ sacrifices in the bailout.

The argument for an earned income tax credit assumes that the recipient is working at a job earning an income. This ignores the fact that the pace of automation is rapidly increasing, threatening not only manufacturing jobs where robots are ubiquitous on factory floors, but also industries associated with driving, the food service industry, retail sales workers, those who work in warehouses and call centers, and all other jobs that are repetitive, including accountants and lawyers.

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More important, unlike the EITC, UBI makes funds available to categories of people who do not earn income — for example abused women who cannot leave their abusers, newly released felons and transitioned foster youths whose job opportunities are very limited, as well as those who take risks such as artists and putative entrepreneurs.

UBI is Social Security for the 21st century, based on the dividends that accrue to Americans because of their everyday contributions as workers, consumers, caregivers and volunteers — not to mention the indispensable part they play in the extraordinary revenue that’s generated by Silicon Valley moguls.

Gisèle Huff is president of The Gerald Huff Fund for Humanity.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2020: Andrew Yang's UBI plan is Social Security for the 21st century