Cedar Rapids had to adapt a new way of living after the flood of 2008; we lost our businesses and our homes. Some of us were able to recover our losses over time. Some of us weren’t able to bounce back and we’re still struggling to find our place in the workforce, buy our new home. Even worse, some of us are now part of the 11.4 percent of Cedar Rapids’ population living in poverty.
One out of 9 of our neighbors is in poverty and are unable to make ends meet. The Gazette brought attention to our poverty problem in July 2018 when it reported that 1 in 6 working Iowa households cannot obtain their basic needs. That means there is someone in your neighborhood who has a full-time job and they can’t afford to buy food and pay their bills at the same time.
Poverty is a serious concern for Cedar Rapids and if we found the transition period after the flood difficult to manage, think about what will happen when automation and artificial intelligence, or AI, takes over our manufacturing and retail jobs!
In Cedar Rapids, 16.2 percent of our working population holds a manufacturing job and 13.8 percent of us work in retail. We’re already experiencing self check out lanes at Walmart, touch screens at McDonalds, automated customer service representatives on the other end of our utilities and banking websites.
Automation and AI won’t stop and when it hits us full force, potentially 30 percent of our working citizens will face unemployment and our poverty rate will increase. If the thought of more neighbors falling victim to poverty isn’t enough to encourage you to get involved, what happens when “that neighbor” is you?
Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend ($1,000 a month for life, for every legal U.S. citizen, age 18 and older) is what will keep us Cedar Rapidians afloat and help eradicate poverty at its source. Based on our adult population, the Freedom Dividend will bring $93.1 million to our Cedar Rapids economy every month.
$1.117 billion represents the 93,000 adults who reside in Cedar Rapids and we’re worth every single dollar. The money starts in Cedar Rapids and we decide where it goes. Most of it will stay here when we go to the barber or get our nails done, sign up for dance lessons and sports teams, visit the dentist, get our next tattoo, send our kids to the public pools and dine at our favorite local restaurants.
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Yang is the only candidate using mathematical data as the foundation of his campaign. He has calculated exactly what it takes to fund the Freedom Dividend using a value added tax that targets the goods, services and companies that are currently threatening our ability to grow as a city: automation, AI, and soon, self driving semi-trucks.
The value added tax is feasible and coupled with the Freedom Dividend, it will go mostly unnoticed by us, the consumers, and is inescapable for the corporations. Yang’s Freedom Dividend is the only policy provided by any of the candidates that will have an immediate, positive impact on Cedar Rapids.
If you want Cedar Rapids to be a viable city of growth, caucus for Andrew Yang on February 3 2020.
Heather Mead lives in Cedar Rapids.