Let’s Invest In Being Happier

US Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang wants to rescue society by giving everybody a $10,000 guaranteed income. By coincidence, I was given £10,000 last month – and it’s already transforming my life.

Coins sprouting green shoots
Image: Nattanan Kanchanaprat/Pixabay

TODAY, I’M SEEING my psychotherapist for the first time in three months – and at last I have some good news to give him.

In fact, I hope he will still recognise me, because a lot has changed since we last met.

Back in the summer, I was a cynical, depressed, old guy who felt trapped in his long-time role as a House Husband and Teaching Assistant.

But now, I feel younger and more hopeful.

I am – at last – making realistic plans about how I can change my life, and am putting them into practice.

I sense that I might return to work, and again reap the benefits – financial, social and emotional – that come with doing a job I like.

And, as a result, I feel suddenly, giddily, happy.

All at once, I am grateful for myriad things: from the beauty of this morning’s sunrise to the autumn splendour of the trees at the top of my road.

I am even pleased that today is Monday, because Monday is the day my favourite podcasts come out.

And what has made the difference to me is – more or less – money.

Last month, I ran out of savings and was starting to panic that I would have to go back to the sapping school job that I’ve been doing for the last eight years.
 
I’ve had breakdowns before at this time of year because I’ve felt so trapped by my lack of options, just as the days are getting gloomy, short and dark.
 
But this year, I was blessed to come into £10,000 – just at the perfect time – and am already using it to give me and my family a better future.
 
I wrote last month about US Democrat Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend idea – under which every American would be given a no-questions-asked $10,000 a year, funded by a VAT-style charge on Amazon et al.
 
Yang claims that putting such a sum directly into consumers’ hands “would be an enormous catalyst to entrepreneurship, arts, creativity, nurturing, caregiving”.
 
“Putting money into people’s hands doesn’t just help the individuals,” he adds. “(It) supercharges the local businesses, it supercharges the local non-profits, it supercharges the volunteer organisations.”
 
Some opponents of the Freedom Dividend say that many people would simply waste the money on booze and drugs.
 
But that’s not what I’m doing with my money.
 
In fact, I’m getting creative in the way that Yang said people would, if we also had access to an extra 10K.
 
Yesterday, I paid to enrol on four part-time college courses that, together, will update my tech skills enough for me to re-enter meaningful work.
 
And, assuming it all goes to plan, my being meaningfully employed will help boost the economy, secure my family’s future, and give me a sense of fulfilment at long last.
 
But, financially secure as my family is compared to many that we know, such a step just wouldn’t have been possible before the money dropped into my lap.
 
Last month, I quoted Yang as saying that giving people a guaranteed income “gets the boot off of people’s throats” when their futures are being threatened by robots, zero hours contracts, and giant, tax-avoiding, corporations. 
 
He says it would give us a chance to take stock and think about what we want to do in the future – when, because of automation, there are suddenly no jobs in key industries like lorry driving or call centres.
 
And perhaps we might want to create and reward new kinds of careers in caring for other people, looking after the environment, or making more art and music?
 
For me, the beauty of Yang’s 10K plan is that it works on both an individual and societal level.
 
If I have a chink of light in my life because of my windfall, think what a Freedom Dividend could do for working people on the Poverty Line – those who have no current prospect of finding the time or money to retrain in something better.
 
Think of all the individuals whose lives could be better and more hopeful, once the boot was off their throats.
 
Imagine a whole society that was as happy and hopeful as I am at the moment…

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