Yang2020: Humanity First
Mr. Yang, a self-made entrepreneur, appears to be a fresh face on the political scene. Only 44 years old, he is the founder of a training camp for startups called Venture for America. So far, as presidential candidate, he is best known for proposing a Universal Basic Income (UBI), a basic wage for all Americans of $1000 per month. The UBI proposal is already receiving rave reviews in townhalls and at rallies around the country as well as on social media. Here is why “Overcoming Scarcity” matters:
“If you have a scarcity of money or time or companionship or food it has the effect of lowering your rationality and IQ by thirteen points or one standard deviation. So if you have the sinking feeling that many of our fellow citizens are getting less reasonable and rational, we probably are because if you introduced pervasive financial insecurity into a population that’s what the studies show would happen and so it’s related to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but it’s also the scarcity research. And so it’s amazing what just taking the financial security off of someone’s mind will do for their outlook.” —Yang @ Revelstoke Coffee, Concord, NH
Although Andrew Yang’s showing at the debates and in mainstream media has been limited, his following is snow-balling due to the fact that so many citizens are tired of hearing cliches from professional politicians. Despite being a dark horse, however, Yang is upbeat about being able to meet all the other Democratic Party candidates, and he roots for their ideas as well, including ones from the well-developed platforms of Bernie Sanders, boldly progressive Elizabeth Warren, and buoyant outspoken Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
In the richest country, the poor often suffer from depression and low self-esteem. They are told they are underperforming because they are lazy, incompetent, or deadbeats. However the way Andrew Yang and other UBI endorsers see it, artificial intelligence is here to stay, and human workers will be downsized by the “4th Industrial Revolution” eventually, so why not offer them seed money to pursue their alternative life’s dreams?
Why UBI is needed
There is no beating about the bush that in a capitalist society having a little extra money on hand can make all the difference in the world for the have-nots. According to Andrew Yang, UBI (which he dubs the “Freedom Dividend”) can offset projected layoffs in a variety of service sectors due to increasing workplace automation. The 4th Industrial Revolution is causing the manufacturing sector to contract, but this is just the start. On the horizon are a variety of low-level white collar jobs including retail, realty, light industrial, clerical, accounting, transportation, healthcare, and even medical procedures. People are already seeing how automation is used to reduce the number of cashiers, force union workers to double their work load, and require professionals to take classes in robotics.
Either the robots are going to replace humans altogether (as in Stanley Kubrick’s A Space Odyssey movie) or humans must adjust to the new gig economy. As president, Mr. Yang will be able to move the powers-that-be to build the public and private investment needed. According to Yang, putting a value-added tax on consumer goods of various types will help pay for the 2 trillion dollar program every year. He is optimistic the program will pay for itself, too.
In an in-depth conversation with NPR, Yang explains how this type of a program will pay for itself by “supercharging” existing businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, the arts culture and more to become more creative and be able to afford risks. It will also contribute to the local tax base as people invent, build micro-businesses, and spend money locally:
“It would make us stronger, healthier, less stressed out, mentally healthier, would reduce domestic violence, reduce hospital visits, would dramatically increase the graduation rate, and many positive social indicators. But it’s not meant to be a full work replacement, and it’s certainly not meant to solve every problem. I will suggest though that if you extrapolate like what the second order effects are…If you take a town of 10,000 adults in Missouri and then they’re each getting 1000 bucks a month, that’s 10 million dollars in additional buying power every single month in that town which ends up going to things like car repairs, daycare, Little League sign ups, local nonprofits. And so then, if you’ve lost your truck driving job and you’re in that town, there’s a much greater chance that you can plug into existing opportunities because the local economy is much more robust.” –Yang @ NPR Morning Edition
At a townhall in Des Moines, IA, Yang also explained what a trickle-up economy would look like, where people could decide how to allocate their spending as opposed to being told what they need to do by social services, or law enforcement.
Millennials join Yang Gang
In his travels around the country, the ever-resourceful Yang has amassed a respectable following among the young including at prestigious universities. This makes sense in that VFA trainees are recruited from the most talented pool of potential entrepreneurs. Students and recent graduates and Gen Y who grew up using the internet and social media are also able to relate to the cross-cultural effects in creative organizing including Yang Gang, Nerds for Andrew Yang, Grassroots #YangGang, and volunteers who craft fun-loving cartoons and songs. Yang’s appeal undoubtedly has to do with his youth and experience in the gig-economy sectors, plus willingness to reach out to all kinds of people.
In Washington, D.C., the nation’s traditionalist center, at a Humanity First tour rally under Lincoln Memorial, there were a medley of local youthful supporters who spoke eloquently:
“The 9-5 lifetime careers of our grandparents are virtually non-existent in today’s America and many young individuals just like me now depend just not on those small jobs that might serve to cover some portion of our debts, rent, life expenses, but also on a whole host of contract and freelance work that can actually put bread on the table.” —Rachel Spellman
“This is a campaign of ideas. We are facing problems today that we have never faced before. Global climate change: that’s a real crisis. Automation is displacing millions of workers and it’s getting worse. But, and this has to be said: we’re still facing the same problems that we have always faced. Women, the LGBTQ community, racial minorities particularly our black and brown brothers and sisters have been fighting for basic rights for generations…And those problems are nefarious and pervasive and we need to be aware of those: equal pay, over-policing, and these are all points of the generational problems and with each generation we need our own new solutions, our new ideas.” —Dave Hahn
“As I launched my own startup, I struggled to make ends meet and provide for my family. I grew up as a first generation child from Myanmar, a country that was ruled by military dictatorship for decades. While I was building this company, I struggled and faced a lot of challenges that many Americans face today….My older brother and father were constantly unemployed due to health issues. As I struggled to get my startup off the ground, I realized just how difficult it was to concentrate while I was weighing all of these challenges that my family was facing. Meanwhile peers in the startup community were raising millions of venture capital funding at a time, casually.” —Colleen Wong
“From childhood things seemed pretty fair….Fast forward to flying the coop, transitioning to college where I got to meet a lot of different people and hear a lot of different opinions. And things seemed a little less fair. My undergraduate experience was riddled with bias, was riddled with prejudice, and was riddled with discrimination, unfortunately. I chose Andrew Yang because the guiding principle of his campaign is humanity first. Humanity First is what we need for America!“—Deisha Cole
The functional and real present includes that many younger people are working longer and harder than ever before just to make ends meet. More often they are foregoing attending live plays, special outings such as nature hikes, or investing in meaningful hobbies. A lot more time is spent developing labyrinthine applications which are increasingly layered and complex. Is the functional social safety net that will allow young people to enjoy the freedom of their forefathers now merely a pipe-dream?
Climate Change and more
As a matter of fact Yang2020.com spells out many additional policy proposals which crossover from left and right because they move us forward in a way Gen Y, ensconced in the gig economy, can envision. Yang supports easing the student loan debt trap, and a transformative society in which young people don’t have to go to college if they don’t want to. He supports a Medicare-for-all plan that places socialized pressure on efficiency and economy. The humanity-first agenda dovetails with the Freedom Dividend and will support more “farm to table” ecological enterprises, something that appeals to those living in rural communities.
Small farms, public-private partnerships, and better education will encourage the kind of organizing that helps citizens address the existential threat of climate change, Yang believes. Some interviewers have questioned Yang’s view on the environment given that he supports small nuclear reactor research at a time when nuclear waste is destroying the world’s oceans. Yang’s perspective is both personal (his father worked for GE in research) and pragmatic: our dependency on fossil fuels must be replaced somehow.
Many AAPI are throwing their enthusiasm, if not uncommitted support behind Andrew Yang and not just as an American Dream poster-child. The second-generation Taiwanese-American understands the immigrant experience and how badly things may be going for those who are stuck in detention camps. He has had to endure troll-like articles poking fun of him as a dumbed-down version of Trump; divisive criticism on how UBI will turn us into slaves of the super-rich; and even had “dollar bills” thrown at him by Vermin Supreme; all which he has weathered with his hearty laugh, buoyant come-back, and hale character.
The self-made entrepreneur has not done too badly in terms of fundraising but when queried by attorney John Zeitler and Morning Edition host Noel King on what he believes will happen if he is passed over for president, Yang dismissed the notion, stating that in any event, this still is about having a conversation with the American people. Having written books, started companies, now raising a family, economist-lawyer-presidential hopeful Andrew Yang has an almost Promethean optimism, something which this country badly needs. No matter which Democratic Party nominee wins, one can’t help considering Yang an excellent running mate, because no matter what, the odds appear unerringly in his favor.