Andrew Yang. Picture credit to: The Daily Beast

Few political analysts bear to take Andrew Yang presidential candidacy seriously, but that doesn’t seem to slow him down. Yang’s team (informally also called “Yang’s gang”) has already surpassed a 14000 donors mark, and has active members in more than 35 states.

From previous articles, and from several interviews, it is clear that at the core of Yang’s motivation for running for President is the understanding of two things: automation is upon us (sure to wipe out millions of jobs in the next few years) and present-day economy is just not working for the average human anymore. He has already said that, according to him, Trump won the 2016 elections due to automation taking away four million jobs in swing states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri and Iowa.

Some might say the replacement of human labour by machines is a terrifying perspective, but these dire predictions can only materialize if the social structure still demands income from jobs to assure survival. And then others criticize the basic income proposal as “socialist” – which has a very negative connotation in the USA – as if somehow the implementation of that particular policy would turn contemporary USA into mid-XXth century USSR. On that issue, Yang simply replies that “this is capitalism where income doesn’t start at zero”.

Naturally that Yang is frequently asked the million-dollar question of how is he thinking to pay for a basic income in the USA (he proposes a 1000 $/month for every adult citizen, no questions asked). To him, the answer seems straightforward: make tech giants pay value-added taxes (since these are the main movers behind the great automation wave), and savings on conditional benefits (which can be replaced by the unconditional stipend). Yang envisions basic income to be implemented as a Negative Income Tax (NIT) policy, in which the state would, in each yearly tax exercise, consider the full amount of owed taxes versus basic income, and determine how much each adult citizen would pay or receive under a NIT system.

That and a lot more Yang spoke about at this year’s SXSW Conference, where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has also been present (on another of the Conference’s sessions).

More information at:

David Smith, “Andrew Yang: the 2020 candidate warning of the rise of robots”, The Guardian, 24th February 2019

Daniele Fabri, “USA: Presidential Hopeful Andrew Yang speaks at the Register’s Political Soapbox”, October 6th 2018

Jacob Banas, “How universal basic income could be affordable, Andrew Yang explains”, Futurism, March 10th 2019

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 367 articles.

Activist. Engineer. Musician. For the more beautiful world our hearts know it's possible.