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United States: Andrew Yang is not only talking about basic income: if elected, the idea is to implement it

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 290 articles.

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

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

8 comments

  • Brian

    Not well thought out which translates to downright scary.

    • Andre Coelho

      Dear Brian,

      Maybe you can contact Andrew Yang directly, and ask him (directly) any questions you see fit.

      Best regards,

      André

  • If the FED can roll off $50 billion a month in Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, we can afford UBI.

  • Clive Hopper

    Like many other people, despite having qualifications in different spheres of work I have had to undergo the demeaning process of signing on and applying for benefits on many occasions before I retired, UBI time has come to free everyone up to have a really flexible working life without always worrying about basic needs.

  • Alex Raskop

    I don’t understand your interpretation of Yang’s plan to fund his plan. Isn’t VAT paid (mostly) by consumers? How would this translate to “tech giants” contributing to a UBI? What am I missing?

    • Andre Coelho

      Dear Alex,

      Since a lot of income is accruing to tech giants, out of selling technology and publicity, their tax money can be used to fund a kind of basic income. Yang reasons that tech giants should be targeted first, since they are the main responsibles for the jobs “wipeout” wave coming across the world.

      Best regards,

    • Alex Raskop

      Andre, thanks for replying my comment. However, that does not answer my question. Tech giants are notorious for not paying a fair share of taxes on their profits and Yang is a tech entrepreneur. He has a vested interest in lowering taxes for tech companies further. Again, VAT is paid by consumers or maybe companies that have to purchase a lot of materials for their products- not tech companies. Please look at his policy proposals very closely, not all taxes burden the rich. I believe Yang’s campaign is a Trojan horse to de-couple tech giants from social responsibility.

  • Martin

    Yeah it is all a matter of will bone. We do not freak out at the 100’s thousands UBI we give to Israel every day nor the 20 trillion lost evaporated missing un-accounted for by the Pentagon and trillions more spent every years to give hands outs to the weapons manufacturers. Nor the fact at the millions given via not only tax evasion for the corporations and then if that was not a slap in the face enough the IRS actually gave them tax refunds in the millions too !!!

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