United States: Andrew Yang hits the stage at CNN Presidential Town Hall
Andrew Yang, the only Democrat presidential candidate to the US elections in 2020 announcing a basic income policy in his platform, has been on CNN Presidential Town Hall, solo featured on the latest 14th of April.
At this televised campaign event, Yang was clear about his intentions to help Americans transition through these present times of great transformation and uncertainty. Central to his campaign is the Freedom Dividend policy (unconditional 1000$/month for every adult starting at 18) which, according to him, will be a key policy to help people to retrain, gain other skills and stay active in entering this new age of automation. He points out other potential benefits to be gained from the Freedom Dividend, such as deep reduction of bureaucracy, paternalism in social services, stigma for beneficiaries and social security running costs. He also referred the increased leverage power accruing to individual workers and unions, if they had such a thing as the Freedom Dividend to fall back onto.
In the show, he was faced with most of the important questions asked to any presidential candidate, namely related to policies in economy, employment, health, education, housing, drug use and possession and gun control. The environment was, however, a clear absence in this CNN’s Town Hall show, which could be an indication of what really are the priorities in the minds of American people. Specifically, speaking about the employment issue, Yang was direct to say that “the goal should not be to save jobs, the goal should be to make our lives better”, which is very different from what other Democratic candidates (e.g.: Bernie Sanders) are saying (Federal Jobs Guarantee). Nevertheless, Andrew Yang is certain that the Freedom Dividend “does not solve all problems for all people, but it will move us in the right direction”.
Faced with the inevitable question on how to pay for the Freedom Dividend, Yang underlines the importance of “we have to go where the money is”. As an experienced entrepreneur, and specifically one related to technology, Yang has an idea about how much money tech giants (e.g.: Facebook, Uber, Google, Amazon) have, and how much they owe in federal taxes. So, according to him, effectively taxing these companies will make up for the most part of the Freedom Dividend cost, plus any savings possible from eliminating obsolete social benefit schemes (due to the implementation of the dividend).
He also attributes the rise of hate ideologies (e.g.: white supremacy) as a result of a dysfunctional economy, because poor, stressed people are easier to scare into these hateful discourses. Removing, therefore, “the economic boot off people’s throats” will definitely help diminish these polarizing hate agendas which, according to him “have no place in our society”. Yang also believes the Freedom Dividend will improve people’s chances of getting better housing conditions (although refers municipal intervention as important, in order to provide for affordable housing) and better school performance. On the latter, he cites research that says 75% of kid’s performance at school depends on non-school factors, among which one of the most important is economic condition. Hence, the Freedom Dividend can also help kids learn more, and better.
More information at:
André Coelho, “United States: Andrew Yang is not only talking about basic income: if elected, the idea is to implement it”, Basic Income News, 15th March 2019
Jason Burke Murphy, “Unites States: Andrew Yang reaches milestone: likely to be in a televised debate”, Basic Income News, 19th March 2019