One thousand dollars
Democrat Yang promotes monthly payments for every American
NASHUA – When asked why President Donald Trump won the 2016 general election, many Democrats are likely to reply with answers such as “racism” or “Russian hackers.”
Andrew Yang, himself an Asian-American, has a much different take. The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate believes voters in “battleground states” across the Midwest simply got tired of losing their jobs.
“Our politicians are ignoring the reason why Donald Trump is president today. The reason why Donald Trump is our president is that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa – all of the swing states he needed to win,” Yang said during a Wednesday interview at The Telegraph’s Nashua office.
Yang fears computers, robots and machines are going to continue displacing human workers in virtually every sector of the economy, leaving many without viable employment options.
“And now we are about to do the same thing to millions of retail jobs, call center jobs, fast food jobs, truck driving jobs, and on and on through the economy,” Yang continued with his comments about automation.
Because he believes technological advances are hurting the average American’s ability to support him or herself, Yang proposes what he terms a “freedom dividend,” which would result in a monthly payment of $1,000 to every American. He would fund this via a planned new 10 percent value-added tax, which is a tax on the goods or services businesses produce.
Yang claims his plan, which some refer to as universal basic income, would help generate $8 billion worth of economic activity in New Hampshire each year.
“It is a deeply American idea,” he said.
Many of the problems Yang identifies are similar to those fellow Democratic candidate John Delaney discussed with The Telegraph in January. Delaney cites a study showing by the year 2030, more than 20 million current U.S. jobs will be eliminated or significantly changed because of computers, robots and machines.
Instances of this are already visible in the forms of driverless vehicles, self-checkouts at big box stores, ATMs, and self-order kiosks at restaurants. Yang said this is only the beginning, as he said the nation is on the verge of “the greatest economic and technological transformation in our history.”
“This is disastrous, particularly for rural areas because a lot of the vitality is getting sucked out of these communities,” Yang said.
Yang said one example of how bad things could get for some involves driverless commercial trucks. He said within a decade or so, there will not be many humans driving 18-wheelers along the nation’s highways.
“Driving a truck is the most common job in 29 states in our country,” he said. “When the trucks can drive themselves in 10 years, what are these hundreds of thousands of truckers going to do?”
“The benefits of advancement and technology are going to go to a smaller and smaller group of individuals,” Yang predicts. “The winner-take-all economy ends up drawing vitality out of states like New Hampshire.”
Yang’s plan to mitigate the problems is to provide $1,000 per month to every adult in America. He said there is already a model for creating such a plan in Alaska, a state that now pays each of its residents about $2,000 per year.
Alaska, America’s largest state in terms of land area, uses oil revenue to fund its payments.
“Technology is the oil of the 21st century,” Yang said.
On his website, Yang estimates his 10 percent value-added tax could generate as much as “$800 billion in new revenue.”
While numerous details regarding the practical application of the $1,000 payments would need to be resolved, one potential drawback to such a plan would seem to be that is could cause inflation. For example, if a landlord knows his or her tenants are getting $1,000 more each month, they would likely raise the person’s rent.
Yang does not see this as a problem.
“If a landlord would start gouging you too badly, then you would look at your friends and say, ‘Hey guys – why don’t we come together and go get a fixer-upper instead of letting this landlord stick it to us,'” Yang said.
The 1992 graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy said he knows a strong performance in New Hampshire is vital to his presidential hopes. As soon as Yang left The Telegraph office, he walked up Main Street to meet with local Democrats at the Riverwalk Cafe & Music Bar.
“We need to wake up to the reality that this is happening and do something about it,” he added. “That is why I’m running for president.”