Yang: Trump is symptom of the problems
GOFFSTOWN – Entrepreneur and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang discussed automation, Amazon and despair deaths on the rise during his Wednesday talk at Politics & Eggs, the popular series hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.
Yang also spoke of his now signature plan – to give each and every American $1,000 per month.
“I was getting all these accolades and awards for creating jobs around the country, but I had this sinking feeling,” said Yang, who attended Phillips Exeter Academy before heading to Brown University and Columbia School of Law. “I was blown away by the disparities between St. Louis and San Francisco, or Michigan and Manhattan, where if you fly a few time zones, you feel like you’re crossing decades or dimensions or ways of life.”
Yang spoke of why he believes President Donald Trump won the 2016 election, saying, “things didn’t add up.”
“We all have friends, family members, neighbors who celebrated that outcome,” he said. “But if you turn on cable news today, you can get a series of explanations as to why Donald Trump is our president. It would go something like, Russia, racism, Facebook, FBI, Hillary Clinton, email, all mixed together in some stew.”
Yang, who calls himself, “a numbers guy,” took Trump’s victory as a red flag. He said numbers explain the result.
“We automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa,” Yang said. “All the states he needed to win and did win.”
Yang also talked about the number of retain jobs lost, attributing much of the problem to Amazon.
“How much did Amazon pay in taxes last year?” he asked the room. “Zero. Twenty billion out, zero back.”
Yang, who peppered his speech with facts and humor, said software will replace live voices at the other end of the phone at call centers. He also listed truckers as the next to get cut. Yang said estimates show businesses can save $168 billion with self-driving trucks.
“Self-driving trucks are really bad with something called snow, something you New Englanders know something about,” he said. “That’s why the robot trucks are being tested in Arizona because there is no snow.”
Yang believes the solution to the automated trucking problem will be teleoperators who can take command of the vehicle. He said that amounts to 3.5 million American truckers and the 7 million Americans who work in truck stops, hotels and diners – those who rely on those truckers to get a meal or get some sleep.
“Donald Trump is not the cause of all our problems,” he said. “He is the symptom. He’s a manifestation. We’re in the third inning of the greatest economic transformation in the history of our country.”
This is why Yang said he entered the political fray.
“My first move in this was not to run for president,” admitted Yang.
Yang called manufacturing retraining programs “duds,” and added, “half of the manufacturing workers who lost their jobs never worked again, and of that group, half survived on disability.”
He also spoke about the surges in suicides and drug overdoses in those hardest-hit communities, as deaths of despair have overtaken vehicle deaths for the first time in American history.
“One person in D.C. brought me to you today,” he told the audience. “Andrew, you’re in the wrong town. No one here in D.C. will do anything about this set of problems because this is not a town of leaders – it’s a town of followers. And the only way that we will do anything about it if you create a wave in other parts of the country and bring that wave crashing down on our heads in D.C.”
“Challenge accepted – here I stand before you,” he said. “The wave is forming because Americans realize that we have bigger problems than just Donald Trump.”
Then there is the subject of Yang’s mission to give each American $1,000 per month.
“If you’re here in this room, you probably heard there’s this Asian man running for president who wants to give everyone $1,000 a month,” he said. “This is a deeply American idea imbedded in our history.”
Yang pointed out that Alaska has a dividend law, which the state funds via taxes on oil and natural gas.
“How many of you saw the study that our data is worth more than oil?” he asked. “How many of you remember getting your data check in the mail?”
Yang later admitted that being in New Hampshire makes him feel empowered.
“This is one of the only places that democracy actually functions the way it was intended,” he said. “That’s why I love being here. New Hampshire is the place where the future will be built.”