By ARUSH MEHROTRA
Andrew Yang, a name that has almost become synonymous with free money, is one of the most interesting candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Yang, an entrepreneur and founder of the non-profit organization Venture For America, has taken the Internet and country by storm.
Unlike many of the Democratic candidates, Yang is not a politician, nor does he have any involvement with the politics and lobbying that has undermined the very basis of democracy in America. He seems to care about only one thing: putting humanity first.
Yang’s main policy that put him on the national stage was to implement what he calls the Freedom Dividend. This Freedom Dividend is a form of universal basic income that guarantees $1,000 a month to every American adult over the age of 18. While at first glance, this idea seems too good to be true, Yang, being a businessman, has the numbers to prove that this policy is not only feasible, but essential for America’s future.
The money to fund the Freedom Divided would come from four sources: current spending, a value-added tax (VAT), new revenue, and taxes on top earners and pollution. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, the United States spends close to $1 trillion dollars on welfare programs.
With the implementation of the Freedom Dividend, government spending would be reduced, as people would have to choose between $1,000 a month and the pre-existing government benefits from these welfare programs. A value-added tax (VAT), which is present in 160 out of the 193 countries in the world, at even half of the European level would generate $800 billion in new revenue.
According to the Roosevelt Institute, new revenue (another $800 billion, to be precise) would be generated given the fact that with $1,000 a month, American consumers are likely to spend more, leading to overall growth in the economy.
Finally, implementing something similar to a carbon tax would make corporations think twice before deciding to build another factory or another oil rig, and would also provide the last bit of revenue needed to implement the Freedom Dividend.
Yang claims the Freedom Dividend is necessary if America wants to survive, as the world is undergoing one of the greatest technological shifts it has ever seen. With this rise in technology and automation comes a loss in jobs, as robots and artificial intelligence are able to perform many of the same tasks as humans at a much more efficient rate. But just how many jobs will be affected?
According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute, automation could eliminate as many as 73 million U.S. jobs by 2030. Yang believes the best way to combat this so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is by implementing a universal basic income, the Freedom Dividend, which would guarantee that all Americans benefit from automation, rather than just the powerful tech companies that populate Silicon Valley.
So does Yang have what it takes to beat Trump? Currently, Yang is polling at around 3% nationally among the other Democratic hopefuls, but Yang is one of only two Democratic candidates that more than 10% of Trump supporters support. Given that the Democrats want someone who can beat Trump in the general elections, this may play to Yang’s advantage.
However, one problem facing Yang is his lack of news coverage. Despite the fact that he’s polling 6th in most national polls, Yang is 11th in news coverage. Although Yang may not have the mainstream media presence that other candidates might, he is very popular on the Internet given the unique demographic of his supporters.
The Yang Gang, supporters of Yang, can be found seemingly everywhere on the Internet, particularly in the comments of YouTube videos. The reason for this derives from the fact that Yang appeals to young voters given his involvement with Venture For America, which helps recent college graduates develop startups.
With all this support, Yang raised $9.9 million in the third quarter and is continually receiving more support. For example, a new super political action committee (PAC) run by Democrat Will Hailer, a former Senior Advisor for the Democratic National Committee, is planning to spend over $1 million to back Yang, which bodes well for his campaign.
Make America Think Harder. That’s Yang’s campaign goal and it seems that with every appearance he makes on the debate stage, more and more Americans are thinking harder about the problems and issues that threaten America’s democracy.