When you’re one of two dozen candidates trying to elbow your way into the public consciousness, you need a “hook.” That is, something that will “catch” the public’s attention. Andrew Yang seems to be putting his chips on the “Universal Basic Income,” and Yang has been all over the media—right and left—talking about it. Likewise, even rightwing media are talking about him. He calls it a “Freedom Dividend.”

Breitbart loved that Yang has tried to turn Dems away from considering Trump supporters as “deplorables.”

Speaking at a raucous Lincoln Memorial rally in Washington, DC, Yang asked the crowd what the mainstream media often say when asked about how Trump won in 2016.

After the crowd answered “Russia,” Yang asked, “What is number two?”

“Racism, that’d be number two. Sexism, Facebook, FBI,” he said. “These are the explanations we are getting, but I looked at the numbers.”

Yang then said, “if you look at the numbers, you see there is a straight line up between the adoption of industrial robots in a voting district and the movement to Donald Trump.”

“The reason he is our president today is we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa—all of the swing states he needed to win and did win,” Yang continued.

Yang says Trump is trying to demonize immigrants, but immigrants are not the ones taking our jobs. Likewise, neither is moving off-shore. He says the real job-wrecker is automation and artificial intelligence. And he says he wants to be the opposite of Trump, that is, to be the Yang to the Yin that is Trump.

Yang, who said a lot of working-class Trump supporters have told him on the trail that they are open to his candidacy, said he “wants to do the opposite of Donald Trump” and “accelerate our economy and society.”

“I want to prepare us for the true challenges of the 21st century, and I’m the right man for the job because the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math,” Yang said, concluding with what is becoming one of his signature applause lines on the stump.

Breitbart also quotes Yang as saying there are other possible benefits.

“It helps give tens of millions of Americans a real path forward,” he explained on CNN’s “New Day.” “The thing that excites me the most is you can see that it would improve people’s health, nutrition, it would elevate graduation rates, it would improve people’s mental health. But it’d help people make transitions in a time of historic change.”

He added, “[W]e need to make this kind of move because if you have things like artificial intelligence. Right now, our income tax system will do a very, very poor job of getting some of those resources in the hands of the American people.”

Considering that machines will be doing so much of our work, and building wealth, through increased productivity, where will our money come from? One solution is an income guaranteed by the government, also as noted by Breitbart quoting Yang as saying it would solve a lot of our problems.

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s campaign is arguing that his $1,000/month “freedom dividend” could reduce mass shootings and even lessen antisemitism. . .

Last week after the Virginia Beach shootings, Yang said that it is “very possible” that a “disgruntled employee would respond less violently if he was going home to a secure financial future,” adding that Universal Basic Income (UBI) “would save lives.”

While speaking to Bill Maher Yang also portrayed himself as the opposite of Trump by saying he’s for “Trickle UP Economics.”

He says it does us no good to stuff more cash in the pockets of rich people, but if we put money into the pockets of poor and middle-income people, they have no option but to spend it on the housing they’re about to lose, food for their children, and other necessities.

The “UBI” (Universal Basic Income) or “Freedom Bonus” is not a new idea. Back in the 1970s, none other than Richard Nixon promoted a “Guaranteed Annual Income,” and even got it passed in the House.

Still sound like a wacky leftist scheme? Well, not if you listen to Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who studied the plan, which had several trial runs. Contrary to its critics, the plan does not reduce the work ethic.

Pilot programs testing the effects and feasibility of the concept are now underway in places more friendly to the idea: California, Finland, and Canada, for example. But these are not UBI’s first field experiments. The US government tested similar income plans five times, beginning in the late 1960s—and the administrator that oversaw the first of these experiments was none other than the Republican veteran Donald Rumsfeld, as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity under US president Richard Nixon.

Rumsfeld [and] Dick Cheney. . .Together they supervised the New Jersey Graduated Income Work Experiment, which ran from 1968 to 1971,

The much-cited New Jersey project involved more than 1,300 families. . . They found that federal payments did little to discourage breadwinners in the families from working: The men who were given a basic income worked one hour less per week, while women reduced their work week by five hours. Mothers in the program spent more time with their children, whose performance at school improved. . . The same study was replicated in Gary, Indiana, as well as Seattle and Denver, and all offered evidence that a guaranteed income’s effect on work ethic was “nil.”

We have quoted Breitbart several times, above. Axios says the fringe right are all abuzz, with many more mentions in rightwing media, such as 4Chan and 8Chan. Is it to build him up, the way the GOP pushed McGovern in 1972?

Longshot Democratic candidate Andrew Yang has also emerged as a popular subject among fringe conservatives, mainly because of his universal basic income platform that he’s created in response to the threat of automation on the workforce and jobs.

Storyful journalist and analyst Kelly Jones says. . . That a possible reason is that fringe right communities try to elevate or highlight Democrats with no shot in an attempt to splinter the Democratic Party, and make it harder for one candidate to emerge strong enough to take on Trump.

In an earlier article, we noted that FiveThirtyEight said Tulsi Gabbard “could win” the nomination. They are saying the same thing now about Yang.

Yang is the only 2020 candidate thus far to put a universal income front and center, and his campaign says it’s been key to attracting support. . .

Yang’s strongest constituencies might be Millennials and Hispanic and Asian voters.

As with Gabbard, the thrust of the article is really that it will be unlikely for Yang to win, largely because they’re fighting against another businessman who had no political experience.

In this article, we have focused on the UBI because, frankly, so has Yang. But if you want more details on where Yang stands on other matters, check out On-The-Issues.

Yang has other issues, such as lowering the voting age to 16, and his foreign policy statements are covered by RealClearPolitics but the bottom line is that Yang is promoting himself as the Anti-Trump. . .that is, the “Yang” to the “Yin” that is Donald J. Trump.

8 COMMENTS

  1. He says it does us no good to stuff more cash in the pockets of rich people, but if we put money into the pockets of poor and middle-income people, they have no option but to spend it on the housing they’re about to lose, food for their children, and other necessities.

    This article mentions the threat of automation and AI to future workforces and rightly so. Without a doubt some less educated individuals will be displaced by automation. But hasn’t this type of thing happened throughout history. A bright idea by someone displaced many, take the industrial revolution how many farmers had to go into cities to work? All through time man has adapted to every change and I can’t see why they can’t adapt now.?

    I suppose kids it is time to start hitting the books in the STEM subjects and forget the idea of getting a useless degree in 18th century French Literature.?

    • Actually, understanding 18th century French literature is one of the few things that automation can’t touch! Even journalism is under threat.

      • You are correct that is if you can get a job as a professor or the like. But what if you fall through the cracks and don’t get such a job, unfortunately you will be burdened by a mountain of student debt with no practical experience in the world.?

      • I believe the “18th century” comment meant that many should focus their education on robotics or the trades?

        • Probably, but there’s a difference between saying, “you should do this,” and “you should not do that.”

  2. So many holes in Yang’s policies for me. Examples: 1. The economy is already booming enough. No one wants Yang’s supposedly “accelerate” economy to bust. 2. Giving people money has never been the solution. It only creates other problems. Anyone who is going to harm someone isn’t going to use the money for something good but to buy more guns/drugs/etc.

    Yang is living in today’s reality. It is a hateful mean world. Sorry Yang but your living in the US. Not some Asian idealistic country that exists only in your mind.

    • I don’t think the problem with UBI is that poor people are lazy (they are not–I live among them). And it’s not that having a base will cause people to stop working. I’m on Social Security, and I have never worked harder in my life. The security of a basic income allows one to be more adventurous. The poor people I know are hard working and imaginative–they have to be to survive. People who scream about “lazy poor people” simply do not know any poor people, personally.

      The problem with UBI, as I see it, is that since poor and middle income people will have more money, landlords will raise rents and corporations will raise prices–because they can. So the money will be sucked up by the same people who have most of the money now. I don’t know how one could keep this from happening.

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