Andrew Yang and Universal Basic Income

We have a large rainstorm blowing through the area all day. So, it is a great time to simmer an all-day pasta sauce, exercise and read.

One book I recently read and enjoyed is Andrew Yang’s The War on Normal People. Here is how the book starts: “I am writing from inside the tech bubble to let you know that we are coming for your jobs.”

He uses a lot of data to articulate the following:

  • The median in America: a high school graduate making $26K a year and has almost no savings. This group is “the norm” in America, and they’re in a precarious position.
  • Most of the USA’s manufacturing job losses were due to automation, not foreign competition.
  • Many of those who lost their jobs didn’t recover. They simply dropped out of the workforce and applied for disability benefits. Or, they’re part of the gig economy, which is fiercely competitive and offers no benefits.
  • Technology will also affect industries that currently employ many blue-collar Americans (trucking, retail, food service, office admin. work). Driverless trucks, the shutting down of malls, fast-food kiosks, and the advent of exec. admin. bots will increase under-employment and unemployment.
  • All this will create even more social instability, creating significant economic costs to society.
  • A Universal Basic Income (UBI) is what is needed. Each adult should receive $1K a month from the government in exchange for giving up welfare or disability, if he/she already receives those payments. He argues that the amount will help curtail poverty but not create a disincentive to work. Examples: “oil dividend” payments to residents of Alaska and Norway.

 

I really enjoyed the book. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but the book raises many important questions.

I think the book’s hypothesis rests on one key assumption: Will new employment sources arise in time? People like Malthus and Marx long ago wrote that they would not. Wealth would become more concentrated, and resources would be limited. This would create dystopia.

However, they ended up being wrong: Labor productivity increased, and new industries emerged to replace the old. Hopefully, that will continue.

If you like data and want to understand better the future, read Andrew’s book. If you’re short on time, listen to him here. And, if you like what you hear, vote for him. He is running for President (more on his UBI plans here).

I stumbled upon the podcast and decided to read the book. I think both are intriguing and very thoughtful.

I hope you are riding out the storm. Thankfully, I was able to get outside yesterday for the morning and meet some new friends. Here’s one.

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