Andrew Yang is 43-year-old entrepreneur from New York. He runs a non-profit named Venture For America, which helps young people start their own businesses. His parents are Taiwanese immigrants who met while they were both attending graduate courses at Berkeley. I’m not going to cover his entire life story, but if you’re interested you should visit his Wikipedia page.
The real reason I am so interested in him is because he has announced his run for presidency in 2020. I was a bit skeptical of him before I looked into his policies. This had nothing to do with him personally, I had never heard of the guy. It had more to do with me being skeptical of almost anyone who wants to run for president, as most of them turn out to not have very many actual policy plans. Most are too full of clichés and platitudes to squeeze in any real policy, though to be sure, there are exceptions.
As I began to browse through his policies I became quite intrigued. Most notably for some will be his support for Universal Basic Income or UBI. He calls this ‘the Freedom Dividend’. This program would consist of giving every American from 18-64 $1000 a month. Yang’s website says that this will help people pay their bills, start their own companies, care for their children, etc. He argues that this will be necessary due to the growing level of automation.
I would disagree with him on this a bit, only because I think we should have a negative income tax, not UBI. I personally don’t see a point in giving people who are swimming in money an extra $1000 a month, but this is an argument we could have.
He also supports a single-payer health care system, either by expanding Medicare or creating a whole new system. This is something the US desperately needs. Lack of adequate healthcare is literally killing thousands of Americans each year. As a person who lives in a place with single-payer, it’s a world of difference. Not being scared to go to the doctor because it could put me in debt is a huge weight off my shoulders.
Another major policy he is in favor of is free, or nearly free, access to community college. This would be a great help in bridging the wealth gap and access to good paying jobs in America. I don’t think that all Americans need or even should go to college. Maybe it’s not the best path for some. But one’s financial background should not be a bar to education and a good salary.
I won’t go over the whole list of his policies because that would take far too long. But a few more of them are: paid family leave, a national holiday to pay income taxes, fixing student loan percentages, combating climate change, regaining net neutrality, legalization of cannabis, ending Citizens United, and the list goes on.
One policy of his that I saw that I was a bit suspicious about was Digital Social Credits (DSCs). the overarching idea of this program would be to create a parallel economy to our financial one which would essentially reward citizens for doing good things. For example, if you fix your neighbors toaster oven you could receive credits on an APP. You could collect these credits and later redeem them for some reward such as concert tickets, etc. He says that this will start as a federally controlled program then later be handed down to the local levels. I’m not totally on board with this as it could be used to smear people for what they do or don’t do in the community. I also am generally not in favor of the government watching over me all the time like I’m a toddler, even though I’m aware that the NSA probably knows what color underwear I have on right now. That being said there is potential for this program to have positive effects, so I guess I’d like to see him elaborate on the details of the program and debate the merits of it.
This is by no means a tacit endorsement of Mr. Yang. I think he has many good policies. Though, it is yet to be seen if he will stick by them or if he is a viable candidate. This being said, I am generally excited to see a prospective president who is this progressive. We may get another shot at Bernie, but this Yang will likely be around longer. In any case, I am heartened to see more candidates pressing for truly populist issues that will help the country grow and thrive.
I encourage everyone to go check out Yang’s website, especially his policy section (https://www.yang2020.com/policies), and determine for yourself what you think about his ideas. Also check out all of the candidates for not only the presidential race, but also your local and state elections. Americans need to get more involved with our political system if we ever want to truly see change. Do some research and call your representatives out when they don’t represent you.