The 2020 Democratic Primaries are heating up, as about 20 candidates (so far) compete to earn the Democratic nomination to face Donald Trump in the 2020 US Presidential Elections. It’s a huge number, up from just 6 in 2016, and Trump’s shock win in 2016 is partly the reason for this, as more people are starting to believe they can secure the presidency for themselves. There are many prominent candidates in the pool. Senator of Vermont, Bernie Sanders, who ran a close race, almost securing the Democratic nomination himself; Beto O’Rourke, member of the House of Representatives who narrowly lost to Ted Cruz in the race to become senator of Texas; and Kamala Harris, ex-Attorney General and now senator of California. But among the plethora of senators and politicians stands a man with a big vision for America: Andrew Yang. His main concern? That automation will cut millions of jobs, causing both economic ruin and social upheaval. But he’s no doomsayer, predicting that robots will cause the death of America. Rather than preach scarcity, the ex-entrepreneur offers a refreshing abundance mindset.
Instead of simply taxing the rich, he has another plan to help those who will be affected by automation. He is proposing a “Freedom Dividend”, a form of Universal Basic Income (UBI) where everyone from the age of 18 upwards, regardless of income level or employment, would receive $1000 a month, with no conditions. He claims that this open-handed policy will grow the economy by trillions of dollars, and put millions of people back into the workforce.
How is he going to pay for it you ask? A 10% value-added-tax (VAT) on tech companies such as Amazon, who are partially responsible for the rise in automation and the subsequent loss of jobs (it also helps that Amazon paid literally nothing in federal taxes last year). Even better, this won’t necessarily mean that tech companies will up and move to other countries as, simply, they don’t have many places to go. Most developed countries already have a VAT, specifically Europe, who has double the proposed VAT. As automation develops more and more, the VAT would become more and more important to ensuring the Freedom Dividend remains funded.
But Yang is no one-trick pony, solely riding on UBI to get in the White House. His campaign website has over a hundred policies, laying out plans from initiating American Journalism Fellows, to banning the penny (the 1 cent coin). He has some other unique and interesting policies as well, proposing an American Mall Act to provide $6 billion in funds to revitalise struggling malls, and making Tax Day (the day taxes are due every year) a federal public holiday, with celebrations and all. But apart from his novel and varied platform, the depth and comprehensiveness of his proposed policies must also be commended. Many of the aforementioned policies are backed up by legitimate research, have solid arguments backing them, and he makes clear his implementation processes which are realistic and do-able. On that merit alone, he punches way above his weight in actual policy making, being way more specific on the changes he wants to make than many of his fellow candidates.