Andrew Yang noted during his opening statement at Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate in Detroit that the “talking heads ” (CNN news people) paid more attention to the fact that unlike the other male candidates on stage, he wasn’t wearing a necktie. Instead, news pundits ignored his warning that job automation was rapidly replacing human workers.
“If you go to a factory here in Michigan, you will not find wall-to-wall immigrants,” said Yang, a 44-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist. “You will find wall-to-wall robots and machines.”
The McKinsey Global Institute reported that automation would eliminate
73 million U.S. jobs by 2030. We are already beginning to see self-driving cars and trucks, automated customer-service software and robots that man assembly lines.
Some, including the McKinsey report’s author, argue that Yang’s concerns about automation taking jobs away from humans is overstated.
Yang’s solution to automation taking jobs is Universal Basic Income, which guarantees that every person receive an income regardless of their circumstances. This would age, wealth, job status, hometown and family size.
In Stockton, California, a formerly bankrupt city led by African-American Mayor Michael Tubbs, is expected to launch an experiment of giving $500 per month to 100 residents regardless of their economic circumstances.
Universal Basic Income is seen as a solution to reducing poverty. Stockton is a city of more than 300,000, and more than one in four people live in poverty. Similar programs have been launched in Finland, Italy, Uganda, Cambodia and India.
Yang, however, wants to pay every U.S. citizen between the ages of 18 and 64 $12,000 annually, or $1,000 a month.
Yang would pay for Universal Basic Income by eliminating disability, food stamps and unemployment insurance.
Citizens 65 years old and older would keep those social services. Yang’s plan would cost $2.4 trillion per year, which some argue the country can’t afford, although behemoths like Amazon pay no federal taxes.
Yang’s idea is not popular. Just 26% or approximately 1 in 4 Americans support the idea.