The Democratic primary is going to be a circus, and Andrew Yang is the latest to step out of the Dems’ tiny clown car.

Yang, one of a seemingly endless line of hopefuls in the 2020 primary for the presidency, is floating some … progressive ideals.

Yang said in a recent op-ed that President Donald Trump was elected because we are losing manufacturing jobs, and Trump spoke directly to the fear and anger of Midwest voters, promising to restore those lost jobs, a promise he has failed to deliver on, Yang claims.

Where Trump went wrong and has misled Midwest voters, Yang says, is those jobs are never coming back because they’ve been lost to automation — not immigrants.

Per Yang’s op-ed on CNN:

But what happened to manufacturing workers will soon happen to retail workers, call center workers, fast food workers, truck drivers and others, as the next Industrial Revolution takes hold of our economy. Bain, a leading consulting firm, projects automation will disrupt jobs at about three times the rate of the Second Industrial Revolution, which sparked thousands of strikes and mass riots at the turn of the 20th century.

If you doubt that this is already happening, consider that America’s labor participation rate (the ratio of people who are working compared to the total population aged 16 and over) today has fallen to 63%, about the same level as Ecuador and Costa Rica. In the US, almost one out of five prime, working age men have not worked in the past year, and our life expectancy has declined for the past three years, in part due to surges in drug overdoses and suicides. This is before a projected 33% of American malls and retail stores may be forced to shutter their doors, and it might not be long before truck drivers are replaced with self-driving trucks.

The challenge for the Democratic Party is to solve the problems that got Trump elected. However, when I went to Washington in 2017 to meet with lawmakers on this issue, no one wanted to touch automation and the changing state of our economy.

Yang, a former lawyer turned entrepreneur, went on to say “we are undergoing the greatest economic transformation in our history, and we are dealing with it by pretending nothing is happening.”

To get in front of this economic transformation, Yang has a plan consisting of three major pillars, and the first one is a doozy: $1,000-a-month universal basic income for adults 18 and up — paid for by big tech companies like Amazon and Google, who are leading the automation and AI revolution. Such a move would no doubt send the tech giants’ stocks tumbling, hurting all investors and 401(k) holders.

First, I would offer a freedom dividend — or a universal basic income of $1,000 a month for every American adult starting at the age of 18. Thomas Paine, Martin Luther King Jr. and Milton Friedman were all for this idea. This would create over two million new jobs and ease the transition of an evolving economy for tens of millions of Americans. It would be paid for by a new tax that falls most heavily on the big winners of artificial intelligence and robotics, such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Uber.

Second, I would introduce Medicare for All. We must separate access to quality health care from one’s employment — especially given that 94% of new jobs created from 2005 to 2015 were temporary, contract, freelance and gig-economy jobs that do not necessarily include quality benefits. This would free up many Americans to pursue different opportunities and ensure those who are already employed under these increasingly common arrangements access to health insurance.

Third, I would encourage a human-centered capitalism. What good is a high GDP if some, or even many, Americans are left behind? We should instead measure our progress through our average health, childhood success, mental health, environmental quality, affordability and other metrics that would actually tell us how people are doing.

In other words, we need to build a trickle-up economy from our people, families and communities up. This is the only way to create a path to prosperity for most Americans during a time of unprecedented technological change.

This may seem like science fiction to you. But you are reading this on a supercomputer, Trump is our President and your local mall might have just closed. We are living in unprecedented times and must rise to these 21st century challenges.

Yang has been endorsed by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and … eccentric actor Nicolas Cage. On top of a universal income, Yang also supports Medicare for All and wants to decriminalize opioids like heroine.

Axios put together a convenient list of Yang’s stance on key issues:

  • Universal basic income: Yang’s proposal — “The Freedom Dividend” — would provide every American over 18 years old with $1,000 per month. He contends that this would grow the economy by 13 percent and increase the labor force by 4.5-5 million people. This policy stems from his belief that AI and automation will wipe out millions of jobs, and that UBI is the path to avoiding economic ruin.
  • Medicare for All: Yang advocates for a single-payer health care system.
  • Economy: Yang calls his economic philosophy “human-centered capitalism,” advocating for a system that emphasizes metrics that measure “human well-being and fulfillment,” such as standard of living, health-adjusted life expectancy, childhood success rate and social and economic mobility. He described his plans as a “vision for a trickle-up economy” on ABC’s This Week.
  • Marijuana legalization: Yang pledged to legalize marijuana and pardon all non-violent drug related offenses, then later clarified in an interview with George Stephanopoulos that he would only pardon marijuana-related offenses. Yang said he would still decriminalize opioids.
  • Social media: Yang has proposed a federal department to oversee social media, citing “a huge surge in depression, anxiety, and emotional issues” on ABC’s This Week. He described it as “a Department of the Attention Economy.”
  • Circumcision: In March, Yang came out against circumcision, telling the Daily Beast: “I’m highly aligned with the intactivists. History will prove them even more correct. From what I’ve seen, the evidence on it being a positive health choice for the infant is quite shaky.”

1 fun thing about Andrew Yang:

  • He says he rebranded universal basic income to the “Freedom Dividend” because it tests better with conservatives.

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