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Ahead of the Curve

Exploring Universal Basic Income with 2020 Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang

Improving the lives of Americans through economic development

by Simone Spilka

December 17, 2018


In recent years, in a process known as tech automation, large companies have replaced Americans workers with technology that can complete tasks with less cost and more efficiency. Though this has been a bonus for tech companies, tech automation has led to mass unemployment and social upheaval for the American worker. How can we reverse this issue so that technological progress is no longer such a severe disadvantage to the average American?

This is a question crucial to entrepreneur and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who helped to grow the workforce in the parts of America that have not rightfully reaped the benefits of the entire country’s economic progress. In an intimate discussion at The Assemblage NoMad with World Technology Network CEO Jim Clark, Yang discusses his plan to improve the lives of Americans in the decades to come by developing the next level of economic and technology development that can still benefit the average American.

Hoping to develop a system in which the next level of economic and technology development in this country can still benefit the average American, Yang created The Freedom Dividend, a mandate to provide universal basic income of $1,000 a month to people aged 18-64 using funds which would come from the economic growth of data and technology companies in the United States. In this sense, Yang regards data as an asset that belongs to all Americans and from which all Americans should profit.

With the Freedom Dividend, Yang primarily hopes to change the cultural mindset of the American people today. “The scarcity mindset is winning in this country,” Yang states. When people believe they are in a dog-eat-dog world where everything is scarce, they make decisions out of fear rather than logic (this can be seen in the Trump voter areas where technological unemployment is at its peak). Yang believes Americans should instead adopt the mindset that they are citizens of the “richest, most advanced society,” and thus make decisions with that very optimism at heart.

Yang also hopes to “change the measurement stick” of a successful company so as to reward the companies that actually help the American people prosper in an accelerating society.

Yang’s clear articulation of the issue and solutions of tech automation proves that his progressive ideas of the future of American are not as far-fetched as the more conservative thinker may argue. He is one of many thought leaders that have been able to deconstruct a seemingly far reaching concept like universal basic income and confidently outline both its advantages and feasibility in society in need of innovative change.