I have been resisting writing this post for months. I kept telling myself Andrew Yang isn’t worth the trouble. But he keeps fooling too many. He distracts from important debate topics by smugly asserting nonsense. So, I can’t resist any longer.
Most people know the ever-increasing wealth gap between the rich and the poor in America is a huge, embarrassing problem. Demonstrating the stupidity of Yang’s ideas only requires us to agree on two things: anything that gives the wealthy more is stupid; anything that makes the rest of us pay more is stupid. With those agreements established, let’s look at Yang’s ideas.
Universal Basic Income
The idea of a universal basic income is a good one. Where Yang goes off the tracks is that he gives his monthly stipends to everyone. This means that Donald Trump, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos would all get an additional thousand a month from the taxpayers under Yang’s stupid idea. Meanwhile, the thousand a month would do little to lift those truly living in poverty out of poverty.
An intelligent universal basic income would establish an income level that is needed to provide a basic standard of living. It would then ensure the minimum wage provided that basic living. Benefit programs, like SSI and SSDI, would be reformed to provide this basic income.
Those changes would guarantee a basic income for every American, regardless of whether they were working or or needing government assistance. This plan would not give more government money to those who already get too much of it.
Yang trumpets the fear of automation. According to his terrified view of the world, robots are going to put most Americans out of work.
The problem with this silly argument is that technology has always changed what jobs are needed in the economy. There was once a time when the horse-drawn plow put many farm workers out of work. Obviously, the e economy found new ways to employ those workers and utilize their skills.
Trade policies written by corporations have done more to cost Americans jobs than automation. A lack of government investment so that corporations and the wealthy can possess greater wealth has cost more jobs than has automation. A lack of government investment has also led to Americans drinking toxic waste and riding on crumbling roads and bridges.
Any job losses created by automation would be more than compensated for by trade policies that respect labor as much as they respect capital. Any job losses created by automation would be more than compensated for by government policies that invested in America–not the wealthy.
Value Added Tax
During the debate, Yang raised the value added tax. He correctly said many other countries have a value added tax. What he apparently doesn’t know is that a value added tax is regressive. Anything purchased covered by the value added tax increases the cost of that item for anyone who purchases it.
Supporters of the value added tax tell us necessities including food and health care are exempted. That sounds better than it is in reality. What about shoes for your children to attend school? What about the car you need to go to work? Sure, the wealthy will pay the same tax on that car you would pay. But that only proves the flaw of the value added tax. It raises prices paid by all people–even those who truly can’t afford paying more.
Andrew Yang may like math. Andrew Yang may enjoy bragging about Andrew Yang’s intelligence. But Andrew Yang’s ideas are profoundly stupid. Sadly, their stupidity is what makes them harmful to those who have been convinced to believe Andrew Yang knows what he is talking about.