We very much like what Andrew Yang is adding to the race for the Democratic nomination for president.
What he’s adding is a serious focus on economics and the future of our nation’s work force.
There are a number of topics being bandied about by the various Democratic hopefuls — climate change, universal health care, free college tuition, decriminalizing border crossings, etc. — but most are philosophical exercises rather than legitimate policy proposals.
For example, almost none of the candidates can come up with a working compromise on health care. Sure, the phrase “Medicare for all” keeps coming up, but what that actually constitutes changes day to day with each candidate.
Yang, however, is the only one talking about the technological revolution that is occurring right now and what it’s doing to today’s work force . . . and the work force of 10 years from now.
Frankly, Yang paints a scary picture about automation eliminating a vast number of blue-collar jobs, including truck drivers and retail workers. Heck, we’ve seen the beginnings of that in neighboring Graham County, with self-checkout eliminating register workers at Walmart and ordering kiosks at McDonald’s. Plus both mega corporations offer ordering via app, which also reduces work force.
Yang’s solution is to put more money in the hands of every person, which will spur spending, thus creating more employment as well and entrepreneurship. He calls his plan the “Freedom Dividend,” but in economic circles it’s known as universal basic income, or UBI.
Yang wants every adult 18 and older, regardless of income level, to receive $1,000 per month. He believes that adding a federal value-added tax on sales would pay for monthly expenditure —estimated at about $3 trillion per year. In this way, he said, companies such as Amazon — which paid zero federal income tax despite recording $72 billion in revenue in 2018 — would be contributing to federal coffers.
He also said those already receiving federal benefits — such as Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, SNAP, etc. — would either choose the current benefits, the $1,000 or a portion of the UBI that is the difference between current benefits and the $1,000 UBI.
Yang’s proposal has spurred serious debate in our household. On the one hand is the prospect of significantly more money being spent in the local economy. In Greenlee County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are an estimated 6,894 adults 18 and older, which means an extra $6.9 million in disposable income per month, or $82.7 million per year.
If Greenlee residents spent just 10 percent of that money in Clifton or Duncan, it would mean an extra quarter-million dollars in local taxes that would be used for roads, public safety, water and wastewater systems. And the more locals spend locally, the more improvements can be made to the towns.
On the other hand is