Andrew Yang: Tech Geek, Single Issue Candidate

I don’t think Andrew Yang wants to be President of the United States. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself in order to understand his candidacy. Yang has an urgent message about the impact of automation on the workforce in the next 5 – 10 years — specifically the loss of jobs in trucking, customer service, and retail. He seems to be using the 2020 Democratic primary as a way to get that message out. It’s a worthy message – but it’s his only message, and it isn’t enough to put him on my list of potential candidates.

Universal Basic Income

Yang has some good ideas, including the idea of universal basic income – which might not be the right answer, but it is an idea worth discussing. As the overall economy of the United States is actually growing, income inequality is increasing and the vast majority of the people are not seeing the benefit of that growth. The benefits of automation translates into corporate profits, but there is no motivation to use that profit to create additional human jobs. Keep automating to minimize the cost of human labor, and you keep growing profit. Yang’s solution is to provide a “dividend check” on that growth (funded by taxes on corporate profit) to all Americans. I don’t hate the idea. I don’t love the idea. That’s an entire series of blog posts in itself.

Yang is a No from me.

While he’s clearly smart, Yang is a single issue, single focus candidate. He’s not terribly articulate about anything other than automation and universal basic income, although he admirably tries to bring every issue back around to this point. I also think he’s very wrong on the Supreme Court, where he strongly believes that setting term limits.

My sources were primarily this interview at Georgetown University from February, and this series of interview from WMUR in New Hampshire from February.

Do you disagree? Is there something about Yang that I’m missing? Link me to any articles, videos or just let me know what you are thinking in the comments.