Economics, Politics, Science / Tech, Top Stories, US Election

Andrew Yang—Technocratic Populist

Andrew Yang is a peculiar candidate for the presidency; not only has he no previous political experience, but he has also placed great emphasis on issues that have been on the fringes of mainstream media political discourse usually examined by academics or YouTube personalities. It is a credit to him that topics like automation, the meaning and value of work, the concentration of elite talent in to narrow career paths, and of course, UBI, have had a chance to be touched upon during this campaign cycle.

Nonetheless, the most provocative aspect of the Yang campaign, and of the man himself, is the unusual tension between a technocratic emphasis on expertise and efficiency, and the populist rhetoric he uses to denounce remote elite enclaves, and to call for a revolution that, in the words of Bismarck, we undertake rather than undergo.1 Yang views himself—or at least projects himself as—the people’s technocrat. An expert that the average Joe can trust.

Yang as Technocrat

Technocracy is government by experts. The term is Greek in origin, fusing tekhne (describing art or skill) and kratos, meaning power or rule. But the literal meaning of this word is not its salient contemporary sense. Modern Technocracy (and by extension technocrats) usually endorse government by a specific kind of expert, using a particular sort of method. The technocrat is usually (though not always) versed to some degree in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and social science domains, and tends to want governments to draw upon scientific methods and findings, argue from data and cutting edge studies, and value efficiency and systematic rigor. Social problems, to the technocrat, are thought to come more from incompetence, waste, or negligence than from ideology or malice. As Zbigniew Brzeziński eloquently put it in Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, “Social problems are seen less as the consequence of deliberate evil and more as the unintended byproducts of both complexity and ignorance; solutions are not sought in emotional simplifications but in the use of man’s accumulated social and scientific knowledge.”2

To summarize, the technocrat is someone who assumes that:

  1. Government and policy would be better off if they were presided over and/or dictated by technical experts.
  2. The problems of politics are primarily problems of efficiency and administrative dysfunction.
  3. The application of the results and methods of the sciences and/or other technical fields is the best way to solve our political problems.
  4. There should be a resource of unassailable facts that politicians use as the basis of argument which lies outside of the realm of opinion.

One of the most striking aspects of Yang’s latest book, The War on Normal People, is just how many tech leaders, start-up gurus, entrepreneurs, and hedge fund managers this man is in contact with. Countless pages offer anecdotes of Yang jetting to dinners with this Silicon Valley leader in San Francisco3 or that technical expert in the Northeast. Yang, by the very company he keeps, signals that he is a member of this technocratic class.

More substantially, the thesis of Yang’s book is both diagnostic and prescriptive. He argues that many of the current jobs that serve as the backbone of our economy will either be rendered obsolete by accelerating automation, or will be done by a small group of technical experts leaving many jobless and languishing in economic despair. According to Yang, the available data show this process is already well underway and will continue to worsen in the coming years. Yang calls this development the Great Displacement. And the unavoidable reality of automation, he says, will force the government to implement new economic and social policies in response. Universal Basic Income—what Yang calls the “freedom dividend” of $1000 a month—is Yang’s preferred means of dealing with this looming crisis.

Whether or not one agrees with this view, it is clearly suggestive of Yang’s technocratic sensibilities. He supports his claims and ideas with data from the U.S. Bureau that show low labor force participation,4 the recent elimination of manufacturing jobs,5 and an increasing discrepancy between productivity and compensation.6 His claim that elite talent is clustering into a few geographic regions and disciplines rests on data from the career offices at those very elite institutions.7

For Yang, data are the primary resource with which he frames his picture of what is going wrong in our nation. A reliance on data to understand problems and formulate policy responses is characteristic of the technocrat. Yang wants to give every adult in the United States $1000 a month (adjustable for inflation) which will cost about  $1.3 trillion by Yang’s own estimate. He stresses that his plan will be more efficient than the current system of government assistance programs because:

  • One program will be able to accomplish the work of 126.8
  • Direct monetary compensation has been shown, in some studies at least, to have more positive outcomes than mediated forms of charity or relief.9
  • The cost of the program can be offset by a so-called VAT tax which will increase the cost of some consumer goods, and UBI will result in job growth.10

Yang wants to show that his signature program will clean up administrative waste, increase efficiency, and that it is vouched for by experts. In terms of Yang’s rhetoric, the following passage in particular encapsulates his technocratic sensibilities:

We have an indebted state rife with infighting, dysfunction, and outdated ideas and bureaucracies from bygone eras, along with a populace that cannot agree on basic facts like vote totals or climate change. Our politicians offer half-hearted solutions that will at best nibble at the edges of the problem. The budget for research and development in the Department of Labor is only $4 million. We have a 1960s-era government that has few solutions to the problems of 2018. This must change if our way of life is to continue. We need a revitalized, dynamic government to rise to the challenge posed by the largest economic transformation in the history of mankind. The above may sound like science fiction to you. But you’re reading this with a supercomputer in your pocket (or reading it on the supercomputer itself) and Donald Trump was elected president.11

Yang focuses on the outdated and inefficient state of our modern government and the technocratic solution of cutting edge methods to modern problems, and he is vexed by the inability of people to agree on basic facts—particularly scientific ones—that ought to carry far more weight than mere opinions. For this reason, technocrats like Yang tend to favor a quasi-evangelistic outreach to the public concerning scientific education.12 And finally, there is the concluding reference to the benefits of technology and to its inevitable future advances.

Technocracy, being more of a method of governing than a value system or worldview, is often used by a dominant ideology to make its ideological agenda more efficient. So in China, which has until recently been governed as a technocracy made up  almost exclusively of engineers, the technocrats support communism, but in America it is often used to make neoliberal policy more effective. This being the case, the elites are never really afraid of a technocrat: They understand that the method can be used to serve almost any master. Technocracy also has the benefit, at least in the States, of flattering the ego of the middle classes. Supporting a technocrat can signal seriousness and intelligence on the part of the informed voter who cares about “serious policy issues and scientific data.” Thus technocracy, in itself, is never really a challenge to the status quo. But this description does not, by itself, fully describe Yang or his campaign.

Yang the Populist

Populism is a complex and contested term.13 Some commentators have understood it to mean the integration and mobilization of the people into the political process. This understanding encompasses most movement-based progressive politicians. For the purpose of this essay, however, populism will be understood as the inverse of established liberal democratic institutions. In a political environment where the general will of the people (popular sovereignty) is seen as the driving force in civic life, an institutional establishment that purports to represent the people’s interests will do so imperfectly—often looking to serve the interests of the institutions themselves and the people within them as opposed to the general public for whom said institutions were built.14 This division between the general will of the people, and the institutions established on their behalf, allows a politics of populism to arise.

An upshot of this division is that populism is inherently anti-establishment and anti-status quo. It follows that populists almost always attack the leaders of establishment institutions with anti-elitist rhetoric. They offer themselves as self-appointed representatives of the masses against the elites, and will campaign as outsiders able to broach topics that the establishment is uncomfortable confronting because it threatens elites’ class or status position, economic interests, “ethical values,” or simply because they have no experience of the concerns of ordinary people.

The populist candidate amplifies his mass appeal by dressing in a faintly eccentric way, and will take shots at the donor class (implying that he has such grassroots support that he does not need their money, or that he is so independently wealthy that such financial pressures do not impact him), the mainstream media, and, depending on his constituents, the corporate elite. He claims to speak to the direct needs and values of the people.

According to the foregoing criteria, Andrew Yang qualifies as a populist. Unusually for a politician, he never wears a necktie. This may seem like a trivial point, but at least since the introduction of television, politics has been as much a battle of optics as ideas, and there is still some truth in Oscar Wilde’s wry observation that “it is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.” Yang’s refusal to wear a tie is, in part, meant to distinguish him from the rest of the political class, and project a more relaxed and natural persona with which ordinary voters can feel at ease. After one of the Democratic debates, Yang faced some criticism for this, which he cleverly managed to turn into a populist attack on the establishment and the debate format itself:

You know what the talking heads couldn’t stop talking about after the last debate? It’s not the fact that I’m somehow number four on the stage in national polling. It was the fact that I wasn’t wearing a tie. Instead of talking about automation and our future, including the fact that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs, hundreds of thousands right here in Michigan, we’re up here with makeup on our faces and our rehearsed attack lines, playing roles in this reality TV show. It’s one reason why we elected a reality TV star as our president…. My flagship proposal, the freedom dividend, would put $1,000 a month into the hands of every American adult. It would be a game-changer for millions of American families.

This short quote is heavy with populist meaning. Yang begins by attacking the establishment class for ignoring the concerns impacting everyday people—a reminder that the media elites are out of touch with the ordinary Americans. He then offers deliverance from the economic hardship that really does concern them via the freedom dividend.

Yang has positioned himself as a “Human-centered Capitalist.” Human-centered capitalism is a kind of humanistic, technocratic version of capitalism with the following axioms:

  1. Humans are more important than money.
  2. The unit of a Human Capitalism economy is each person, not each dollar.
  3. Markets exist to serve our common goals and values.

Yang elaborates on these ideas as follows: “Our current emphasis on corporate profits isn’t working for the vast majority of Americans. This will only be made worse by the development of automation technology and AI.” Additionally, Yang says, we need to “rein in corporate excesses by appointing regulators who are paid a lot of money—competitive with senior jobs in the private sector—but then will be prohibited from going to private industry afterward. Regulators need to be focused on making the right decisions and policies for the public with zero concern for their next position.”

Things like teaching, parenting, nurturing children, journalism, reading, and a whole host of other things, have been devalued in our current system of capitalism: “There were periods when the Market supported some of these things [parenting, Serving the poor, The Environment, etc.] more than it does today. Today, it needs to be steered to do so. The U.S. has reached a point where its current form of capitalism is faltering in producing an increasing standard of living for the majority of its citizens. It’s time for an upgrade.”

Lastly, Yang wants to introduce new, or more robust measures, to gauge the prosperity of a nation. So instead of focusing on raw GDP—which could grow due to disproportionate economic gains for the elites in society while the rest of society regresses or stagnates—Yang wants to add things like levels of engagement with work and labor participation rate, quality of infrastructure, proportion of elderly in quality care, access to education, marriage rates and success, and many others things. Yang wants to introduce these new variables to ensure that how we measure a nation’s success touches upon all the areas of life that are significant to the broadest range of people.

Yang’s populism challenges the corporate elite and emphasizes that the system has benefited them to the detriment of the general public. He adds that the form of capitalism under which we live does not value the type of activities that are important to the lives of his fellow countrymen. Human-centered capitalism is capitalism re-envisioned so that it represents and meets the direct needs of the people in contradistinction to those of the elites. Yang’s populism reveals itself in his attacks on the media establishment, on corporate earnings, and on our current system of capitalism that marginalizes activities, services, and domains that common people hold dear.

This unusual mix of populism and technocracy in Yang’s campaign points to a division within the Democratic nomination race, and the party itself. This division between technocrat and populist helps explain the insider vs. outsider nature of a candidacy, and Andrew Yang is outflanked on both sides by two other candidates.

Elizabeth Warren, a former Harvard academic famous for her detailed, policy-focused approach, outdoes Yang among the class of people who are into this type of thing: Affluent, educated, professional,  often white, social progressives. The technocratic supporters in the mainstream media, Democratic establishment, and middle and upper-middle classes appear to prefer a policy wonk of a more academic vintage (in this case, a former law professor) as opposed to a natural scientist or technologist (since most insiders understand the world of words more than they do the domain of the natural sciences).

The lifelong socialist Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is the great populist in this race. A man with a straightforward manner, who can point to a long career of grassroots activism, support for policies that hold great appeal to many Americans, and whose donor base consists mostly of contributions from the working class. He is largely responsible for reviving the discourse surrounding class in mainstream politics. Key to his appeal is his claim to be fighting the elite class in favor of ordinary Americans—the vast majority of us.

For these reasons Andrew Yang will almost certainly not be the Democratic nominee. Nevertheless, his candidacy offers an intriguing snapshot of two impulses now competing for the direction of the Democratic Party. Technocracy is intrinsically elitist and populism is anti-elitist, but both will need to be harnessed in order to grapple with the increasingly complex challenges posed by a rapidly changing society. Technical policy prowess may be efficient in crafting legislation but it cannot address the problems of the established order in the way a more visionary approach might. America is not quite yet ready for a candidate like Andrew Yang who attempts to synthesise these two competing demands, but it may not be long now.

 

Marshawn Brewer is a freelance writer, philosophy MA, and political campaigner.

References:

1 Andrew Yang, The War on Normal People: the Truth about America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future. Hachette Books, 2018, pg, 9 [ebook]
2 Zbigniew Brzeziński. Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era. Greenwood Press, 1982, pg. 61
3 The War on Normal People: the Truth about America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future. Hachette Books, 2018, pg, 9, 19, 45, 64, 94.
4 Ibid pg. 19
5 Ibid pg. 10
6 Ibid pg. 26
7 Ibid pg. 85-90
8 Ibid  pg. 126
9 Ibid pg. 155-156
10 Ibid 149-153
11 Ibid pg. 13
12 For a good summary of this approach and a solid challenge to technocracy in general, Cf. Bucchi, Massimiano. Beyond Technocracy Science, Politics and Citizens. Springer, 201.  Pg. 1-19  challenges the missionary aspect of technocracy.   
13 Cf.  Chapter 1 of Mudde, Cas, and Kaltwasser Cristóbal Rovira. Populism: a Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2017, for a solid introduction to  the different understandings of the  the concept  as well as the difficulties  of elucidating a central meaning of the term.
14 Cf, chapter 1 of  Anselmi, Manuel, and Laura Fano Morrisey. Populism: an Introduction. Routledge, an Imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, 2018, for my source for this definition.

Comments

  1. I don’t necessarily agree with all of Andrew Yang’s ideas, but it is refreshing to see a political candidate who tries to explain problems to the voters, and propose solutions, rather than resort to demagoguery and the best focus-tested sound bite. Although, I suppose in some ways the Freedom Dividend itself might constitute a typical Democratic bribe, and he admits openly that it was tested in focus groups. But the reason why I am so keen on him, is both that the Freedom Dividend would displace a great deal of the bureaucratic manpower that the Governments current programs necessitate, and he is pro-nuclear, as a means of tackling climate change. It’s the only way, barring technological development in offshore hydro, of providing the base load energy necessary to shift from fossil fuel energy.

    For example, when Germany shut off it’s nuclear power, it’s CO2 emissions predictably went up- because it became necessary to switch on coal power stations more often- whilst their experience proves that with renewables, beyond a certain point the cost of energy per unit actually goes up. France meanwhile, had cheap, reliable and safe nuclear energy until the Germans forced them to invest more into renewables…

  2. Though it’s indisputable change happens, as it always has, I think Yang’s dire forecasts on the future of employment are ever-egged catastrophisation to capture attention.

    Yang likes to forecast the future of parcel delivery. On the nightly news I saw a report about drone delivery. It has several constraints, such as parcel weight and distance flown (about 20km round trip). It’s good for one lightweight item warehoused nearby and customers willing to pay a premium - think of it as a concierge service. The drone couldn’t even get the parcel to the home’s door much less a letter box, and heaven knows how a drone would contend with a large apartment. Just leave the parcel on the urban pavement and fly off? Presumably the customer would have to be at home waiting, which puts a damper on the amazingness of this. Inevitably there will be a few mishaps of drones crashing or dropping heavy parcels on people’s heads. That a UPS/FedEx truck makes 100 - 200 deliveries per day of parcels from a few grams to dozens of kilograms, I don’t foresee the sun blotted out by parcel drones in the coming decades. Technology will enhance some businesses by allowing newer services, some tasks will no longer be performed by humans, and new tasks for humans will arise.

    We also see a bizarre contradiction where we’re told mass displacement will happen, so let’s also import millions of low-skilled workers because… only the Lord knows. “They do the jobs American won’t.” Not quite. They perform some of the jobs like fruit picking Americans choose not to do, and they also work in construction and other sectors where Americans choose to work. Moreover, we can find America even imports people to read its news to them on TV and perform in its films and on stage. Are the news reader and actor jobs ones Americans don’t want nowadays as well? All these waiters and bartenders claiming to be actors putting us on? What happens when the holographic or VR actor becomes a thing?

    There are a few overarching issues that seem little examined by many. Firstly, are you owed a job? If not, does society owe you a living? AOC wants the unemployed and the unemployable working for the government. Should we be willing to accept failure of some individuals like we accept the failure of some businesses? Neither the failed business nor the failed individual provided what others wanted and both serve as an example. This doesn’t rule out either may success in different jobs and/or elsewhere; simply, it’s just their first crack it didn’t work out.

    We attach much responsibility on society to give young people the skills to attain lifetime employment (not to their dying days but for 40 to 50 years) and even blame schools for the failings by individuals - this is not to ignore there a some dreadful public schools, but often for reasons including the shabby behaviour of students. Yet there’s little about the obligation for the individual to choose to learn in-demand skills and to continue post-formal education to attain more talents to ensure his/her lifetime employability. Instead, I hear complaints like “I was told if I earned a degree I’d get a good job.” OK, yet your high school career counselor was not a spokesperson for business and society, and s/he was certainly not the guarantor of your outcomes. There are many other attributes to secure and retain work beyond one’s degrees, as the former writers at Deadspin have learnt recently.

    Perhaps by doing less (mollycoddling) for individuals we may actually be doing more for them, having them more realistically assess the world they live in and make better choices to find success. This may include picking fruit.

  3. Yang is the one candidate who might tempt me to vote Democrat this time.

    Elizabeth Warren is the party insiders’ favorite because she parrots their anti-science ideology, such as whipping up hysteria over climate change while systematically opposing any technology that actually reduces greenhouse gas. Yang does not just support science, but has the deep connections in the science/tech community that it will take to actually fix our problems.

  4. In the real world where the rubber meets the road, there is probably few discredited more than the technocrat. The technocrats are the ones who utter the phrase, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” The former Soviet Union was awash in technocrats.

    The technocrat believes he has the cure for the human condition. He believes he can get everyone to pull on the same rope, in the same direction. According to the technocrat the data shows if everyone will do X, behave according to Y and be satisfied with Z, everything will be okay. The technocrat may even be correct but the conformity his proposal requires is unrealistic. This utopian thinking is best codified in the UBI proposal. If every adult receives $1000 per month, there will be those who blow throw that money (drugs, alcohol, lottery, get rich quick schemes) in a week and be no better off. Furthermore those that will be no better off will overwhelmingly come from the portion of the populous that already occupies the bottom one fifth in wealth. Giving people what they want only makes them want more. In other words more money for poor people creates more poor people. Throw money at anything and you will get more of it, good or bad. The technocrat claims his ideas will make people make good decisions.

    Eventually the tired notion of spending your way to prosperity peters out and reveals itself a failure but the technocrat is undeterred. He claims we simply didn’t spend enough and doubles down on a losing bet. If spending creates prosperity why should it be limited to $1000 per month? Think of all the good $10,000 per month could do. If $10,000 per month is absurd then why is $1000 per month sane?

    Is all this pessimism justified? The U.S. spent a fortune fighting and losing a war on poverty. The only positive sign was welfare reform which incentivized people to return to the work force.

    Lastly in extreme cases where the technocrat acquired a lot of power, he comes to realize his ideas are not failures but rather he has the wrong populous. That is when things get ugly. Beware the technocrat, he is not an idea man but rather an idealist.

  5. No one has to speed but people still die in car crashes…

  6. You assume a world in which no one would want more than enough.

    That world will never exist.

  7. To my ear, Yang nothing more than a Wilsonian progressive.

    In my opinion, all he has to offer is "… the light[ ] of perverted science. . " in furtherance of the interests of the technocratic class.

  8. Technocrats, like Yang, are akin to lawyers, like Warren, in that they assume that carefully crafted rules and regulations will stop people from acting like human beings. While both are vital for good policy-making—you need lawyers to write the laws properly, you need technocrats for the technical details—that is not enough. Those deciding on policy also need to understand human motivations and the sheer ingenuity human display in getting around laws they don’t like, and they need to think hard about the unintended consequences that lie outside the lawyers’ and technocrats’ closely reasoned calculations.

    In that light, my objections to UBI are not that I disagree with the arguments its main supporters make, their are arguments are quite good. My objection is to the end result. All you need to do it add in a free Netflix subscription and you have a 21st century version of the Roman “bread and circuses”. While the Roman empire lasted for hundreds of years after that policy was introduced, its main benefit was that it kept the population docile. It was no longer a republic.

  9. Data and technocrats gave China its one child policy. Now the big thinkers have upped it to 2 children.

    We don’t need a full change, just a correction so that donorism and corporatism don’t drive what would otherwise be free markets for free people. Today, corporations are super-humans, better than the Person of our Constitution. They can write off expenses, avoid personal responsibility, die and be reborn at whim, etc.

  10. The UBI as described by Milton Friedman (a negative income tax) was better because it didn’t get the government into the business of redistributing so much money to the vast majority who don’t need it; it’s replacing a safety net with full-on ownership of your self (the person who pays makes the rules).

    But I can’t even get my mind around the pure criminality of offering to buy every vote for $1000/month.

  11. I am surprised a candidate would tout connections with California tech leaders as a positive testimony, it is indicative of another member of the clueless ruling class. After all, California is doing such a bang up job considering the filth, tent cities, crime, poverty, and a middle class that is fleeing the state while high tech’s own employees often live out of RV’s because they cannot afford the high cost of living there.

    I’ll grant tech leaders may know how to run their own companies but they know precious little about mine and the hubris many of them exhibit means they probably never will understand. There are a lot of consultants out there selling services but good ones know their limitations and will preface their advice by first asking a lot of questions before offering tailored solutions. I hope the idea of limited government is not totally dead as the prospect of even more intrusive “expert” bureaucrats who do not know me makes me shudder.

    I also agree with gagamba, the doomsayers of future employment due to automation are only to be received with a steep discount. Instead of mass unemployment due to automation it can also be argued that much of the low hanging fruit has already been automated and we may see instead low productivity growth, or both are wrong and we continue to muddle along. So, not knowing what the real future holds, we should just go ahead, bet the farm to address only one scenario, and end up with a managed economy, AKA Japan, and adopt a UBI that will further tinker with basic human motivations by instituting another expansive entitlement. I could cite the massive government debt in opposition to the UBI but the major objection is how it would fundamentally change for the worse a citizen’s relationship to society.

    While we can all favor a government being smarter in what it does, where in history is the long term evidence for this occurring in a sustained manner? I’ll go with the old time liberals who understood that a wiser government was a more humble and limited government. Yang’s policies instead rely more on bureaucrats and less on free space for us to thrive.

  12. Specifically, what benefits programmes will be elimated entirely? No money appropriated, sack the workers (don’t shift to other programmes that are now picking up the tasks), shut off the lights, and lock the doors? Real deal end off.

    I disagree with you that bureaucratic manpower will be reduced because he omitted children as Yang bucks recipients - obviously the money would go to their parents/guardians. Since $1000 per month to a unemployed single mum of three children is not going to replace the totality of benefits this family receives, the programmes will be rechristened as ones for children and they will live on. Further, a person can opt out of Yang bucks. This means government employees must be kept on, offices open, and funds appropriated by Congress. Moreover, Yang’s UBI is federal, and this ignores the benefits provided by state and local government. Don’t be surprised by activists’ demands for these two entities to make up the shortfalls.


    “First family” is one residing in Wisconsin, a single parent working part-time and attending technical college full-time, raising two children aged 3 and 7, and earning $10,000 a year.

    “Second family” is also a resident of Wisconsin, a married couple with two children aged 3 and 7, with one parent working part-time and attending technical college full-time, and a total income of $50,000.

    A 2013 Cato Institute report on the total level of welfare benefits by state examined how much a “typical welfare family,” of a single mother with two children, would receive for what researchers determined was a typical welfare package. That included Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, which is still popularly known by its former name, food stamps), Medicaid, housing assistance, utility assistance and the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC). Researchers also accounted for federal and state tax deductions, exemptions and credits, such as the earned income tax credit and child tax credit.

    The state with the highest total value of welfare benefits was Hawaii, at $49,175. The lowest was Mississippi, at $16,984.

    The below chart is from a study of single parent of two children living in Colorado. We see that until an income about about $27,000, the person is receiving benefits exceeding $12,000. I presume the person would opt out of Yang bucks to retain all his/her other benefits, unless these programmes become ones for children, which I expect they will be, which will allow the person to collect his/her $1000 per month whilst the children retain benefits.

    Further, there will need to be increases in the number of IRS agents and customs officials.

  13. “But the reason why I am so keen on him, is both that the Freedom Dividend would displace a great deal of the bureaucratic manpower that the Governments current programs necessitate,…”

    In the U.S. bureaucracies either become permanent fixtures or morph into different bureaucracies but they almost never end or fade away. Bureaucracies create constituencies both within and without the government and that makes politicians fearful of touching them, even the Cowboy Poet Festival was spared from budget axe.

  14. I assume that Yang proposes to eliminate SSDI, SSI, Food Stamps, WIC and things like Section 8 housing to pay for his UBI.

    I have to admit that it would be wonderful if the legions of government employees and contractors who administer these program suddenly found themselves in the same boat as their former claimants having to live on $12K a year with no benefits and no job to go to every morning.

  15. Democrats in particular are devoted to having enough political power to dictate to others how they should (or must) live and think and to having enough political power to punish successful people (in this era this means anyone who desires to work) with taxes. In my opinion, Republicans want, for the most part, to leave people alone. Yang really isn’t different than other Democrats.

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