I am fangirling pretty hard right now because I just met Andrew Yang last night in Gaithersburg, less than 2-weeks after arriving back in the US and a few days before I marry that beautiful girl on the left (officially).
But who is Andrew Yang? Yang is a serial entrepreneur who started Venture for America, a non-profit that aids fellows as they start new businesses in areas of the US experiencing economic decline. Andrew Yang was selected in 2012 as a "Champion of Change" by the Obama administration and in 2015 as a "Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship."
But more importantly, Andrew is running for president in 2020! #Yang2020 #YangGang #CampaignOfIdeas #HumanityFirst
When I first heard about Yang, it was sometime in late 2018 and I thought of him as mostly a joke. I thought it was cool to have an Asian candidate running for president but when I heard his primary proposal was Universal Basic Income (UBI), I quickly wrote him off and held on to the Bernie Train.
Then flashback to February 2019 when this beautiful disaster occurred on network television:
Tucker Carlson started praising Dutch historian and author of Utopia for Realists when he initially invited him on the show, but a quick turn of events led to him telling Bregman to go fuck himself.
I'm not a fan of Tucker Carlson by any means, but seeing how quickly Carlson lost his shit after Bregman started simply telling the truth got me more interested in Bregman, especially his ideas surrounding UBI. Bregman talks not only about radical ideas such as UBI, but also open borders among other ideas. A lot of the ideas sound radical, but after reading his book, Utopia for Realists, I realized that UBI was not such a crazy idea after all.
In the past, I didn't think people could be trusted. I think everyone needed basic needs taken care of such as food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and healthcare, but I had always thought it was better for the government to directly provide it rather than to hand people cash. I assumed people might abuse the money. And the truth is, people still will use the money for things like drugs. However, when I started considering the overhead costs for all the management necessary to run these social programs, I started to realize that even if people here and there waste money, our government is wasting far more of it lining their own pockets. Why not give money directly back to the people so they can make better decisions about what they need? Don't give me free college, because I don't need it. But maybe I could use that money for rent or to help me start a business? Not everyone's needs are equal, so we need to stop picking and choosing for people and let them decide for themselves. I know the same would be true in education if school districts stopped buying random curricula or technology without any thought of how to realistically implemented it and instead gave the money directly to classroom teachers to purchase supplies they need for the needs of their specific classroom. Rather than spending my own money or foregoing certain resources, I could instead clear my shelves of all the useless educational materials littered with errors and instead I could invest on better materials for my students such as purchasing professional-grade subscription software.
So after learning more about UBI and realizing it was the best solution to the majority of America's problems, I decided to Google "asian presidential candidate ubi." Since that day, I have been Yang Gang everyday, all the way. Ironically, while it was Tucker Carlson's enraged face that sparked the initial joy in me to do the research that led me to Yang, Tucker Carlson has actually been one political pundit and Fox News host that has been more on Yang's side than anyone else. In a strange turn of events, I'm noticing my favorite political candidate (Andrew Yang of course) receiving more positive coverage from right wing media outlets like Fox News and Ben Shapiro than he is from outlets like MSNBC or Vox. This shows me that Yang has a better chance of beating Trump than most Democratic candidates do.
Who likes UBI?
What's even better is how bi-partisan UBI is. The reason why UBI most likely gains such bi-partisan success is because it fulfills the primary desire of liberals to take care of the needy, yet it gives the money directly to the people, helping to fulfill the primary desire of conservatives for limited government.
Richard Nixon even proposed a negative income tax in a bill to the Congress, but Congress eventually only approved a guaranteed minimum income for the elderly and the disabled.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said,
“…It is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he oughta lift himself by his own bootstraps… They find themselves impoverished aliens in this affluent society. And there is a great deal that the society can and must do if the Negro is to gain the economic security that he needs.
Now one of the answers it seems to me, is a guaranteed annual income, a guaranteed minimum income for all people, and for all families of our country. It seems to me that the Civil Rights movement must now begin to organize for the guaranteed annual income. Begin to organize people all over our country, and mobilize forces so that we can bring to the attention of our nation this need, and this is something which I believe will go a long long way toward dealing with the Negro’s economic problem and the economic problem which many other poor people confront in our nation.
UBI is alive and well in the United States of America
And guess what... UBI already has been implemented successfully in Alaska, a conservative state (before we start screaming SOCIALISM! VENEZUELA!). The Alaska Permanent Fund was established in 1976 under Governor Jay Hammond and gives each Alaska resident a dividend each year based on the oil revenues generated in Alaska. This past year (2018) the dividend was $1,600 but it varies year by year.
Other cities in the US like Stockton, California are also trying their own experiments.
There have been other successful experiments with UBI including:
Still not convinced, but don't have time to read Rutger Bregman's book about UBI, check out his article, "Why we should give free money to everyone."
So what is the Freedom Dividend then? The Freedom Dividend is the exact same as Universal Basic Income, but rebranded by Yang to receive conservative support (and it's working). The Freedom Dividend is $1000 a month for every adult, U.S. citizen, ages 18 and up. It will be funded primarily by taxing automation, which is the number #1 job killer.
Why not a Federal Jobs Guarantee instead?
Well considering that I just got terminated for whistleblowing while working for a federal agency, I'm not exactly aching to get back to working for government. Since the $1000 is no-strings attached, I won't have to worry about the government screwing me over like they did while I worked for DoDEA, costing me thousands of dollars. You can read more about my complete story from my GoFundMe that I created to recoup the thousands of dollars lost after DoDEA abandoned me in Belgium.
Also, how does a Federal Jobs Guarantee really help people who already have jobs that they love? Increasing the minimum wage could solve that, but what about startups lacking in capital to even pay their founder a decent salary, let alone employees. UBI or the Freedom Dividend is not tied to a job, so it gives extreme flexibility to how it can be used.
- The Freedom Dividend can be collected even if you're disabled, even if you do primarily pro-bono volunteer work, and even if you're a stay at home mother.
- The Freedom Dividend sparks greater innovation as it allows each individual to decide for themselves how to spend both their money and their time, whereas the Federal Jobs Guarantee will still dominate your time.
- The Freedom Dividend is more efficient as it doesn't require the immense overhead costs necessary to be ready to employ any of the 327 million Americans on any number of jobs.
- The Freedom Dividend allows freedom from government and corrupt employers as you will not be forced to continue working for your potentially corrupt government employer simply to keep collecting your check.
So what would I do with $1000 a month?
I think $1000 a month would first of all buy me peace of mind with some financial security. While I've been privileged in my upbringing, I've still remained fairly financially insecure these past few years working as a teacher. Teachers already are some of the lowest paid jobs for college graduates, but my financial insecurity has been exacerbated by the fact that I've worked in 3 different schools, in 3 different school districts, in 2 different countries in just the past 4 years. I've lost thousands of dollars, as stated above, due both to DoDEA's incompetence and corruption.
I am currently working on starting a language café named Café Lingua. I've had difficulties with the constrictive nature of the public education system and the little amount of creativity I am allowed to implement. There are much more effective and engaging ways to teach, however in my experience, public education has been a means for administrators to enrich themselves all while teachers carry the brunt of the burden and have little-to-no freedom over their classrooms. Café Lingua is a social learning that I hope to eventually transform into a public space for language learners to practice with each other. There is also an online community to mirror the physical space that I've already begun experimenting with. I also did a test-run in my classroom and the kids loved it.
While I do have interest in the café and I have a lot of ideas surrounding it, the number one issue I am going to have is finding the capital to even start the business. $12,000 will not be enough to fully fund the business on launch day, but it will be enough to keep me afloat as I leave the traditional job field to work on a passion project that I believe could help thousands of people around the globe.
Not only do I think my language café has the ability to help people learn languages, but I think it also has the ability to help change hearts and minds. I want to bring people from extremely disparate backgrounds into one communal space to talk. Our country has grown so extremely divided based on political lines, but so much of it's because we have become trapped in our bubbles, refusing to interact with the opposition. I hope my café can remedy this somewhat. I may not be anything close to a Trump supporter, but I have dozens of Trump supporting family members and friends who I love dearly and who I know are truly good people. But a lot of liberals wouldn't know that if they purposefully choose never to interact with them. And the same is true vice-versa. The café will open minds as it will give a safe space for people to ask the dangerous questions that might normally get them in trouble elsewhere, because their is a mutual understanding of respect towards all beliefs.
So besides UBI, why Yang?
I think Donald Trump was the great divider, and Andrew Yang is now the great uniter. Just like I hope my café will unite Americans, and even just humans, again, I think Yang can do the same. I've already seen how my Libertarian friends have been more open minded about Yang than my progressive friends. Yang knows to focus on policy and ideas rather than on attacking other candidates. He does make brief mention of Trump, but acknowledges that his supporters are hurting and voted for him out of desperation. Yang provides hope for these other marginalized groups that sometimes get laughed at such as white, working-class, Americans that voted for Trump after Bernie lost the primaries in 2016.
Yang is a man of the people. He listens to his fans. He remains transparent. And he has more policy proposals with facts to back them up than any other candidate on the left or right.
So who are you voting for?
Have I been able to convince you yet that Yang is the candidate for you with my ramblings? If not, I'd love to have a conversation with you. I used to be a Mormon missionary, but Yang it's much easier to be a missionary for Yang as I'm finally selling something that everyone wants to buy.
P.S. the lineups for the debates have just been announced. On June 26th, Yang will be standing next to Pete Buttigieg, who is next to Joe Biden, who is next to Bernie Sanders. The Yang Gang is about to grow massively.
P.P.S. If you're a teacher, student, or parent, please join Andrew Yang' PTA (Parent-Teacher Association), which is a group I started for Yang supporters concerned about the state of K-12 education in the US and would like to see major education reform.