What is Andrew Yang's story

Basic income as a promise : How Andrew Yang wants to be US President

The robot apocalypse undoubtedly sounds more dramatic when preached about it in the pouring rain. Four million factory jobs: automated away. Truck drivers: superfluous as soon as self-driving cars take over the streets. The profits: absorbed by very large corporations like Amazon. Andrew Yang did it all up. And for him there is only one logical consequence - an unconditional basic income of 1000 US dollars a month for every US citizen.

Andrew Yang is no ordinary presidential candidate. When he campaigned in New York in May, he wore a cap that reads "Math". The Democrat Yang is small and stands on a box at the front of the stage. He can hardly be seen above all the umbrellas and campaign signs of the 2,500 people who came. But that doesn't seem to depress the mood. Yang is smart, optimistic, charismatic. He laughs with the audience, but gets serious when it comes to the robots.

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As the son of Taiwanese immigrants, he worked his way up through studies at Brown and Columbia Universities to America's tech elite. He is married with two children, one of whom is autistic. Now, at the age of 44, he wants to become the first President to use PowerPoint to make his State of the Union address. His fans love that. In New York they shout “Po-wer-point, po-wer-point!” In chorus. It's the “neriest presidential campaign in history,” says Yang himself.

Yang sells himself as a pragmatist. He proposes statutory health insurance for everyone, regulations on technology and the creation of new universities. His signature campaign promise is an unconditional basic income. But is that affordable?

Bridgewater Associates estimates that such a program could cost about $ 3.8 trillion. Yes, he did the math, Yang always emphasizes, because the question always comes up, and with a national value added tax of ten percent, a carbon fee and new taxes on financial transactions, this is entirely feasible.

48 percent of US citizens for basic income

Those who already receive social benefits can switch to the basic income, but not receive both. And: Most of the money would end up in the American economy again, that is, it would contribute to growth and new tax revenues. In general, about 48 percent of Americans are in favor of a basic income, at least for workers who are being replaced by technology. That was determined by a Gallup survey in 2018. The popularity was even higher among Democrats: almost two thirds support the idea.

Yang has become a weird hit on the Internet. Until recently, most of his campaign was played on the Internet. On 4Chan and Reddit, online forums that are largely unregulated and have therefore become a place for conspiracy theories and Nazi propaganda of the new right, hundreds of memes by Yang that have been designed by fans have been circulating for months.

Yang as God, as he creates Adam in Michelangelo's painting by handing a sack of money into his hand. Yang sitting on the iron throne of the cult series "Game of Thrones". And Yang over and over again, kidding Donald Trump and stealing his voters.

Yang appeals to a different target group

The strategy seems to be working, somehow. Perhaps Americans are fed up with the fundamental values ​​debate and “impeachment now” shouts that have dominated national politics for years. Yang's rallies are not about that, any more than they are about Russia or Robert Mueller. It appeals to a different target group than those who want to be further outraged about these issues - namely the average American who is busy scraping together enough money for the next rent.

The worst is still to come. As early as 2013, the economists Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne from the University of Oxford determined that around 47 percent of all American jobs are at high risk of being replaced by automated technologies. Jobs in the service sector, production, sales and transport are particularly affected.

Is there really cause for panic? Technological revolutions have also happened in the past. People have adapted by learning new skills or moving to booming cities, says Frey. But in a country where 70 percent of all students after graduation start their careers with an average of almost $ 30,000 in debt and where rents in big cities are rising exponentially, such an adjustment will be more difficult in the future. Yang calls the "war against normal people" in the title of his campaign book.

Fan groups all over America

One of those "normal people", these average Americans, as Yang describes them in his book, is David Burns. He graduated from high school, went to college for a few years, and eventually dropped out. He now keeps his head above water with freelance jobs and writes technical problem reports for companies. “My work is tied to the economy,” says Burns. “It's like a nice bonus. If things are good, they can hire people for them, and if things are bad, they can't. "

Burns is insured through Medicaid, the state health plan for low-wage workers. He eats one-dollar pizza and lives in New York's East Harlem, where once affordable rents have skyrocketed due to gentrification. And in a few years, his job will probably be a case for the robots.

Like many others, he discovered Yang on the Internet. He is now coordinating the work of the “Yang Gang” with a few colleagues. All over America there are now fan groups who are not officially part of the campaign but do volunteer work in their yang shirts in public places or at soup kitchens - and the name Andrew Yang, which a few months ago was almost outside the tech bubble nobody knew to carry it into the world.

The campaign is growing exponentially

In February 2018, Yang announced his candidacy with an article in the "New York Times". A year later he had hardly any supporters. After a few appearances in bizarre podcasts, the donors quickly multiplied to 65,000 this spring. The campaign is growing exponentially.

The first debate on the Democratic primary candidates will soon take place. Those who have qualified like Yang are divided into two groups and discuss with each other on consecutive evenings. Measured against the numbers of previous years, up to 15 million Americans will follow this on their screens. Yang is hoping for one thing: "You will wonder who is the Asian man who is standing next to Joe Biden?"

In surveys, Yang is still between one and two percent. His chances are minimal, but there are things that speak for him. He is not a professional politician, but an entrepreneur. No Washington insider and no one who wanted to be president at twelve.

He serves the attitude of opposition to the establishment of the new right as well as that of the new left by not talking about full employment, but about the fact that economic growth has bypassed a large part of Americans since the financial crisis. His supporters are disappointed Trump voters, hitherto apolitical members of the working class, leftists - and tech people, who perhaps best have an inkling of how jobs will develop in the future. And what it takes then.

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