ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – The automation apocalypse is coming. This is the alarm 2020 presidential hopeful and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang is sounding, and campaigning on. He has researched the current economic landscape, saw the precipitating effects of automation and is now sharing his message with all who will listen, including the people of Florida. Why? Because based on his research, he believes Florida is the most primed to be hit by the next wave of automation.
Yang made a stop in West Palm Beach two weeks ago and lands in South Florida Wednesday for an event in Miami, then he will make two Orlando stops on Thursday: the first is a fundraiser on West Colonial Drive at noon. His second stop is as an invited guest to the Orange Soil & Water Conservation District Oath of Office Ceremony, happening in the Orange County Commission Chambers at 5pm.
YANG’S CAUSE FOR ALARM
Up to the last presidential election, some four million jobs were automated, leaving the displaced workers with few options and negative consequences. According to his campaign website, www.Yang2020.com, “a third of all American workers are at risk of permanent unemployment. And this time, the jobs will not come back.” Yang explained in a phone interview with Florida National News Wednesday morning that in the next 5-10 years, millions more jobs will be lost. The recent wave of automation hit manufacturing jobs, but in the next wave, the first major business sector that will be struck most notably is retail.
Aside from being a key battleground state that virtually decides the final outcome of many elections–hence the adage, “as Florida goes, so goes the nation,” Florida’s most ubiquitous economic driver is tourism, which directly connects to hospitality and retail. “Florida has the highest levels of retail establishments per capita [nationwide],” Yang noted.
Fortunately Yang doesn’t simply sound an economic death knell, he offers and campaigns on a radical solution to revive the national economy: a monthly Freedom Dividend, otherwise known as universal basic income (UBI). Simply put, adult U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 64 years old will receive $1,000 per month–no strings attached. In Yang’s plan, this monthly dividend will help bring many citizens living below the poverty line up to it. Furthermore, for those who currently use public assistance programs, they will be given the option to keep the programs they are currently in, which discontinue once a certain income level is reached, or completely switch to receive the $1,000 per month UBI.
When Florida National News asked Yang if UBI had a designated timeframe of disbursement, he said that he envisions UBI to be indefinite. “Universal basic income [will be] a new right for the American citizen,” he explained. With the UBI program costing roughly $2.4 trillion in comparison to the current $4 trillion the U.S. spends in total, this begs the question: How will it be funded?
Answer: Value-added tax (VAT).
WHEN IN ROME…
Yang explains that the U.S. is the only major economic power that doesn’t use VAT, and that even using a VAT that is half the rate of Europe’s VAT would generate $2 billion in tax revenue. The VAT would be applied to the tech companies benefitting from the reduced costs automation would recoup, such as Google, Amazon, and others. “The value added tax would give Americans a slice of every Google search, every Amazon transaction [and] every mile driven by a robot truck.”
Yang believes that this VAT, in addition to the already existing $800 billion used for public assistance programs, would give families and individuals the money they need to meet their needs. In fact, he posits that with citizens on public assistance having the option to continue receiving public assistance or exclusively receive UBI, government funding allocated to public assistance will actually decrease due to lower demand, money that the government can recoup and allocate to other budgetary needs.
Yang explained his UBI approach in great detail in a recent Q&A session with The Atlantic:
In another recent interview with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, he discussed a study performed in a town in Canada’s Manitoba parish that experimented with UBI and the results found that the town saw a drop in domestic violence and hospital visits, and an increase in student confidence and improved academic performance. Yang is ready to bring those results to the U.S.
Yang has been campaigning primarily to Democrats, because he wants to galvanize the party around his platform, but he is confident that it will appeal to all audiences. “Trump supporters are coming up to me…[because] conservatives and libertarians hate government making decisions and bureaucracy. They prefer self-determination and agency.” Yang feels the UBI program will facilitate just that.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org