When I first started hearing people talking about Andrew Yang, I didn’t pay them much mind. Every election cycle there’s always some fringe Democrat candidate that never goes anywhere but gets a fanatical following—the first election my high school classmates were eligible to vote in, I knew a number of Deaniacs.
But a few things about Yang caught my attention over the last couple weeks. The first was when the DNC cut his microphone during the debates. But while that’s unsurprising, what caught my attention more was seeing a number of my libertarian friends being more pissed off about that than the leftists I know. And then I realized, You know, the leftists aren’t really the ones who are into Yang. It’s the more libertarian-ish ones.
After seeing this video from shoe0nhead’s alt channel combined with Yang voicing support for Andy Ngo and then Justin Amash all over the span of just a couple days, I decided to give his website a look. While Tulsi Gabbard, another centrist/libertarian Democrat favorite, seems to have absolutely zero policy suggestions on her website whatsoever, ANDREW YANG HAS O V E R 9 0 0 0.
Well, okay. He has 106. But that is still fucking insane.
So guess what I did? I took a couple days and read them all, so you don’t have to!
It didn’t take long for me to find why the DNC was so desperate to cut this dude’s microphone off. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t wind up dying in a mysterious accident or suddenly committing suicide for no reason within the next couple years. Some of his suggestions don’t just buck Democrat party line, they’re downright heretical.
The primary platform he’s running on is Universal Basic Income. I’ll let you guys argue that one out in the comments—even though it seems antithetical, I’ve seen enough libertarians arguing in favor of UBI that I’ve come to accept that the argument can be made, whether you agree with it or not. Generally when I see libertarians argue for UBI, they’re arguing for it to replace all other forms of welfare, and believe it or not, that’s what Yang seems to be doing. He says he’ll offer a “choice” for people currently receiving benefits, but it’s pretty clear that his intention is to phase welfare out in favor of UBI, particularly because his platform is that people would only be eligible for EITHER welfare OR UBI, and he’s confident that UBI will be more appealing to everyone because it doesn’t have the strings attached that welfare does.
But my favorite part of his UBI platform is the absolute fuck you he gives to people complaining about the 1%.
Why would you give Universal Basic Income to the rich?
By giving everyone UBI, the stigma for accepting cash transfers from the government disappears. Additionally, it removes the incentive for anyone to remain within certain income brackets to receive benefits. If it’s paid for by a Value-Added Tax as in Andrew’s plan, a wealthy person will likely pay more into the system than he or she gets out of it.
“Why are you giving money to the rich?” “Because fuck you, that’s why”
And then there’s his response to “but $1000 doesn’t stretch as far in cities as it does in rural areas”:
What about variations in the cost of living? Wouldn’t major cities need much more money than rural areas?
Every eligible UBI recipient, regardless of location, would receive $1,000 a month. Varying the dollar amount by location would add expensive layers of bureaucracy. Plus, UBI would actually help many more Americans live where they want to. The Census Bureau shows Americans are moving between states at the lowest levels on record, contributing to a stagnant economy and labor market. Moving requires a lot of money up-front, and Americans are increasingly strapped for cash. UBI would make people and families much more mobile and improve the dynamism of the labor market as people seek out new environments and opportunities.
$1,000 a month goes farther in some places than others. A UBI would lead to a revitalization of many communities as people take advantage of lower costs of living in certain areas instead of piling into expensive metro areas.
“B-b-but it’s more expensive to live in San Francisco than Kentucky!” “Maybe you shouldn’t live in San Francisco then”
Another element of his UBI proposal that had me in absolute stitches is that one of the key parts of his plan is that it highlights his stance on immigration, which is definitely not toeing the DNC line.
Will this lead to mass immigration to the United States?
America has been the world’s most desired immigration destination for 250 years. High demand for citizenship is not new. It’s true, that with UBI in place, the demand for citizenship may rise. However, only citizens can receive UBI, and the US already has one of the longest paths to citizenship in the world. UBI would make citizenship all the more meaningful.
“Immigrants from third world countries are going to want to come in and take our bennies!” “Well, that’s true, but lucky for us, THEY’RE NOT GETTING IN”
He mentions immigration several times throughout his 1001 policies, and every single time it’s about strictly enforcing our current immigration policies and more tightly policing the border to prevent people from coming in and trying to mooch off his great new society. I love this page, because the subtext is so fantastic. “Now look, I’m not saying we build a wall, which is an icky Republican thing to do. But I may be saying that if someone else were to have already built a wall by the time I hypothetically take office, I won’t be trying to tear it down.”
Additionally, while he supports the DREAM Act, on his page about “what to do about current illegal immigrants,” he’s basically like, “Yes. Them. Well, deporting them would be too expensive. But that doesn’t mean WE CAN’T MAKE THEIR LIVES A LIVING HELL! STARTING WITH NO UBI FOR YOU, BITCHES!”
MAKE ’EM POLISH MONOCLES, ANDREW!
It’s Not All Perfect, Though
The way he was describing Value Added Tax on his primary “What is UBI?” page kind of confused me and had me thinking that he was possibly proposing a flat tax that he was calling a VAT. However, after browsing ALL HIS OTHER MILLIONS OF GODDAMN PROPOSALS, it becomes clear that he is definitely not suggesting that. The VAT would be in addition to all the other taxes we regularly pay. While the UBI might offset that to an extent… I’m not even going to finish this sentence because what am I talking about, there is absolutely ZERO chance that any of his policies would make it through intact so it’s a moot point. But if Yang were to become emperor and implement all his policies whole cloth, it’s possible that UBI might essentially function as an up-front tax refund, depending on how much you typically already pay in taxes + the extra money spent on VAT transactions. That combined with his streamlined automatic tax filing system could theoretically make life a little less miserable than it is currently, albeit while still forcibly taking our money.
Anyway, UBI is just one of OVER ONE HUNDRED policy proposals Yang has on his website, so let’s not waste any more time on it. There’s so much more to Yang than UBI! Let me break it all down for you.
The Actually Decent
There are some policies that Yang suggests that aren’t just “I could live with that,” they’re actually BLOODY HELL ANDREW, GOOD JOB. For example:
- Term limits!
- Term limits for everyone!
- Tort reform!
- Nuclear energy!
- Automatically sunsetting legislation!
- Legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing other drugs!
- Making it easier to destroy robo-callers!
- Taking the environmental lobby to task for the current state of forestry in the US!
- Public high schools should focus on steering students toward vocational studies rather than solely traditional university!
- Public high schools should also be teaching their students some goddamn life skills!
And of course, this beauty:
He also has some ideas that I honestly wouldn’t have considered before but aren’t half bad. He has a major focus on decentralizing power from out-of-touch urban hubs, and proposes relocating certain federal agencies from Washington, D.C. to other parts of the country to essentially drain the swamp. He suggests ranked choice voting, which is an idea I personally like. His idea about requiring a second person’s approval for a nuclear weapon’s launch is a good one in my view as it adds some checks and balances. And while you probably can’t make a libertarian argument in favor of this, I like the idea of forcing Americans to get out of their goddamn bubbles. I’ve always said making every American spend a year in Stockton, California would cut back on a good deal of the bitching.
Andrew Yang for a Cyberpunk Future
Perusing Yang’s website, it becomes very clear very quickly that Yang is envisioning a future of automation, robots, and artificial intelligence, and he thinks it’s coming fast. Like, now. I mean, like, now. He makes clear multiple times that his reasoning behind UBI is that automation is going to very soon leave us with more able-bodied, working-age adults than there are jobs, and that this isn’t something that’s undoable. I’m not here to make the argument one way or the other, I’m just here to report the facts. Fight it out in the comments.
Rather, the thing that’s so amusing to me is the fact that so many of his policies have that reasoning built into them. He literally has “use AI” as a major facet for implementation of no less than four of his policies. I swear to God, this man is going to have us in (self-driving) flying cars by the end of the decade.
Examples of policies taken straight out of a sci-fi novel:
- Regulating artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies
- Prosecuting algorithmic trading
- Implementing quantum computing and encryption standards
- AI doctors (regulated, of course)
- THE LEGION OF BUILDERS AND DESTROYERS
Very Specific Policies
Some of his policy proposals are so off-the-wall that I can’t help but think that this is personal. Whether someone personally affronted him (I have a feeling that he was kicked off a plane at one point and he’s not happy about it) or he just personally thinks something is dumb, some of his policy suggestions are so random that you know the only person they matter to is Yang himself.
But there is one policy so random, so absolutely WTF, that it deserves special recognition:
The Human Resources Department Came Up With This, Didn’t They?
He’s got some… interesting ideas on what will encourage people to become more civic-minded.
- Making taxation Fast, Fun, and Friendly®
- (No, seriously, read that one, he wants to make Tax Day a holiday with games and contests so Paying Your Taxes Is Fun)
- Mandatory AmazonSmile donations
- I WILL BRIBE YOU TO CARE ABOUT ELECTIONS
There are also some policy proposals that are just weird. I mean, not as weird as Empowering MMA Fighters, but still weird. Like turning the Post Office into a bank and turning local newspapers into PBS.
He’s got a (D) after his name, so of course no one will be surprised by:
- Medicare for All
- Muh Wage Gap
- Cap and Trade
- Gun Control
- Regulate Dat Bitcoin
- Lower the Voting Age to 16 Because Reasons
At the end of the day, Andrew Yang is a candidate that’s a bit hard to put in a box. He has some good libertarian ideas, he has some Oh No leftist ideas, and he has a whole lot of ideas that honestly no one has really suggested before and thus kind of hard to categorize. It’s clear that Yang’s policies aren’t really realistic proposals that could ever be implemented by a president, because mainstream political parties would never go for them (at least, not right now), and since Yang isn’t running for Emperor, he can’t just do what he wants without congressional approval. It seems like his platform is less one about realistic policies and more Ideas For Engineering Social Change. But kind of like how Bernie’s surprise success in 2016 has led to every mainstream candidate this cycle trying to out-Bernie Bernie, maybe Yang’s long game here is to get his ideas in front of a larger audience and get more people thinking and talking about them so at some point in the future, they won’t sound so off-the-wall after all. While some of his policy ideas need to go to the incinerator ASAP, several of them I honestly wouldn’t mind becoming more a part of the American discourse.
Regardless, this article honestly kind of only scratches the surface of Yang. He has SO MANY policy proposals on his website that just in the time it took for me to read them and then try to summarize them here, I was already forgetting things. So I do recommend if you’ve got some time to kill, checking out all of Yang’s policies here. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cheer, and you’ll want to bash your head into the wall. Andrew Yang contains multitudes.
All I know is that I donated to the dude’s campaign because he entertains me. I’m trying to imagine what 2020 would be like if it was Trump vs. this guy, and I think this would be the most fun outcome for me. I know he’s more than a long shot—there’s no way in hell the DNC are going to let him anywhere near that stage for the fall debates, and like I said earlier, there’s always the “Ladies and Gentlemen, Andrew Yang suddenly died” option whenever we’re talking about these people—but nevertheless, I’d like to keep him in this circus as long as possible. And TBH, if by some miracle of God he actually won, I don’t think I’d be that mad.