Andrew Yang Sees the Future
He’s right, and he’s good for the 2020 race.
Odds are decent that you’ve never heard of Andrew Yang. I don’t think he can win, but I do think he’s talking about the most interesting political issue of the next 20 years.
The 2020 election is a long way away. I’m not here to make predictions, but the 2018 midterm and Trump’s approval ratings suggest that the Democratic nominee already has an advantage. But looking to 2020 and beyond, as the country continues to diversify and Trump’s base, along with conservatives, broadly, die at a faster rate than Democratic voters come of age, the electorate is shifting blue and our elected representatives will soon better represent it.
I don’t want to go down this prediction rabbit hole except to suggest that certain items we view as politically contentious will, I believe, be put to bed soon, including:
- Climate change – It’s real and we need to take it more seriously.
- Universal healthcare – We long ago codified universal access to care. Now we need a better way to pay for it.
- Immigration – We need more of it and a better process.
- Debt – It’s hard to see how we could do worse than we’re doing today.
I have confidence that we are entering a political climate wherein we can address all of these issues. And while the work will last decades, and perhaps centuries, with a shared understanding of the problems and a commitment to solving them, we will make tremendous progress on all fronts.
Which brings us to the next major political issue of the coming 20 years, Universal Basic Income.
Universal Basic Income – a Social Imperative.
As we enter an age of AI-driven automation, UBI is inevitable. According to AI expert Kai Fu Lee, 40% of jobs are at risk in the next 15-25 years. PWC projects 30% of jobs will be lost. These are huge numbers that are not likely to be overcome through jobs gained in AI.
Further, according to McKinsey, there will be significant skill mismatches in the labor force. All of this coincides with an accelerating trend of separating labor from economic output.
We Can Afford It.
The impact of automation on the labor force is foreseeable and it may well come rapidly. This will shock the labor force and has the potential to hurt our consumer-driven economy in the short run.
The upside is that productivity will continue its acceleration. While stocks markets may oscillate, the next technological revolution will power long term economic growth. We are a rich country that will keep getting richer. We should raise taxes on the rich (not 70%, but higher than 37%) and we may need to tax the output of robots and automated systems.
It’s in this context, where millions, maybe tens of millions, will find it near impossible to find work, that we’re going to need to rethink how we provide for the basic needs of large swaths of the population.
UBI is a solution for this high automation, low labor economy. Andrew Yang knows this. He’s right, and he’s ahead of the curve on this topic. I’m glad he’s bringing this important issue to light.