Andrew Yang

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2 February 2020

Andrew Yang is polling a distant sixth in the Democratic Party caucus tomorrow in Iowa as well as nationwide. I think he's the only candidate in the field who seems not to be just a lying politian. And, yeah, I really like the MATH thing. I am a math guy at after all. So I thought I would take the time to fully digest the case for a universal basic income from that policy's loudest proponent and read Yang's The War on Normal People.

I came at Yang's book hoping to be impressed and left disappointed. Yang makes a case for the universal basic incomeby selectively presenting favorable data, and ignoring legitimate arguments in favor of straw men. Yeah, I suppose that's to be expected in a book length political argument, but with Yang's lauding of math I was expecting something more scientific. It turns out Yang was educated as a lawyer though, and in this book that really comes through.

When Yang starts talking about social currency is when things really start to go downhill. He seems to both be incredible uninformed about the reasons the state created the modern fiat money system and at the same time naive enough to believe that law enforcement wouldn't try to turn his social currency into something like China has for it's citizens, where their score affects all aspects of their lives. You didn't pick up after your dog too many times, so now you're on the no fly list. If that sounds Orwellian it's because it is.

Advertising in The Economist to try and stanch the flight of British capital from Hong Kong.

Is it racist to mention Chinese statism when discussing a Chinese-American candidate? Probably. Let me be clear though: I don't think Yang has any nefarious relationship with China, and a lot of other people in the freer parts of the world have championed the same bad ideas. China is just the police state where the these bad ideas have seen a terrible cost to humanity, most recently in the suppression of Hong Kong.

I left the book still liking Andrew Yang, even if I respect him somewhat less. And among the Democrats he's probably the least bad option. I'm just not convinced about the universal basic income. Yang didn't make a compelling enough case, but I don't think that this is an idea that will go away soon. For that simple reason I have to recommend Yang's book to anyone interested in staying informed about the debate on this subject.

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