From entrepreneur Andrew Yang, the founder of Venture for America, a look at how new technologies are erasing millions of jobs and the steps he thinks America should take, including instituting a universal basic income, to stabilize our economy.
Andrew Yang’s new book pulls together all of the bits of this narrative and packages it in an easy to read manner ... While Yang does share his social and political viewpoints in the book, it is designed (and educational) for readers of all political persuasions. The first two-thirds of the book focuses on explaining how automation is transforming the U.S. labor market and why. The last third of the book dives into Andrew’s proposed solutions. Whether or not you agree with his suggestions, the world would be better off if everyone read the first chunk of the book and saw what the tech community already sees. If everyone understood what is happening, we’d have better odds of finding solutions.
Several recent books have provided good background briefings for what a U.B.I. [universal basic income] could be ... To these offerings, Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur, adds his own, somewhat breathless version in The War on Normal People. Annie Lowrey, a contributing editor for The Atlantic, provides a similarly upbeat, although more measured, assessment in Give People Money. Both are useful primers on the case for a U.B.I. The two books cover so much of the same terrain that I’m tempted to wonder whether they were written by the same robot, programmed for slightly different levels of giddy enthusiasm ... Yang suggests it would spur a system of 'social credits' in which people trade their spare time by performing various helpful tasks for one another ... A core challenge in the future will be how to redistribute money from the ever richer owners of the robots and related technologies to the rest of us, who are otherwise likely to become poorer and less secure ... Sadly, neither of these authors discusses how to deal with this paradox.
I share Mr. Yang’s worries about the future of work, but I remain convinced, even after reading...that UBI is the wrong answer to this challenge. We need policies that encourage job creation and working, not policies that pay people not to work ... despite Mr. Yang’s hopes that UBI will somehow 'enable people to more effectively transition from shrinking industries and environments to new ones' and will be 'perhaps the greatest catalyst to human creativity we have ever seen,' 50 years of evidence about labor supply in the U.S. suggests that giving people money will lead them to work less.