Fox News: 2020 Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Examines the Automation Issue
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The presidential election of 2016 had zero mention of the coming automation threat, so the appearance of tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang as a 2020 presidential candidate was a hopeful sign that America might be alerted to the mass unemployment that is predicted for the future by numerous experts.

Andrew Yang discussed his presidential campaign on Fox News Sunday.

But rather than explain what tech authorities forecast will happen, Yang went for the attention-getter of free money, aka Universal Basic Income. The details are important because it’s difficult for average people to envision a level of permanent job loss worse than the Great Depression. In fact, polling has shown a strange sort of denial among the public:

Most Americans think artificial intelligence will destroy other people’s jobs, not theirs,, March 7, 2018

AI is a problem for jobs, say the majority of Americans, but it’s someone else’s problem.

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of US adults believe artificial intelligence will “eliminate more jobs than it creates,” according to a Gallup survey. But, the same survey found that less than a quarter (23 percent) of people were “worried” or “very worried” automation would affect them personally. (Continues).

Let’s review the predictions of experts, which are largely dire if not apocalyptic: Oxford researchers forecast in 2013 that nearly half of American jobs were vulnerable to machine or software replacement within 20 years. Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi believes that in 30 years humans will become largely obsolete, and world joblessness will reach 50 percent. The Gartner tech advising company believes that one-third of jobs will be done by machines by 2025. The consultancy firm PwC published a report last year that forecast robots could take 38 percent of US jobs by 2030. In November 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute reported that automation “could displace up to 800 million workers — 30 percent of the global workforce — by 2030.” Forrester Research estimates that robots and artificial intelligence could eliminate nearly 25 million jobs in the United States over the next decade, but it should create nearly 15 million positions, resulting in a loss of 10 million US jobs. Kai-Fu Lee, the venture capitalist and author of AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, forecast on CBS’ Sixty Minutes about automation and artificial intelligence: “in 15 years, that’s going to displace about 40 percent of the jobs in the world.” A February 2018 paper from Bain & Company, Labor 2030, predicted, “By the end of the 2020s, automation may eliminate 20% to 25% of current jobs.”

The jobs economy is booming now, but that could change quickly: When smart machines become cheaper than humans in performing jobs, then the replacement will begin, as it already has in industries like automotive manufacturing:

Furthermore, it’s crazy to continue admitting huge numbers of low-skilled foreigners as immigrants when their jobs will be among the first to be automated.

Candidate Andrew Yang appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss how automation will affect American workers and the economy:

CHRIS WALLACE: His supporters call themselves the Yang Gang. They chant PowerPoint at his rallies and wear ball caps with “M-A-T-H” on the front for “Make America Think Harder.”

Joining us now for an exclusive “Fox News Sunday” sit down, Democratic presidential candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who will be on the debate stage this week.

Mr. Yang, welcome to “Fox News Sunday.”

YANG: Thanks for having me, Chris. It’s a pleasure to be here.

WALLACE: Let’s start with the latest Fox News poll that came out this week. It shows you tied for sixth place with Amy Klobuchar at 3 percent, 30 points behind Joe Biden, but running ahead of Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro.

So I have kind of a good news/bad news question, which is, why do you think you’re doing better than a lot of better-known politicians? And then the other hand, how do you ever make the big jump that you still have to make to get into the top tier of candidates?

YANG: Well, on the positive side, America, unfortunately, has lost a lot of confidence in its politicians. It’s one reason why I’m doing so well, I’m beating many sitting senators and governors.

The American people realize that our government is way behind the curve in solving the real problems. And we need to catch up and speed up. And they see someone like me as someone who can help make that possible.

In terms of making the big jump to catch up to Joe Biden and the other leaders, most Americans are just tuning in to who’s running in 2020. I’m still introducing myself to the American people. It’s going to be a very, very fluid race over the weeks and months to come. I’m very confident I’m just going to keep on climbing the polls and start catching up to the leaders very soon.

WALLACE: You say people are just tuning in, but if they tuned in to the first Democratic debate, they didn’t see much of Andrew Yang. You ended up getting — I had to get check this out — two minutes and 50 seconds total in a two hour debate, by far the least amount of time of any of the Democrats in the two debates.

What’s your plan to get more airtime this week?

YANG: Well, I got asked two questions in two hours, which certainly was not enough, but we’re very confident that this Wednesday I’m going to have much, much more of an opportunity to make my case to the American people that the real central issue is that we’re automating away millions of first manufacturing jobs and now retail jobs, call center jobs, and on and on through the economy.

And because of the polling support we have, I’m not going to have just next week in Detroit. I’m going to have also September in Houston and on and on. My campaign is going to be here the entire way.

WALLACE: I want to talk about your policy proposal and automation in a moment, but just to get back to the debate, one way that is tried and true to get more attention and airtime is to go after the front runners. You’re going to be on the stage on Wednesday night with two of the front runners, Vice President Biden and Senator Harris.

Any thoughts about going after them, one, because you have differences on issues, and, two, because it will get you more attention?

YANG: Well, my focus is on solving the problems of the American people. And to the extent that I can drive the conversation towards those issues, I’m very, very excited about it.

I don’t think that we benefit if I’m throwing rocks at other candidates when, frankly, I agree with them on many, many issues. And I think right now my focus really is on still introducing myself to the American people.

WALLACE: One of your main messages, which you referred to a moment ago, is that you say that this country is going through a dramatic, economic transformation, in large part because of automation. And you say that you will keep the promises to working-class Americans that President Trump has failed to keep to them. Here you are in the first debate:

YANG: I can build a much broader coalition to beat Donald Trump. It is not left, it is not right, it is forward. And that is where I’ll take the country in 2020.

WALLACE: You propose what you call the American Mall Act, like shopping mall act, with a $6 billion fund.

How would that work?

YANG: We’re in the process of automating away the most common jobs in the U.S. economy, which includes retail worker, call-center worker, truck driver, food service. These are the jobs that are disappearing around the country. And, unfortunately, they’re also the most common jobs.

So Amazon is closing 30 percent of our malls and stores and paying zero in taxes while doing it. And these malls become sinkholes. They cause blight, become havens for crime and bad actions. So we need to help communities transition these malls to become community centers or schools or even residential. But in the absence of that kind of move, these ghost malls become the last place anyone wants to be and they destroy property value for miles around.

WALLACE: But what you do you do — if automation is the problem, what do you do to help the worker who has skills for an earlier era transition and get a job in these times?

YANG: The first big step is we need to have everyone share in all of the gains from this progress and innovation. My flagship proposal of freedom dividend would put $1,000 a month into the hands of every American so that if your mall closes or your job gets blasted away, you at least have $12,000 a year that helps take the pressure off and helps you transition in a better — better direction.

WALLACE: But are you basically on your own? In other words, are you going to provide retraining programs? Are you basically saying, here’s $12,000, help yourself?

YANG: Well, we certainly need to invest in the retraining of the American people, but we also have to be honest that we’re terrible at retraining. The success rates for federally funded retraining programs for the displaced manufacturing workers in the Midwest were between zero and 15 percent. And pretending that we’re somehow going to become excellent at retraining Americans is lying to the American people.

I was just at a truck stop in Iowa. If you went to those truckers and said, we’re going to retrain you to be coders or engineers, they would be more likely to punch you in the face then sign up. So we need to put the resources directly into our hands, the hands of the American people. Certainly we need to invest in retraining programs, but we also have to be realistic about what we can and can’t accomplish.

WALLACE: OK, let’s talk about some of the concerns about your big program, the freedom dividend, which is also called UBI, Universal Basic Income. $1,000 a month to every adult, everybody over 18, regardless of whether your Jeff Bezos or you’re the guy on the street, $12,000 a year.

YANG: Bezos, yes.

WALLACE: Estimates are that your plan would cost about $3 trillion a year. And the main way that you would do it — you have some other methods, but your main way is a value-added tax, a VAT, the kind of sales tax they have in Europe, which is what you say would — would pay for this.

First of all, it’s basically a sales tax, which, as you know, is one of the more regressive ones. And, secondly, independent groups like the Tax Foundation say — and they’ve looked at all of your plans — they say that your numbers don’t add up. That, in fact, what you would get from all of this is less than $500 a month per person, not $1,000 a month per person.

YANG: First, the headline cost is much lower than $3 trillion because we’re already spending over $1.5 trillion on various direct income support programs. But if we put a mechanism in place where the American people get a sliver of every Amazon transaction — and, again, Amazon’s a trillion dollar tech company that paid zero in taxes last year. If we give the American people a sliver of every Amazon transaction, every Google search, every FaceBook ad, every robot truck mile, we can generate hundreds of billions in new revenue.

And the great thing is, when we put this dividend into your hands, this thousand dollars a month, where does the money go? The money goes right back into local communities and the economy. It goes to car repairs and day care and little league sign-ups, all the things that make us healthier and stronger and would help create millions of jobs around the country.

WALLACE: But I want to pick up on something you just said. Well, this, whatever it is, with get — pay a million — a trillion and a half dollars a year in money transfers. That’s one of the concerns because some conservatives are saying, well, look, if we were giving everybody $12,000 a year, we could replace the welfare state. So, yes, everybody’s going to get the Andrew Yang freedom dividend, but then the conservatives can do away with social programs that a lot of people at the lower end of the income scale depend on.

YANG: Well, my program is universal, but it’s opt in. And if you opt in, then you’d be forgoing benefits from certain existing programs. And so this, to me, would be a win-win-win where you have these resources in the hands of the American people, you don’t have restrictions on how people spend it and you also get rid of a lot of the negative incentives because the fact is a lot of these programs give you less if you do better and we have to make it so that if you do better, you do better.

WALLACE: Final question, and this is another concern people have, look, when you work, you get more out of it than money. You get self-esteem. You get social interaction. There’s a lot of things. And some people are concerned that with your, in effect, $12,000 a year handout, that your delinking income from actually earning a living.

YANG: Well, I’m Asian, so you know I love to work. But you have to be a little bit broader about how you think about work. My wife is at home with our two young boys, one of whom has autism. What is the market value of her work at right now? Zero. And we know that’s the opposite of the truth. We know the work she’s doing is among the most challenging and vital work in our society. So we need to think bigger about what we mean by work.

But most Americans know that putting a bit of money into your hands is going to make you work harder in many contexts and it’s certainly not going to take someone who wants to work and say like, oh, I’m going to kick back, because a thousand dollars a month is not enough to thrive in any environment.

WALLACE: Mr. Yang, thank you. Thanks for sharing your weekend and your ideas with us. And we’ll be tracking how much time you actually get to speak in the debate this week.

YANG: Thank you, Chris. Hopefully I’ll see you in Detroit.

WALLACE: Well, no, you won’t, but that’s not a Fox debate. But we would like to do one. Thank you.

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