Politics of Automation

Andrew Yang’s  speech highly pertains to my interest in the politics of automation. He mentions running for president during this wave of automation. Yang mentions three big moves to make, which is Universal Basic Income (UBI), ridding of healthcare, and shifting towards an alternative for Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

With Universal Basic Income, every American over eighteen years of age gets $1000 per month. Ultimately, creating millions of jobs and growing the consumer economy by 10%. “You see children’s nutrition improve, education rises, mental health improves, domestic violence goes down, and hospital visits go down”(YouTube). This quote suggests that Universal Basic Income is a positive approach to the quality of life. He goes on to say Americans are living pay check to pay check and, “the reason this country is getting dumber and dumber is because they can’t pay their bills.”

Yang has a valid point with providing Universal Basic Income to people, in that it would change lives and improve the quality of living. Data is the oil of the 21st century. Yang wants to put a tax in place to harness all of these gains on big data, artificial intelligence, and autonomous vehicles with returning it to the American people.

Another big move that Yang wants to do is to take healthcare off the backs of American families and businesses. He wants to ensure that the American system is a single payer system like Norway.

There are many advantages to a single payer system. This system will allow patients to make their own medical decisions with the help of their doctor. Also, Americans would not have insurance company restrictions that, so many times, hinder their care. The focus would be on preventative care. The single payer system covers everyone, not just the ones who can afford health insurance. A big advantage is that you would never lose your coverage again. Moving jobs or going back to school would not affect your health benefits. This system would also stop people from becoming bankrupt from their medical bills. Costs of premiums are rising, fewer people can afford quality care, and many Americans make the choice to not get the care they need due to their financial situation.

As is changing the Gross Domestic Product, which Yang mentions is a terrible measurement for national well-being, and to use, “parenthood and motherhood since it adds so much value.” And not to include military defense spending since that it is not adding any economic value. Capitalism as an economic system has led to unparalleled innovation and improvement in the human condition.

Our current emphasis on corporate profits is not working for the vast majority of Americans. This will only be made worse by the development of automation technology and artificial intelligence. We need to move to a new form of capitalism – Human Capitalism – that is geared towards maximizing human well-being and fulfillment. The central tenets of Human Capitalism are: Humans are more important than money, the unit of a Human Capitalism economy is each person, not each dollar, and markets exist to serve our common goals and values.

Now in terms of social context for the speech, we have Yang running for President. He talks about how our economy is going towards an automated economy. Blue collar jobs will be replaced by automation, so many hard working Americans will be out of work.

Yang feels we need to do more to help those doing blue collar jobs, who will be out of work soon. For many years, people did simple, mundane tasks like sorting mail at a post office. We assumed that is how society is done. Society is now evolving away from these mundane jobs with automation taking over.

As for our government, it is not assisting society to adapt to this new way of manufacturing. Yang believes the government needs to prepare the people working blue collar jobs by reeducating them.

I feel automation is great for this economy. There are so many jobs that are mundane that are not so meaningful in today’s society. Having machines automate those mundane tasks, so we can advance as a human civilization, would be beyond great as a society. Solely focusing our efforts towards refining our educational system for the not so mundane tasks – and going towards the technical task will get us to the next level. Automation helps alleviate the stress load and brings about a high level of convenience.

Yang wants to give all working people $1000 per month, called Universal Basic Income, to help offset and help things that are declining like minority education and mental health. As for the situational circumstance – here we have Yang justifying his logic for automation with such a ground shattering statistic of mentioning, “40% of all jobs will be automated by 2030”(YouTube). This just goes to show that he is absolutely right to be more conscientious of automation. Now going towards a cognitive circumstance, no other politician is taking a more tactful approach to automation than Andrew Yang. Yang took it upon himself to go to Washington D.C. to visit senior lawmakers and Democrats. Yang asked them what we are going to do about the fact that the economy is changing forever. The responses Yang received varied, but he received three common responses. That being: we cannot talk about it; we should study that further; and we must educate and retrain Americans for jobs in the future.

Yang went about asking them about employment retraining and the startling statistic is that it is from zero to fifteen percent, rather than the presumed 90 percent. This startling fact begs the question on how we will go about operating in such a backward society. And to answer that question, Yang said that he is running for president to help advance society in this automation wave.

The underlying meaning of why Andrew Yang decided to pursue the route of automation in politics is quite simple – that is where the economy is headed. Moore’s Law is a predicator of this, stating that that the amount of transmitters on a microchip doubles every two years. With the speed and capability of computers increasing every couple of years and being less expensive (Investopedia). By this logic, we can see the opening field of how automation can be advancing at a fast threshold.

Why universal basic income though? Families are less strained and the money is going back into the individuals for universal basic income. Yang aims to lift us out of this tiring apocalyptic economy with satisfying each individual American with money each month. The economy, “will grow to $2.5 trillion by 2025” (Yang2020). A report by McKinsey mentions that one third of American workers will lose their job by 2030. Transforming the lives of Americans starts with providing them the right additional income.

I feel everyone should get $1000 per month or Universal Basic Income. I feel that it will alleviate a huge burden on individuals. For example, people would be able to be more independent. They would also be able to pay off certain debt, like college loans. Americans can work less hours and spend more time with loved ones. I also feel that Americans will get to spend more time taking care of themselves, not just physically but also mentally – bringing about the overall quality of life to be higher.

Good jobs are also becoming more scarce and Americans are working harder and harder for less and less. Yang aims to improve the quality of living with being human centered capitalistic focused for the economy – ultimately taking the money away from the corporations. We can see from a distant perspective why universal basic income is a great approach – as the likes of Marin Luther King Jr., Mark Zuckerberg, and Stephen Hawking all agree that universal basic income should be necessary to sustain a good quality of living.

Why the ridding of healthcare? Healthcare is a detrimental cost factor for Americans. Abolishing the current state of the healthcare adds a new layer of security for every American citizen. “Employees are tied to their employers because they receive the healthcare benefits through them”(Yang2020). Seeking to change the status quo of this system, he wants to implement a Medicare For All system. Under this new system, receiving healthcare will be a basic human right. He goes on to say how, as an American, if you get sick, you have two things to be worry about –  “how to get better and how to pay for it” (Yang2020). Yang wants medical professionals to take a more holistic approach with their healthcare professionalism. As of right now, most hospitals have doctors being paid by price-per-service. This current model causes “[doctors] to act as factor workers” (Yang2020), having them churn through patients and prescribe redundant tests.

At the Cleveland Clinic, Yang goes on to mention that doctors are far happier there with receiving payment through a flat service fee of a salary. This allows the doctors to be more proactive with their time – spending extra time with each patient to ensure an overall health for them. This holistic approach, where doctors are recommending patients see a psychiatrist for issues regarding their mental health. This occurrence is rather good, because there is a strong correlation with your physical and mental health.

Currently, the state of healthcare is exorbitant with high costs, causing patients and families to be in crippling debt. For example, the average cost of getting your appendix removed is about $13,199 (LendingPoint) – now that is with health insurance. Some hospitals charge up to $200,000 for the same appendix surgery, but without the patient having health insurance. Even just $13,199 is insane. Countries like Canada and Norway have free healthcare, allowing no burden of stress on the civilians. As for the United States, we have that burden of healthcare. Like Yang, I feel that this too should be a basic right for all humans. These new implemented basic rights come at a cost, but I feel allocating current resources like military expenditures would be a good stepping stone for our society

Why shifting towards an alternative Gross Domestic Product is a good change? Yang believes in implementing human-centered capitalism. The current emphasis right now is on corporate profits. This human-centered capitalist idea consists of three tenets – first, humans are more important than money. Second, the unit of a human capitalism economy is each person, not each dollar. And finally, the tenet of markets existing to serving common goals and values. The goal is, “to maximize human welfare”(Yang2020).

Looking into the broader institutional context – we can see that automation is forthcoming on big technology companies as well as small businesses looking to have faster processes. For example, let’s say a company has customer service line. Instead of a human receiving the calls, a machine would receive and automate the process. This in turn would allow maximum efficiency, since this process is always on in comparison to a human working a set amount of hours. Being aware of the ongoing changes as whole and educating yourself, is a step towards a preventative measure to go against automation.

A sociopolitical aspect of automation is the social factors it can cause in the workforce. With more and more customer service jobs going obsolete, face to face contact is being lowered because of machines taking over these positions. As efficiency of machines can surpass the humans.

Looking into the historical context of automation, we can see the Republicans would be opposed to the idea of automation since they have very conservative views. The Democrats, on the other hand, are all for change and are keeping an open mind when it comes to this new wave of technology.

In terms of a reproduction of the shared mental representations of the world, social actors taking change towards this automation future are the tech giants – Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple. As for an individual, Elon Musk has been widely vocal and Andrew Yang mentions him during this speech as to people that are working towards that. Elon Musk is paving the way in that sector with his car company, Tesla. Tesla has autonomous vehicles which ultimately will be getting rid of individuals that depend on using ride sharing platforms for their livelihood. Here we have Yang and Musk, both visionaries, in the realm of automation.

Yang mentioned that customer service and truck drivers, which make up 30 million American jobs, will be automated (YouTube). This call for education and the universal basic income aims to tackle these individuals that will be harshly affected by automation’s termination of their jobs.

All things considered, we can see how the social context and textual features, such as the representation of social actors, played a role in the speech Andrew Yang gave at the Awesome Work Conference held in New York City in late 2018. He gave us perspectives on various circumstances, like how no other politician is taking a more tactful approach to automation than Andrew Yang. Overall, I feel Yang has extreme views on change with data being his core focus.

To reiterate his three main policies that are behind his campaign – he wants universal basic income, Medicare for all, and having a focus on human-centered capitalism. His entrepreneurial spirit is the epiphany of the American Dream. Yang’s policies and views on automation are unparallel to any of other candidates. No one is mentioning Universal Basic Income or automation with jobs being overtaken by machines. This entrepreneur turned politician is technologically conscientious, and that is something we need in today’s society to help get us out of this crippling debt.




Works Cited

Work Awesome. The Politics of Automation – Andrew Yang. YouTube, 7 Jan. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdYYi8E7-Hk.

Tardi, Carla. “Moore’s Law Explained.” Investopedia, Investopedia, 18 Nov. 2019, www.investopedia.com/terms/m/mooreslaw.asp.

Yang, Andrew. “Medicare for All – Yang2020 – Andrew Yang for President.” Yang2020, http://www.yang2020.com/policies/medicare-for-all/.

Yang, Andrew. “The Freedom Dividend – Yang2020 – Andrew Yang for President.” Yang2020, http://www.yang2020.com/policies/the-freedom-dividend/.

Yang, Andrew. “Human-Centered Capitalism – Yang2020 – Andrew Yang for President.” Yang2020, www.yang2020.com/policies/human-capitalism/.

“Appendectomy Costs and How to Pay for Them.” LendingPoint, 2 Feb. 2018, http://www.lendingpoint.com/blog/appendectomy-what-it-costs-and-how-to-pay-for-it/.

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