Enthusiastic supporters packed Café Dodici in Washington Sunday afternoon for Andrew Yang’s campaign stop.
The self-professed “Asian man who likes math” and entrepreneur is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.
“I am the ideal candidate for this job because the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math,” Yang proclaimed to cheers from the crowd.
Yang talked up his Freedom Dividend – a plan to pay every adult American $1,000 per month.
“This is not a new idea, and it’s not my idea,” he said. “Thomas Paine was for it at the founding of the country and called it the Citizen’s Dividend for all Americans.”
He added that Martin Luther King Jr. was advocating for a similar plan at the time of his assassination in 1968.
“A thousand economists endorsed this in the 1970s, including Milton Friedman, the patron saint of much of modern-day economics,” Yang continued. “It was so mainstream that it passed the U.S. House of Representatives twice in 1971 under Nixon. It was called the Family Assistance Plan and would have guaranteed every family a certain income level.”
He pointed out that Alaska pays a yearly dividend to all of its citizens, paid for by the oil companies in the state.
“How does Alaska pay for that? Oil,” he said. “What is the oil of the 21st century? Data. A study just came out that says our data is now worth more than oil.
“If our data is worth tens of billions of dollars, where is all the money going? It’s going to Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and the mega-tech companies that are paying zero or near zero in taxes.”
He said that communities, especially rural communities, are being “sucked dry” by companies not paying federal taxes.
“This Freedom Dividend is incredibly easy to pay for as long as we get our tiny fair share of every Amazon sale, every Google search, every Facebook ad,” Yang said. “If we put that money into your hands, we build a trickle-up economy. The money doesn’t disappear when it’s in your hands.”
He also said that it is time to change the way success is measured in the country.
He said that focus should not be on gross domestic product, but on health and wellness, mental health, freedom from substance abuse, proportion of Americans who can retire in quality circumstances, childhood success rates, clean air and clean water.
“These are the things that we claim to value most highly in our lives, yet the market is zeroing them out one by one,” Yang said. “Somewhere over the past 50 years, our country has been brainwashed to confuse economic value and human value, that what the market says we are worth is what we are worth. If the market says you are valueless, then you have no value.”
Yang said that after Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 pushed him to look at the reasons that led to Trump’s election.
“I’m a numbers guy, and when I dug into the numbers,” Yang said. “I found a clear explanation that to me is the most powerful, direct reason why Donald Trump won.
“It’s that we blasted away four million jobs in the manufacturing industry that were based primarily in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri and 40,000 right here in Iowa.”
He recalled visiting towns in Iowa where manufacturing jobs had been lost and saw a similar pattern in other communities around the country where plants closed, followed by shopping districts closing and people leaving.
“I saw that same pattern play out in communities in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri,” Yang said. “There’s a straight line up between the adoption of industrial automation in a voting district and a movement to Trump. It’s the strongest correlation anyone can find.”