By Matt DeCristo

The good thing about having a bad president, is the strong desire (by some) for a change. As it stands, there are a million and one candidates vying for the democratic nomination to win the White House in 2020. The lot is loaded with men and women, diversity and dynamism, fresh faces and old ones, and many just seeking attention.

I want to get excited about a candidate. I need to get behind someone that truly impresses me if they wish to secure my vote. I quickly became a huge fan of Pete Buttigieg, the young mayor of South Bend, IN. After hearing a barrage of speeches, town halls, and interviews, I felt that Mayor Pete has exactly what it takes to be a truly great leader.

But recently, I discovered another.

Andrew Yang is a 44-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist. He’s the founder of Venture for America; a nonprofit organization and fellowship with an honorable mission, striving to revitalize American cities and communities through entrepreneurship by training recent graduates and young professionals to work for startups in emerging cities throughout the United States. It makes sense that his campaign slogan is “Humanity First.”  

I love that Yang, like myself, is a free-thinker. As he states often during his numerous appearances, his politics are not left or right, but forward, abandoning the divisive lines of Democrat vs Republican that has made many of us sick of present day politics, and it’s exactly what this country needs. Yang will go on CNN and FOX. He speaks to both liberal and conservative pundits. His message is one of inclusion for all, holding rallies that draw excitement and fervor from people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. He genuinely wants what’s best for his country. 

And what is not to like about Yang?

He’s a data driven tech whiz, with the wits and savvy to get America on the right track. He hails from nearby Schenectady, the son of Taiwanese immigrants. He grew up a victim of bullies and racial insults, making him work harder in his quest at standing up for the underdog. He studied at two Ivy League colleges; earning an undergraduate degree in Economics from Brown, and a Juris Doctorate from Columbia. Despite those lofty accomplishments, he’s down-to-earth enough to spend hours posing for selfies after his appearances, and joking that, as an Asian man who loves math, he is the total opposite of Donald Trump. 

Listening to Yang speak is an exercise in brilliance. Like every candidate, he has opinions and policies for all topics, and his website, Yang2020.com, covers them all. He’s in favor of universal health care. He wants sensible gun control laws and climate change reform. He’s a believer in innovation and human-centered capitalism.

And he has a chilling warning concerning the upcoming 4th Industrial Revolution – Automation – and the cataclysmic impact it will have on the citizens of this country. His signature campaign issue is his remedy to combat the approaching problem and overhaul the entire economy.  

He wants to give every US citizen $1,000 a month. Guaranteed. No strings attached.

Sounds too good to be true right? The details may surprise you.

Andrew Yang’s proposed Freedom Dividend is itself an offshoot of Universal Basic Income (UBI). It mimics what the state of Alaska has successfully employed for 30 years, and channels the desires of Founding Father Thomas Paine. It’s a reformation of the failed EITC, and a way to fuel the landscape with Trickle Up Economics.

As Yang preaches, technology is the oil of the 21st Century, and within the next decade, robots will be replacing a large portion of the middle class jobs that we have today. Retail, trucking, customer service. All will be greatly impacted as automation continues to improve. These trends will have a massive crippling effect on the backbone of the country. 

The $1,000 per month credit is akin to the citizens of the United States earning a stock dividend for being owners of the richest and most powerful country in the world. It’s not going to make anyone wealthy, but it offers the financial security and peace of mind that the majority of Americans are lacking today. 60% of adults can’t afford a $500 emergency, and that’s a staggering statistic. The Freedom Dividend is designed to combat wage stagnation, and allow the flexibility to cover an unexpected health crises, or a desire to relocate for a new job, or the funds to start a new business. This is the best way to reinvigorate the economy; from the ground up. Financial hardships are a drain that impacts other areas in a sour way, such as mental health, violence, and bigotry. 

The Freedom Dividend is not a rich to poor transfer. Since everyone gets it, no one can slander anyone else for receiving it, and there’s no reason to lie or cheat when it arrives. It’s a credit you opt in for, and replaces all other government funded assistance. In a roundabout way, it alleviates issues on the top and bottom of the scale in a financial grassroots effort. 

While still impressed with Mayor Pete, I don’t think I could write 800 words about him so quickly. I have officially joined the Yang Gang, and urge you to find some podcasts or videos and give him a listen. It may be the last hope for the 99%.

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