Andrew Yang Promotes “Human-Centered Capitalism” as Antidote to America’s Woes

June 21, 2019 by TWN Staff
Entrepreneur and Democratic presidential candidate for 2020 Andrew Yang meets local Woodbury County, Iowa, Democrats and members of the Truman Club in February 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Jerry Mennenga/Zuma Press/TNS)

Candidate: Andrew Yang

State of Residence: New York

Campaign Website: https://www.yang2020.com

Entrepreneur and Democratic presidential candidate for 2020 Andrew Yang meets local Woodbury County, Iowa, Democrats and members of the Truman Club in February 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Jerry Mennenga/Zuma Press/TNS)

 

Short Bio:  Yang was born in upstate New York in 1975. His parents immigrated from Taiwan in the 1960s and met in grad school. Yang’s father was a researcher at IBM—he generated 69 patents over his career—and his mother was the systems administrator at a local university. Yang jokes that he and his brother grew up “pretty nerdy,” but he quickly adds that also grew up believing in the American Dream.

Yang studied economics and political science at Brown and went to law school at Columbia. After a brief stint as a corporate lawyer, he launched a small company in the early days of the internet that didn’t work out, and then worked for a healthcare startup. It was there, he’s said, that he learned how to build a business from more experienced entrepreneurs.

By his thirties, he was running a national education company and had met his wife, Evelyn. After selling his education company, Yang invested his earnings in creating jobs in cities hit hard by the financial crisis. That in turn led to his founding Venture for America, an organization that assists entrepreneurs in creating jobs in cities like Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland.

In its first year, VFA trained 40 Fellows; by 2017, more than 500 VFA Fellows and alumni have launched dozens of companies and helped create over 2,500 jobs across the country. The Obama White House named Yang a Champion of Change in 2012 and a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship in 2015.

Yang has said “VFA resonates with so many people because it’s clear there’s a growing problem in the U.S.: automation is destroying jobs and entire regions are being left behind.

“For years I believed new business formation was the answer—if we could train a new generation of entrepreneurs and create the right jobs in the right places, we could stop the downward spiral of growing income inequality, poverty, unemployment, and hopelessness,” the presidential candidate said.[Official Campaign Bio]

Fun Fact: Andrew Yang founded Venture for America, a nonprofit young entrepreneur fellowship program. [Axios]

On the Issues

Health Care: Medicare for all. Yang has called the Affordable Care Act a good first step but believes the law didn’t do enough to reform the nation’s health care system. He would shift the country toward a single-payer system, with a focus on salaried physicians and holistic medicine.

The entrepreneur’s health care platform also focuses on mental health. He has proposed funding artificial intelligence efforts that could improve mental health services and would create a “White House psychologist corps” that would evaluate and screen administration staff. [PBS]

Jobs/Economy/Taxes: Create a universal basic income. Yang’s campaign is centered on “The Freedom Dividend,” his plan to pay every American — starting at age 18, and regardless of employment — $1,000 per month. He argues the dividend is needed to boost workers losing jobs to automation and other technological change. Yang has said he would pay for this form of universal basic income “by consolidating some welfare programs,” and imposing a 10 percent value-added tax on goods and services, which he estimates would generate up to $800 billion in revenue.

Yang also supports changing how the U.S. measures economic success, by moving away from traditional benchmarks like GDP growth and the stock market and focusing instead on the country’s standard of living, life expectancy and other metrics. He would also develop a new U.S. currency called a “Digital Social Credit” that could be exchanged for real dollars. [PBS]

Yang calls his economic philosophy “human-centered capitalism,” advocating for a system that emphasizes metrics that measure “human well-being and fulfillment,” such as standard of living, health-adjusted life expectancy, childhood success rate and social and economic mobility. He described his plans as a “vision for a trickle-up economy” on ABC’s This Week. [Axios]

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