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  • The following is a New Hampshire primary 2020

  • special presentation.

  • The Exchange Candidate Forums from NHPR in partnership

  • with New Hampshire PBS.

  • From New Hampshire Public Radio, I'm Laura Knoy,

  • and this is "The Exchange."

  • Today, we continue our series of presidential primary 2020

  • candidate forums and for this show on Thursday, November 7,

  • we're talking with democratic presidential candidate, Andrew

  • Yang.

  • He's with us before a live audience in NHPR's Studio D.

  • [applause]

  • Our questions today will include some of the many

  • that we receive from listeners.

  • So thank you for your contributions.

  • Also, I'm joined by NHPR's senior political reporter,

  • Josh Rogers.

  • He and I will both ask questions of Mr. Yang.

  • And Andrew Yang, it's nice to meet you.

  • Thank you for being here.

  • It's great to be here.

  • Thank you so much for having me.

  • I love being in New Hampshire.

  • Josh, let's start with you.

  • All right, Mr. Yang, let's start big.

  • What's your view of the role government

  • should play in our lives besides giving everyone

  • over the age of 18 $1,000 a month?

  • [yang chuckles]

  • I love this question.

  • To me, the government's responsibility

  • is to solve the biggest problems and address the biggest

  • needs that don't have any market incentive attached to them.

  • And I'm a parent.

  • I talk a lot about how my wife is at home with our two

  • boys, one of whom is autistic.

  • And there's obviously no market value attached to her work,

  • despite the fact that we know it's the most important work

  • that anyone's going to do.

  • The same is true with educating our children.

  • I believe the same is true with keeping us healthy, keeping

  • our water and air clean.

  • There aren't market incentives attached

  • to some of these things and that's

  • where the government has to fill in to address that need for all

  • of us.

  • So you've written that quote, "without dramatic change,

  • the best case scenario is a hyper stratified society

  • like something out of "The Hunger Games"

  • or Guatemala with an occasional mass shooting.

  • The worst case is widespread despair, violence,

  • and the utter collapse of our society and economy."

  • I'll let that sink in for a moment.

  • A survey that NHPR took of listeners

  • indicate that a lot of voters this year

  • are seeking a positive healing vision from our next president.

  • I mean, you see a pretty grim future without dramatic change.

  • Do you think that this is speaking to what voters want?

  • Well, I believe that that is the vision that we have to prevent.

  • It's one reason why I love being here in New Hampshire,

  • because you all control the future of the country.

  • If you direct the country towards a more positive vision

  • of our future, then we can make that vision of reality very,

  • very quickly.

  • This is the most extreme winner take

  • all economy in our history.

  • And we're now going through the greatest

  • economic transformation in our country's history, what

  • experts are calling the fourth Industrial Revolution.

  • In my view, it is the main reason

  • Donald Trump won that we automated away

  • 4 million manufacturing jobs that were largely centered

  • in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa,

  • all the swing states he needed to win.

  • You all lost about 40,000 manufacturing jobs,

  • but you did it a bit earlier.

  • And that devastated many communities

  • in the northern part of New Hampshire.

  • That wave then ripped a hole in many, many Midwestern

  • communities.

  • And I spent seven years working in many of these communities,

  • so I saw it firsthand.

  • And what happened to those manufacturing jobs

  • is now shifting to retail jobs, call center jobs, truck driving

  • jobs, fast food jobs, and on and on through the economy.

  • If we do not evolve in the way we see ourselves,

  • and our work, and our value, then our very bleak future

  • does await.

  • But it does not need to be that way.

  • And that is the message of my campaign--

  • that New Hampshire can create a new way forward

  • for the rest of the country.

  • I mean, what's a timetable on that vision?

  • Well, the manufacturing job loss has already been happening.

  • And again, we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs

  • over the last 15 years or so.

  • And now 30% of your stores and malls

  • are closing in the next four years.

  • And that's not just in New Hampshire-- that is nationwide.

  • Now why is that?

  • It's because Amazon is soaking up $20 billion

  • in business every single year and paying zero in taxes

  • while doing it.

  • So the biggest misconception is that what I'm talking about,

  • this fourth Industrial Revolution,

  • is somehow in the distant future.

  • It is not.

  • It has been going on for 15, 20 years now,

  • and it's about to accelerate.

  • And when you look and you see your Main Street

  • store is closing forever, it doesn't seem like an automation

  • story because it's not like a robot went and took

  • that retail clerk's job.

  • But if you go to the Amazon fulfillment center that

  • is putting that store out of business,

  • it's wall to wall robots and machines.

  • But I mean, what is your view of basic human nature if we're

  • in such a precarious state that we

  • have let, in your estimation, the logic of markets

  • so dominate our culture that we're

  • facing this kind of apocalyptic vision?

  • What do you believe about the nature of Americans

  • and where we've let our politics go?

  • Most people who've heard about me and my campaign

  • know that I'm championing a freedom dividend of $1,000

  • a month for every American adult starting at age 18.

  • And when you hear that, it sounds

  • literally too good to be true.

  • But this is not my idea and it's not a new idea.

  • Martin Luther King championed it in the 1960s.

  • It is what he was fighting for when he who was

  • assassinated in 1968.

  • And it was so mainstream it passed

  • the US House of Representatives twice in 1971 under Nixon.

  • So when you're asking how have we gone to this point--

  • my wife and I have had the same conversation-- how

  • is it that what was a mainstream policy endorsed by 1,000

  • economists and passed the US House now

  • seems really radical, and dramatic, and extreme when

  • we're talking about it in 2019?

  • What happened between 1971 and now

  • is that we were all pushed to a point where

  • we started to confuse economic value and human value.

  • Where we said, hey, if the market thinks you're worthless,

  • then you are worthless.

  • It's why we have discussions around trying

  • to retrain coal miners and truck drivers to be coders.

  • Which makes no sense on the face of it,

  • but we're so brainwashed into thinking

  • that if you don't have economic value, you don't have value.

  • That we didn't contort ourselves in ridiculous ways

  • to try and push someone to a point where they still

  • have economic value, even when that doesn't make sense

  • on a human level or an economic level.

  • Let's get a little more clarity on the universal basic income,

  • Mr. Yang.

  • Again, $1,000 a month to every American adult

  • over the age of 18 up to 64--

  • could we just clarify that?

  • Up until your expiration, so it goes forever.

  • And it would be the greatest expansion of social security

  • benefits in our country's history, in large part

  • because we're facing a retiree crisis in this country, where

  • tens of millions of Americans will be

  • working until the day they die.

  • With the freedom dividend on top of social security

  • we can actually build an economy that works for Americans

  • to be able retire with dignity.

  • OK, so from age 18 up until death.

  • What about people who receive other government benefits,

  • besides social security, Mr. Yang-- food stamps, welfare

  • and so forth.

  • Would they also get those benefits plus the $1,000?

  • So the freedom dividend is universal and opt in.

  • And it stacks on top of things like Medicare, Medicaid, Social

  • Security, and housing benefits.

  • But if you do decide to opt into the freedom dividend,

  • then you're choosing to forego certain cash and cash

  • like benefits from food stamps, and heating oil subsidies,

  • and things that are meant to put cash in your hands

  • to buy certain things.

  • The goal is not to leave anyone worse off,

  • that's why it's opt in.

  • And I would not touch existing programs,

  • but you would make a choice.

  • I've talked to people who are on certain benefit programs now,

  • and they are very often are very anxious about losing

  • their benefits because they haven't filed something

  • correctly or they have a case manager that checks up on them.

  • There's a lot of stress associated with that.

  • And many of them would vastly prefer an unconditional cash

  • benefit that they could spend how they see fit.

  • We've got lots of questions from listeners on this

  • and I want to share a few with you, Mr. Yang.

  • James asks, what do you say to critics who say your freedom

  • dividend will cause inflation?

  • Ken sent us a similar question.

  • How would you keep cost of living increases,

  • especially rent increases, Ken says,

  • from swallowing up universal income?

  • Can you respond please to those concerns

  • that if you pump all this cash suddenly into the economy,

  • prices will naturally go up?

  • Of course.

  • I'd love to.

  • So you all remember voting for the $4 trillion

  • bailout of Wall Street and the financial crisis?

  • I don't.

  • None of us voted for it.

  • Does anyone remember anyone concerned about inflation

  • during that time?

  • And lo and behold, there was not meaningful inflation

  • despite the fact that our government printed $4 trillion

  • for the banks.

  • You put buying power into our hands

  • and it will make us stronger, healthier less stressed out,

  • improve our relationships, improve Main Street economies

  • here in New Hampshire and across the country.

  • There are three core causes of inflation

  • right now in American life.

  • Unfortunately, they're the ones that

  • make us the most miserable.

  • They are rent, education, and health care.

  • Those three things have gone up in price dramatically

  • over the last number of years.

  • What has not gone up?

  • Pretty much everything else.

  • Clothing, food, media, electronics, automobiles,

  • have either stayed the same in price, gotten cheaper,

  • or gotten better.

  • You don't think manufacturers, landlords would say,

  • hey, everybody's got an extra $1,000,

  • let's jack up the price a little bit, they'll never notice?

  • So for landlords-- if a landlord-- if you're

  • living in a rental right now, you

  • get an extra $1,000 a month, and the landlord is like,

  • you, I'm going to stick it to you,

  • I'm going to jack up your rent by $600,

  • then the first thing you do is you look up

  • and say, OK, let me see if other landlords are not

  • going to try and gouge me.

  • And then let's say a real landlord tried to gouge you,

  • if it reaches that extreme, then you'd look around

  • and say, well, there are four of us,

  • we're getting $1,000 a month, with $4,000 a month,

  • we can actually buy that fixer upper.

  • And then you can take upstairs, I'll take downstairs.

  • This actually makes us harder to exploit