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- I am Terrell Jermaine Starr,
senior reporter with The Root,
and I'm here with 2020 presidential candidate, Andrew Yang.
- Hey man, thanks for having me, it's great to be here.
- Right on, right on.
I promise, I will be really kind to you.
- Oh good, you know, I got that vibe from you.
- Listen, I wanna talk to you
about the social media support that you've been getting.
We see hashtags like secure the bag and Yang Gang,
so tell us, who are the members of the Yang Gang?
- So I've been running for president for more than a year,
and the name Yang Gang bubbled up a long time ago,
and so we've had the Yang Gang
as like our official, you know, campaign headquarters
for a while, but then what you're talking about
is I became something of a social media phenomenon
over the last six weeks or so.
You know, like, the enthusiasm, I have to say,
when I go to college campuses,
it seems like it tends to skew young,
and very internet-y, like they make a lot of memes.
The energy at our rallies is sky high,
where we just had a rally of 3000 people
at San Francisco and then 1,000 in Chicago.
We were joking, it's like man,
we can plant the flag in a lot of places,
and apparently like hundreds,
maybe thousands of people come out.
So we're gonna test that out.
I'm doing a national tour starting in mid April.
But when you see the energy in person,
then it makes you very excited
about all the enthusiasm online,
because it's translating into the real world.
It's not just people making memes,
it's actually people who wanna
come out and make real change.
- You talked about how capitalism
doesn't center real people and you've called
for a more human-centered capitalism.
What exactly does that mean?
- Capitalism right now, it's become
this winner take all economy, particularly in the US.
You have this crony capitalism, and like,
you know, really wealthy interests just pulling the strings,
and then you talk about competition,
and a lot of the biggest industries
are getting much less competitive.
Like, you see consolidation in the big tech companies,
you see consolidation in
the big banks and financial companies.
So we need to start using different measurements
to try to drive our economy and society forward,
where if you just lose capital efficiency,
we're gonna lose more and more
to software, robots, AI, and machines.
So we should, instead of using GDP and capital efficiency,
we should be using things like
how our kids are doing, our own mental health
and freedom from substance abuse,
average income and affordability, clean air and clean water,
and then use those as the actual
measurements of economic progress.
- Everything that you're saying
sounds like you're centering people,
which to me seems like the antithesis of capitalism itself,
and it sounds like you are calling
for a reform to capitalism.
- We need to evolve as fast as possible,
because if you just rely upon capital efficiency,
and the example I used in a lot of context is look,
there are three and a half million Americans
who drive trucks for a living.
So in 10 years, if you have
trucks that can drive themselves,
it doesn't matter if you're a really hardworking,
attentive truck driver or a shoddy one.
The robots gonna beat both of you, you know what I mean?
It's not dependent upon your own individual characteristics.
So if we use who can drive the truck better,
everyone loses, you know?
And so we need to have better measurements
than that as fast as possible.
I think of it evolving to the next stage of our economy,
but I 100% agree that if you just use capital efficiency
as a measuring stick, we're all gonna lose.
- One of your main goals is to implement
what you've called a universal basic income.
- The freedom dividend.
- [Terrell] Yes, there you go, the freedom dividend.
You talk about the humanity of just the GDP.
- Yes. - Right.
So just tell us exactly what that entails.
- Well, so, GDP is something we made up
almost 100 years ago during the Great Depression,
and I'd like to talk about my wife.
My wife's at home with our two boys,
one of whom is autistic,
and her work every day counts as zero on GDP.
So GDP is not measuring the right things.
So if we were to measure how our kids are doing
and how we're doing, like how we're thriving or not thriving
that's actually the measurement
for our economy that we need to
move towards as fast as possible.
And the great thing is, as president,
when I'm in the White House in 2021,
all I have to do is just walk down the street
to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and say
hey guys, GDP, almost 100 years old, kind of useless.
And so we're gonna update it to things
like how our kids are doing, how our environment is doing,
how we're doing, like whether we're mentally healthy,
because there's a mental health crisis in this country.
- You make that sound a lot easier
than what many people think it actually will be.
- Well, taking the measurements is pretty easy,
but then changing the way our economy
functions is obviously a little trickier.
- Which is the point, right?
So how do you plan on working with congress
in order to carry that out?
Because what you're saying immediately
is gonna pop up in people's mind like you're a socialist!
And you wanna give people free stuff!
Then you're gonna scare the hell out of people.
- You know, what I'm happy to say
is that millions of Americans are waking up
to the reality that we can't use
these twentieth century frameworks
for problems of 2020 and beyond.
It's not like people in, you know, 1914
when they're drawing this stuff up
were like artificial intelligence,
like self driving vehicles.
They didn't see a lot of this stuff coming.
One thing I'm happy to say is that as president,
I actually don't need congress's approval
to change the statistics, like that's not
a congressional thing, that's like
an agency thing, a branch.
You literally can just walk down the street
and say hey guys, let's use some new stats.
- How come no one else has done that?
- Well, it's because we've been focused on the wrong things.
If you look at the big measurements
that we're using for the economy,
it's GDP, which is like near a record high,
stock market growth, which doesn't affect
the bottom 80% of Americans, for the most part,
and then headline on employment rate,
which even though it looks good right now,
there are millions of Americans
that have just dropped out of the workforce,
including one of out five prime working age American men.
So they just have the wrong measurements,
and as someone who's done a few things
that required you to actually see where you're going,
like, if you have the wrong measurements, you're doomed.
So I can't speak to why we've been
hanging on to this GDP measurement for a hundred years,
even though the inventor of GDP
even said this is a terrible measurement
for national wellbeing, we should never use it as that.
- So we need to completely get rid of that,
and replace it with something that deals more
with how human beings-- - How we're doing, right.
And one of the things I said to Breakfast Club
in that interview was that
the median African American net worth
is projected to be zero by 2053,
and now you have to ask like why the heck is that?
- What does that exactly mean for us?
You know, for black people by 2053?
What would that look like?
- Yeah, so and this is why I'm running for president,
why I'm so passionate about our need
to really evolve and get our heads out of the sand.
So if you look at the five most common jobs
in the US economy, and the African American community
will like, you know, it'd be occupying many of these jobs.
Number one is retail, and 30%
of American malls and stores are closing.
The average retail worker is a 39 year old woman
making between 10 and 11 dollars an hour.
So if 30% of those stores close,
what happens to those jobs and families?
Another top job is customer service and call centers.
Artificial intelligence is gonna be able
to do the job of that two and a half million
call center workers in the United States,
who now make 14 bucks an hour.
So then what happens to those workers?
So these are jobs that are filled
by the majority of Americans, including Americans of color,
and so then if you're automating away
those jobs as fast as possible, which is what we're doing,
then who bears the brunt of it?
And also who wins?
Like, the people who win will be
the big tech companies and the folks at the top,
and we know those organizations
aren't exactly the most, you know,
representative of the US population or the most diverse.
- Oh, not at all, which goes to the point
of closing the racial wealth gap.
- Yes.
- So how do you specifically plan
on addressing this issue, particularly for black people
so that the gap that we are experiencing closes before 2053?
- Exactly, and that's one reason
why I'm so excited about the freedom dividend.
Putting a 1000 bucks a month into the hands
of every American at age 18, which is what I'm proposing
and is what we can make happen in 2021,
when I'm president, but this is something
that Martin Luther King championed in 1967,
the year before he was killed.
He was prescient.
He saw a lot of things coming, and he said look,
we need to actually just move towards
putting money into the hands of African American families
and consumers and communities and businesses,
and this is the way to do it.
- How else would you address this gap,
particularly giving, you know, particularly
creating a plan for black people,
not specifically to everybody else?
- Well, so there are issues specific
to the black community that you need
separate plans to try and address.
What I'm suggesting is that first,
if you start with this 1000 bucks a month
in everyone's hands, then that disproportionately helps
people that are more excluded.
And by the math, it actually does reduce
the wealth gap and income inequality.
- By how much though?
By how much?
- It's really significant.
Like, you're talking about the single biggest move
that would actually close the vast wealth gap
that anyone has proposed, is what I'm proposing.
And so if you had 12000 per year
and imagine you had a household
with, like, you know, two adults and an 18 year old,
that's 36000 dollars a year in that household,
and so it ends up closing the wealth gap
very very quickly, and then the great thing is
that there is like the effect of all that money
circulating in that community,
and one thing I've said is that
if you wanna strengthen African American owned businesses,
you have to get money into the hands
of African American consumers.
- Do you believe in reparations?
- Yeah, so I 100% agree with
the moral case for reparations.
I read Ta-Nehisi Coates, and it's clear
that this country was built on the backs of slaves.
And so the question is what we can get done
as a society to help try and make that right,
when in reality, there's really nothing
anyone can do that can make that right.
Like, you can't go back and undo, you know,
decades of subjugation and inhumanity.
There is no dollar amount you could be, like,
ends, like, everything is now copacetic.
- It's not gonna make it better,
but it would make people feel a little bit better.
- And I'm a numbers guy, and I agree
that, like in, you know, reading Ta-Nehisi Coate's analysis,
if you were to put a number on it,
that number would be enormous.
Like, rightfully so.
- So is slavery and white supremacy, right?
- Exactly, like if you were to put a number on it,
the number is like, you know,
like, in the trillions, realistically.
Because if you look at that dollar amount
and then grow it overtime and extrapolate it.
So the question is how do we get started?
And what I'm going to suggest is the way we get started
is we put a 1000 bucks a month into everyone's hands.
That would be, literally, hundreds
of billions of dollars in the hands
of African Americans every single year.
- We would get that, so--
- [Andrew] And then, after that point,
then you start looking and saying
okay, what more can we do?
But you start with something that will
disproportionately help people of color.
- Not people of color, black people.
- [Andrew] Yes.
- Let's stick to black people.
And you agree with the moral argument.
- Yes.
- Do you agree with a practical economic plan
that will carry out some form of reparations,
whatever it may be, for black people?
- I believe that we need to move
in that direction as fast as possible, yes.
- Do you think soon that you'll come up with
a plan of what that could potentially look like?
- Well, so I have some policy proposals
that are specifically directed at strengthening,
you know, the black community.
- Tell us one.
- So one is that if you look at historically black
colleges and universities, the problem
in our educational system is that
it makes more sense to cater to people
that have lots of money that can pay you
and then donate afterwards.
- [Terrell] Sure.
- Meanwhile, HBCUs have been incredible successful
at elevating the paths of hundreds
of thousands of African Americans,
and a lot of those schools are now struggling
because they're serving a group
that doesn't necessarily have the means
to come back and you know, like, donate a ton.
So the federal government needs to step in and say
look, we need to shore up the endowments
of these historically black colleges and universities
that have been awesomely successful
and been pillars of our country
for decades in many cases,
because this is something where the market will not suffice.
- The problem is that there are plenty of black folk
who have all types of degrees and they can't find jobs,
right, so that goes back to the reparations question.
Investing in education does not necessarily equal
being able to get into the workforce.
Is there anything else that has
an economic incentive that will repay
black people for the economic racism
that we have endured for hundreds of years?
- Yes, so the way, the way, and I agree with you,
that at this point, getting a degree does not ensure,
like, a stable livelihood afterwards.
I mean, the underemployment rate
for recent college graduates in this county is 44%,
and that's across everyone, and so that rate--
- I'm sure black people are far worse.
- Yeah, it's probably even higher.
(laughter)
Yeah, it's probably even higher.
So that's one thing that I believe
we have to try and adjust to, is like,
if someone is like hey, education, education, education,
the fact is, like, you get a degree now,
like, you might just have this giant debt load
and no job at the end of it.
So the next big move we have to make
is we just have to start putting
1000 bucks a month into everyone's hands, that then ends up,
like, really diversifying people's options.
Because a lot of people go into
various higher education programs
because they feel like that's their
only secure path forward, and then
they wind up with a debt load,
and it may or may not work out,
whereas if you're putting 12000 bucks a year
into people's hands, then like
how many more entrepreneurs would there be,
how many more artists and creatives would there be,
how many more people would be able
to chart a different sort of path for themselves
that's not dependent necessarily
upon a degree or credentials.
- You know, you talk about climate change a lot, right?
And your plan includes, like, funding
for health initiatives and research
for respiratory disease caused by air emissions.
So you know that EPA scientists found
in a recent study that black people
are disproportionately impacted by poor air quality.
How much of the research made that you're proposing
will be directed to black communities
that are most impacted by air emissions?
- Yeah, I've seen that set of research,
and it's true that African American communities
are disproportionately affected by air quality,
and so I would wanna put the money
to work where the problems are most acute,
and so if there's a population
that's disproportionately affected,
then the resources should represent that.
- I mean, what does that, resources should reflect that,
but more specifically as president,
what would be your first move?
Like, what would that look like?
- So, I mean, you're talking about, like,
let's say for example it's like NHI grants.
So it could be that everyone,
like if you're trying to study the effects
of air pollution on various populations,
the NHI would dispense various grants.
If the impact is disproportionate on the black community,
then a disproportionate amount of the grant money
should go towards trying to address that problem.
- Okay, so you call for prioritizing
sustainable infrastructure in urban development, right?
And taking advantage of new materials and designs,
and I think there is no city
that would be ground zero for that than Flint, Michigan.
- Yes, I agree.
- And so what type of plan would you have
specifically for Flint, Michigan as president?
- At this point, it's like a national tragedy
slash embarrassment that the people
in Flint still have unsafe drinking water,
and the problem is that the United States of America
has gotten really bad at building and rebuilding,
where what's happened is you've got
this very old set of pipes that have
then contaminated drinking water for this population,
and all of these families and children
are suffering as a result.
The problem is that those resources
would theoretically come from the state of Michigan,
and Michigan does not have the resources to say
look, we need to just redo this.
Like, what they did is they tried
to save a few bucks here and there
and then it ended up, they tried
to sort of hand wave away the fact
that this contamination was happening.
So I will vow, as president,
we're gonna make the drinking in Flint crystal,
like, safe as can be, and whatever that takes,
if that takes federal money,
going in and just tearing out all of those pipes
and rebuilding them from ground zero,
then that's what we're gonna do,
and if the state of Michigan doesn't
have the will to do that,
then we'll do it as the federal government.
- Do you feel that as president
that there should be a federal inquiry into what happened?
- Yes, yes, and the thing is,
Flint is a national symbol, but there are other Flints.
Flint is not an isolated case in the sense
that there other decaying water systems
that are now funneling contaminated water
to children and other communities,
and this is in many ways an emblem
of what's gone wrong in our country,
is that these systems were built decades ago.
Sometimes in cases where they didn't even know
that some of this stuff existed.
And then we let it decay over decades
because we've just gotten terrible at actually building
and rebuilding anything in this country.
Our infrastructure is falling apart,
and then of course it's poorer communities
that get ignored politically
that end up bearing the brunt of it.
- How much of the criminality in it
and how much of the lack of political will
is fueled by racism?
- A significant amount of it.
Because right now in this society, money talks,
and if there was, like, some rich white suburb
where like anyone caught a whiff
of some kind of drinking water problem,
like people would be on it, you know, immediately.
The next day, it'd be like freaking scientists
and microscopes studying the heck out of that.
And then if it's some poor black community in Ohio,
like, you know. (laughter)
Like, you know, just turn a blind eye,
and that's, you know, that's an emblem
of what's gone wrong in our country,
is that we size people up based upon
their economic value as opposed to their human value.
So the slogan for my campaign is Humanity First,
is that we're all human beings, we all have equal value,
and we need to start acting like that,
and just because a community might not
have the political clout or the financial resources
does not mean that we can poison their kids
and think that's a moral way to operate as a country.
- What would you say to the people
of Flint in particular who feel
that racism is fueling this crisis
where they can't go to the tap and drink water?
- I would say they feel that way because it's accurate,
and it would be actually
highly bizarre if they did not feel that way.
So, you know, like, I agree with them.
So the question is what are we gonna do about it?
And as president, one of the things I'm gonna do
is I'm gonna go to Flint, I'm gonna stand there,
and I'm gonna be like hey, like I promise you
that I'm gonna come back and just drink from a tap,
and whatever needs to happen between now and then
so that, actually, scratch that,
I have two kids who are six and three.
They're gonna drink from the tap.
And so whatever we need to do
between when I'm there and my kids drinking from the tap,
that's what we're gonna do.
- Oh, so, have you experienced racism in your life?
- I was the lone skinny Asian kid in all white neighborhood,
so I experienced a lot of that sort
of juvenile, you know, taunting.
I was called, you know, gook and chink
and things like that all the time as a kid.
I understand what it's like to be in that situation.
I would not pretend to understand
what it's like to grow up African American,
because they're very different sorts of experiences,
but I know what it's like to have had
my set of experiences, and I understand
that when someone meets me, the first thing
they register is that I'm Asian or Asian American,
and then some things go through their heads,
and I understand what that process is.
One of the things I think is going wrong in this country
is that we've sort of oversimplified
racism into particular things.
Like to me, a lot of racism has to be
about some kind of power dynamic.
It's like, if you see me and acknowledge
my race in your head, like, of course
you do, that's just human nature.
That's not racism.
Racism is when somehow there's some kind
of negative impact on my life
because there's a power dynamic
that I'm on the other end of.
And so, you know, we have to try
and like address the institutional or systemic racism
where we can find it, while also looking at each other
and saying hey, the fact that you notice,
you know, that I'm of a certain background.
I mean, that's not a problem.
- You know, there's a lot of challenges
that Obama had when he was running for president.
Was America ready for a black president?
It clearly was, and I just wanna ask you,
what about America being ready
for its first Asian American president?
Have you thought about that?
- You know, I've been campaigning
in Iowa and Ohio and New Hampshire,
and I have to say that my race
has not been a huge pressing issue
for many of the voters there.
Like, they're more focused on what I can do,
what my vision is for the country,
and what my vision would do for them and their families.
They're more concerned about their own wellbeing
and their family and their communities.
So I don't think that my race is an issue
to the voters in the places
that I've been at least, campaigning.
- You propose that every police officer
is equipped with a body camera.
There are a lot of departments that have body cameras,
but they don't release the footage.
- Yeah, that's a problem.
- So how are you gonna get around that?
Because you're for funding the cameras.
The departments often refuse to release the footage,
so how you get around that?
- Yeah, so what you have to do
is you have to set up, like, a legal predisposition
where when you show up at the hearing or the tribunal
and then you ask hey, where's the footage?
And they're like hey, we don't have it, we don't use it.
Then that ends up starting to count
as like a negative factor against the officer,
where it's like wait, if you don't have the footage,
then we're actually gonna start questioning more closely
your version of events, because right now,
the absence of footage is sort of a default.
If you make it so that the footage is the default,
and then the absence of footage
means that maybe something shady went on,
then you can start trying to ratchet up the incentive
so that people have to not just have the cameras on,
but then use the footage to figure out
what happened after the fact.
- What's the punishment for when
police officers don't comply?
- This is one of the trickiest things,
is that police have a hard time policing themselves.
You know, it's like, and that's not unique
to that particular group of people.
I mean, it's true of a lot of groups.
- Yeah, but most of the groups don't have guns.
- Yes, so the question is how do you actually have
some sort of enforcement mechanism
that's independent of the existing police department,
particularly when you're trying to
figure out what happened after the fact,
and that's something that I am very very
open to empowering some sort of independent body,
in the Department of Justice or elsewhere,
to sort of assist with trying to figure out what happened,
and then if you don't have footage, then they'll be like
look, if you don't have footage,
then unfortunately, we're starting
to see that as very very negative.
But the first step is making sure
that everyone can have the footage,
and then the second step is saying
okay, look, if you don't have the footage,
then something that's not kosher might have gone down here.
- There are many people who feel that
policing as we know it is unsustainable
and that it needs to be abolished
and replaced with a different type of enforcement.
What is your response to that?
- Well, I think that that's insightful
in the sense that community based policing
would be much much more effective
in many many situations, and trying
to demilitarize police departments.
It's like a lot of these police departments
have essentially military hardware.
And then so if you have military hardware
and you don't really know the people you're policing,
then you wind up with this
very very naturally mistrustful dynamic.
- Would you cut off any type of program federally
that would give police officers military equipment?
- Yes, I would.
I do not think that police departments
need military equipment in like 98% of situations,
and that if they do need it,
then there are other units that can assist with that.
I mean, that's why these other units exist.
- What makes you different from Bernie Sanders?
Because both of y'all talk about
giving everybody free stuff.
- Well, you know, I'm aligned
with many of Bernie's goals and values.
Like I think my approaches are sometimes
a little bit different and I would argue a bit more modern.
The main thing I would distinguish myself
in terms of the freedom dividend
is I just wanna give everyone
straight cash of 1000 bucks a month.
Like, that's the most impactful thing we can do.
And then, like, a lot of Bernie's things
try and get to the same place,
but do it through various institutions,
like free public college and this and that,
and I'm like no, straight cash.
Money is the most effective way
we can help people improve the situation for their families,
their communities, and themselves.
- You tweeted back in June 2018
about the deaths of whites outnumbering births,
and that sparked a backlash of people
who think that falls into the narrative
of white genocide in America.
Just wanted to ask you how you respond to that criticism.
- You know, I mean, I was literally
just retweeting a New York Times article
that had a stat that said hey,
more whites are dying in various counties
than are being born, and then I looked at that,
and a lot of it's because of opiate deaths,
and so I just retweeted that, because you know,
to me that's a really compelling picture,
is that if you have communities that are dying from drugs,
I mean, and it's not frankly communities
that people had previously associated
with that sort of phenomenon.
But I care about, you know, you can probably
see if you went back in my Twitter,
I've tweeted about a lot of different things.
- Yeah, but I think the critique
is that it plays into this notion
of, you know, the white person's dying in America,
and, you know, people of color
are kind of coming in and taking over.
That's the sentiment, even though
that retweet may not have come across that way.
- No, and I appreciate that.
Thank you for providing the context.
So here are just the straight facts.
Americans are dying younger because of suicide
and drug overdoses, regardless of their racial background.
Like, our overall life expectancy
has declined for the last three years,
which is almost unheard of in a developed country.
That's just gruesome and horrific for all of us,
you know, of any background.
You look around and be like wait a minute,
we're supposed to be the richest,
most advanced country in the world,
and we're dying of drugs and suicides
at epic levels to the point where
it's actually bringing our life expectancy down?
And so I completely disagree with the narrative
you just described, which is like
somehow other people are like taking over.
What I'm saying is like there's just
a society wide disintegration that's happening to us all,
and you know, we need to start looking at
and being like is it normal for a developed country's
life expectancy to go down three years in a row?
No, it is not.
- What do you say to people who don't know you,
and the first thing that pops in their mind
is this man does not stand a chance in hell of winning?
- Well, you know, it's funny.
There are various sites where they put
odds on someone becoming the nominee,
and right now I'm fifth.
They have me at 14% to win the nomination,
and the reason for that is that
I'm already peeling off voters
from all these different segments of the population,
in part because I'm telling the truth
about what's happening to our society.
And so my chances of winning go up every single day,
and I've already qualified for
the democratic primary debates,
raised over a million dollars
in increments of only 20 dollars in the last five weeks.
This campaign is just gonna keep on rising,
we're gonna peak at the right time,
and then when I'm president,
I'm gonna get people that money,
because that's what people have put me--
- Gonna release that bag, right?
- I'm gonna get you that bag.
- Are you gonna get me mine first?
- Yeah man, you can be there at the inauguration.
- Okay. (laughter)
Mr. Yang, thank you so much for the time.
- It was a pleasure man, it's great to be here.
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Andrew Yang's Plan For Black America

144 Folder Collection
王惟惟 published on April 29, 2019
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