Experts predict that within the next 12 years, ⅓ of American jobs will be lost to automation. We face an impending tomorrow in which humans cannot compete against robots in fields such as trucking, accounting, and food service. Automation may seem great in some ways; safer, cheaper, more efficient, but unfortunately this comes at the cost of millions of jobs. Only one candidate for the 2020 election seems to address this issue with this urgency it seems to deserve; a democrat named Andrew Yang.
Our economy may be approaching a state in which individuals might exist with little to no means to provide for themselves. Andrew Yang's solution? Every single adult American, regardless of income, will receive $1000 a month, a.k.a. "Universal Basic Income."
At first glance, a society under U.B.I. seems like the final nail in the coffin of disastrous government bureaucracy; the coup de grâce of an unrecoverable welfare state. Yang makes a strong case, however, that we must revolutionize our system in preparation for this tremendous economic change.
Corporate profits will increase dramatically under automation, at the cost of an estimated ⅓ of employment. Yang argues that these profits should be distributed among all adult Americans. This redistribution of wealth is intended to provide breathing room for individuals in an economy in which machines have taken their jobs. Truckers alone account for approximately 3.5 million American workers. When tractor-trailers are self-driving, Yang believes that it would be appropriate to extend the corporation's increased profits to the truckers; most of whom will be unemployed. In this field, like many others, we see people who have built a lifestyle around their profession, people who may be driven economically helpless by automation.
Is fearing automation simply modern luddism? Perhaps we are incapable of perceiving a future in which automation is wildly beneficial for humanity. Perhaps we are as short-sighted as those individuals in the 19th century who destroyed the weaving machines which were taking their jobs. None the less, Andrew Yang is doing us a great service by pushing this crucially important issue towards the front line of political discussion.