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From 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, a captivating account of how "a skinny Asian kid from upstate" became a successful entrepreneur, only to find a new mission: calling attention to the urgent steps America must take, including Universal Basic Income, to stabilize our economy amid rapid technological change and automation. The shift toward automation i From 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, a captivating account of how "a skinny Asian kid from upstate" became a successful entrepreneur, only to find a new mission: calling attention to the urgent steps America must take, including Universal Basic Income, to stabilize our economy amid rapid technological change and automation. The shift toward automation is about to create a tsunami of unemployment. Not in the distant future—now. One recent estimate predicts 45 million American workers will lose their jobs within the next twelve years—jobs that won't be replaced. In a future marked by restlessness and chronic unemployment, what will happen to American society? In The War on Normal People, Andrew Yang paints a dire portrait of the American economy. Rapidly advancing technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and automation software are making millions of Americans' livelihoods irrelevant. The consequences of these trends are already being felt across our communities in the form of political unrest, drug use, and other social ills. The future looks dire-but is it unavoidable? In The War on Normal People, Yang imagines a different future—one in which having a job is distinct from the capacity to prosper and seek fulfillment. At this vision's core is Universal Basic Income, the concept of providing all citizens with a guaranteed income-and one that is rapidly gaining popularity among forward-thinking politicians and economists. Yang proposes that UBI is an essential step toward a new, more durable kind of economy, one he calls "human capitalism."


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From 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, a captivating account of how "a skinny Asian kid from upstate" became a successful entrepreneur, only to find a new mission: calling attention to the urgent steps America must take, including Universal Basic Income, to stabilize our economy amid rapid technological change and automation. The shift toward automation i From 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, a captivating account of how "a skinny Asian kid from upstate" became a successful entrepreneur, only to find a new mission: calling attention to the urgent steps America must take, including Universal Basic Income, to stabilize our economy amid rapid technological change and automation. The shift toward automation is about to create a tsunami of unemployment. Not in the distant future—now. One recent estimate predicts 45 million American workers will lose their jobs within the next twelve years—jobs that won't be replaced. In a future marked by restlessness and chronic unemployment, what will happen to American society? In The War on Normal People, Andrew Yang paints a dire portrait of the American economy. Rapidly advancing technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and automation software are making millions of Americans' livelihoods irrelevant. The consequences of these trends are already being felt across our communities in the form of political unrest, drug use, and other social ills. The future looks dire-but is it unavoidable? In The War on Normal People, Yang imagines a different future—one in which having a job is distinct from the capacity to prosper and seek fulfillment. At this vision's core is Universal Basic Income, the concept of providing all citizens with a guaranteed income-and one that is rapidly gaining popularity among forward-thinking politicians and economists. Yang proposes that UBI is an essential step toward a new, more durable kind of economy, one he calls "human capitalism."

30 review for The War on Normal People: The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    Richard - someone I’ve known on here for about a decade (how time flies) - recommended this book to me - or rather, recommended a podcast (https://art19.com/shows/the-ezra-klei...) where the author discusses this book. I ought to like podcasts more than I do - but I find them tedious and remarkably slow, and the main person behind them often comes across as annoyingly smug - if you listen to this podcast note when the interviewer first warns the author he is planning to have a go at him on the q Richard - someone I’ve known on here for about a decade (how time flies) - recommended this book to me - or rather, recommended a podcast (https://art19.com/shows/the-ezra-klei...) where the author discusses this book. I ought to like podcasts more than I do - but I find them tedious and remarkably slow, and the main person behind them often comes across as annoyingly smug - if you listen to this podcast note when the interviewer first warns the author he is planning to have a go at him on the question of the end of work. He sounds to me like someone holding a lay down misere. Which, while I was listening made me quite interested in what was to come, since I was keen to hear a good argument against the ‘jobs apocalypse’ argument. I was more than a little let down. Anyway, all of that is a bit beside the point. This book has two major themes. The first is to show that even if the new economy is to open up lots of new jobs ‘normal people’ aren’t likely to get any of them. The second is to argue for the need to implement a Universal Basic Income (UBI). Since this is written in the US, he changes the name of the UBI to the ‘freedom dividend’ - which, I have to say, reminded me a little too much of ‘freedom fries’ to take totally seriously. The first part of this book is a catalogue of despair. He starts by defining his ‘normal people’ - essentially, this is the median person in the country, if you were to lined up everyone in the US according to education, wealth, occupation and you put your hand on the shoulder of the person in the middle of those lines, what income, educational attainment and so on would they have? That person would have a high school education, work in a job with minimum skills and be terrified they might get sick since they live from hand-to-mouth, are a pay-check away from penury and so not working is not an option. He spends a lot of time reminding readers that the US is the wealthiest nation on earth, but since it is also the most unequal of the developed economies too, it might as well be two nations. One of the things he needs to do here is to show that a lot of jobs are about to disappear and not be replaced. He discusses the geography of poverty in the US - that is, the working class areas (steel working towns and so on) that have de-industrialised and the impact this has had on the local populations - a good series of books on this are Working Class Without Work and Class Reunion. The problem is that notions of a ‘frictionless’ job market would imply that people ought to move to where the jobs are. That people would take advantage of training to improve their skills so they can get the new jobs that have become available. He does a good job here of showing the inherent frictions within the system (and within people) that makes this unlikely. He points out that when many of the people who lost their jobs were given training it hardly improved their re-employability at all. This wasn’t only because there often weren’t new jobs available to match the new skills these people had acquired, but also that too often these people had come to define themselves as particular kinds of people - and often this was as men who do manly jobs. People think the patriarchy works ‘for’ men, but men, as bell hooks says, are often its main victims. Here, toxic masculinity involves them in not being able to do something as feminised as ‘book learning’. The consequences of this are spelt out in detail - the near impossibility these men face in forming relationships, their slow decent into playing video games and then also into opioid drug addiction. This is a vision that is hardly likely to fill you with optimistic joy for the future. It reminded me of Bourdieu’s discussion of French farm hands and how their loss of an economic fortune made them impossible to marry too. How, their becoming social outcasts, told on their bodies, in how they stood, how they avoided the gaze of those who would only reject them anyway. Since it is clear that working class women are more likely to acquire a college education now, and since someone with a college education is less likely to marry someone without one, this means a lot of these men now live outside of relationships. It is rare for people discussing the changes in work to follow on through to discuss the implications of this on personal and social relationships - notable exceptions are Bauman and Wyn - but this book makes a powerful argument that more needs to be done to address the social dysfunction that the current jobs disruptions are causing - regardless of whether or not a tidal wave is about to engulf even more jobs, the current levels of dysfunction require immediate action. A conference I attended earlier this year on the future of jobs had a panel of ‘experts’ who told us that everyone in the future will need to be entrepreneurs - this was presented as an article of faith to be taken to be a truism. What I found particularly interesting in this book was that he was able to show that today in the US there are fewer entrepreneurs than there ever have been in the past - measured on the basis of the proportion of those setting up their own businesses. This is interesting, because this shift to everyone being an entrepreneur is meant to be one of the major ways in which the current disruption to the jobs market is to be overcome. That is, when people become more flexible and more exposed to the demands of the world of work they will be best placed to adjust and acquire the skills needed in that future jobs market - basically, this is a version of the blind hand of the market realised in each individual worker. But the hyper-flexibility being proposed is much better in theory than in practice. The lack of job security, of health insurance, of fixed shifts, of a single employer - all of these work to make work terrifying, precarious and ultimately dangerous. He makes the point that this is all about to get much worse - technology has always replaced jobs, but the pace with which it is about to replace them now, including wiping out jobs from the middle class, like paralegal jobs, accountancy and book keeping and so on, means the ‘winners and losers’ tally board is set to become even more disproportionately tilted towards the winners than it already is. He provides a list of the major companies - both new and old - of how many employees they employ/employed. The lesson is that new companies are much more capital intensive, they do not employ nearly so many workers as companies used to. If this is the case, it isn’t clear where people will work. All of which leads him to believe that the solution is for a universal basic income (the second major theme to this book) - this is the idea that we should give all people over 21 an automatic $1000 per month as a ‘dividend’ for being a citizen. This isn’t enough money to live ‘well’ 9so people will still have an incentive to work) but it is enough to mean people can live if they are without a job, and that might become increasingly important to consider if what he says at the start of the book holds up. It would also be an incentive for employers to consider ways to make jobs more appealing - whereas, today all of the incentives are for employers to make jobs as punishing as they can possibly be, something they seem to have taken to with gusto. Bullshit Jobs is a good read on this theme. I don’t know what I think about a UBI - although, part of me thinks it is so unlikely to occur that it hardly matters what I think. He says that it could be funded by the US adopting a value added tax - a consumption tax. But the one thing I know for sure about the US is that even the poor hate the poor, so any proposal to alleviate the hardships of poverty in the US are unlikely to meet with any success. Also, we have seen for ever that a large increase in the proportion of the population displaced from the labour market generally results in an increase in blame being levelled towards those who have been displaced, rather than towards those who have benefited from them being displaced. I can’t imagine that changing any time soon. This guy is standing for US President in 2020. Look, stranger things have happened - I mean, Trump was elected President in 2016, I don’t make predictions on US politics anymore for that reason alone - all the same, I’ve a feeling you might see a UBI before you see this guy as President... I want to end by coming back to his discussion on the attraction of computer games to young men. I really did find this bit of the book fascinating. I haven’t played a computer game in probably 20 years. A friend of mine used to play Civilisation and he told me that he had to ask his wife to hide the disc from him as he had no self-restraint and would play it all night and then not be able to function at work the next day. He said that playing the game made him feel like a god and, unlike in his ‘real’ life - the decisions he made in the game had real consequences he could see more or less immediately. It isn’t difficult to see why that might be appealing to people in a dull job - of which too many of our jobs have become.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Muhan

    When Donald Trump was elected President in 2016, I was living in Miami, FL. At the time, I had lived through three cycles of boom and bust in the United States. The great recession, in particular, sparked my interest in economics and its impact on society. At the time, learning about subprime mortgages, securitization, foreclosures, and interest rates engrossed me in a profound but technical manner. As the Big Short summarized so succinctly, how could “5 trillion dollars in pension money, real e When Donald Trump was elected President in 2016, I was living in Miami, FL. At the time, I had lived through three cycles of boom and bust in the United States. The great recession, in particular, sparked my interest in economics and its impact on society. At the time, learning about subprime mortgages, securitization, foreclosures, and interest rates engrossed me in a profound but technical manner. As the Big Short summarized so succinctly, how could “5 trillion dollars in pension money, real estate value, 401k, savings, and bonds” just disappear? My fascination turned to shock, and eventually to a keen sense for economic justice, as I learned more about American economic history. Unlike the first half of the 20th century, the second half for real American income growth had been stagnant. Simultaneously, all the building blocks of the good life: real, nutrient-dense food; healthcare; education; and owning a home in a metro area with jobs, had skyrocketed in cost. In essence, labor had been abused and bloodied for a quarter century, and no one seemed to care. Given this, I was only mildly surprised by America’s electing of a fast dealing celebrity populist lookalike. All around me, among the immigrants, minorities, rideshare drivers and my fellow Miamians, there was sympathy for Trump, and what they believed to be a message for the little guy. Even Bill Clinton foresaw and worried about the wave of populism in the United Kingdom, a proxy for other “enlightened” countries, with Brexit and what it meant for Hillary. Despite the screaming and shouting of increasing racism/misogyny/xenophobia/etc, I came to see this viewpoint as intellectually lazy and a convenient scapegoat. It’s much easier to demonize someone who looks different than you than to look at numbers and the story those numbers tell. Thankfully, “The War on Normal People” has made understanding the story of those numbers, and the people behind the numbers, easier than ever. Reading Yang’s book is like a combination of Eddie Huang, Jane Jacobs, Matthew Desmond, Hanna Rosin, and Tyler Cowen. It is as unlikely a combination as it is valuable in its combination of humor and memoir, economic and social commentary, raw, unbridled intellectual ambition and audacity of topical breadth. In three eponymous parts, Yang covers “what’s happening to jobs”, “what’s happening to us”, and finally proposing “solutions and human capitalism.” Part I: reads like an economic undergraduate education in merely 80 pages. My favorite section by far, and emblematic of Yang’s pull-no-punches style, is “The Usual Objections” chapter, addressing usual objections to warnings of current economic peril, meticulously answering (with citations) arguments like “there will always be more jobs”, “government should retrain workers”, and others. The only topic I found under-addressed was the stagnant wages question and how, even for those with jobs, most of us are less well-off than a comparable American just a few decades ago. Yang covers this more in section, but I would like to have more material on the “silent majority” of situations between the dipoles of “displaced” and “bubble insiders.” Part II: Yang taps into his sociological side to explain “Life In the Bubble”, qualified by his experience founding Venture for America and years working to channel college educated youth to job creating businesses in underserved American cities. Through seven chapters, we are given a sweeping tour of societal collapse and disintegration on every level, tying research, evidence, and common sense to show the relation between economic security and our plethora of social ills. Turns out, everyone becomes a worse version of themselves when resources feel scarce: money talks, but often whispers, at all levels of the economic pyramid. *A favorite passage: “That is not to say that the people in the bubble have it good… In the bubble, the market governs all. Character is a set of ideas that comes up in the books we read to our children before sending them to test for the gifted and talented program, or a means of doing right by our bosses and reports, or a good way to burnish one’s personal network. On some level, most of us recognize that we are servants to the tide of innovation and efficiency. As the water rises, we will protest as we clamber to higher ground. We will be sure to stay out of the way and keep ourselves pliant and marketable to the extent possible. Our specialty is light-commitment benevolence. We will do something to help but not enough to hurt us or threaten our own standing. We know better than to do that.” Part III: is the most exciting section for anyone who wishes to peek at the good life of the future, (sneak preview: it includes AI, solar energy, and lots of mobile technology.) In the final and most radical conclusion, Yang paints a portrait of a revitalized state rebuilding a robust safety net. At the centerpiece of this safety net is universal basic income, a cash stipend of $1000 given to all American adults every month, no strings attached. Again, as with part one, Yang addresses the knee-jerk objections to basic income with plenty of evidence and citations. As someone who continues to wrestle with the implication of a basic income, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about Alaska and the Alaska Permanent Fund, which has paid an annual cash dividend to all residents successfully for decades. This is not to say that the final section of Yang’s book is an easy read, however. By his own admission, Yang states that basic income “...is the easy part of the transition. Money is easy. People are hard. For all of the immense good a basic income will do, it is just the first step.” He then promptly lays out what options for steps two, three, and beyond include: a value added tax of 10% that will in effect distribute wealth from the winners of new technology to the rest of society; time banking; digital social credits; and a potpourri of science fiction sounding solutions. Next to these radical, eyebrow raising proposals, giving people cash and adding metrics for human well-being to the national debate seem easy by comparison. In a critical twist: unlike most authors, Yang is also currently a U.S. presidential candidate running as a Democrat in 2020 to solve these problems. To the joy of some, the woe of others, much of his other solutions reads like a progressive agenda with teeth and fight: Medicare for all, banning public officials from getting in bed with industry, taxing megarich universities that skimp on student aid while hoarding billions in their endowments, regulating social media and technology companies that behave anti-competitively etc. If he maintains this clear and concise commitment to solutions that actually work, then the 2020 election will already be more productive than the last cycle. Reading “The War on Normal People” is mechanically an easy task, but emotionally exhausting. It is smart, tight, and occasionally sprinkled with comedic relief, with a very high density of knowledge to length. The scale of topics that it addresses are massive, however, and even for someone with a high degree of previous background, it can require the reader to reread for comprehension. (For example: combing Yang’s footnotes on the source of the 10% value added tax plan lead me to Andy Stern’s Raising the Floor, helping me understand that Yang’s plan only increases taxes on corporations and individuals consuming more than $120,000 annually, post-tax. This helped me understand the “tax on automation” and where the “money is coming from.”) All in all, for its category, “The War on Normal People” is a strong and surprisingly accessible sophomore work by a unique author. Yang appears to be a rare breed that has both the intellect to understand vast societal problems and the character to actually try and solve them. Either way, readers should be thankful to see an author bring us above the trees to see the forest on these modern issues, and read this book to understand the issues in 2020.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mario the lone bookwolf

    Well, there are certainly many fine, proofed long time (impossible, except they have secret time travel) alternatives, defined in detail by the opponents of the universal basic income. If not, it would be once again the same irresponsibility by the government as with...Oh, I understand. Let´s start with a quick history lesson. Once upon a time, all the people worked on farms. A few specialists, but not really worth mentioning. Then the rising of the primitive form of industrial work, before the Well, there are certainly many fine, proofed long time (impossible, except they have secret time travel) alternatives, defined in detail by the opponents of the universal basic income. If not, it would be once again the same irresponsibility by the government as with...Oh, I understand. Let´s start with a quick history lesson. Once upon a time, all the people worked on farms. A few specialists, but not really worth mentioning. Then the rising of the primitive form of industrial work, before the revolution started. So away from the field and into the city and factories. Those got better and more and more automated, but the service industries, retail, etc. developed. And here we are. The most hilarious argument is to say, that new work will come. Quite kind of the contrast to a Malthusian catastrophe, instead of shouting starvation, everyone is repeating the mantra "full job security by new jobs" forever. Those new jobs can and will get automated too, can just be done by a very small part of the population because the needed skills are immense and one programmer or mechanic can do the work of hundreds or thousands of unemployed people. Many people, especially men, simply won´t want to or are able to learn new skills and work in new, soft, social jobs, as many studies show. Badass cowboy men with their archaic role models don´t fit the new requirements. Then there is the point of the dignity of jobs and the taxation system. If all gets more and more automated, the lost taxes on human labor will certainly be adapted to what the machines produce. I mean, if not, this would lead to an unfair immense accumulation of power in the hands of,... Hey, cheers, Marx, my man! So we have the option of a total dystopia or to simply tax machines and give every human being enough money to survive with minimal convenience. Or to let the system run as long as possible, even if no human work is needed or even economic anymore. To let hundred of millions or even billions of people work in frustrating, very low paid jobs instead of letting machines, androids and AIs do their work. I believe that this point could come sooner than expected, because we don´t know what is in the development pipeline of companies and military and that it could be less expensive for the elite to keep paying loans instead of fully automating everything and that the state will subsidize the senseless work of most of the population as long as possible to keep people from thinking too much in too much spare time. Digital social credits, human capitalism, time banking or dystopia, that are the 2 options on the table. What sets us apart from the past is the unstoppable fourth industrial revolution. It's so surreal that it's easier to imagine it as a joke or science fiction or mumbo jumbo. And the critical difference is that the elite no longer needs the exploitation of physical and mental work to get even richer. They could confidently let their sheep run around freely. It would be economic suicide to use incompetent people instead of perfect machines. The social system is currently affected by this factor, this error of human labor. And those involved do not want to cut it out of the equation for selfish reasons and replace it with machine work. The bureaucrats and politicians are, as an essential requirement of their profession, stubborn, conservative and confronted with one of the most significant upheavals in human history. What should they do? Inform themselves about the new developments and think? Lol But since the collapse of all systems and a dystopia that has become real are not in the interest of the state or the systems, they will not allow it, despite their incompetence. Just as war has overtaken itself as a model, so too will the previous model of capitalism pass itself. Dead people do not consume for the sake of the old industries. Dead bodies do not produce data and movement profiles for the new industries. And an utterly impoverished population does not buy. Indeed the means of production will forever remain in the hands of the rich. But thanks to genetic engineering, nanotechnology, computer technology, 3D printers, etc., a reasonable minimum standard for all people will be possible. So this is not as serious as in the past with revolutions and stuff, but the social gaps and injustices will certainly deepen before, immediately in front of the abys of civil unrest and societal collapse, a few, ridiculous crumbs of the immense wealth will be given to everyone. A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this, yuck, ugh, boo, completely overrated real-life outside books: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_i... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-sc...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    The War on Normal People offers a staunchly capitalist and polemical take on the subject of Universal Basic Income (UBI), which proposes giving every person an unconditional small sum of money each month. Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur with presidential ambitions, claims that mass technological unemployment is imminent, and he argues that UBI is the only way the "normal people" of the American middle class will be able to avoid destitution. If capitalism is to continue and social upheaval is to be The War on Normal People offers a staunchly capitalist and polemical take on the subject of Universal Basic Income (UBI), which proposes giving every person an unconditional small sum of money each month. Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur with presidential ambitions, claims that mass technological unemployment is imminent, and he argues that UBI is the only way the "normal people" of the American middle class will be able to avoid destitution. If capitalism is to continue and social upheaval is to be averted, Yang suggests, the government must immediately shift toward what he calls “Human Capitalism” by instituting UBI, though he perplexingly uses a different term for the idea. The book is likely to appeal to those sympathetic to the Silicon Valley defense of UBI, which is less concerned with existing inequality but accepts as a given the idea that AI will soon make human labor irrelevant. I personally find that argument hyperbolic, but Yang offers an accessible introduction to it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    I admit that I hardly paid attention to Andrew Yang during the primaries. I knew that he was for Universal Basic Income (UBI), but little else; and it did not seem to matter, given his pole numbers. But during the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus lockdowns, UBI is starting to look all the more reasonable (especially after I received a direct deposit from the federal government!). So I decided that it was time to take a second look. This book could easily have been mushy pap—a boilerplat I admit that I hardly paid attention to Andrew Yang during the primaries. I knew that he was for Universal Basic Income (UBI), but little else; and it did not seem to matter, given his pole numbers. But during the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus lockdowns, UBI is starting to look all the more reasonable (especially after I received a direct deposit from the federal government!). So I decided that it was time to take a second look. This book could easily have been mushy pap—a boilerplate campaign book only published for publicity. Yang could have gone on and on about his good work in Venture for America, all the inspiring young people he met, all the businesses he helped grow, and all of the wonderful places he visited across America. He could have talked about his own story from first generation American to entrepreneur and politician. Some of that is in here, of course; but not nearly as much as one might expect. Instead, Yang has written a serious work on the problems facing America. Yang covers a remarkable amount of ground in this short book—video game addiction, the importance of malls in communities, the rising cost of universities—but his primary message is fairly simple: Automation is going to eliminate many millions of jobs, and we need to transform the economy accordingly. As someone with many friends in Silicon Valley, Yang speaks convincing on the subject of automation. An obvious example is self-driving cars. Once the technology becomes reliable enough, virtually all driving jobs are threatened. Considering the numbers of people whose work involves transporting either passengers or cargo, this alone can be dramatic. What would happen to all the taxi, bus, and truck drivers of the world? But according to Yang, self-driving cars would only be the beginning. While automation may call to mind robotic arms laboring in factories, white collar jobs are also liable to being automated. Chances are, if you work in an office, at least some of your work is rote and repetitive; and that means a computer could potentially do it, and do it far better than you can. While most of us are far removed from the world of artificial intelligence, those in the community routinely seem alarmed by the prospect of increasingly powerful A.I. Every year a new program accomplishes another “impossible” task, such as mastering the Chinese game Go. Yang even mentions computer-written symphonies and computer-generated artwork! (I was happy to note, however, that Yang did not seem to think teachers could be automated away.) This will result in still more intense economic stratification. Many parts of America have already hollowed out as a result of recent economic trends. Most of the country’s factories have closed, destroying some of the most well-compensated blue-collar jobs. The rise of online retail—only accelerated by the coronavirus crisis—threatens to permanently destroy much more employment. Of course, when some jobs are eliminated, other types of jobs come into being. But we cannot rely on this process to correct the imbalance—first, because automation destroys more jobs than it creates (think of the one trouble-shooter for every five self-checkout registers), and second, because the new jobs usually require different skills, and exist in different parts of the country. There are many proposed solutions in this book, but Yang’s signature idea is UBI. This would be a monthly payment of $1,000, or $12,000 a year, to every citizen over the age of 18; and it would be given a very patriotic name: the Freedom Dividend. Yang proposes to pay for this with a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 10%. (I was actually unaware of the difference between a VAT and a sales tax before reading this book, which is that a VAT must be paid at every step in the production process. This has the added advantage of taxing automated industries, since robots do not pay an income tax.) But the hefty price tag of UBI would also be partially compensated by the reduction or elimination of other government welfare programs. And, of course, if you put more money into the hands of consumers, most of them will spend rather than save it, and this will in turn increase tax revenue. One obvious objection to UBI is that, by giving money indiscriminately, we will inevitably be giving it to people who do not need it. The most apposite reply to this objection, for me, is that subjecting government assistance to means-testing creates a host of problems. For one, there is a great deal of cumbersome bureaucracy involved in determining whether a particular person ‘deserves’ aide—bureaucracy that would be rendered entirely redundant by UBI, since the checks can be sent out through the IRS. Indeed, this cumbersome bureaucracy only creates added waste, since many NGOs exist simply to help people navigate the complex government paperwork. Of every, say, $100 spent on welfare, what portion of that goes to those in need, and what portion to the paychecks of bureaucrats laboring to determine who gets the money and how they can spend it? Indiscriminate giving would also eliminate the pesky problem of disincentivizing work. At the moment, Republicans and Democrats are in a dispute over this very issue, as Republicans are arguing that the extra $600 of unemployment money (as part of the coronavirus aid package) will encourage people not to work. While some on the left disagree, personally I think this is a rather strong objection—not to giving people money, but to making the money conditional on not having a job. The same issue is present in many other sorts of government aid, such as disability payments, which cease as soon as the recipient becomes employed. If the money were unconditional, however, then people would have no disincentive to work; on the contrary, they would be able to substantially improve their economic situation by working, perhaps even making enough to start saving and investing. UBI, then, has potential appeal for both those on the left and on the right. Those on the left may like it because it is a way of redistributing wealth, while those on the right may like it since it is a way of shrinking the government. The latter statement might seem more far-fetched, but I do think that a solid, conservative case could be made for UBI. After all, Milton Friedman was quite an avid supporter of the concept, for a multitude of reasons: it shrinks government, it reduces government paternalism, it promotes both work and consumption, and it would avoid dividing people into different categories. This last point merits some comment. Presently, a great deal of anti-welfare rhetoric is concerned with parasitism—the idea that lazy people are simply ‘on the dole,’ dragging down the rest of society. It is the perfect recipe for shame and resentment, since inevitably it divides up society into groups of givers and takers; and even the best government bureaucracy in the world could not hope to distribute money in the fairest way possible. Inevitably, some people who ‘deserve’ aid will not get it; and others who do not ‘deserve’ it will—since no definition of ‘deserving’ will be perfect, and in any case there is no way of perfectly measuring how much somebody ‘deserves.’ UBI works against this psychology in a powerful way, by being entirely indiscriminate. Though the rich would be paying more in taxes than they receive back, they too would receive their monthly payment, and I think this fact alone would help create an added sense of social solidarity. UBI would be something shared by everyone, everywhere, rather than something that marks you out as being poor and dependent, a mark of stigma and shame. This strikes me as quite a positive thing in the age of dramatic political polarization. Another aspect of UBI that I find deeply appealing is that it will give people the freedom to pursue less well-remunerated, but more socially beneficial, work. As Yang points out, many of the most humanly important jobs—being a parent, an artist, or even an online book reviewer—are quite poorly compensated, if they are compensated at all. An economist might argue that this is justified, since the free market determines the value of work based on supply-and-demand. But I think that this logic will become less appealing as robots start to out-compete humans. Indeed, perhaps automation will erode our faith in the wisdom of markets and meritocracy, since it will be difficult to believe that a delivery drone is more deserving than a delivery driver, even if it gets more work done. There are, of course, many objections to UBI, one being that it will encourage widespread free-loading. But the evidence for this is quite weak. As Yang demonstrates, in the many UBI trials that have been conducted, work reduction was quite low, mostly taking place among new mothers. And as I mentioned above, our current welfare system arguably encourages free-loading far more effectively than UBI would, since UBI does not disincentive work. In any case, I think all of us—especially new mothers!—could do with a modest reduction in work hours, given the fact that study after study shows that long hours do not benefit productivity. Instead of having humans emulate work machines, then, it would be far better to automate as much work as possible—since machines never sleep, never eat, and never get sick—and focus on the remaining work which really does require a human touch. Yang addresses many other objections to UBI, and most of his arguments are convincing. I do have one nagging question, however, and it is this: If the purchasing power of the general population is increased across the board, will prices of food and housing correspondingly increase? Though I am economically naïve, it strikes me that this is bound to happen, at least somewhat; and this may partially offset the gains of UBI. But perhaps I am mistaken. Another question is whether automation will go as far as Yang predicts. I found most of his forecasts—particularly about self-driving vehicles—quite compelling. But it does seem possible that the affects will be less sweeping than Yang supposes. For example, I cannot imagine couples turning to an A.I. marriage counselor with the voice of Morgan Freeman, as Yang somewhat fancifully imagines. In any case, while Yang’s twin themes of automation and UBI are his central message, his book has far more to offer. I particularly appreciated his portrayal of the economic plight facing many parts of America, and the increasingly stark divide between those with and without a college degree. For example, I often find myself forgetting that the majority of American adults do not have degrees, if only because almost all of my friends and family have one. Considering how many jobs—including low-skilled jobs—require a degree, this is a major economic disadvantage nowadays. The fact that I can forget about this economic disadvantage is a measure of the degree to which different parts of the country are insulated from one another. And the university system is not helping to even the playing field. After all, most of the people who do obtain degrees are already from comparatively better-off families. The university system also does not add to economic diversification, since students are pursuing an increasingly narrow range of majors; and after college, most graduates move to one of a handful of large cities. The result is an increasingly stark economic divide between Americans with college degrees living in large cities, working in a shrinking number of industries, and those living in more rural areas, or hallowed out cities, without degrees. It is an inimical process. Yang also deserves credit for his mental flexibility. Besides UBI, this book contains a range of proposals, all of them quite new to me. Considering the degree to which political debate is dominated by decades-old proposals, I found this extremely refreshing. Admittedly, I do think that Yang’s Silicon Valley message failed to resonate with the voting public for a reason. While he has much to say about the future of America’s economy, he is less convincing on problems besetting many Americans now, most notably health care. Yang does favor a version of universal coverage, and he has some very intriguing things to say about how technology can change the role of the doctor, but I think it is fair to say that this was a minor part of his book. Yet if this book fails as political marketing, it succeeds in being both a thoughtful meditation on the problems facing the average American, and a set of bold proposals to address these problems. While so many politicians come across as blindly ideological, stupidly partisan, or simply as creatures of the political system, Yang is intelligent, imaginative, and unconventional. I hope that this is not the last we hear from him.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sonja

    Don't let the word 'Normal' stop you from reading this. It really is for everyone. My only complaint, it is a little dry. I like the message even if I do not agree with everything in book. It was thought provoking. Don't let the word 'Normal' stop you from reading this. It really is for everyone. My only complaint, it is a little dry. I like the message even if I do not agree with everything in book. It was thought provoking.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mrs. Europaea

    Move over Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Mama has a new issue to plague her sleepless nights. In The War on Normal People, Yang, outlines the upcoming employment crisis to hit the United States. With increasing measures by businesses and organizations to make all things automated for reasons of "productivity and efficiency", he lists the industries most in jeopardy due to technological advancements. Industries include but are not limited to: Office and Administrative Assistant, Sales and Retail,, F Move over Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Mama has a new issue to plague her sleepless nights. In The War on Normal People, Yang, outlines the upcoming employment crisis to hit the United States. With increasing measures by businesses and organizations to make all things automated for reasons of "productivity and efficiency", he lists the industries most in jeopardy due to technological advancements. Industries include but are not limited to: Office and Administrative Assistant, Sales and Retail,, Food Preparation, Transportation, and Production. As a fairly new resident of the Midwest I can personally attest that the Transportation industry is in jeopardy. If you've ever driven on I-65 you know that no matter the time of day Semi's are overwhelmingly ubiquitous. When Yang cites that truck driving will go automated in the next ten to fifteen years due to "national competitiveness and human welfare" it's hard to develop an argument against it. We've all been held up in traffic due to an accident that was later deemed in full or partial fault to truck driver negligence. Yet when you look at the statistics for accidents of the automated trucks being tested in Ohio and California it is virtually non-existent. For this argument in particular, what are the solutions? Well, Yang again outlines a few possibilities, many of which seem as grim as the decline of employment and the increase of unemployment. Yet he ends optimistically enough by saying that many companies are already trying to change their work ethic to something more "human." Human capitalism as he calls it places more value on the human doing the task than on profit driven capitalism. Is this enough? Probably not, but the fight is in all of us not to stand by and let AI take over, and chances are that we will fight because as AI eliminates our opportunities we as a people will finally understand what it means to unite as one, to stand and fight for society's future. The bottom line is we do not want our future generations living in what used to only be true in dystopian novels and unfortunately it may take hitting rock bottom for many of us to realize it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    I have just read the biography of Andrew Yang by Matthew Wilson and now have finished reading Yang’s “The War on Normal People”. This book tells of the problems of automation and AI (artificial intelligence) in the workforce. The book is well written and researched. Yang points out the problems are here now and are only going to get worse and at a much faster pace than most people realize. I found it frightening the list of jobs and professions that will be reduced or eliminated by automation and I have just read the biography of Andrew Yang by Matthew Wilson and now have finished reading Yang’s “The War on Normal People”. This book tells of the problems of automation and AI (artificial intelligence) in the workforce. The book is well written and researched. Yang points out the problems are here now and are only going to get worse and at a much faster pace than most people realize. I found it frightening the list of jobs and professions that will be reduced or eliminated by automation and/or AI. A few that are soon to be effected are those people who drive for a living. On the higher education end are radiologist, pathologist and attorneys that review documents and research precedents. It is apparent that Yang has thought about this problem and has come up with some suggestions for change. One of the solutions that will need to be enacted that Yang did not discuss is population control and reduction. Reading this book brought to mind one of H.W. Wells stories in which “automation and the lack of opportunity yield a legacy of social ruin.” Yang states “in places where jobs disappear, society falls apart.” Like climate change this problem is here now and we need to act now. For the benefit of society when and where should automation and AI in the workplace be used or not, needs to be discussed and regulated. I found this a very interesting book. It sure stimulated my thinking process. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is six hours and fifty-five minutes. Yang does a good job narrating his own book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Yukari Watanabe

    As soon as I started reading this book, I started telling people around me, "This is exactly the thing I've been telling everyone what we should do to save this country!" And, since I finished the book I've been telling everyone to support Andrew Yang as a presidential candidate for 2020. He is the first presidential candidate since Howard Dean whom I passionately support. I'm going to write a detailed review for Newsweek Japan, but for the American people who reads only English, please, please As soon as I started reading this book, I started telling people around me, "This is exactly the thing I've been telling everyone what we should do to save this country!" And, since I finished the book I've been telling everyone to support Andrew Yang as a presidential candidate for 2020. He is the first presidential candidate since Howard Dean whom I passionately support. I'm going to write a detailed review for Newsweek Japan, but for the American people who reads only English, please, please just read Yang's book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diane Pagen

    I read The War On Normal People. I recommend it to everyone, which makes it a different kind of book. Even though I love, say, detective novels, and biographies, I won't recommend them to every kind of person. The War On Normal People stands out to me as being able to improve the lives of every person. Andrew Yang isn't screwing around, telling us that we need to ponder the problem of automation, so that in a few years we can maybe do something. Pondering is not helpful. Indeed, he points out tha I read The War On Normal People. I recommend it to everyone, which makes it a different kind of book. Even though I love, say, detective novels, and biographies, I won't recommend them to every kind of person. The War On Normal People stands out to me as being able to improve the lives of every person. Andrew Yang isn't screwing around, telling us that we need to ponder the problem of automation, so that in a few years we can maybe do something. Pondering is not helpful. Indeed, he points out that we continue to ponder automation at the expense of lives. And he is correct: look what "pondering" climate change for a few decades as something that was "in the future" got us: weather disasters more than once a year, a total mess that is upending the lives of millions. Kicking the can down the road on automation will destroy us, he portends, and we can't keep kicking that can down the road while people get more desperate and there are fewer real jobs and opportunities. This book is giving us an opportunity to act on the damage from automation that is taking place now. The proposal for a Universal Basic Income of $1,000 a month is realistic, fair, and smart. You only have to get on a subway in NYC to see what automation is doing to humans. Half the humans on a subway at 3am are homeless; the other half are working themselves into the ground for a job that has terrible hours and doesn't pay enough. Everyone looks shut down and devoid of joy. For many of us and our friends, we are running faster and faster trying to "achieve" but feeling unhappy a lot of the time. The book talks about this. I especially like that Andrew Yang explains the course of events behind how he came to believe in a Universal Basic Income, and that he goes into his trips around the U.S. He describes the blighted areas he saw, empty buildings that were once busy factories. He adds what he saw with his own eyes to the conversations he has had with well-off people in technology, all of whom tell him that automation IS already here and HAS already eliminated jobs and that more will be lost. This book doesn't pretend that slowing down automation or stopping it is realistic or desirable. Andrew makes the case that the answer is distributing income of $1,000 a month to every American. He argues that it will cause us to become better in many ways. More compassionate, more calm, more productive, more healthy, more able and enthusiastic about solving the OTHER problems of human existence because we won't be starving, stressed, or homeless anymore. It will allow us to use automation for good. And, the money tech companies will be taxed to pay for a Universal Basic Income is just a small portion of what they owe for us allowing them to automate us out of traditional jobs. The War On Normal People reads like a conversation, and that makes it easier to take in all the evidence he provides on mass job loss, the opiate crisis, and human relationships. Even though the book has a good amount of data to make the case for a Universal Basic Income, it "flows" smoothly. I think this book is capable of bringing strangers together in conversation about our mutual future, and it is a call to rally for an economy that doesn't consume humans as a way of generating wealth. I also think it is a great book to get teenagers interested in the economy and to educate them to play a role in changing the economy so they will have a real future despite automation.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Frawley

    It’s hard to be in the year 2018 and not hear about the endless studies alarming the general public about coming labor automation. But what Yang provides in this book is two key things: automation has already been ravaging the country which has led to the great political polarization of today, and second, an actual vision into what happens when people lose jobs, and it definitely is a lightning strike of “oh shit.” I found this book relatively impressive and frightening. Yang, a former lawyer, en It’s hard to be in the year 2018 and not hear about the endless studies alarming the general public about coming labor automation. But what Yang provides in this book is two key things: automation has already been ravaging the country which has led to the great political polarization of today, and second, an actual vision into what happens when people lose jobs, and it definitely is a lightning strike of “oh shit.” I found this book relatively impressive and frightening. Yang, a former lawyer, entrepreneur, and non-profit leader, writes showing with inarguable data that when companies automate work and use new software, communities die, drug use increases, suicide increases, and crime skyrockets. The new jobs created go to big cities, the surviving talent leaves, and the remaining people lose hope and descend into madness. (as a student of psychology, this is not surprising) He starts by painting the picture of the average American and how fragile they are economically. He deconstructs the labor predictions and how technology is going to ravage it. He discusses the future of work. He explains what has happened in technology and why it’s suddenly a huge threat. He shows what this means: economic inequality rises, the people have less power, the voice of democracy is diminished, no one owns stocks, people get poorer etc. He shows that talent is leaving small towns, money is concentrating to big cities faster. He shows what happens when those other cities die (bad things), and then how the people react when they have no income (really bad things). He shows how retraining doesn’t work and college is failing us. We don’t invest in vocational skills, and our youth is underemployed pushed into freelance work making minimal pay. He shows how no one trusts the institutions anymore. Then he discusses solutions with a focus on Universal Basic Income. I was a skeptic of the idea until I read this book. You literally walk away with this burning desire to prevent a Mad Max esque civil war, and its hard to argue with him. We don't have much time and our bloated micromanaged welfare programs cannot sustain.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Zak

    Fantastic book which I finished at warp speed and then proceeded to find out more about the author online. Read this and then check out videos of him on Youtube, especially the podcast with Joe Rogan. Andrew Yang is running for President in 2020. He is obviously very intelligent, articulate and has numerous well-thought out policy proposals. I previously had doubts (or was even ideologically opposed) to many of the things he is proposing (for eg. UBI is more welfare, retraining is the answer, et Fantastic book which I finished at warp speed and then proceeded to find out more about the author online. Read this and then check out videos of him on Youtube, especially the podcast with Joe Rogan. Andrew Yang is running for President in 2020. He is obviously very intelligent, articulate and has numerous well-thought out policy proposals. I previously had doubts (or was even ideologically opposed) to many of the things he is proposing (for eg. UBI is more welfare, retraining is the answer, etc). All I can say is, give this guy a chance to explain and he will likely convince you otherwise, or at least assuage some of your doubts. If you're interested, here is the link to the above podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTsEz...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I learned about Andrew Yang through Sam Harris's podcast in fall 2018, and put this book on my list to read more about his plans for Universal Basic Income and Human-Centered Capitalism. Through this book he poses a near-future where automation puts large sectors of the US economy out of work, small towns and cities die, and the life, as we have grown accustomed to, changes dramatically. The last third of the book sets the stage for the changes he proposes. His case for UBI is compelling, and I I learned about Andrew Yang through Sam Harris's podcast in fall 2018, and put this book on my list to read more about his plans for Universal Basic Income and Human-Centered Capitalism. Through this book he poses a near-future where automation puts large sectors of the US economy out of work, small towns and cities die, and the life, as we have grown accustomed to, changes dramatically. The last third of the book sets the stage for the changes he proposes. His case for UBI is compelling, and I liked his social crediting system that emphasizes service. The book was written before his official presidential bid, but it clearly states his campaign issues and proposed solutions (or the beginning of them).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    Americans are becoming more angered, more frustrated, even more depressed and despondent in this Dog Eat Dog world we currently reside in as they struggle for basics to simply survive. Jobs are being replaced by automation, innovation, technology as the new norm. What happened to benefits for all workers, affordable healthcare and childcare, availability of full time work with paid family leave, equal pay, living wages, seniority, and hiring based on skills and or education rather than income or Americans are becoming more angered, more frustrated, even more depressed and despondent in this Dog Eat Dog world we currently reside in as they struggle for basics to simply survive. Jobs are being replaced by automation, innovation, technology as the new norm. What happened to benefits for all workers, affordable healthcare and childcare, availability of full time work with paid family leave, equal pay, living wages, seniority, and hiring based on skills and or education rather than income or connections? Can we not keep nepotism and corruption out of human resourcing? Pensions are non existent , social security is depleted, our current form of government is too big and not transparent nor workable, cities and states are in the red, financial stress for families is beyond measurable and so too is accounting for accurate unemployment rates. The Great Displacement is in effect and steam rolling through leaving behind deserted and dilapidated buildings and shells of former life as we once knew it to exists. Companies are relocating for cheaper labor and less taxation while employees are being left to pick up the pieces being forced to reinvent themselves in hopes of securing a future that currently is beyond repair for many of us. "The logic of meritocracy is leading us to ruin, because we are collectively primed to ignore the voices of the millions getting pushed into economic distress by the grinding wheels of automation and innovation. We figure they're complaining or suffering because they're losers." Survival mode is a daily mode for the former middle class , working poor, and the poor locked in to poverty ( myself). We are not uneducated. We don't want handouts. We don't want pity, empathy, sympathy. Let me begin my story in hopes of enlightening many about the new war against the 'Average American' as one of the so called Normal People as described here. For starters, according to stats quoted ," There are presently 95 million working age Americans, a full 37% of adults, who are out of the work force." "In 2000, there was only 70 million." Unemployment rates are inaccurate as they do not take into account the working poor who are working but not being paid a living wage to support themselves, those out of the work force longer than 6 months, those who gave up looking for work, and those who are working part time, temp, or seasonal work not receiving full time benefits nor pay. As I currently write this, I'm living below poverty in 2018; after divorcing a malignant narcissist from an 11 year marriage-13 yrs together. I'm the primary caregiver of our 3 kids ( 17, 13, 11 yo with oldest child med disabled since birth on social security disability) and have my Masters. My only income is child support and disability on behalf of son). When he turns 18 he loses child support and disability goes for review based on medical re evaluation. If he still qualifies he will then continue to receive and payments will be paid out to him directly. So our current un earned income will be far less than even below poverty level (if you can fathom that idea). My story is lengthy as I was left bankrupt, homeless, long term unemployed having given up career to raise family alone while spouse resided and worked entire marriage 5 states away having only weekend visits ( if at all). You can read my full story here : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dispel... Volunteering was a way for me to keep searching for employment while being useful and productive yet as you can see not one company wishes to hire the LT unemployed as I'm overqualified as noted by HR and under skilled having no prior work experience due to giving up career to raise my family. In addition I'm already below poverty level and need a job to lift me higher not lower with less salary than poverty level. My debt as you can imagine with Masters student loans is over 30k , my medical debt with a child born without insurance over 30k, my debt living on credit w/o income to support my family awaiting child support and alimony was over 100k and resulted in bankruptcy. This doesn't take into account the fact I'm section 8 approved but as a single mom with 3 teens was declined many apartments due to kids and domestic violence pfa filed. As you may know landlords don't like to rent with kids due to concerns for damage to property and dv survivors are often excluded for violence concerns as nuisance properties may result in too many calls for 911 assistance. Without credit you cannot get a car, an apartment , nor even a job so please read my link above as it's all listed there. Andrew Yang mentions the human component over the almighty dollar which sounds nice in theory but speaking isn't enough we need action and we need it immediately. "The unemployment rate is like checking how a party is going based on everyone who's at the party. It doesn't take into account the people who were never invited to the party or couldn't get in." In addition, Brown U grads like yourself and my brother shows that many moved to 1 0f 4 metro areas after graduating ( yet fail to mention the over 100k debt he incurred @BrownU resulting in his bankruptcy) nor is the cost of living factored in moving and the issue that it's that much harder for the older crowd with families to uproot and leave a dying area economically. Might I add he moved from Pa to Ca and worked with an Ivy League education as an Uber driver. Not quite luxury. In addition, we cannot all move to Ca, DC, Boston, NYC, or Mass there must be another alternative. "A culture of scarcity is a culture of negativity." "We are quickly transitioning from the land of plenty to the land of "you get yours I get mine." "Where jobs disappear , society falls apart." So the solution in all this despair? Well, UBI as the Universal Basic Income where a version of Social Security is paid out to all citizens to receive a set amount of money per month regardless of work status and income. Ie. Bernie Sanders -- : A minimum standard of living should be entitled for all Americans. Perhaps the Digital Social Credit is another avenue to explore. Rewarding for serving communities through volunteering. Ironically, Cabot Cheese Cooperative has already in place a similar program whereby incentives and prizes are awarded to not only the individual but their nonprofit for community service hours. In fact I was awarded the prize a few years ago for volunteering with over 13 nonprofits. For further information on my volunteering and the program see this link: https://rewardvolunteers.coop/donna-g... "Poverty is not a lack of character , it's a lack of cash." Human Capitalism focuses more on the human component and less on the greed. The market has overrun our leaders. Government is too big and not transparent to handle this fast moving technologically advanced global demand. Making education more affordable and accessible may or may not succeed. For me I'm not sure my masters was worth it as I graduated with high honors yet not one company believes in me nor my abilities nor skills to give me the chance after child rearing. I now am not sure what to tell my 3 teens one of which is a junior in high school about further education as less than 1/3 are hired in jobs requiring it. In closing, I've taken my story about food insecurities, poverty, domestic violence was told by Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) to every member of Congress. SEE pg 38 here: https://d3b0lhre2rgreb.cloudfront.net... I've also been awarded the Points of Light Award by Pres. George H.W. Bush in highlighting my struggles while serving others see here: http://www.pointsoflight.org/programs... I would add I've also counciled others while seeking employment in the field of criminal justice or Public Administration having over 36k readers on my FB page across 45 countries worldwide in 45 different languages : https://www.facebook.com/thelostself/ My community service to help women and children was acknowledged with Maternal and Family Health Services : https://www.mfhs.org/?s=donna+hines The work I do to assist my community in reading enhancement through goodreads giveaways and direct library donations can be viewed here: https://www.netgalley.com/member/profile Having nearly 5 k viewers on my LinkedIn profile while seeking employment as a freelance writer with over 40 blogs can be viewed here : https://www.linkedin.com/in/donna-hin... Now I can tell you one last thing for anyone to think the poor don't work can simply click any one of my links or articles as I worked first hand with nonprofits on the front line to serve my community's needs. I know first hand the guilt, the shame, the embarrassment begging for basics for survival while being ostracized and shamed daily for not working hard enough Prior to having kids I worked two jobs to put self through college and was top producer in two departments at Lord and Taylor Distribution Center (factory work over 400 units per hr). I was awarded a 10 cent raise as Associate of the month and top producer in both CTH and GTH with a total salary of $7.25 hr resulting in 3 degenerative disks now in upper, mid, and lower back and ganglion cysts on wrist requiring surgery to simply move my right hand nearly 30 years later. That job still pays same wage nearly 20 yrs later yet ironically cost of living has risen 10x since those earlier years. I left when I was injured without compensation when a 50 lb trolley went off rail landing on top of my head. I went to college, got married, had kids, and well the rest is history. So I ask anyone reading this what's next for those of us who are educated but lack the funds to establish our own way of life and are now 'locked in to poverty'. For every cent we receive increase ( ie cost of living ) we lose in another form of assistance as they go hand in hand and are all closely monitored. While jobs exists they pay peanuts and I can't afford to live less than poverty nor pay off debt with less than poverty. So I wonder where do we; the ones not in the top 1%; go from here as many us of have the skills, are trained, are educated but are passed up for nepotism? See link here as one such example http://standardspeaker.com/news/relea... Many jobs I applied were given to male counterparts even with my resume and application on file. Other jobs were lost during government freeze by governor and then downsized and lost even though I had better skills than the HR doing the hiring based on his own report to me. Another job was given to a man with more billing and coding experience than I yet the job will train and he was out of area. Ironically I was good enough to be provided the community service award a few years later but not for hire. I will also advise you that for white mid class women we are the minority. We are passed up because of being mothers of older age who require benefits and flex scheduling with child care options made available. Many of us were left without the basics no home, no income, no credit nor savings, in fact my kids college funds were depleted by their father and was to be repaid but much like the pfa it's a piece of paper that's not enforced. Companies want to be cost effective and the way to that is by hiring the young who don't require as much as the older skilled and well trained employees. Your novel talks plenty about the unskilled and uneducated but what about the skilled and educated who are passed up all for the bottom dollar? I wonder where we go now?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Miles

    Like many others, I discovered Andrew Yang by way of his excellent interview with Sam Harris last month. Yang, who is running for President in 2020, immediately struck me as honest, intelligent, well-informed, and profoundly reasonable––a heroic foil for the repugnant personalities that dominate today’s national politics. Yang’s central campaign issue is the institution of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for all Americans, a daring and promising idea that has been on my radar for some years now. Like many others, I discovered Andrew Yang by way of his excellent interview with Sam Harris last month. Yang, who is running for President in 2020, immediately struck me as honest, intelligent, well-informed, and profoundly reasonable––a heroic foil for the repugnant personalities that dominate today’s national politics. Yang’s central campaign issue is the institution of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for all Americans, a daring and promising idea that has been on my radar for some years now. Yang’s excellent book, The War on Normal People, is the boldest and best argument for UBI to date. If you’re considering reading this book, be warned: it is tough. Not tough to understand––on the contrary, Yang’s writing is clean and balanced, with an appropriate smattering of personal anecdotes that humanize and endear him to the reader. But the majority of the book’s content is extremely grim. It comes as no surprise that one of his early readers suggested changing the titled to “We’re Fucked” (165). However, a hopeful path to positive solutions awaits readers willing to power through the first two sections. In Part One, “What’s Happening to Jobs,” Yang explicates the societal threat posed by automation, also referred to as technological unemployment. His case is persuasive, data-driven, and damned scary. Yang’s perspective is anchored by his personal experience in the world of traditional Ivy League elitism, as well as a more recent endeavor as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. He has seen firsthand how politicians and masters of industry leverage their wealth and influence to grow their careers and businesses, and assures the reader with confidence that “I am writing from inside the tech bubble to let you know that we are coming for your jobs” (xi). Inside this bubble, the idea that a company would give up a potential efficiency gain in order to retain employees is heretical, and companies routinely hone their cutting edge by automating one step ahead of the competition. The market cares nothing for the well-being of employees, rewarding scale and consolidation at every turn. In witnessing these patterns play out, Yang found himself forced to an unwelcome conclusion: "It has been my job for the past six years to create jobs. I’m about to lose––we’re all about to lose––on an epic scale. I’m now certain that the wave––the Great Displacement––is already here and is having effects bigger and faster than most anyone believes. The most pernicious thing about this wave is that you can’t really tell who it has hit as it grinds up people and communities. I’ve switched gears. My goal now is to give everyone a sense of what’s coming and then prepare us to fight for the version of the future that we want. It will be a massive challenge. It’s up to us; the market will not help us. Indeed, it is about to turn on us. The solutions aren’t beyond us yet, but it’s getting late in the day and time is running short. I need you to see what I see." (11) Yang pulls no punches as he describes the dire circumstances that already dominate the American labor market, with an even bleaker forecast just over the horizon. Here are some of his most distressing findings: "America is starting 100,000 fewer businesses per year than it was only 12 years ago, and is in the midst of shedding millions of jobs due primarily to technological advances…I remember the moment it finally sank in completely. I was reading a CNN article that detailed how automation had eliminated millions of manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2015, four times more than globalization." (10) "Many Americans are in danger of losing their jobs right now due to automation. Not in 10 or 15 years. Right now. Here are the standard sectors Americans work in: Office and Administrative Support (15.69% of workforce), Sales and Retail (10.35%), Food Preparation and Serving (9.25%), Transportation and Material Moving (6.93%), Production (6.49%). Sixty-eight million Americans out of a workforce of 140 million (48.5 percent) work in one of these five sectors. Each of these labor groups is being replaced right now." (27-8) "More than 5 million manufacturing workers lost their jobs after 2000. More than 80 percent of the jobs lost––or 4 million jobs––were due to automation…What happened to these 5 million workers? A rosy economist might imagine that they found new manufacturing jobs, or were retrained and reskilled for different jobs, or maybe they moved to another state for greener pastures. In reality, many of them left the workforce. One Department of Labor survey in 2012 found that 41 percent of displaced manufacturing workers between 2009 and 2011 were either still unemployed or dropped out of the labor market within three years of losing their jobs. Another study out of Indiana University found that 44 percent of 200,000 displaced transportation equipment and primary metals manufacturing workers in Indiana between 2003 and 2014 had no payroll record at all by 2014, and only 3 percent graduated from a public college or university in Indiana during that time period." (41-2) This is just a small sampling of the jaw-dropping figures Yang cites throughout The War on Normal People. Often, he doesn’t have to work very hard to make his case; the numbers speak for themselves. Yang frames the situation with the correct degree of urgency, using an approach I would characterize as responsible alarmism. In Chapter Eight, “The Usual Objections,” he follows in the footsteps of Martin Ford by demonstrating how the coming wave of automation is a horse of a different color when compared to the automation anxieties of previous eras. The main thrust of his argument is that America is rapidly becoming a powder keg packed with the failures and frustrations of “normal” people, who he defines as people who occupy the middle of the bell curve on a range of objective measures (income, savings, education, assets, etc.). These are the folks whose economic value is being and will be most swiftly swept away by automation, a transition that Yang calls the Great Displacement. As the Displacement progresses, American society will become increasingly populated with “proud and desperate” former workers whose chances of finding alternative employment will be vanishingly small (47). If left unaddressed, this predicament will make American society increasingly vulnerable to social and political upheavals (Yang imagines an all-too-believable near-future scenario of how this might occur on pages 158-9). One of Yang’s most important insights concerns the effects of mass job loss on local tax revenue and infrastructure in small and midsize communities. As a torrent of national retailers across the country close up shop, the “pillars of the regional budget” begin to crack: “This means shrunken municipal budgets, cuts to school budgets, and job reductions in local government offices” (32). Additionally, abandoned buildings transform into “negative infrastructure,” attracting crime and creating “a bleak, dystopian atmosphere, like a zombie movie set” (32-3). Even now, when the worst effects of automation are only just starting to be felt, what American isn’t familiar with the ominous feeling of driving through a community devoid of vibrancy and hope, its once-respectable storefronts boarded up and its roads crumbling from disrepair? If we don’t act fast, Yang argues, this will become the new American norm. In Part Two, “What’s Happening to Us,” Yang takes up the social, psychological, and geographic features of the automation problem. Like many other futurists, he contrasts perspectives of abundance with those of scarcity, demonstrating the benefits of the former and the harms of the latter. Citizens with ready access to basic resources see opportunity around every corner, and partake in “light-commitment benevolence” to create the illusion of social responsibility as we horde more than our fair share (96). Obversely, those locked in cycles of scarcity are largely unable to achieve the socioeconomic stability that would allow them to better their lot (Chapter 10). In recent years, the geography of American opportunity has come to play a larger role in compounding this problem: "A mindset of abundance or scarcity is tied closely to what part of the country you live in. Different regions are now experiencing such different levels of economic dynamism that they often have utterly different notions of what the future holds." (109) In a country already wracked with ideological division that falls largely along geographic lines, this is not encouraging news. As Americans with similar backgrounds, values, experiences and incomes coalesce to form insular communities (both digital and physical), we lose the ability to understand and empathize with our fellow citizens who have less access to opportunities and resources. Yang points out that job loss contributes significantly to this process: "There’s a truism in the startup world: When things start going very badly for a company, the strongest people generally leave first. They have the highest standards for their own opportunities and the most confidence that they can thrive in a new environment. Their skills are in demand, and they feel little need to stick around. The people who are left behind tend to be less confident and adaptable. It’s one reason why companies go into death spirals––the best people leave when they see the writing on the wall and the company’s decline accelerates. The same is often true for a community. When jobs and prosperity start deserting a town, the first people to leave are the folks who have the best opportunities elsewhere." (117-8) This insidious dynamic has already played itself out in many towns across America, and will continue to destroy communities if current trends are not interrupted. Yang shores up his sense of urgency with perceptive chapters addressing how joblessness affects interpersonal and familial relationships; the growing reliance of the new “shadow class” on government assistance and drugs; how the addictive, escapist power of video games is hijacking the lives of many young men; and the ways in which all these factors contribute to social and political instability. In Part Three, “Solutions and Human Capitalism,” Yang explains how we ought to combat and eventually solve the automation crisis. His first imperative is to institute a UBI of $1000 per month for all citizens. This “Freedom Dividend” is Yang’s Americanized take on an old idea, one that has been advocated for by people across the political spectrum for several centuries (166-8). These days, UBI is typically a conversation-stopper in mainstream political discussions, but as the negative trends of automation continue to progress and become more visible, it is not hard to imagine it gaining support. And in a world where Donald Trump can be elected President, I’m done listening to anyone who argues that something is politically impossible. The Freedom Dividend will be enough to bring jobless people above the poverty line, but only just. The vast majority of citizens will still seek remunerative work in order to raise their standard of living, but will no longer have to worry about whether they can afford basic shelter or enough food to get by. Best of all, the Freedom Dividend would effectively end abject poverty for American children. Additionally, the huge number of citizens currently receiving disability insurance from the government would have the opportunity to switch over to the Freedom Dividend, which would follow them anywhere in the country and would not evaporate if they proved themselves able to work once again. The above arguments should be enough to convince most Americans that UBI is a good idea, but there are also the added benefits of scaling back the bureaucratic bloat of the welfare state and utilizing government for something it's actually good at: sending large numbers of checks to citizens in a regimented, timely fashion. The question is not whether we want a welfare state or not, but rather if we want a welfare state with perverse incentives or humanistic ones. Yang estimates that the Freedom Dividend would cost $1.3 trillion annually, which he would fund with a value-added tax (VAT) on consumption. Yang puts the lie to the conventional objection that there’s simply not enough money to fully fund a Freedom Dividend: "Out of 193 countries, 160 already have a VAT or goods and services tax, including all developed countries except the United States. The average VAT in Europe is 20 percent. It is well developed and its efficacy has been established. If we adopted a VAT at half the average European level, we could pay for a universal basic income for all American adults." (171) So, just as with universal healthcare, America’s inability to properly care for its citizens is not an issue of scarcity, but rather of political will. If we can harness that will for the good of the people (for once), the benefits will be immediate and profound: "With the Freedom Dividend, money would be put in the hands of our citizens in a time of unprecedented economic dislocation. It would grow the consumer economy. It’s a stimulus of people. The vast majority of money would go directly into the economy each month, into paying bills, feeding children, visiting loved ones, youth sports, eating at local restaurants, piano lessons, extra tutoring help, car repairs, small businesses, housing improvements, prenatal vitamins, elder care, and so on." (172) The Freedom Dividend isn’t the end goal of Yang’s political agenda––just the tip of the iceberg, in fact. He knows that this is a time for big and bold ideas, and he’s got them in spades. In a clarion call for sensible responses to deep systemic problems, Yang challenges us to remember that the market ought to serve humans, and not the other way around. This is what he calls Human Capitalism, which has three tenets: "1. Humanity is more important than money. 2. The unit of an economy is each person, not each dollar. 3. Markets exist to serve our common goals and values." (200) With these as his guiding principles, Yang advocates for concrete mechanisms that would create real accountability for our public servants and private companies, a universal health care system that leverages the power of AI to end the overworking of physicians, an overhaul of our education practices to focus on character-building and a diversity of employment pathways, and the creation of a technology-driven Digital Currency System (DCS) that would function outside the dollar economy to promote types of human-centric labor that are currently unrewarded by the capitalist market. Yang knows that it will take a lot of experimentation and hard work to successfully implement any one of these ideas, let alone all of them. But he also knows that we are at a crossroads where we will either resolve to do the hard work of bringing everyone along as we stride into the automated future, or we will ignore that call to action and prepare for the dystopian scenarios that inevitably result. While this is obviously a difficult situation in which to find ourselves, we ought to focus on the amazing future that is possible if we create an economy devoted to abundance for all. This future would allow normal, decent folks to be wealthier, healthier and happier with their lives, and would also prepare humanity for our next big challenge: climate change. I used to think that climate change was the most important battle of my generation, but Yang and others have convinced me that the battle for economic justice is even more critical. A downtrodden and desperate population will never respond to the environmental crisis effectively. In the final pages of The War on Normal People, Yang leaves the reader with a sober but inspiring message: "I have been in the room with people who are meant to steer our society. The machinery is weak. The institutionalization is high. The things you fear to be true are generally true. I wrote this book because I want others to see what I see. We are capable of so much better…It will not be easy…Through all of the doubt, the cynicism, the ridicule, the hatred and anger, we must fight for the world that is still possible…Come fight with me." (242-4) I will admit that I’m deeply skeptical of the political viability of this movement. Too often my mind gives safe harbor to the very doubts and cynicism that could render Yang’s mission dead on arrival. But, despite my fear and cowardice, I will strive to do my part. You can too. This review was originally published on my blog, words&dirt.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    Andrew Yang first came to my attention when he said in one of the debates that immigrants were not taking jobs away from this country's citizens, automation and AI were responsible. That thought stuck in my head, and when I learned about this book, I was very interested in seeing what Yang had to say. I am not going to make a political pitch here, I don't even know if he will make it as far as being named the Democratic candidate for the 2020 elections. But if you want to learn something about eco Andrew Yang first came to my attention when he said in one of the debates that immigrants were not taking jobs away from this country's citizens, automation and AI were responsible. That thought stuck in my head, and when I learned about this book, I was very interested in seeing what Yang had to say. I am not going to make a political pitch here, I don't even know if he will make it as far as being named the Democratic candidate for the 2020 elections. But if you want to learn something about economics and some theories about why America has become what it is now, not to mention a few ways that just might help correct the situation, this book is for you. It is intense, scary, sometimes disturbing reading. But it is also intelligent, easy to understand, and fascinating. Not sure I agree with all of the man's points (especially that idea of paying the President four million dollars per year!!) but some of his proposed solutions to the country's problems make a lot of sense, and he at least has the capability to imagine fresh-thinking ways to change things, not merely slap band-aids on the surface and pretend that will make everything all better. An interesting, eye-opening book. I will be watching to see what happens with Andrew Yang over the next months, and what happens to the country after the elections next year. Whether or not he wins the nomination and/or the office he is hoping for, I wish him well and I thank him for this book. At least now I feel like I have a better grasp of a few issues. And I am more or less emotionally prepared in case his worst-case scenarios do actually happen. Not that anyone could ever be ready for society to break down completely, but the idea of that actually happening in America never entered my mind. I hope we all have more strength of character and do not allow that to happen. Time will tell, and it won't really matter who is in the White House. Keeping our society intact is up to each one of us, not just the government.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    I knew I wasn't going to be thrilled with this guy. I just forced myself to read this because he's running for president in 2020. He probably will be one of the better candidates but I still can't say that I agree with most of his ideas. It's not universal basic income that bothers me. I actually think UBI does make sense right now. The problem is that it should be part of a plan for transitioning to a degrowth economic system and a truly sustainable way of life. Instead, Yang pushes the idea as I knew I wasn't going to be thrilled with this guy. I just forced myself to read this because he's running for president in 2020. He probably will be one of the better candidates but I still can't say that I agree with most of his ideas. It's not universal basic income that bothers me. I actually think UBI does make sense right now. The problem is that it should be part of a plan for transitioning to a degrowth economic system and a truly sustainable way of life. Instead, Yang pushes the idea as a way to encourage growth, by giving more money to the poor who will actually spend it instead of hoarding it in offshore tax havens, and taking the pressure off people so they can feel more comfortable taking risks and innovating new things, etc. That "trickle up" concept does make perfect sense from the mainstream perspective, basically the idea that the American middle class lifestyle should be the ideal for everyone on the planet, but when you understand how inherently unsustainable it is to be so reliant on high-tech gadgets and such a complex global industrial infrastructure you realize that this misses the bigger picture. Less jobs and less working hours should be a good thing because we're already producing and consuming way too much crap, and obviously if the things we use could be made more efficiently and with less effort then why do it the more wasteful or harder way? A lot of the jobs people are doing right now aren't just totally unnecessary, they're actually causing more harm than good. They're only being kept around because these workers need money. Society would literally be better off with these people being paid to sit at home and do nothing all day. It really is completely insane. As much sense as it makes to adopt a basic income though, I'm still not convinced that it's going to happen. The title would be more accurate if it was Why Universal Basic Income SHOULD BE Our Future, rather than IS. Looking around, it seems more likely that people will keep demanding that their lives be made as shitty as possible, the poor will keep being sacrificed even when it's in the rich's own best interest to help them (so they can afford to keep consuming), and stupid industries that should have vanished a long time ago, such as coal, manufacturing by hand and creating toxic farm chemicals, will keep getting subsidized with these idiotic job creation schemes. I do hope I'm wrong about that, of course. I'd much rather that people wake up, vote for things that actually make sense and that someday I can actually feel good about the way I'm spending my time on this planet. That's just hard to imagine at this point. Again though, I'm not giving this a relatively bad review just because I think his good ideas will be ignored. There are a lot of ideas in here that aren't that good.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I've never run into a candidate like Andrew who identifies the problem so precisely but also presents data driven evidence based policies instead of empty rhetoric. I love the way his campaign is uniting people across all political backgrounds and of course Asian American representation is super important!! Andrew Yang for President 2020 https://www.yang2020.com/ I've never run into a candidate like Andrew who identifies the problem so precisely but also presents data driven evidence based policies instead of empty rhetoric. I love the way his campaign is uniting people across all political backgrounds and of course Asian American representation is super important!! Andrew Yang for President 2020 https://www.yang2020.com/

  19. 4 out of 5

    Riley Redd

    This is a very important book. Every American ought to read it. Universal Basic Income is an absolute necessity now.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cody Sexton

    It seems that the world that we have all been preparing for, is on the verge of no longer existing. Technology is changing our economy now in ways that we aren’t fully equipped to understand, let alone control, and as technology continues to consistently advance, the shift of work activities now performed by humans and those performed by machines is going to change also and the shape the future of humanity will take will be the result of complex, changing, challenging and competing technological It seems that the world that we have all been preparing for, is on the verge of no longer existing. Technology is changing our economy now in ways that we aren’t fully equipped to understand, let alone control, and as technology continues to consistently advance, the shift of work activities now performed by humans and those performed by machines is going to change also and the shape the future of humanity will take will be the result of complex, changing, challenging and competing technological, political, social and economic forces. While some of these forces are known, there is a lot that is still unknown and the speed at which the unknowns will unfold are difficult to predict. But unless we make a strong effort to make the unknowns, known, the outcome of this emerging battle between technological singularity and economic singularity seems to be just the beginning of social unrest and turmoil. As Eric Weinstein, managing director of Thiel Capital, has stressed, “...we never really saw that capitalism might be defeated by its own child — technology.” In the book Andrew Yang argues that the sectors where most people tend to work, administration, retail, food service, transportation, and manufacturing, have profound levels of repetitiveness which makes them highly susceptible to automation. Meaning that many of America’s “Normal People” will soon be supplanted by AI software and robotics. Since competition in these sectors is quite fierce, companies are sooner or later, going to be forced to automate to keep up with the competition. Once a single competitor automates, the others will follow by necessity. In many cases, automation is not only cheaper, but also produces better products and services. The natural result is, as Yang relates through conversations he’s had with people in the tech industry, a race to make “Normal” people redundant. And it’s already happening. Millions of jobs have already begun to be automated away, especially in the manufacturing sector. A recent White House report has even predicted that 83 percent of jobs where people make less than $20 an hour will be subject to automation or replacement. And according to Wall Street the retail sector is already becoming almost completely uninvestable, in what’s being dubbed the “retail apocalypse,” partly due to in-store self-service and partly due to e-commerce. Next on the chopping block is transportation, as self-driving technology is replacing millions of truck drivers. The food service and administration sectors are likewise just as vulnerable. Even many white-collar jobs will likely disappear. The fact that Yang doesn’t just focus all of his attention on blue-collar jobs when discussing the looming employment crisis, is something I really appreciated, pointing out that 44 percent of the total jobs, according to the Fed, can be categorized as “routine” which includes high-skilled medical and legal work that students go to college for years to master. For example, Yang relates of a recent demonstration held by General Electric, in which some of the country’s best doctors were pitted against a computer to see which could better identify tumors on radiology films. The computer outperformed the doctors with ease. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. New software allows computers to see shades of grey that the human eye can’t, and they can reference films against data sets more numerous than any individual could ever hope to possess. This all may sound like science fiction, but as Yang says, “We are living in unprecedented times. The future without jobs will come to resemble either the cultivated benevolence of Star Trek or the desperate scramble for resources of Mad Max. Unless there is a dramatic course correction, I fear we are heading toward the latter.” If this doesn’t make you concerned for the future, you are either stupid, wealthy, or both. Yang’s fundamental message, of course, is that we are already on the verge of this dystopian future, with hundreds of thousands of families and communities being pushed into oblivion, and that Americans are already dealing with the lack of meaningful job opportunities, by getting married less and becoming less and less functional overall. Social mobility has declined, inequality has widened, and precarious employment has become the norm and these sweeping technological changes threaten to undermine what little stability people have left. But we must also understand that once the pace of these technological advances and automation changes goes from linear to exponential, becoming self-improving, self-replicating and distributed, the old business models, governance models, management and technology models are likewise going to be crushed under the weight of an outdated economics of efficiency. Over the past 40 years, the US government has done precious little to invest in our future. Instead of spending money on things that might make a difference in people’s lives, our politicians would rather spend the majority of their time shutting down the government over some petty political dispute. Time and again difficult decisions have been pushed off for later, and any complicated social issues that have arisen over the years have simply been relegated to the unforgiving "invisible hand of the free market" to resolve. It would appear as if Washington is as bereft of new ideas in social terms as it is of new technological ones. But Yang not only draws our attention to these current socioeconomic issues, he goes one step further by proposing genuinely concrete measures to face them, and ends up making one of the more noteworthy and pragmatic arguments in favor of a universal basic income (UBI) that I’ve heard so far, which is the very centerpiece of his platform as a presidential candidate. Yang’s unwavering support of a universal basic income (UBI) is just one aspect of his platform however. In the book he outlines three main solutions. First, a UBI of $1,000 a month for every U.S. citizen, over the age of 18, paid for by a 10% value-added tax on all goods and services. Which will be a dramatic expansion of the social safety net that will guarantee tens of millions of Americans at least a $12,000 annual income. Second, by establishing a new, secondary economy based on time rather than money. And third, instituting a tougher and more vigilant and yet dynamic government. It should also be noted however, that the idea of a universal basic income (UBI) isn’t a recent one. It has been floating around now for decades, and was almost passed in the US by the Nixon administration in the early 1970s. And currently, there’s more incentive than ever to roll out something just like it as support for a universal basic income (UBI) is higher than ever right now, particularly among the millennial crowd, which should amaze no one as millennials have had to deal with, not only a crumbling economy, but also increasing amounts of debt. People over the age of fifty however, are much more likely to be hostile to the idea. Older generations are also much more likely to blame millennials for our current economic problems. We either got the wrong degree. We still haven’t learned to code. We killed department stores and even chain restaurants. But what millennial-bashing really reveals is the very precariousness of our current economic model that Yang is talking about. A model that is no longer sustainable. It’s already starting to burn out and it threatens far more: a new Great Depression. The first Great Depression was caused because rampant inequality meant that consumers had no money. The engines of industry kept spinning, kept churning out new products, but there was nobody who could afford to purchase them. Right now we are heading for round two. Yet despite the books tagline, this isn’t fundamentally a book about universal basic income (UBI). It’s more about markets, and our attitudes surrounding them. As Yang says, “If we insist on seeing ourselves as inputs into the economic machine we are doomed. We have to make this economy work for people as fast as possible.” Markets should be a tool that society uses to its advantage, not something it must be a slave to and in this new emerging economy we will have no choice but to rethink what we label as ‘work’, or more to the point, what we label as ‘valuable.’ As Yang rightfully points our current metric, gross domestic product (GDP) is a useless metric for measuring our progress as a society. Our market currently doesn’t value things that are vital to human existence, i.e. family, creativity, meaning and purpose. Right now the market is overrunning everything and we must get past the idea that unless the market says that what you contribute to society is valuable, then it must be worthless. We have no choice but to rethink what it means to be a contributing member of society. The stay at home mom, or dad increasingly, who may not have a job, but who still nevertheless, gets up every morning and gets the kids ready for school, helps with homework, cleans the house, and still finds time to fix dinner, and even volunteer at the local shelter, still contributes to society. Even though the market doesn’t recognize these contributions as valuable. As Yang says in the book, “Our economic system must shift to focus on bettering the lot of the average person. Capitalism has to be made to serve human ends and goals, rather than have our humanity subverted to serve the marketplace. We shape the system. We own it, not the other way around.” The War on Normal People also comes to stand as a serious rebuttal to some of the more optimistic thinkers, such as Thomas Friedman and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who believe that Americans can just simply be transformed into lifelong learners, and thus keep pace with changes in the workplace. But as Yang points out, “Some liberals imagine that we might be able to retrain hundreds of thousands of truckers as software engineers or some other occupation. But the reality is that federally funded retraining programs have an effectiveness rate of between zero and 15% when applied to manufacturing workers, and fewer than 10% of workers qualify for retraining programs as are currently offered anyway.” Adding, “We need to invest in education, job training and placement, apprenticeships, relocation, entrepreneurship, and tax incentives - anything to help make hiring and retaining workers appealing. And then we should acknowledge that, for millions of people, it’s still not going to work.” The oncoming wave of technological unemployment is going to be severe and the challenge we currently face, as Yang writes, “is that humans need work more than work needs us.” However, it’s not just that the future is going to be a place where people can’t find work but that it’s going to be a place where people will no longer need to work. Scott Santens, a writer and UBI activist, has written that, “Human labor is increasingly unnecessary and even economically unviable compared to machine labor. And yet we still insist on money to pay for what our machines are making for us. As long as this remains true, we must begin providing ourselves the money required to purchase what the machines are producing. Without a technological dividend, the engine that is our economy will seize, or we will fight against technological progress itself in the same way some once destroyed their machine replacements. Without non-work income, we will actually fight to keep from being replaced by the technology we built to replace us. To allow this to happen would be truly foolish, for what is the entire purpose of technology but to free us to pursue all we wish to pursue? Fearing the loss of jobs shouldn’t be a fear at all. It should be welcomed. It should be freeing. No one should be asking what we’re going to do if computers take our jobs. We should all be asking what we get to do once freed from them.” Never in the history of the United States would there be anything more conducive to freedom and independence than a universal basic income (UBI). Without economic freedom, liberty is a useless and callous abstract notion that lacks any real meaning for real people. Just think for a moment about all the talent and creativity that is squandered, and has been squandered over the centuries, due to the necessity of work. Think about the hopes that are dashed when we tell our children that they can’t pursue what they’re passionate about, simply because they will need to earn a living. Think about this. We tell our children that they must earn their right to live. We are born into a world that wasn’t of our choosing and then forced into wage slavery if we want to stay alive. Fifty years from now, people will look back in embarrassment that we allowed an economic system to use the fear of not being able to eat as a way to incentivize people to work. It’s appalling and anyone who would advocate for such an arrangement should rightfully be labeled a monster. This, as far as I’m concerned, is why a universal basic income (UBI) is so important and so needed. People would finally be able to exist without having to tolerate a job they hate, and consequently, a life they hate. It would allow people to go home and do something useful with their lives. What’s the number one death bed regret? That we didn’t spend more time with the people we love the most. A universal basic income (UBI) would finally give us that time. A universal basic income (UBI) would also have the added benefit of putting power back into the hands of the working class. In other words, it would right the power imbalances that are inherent in our current economic system, leading to a more egalitarian society overall. It would even improve the bargaining power of millions of low-wage workers forcing employers to increase wages, add benefits and improve conditions in order to retain employees. In addition, if a universal basic income (UBI) replaced specific programs for the poor, it would have the added benefit of reducing government bureaucracy, minimizing government interference in people’s lives and it would allow people to avoid the social stigma that so often accompanies government assistance programs. By virtue of being available to everyone, a universal basic income (UBI) would not only guarantee the material existence of everyone in our society; it would establish a baseline for what membership in that society really means. Mark Zuckerberg, in a commencement address at Harvard said, “Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract. We should have a society that measures progress not by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.” This book has proven to be an eye-opening and insightful analysis concerning our present situation and Yang has done a very effective job at highlighting our upcoming, and fast approaching, employment crisis. He also brings a very unique credibility to the subject, given his entrepreneurship as founder of the nonprofit Venture for America. But more importantly what Yang’s book has done, for me at least, is that it has provided me with a renewed sense of hope. Whether or not he is correct in either his assessments or his prescriptions. Our ability to hope is what will drive us forward into the future. Without it, we will go nowhere and we’ve been without it for sometime now.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Charles Haywood

    Just in time for the first Democratic presidential debates, I have finished candidate Andrew Yang’s manifesto, "The War on Normal People." From its title, which subversively suggests there is such a thing as normality, you can tell that Yang is trying to be different. From its subtitle, you can learn of Yang’s core big idea, universal basic income, UBI. I was prepared to be unimpressed, but really, the book is well written, and UBI, as Yang explains it, has a certain attraction, even though it’s Just in time for the first Democratic presidential debates, I have finished candidate Andrew Yang’s manifesto, "The War on Normal People." From its title, which subversively suggests there is such a thing as normality, you can tell that Yang is trying to be different. From its subtitle, you can learn of Yang’s core big idea, universal basic income, UBI. I was prepared to be unimpressed, but really, the book is well written, and UBI, as Yang explains it, has a certain attraction, even though it’s utterly unachievable in a democratic system. In the coming less-democratic system, however, maybe there is something here we can use, and at least Yang is offering something new, which may get him traction in the Democratic field. Unfortunately for Yang, instead of just calling for UBI because it’s better than the system we have now, he ties his call for UBI to a supposed looming massive change in America, what he calls the “Great Displacement.” This is the Chicken Little idea that within the next few years, tens of millions of jobs in America will permanently disappear. The culprit? Well, it’s hard to get a glimpse of him, because he keeps changing his shape, but depending on what’s convenient for Yang’s point at the moment, he’s mostly either “automation” or “artificial intelligence.” But automation is not new, useful true artificial intelligence is a stupid fantasy, and there exists no hybrid of the two that will dramatically change America. (It is also unfortunate that Yang’s catchphrase echoes the “Great Replacement,” the idea among certain sectors on the Right, notably the Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant, that superior white people are being globally replaced by inferior non-white people. When Yang published this book in 2018, nobody had heard that other term, so his seemed like a good one. I predict he does not use the term again.) I could spend hours on the flaws in this idea, but I will restrain myself, since I have to get to UBI. In short, Yang begins by claiming that “Automation has already eliminated about four million manufacturing jobs in the United States since 2000.” This is the only statistic he offers on the topic, and he offers it repeatedly, citing multiple secondary sources, such as the Financial Times and CNN. But all of them point to one document, a 2015 study from Ball State University. That study’s claim is that four million jobs were lost to increased productivity; its authors do not specifically say from where that productivity increase came, other than to suggest much of it probably came from technology, specifically “information technology.” (The study’s primary goal is to counter other studies that show bigger job losses from globalized trade.) However, technology is not equivalent to automation. This is a basic error, so we still don’t really know why these jobs disappeared. True, this is a somewhat pedantic objection; the jobs are still gone. My point is that Yang presumes without demonstrating that this process is certain to continue and accelerate, and will eat entire new sectors of the economy, totally outside of manufacturing, destroying jobs, rather than, say, merely turning good jobs into bad jobs (like Amazon does). Why we are not exactly told, but it appears to be because of the supposed imminent arrival of artificial intelligence. We get lots of phrases such as “Unprecedented advances are accelerating in real time.” What advances, exactly? We are not told. We are informed “The Great Displacement is already here and is having effects bigger and faster than most anyone believes.” None are shown, merely predicted. Still, we are lectured, we need to grasp “what’s coming and prepare to fight.” Instead of proof, or even evidence, we get appeal to authority. We hear from software executives, venture capitalists, and (over and over) the consulting firm McKinsey (which Yang never identifies, assuming everyone knows who they are, thereby showing a certain mindset). The vast majority of those to whose authority appeals are made are those with an interest in selling something (although the annoying Steven Hawking also shows up, as usual talking about things totally outside his competency). These “authorities” tell us, for example, among many similar claims, that for clerical work, customer service AIs will replace humans totally in the very near future. This is utterly stupid. No human being alive is currently able to get any adequate service from any automated customer service system, other than that which has been possible for decades, such as “Press 1 to hear your account balance.” And that x.ai can send out form emails asking people when they can have a meeting, is just silly when offered as evidence for the looming replacement of secretaries, who anyway were largely replaced decades ago, when young people learned to type. How many people are there who don’t keep their own schedules? Not many, and none whose needs could be met by any form of automated assistant. Well, that’s not true. Their needs could be met by an automated assistant—if that assistant had actual intelligence. But none of the automation we have seen, Yang’s only hard data point, has anything to do with artificial intelligence. That’s a problem, because everything Yang promises depends on actual artificial intelligence. Naturally, we would expect a definition of what is meant by artificial intelligence. Yang doesn’t bother with such trivialities. But if you squint, you can see that everything he promises relies on, as he mentions in passing once, the advent of “super-intelligent computers.” That must mean, although it is not made explicit, actual artificial intelligence, that can at least give a facsimile of general intelligence (even if it is not “strong” artificial intelligence). We’re never told any details. All we get is a lot of hand waving about Moore’s Law, machine learning, and big data, but Yang always dodges the “here to there” problem. It’s coming, don’t you know, or are you stupid? The only plausible claim for computers Yang makes is better sifting of data. But he doesn’t prove that’s likely to result in anything useful. Maybe what can be accomplished that way has already been done, and any further gains will be marginal. Nor is there any reason to believe that any form of general machine intelligence will result from data sifting combined with speed, which is the essence of Yang’s claim, to the extent one can be determined. Thus, for example, computers are used in legal work for keyword searches, to identify documents for possible production in discovery. But I suspect that they will get no better than they are—why should they, since judgment requiring general intelligence is a necessary part of the process? “Data is about to supplant human judgment.” From that and other uplifting phrases, we are meant to conclude, without any actual evidence, that general intelligence is almost here, because computers are getting faster and authorities tell us so. Yang even claims that “There has never been a computer smarter than humans until now,” which would be true if you dropped the last two words, and replaced them with “and there is zero evidence there ever will be.” Examined closely, all this is a form of bait-and-switch. Yang “examines” five areas of work, from clerical to food service to transportation. For all of these areas, it is implied without quite saying so that something magical will happen to totally change the industry—say, robots with general intelligence that can act as waiters. In reality, what we get instead is a kiosk screen that half the time says “Error in #3eddb9.” Sucker! And let’s not forget the first Automat-type restaurant was opened in 1895. Fancier screens doesn’t mean a revolutionary advance. Yang fails to distinguish between the incremental and the revolutionary, and eagerly ascribes the revolutionary to the mundane. Like many others predicting the same phase-change future, such as Tyler Cowen, this is all driven by religious belief, not scientific belief. The area in which Yang makes the most specific claims, though as always without any evidence, is the area on which he spends the most time: transportation. He says that transportation, especially trucking, which employs very many people, most with few alternatives, will be completely revolutionized by the imminent arrival of self-driving trucks. This will never happen. Neither self-driving trucks nor self-driving cars will ever arrive (if ever means within the next fifty years, and probably not thereafter either). I covered the reasons for this in my review of John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood, about the Theranos scandal, but in short self-driving cars are a complete scam, no different than the South Sea Bubble or cold fusion. Yang is astounded at the supposed stupidity of truck drivers, who in 2017 “almost uniformly weren’t concerned at all” about being replaced. Maybe he should listen to the people with the most incentive to know. Instead, he listens to, and quotes, visionary grifter Elon Musk (whom I actually like), taking as gospel his insane promises. Among many other ludicrous gullibilities, he endorses Musk saying that by 2019, “Your car will drop you off at work, and then it will pick other people up and make you money all day until it’s time to pick you up again. This will 100 percent happen.” Then Yang says, in his own voice, “It is obvious Tesla trucks will eventually have the same self-driving capabilities as their cars.” 2020 “will be the first year of mass adoption”! Why does he think any this, which flies utterly in the face of observable reality, and relies wholly on appeal to (psychotic) authority? I have no idea. As I say, I could go on and on. Actually, I did go on and on. I just cut out three further pages I had already written. You’re welcome (though feel free to contact me if you’d like to hear more). Yang caps it off by offering a whole chapter answering straw man questions, and spins like a top trying to explain away that productivity has not increased despite all these supposed miracle advances, but does not answer the real objection, that he has just written a hundred pages of fantasy. Of course, Yang is certainly right that there are huge problems with American workers and American society. He points to many of the same problems that everyone from Oren Cass to Jonathan Tepper to Tim Wu to James Bloodworth have written about in the past few years. Workers don’t share in increases in GDP; job security is nonexistent; inequality is rampant; communities have been destroyed or hollowed out. The “normal” American (by which Yang means “average,” after saying “sorry not sorry” about using the word “normal”), doesn’t have a college degree, has very little savings, and is facing a bleak and uncertain future. But there is a subset of Americans, for whom life is very good, living on the coasts and participating in the high-tech economy, attending the best schools (to get a credential, not an education) and more and more separating themselves from normal Americas, whom they exploit when they’re not ignoring them. Normal America has fewer and fewer opportunities, and in an echo of my complaint that being able to buy more cheap Chinese crap isn’t human flourishing, Yang says “Cheap T-shirts, a booming stock market, and a wide array of apps are cold comfort when you don’t own any stock and your local factory or main street closes.” Society is atomized, commodified, and fractured, as the result of massive social changes over the past several decades. And while Chicken Little is wrong that the sky is falling, he is not wrong that is lowering, and may yet drop further. All of this is well-covered ground, though Yang does a competent job describing it, sounding in many places like a Cliff Notes version of Charles Murray in Coming Apart. I suspect his pointing out that children, including those of professional women, need two parents, and acknowledging that white men are dying at unprecedented rates when they’re not substituting video games for work because those meet male needs, aren’t likely to win him much credit in the Democratic virtue-signaling sweepstakes. But that’s probably intentional. Yang works up to painting a nightmare scenario of civil war, overtly citing Peter Turchin’s "Ages of Discord," which tries to mathematically prove we are on the verge of war. He doesn’t mince words. “If there is a revolution, it is likely to be born of race and identity with automation-driven economics as the underlying force.” He says, in short, that white people who lose their jobs, while those at the top, “educated whites, Jews, and Asians,” who instead of addressing the problems of poor whites suppress their speech and police their behavior, will protest, and that protest is likely to trigger mass violence. I agree with this, though Yang ignores the third and most important contributing factor, that the entire Left media/Democratic Party complex is now devoted to overtly spitting on and actively harming any person not showing his intersectionalist bona fides, which means most of all straight white men, a very large group. And he’s not wrong that if such men experience broad unemployment, trouble is likely to result. So far we’ve gotten optimism about technology and deep pessimism about its effects. Now we go back to optimism, riding on the wings of Yang’s solution, Universal Basic Income, which he calls the “Freedom Dividend,” in a somewhat pathetic attempt at branding. It is simple—every adult in the country gets $1,000 per month and “the vast majority of existing welfare programs” would disappear. The cost would be “an additional $1.3 trillion per year on top of existing welfare programs,” about a thirty percent increase in the federal budget (or, given the deficit of about one trillion dollars, a forty-five percent increase in needed added income to government coffers, though Yang is silent on that way of looking at it). This will be paid for by a VAT, a value-added tax, that is, a consumption tax, of ten percent, on top of current taxes. Yang says this is what should be done for the country, something broad and deep, benefiting everyone, not just the well-connected (Yang correctly slags the 2008 bailouts as benefitting the rich and the coasts). The goal is to meet “the ongoing challenge [which is] to preserve a mindset of growth, responsibility, community, humanity, family, and optimism.” UBI is not welfare, because everyone participates regardless of need. It will stimulate the economy, he says, though Yang ignores that people may have more to spend, but that money comes from the government seizing money that could be spent, so unless monetary velocity increases, the stimulus effect seems very dubious. Similarly, though separately, a ten percent tax on consumption is certain to, all other things being equal, reduce consumption, and likely to do so even if people have more money in their pockets. Aside from stimulus, though, UBI will have other benefits, such as making provision of aid to those needing welfare more efficient, since it will cut out the middleman (Yang endorses the same for foreign aid, citing an outfit called GiveDirectly, which sounds interesting). UBI will also encourage entrepreneurship, something that has dramatically dropped in recent years. Most of all, though, it will change the way people view our society and their role in it. Yang addresses objections, here using fewer straw men than when talking about automation. Citing a few times UBI has been tried in limited circumstances (and noting that versions have been endorsed by everyone from Milton Friedman to Richard Nixon to Bernie Sanders), Yang says that UBI will not discourage work. First, $12,000 a year is barely enough to keep body and soul together. He says the only group likely to cut back on work is mothers of small children, which is probably true, and would be an excellent societal effect, as would the likely knock-on effect of women having more children. (Hungary has recently unveiled a set of financial incentives for women to have children, so other experiments along the same line, though not using UBI, are being conducted.) Yang thinks people will still work (and should, citing Voltaire that work keeps people from “boredom, vice, and need”). They will not simply up their consumption of vice. Instead, their work can be more fulfilling and give them more meaning. Really, nothing Yang says here is obviously wrong. Much of it is actually modestly compelling. And since our current system is terrible and getting worse, why not? The sticking point is that his idea that UBI will replace “the vast majority” of welfare is utterly unrealistic, since it would mean cuts in many welfare benefits, and no American welfare benefit has ever been cut in the last hundred years. If I am getting disability payments of $1,200 a month, I’m going to scream when it’s cut by $200. If am getting Social Security of $2,500 a month, I’m going to scream even louder, and shriek to heaven when my wife dies and I can no longer collect money for a dead spouse, so-called “survivor benefits.” Will UBI replace Medicare? I sure doubt it. Will it replace pensions for government bureaucrats? Certainly not. The only program it might, maybe, replace is disability, which Yang correctly points out is now mostly extended unemployment insurance with particularly perverse incentives. So, in practice, in our current democratic system, UBI, if it ever became real, would simply be slapped on top of existing benefits, destroying most of the reason why it might be attractive. Finally, Yang returns to fantasy mode, this time crying out for “Human Capitalism.” This sounds like it should be channeling Wilhelm Röpke’s A Humane Economy. But it’s not, it’s a proto-totalitarian nightmare. He demands that “the federal government reformat and reorganize the economy, particularly using technology to serve human needs.” What he means is spectacularly vague, but it involves “drastic intervention” and recognizing that “humanity is more important than money” and “markets exist to serve our common goals and values.” The actual tools for this, other than granting yet more enormous and unaccountable power to federal bureaucrats to achieve goals within their discretion, would be things like “Digital Social Credit.” There’s already a name for this system. It’s “China.” No thanks. Yang should have stuck to UBI. But he’s a candidate, so he needs a complete manifesto, I suppose. He rounds out his manifesto with calls to pay bureaucrats more but limit the revolving door; citizen exchange programs; more support for vocational schools and less for wealthy colleges; and single-payer healthcare. These are candidacy points, of course, and Yang’s candidacy interests me. On the surface, I have a lot in common with Yang (other than that nobody has ever heard of me, and I’m not Asian). We’re both successful entrepreneurs, about the same age, and interested in public policy. I admire his work with Venture For America, a program that encourages entrepreneurship in flyover country, which, God knows, can use it. And if he’s like me in some things, he can’t be all bad, I figured. [Review completes as first comment.]

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fiona Aboud

    I found this amazing book to be incredibly powerful. The effect of reading Yang's book is literally like waking up and seeing the world in a new way. It's so easy to think of automation as someone else's issue, or a decades-away problem, but the book decidedly convinces the reader that we're already far, far in the middle of revolutionary changes that are manifesting themselves today for millions of people. The book is inspiring in the way it instills urgency. It moved me so strongly that I foun I found this amazing book to be incredibly powerful. The effect of reading Yang's book is literally like waking up and seeing the world in a new way. It's so easy to think of automation as someone else's issue, or a decades-away problem, but the book decidedly convinces the reader that we're already far, far in the middle of revolutionary changes that are manifesting themselves today for millions of people. The book is inspiring in the way it instills urgency. It moved me so strongly that I found myself sharing the arguments and evidence with everyone I know. Very well written, very well supported, and Yang's style is likable, factual, logical, and super engaging. I read the book in a little over a day because I couldn't put it down. Required reading for anyone that cares about the world.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I was absolutely shocked by this book and can't stop talking about it. The author gives a background of the largest income sectors in the US, all of which have lost or will lose jobs to automation, including retail and trucking, and the impact this will have on income inequality, families, and the future economy - and he has a plan for how to ameliorate the situation. I'll do pretty much anything to avoid going to a mall (I bought this book from The Major Online Retailer!) and there's no shortage I was absolutely shocked by this book and can't stop talking about it. The author gives a background of the largest income sectors in the US, all of which have lost or will lose jobs to automation, including retail and trucking, and the impact this will have on income inequality, families, and the future economy - and he has a plan for how to ameliorate the situation. I'll do pretty much anything to avoid going to a mall (I bought this book from The Major Online Retailer!) and there's no shortage of vacant retail space in my city, but the bleak statistics on retail were still a surprise. Page 30: "The year 2017 marked the beginning of what is being called the 'Retail Apocalypse.' One hundred thousand department store workers were laid off between October 2016 and May 2017 - more than all of the people employed in the coal industry combined." Page 30: "Credit Suisse estimated that 8,640 major retail locations will close in 2017, the highest number in history, exceeding the 2008 peak during the financial crisis. Credit Suisse also estimated that as many as 147 million square feet of retail space will close in 2017, another all-time high... the equivalent of 52 Malls of America are closing in 2017, or one per week." Page 32: "On average, a single Macy's store generates about $36 million a year. At current sales tax and property tax rates, that store, if closed, would leave a budget hole of several million dollars for the state and county to deal with." What will this mean for our economy and our society if automation continues without a plan for those displaced? Why aren't we discussing this at a national level?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jakub Ferencik

    THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK I'VE READ THIS YEAR. The first time I heard about Andrew Yang was when he was on Sam Harris' podcast, "Waking Up". Yang is a current 2020 presidential candidate and successful entrepreneur that has spoken to many about creating jobs efficiently, including the former president, Barack Obama. Yang paints a very bleak picture for the future of humanity, our economy, and jobs. He looks at the speed of automation and how the workforce will go through a complete revolut THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK I'VE READ THIS YEAR. The first time I heard about Andrew Yang was when he was on Sam Harris' podcast, "Waking Up". Yang is a current 2020 presidential candidate and successful entrepreneur that has spoken to many about creating jobs efficiently, including the former president, Barack Obama. Yang paints a very bleak picture for the future of humanity, our economy, and jobs. He looks at the speed of automation and how the workforce will go through a complete revolution within a couple of decades - if not sooner - because of the velocity of this change. Towards the end of the book (I read it in one sitting - it was that enticing) I felt perplexed, depressed even, with the situation at hand. This is not the problem of my future kids. This is our generation's problem. This is a challenge that we need to solve. That is why Yang proposes Universal Basic Income (UBI). UBI is not a new concept. Everyone from Obama to Bill Gates to Elon Musk to John Stuart Mill to Karl Marx has predicted capitalism to run its course to the point of no longer being a functional economic system. We're entering a new era of post-capitalism in which we'll have to have more control on the ecology, economy, and trade. A lot is about to change. Philosophers where you at? Yang ends in an optimistic note, however, saying if we raise awareness for the future, we'll be able to prevent calamity, destruction, and an apocalyptic nightmare. This is the most important book I've read this year. I plan on supporting Yang's campaign financially and I urge you to consider doing the same.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    I literally jumped out of my bed in excitement halfway through reading this book. Andrew Yang completely nails what has caused many of the problems in the US. His simple description of the human effects from automation, and his major policy recommendations to fix them are both a strong reality check and extremely inspirational. Whether you're Republican or Democrat, Andrew clearly proves that automation is real and having a negative effect on our society. Most importantly, instead of just identify I literally jumped out of my bed in excitement halfway through reading this book. Andrew Yang completely nails what has caused many of the problems in the US. His simple description of the human effects from automation, and his major policy recommendations to fix them are both a strong reality check and extremely inspirational. Whether you're Republican or Democrat, Andrew clearly proves that automation is real and having a negative effect on our society. Most importantly, instead of just identifying the problems, he suggests bold (but still realistic) policy solutions that can prepare us for this new reality. It's a quick read, easy to understand and Andrew throws in a few good laughs along the way. Simply put - This is a must-read for all Americans.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    Of all the democratic presidential candidates, Andrew Yang stood out to me for a number of reasons and has been my favorite person there, by far, and not only because #MATH (Make America Think Harder) even tho that was pretty cool. He got occasional and superficial news coverage (he was actually called "quixotic"). It was pretty obvious that his run as a way to get the idea of UBI, and the reasons for it, into the mainstream. The book is absolutely brilliant, for comprehensive and constructive a Of all the democratic presidential candidates, Andrew Yang stood out to me for a number of reasons and has been my favorite person there, by far, and not only because #MATH (Make America Think Harder) even tho that was pretty cool. He got occasional and superficial news coverage (he was actually called "quixotic"). It was pretty obvious that his run as a way to get the idea of UBI, and the reasons for it, into the mainstream. The book is absolutely brilliant, for comprehensive and constructive analysis of the challenges, and for the well-supported solutions it proposes, written by a compassionate and patriotic person. An essential read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    For candidate books, this is a really good one. It’s focused on data and policy and he seems to have a genuine curiosity about social problems and a sincere desire to help. I don’t think he’s right about UBI being the answer and I won’t be voting for him in the primary, but I really like him and I hope he stays in politics and stays genuine and truthful.

  28. 5 out of 5

    11811 (Eleven)

    Smart motherfucker. This dude should run for president.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hákon Gunnarsson

    Earlier this year I read a book on the pending fourth industrial revolution. What struck me about that book was the way the writer kind of said that this revolution would result in people loosing their jobs, but that would be okay as new ones would be created in their place. The problem with that is simply: yes, we may be able to create new jobs, but then again, maybe we will not be able to do that. We may have mass unemployment on our hands, with no idea how to deal with that new reality, and t Earlier this year I read a book on the pending fourth industrial revolution. What struck me about that book was the way the writer kind of said that this revolution would result in people loosing their jobs, but that would be okay as new ones would be created in their place. The problem with that is simply: yes, we may be able to create new jobs, but then again, maybe we will not be able to do that. We may have mass unemployment on our hands, with no idea how to deal with that new reality, and to me it doesn’t sound like a good plan to go into such a vast societal change without a plan at the very least. That is where this book comes in. Andrew Yang is not as sure that new jobs will be created, just because we need them, and he sets forward a good plan of how to deal with this coming revolution. One of the central ideas in the book is that universal basic income is needed to help people to survive in this new world. He backs his claims up with studies, and experiments that have already taken place. It really sounds like a workable plan, and as I’ve already said, we need one of those going into this. But he does more than that. He points out what may happen if we go into this without a plan. A question, what happens when truckers have become obsolete? Trucks are driving the highways that don’t need any sleep, no pay, and probably ending up in much fewer accidents their human counterparts. What happens to the truckers that used to drive for a living? Truckers that may have got themselves into debt buying trucks to go into business for themselves, and all of a sudden find they can’t find work for themselves, or any use for their vehicle. What happens? In fact, what happens to all the people that are no longer needed for a job that a machine can do better, faster, and cheaper? All those people suddenly finding themselves out of a job because of machines, sounds like a receipt for a dystopia. It sounds like an old sci fi novel I read a long time ago, but now it’s just around the corner as reality. It sounds like a receipt for a very unstable society. We need a plan to go into this. One that is better then some optimistic version of “it’ll all work out in the end” because it may not. I don’t know if Yang has presented the best plan that we can find with this book, but at least it is a plan, and it does sound like a good plan.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Minh

    This book is goddamn awesome. I have read books on automation before but Yang delivered it in a way that is very personal, emotional and yet never failed to be logical with backup data / statistics. A few topic that is touched upon the book that I truly enjoyed beside UBI: - Academic / social elite and the disconnect of the social classes in America - Income inequality and wealth distribution - College and the hookup culture / disappearing of the structured family - Addiction to tech and video game This book is goddamn awesome. I have read books on automation before but Yang delivered it in a way that is very personal, emotional and yet never failed to be logical with backup data / statistics. A few topic that is touched upon the book that I truly enjoyed beside UBI: - Academic / social elite and the disconnect of the social classes in America - Income inequality and wealth distribution - College and the hookup culture / disappearing of the structured family - Addiction to tech and video games / the abandonment of human relationship - A proposal for a new social economic system to incentivize human connection - What makes us humans? And what is the purpose of living? He touched and reference upon many thinkers of both past and present, interweaved with anecdotes from not just the powerful techie and tycoons in Silicon Valley but to the Uber driver and single mother in New Orleans. I think he had conveyed many of my points and frustrationd as someone who had both lived in the elite / non-elite bubble in a very concise and simple way and his diverse experience really made this book eye opening. I started this book with the sole purpose of wonder will his plan for UBI work and what is he like as a political candidate but finished with more pressing questions, not just about the economy and politics, but also about human life and existence as we know it. As Yang said with Joe Roegan on his political stance: "It's not left or right. It's forward".

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