Notes on 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Part I

 

I. Candidate Yang’s Universal Basic Income platform: unconditionally give $1000/month to everyone (citizens only?) between ages 18-64, no strings attached and untaxed.

II. Rooting for Yang. His Universal Basic Income platform needs to be debated on national stage, but not endorsing him.  Disagree with many of his policies.

III. Don’t agree that automation will significantly shrink workforce.  Automation has been happening for awhile now — ATMs, self-checkout, etc. — yet there’s a severe labor *shortage* as I write this.  I support Universal Basic Income, just not for the same reasons as Yang’s.

IV. Yang cites labor participation rate of 62.7 percent as evidence of automation shrinking workforce.  So that’s down from 67 percent in 1996.  Is that supposed to be a big deal?  Context: labor participation rate has decreased since economic recovery;  labor participation rate has decreased as unemployment rate has decreased.  Yet Yang envisions doomsday.  I see people choosing to be stay-at-home moms and dads because they can afford to do so and a bunch of people who are either unemployable or employed in the black and grey markets (eg. sex work, etsy, ebay).

V.  Automation doesn’t destroy jobs, it only makes people more productive.  Just because Artificial Intelligence (AI) can do the job of a corporate lawyer better and faster doesn’t mean we don’t need most corporate lawyers anymore.  There’s a bottomless backlog of shit that needs to get done.  Once done, there’ll be unimaginable new frontiers to explore. So AI doesn’t mean fewer radiologists or police officers or lawyers.  It just means more of what needs to get done gets done, and at a lower cost to consumers because shit gets done faster and more efficiently.

VI. Next stage automation — Artificial Intelligence Economy — won’t happen as quickly as Yang predicts (10-15 years).  Technological change is as much a social and political issue as it is an economic issue.  People will eventually get used to driver-less cars and trucks, just as people got used to using elevators. But it’ll take longer than Yang thinks and the changes will be gradual rather than radical.  Americans don’t like radical change.

VII. Universal Basic Income will help keep unemployable people out of the work-force.  That’s a good thing because there are a lot of people who produce negative value.  Meaning, their screw ups cost a lot of money to fix.  Then there are those — most of the workforce — who produce little value above what they’re paid. Best to not let them work too much.

VIII. Critics say that work is how one builds good character.  Let’s assume that’s true. But why does everyone need to have good character?  We keep useless, lazy pets around and aren’t concerned about their moral health and lack of grit.  So why should we be bothered and concerned if someone doesn’t want to work, especially if we don’t need that person to work?  Let them be and give them enough money to stay off the streets.

IX. Yang mentions Alaska as a test case.  Alaskans get a dividend each month and that hasn’t resulted in societal breakdown and rise in slothful behavior.  Same with other UBI pilot projects around the world.  Link here to pilot outcomes

In fact, have shown improvements in physical and mental health, increase of IQ scores, higher graduation rates (ugh, that’s not necessarily a positive outcome) and reduction of crime. A UBI experiment in Canada saw hospitalization rates go down 8.5%.

X. That makes sense because the lack of economic security is a source of poor mental health, which often leads to poor physical health and nutrition.

XI. Nutrition in US will improve if UBI improves mental health.  Inability to cope with anxiety and depression, not lack of financial resources and access to nutritionally dense ingredients, is why people have poor diets.

XII.  UBI won’t help the poorest of the poor — doesn’t matter how much money you give them, they’ll figure out a way to fuck it up.  But it’ll help the working poor and up.  It’ll especially help the upper-middle class to become more entrepreneurial instead of playing it safe.

XIII. Use UBI to pay off student loan debt.  Then get government out of business of subsidizing student loans.

XIV. Welfare requires a complicated bureaucracy of social workers, administrators, and fraud prevention officers.  So much money intended for the poor is wasted.

XV. Welfare is psychologically crippling, UBI is emotionally uplifting.  Welfare stigmatizes, UBI exculpates.  Welfare racializes poverty, UBI humanizes poverty.  Welfare disincentivizes work, UBI encourages work.  Welfare is invasive, UBI is unconditional.  Welfare invites fraud, UBI is fraud proof.  Welfare requires bureaucracy, UBI is automated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

How Schools Produce Fuck Ups

Imagine two approaches to teaching students: either impart centuries old time tested wisdom and approaches to learning disciplines, as taught by Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Da Vinci, Sun-Tzu,  Al-Khwarizmi, and so forth. Or rely on poorly tested pedagogical theories produced by academics from relatively new disciplines (eg. Education) that are based on problematic methodologies.

Most schools choose the latter. The best schools the former.  Here’s what students learn at each (latter = New; former = Classical):

New Philosophy: Be happy. Happiness is ultimate goal of life.
Classical Philosophy: You’re a dumbass, you don’t know jack shit.  Those who don’t realize they’re dumbasses who don’t know jack shit are dangerous, will never grow, and will be miserable (summary of Plato’s Republic and Socratic dialogues, which are foundations of Western philosophy).

New History: Bad people do terrible things to good people.  Good people are victims.  Be good and help these victims.
Classical History: People do some fucked up shit to each other.  Figure out ways to protect yourself from other people.  (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars).

New Science: Nature is beautiful and thus should be left alone, protected from human intrusions.
Classical Science: Nature is fascinating and unpredictable and thus will do some fucked up shit to people.  Figure out a way to work with nature, to protect yourself from its whims. (Francis Bacon).

New Math: Math is for boring people who are not creative.
Classical Math: Use of numbers is the most precise way to map and describe the world. It’s a language and critical to understanding many fields, including music and art.  (Leonardo Da Vinci).

New Literature: It’s wrong to feel hate, rage, and anger.  Such emotions must be repressed.
Classical Literature: Life is cruel, lonely, and painful.  Deal with it by embracing full spectrum of emotions, including hate, rage, and anger. Use such emotions to motivate oneself, to fight against failure.   (Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night).

New Writing: Good writing uses lots of big words, many adverbs, and strings of long sentences.  Good writing is an expression of one’s feelings.
Classical Writing: Good writing is succinct, concise, and precise.  Good writing is simple and focused on effective communication.  (Common Fucking Sense)

New Social Studies: Make the world a better place by protecting people, especially children, from stress, so they can maximize their potential and create a fair world.
Classical Social Studies: People, especially children, must be exposed to frustration and pain, and learn to embrace a wide range of experiences and emotions in order to prepare them for reality that’s often cruel and unfair. (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile).

The reason so many schools choose new, untested, theories is because they promise dramatic improvement with less work.  Figuring out what the best schools do right and emulating them is too much work and likely too offensive to too many parents. The best schools are run by leaders who understand the value of and the extraordinary effort it takes to improve on time-tested wisdom.  It takes a lot more than simply being “nice” — easy to do — to a kid to make him capable of learning how to learn, to be sentient, compassionate, and passionate.  That’s why the best schools — public and private — expose their students to pressure packed environments that test their resolve, both in the classroom and on the field. The rest instead complain that students are too overworked, too stressed from this, that, and whatever.

Consider the above distinctions carefully, how they produce different results.  For instance, the kid who thinks nature is merely beautiful is NOT going to become a scientist working to solve problems that arise from climate change because she will NOT have the same sense of urgency as that kid who thinks nature is fascinating and sometimes cruel.  She will more likely become a self-righteous activist. That’s because the “nature is beautiful” narrative feeds one’s narcissism —  “so nature is meant for my enjoyment, my pleasure, and I must defend that which is made for my pleasure.” Nature as “fascinating and cruel” motivates because it understands science as the race against disaster.  Starting to see how a public school like Stuyvesant, full of working class students, can consistently produce world changing scientists from each one of its classes, while ours mostly produce activists?

Alright, so I’m exaggerating — I was trying to get your attention — our schools don’t produce mostly fuck ups.  The point is, they’re mostly producing mediocrities and we have to figure out why that’s the case.  Unless we’re fine with mediocre, which in this rapidly globalizing and competitive world can quickly become the new Fail.  Now that’s fucked up.

Frequently Asked Questions by Customers (Part II)

Does the owner have a degree in nutrition? 
No.

Did the owner attend culinary school?
No.

Then where did owner learn how to cook?
From eating at challenging and interesting food establishments, practice at home, and years of obsessing about food.

When did he start cooking?
He began serving classmates buttered toast when he was 6 years old.  Also at age 6, while parents were napping, he rummaged through the fridge to make veggie soup from scratch.  Interest, however, was not supported or developed by family, who had other ideas for his future.

How many hours a week does the owner work?
He doesn’t count work hours because he doesn’t make a distinction between work and leisure.  His guess is around 100 hours per week, if “work” is defined as time spent at store, grocery shopping, blogging, and completing paper work.  Time spent thinking about the business (and food) is nearly every waking moment.

Every waking moment!?  Does he think about sex?
We think he tries, not sure if he’s successful at it.

What does the owner have for breakfast?
Varies.  Typically hot water with cayenne, avocado with hot sauce, chicken broth, maybe some nuts and an all veggie smoothie.  Spread over 3 hour period.

How tall is the tall blond?
5’11”

Who eats the most?
The rail thin one. By a wide margin.

Why do you guys play so many songs about death?
It just feels right.

Are you guys vegan or strictly raw  foodies?
We eat meat, raw and cooked.  Owner believes less meat is better for health and environment.

Is the owner crazy? 
Don’t know.  We’re not doctors.

Why would you work with someone like your owner?
We’re crazy.

So which barista knows kung fu?
The one with the bruises.

Where’s the owner?
He’s mowing the lawn and drinking beer.

What does the owner do in his free time?
He mows lawns and drinks beer.

Is the owner Japanese?
No

Is the owner Korean?
No

Why doesn’t the owner take any days off?
Because he’s building a business and is trying to develop a brand.  Isn’t the same as owning a franchise with strong brand recognition.  He’s also trying to pack as much kitchen time as possible so he can catch up to his peers.  We estimate that the two years he’s spent on the floor is equivalent to five years for average cook.  And finally, quality goes down fast, even if owner is at the store one hour less per day.

What was owner’s upbringing like?
Stereotypical Asian upbringing, Tiger Mother lite.  Piano, violin, music theory, math tutoring, tennis…bitch slapped for getting a B (and he got many of those).  He wouldn’t change much of it.