It may very well be that Donald Trump is president because, in the last few years, four million jobs were automated out of existence in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. In Michigan alone, 40 percent of workers who lost manufacturing jobs ended up on disability.
According to tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, labor force participation remains low and the glowing unemployment statistics we hear are woefully out of line with what’s really going on. Every day more and more repetitive jobs, both cognitive and physical, are being eliminated. Everywhere from the factory floor to truck fleets, from radiology labs to some parts of the legal profession, human beings are being replaced by automation and AI.
According to Yang, all the talk about technology creating new jobs is misleading, as only a few new jobs are created for the thousands that are eliminated. In his opinion, this is a conversation that we have been unwilling to have.
Yang tells Jeff Schechtman, in this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, that the answer to the jobs crisis is a Universal Basic Income (UBI). He explains how it can work and be paid for. He argues that it is both a capitalist and a humanistic idea, which was once supported by both Richard Nixon and Martin Luther King.
Yang argues that UBI — despite some recent setbacks — will create a huge spike in entrepreneurship, eliminate significant psychological and medical problems plaguing the country, and allow citizens to embrace, rather than fear, all that technology has to offer.
Andrew Yang is the author of The War on Normal People: The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future (Hachette Books, April 3, 2018); and Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America (HarperBusiness, April 2, 2004).