By Deba Uwadiae
“I am running for President of the United States,” Andrew Yang, 2020 Presidential Candidate in the Democratic Party began his speech at a dinner on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at the Fountain Chinese Restaurant on Dublin-Granville Road, Columbus, Ohio.
‘Some people asked me “did you know you were going to run for President as a kid?” I said of course not I am an “Asian”,’ Andrew Yang told the gathering.
Andrew Yang was born in upstate New York in 1975 to parents who emigrated from Taiwan to the United States in the 1960s and met in graduate school. The father was a researcher at IBM who, according to Andrew Yang, generated 69 patents over his career and the mother was the systems administrator at a local university.
Looking round the restaurant, Andrew Yang recalled that, “as 16 years old, I worked in a Chinese restaurant in upstate New York and I was a “boss boy” because my Chinese was too poor to either convey the writings and orders of a waiter. I was boss boy for two summers.”
He studied economics and political science at Brown University and went to law school at Columbia University, New York. “After a brief stint as a corporate lawyer, I realized it wasn’t for me. I launched a small company in the early days of the internet that didn’t work out, and then worked for a healthcare startup, where I learned how to build a business from more experienced entrepreneurs.
“In my thirties, I ran a national education company that grew to become number one in the country. I also met my wife, Evelyn, and got married. My education company was acquired, and with Evelyn’s support, I decided to take my earnings and committed myself to creating jobs in cities hit hard by the financial crisis.
By that time I understood the power of entrepreneurship to generate economic growth, so I founded Venture for America, an organization that helps entrepreneurs create jobs in cities like Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland.”
“One of the reasons I am running for President is to say to the people that it is not immigrants that are causing these economic problems. It is technology.”
While describing how he started Venture for America, Andrew Yang said, “2009 was a very hard time in this country. It was a hard time for many people. I quit my job and I donated $120, 000 of my own savings and I started calling rich friends. And I asked them, do you love America? The smart among them said what if I answer ‘Yes’. I said I need $10,000. With a budget of $240,000 and fast forward to today, Venture for America has a budget of around $6million. We have several thousand jobs throughout the country. That is what I did for the last six years and Columbus is part of Venture for American cities.”
According to him, “One of the reasons I am running for President is to say to the people that it is not immigrants that are causing these economic problems. It is technology. And the fact that the economy is transforming, it is making it harder for most Americans to fund meaningful household.
“To me why Donald Trump is our President today is because we automated away four million manufacturing jobs in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri and Iowa; all these swing states that Donald Trump needed to win. The stores are closed, the plants are closed and people have a darker outlook of the future.
“Unfortunately, my friends in the Silicon Valley know full well that what we did to the manufacturing workers in the U. S we are about to do to retail workers, call-center workers, fast food workers and most crucially, truck drivers in the years to come. These are the most common jobs in the American economy. But when you look around the U S economy most Americans are high school graduates and they are doing jobs that are filled by high school graduates.
“Artificial intelligence is going to be the new electricity and it is going to transform many forms of work. “
“So the most common job in the U S economy is working as a retail person or a cashier. The average cashier is making between $11 to $12 an hour. And 30 percent of U S stores and malls are closing and why are they closing. Amazon! Amazon is soaking up another $20 billion in commerce every year. That is sucking the energy and vitality out of many main street communities and the retail districts.
“There are three and half million truck drivers in this country. Ninety four percent male and average age is 49. And when my friends in Silicon Valley get their robot trucks on the road it is going to be disastrous.
Right now those truck drivers make about $46,000 a year and it is one of the most stable and lucrative jobs for high school graduates. What do you think three and half million truck drivers are going to do with new job after we start doing the robot truck drivers? May be there will be remote truck drivers but it is not going to be a 1:1 ratio. It is going to be like 25:1 and only 13 percent of truck drivers are unionized.
“Artificial intelligence is going to be the new electricity and it is going to transform many forms of work. We are not talking about only manual jobs, we are talking of accounting, bookkeeping, corporate law, radiology and a lot of training jobs. This was why Ohio State went red. Unfortunately we are just in the middle of it.
“That is why I am running for President and to make this case to American people that we need to evolve as a society as fast as possible and that though Donald Trump got the problem right but his answers are wrong. We need to provide a new set of answers,” he said.
Basing his policy on what he calls the big three, Andrew Yang promised, “The Freedom Dividend, a Universal Basic Income of $1,000 per month for each American, over the age of 18 with no strings attached and to be paid for largely by a value-added tax; Medicare for All by expanding the program to include all Americans and working towards a single-payer solution in America and Human-Centered Capitalism, refocusing our economic analysis and discussions away from GDP and the stock market, to include things such as childhood success rates, quality-adjusted life expectancy, mental health and freedom from substance abuse, and percent of elderly living in quality care.”
On why he wasn’t contesting as a Governor or Senator, he replied, “If we wait as a community for somebody to say it is your turn to be President. It will never be our turn. It will never happen for us that way. The only way we are going to make it happen is if we stand up and say that we can contribute and lead this country at the highest possible level. We have to take it, prove it and fight for it.”
As the field for the presidential ticket of the Democrats continues to expand, Andrew Yang announced that “I am right now on track to make the democratic primaries’ debates in June. Think about how meaningful that will be to our community and our children to turn on that TV set and see Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Andrew Yang. Together we are going to make it happen in June. “