One thing I’ve found when it comes to the conversation about Andrew Yang are some of the odder items in his platform that are seemingly being ignored because of the UBI controversy and general #yanggang2020 memes that have swept the internet by storm. First thing I’ll start off with is that I won’t be going over the issues with UBI here. I’ll be tackling that particular issue in tomorrow’s episode of Coffee Shop Philosophy (my weekly podcast on the Think Liberty Network). If people are seriously considering the man for the presidency let’s take a real look at what he’s supporting, and where some of his bad arguments lay. We’ll start by taking a look at some of the other things that he advocates for, and see where we land.
Reviewing the platform page from his campaign website there are a few that jump out.
First thing that I saw that I liked was his position on police forces. Simply called “Every Cop Gets A Camera,” Yang proposes getting a body camera on every single police officer in the country, a reduction in the military-grade equipment supplied to the police, and a retraining program focused on de-escalation of situations. I also liked his national legalization of marijuana plans, but if it weren’t for his other stances (which I’ll get into below) I think the biggest wins for him lie in his views of the current state of the government; and politics in general.
In his proposals, he supports a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and to redesign the PAC system removing opportunities for crony capitalism to rear its ugly head. He also wants to enforce that regulators cannot work or become lobbyists in the industry they previously regulated, and to prevent the POTUS from taking speaking fees or board positions after office.
His push for the inclusion of sunset periods on all laws along with mandatory performance indicators is frankly a fantastic idea as well for clearing up the convoluted legal system that presently exists. I also enjoyed his tax transparency proposal which would show every tax payer exactly where their dollars went and would allow them to direct 1% of it towards a specific project or department of their choice (and a federal holiday to go with it). His most libertarian position might very well his prison plans. He’s pushing to reduce the prison system, reduce recidivism, and start to identify and give probation/release non-violent drug offenders. If not the prison plans, then it would be his push to reduce federal staffing by 15-20%.
On the surface, there’s a good chunk of ideas that could sit quite well with libertarians and many of the goals and changes we’ve wanted to see for years. Unfortunately, there’s a lot on the other side of this equation that needs a look over.
Most dangerously, he wants to establish a News & Information Ombudsman in the FCC to “investigate complaints of deliberate, persistent and destructive misinformation.” This would include imposing fines against whatever the state decides is fake news. The issues with that speak for themselves, so let’s dig deeper.
He’s supporting a Value Added Tax (VAT) which will only result in massive cost of living increases as VATs add cost to every level of production. Yang wants Medicare for all, a carbon tax, increases to tons of wages for government employees which would include paying the president $4 million a year, and a “Department of Attention Economy” to regulate social media and smartphones in general (which, ironically, would have to investigate the #yanggang2020 memes). He wants to revive net neutrality, fund dozens of new departments and programs, and wants such an overhaul on gun ownership that I’ll simply allow you to read it here.
Overall, his stances seem to bounce around the perceived political compass, but they’re all predicated on the notion of “humanity first.” One of the key #yanggang2020 slogans is “Not Left, Not Right, Forward” (which is frankly better than the LP’s attempt at it by far) to showcase that he isn’t sitting in any particular camp. Frankly I disagree.
His push for “Human-Centered Capitalism” is the same kind of “capitalism” that those on the left have been pushing for years. The only difference here is that Yang has put his best foot forward on renaming these ideas things like “carbon fee and dividend” or “Freedom Dividend.” While we can agree with his desired to reduce some of the bloat of the state, the overall package that he’s offering is far more damaging.
The reason I cover this here in a Bad Arguments article rather than it simply being it’s own piece is because of a key thread that runs through his entire policy list: the notion that emotionalism is valid when we’re making governmental decisions. I can commend Yang for wanting to make a difference that seems to come from a truly positive place (and for inspiring the absolutely hilarious #yanggang2020 memes), but to ignore the reality of how these ideas work will cause much more of the exact same harm he wishes to prevent.
You can read more from Killian Hobbs on Think Liberty here.