Andrew Yang is proposing providing a Universal Basic Income funded primarily by a value added tax (i.e. a tax that makes everything more expensive). For an average earner with average spending, the increase in prices will roughly offset the amount of money received. For a high earner with high spending, the increase in prices will cost them more money than what they will receive from the government. And for low earners with low spending, they will receive more money from the government than they will have to pay through increased prices. Note that even though the 2018 median per capita income was $33706, mean was $50,413, so if you make less than $50k a year you will probably see financial benefit from the Yang plan.
Aside from that, my #1 favorite reason for this plan is that it creates a “rock bottom” that is still livable. Mentally ill homeless people generally do not receive social security disability checks from the government because of the bureaucracy which intentionally makes it difficult to get said checks. There is a process where a psychiatrist has to convince a disability determination officer that the person in question is totally disabled (i.e. not able to do any job in the economy) due to mental illness. It’s actually a fairly difficult process – there is a severe lack of psychiatrists, many mentally ill people (especially those exhibiting manic symptoms) don’t believe that they are crazy, the process is slow and beauraucratic, and the majority of applications are rejected. The crazy homeless people you see on the street generally aren’t receiving any money from the government (with the exception of possibly food stamps, but in some areas it’s impossible to get food stamps without working, and mentally ill homeless people generally fall into the crack where they can’t work and also can’t get disability checks). Basically the current “rock bottom” that exists is sleeping on a bench begging on the street for money to buy food. A universal basic income will provide a rock bottom that is a little higher than that, reducing human suffering. Even a small universal basic income (too small to cover the cost of rent) would allow people to live more comfortably, for example by allowing them to get a rain proof tent, decent food (most grocery store food requires cooking and homeless people don’t have a kitchen), a gym membership which they can use to shower in the locker rooms, etc.
My #2 reason for the Yang plan is that it would ever so slightly deter illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants wouldn’t have the documentation necessary to get government benefits, so they wouldn’t receive UBI checks. What they would get if the came over illegally is higher prices through the value added tax which is necessary to raise money for universal basic income. Basically, the UBI with the accompanying VAT would make it less desirable for people from poor countries to come here illegally because it wouldn’t be as much of an improvement for them in terms of quality of life.
My #3 reason is the practicality of this progressive tax (as opposed to the impracticality of the wealth tax that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are proposing). The VAT with UBI will cause high spenders to pay more in taxes, while giving more money to people who spend less. In that sense it is a progressive tax. In addition, as has been shown through Alaska’s “oil checks“, repealing cash that people expect to receive from the government is “politically suicidal”, so politicians don’t do it. In contrast, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have proposed an annual wealth tax on total wealth, which in the majority of cases does get repealed and also has serious problems. A wealth tax is basically an estate tax, but broken up into annual chunks and applied to people who are still alive. The estate tax has been a total failure – “the estate tax raised $8.5 billion in 2012 — less than 1% of the $1.2 trillion inherited that year. Only 1 out of every 700 deaths results in paying the federal estate tax today.” In addition it’s not uncommon for rich people to take measures to avoid the estate tax, as they will do with the wealth tax. History has shown that the wealth tax raises far less money than expected, causes a “capital flight” (where people leave the country to avoid it or cancel plans to become citizens so they will never have to pay it), it usually gets repealed, and is messy to implement due to the speculative and rough values of certain forms of wealth like certain businesses. For this reason the VAT which Andrew Yang is proposing (along with ending the favorable tax treatment for capital gains/carried interest) is a more practical tax plan than the wealth tax that Bernie and Warren are proposing.
I have no cognitive empathy, but I do have morality, and I believe that homelessness is morally wrong. It is morally wrong because it is unfair. I have never been homeless, but I have never done anything special to deserve that status. I never did anything special to receive upper middle class parents. I never did anything special to receive a private school education. I never did anything special to receive a six figure salary. In fact, according to Amazon’s statistics, they actually lost money on me – they paid me more money as a programmer than I produced for the company. The reason that I receive a six figure salary is for the most part by chance – I enjoyed writing computer code and writing computer code happened to pay a six figure salary. I’m not and have never been a particularly good employee or team member – it’s just luck.
Everything in this world is luck. You don’t choose what country you are born in. You don’t choose who your parents are or how much money they have. You don’t choose what you enjoy and what you don’t enjoy. There is nothing about me that makes me more deserving than anyone else.
This world is not a result of God – it is the result of luck and chance. There is nothing that has ever happened that couldn’t have happened because of luck and chance. Over time as science developed, the number of “seemingly impossible and unexplained” things in this universe went down – things that would have been explained by God. Famines and floods and diseases used to be acts of God. God sent the famines and floods and diseases. When hurricane Dorian was approaching Florida, people on Facebook use phrases like “God turned hurricane Dorian away from Florida – God blessed us by not having that hurricane hit us.” No he fucking didn’t – there was a pocket of low air pressure North of the hurricane that made it go North. That’s not fucking God. Nothing is fucking God. It’s all luck. Everything from the Big Bang to the first organic molecules to the first cells to the evolution of dinosaurs to you sitting in a chair reading this sentence is a result of things that happened by luck and chance. And luck and chance isn’t fair.
Morality is a human creation. It’s based on the golden rule – not doing to others what you don’t want done to you and doing to others what you want done to you. Do you want to sleep on a thin camping mat over hard concrete outside where everyone walking by can watch you sleep? Me neither. I personally wouldn’t even be able to sleep – I bought a camping mat and tried on the floor in my apartment and even inside my apartment I couldn’t sleep. Homeless people aren’t homeless because they are less deserving than me. I don’t work harder than them. In fact I am a terrible employee and team player – I wouldn’t even hire myself and I am fortunate that there were people out there dumb enough to hire me.
Mental illness isn’t fair either. I am stricken by both psychological issues like lack of cognitive empathy and narcissism as well as psychiatric issues like ADHD, bipolar, and symptoms of schizophrenia. I have tried many medications, most of which have not worked at all (such as the mood stabilizer lithium) or have helped a little but have had worse side effects than the thing that they were helping with (like many antipsychotics). I’m a fucking basket case, but so are a lot of homeless people, and I didn’t work any harder than they did. All I have that they don’t have is luck and chance and luck and chance isn’t fair. It’s up to people to make things fair because things won’t be fair on their own. It’s not like some magic flying man in the clouds is going to come out of nowhere and fix everything without humans lifting a finger.
In a previous article, I talked about how all people are created equal. I will go further and say that all people are equal, although some people have more money than others. I will not fight capitalism because I don’t believe that is necessary. I will say though that people should receive from their government what they need to succeed in life (such as an education and healthcare).
In the USSR, they had this sort of pipe dream of Communism where the government owned everything and gave everyone a job. I don’t believe that is necessary in order to establish that all people are equal (although they have different amounts of wealth). I don’t believe in cash handouts – for example there are countless tragedy stories about lottery winners, and people can just waste their winnings. People don’t need cash – they need things that can be purchased with cash, like an education. Ultimately I envision a global redistribution of wealth such that every person gets what they need to succeed in life, but no more. Every person receives an education and healthcare. Every person receives a “safety net” to catch them after they fall in life – after catastrophic failure. Ultimately, the human race is one species – one race, and there is one Earth, and we are all one team.
Imagine four different versions of me. Version #1 has no money and no wealth and continues on that trajectory, Version #2 has no money and no wealth but becomes wealthy, Version #3 has plenty of money and wealth and continues in that trajectory, and Version #4 has plenty of money and wealth but becomes poor and wealth-less. Regardless of which one I am, I deserve the basics. We are all created equal. Fundamentally, when I am born, I don’t know if I am going to be a person who makes a fortune or is constantly poor, but either way I should get support. Some people have a very supportive or wealthy family, and that is great, but not everyone does. The people who don’t should receive that support from the government. For example, not everyone has parents who are willing and able to pay for higher education or re-education. But everyone should have those sorts of opportunities. That is why I envision a massive transfer of wealth (i.e. taxpayer dollar spending) that does not significantly interfere with capitalism and that does not naturally interfere with free trade or the conducting of business transactions.
I envision a redistribution of wealth. For example, something like Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax that takes money out of billionaire families and puts it into the hands of working families for things like childcare. Simply put, just because someone is born with parents who have a lot of wealth doesn’t mean that they deserve or ought to have lots of wealth. That being said, even if someone is born to parents who don’t have a lot of wealth (or who don’t have supportive parents), they still deserve support. Morally, there ought to be this sort of redistribution so that all people on Earth are supported. We are one people, one team.
I call this Libertarian Communism because it seeks to keep government as small as possible and protect freedom while simultaneously eliminating class barriers and giving all people what they need. Not socialism. Even billionaires like Bill Gates have realized how unequal things are and put their money into charitable causes, like for example fighting malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, one of the best ways to make sure that people are supported is to raise the status of women. When women make money, the entire family is uplifted. Just another reason to have a woman president like Elizabeth Warren.
Communism and socialism are on the political left while capitalism and conservativism are on the political right. Socialism and capitalism are fundamentally at odds with one another, but so are communism and conservativism. Allow me to explain.
A socialist institution is owned and operated by the government for the benefit of the voters while a capitalist institution is owned and operated by the private sector for the benefit of its shareholders. For example, a public library is a socialist institution while a for-profit, publicly traded corporation is a capitalist institution. A given institution can’t be both socialist and capitalist – like there is no such thing as a for profit library that sells shares on the New York Stock Exchange. In addition, when a for-profit, publicly traded corporation does something good like for example planting trees, they tend to pick things that they can use to make their company look good in say advertisements – these sorts of charitable corporate things do not replace government services like public schools or hospitals. Socialism versus capitalism is fundamentally about government ownership versus private ownership.
Communism and conservativism are less about government and more about society (i.e. the comm-unity). For example, an extreme Communist in China might notice that the country is over-populated and install a one child policy while an extreme conservative might notice that the book of Genesis says “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” and ban birth control because the Bible says for people to multiply. It is possible to be pro small government and also a social communist just like it is possible to be pro big government and also a social conservative. Communism and capitalism tend not to go together, but it’s not physically impossible for them to go together. For example, China appears to me to be Communist, but with openings for capitalism. I think communism tends to be more secular or atheist (see https://johnreedforpresident.home.blog/2019/05/23/my-atheist-god/ and Twitter thread https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1103743994675322880 ) where as conservativism tends to be more religious, with things coming more from the Bible rather than from science. When secularism goes too far or is corrupted, it can potentially result in bad or cruel science (like https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1102380374095732737 and https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1107084076706598914), but hopefully it is based on truth and tempered with some sort of morality or moral judgement. Like I personally try to tell the truth, see good things in the Dali Lama, and am not against The Church (heck, I live in Charlotte, which has a church every two blocks). In my opinion, a church like the Catholic Church should provide moral guidance, and when I look at Pope Francis, I (at the very least) see an effort to provide that.
Going back to talking about government, communism and socialism historically have been associated with one another (ex. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels), but I believe that is possible to have anti-big government (or libertarian) communism, where as it is impossible to have anti-big government socialism. I’m not an expert and to be honest I am winging it, but I think it is possible to be communist and also against the state, or at the very least to try and provide freedoms. Maybe in a perfect world there could be a “stateless society”, but that’s not real. If all people were perfect and nobody ever did anything wrong, there would be no need for rules or laws, but that isn’t reality and there has to be rules and laws, but if that mentality is taken too far you end up with “tyranny in sheep’s clothing”, as Pete Buttigieg described communist China.
I think my notion of communism is more in line with modern China’s communism than with old Russia’s communism, but to be honest I don’t really know what I’m talking about because my specialization is in pre-medicine and computer programming, not in government. But I think Friedrich Engels (who worked with Karl Marx) had this notion of “utopian socialism”:
Although I see the need for some government services such as schools and healthcare (ex. public hospitals), I do not consider myself a Socialist. I see utopian socialism as pie-in-the-sky bullshit. I think that some proposals from communism can be taken without taking all of them, like for example some of these proposals: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1097144788674101251 . My knowledge of government is weak, but I think even the founding fathers were in favor of taxing inheritances to prevent the formation of an “aristocracy” that just sort of lives off their family’s inheritance and passes it down from one generation to the next (which I think was the case in Britain back when the US was a colony). The issue I see with the inheritance tax is that I think rich people will sort of try to get around it, but honestly I’m not an expert in money and wealth management, so I don’t exactly know the way they do that. If I am elected I will get and consult with really good advisors, a good running mate, and delegate to people with more knowledge and wisdom than me, because frankly I can’t be good everything and know everything. To be honest, I think the founding fathers must have had good ideas because if they didn’t their ideas wouldn’t still be the foundation of this country, so I think a sort of combination of ideas can be created, where good ideas are pulled from multiple different places and bad ideas are tossed. Pete Buttigieg graduated with honors in the subject of politics from a top-tier University, so I think he could provide his expertise in this subject if we were running on the same ticket one day.
Please take my opinion here with a grain of salt because government isn’t my area of expertise, but anyway, a Communist catchphrase is “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” So for example, each person needs to get enough food to survive, healthcare, and some education (in order to be able to get a job that pays). To each person, these needs (not cash handouts or welfare, but needs) are provided by their country, sort of like an investment into the people and their future well being. From each according to his [or her] ability I interpret as each person contributes to their society or to their country how they can. Different people can contribute in different ways because they have different abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, and each person can contribute to their society in the field where they have strength in. So for example I am strong in computer programming, so I can contribute by doing computer programming. Maybe someone else is really strong in criminal investigations, so they can contribute by doing that. Maybe one person is a really good mother and they do social work and volunteer, and that’s fine too. Each person contributes to their society, and their society forms a government which makes sure that they (its people) at least get the minimum that they need. No person goes hungry because they don’t have food or dies because they don’t have a doctor. I haven’t actually read The Communist Manifesto, so I am just kind of winging it, but my idea is basically that not everyone has parents that can afford to pay for private education all the way up through say medical school or who can afford to pay for that catastrophic medical, family, or mental health emergency, so the government needs to invest in its people and provide a “safety net”. I believe that there should be a “safety net” that actually works, and that can be proven to actually work in the case of a say a family emergency (like a medical emergency or a serious mental health problem) or an economic crash (like we had back in 2008). Note that government “safety net” does not mean “cash welfare checks from the government”. The USA isn’t Saudi Arabia or Alaska where people get “oil checks”. No cash checks – people waste handouts on stupid stuff and the government is in way too much debt. Former President George W Bush gave everybody a cash rebate check and in the process blew the budget surplus, and frankly I don’t think it actually helped with jobs very much. My mom just deposited her Bush “economic stimulus check” and forgot about it. George Bush was an idiot (just look at this moron announce that the War in Iraq is over back in year 2003) and he should never have been president. Seriously, we should have at least gotten the smart brother, Jeb Bush, instead.
Anyway, going back to the subject of government, I personally don’t believe that each and every person should work for the government. Like in 100% pure socialism, everyone works for the government and the government owns everything. In my opinion, this is literal insanity. There would be no private sector. How would wealth be generated? What about small (and growing) businesses?
Ultimately I consider myself a sort of libertarian communist, not a socialist communist. I like the idea of adding libertarianism to communism because the libertarianism can kind of combat tyranny and big, wasteful, expensive, and inefficient government. My ideology is fundamentally the opposite of old social conservatism, but it is not fundamentally anti-capitalist. Me personally, I am not big on money, but some people are, and good for them. I personally don’t want to step on you just because you want to build a small business, and I understand that we need good banks and good bankers (as opposed to people who build a portfolio of “toxic assets” and “Madoff” with money). Switzerland, which has the highest life expectancy of any country in the world, has a lot on money and is apparently very well run financially, and I don’t think that would be possible without their banking. Heck, I live in Charlotte, which is a banking center, and I have nothing against Bank of America (which bought Merrill Lynch after “toxic assets” bankrupted them and unfortunately produced the biggest economic crash since the Great Depression). Money making and science needs to be tempered with some source of morality or moral judgement, or else you end up with “Bernie Madoff” and human experimentation.
Going back to my beliefs on people and government, I imagine a sort of classless, “flat” society. For example, I personally like power or status more than money, but I don’t consider myself above homeless people. Like regardless of whether you have a hundred billion dollars or zero dollars, to me everyone is sort of equal in terms of self-worth as a person. Like I sort of separate the person from what they have, and the self-worth of the person is based on the person (as a person), and not on what that person has. Nobody is God (regardless of how big they write their name on a building or how many portraits or statues of themselves they commission). I believe in a person-first or human-first approach (“all people are created equal”), where people are not the same, but their self-worth as a person is, and that’s what really matters. Unlike the way I see things, conservativism tends to be less “flat” socially. Like a conservative might see someone else as above them or below them. Like for example, they might look up to billionaire Donald Trump and down to homeless people. Conservatives also tend to be more religious than I am.
I think something about the notion that people are above you has something to do with it, like because God is traditionally thought of as above ☝️. There is this religious notion of choices that are made by and come down from God. I personally don’t see a God actively doing things on Earth, but that’s just me. Pope Francis may be very religious, but he apparently has no issue with an individual’s absence of religiosity, so I see no reason to have a problem with his plethora of it. I have a big tall ego, am not religious, am not particularly attracted to money (but am to power), and I like urban areas, and these things affect my political leaning. Ultimately, I am on the political left, and I am a registered Democrat, but I will cross party lines if and when I determine that it is necessary and right. I personally think there is too much groupthink or “lemming mentality” within groups of Democrats, and I will try to look for and borrow good ideas from everywhere rather than limit myself or my thinking. I don’t really know what the word is to describe my political beliefs, but at the time of writing I would describe it as “libertarian communism”, with a balance between socialism and capitalism.