Why Andrew Yang deserves a second look

When looking at the field of possible democratic candidates that will challenge Trump, the only word that comes to mind is old. But, if you’re looking for a refreshing new candidate, I would suggest you look at Andrew Yang. He is currently polling at around 5 percent, so nothing I say will make him miraculously win the democratic nomination, but his unique perspectives and policies are refreshing to read about, if nothing else.

In a similar fashion to Trump, Yang is a political candidate with no political background that started as a businessman. After graduating from Columbia, Yang started his own business, which he then sold before founding Venture for America, a non-profit focused on educating young entrepreneurs, particularly from low-income backgrounds.

Yang rose to popularity due to his strong online presence and following. The #YangGang initially gained traction largely due to meme culture. Yang has since embraced this meme status, often making fun of himself and his Asian background, something that is a nice break from the bickering that most other politicians engage in. Yang’s slogan is “Make America Think Harder” or “MATH,” a clear play on the stereotype that Asians are good at math.

Yang’s main policy is this “Freedom Dividend,” a form of universal basic income centered that guarantees $1000 per month for every adult in the country. That is enough to lift a citizen above the poverty line, but $12,000 a year is far from a comfortable income, so it maintains a motivation for citizens to look for work. Yang hopes the money will increase opportunities for America’s most vulnerable populations, making it easier to handle sudden expenses and transition between jobs.

Obviously, the Freedom Dividend is an expensive program. However, Yang has a solution: a value-added tax (VAT). A VAT adds a tax to products for each step of the manufacturing process they undergo. Other candidates, most notably Elizabeth Warren, have proposed a wealth tax on wealthy families. However, Yang believes that his VAT would be a more enforceable and effective solution. It has worked in countries where wealth taxes have failed, which Yang cites as an important advantage. Most importantly, large corporations, many of which currently pay zero in taxes, would not be exempt.

Yang’s other main issue is automation. Like something out of a science-fiction movie, Yang believes that the robots and the automated process will make many labor jobs obsolete. Careers like call center workers and truck drivers (3 and 3.5 million workers, respectively) could be completely automated in the next few years. More mundane white-collar jobs will soon follow. To slow this process, Yang wants to tax automation and put more emphasis on trades that cannot be automated away.

The media has been criticizing Yang as a one-trick pony whose only claim to fame is his UBI plan, but Yang also has a lot of other policies that could help improve our lives. On his website, Yang has a whole list of his policies and some of them are things I didn’t know that I wanted. For example, Yang wants to bring back malls as they are slowly dying, allow MMA fighters to unionize and extend Daylight Savings Time year-round, in addition to many more. I highly suggest taking a look at the full list.

Andrew Yang deserves a second look from voters. It’s easy to write him off as another candidate that has no chance against Trump, but the dynamic nature of his policies may be the only hope against a candidate who has made his name by bashing the democratic establishment.