On several occasions during a Newton town hall meeting Monday afternoon, presidential candidate Andrew Yang described himself as a “numbers guy” to local constituents.
Percentages, calculations, solutions.
That is the lens the entrepreneur and philanthropist seemingly uses to look at both the state of the current economy and the issues people are faced with on a daily basis. Yang said “the depth and severity and reality” of these problems needs to be acknowledged.
With roughly 20 days until the caucuses, Yang drew attention to the declining average life expectancy, how much Iowans are worth in an election if measured by Californians, his proposal for term limits and how, if elected president, he will stay in Washington, D.C. for eight years and not a day longer.
Oftentimes, Yang pitches himself as a candidate who is the exact opposite of President Donald Trump. He has his own slogan-turned-acronym: Make America Think Harder — or MATH. Trump’s
solutions to Americans’ problems, Yang argued, were the opposite of what the country needed.
“Build a wall, turn the clock back, bring the old jobs back. Iowa, you know we have to do the opposite of these things. We have to turn the clock forward. We have to accelerate our economy and society to rise to the real challenges of the 21st century,” Yang said from inside the American Legion Post 111 in Newton.
He added, “We have to evolve in the way we see ourselves in our work and our value. I am the ideal candidate for this job, because the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math.”
That last line should be a familiar line to those who have attended a recent Yang campaign stop; as should his promise to give every American $1,000 per month, which he contended was not a gimmick and can be achievable. Yang argued it is not a new idea either, dating all the way back to the 1700s with Thomas Paine.
The Democratic candidate — who announced his run in November 2017 — stands out from his fellow party opponents by highlighting what he has dubbed the “fourth industrial evolution,” which he claimed is becoming increasingly automated. Data, he said, is becoming more valuable than oil.
“If our data is now worth billions of dollars a year, who is getting all that money?” Yang asked. “Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple and the trillion-dollar tech companies that are paying near-zero taxes … You know this feeling you have that your community is sucked dry and somehow wars are going (on) elsewhere?
“You feel that way because that is exactly what’s happening.”
With the population having an extra $12,000 per year to pay for whatever they want, Yang asked attendees what they may use it for and where they would spend it. The crowd agreed most would be spent in their home state.
“Some of you might get your own Netflix password for a change,” Yang said, noting that the cash may likely pay for car repairs, appliances, home repair and medical bills, among other things. “This would make us stronger, healthier, mentally healthier and give our kids a real path forward.”
Noting his experience of managing organizations for the past few decades, Yang told voters “there are three things you can do with your people.” First choice is to do nothing and the people leave the organization within a year. Second is to tell them how great they are all the time, which works for a year until they leave.
The third choice, Yang said, to invest in people, compensate them and give them raises, which will maintain their longevity in the organization. Again, Yang reminded Iowa voters of their power to invoke change.
“So these are the things that we claim to value most dearly in our lives: our families, our communities, our democracy. And we are allowing them to get zeroed out one by one by one,” Yang said. “This is what you all have to change. You have to make the case to the rest of the country in 21 days that economic value and human value are not the same things.”
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org