Can Andrew Yang Save the World with Human Capitalism #YangGang | TaraElla Report S4 E2
TaraElla: Welcome to the TaraElla Report, where I chat with my friends about cultural and political issues. All of us are individuals who are simply looking for more freedom, and many of us have been confused by so-called leaders from all sides, offering non-solutions with hidden agendas attached. I believe that it is only through amplifying the conversations of everyday individuals that we can cut through the nonsense and bring back freedom.
In this episode I continue my conversation from last time with Katie, an old friend of mine who identifies as a progressive, but also has plenty of questions about the current direction of progressivism. In recent years, there has been an increased questioning of our economic system from both the left and the right, in light of the system failing everyday individuals. Old ideas from protectionism to communism are getting another hearing, while numerous newer solutions are also being proposed from all quarters. Personally, I believe that old ideas that were consigned to the dustbin of history in the 20th century should remain there, because they failed for a good reason. As for the newer ideas, I wholeheartedly welcome all the brainstorming and all the discussions that are happening, and I think we should look at each idea from the basic perspectives of individual freedom and equal opportunity. I also see that many 2020 candidates have very interesting proposals. For example, I really like the idea of Human Capitalism, proposed by Andrew Yang.
Katie: We do live in extraordinary times. I think you are right that people looking for outdated solutions is really a sign of desperation. Knowing this, doing nothing and just sticking with the status quo is not an option anymore. I think we need bold and big ideas going forward, and we need to think outside the box. For too long, the debate has been between 'capitalism' and 'socialism', two terms that are rooted in 19th century ideals and 20th century history, two terms that are not only vaguely defined in our modern context, but also necessarily restrict our thinking. It's like you either embrace 20th century style capitalism or 20th century style socialism, when neither are going to serve us very well going forward.
TaraElla: I actually suspect that those playing the capitalism vs socialism game want us to have to choose between the two 19th century visions. For example, by limiting the options, certain activists can channel young people who are disillusioned with capitalism as it stands into becoming sympathetic towards communist thinking. I think a good way to escape the capitalism vs socialism trap is to look at the alternatives, to mainstream the discussion of newer, more 21st century economic models. Luckily, we actually have a good opportunity to do just that in the next two years, with the help of some of the 2020 candidates and their platforms.
Andrew Yang is perhaps most well known for his proposal for a Universal Basic Income (UBI), which he calls the Freedom Dividend. But this proposal is situated in a wider framework he calls Human Capitalism, which he defines as follows. Firstly, humans are more important than money. Secondly, the unit of a Human Capitalism economy is each person, not each dollar. Finally, markets exist to serve our common goals and values. I guess that's quite a profound statement to make. I mean, we all theoretically agree that humans are more important than money, and that markets should serve humanity rather than the opposite, but our system does not live up to these values at the moment. Let's face it: an increasing number of young people in the West, many who are very well educated, are turning to communism, and many older adults are increasingly alarmed. Many older politicians are desperately trying to put the lid on this problem, but I think their approach is simply wrong. Rather, I think we should take the radical left's success as a wake-up call, that many people don't think the economic system is working for them.
Katie: It amazes me how many people throughout history have thought that a problem would go away if they simply suppress those expressing dissent. History has taught us that this never fixes things. Teaching the people to love a status quo they simply can't accept will never work. The head in the sand approach will only end in the destruction of everything we hold dear.
TaraElla: Everything we hold dear, indeed. What is at stake is the foundations of classical liberal social contract itself. If we can get the system to work for individual liberty and equal opportunity again, I think young people will come to see the value of the market system. If not, then they naturally won't. After all, you can't get people to love the market for the sake of loving the market. What we actually want is individual freedom, and an equal opportunity to be competitively innovative. I believe human beings are naturally 'competitively innovative', in that we like to compete against each other, and competition inspires us to do our best. We thrive in such an environment, but only when there is truly fair competition. However, in our current system, the playing field is titled towards corporates and extremely rich people, and everyday individuals don't actually get a fair shot at many things. It is impossible for most people to believe in something they can't actually get a fair deal from.
Katie: I think you've raised an interesting point. I suspect many of those people who keep saying how we are living in 'late capitalism' don't necessarily want the market system to collapse. They don't seem to be actually committed to Marxism as an ideology. Using words like 'late capitalism' is a way they express their utter frustration with the way things are currently. It's essentially a cry for change. I think they sense that there is something wrong with the current system, but they don't actually know where it's gone wrong.
TaraElla: I actually think that Andrew Yang has identified one of the reasons why our system is not working. Let's look at the second point of Yang's proposal, 'the unit of a Human Capitalism economy is each person, not each dollar'. If you think about it, a system that is measured in dollars is going to be inherently unfair. Let's look at this issue in a broader context. As a Moral Libertarian, I believe that a moral society requires each individual to have a maximum and equal amount of freedom and opportunity. To achieve that, the system needs to be based around the unit of individual humans, not other things. I have argued against the Left where they propose to divide society into classes or identity groups, for this reason. A society where the basic unit is the class or the identity group will never have freedom or equality, because in such a society individuals will have grossly unequal influence. But the same can be said for a society where the basic unit is the dollar, especially where some individuals have many more dollars than the rest of us. By reforming the economy around individuals rather than dollars, we return equal opportunity and agency to the 99%.
That's all for today. I'll be back next time with another conversation. Subscribe if you want to follow our story. The transcripts are available on my website, and my Medium profile. And remember to resist the hive mind and stay individualistic. The world depends on it.