Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang recently took to Twitter to address his belief that the United States economy and its government needs to be humanized. He suggests that the structures of corporations and bureaucracies push people to do terrible things “in pursuit of the bottom line” and shared a video of him discussing the issue with a potential voter.
“The incentives are built more around preserving their own career and status and the rest of it,” he says in the video. “It’s a massive problem. And part of it, in my mind, it’s like a…it’s like a spiritual deficit too.”
“Our government — but not just our government — our corporations,” he continued. “It makes people capable of doing things you would never imagine doing in another context.”
Yang suggests that when people are part of a hierarchy with incentives designed for self-preservation — such as a boss pressuring employees not to report them for crimes with the threat of firing them — they are pushed toward inhumane actions.
“Then all of a sudden, people become capable of atrocities, really.”
Although universal basic income (UBI) is Yang’s central policy, he also plans to change the way that the United States economy is measured. The 44-year-old entrepreneur suggests on his policy page that gross domestic product (GDP) and the stock market are not accurate, as they don’t reflect the average worker. He highlights that the bottom 80 percent of Americans own 8 percent of the stocks, and Politifact reports that Yang often highlights the decline in life expectancy and rise in suicides in the U.S.
.@AndrewYang offers up a response to Trump's claims of economic growth from GDP to the stock market.— Bloomberg (@business) August 1, 2019
"You know what else is up? Suicides, drug overdoses, and depression," he says https://t.co/31bWfFf1Ax pic.twitter.com/KWGiIKREm1
“The indicators already show that we’re falling apart,” he said before claiming that the United States life expectancy has declined for the last three years due to increases in drug overdoses and suicides.
According to University of Maryland professor Andrew Fenelon, a sociologist and demographer, the decline in life expectancy, which he doesn’t believe is solely due to suicides and drug overdoses, is nevertheless a serious problem.
“We are simply not used to seeing, on a national scale, declines in life expectancy, especially not ones lasting more than one year,” he said, adding that it’s a major crisis.
Fenelon also said that in addition to failing to improve life expectancy — which the U.S. has done for the past hundred years — the country is falling behind the rest of the high-income world.
Yang has passed donor threshold for the fall debates in September and October. As of now, he has hit the polling threshold for three qualifying polls and must gain one more to take the debate stage again later this year.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.