Andrew Yang Says Politicians Are ‘Brainwashed’ Into Equating Economic And Human Value

Democratic presidential candidate and former tech executive Andrew Yang speaks at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner on June 9, 2019 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Scott Olson / Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang took to Twitter Monday to express his belief that politicians are overlooking the best solution to helping people — putting money into their hands — and their perception of how the United States economy is supposed to function.

“Even our politicians have been brainwashed into thinking that economic value and human value are the same thing,” he said. “They are not. Pretending or thinking that they are will lead us to ruin in an age when technology will be capable of more and more.”

Yang has previously taken to Twitter to express this belief by quoting the Dutch philosopher Rutger Bregman.

“Poverty is not a lack of character. It’s a lack of cash.”

The 44-year-old serial entrepreneur is running on a primary proposal of a universal basic income (UBI) of $1,000 per month, which he believes is a necessary step to deal with an economy changing due to automation. He also believes that the United States needs to include other measurements of economic well-being in addition to gross domestic product (GDP), including quality of life, childhood success rates, and infant mortality, per his policy page.

Yang points to studies that suggest poverty affects intelligence. PBS reports that research from Harvard University suggests that — after reviewing the available studies on the subject — poverty lowers IQ by as much as 13 points. It also suggests that thoughts about finances are detrimental to cognitive performance in people who are poor, but not among people who are well-off.

One analysis looked at the cognitive function of farmers across the planting cycle and found that the same farmer experiences a decline in cognitive performance before the harvest ⁠— when they’re poor ⁠— compared to after when they are rich.

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“This cannot be explained by differences in time available, nutrition, or work effort. Nor can it be explained with stress,” they wrote. “Instead, it appears that poverty itself reduces cognitive capacity.”

“We suggest that this is because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks.”

Whether Yang’s campaign proposals are feasible and his campaign can jump into the fray with the front-runners remains to be seen. Regardless, his performance during the second debates was enough to pique the public’s interest, and his strong grassroots support has guaranteed him a spot in the September and October debates.

RealClearPolitics reports that Yang currently has an average of 1.5 percent support in the polls, putting him behind Cory Booker and ahead of Amy Klobuchar.