On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Seth Ator, the 36-year-old man allegedly behind the West Texas mass shooting Saturday, was reportedly fired from his trucking job. His alleged termination happened just hours before he purportedly committed the horrific act that led to the deaths of seven people and injury of 22 others.
In the wake of the tragedy, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang took to Twitter to address the incident and highlight something that he has covered frequently during his campaign: automation and self-driving trucks threaten to displace many of the 3 million U.S. truck drivers and the communities that are built around the industry.
Per The Los Angeles Times, Yang frequently points to the failed retraining of manufacturing workers in the Midwest. He claimed retraining only had a success rate of zero to 15 percent and led instead to many leaving the workforce. The 44-year-old suggested that the same will happen for displaced truckers.
According to Yang, the purported impending displacement of truckers due to automation will create a “range of reactions,” some of which he believes will be “tragic.”
“Most of the tragedies will be unreported. Men quietly going home and drinking themselves to death. But occasionally there will be something externalized. Applied across a group of hundreds of thousands you would expect a wide range of outcomes including some that are unthinkable.”
Yang’s comments were somewhat controversial, to say the least.
“You’re better than this,” one user wrote, echoing other negative comments.
But others believe that his comments were honest and necessary.
“People will get mad, but this is a conversation that we must have,” one user wrote.
The gunman who killed seven people as he drove between Odessa and Midland, Texas, Saturday was identified as 36-year-old Seth Ator https://t.co/ZMocn4tes4
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) September 1, 2019
As for the solution, Yang believes that his proposal of a universal basic income (UBI) of $1,000 per month for every American over 18 will provide a cushion to help people who feel helpless in the face of financial difficulty.
“Imagining that people are infinitely adaptable is a waste of time,” he tweeted. “We need to start valuing people intrinsically and provide a path forward such that losing your job is a setback or inconvenience not an existential crisis.”
Yang is currently set to appear in the third debate on September 12, hosted by ABC and Univision, along with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, and Julian Castro. He is currently ranked sixth in polling average with 2.5 percent. Although he is considered a long shot to win the nomination, his success thus far has drawn attention to his unique campaign.