BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – He calls himself the Asian guy who likes to talk MATH. But his version isn’t necessarily the usual version.
2020 Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, who says he’s barely a politician, talked to a packed Simple Table restaurant Sunday afternoon. The packed venue held about 50 people.
But again, according to Yang math, that represented “a coliseum of California voters”. Yang said each Iowan voter represents about 1,000 California voters when you look at electoral votes.
The 44-year-old lawyer says he’s not a career politician but an entrepreneurial problem solver and spent the last seven years creating jobs around the country. His acronym for M.A.T.H. has very little to do with numbers, but “Make America Think Harder”.
He said Donald Trump won Iowa by close to nine points, and did it by automating away four million manufacturing jobs over a number of years including 40,000 in Iowa.
“I have been to those towns in Iowa that lost those manufacturing jobs,” he said.
“After the plant closed, the shopping district closed, people started to leave, the schools shrank – and the communities never recovered.”
He said the story was the same in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other states across the country.
Yang said blasting away those jobs in swing states that Trump needed to win, and he said that hasn’t stopped and pointed the finger straight at Amazon.
“They’re soaking up $20 billion in business every single year, closing 30% of our stores and malls. Most common job in the country is retail clerk making $10 to $12 per hour. What is her next move when the store closes”, Yang asked.
He said Amazon paid $0 in taxes last year.
“That’s your math, Iowa. $20 billion out – 0 back, 30% of stores closed, the most common job disappears, and Amazon laughs all the way to the bank.”
He also said other common jobs are going to disappear as well. Robot trucks, automated call centers. He said the country is in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution, what he called the greatest economic transformation in our country’s history.
He said half of all manufacture workers who lost their jobs never worked again, and half of that group filed for disability. He said that has led to increased suicide and drug overdoses to the point where American’s life expectancy has declined for the last three years in a row.
“The last time our life expectancy declined three years straight was the Spanish flu of 1918, a global pandemic that killed millions.”
Yang raised $16.5 million in the fourth quarter and said he is now running 5th in the latest polling of Democratic candidates. Yang’s $16.5 million was fourth best among Democrats behind Bernie Sanders’ $34.5 million, Pete Buttigieg’s $24.7 million, and Joe Biden’s $22.7 million.
Yang spent little time talking about foreign policy and spoke mostly about domestic issues facing the United States.
One of Yang’s top campaign topics is $1,000/month to every adult in the country. He said the idea is not a new idea.
“Thomas Paine was for this during the founding of our country and called it the ‘citizen’s dividend’,” Yang said.
“Martin Luther King, Jr., fought for a guaranteed minimum income for all Americans. I sat down with his son in Atlanta and he told me, ‘This is what Dad was fighting for when he was killed in in 1968’.”
He said a similar idea passed the House of Representatives under the Richard Nixon presidency, the family assistance plan, and then 11 years later a state passed a dividend where everyone in the state gets between $1,000 and $2,000 a year.
Yang said data is America’s top commodity and is worth more than $10 billion per year. Now that money goes to companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and other trillion dollar companies that pay zero or near zero taxes.
“Do you see the game, Iowa? You get sucked dry. You wonder where the money’s going and the biggest companies pay zero back into the system,” he said.
Iowa caucuses are in 29 days and Yang said it’s the perfect time to clean the pipes of American politics and lobby influence.
“You didn’t know that was what this meeting was about. But that’s what’s it about. We can put that $1,000 a month in our hands just like that.”
“This $1,000 stacks on Social Security. It’s the biggest expansion of Social Security in generations. People know you can’t retire on Social Security, but you don’t have to live like that. We can change it.”