Debates 2020

'Most Americans Don't Want To Work for the Federal Government' Says Andrew Yang, Trashing Federal Jobs Guarantee

The entrepreneur argued instead for a federal universal basic income proposal that would provide every American $1,000 a month.

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Andrew Yang continues to clear the low bar of being the Democratic presidential candidate most skeptical of government power, if not government spending.

In response to a question about whether he would support a federal jobs guarantee at tonight's Democratic debate, the former entrepreneur argued that the feds were not going to be very good at providing people with meaningful work.

"I am for the spirit of a federal jobs guarantee, but you have to look at how it would materialize in practice. What are the jobs? Who manages you? What if you don't like your job? What if you're not good at your job?" said Yang, distinguishing himself from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) who had reiterated his support for the idea of a jobs guarantee tonight.

"Most Americans don't want to work for the federal government," Yang bluntly put it, saying a jobs guarantee would replicate the results of failed government retraining programs and produce "jobs that no one wants."

Instead, the presidential candidate made the pitch for his Freedom Dividend, his universal basic income proposal that would provide every American with $1,000 a month.

This, said Yang, would benefit people like his wife—currently at home raising two children, one of whom is autistic—who are unable to work, and therefore would not benefit from a jobs guarantee.

A universal basic income would "put the money into our hands so we can build a trickle up economy" and "enable us to do the kind of work that we want to do," said Yang.

Some libertarian thinkers have argued for some form of UBI as a more efficient, less paternalistic form of the current welfare state. Yang interestingly makes the pitch for his Freedom Dividend in individualistic, if not necessarily libertarian, terms: A universal basic income allows you to decide how to spend your money, and do what you want with your life.

The math for Yang's Freedom Dividend doesn't quite work out. Skeptical free marketers will note that it has the potential to disincentivize work, and will always rely on coercive taxation.

Nevertheless, in a debate that's mostly been candidates arguing they would be the best philosopher king (or queen), it's nice to hear at least someone on stage to express a little faith in the ability of individuals to run their own lives (even if taxpayers are still paying the bills).

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54 responses to “'Most Americans Don't Want To Work for the Federal Government' Says Andrew Yang, Trashing Federal Jobs Guarantee

  1. “The former entreupenur argued instead for a federal universal basic income proposal that would provide every American $1,000 a month.”

    As Koch / Reason libertarians, we should approach UBI the same way we approach M4A. Specifically, if these programs can be shown to increase the number of immigrants who want to move to the US, we need to seriously consider supporting them.

    #ImmigrationAboveAll

    1. ” Specifically, if these programs can be shown to increase the number of immigrants who want to move to the US, we need to seriously consider supporting them.”

      Don’t you have to be a citizen in order to have a bank account? If they’re legal citizens then it’s cool. I would imagine that the money would be transferred digitally so a SSN would be needed. I don’t see the gov mailing out prepaid Visas for 1K each month.

      If it’s cheaper than the system we have now and people get more money then why not?

      I’ll at least give it to Yang for trying to tackle an issue before it becomes a reality.

      1. “Don’t you have to be a citizen in order to have a bank account?”

        Of course not. Millions of people on non-immigrant visas (students, workers) have SSNs. Then they can open bank accounts, be approved for credit cards and mortgages, etc. Many financial accounts can be opened without a SSN at all, as long as you have a TIN, which is easier to get than a SSN.

        Being a legal U.S. citizen is not a requirement for almost all financial/business transactions in this country.

        1. “Being a legal U.S. citizen is not a requirement for almost all financial/business transactions in this country.”

          I think it would be a requirement to get the freedom dividend.

      2. People who cannot get an SSN can still get a ITIN – Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, so they can file their income tax and get refunds. I assume that any UBI laws passed will allow these de facto citizens (previously known as “undocumented immigrants”, or “illegal aliens”) to get their money using this number.

  2. What the hell is an “entreupenur “???

    1. It’s the French way of saying, “come in, you dick.”

  3. Honestly, I agree. I mean, the government would have to create thousands upon thousands of completely pointless jobs.

    1. His rationale is sound, but that is a shitload of money. Even as a replacement for current welfare. And there is no reason to think his UBI will replace exiting welfare; it is just more free gibs for everyone.

      I would love extra cash every month, but without additional taxes it will accelerate the certain ruin of the dollar and the economy. UBI only works as a welfare replacement.

      1. And there is no reason to think his UBI will replace exiting welfare; it is just more free gibs for everyone.

        Under Yang’s proposal you would forfeit other welfare benefits if you accepted the $1k/month. Politically that’s appealing because you don’t have to repeal popular welfare programs, but you also prevent people from double dipping.

        Now, he does seem to exempt veteran’s disability benefits and social security from the list of welfare programs you would have to give up if you accepted the $1k/month. I understand the rationale behind stacking (his word) veteran’s disability and the UBI. His argument for stacking SS and the UBI is less sound and seems to rely on the mistaken notion that people pay into SS and that that money is theirs (which is most certainly not how SS works).

        Of course, this is his proposal. It may play out very differently when the plan hits real-world political incentives, and I could easily see the list of programs that would stack with the UBI expanding.

        Also, he is proposing extra taxes (a VAT).

  4. “The former entreupenur argued instead for a federal universal basic income proposal that would provide every American $1,000 a month.”

    Pretty sure you work for the outfit that pays you; Yang seems more than a little confused.

  5. “…The math for Yang’s Freedom Dividend doesn’t quite work out…”

    Chris, you’re allowed to claim Yang’s numbers are pulled out of his ass, and you neglected the inflationary effects of ‘free money’.
    You’ll do better when you call bullshit, bullshit rather than pulling a Robbie on us.

    1. Aren’t you in NorCal, Sevo?

      How far does $1,000 a month go in San Francisco after rent?

      1. At 40 hours a week, 2080 hours a year, that comes to $5.76/hour. Not even minimum wage!

        1. What makes you think the actual law would be only $1,000.00/mo?
          If he got elected, the dems could put it through at $45.00/hr.

      2. “How far does $1,000 a month go in San Francisco after rent?”

        I know that’s a rhetorical question, but the answer is -$2933.00 for a single person; add kids until you’re making money!
        https://www.rentjungle.com/average-rent-in-san-francisco-rent-trends
        Regardless, 300,000,000 people, getting $12K per year is gonna put the hurt on those of us who pay taxes….
        At the risk of Hihn-confusion:
        NO REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION!

    2. Giving every American 1K a month (Or more) would be cheaper than the massive bureaucracy that is the welfare system. It’s horribly bloated to the point where giving everyone 1K a month is cheaper than having the system in place now.
      This is an old idea from Nixon. (I think it was him)

      1. “Giving every American 1K a month (Or more) would be cheaper than the massive bureaucracy that is the welfare system.”

        Oh, so Yang is promising to lay off exactly how many federal employees with this proposal?

        Who in the Democratic Party is planning to join him in laying off these tens of thousands of government employees?

        1. “Oh, so Yang is promising to lay off exactly how many federal employees with this proposal?”

          Yup. That’s definitely an issue with it. The average welfare worker makes about 50K a year and then throw in the real estate needed for the offices, the bills, etc.

          1. That was not a rhetorical question.

            How many federal employees has Yang promised to fire, and who among the rest of the Democrats in Congress has agreed to fire that many or any federal employees?

            Are you just making this up?

  6. “The former entreupenur argued instead for a federal universal basic income proposal that would provide every American $1,000 a month.”

    The reason this is such a ridiculous proposal is that welfare benefits are worth far more than $1,000 a month. On Yang’s website, he says that it would be optional for welfare recipients to take the $1,000 a month–because they would have to forgo basic welfare benefits to get the $1,000 a month. There’s no good reason why anyone on welfare would choose to do that because welfare benefits are far more generous than that.

    If you’re getting free rent from the government for yourself and 1.5 kids in Los Angeles or New York City, you’re getting more than $1,000 a month in rent assistance alone. If you’re getting free rent, you’re also getting SNAP benefits for food. You’re getting Medicaid, . . .

    Here’s a study done by Cato in 2013 showing the value of welfare benefits by state. The value of those benefits has presumably gone up since then–especially when you factor in the value of Medicaid vs. buying private insurance. But let’s go ahead and use the numbers from that study.

    https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/the_work_versus_welfare_trade-off_2013_wp.pdf

    The value of annual welfare benefits by state (2013):

    California: $35,287
    Massachusetts: $42,515
    New York: $38,004
    Mississippi: $16,984

    I threw some of the more populated states up top. I included Mississippi because the value of welfare benefits is the lowest in that state–and yet they were still almost $5,000 per year higher than Yang’s UBI would pay.

    Conclusion: There is no good reason to believe that welfare recipients will choose $12,000 a year and forego the value of those welfare benefits. Surely, he must know this. You should, too.

    1. They will not have to choose. Surely, you must know this.

    2. “There’s no good reason why anyone on welfare would choose to do that because welfare benefits are far more generous than that.”

      It’s an opt-in system. I had a lot of questions like you did. It’s somewhat confusing. If you are making over 1K a month in welfare then you obviously don’t opt in. If you’re getting 100 in food stamps then you do.
      If you’re getting SSDI then it stacks on top of that. If you’re getting SSI (like 650 a month) then if you opt-in it will replace it and you’ll get more.

      1. “If you are making over 1K a month in welfare then you obviously don’t opt in.”

        The obvious implication, therefore, is that I (and libertarains generally) will not opt in to Yang.

        If this is really just about redistributing wealth, then Yang should go fuck himself–from a libertarian perspective–like every other socialist and for all the same reasons.

        The only appeal to UBI from a libertarian capitalist perspective is ending welfare.

        1. “If this is really just about redistributing wealth, then Yang should go fuck himself–from a libertarian perspective–like every other socialist and for all the same reasons.”

          I wouldn’t consider it to be about redistributing wealth. Yang simply realizes like many before him that the welfare system is a problem and we can actually provide the people with more and have it cost less. That idea makes sense to me, but not sure how it will work in the long run because of all it entails. Yang is technically cheaping out with his plan because he could give 15K a year instead of 12K and it would still cost the government less.
          With automation and jobs moving overseas it’s approaching the bottleneck and Yang’s plan attempts to get in front of it.
          The benefit is that if someone works on welfare they lose benefits. This money would not be lost and they can make as much as they want to. This means they can work a job at Del Taco, have an extra 1K a month on top of that, maybe buy a reliable car, move, get a better job, and then pay more taxes and stimulate the economy by buying more Pokemon cards and fidget spinners.
          Those that don’t work can get 1K and those that make millions can get 1k. It’s more fair than what exists now. Not sure if that says much though.

          1. “Yang simply realizes like many before him that the welfare system is a problem and we can actually provide the people with more and have it cost less.”

            You seem to ignore everything that’s been said previously and make every comment as if it’s the first comment you’ve made in the thread.

            You don’t seem to remember anything that people have written before in this thread either.

            Are you working for the Yang campaign?

          2. I wouldn’t consider it to be about redistributing wealth

            Yang pretty explicitly considers it to be about redistributing wealth. He is arguing that automation will put lots of people out of work and this is a way to soften the blow. In other words, tax people who still have a job and redistribute most of that to people who are unemployed or making less.

            I’m in favor of something like a UBI replacing existing welfare, but Yang clearly sees this as something more. It’s something of a magic pill to him that will solve all kind of social problems. Nearly every single issue on his website has UBI as the top solution.

    3. The cato report uses the misleading “total value of welfare benefits by state”. No one qualifies for the entire package A better indicator would be average or median. This paper is more convincing https://www.epi.org/blog/cato-study-distorts-truth-welfare-work/

      You just need to ask a few welfare recipients yourself what they would prefer 1K/mo or the monitoring/compliance and the DISINCENTIVE to do more work with traditional welfare. While not scientific, I’m seeing much testimony that they would switch.

      1. “No one qualifies for the entire package A better indicator would be average or median.”

        Even the smallest number is far above $12,000 a year.

    4. Presumably Yang would have no power to compel states to stop giving out their own welfare benefits. So even if someone lost out on fed bennies they could still double dip via the state.

    5. If you’re getting free rent from the government for yourself and 1.5 kids

      Would Yang’s program not include some extra money for those with children? One proposal I heard (I’m not sure if it was Yang’s) was for $1,000 a month per adult citizen (or legal permanent resident[?]), plus $500 a month additional for each child under 18 living in the house. So an adult living with one child would get $18,000 a year, and an adult living with two children would get $24,000 a year. (No one actually has 1.5 children, obviously.) That’s better than what someone in Mississippi gets under the current system, but not in the other states listed.

      1. According to his website it goes to every US citizen over the age of 18 that opts in.

    6. Focusing on welfare recipients is the wrong way to look at UBI. The welfare recipient will be there no matter what is enacted. Where UBI has greatest potential is for the low wage worker. This could give them a chance to get ahead of debt instead of being behind. I don’t know if it is really workable? My guess is that lawmakers will overload it with requirements and other BS that will make it effectively impotent.

      1. “…Where UBI has greatest potential is for the low wage worker. This could give them a chance to get ahead of debt instead of being behind….”

        Why be cheapskates? How about a cool mill?

      2. “Focusing on welfare recipients is the wrong way to look at UBI.”

        Not only is eliminating welfare the best reason to support UBI, it’s also the only reason I would support UBI.

        Without replacing welfare, you’re just talking about redistribution socialism, and I oppose redistribution socialism regardless of whether you call it by some other name.

        The only thing worse than a worthless piece of shit, who is pathetic that, although able bodied, he can’t support himself–is a lying sack of shit who thinks we’re about to support redistributive socialism because he calls it by some other name.

        Fuck welfare recipients, fuck Yang’s version of the UBI, and fuck Yang, too.

    7. Receipents may take the cash because thats far easier to turn into drugs without all the work of buying food or gas etc and selling below cost to get their drug money

  7. Haha. If you’re gonna pander for votes, cast a wide net!

    Pathetic.

    1. Twitter is being rather brutal. I think Uncle Joe is done for.

    2. So he’s doing the Bob Dole pen in hand trick…

      1. So he’s doing the Bob Dole pen in hand trick…

        Minus the whole ‘taking machine gun fire from actual Nazis’ schtick.

  8. I keep seeing the statement that Yang’s UBI would give $1,000/month to every American. But I’m pretty sure you half to be an adult. Christian B., you should get your facts straight.

    Not that it makes the idea better, I just dislike poor reporting.

  9. The math for Yang’s Freedom Dividend doesn’t quite work out.

    We’re seriously still on ‘doesn’t quite work out’? As if all that we need to do is tweak the numbers?

    209,000,000 adults
    $1,000/mo
    209,000,000,000/mo – $2,500,000,000,000/yr

    Welfare spending is only around a billion dollars total. He wants to control the redistribution of TWO AND A HALF times that.

    US GDP is 19 trillion. Yang wants to redistribute THIRTEEN FUCKING PERCENT of our economic activity. The US government is 35% of that activity. He wants to increase the cost of government by 50%. Even if, if God should smile on us, we actually replaced welfare with this it would still be a 25% increase in government spending. Oh, and all that, of course, only counts direct redistribution. That 50% is going to be a lot larger once you put into place the new agency that will be needed to oversee this massive redistribution scheme.

    Doesn’t quite add up. For fuck’s sake Mangu-Ward.

    1. Wrong author, but that was my comment up thread:
      “doesn’t add up” =/= what a fucking disaster!

    2. “Welfare spending is only around a billion dollars total. He wants to control the redistribution of TWO AND A HALF times that.”

      Welfare spending, among all the different programs not including medicare and SS is over 345 billion. With the others included it is around 800 billion. With around 220 million people in the US over 18 it’s cheaper than even the 345 billion.
      I’m not advocating for Yang’s idea because I don’t know all that it entails. I see what he’s getting at though. I’m sure some will be salty that they won’t get anything if they’re making over 1K a month already.

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  11. Why is this naive fool being treated as if he’s a serious contender for the presidency? Is he there strictly to provide some comic relief to the proceedings?

    1. I think it sends a pretty clear message even a leftist businessman reading from a libertarian playbook (poorly) is completely unwelcome in the Democratic arena. Only certain deranged progressive ideas are allowed, deranged ideas that vaguely draw from libertarianism or fiscal conservatism need not apply. It’s the ‘both sides’ that Reason and other civil libertarians so lovingly embrace.

  12. Another point where Yang shined was in talking about automation. Senator Warren missed the boat here, instead suggesting trade was a major problem for workers. Yang’s right automation will be a bigger problem for future workers.

    1. “…Yang’s right automation will be a bigger problem for future workers.”

      Is that you, Ned?
      Bullshit.

  13. “Most Americans don’t want to work for the federal government,” Yang bluntly put it.

    Actually, most (progressive) Americans don’t want to work, assuming work is something that other people would voluntarily pay a person to do.

  14. He actually IS proposing federal jobs for everyone, quite obviously.

    The job is voting for him.

  15. 325 Million Americans times $12K/year= $3.9T.

  16. If you’re gonna pander for votes, cast a wide net!
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