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Episode from the podcastMade You Think

48: UBI Q&A. A Conversation with Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang

Released Tuesday, 31st July 2018
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“That's really one of the most powerful things about Universal Basic Income. You start to believe in a sense of abundance and possibility.”
In this episode of Made You Think, Neil and Nat speak to Andrew Yang, the author of The War on Normal People, a follow up to our previous book episode. Today we are discussing the possibility of Universal Basic Income for all.
“The bigger people think, the more they wake up. We can make this real together.”
We cover a wide range of topics, including :
  • Objections and barriers to adopting UBI
  • The cost of UBI and if can we afford it
  • Video games vs the real world
  • Social Credit Systems and Basic Jobs
  • VAT and economic migration
  • Trump and running for president in 2020


And much more. Please enjoy this interview with the author of The War on Normal People by Andrew Yang.
You can also listen on Google Play Music, SoundCloud, YouTube, or in any other podcasting app by searching “Made You Think.”
If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to check out our episode on Sovereign Individual by James Dale Davidson and our episode on Emergency by Neil Strauss for related topics discussed in today’s show.
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Links from the Episode

Mentioned in the show



Books Mentioned



People Mentioned



Questions Asked

01:01 – What are the main challenges and objections to UBI?
01:36 – Are any of these objections compelling?
05:04 – Isn’t UBI just cycling money from the top consumers to those that are below $120k a year in spending?
08:18 – Do you see any differing objections between liberals and conservatives to UBI?
09:24 – Do you think there will be a portion of society that replaces work with video games and do you see a growth in the gaming industry because of UBI?
14:40 – How would we implement the social credits app in cities for real?
17:33 – Does it have to be the government that starts a social credit initiative?
20:35 – If you were elected, how are you viewing the idea battleground?
21:10 – How do you get past the inertia to convince people UBI is necessary?
25:00 – How do you feel about basic jobs?
26:40 – What makes the basic jobs idea attractive to other candidates and some voters?
29:15 – Is making the majority of the population reliant on a government subsidy making it easier for a totalitarian president to take control after you?
30:58 – You said in the book we are moving to a winner-take-all economy in a variety of fields, where you have a handful of companies controlling Government policy. Do you see a future where that is possible and how do you stop that?
35:20 – Have you read Sovereign Individual?
35:32 – In Sovereign Individual there is an idea that as wealth disparity grows, eventually the elite will separate themselves from the rest of the population. Do you see any concern for that?
38:54 – Will we see countries trying to attract citizens to move and will VAT be a factor in that?
39:59 – How bad would it have to be before more people left? What’s the threshold?
41:24 – Do you think that Trump getting elected is helpful to someone who’s not a career politician, helping them get elected in 2020?
45:40 – Has communicating a very statistics and quantitative approach been a struggle for you when speaking to audiences? So much of politics is about the emotional appearance. How have you adapted to that?
54:09 – Extra Question that we didn’t get to ask - Would adoption of a VAT accelerate a crypto economy and how does that change the estimates of how we would pay for UBI?

Show Topics

1:11 – The main objections to UBI are : How can we afford it? Will it turn people into less happy, lazy wastrels? Won’t it cause mass inflation?
1:44 – Universal Basic Income is affordable but we’ve poorly managed budgets in the past and there is stigma around hoarding money. We need to believe in sense of abundance and possibility. Culture and mental barriers and block around hoarding money.
3:28 – Cost of UBI in the US would cost $2 Trillion. It would be $1000 per month given to each person, we call it the Freedom Dividend. It would cause economy growth due to increased taxes and spending.
4:27 – Benefits of UBI. We would get more out than we put in. It reduces health issues, crime and has many secondary benefits to putting the money into the hands of the people.
05:57 – How the money would be spent. The wealthy vs the majority. VAT taking from those who spend the most and given to the bottom 80%. Money sitting in bank accounts causes a stagnant economy.
07:27 – Basic Income as both appealing Liberals and Conservatives. Most people seem to think it is impossible, shows decline of society and lack of faith in democracy.
10:21 – Video games and the growth of the eSports economy. Parents as an early form of UBI for large groups of young people. Will additional income cause people to withdraw into games more or will it allow them to participate in real life more?
11:03 – Lack of appealing opportunities for men in the real world. The digital world as the cheapest form of entertainment, more money equals more options and less time spent in the digital world.
12:05 – Games used as a sense of accomplishment and emotional highs, which can wear off over time. UBI will give opportunities at a time when people are looking for something new.
13:24 – Social credits as a socially constructive gamification of the real world. Gaming impulse transferred into the real world and other outlets. Current philanthropic trials are small by comparison and Government could apply resources.
20:02 – Yang’s plans as president. Government currently too risk averse. Electing a president with UBI as a main objective would be a huge step towards it. Congress people would have to listen to their constituents.
24:08 – Nothing is as effective as cash to people when talking about control of programs. People losing faith in government programs. Basic jobs as a bad idea, no long term value in unproductive work as more jobs get automated. Unproductive jobs lead to unhappy people. Instead find out what work is inside of each person. The idea of Basic jobs doesn’t value people. Valuing people as stakeholders and not serves.
30:10 – People heading towards reliance on the government. UBI as better way, gives people a higher-level of integrity and self-determination. Any government change to UBI would cause riots and is still a powerful check on the government. Doing nothing will lead to bloodshed and revolution. Antitrust laws and harm to consumers.
32:38 – Defining human success independent of economic or monetary measures. Wealth getting concentrated in ever smaller pools is bad for all businesses. Riots in America looking more likely, how can we prevent that instead of waiting.
37:54 – Enlightened self-interest and lifting others up. Renouncing citizenship for tax reasons. Ad campaigns trying to encourage economic migration. VAT not a powerful factor.
40:17 – Lack of entrepreneurial migrants. Electing Andrew Yang would be a compelling message to immigrants. The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian guy that likes facts and figures. Clear message through recent politics, people are desperate for change.
44:54 – Using Universal Based Income as a lever to address a crisis. The road to the 2020 election. Challenge of evolving as a person over time. Humanity First and One For Humanity project. Reduction of labor as a central role, the rise of automation and an economy that values people first.
48:36 – Possibility of a follow-up episode. Listeners, send in any questions. Next time we could dive deeper on Venture For America and his other policies.
Check out his site Yang2020.com. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewYangVFA and @andrewyang2020
53:29 – Influences of Yuval Harari. Andrew’s perspective is super refreshing for a politician. Getting other authors on the podcast.
57:44 – If you’re enjoying this show we would love to see you over on our Patreon page. You get the bonus material, detailed book notes, all of our questions from interviews and upcoming books and the opportunity to join Neil and I on a live Q&A hangout. Patreon helps us to keep the show as we want it without ads interrupting the flow of the conversation.
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01:03:08 – The interview format is new for us so we’d love to know what you think. Send us an e-mail or tweet. On Twitter I’m @TheRealNeilS and I’m @NatEliason and we will talk to you there, see you all next week.
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