The War on Normal People | Andrew Yang

Summary of: The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future
By: Andrew Yang

Introduction

In ‘The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future’, author Andrew Yang paints a concerning picture of job displacement and inequalities in American society. The book discusses the impact of automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics on the job market, as well as the phenomenon Yang calls the Great Displacement. Delving into issues such as mass unemployment, stagnant wages, and a broken welfare system, this book also explores potential solutions to these crises, including a universal basic income (UBI) and healthcare reform.

The Great Displacement

Only a small percentage of Americans finish college, and the majority live paycheck-to-paycheck. Market-driven capitalism has led to major technological advances, but it is also starting to eliminate jobs in the millions, leaving 95 million working-age Americans unemployed. Automation has already replaced millions of jobs, and many more are at risk. This phenomenon, also known as the Great Displacement, will disproportionately affect those without college degrees or specialized skills.

The Ripple Effects of Mass Unemployment

Unemployment can cause a ripple effect that leads to cultural breakdown. The closure of malls and loss of jobs has triggered significant turbulence, leading to crime, endangerment, and budget cuts. The Industrial Revolution model of job creation no longer applies to the current scenario, where technology has advanced far beyond combustion engines. The rise of e-commerce giants like Amazon and the use of self-service checkout scanners has led to job losses for many sales and retail workers across America. As each mall shuts down, about 1,000 people lose their jobs, leading to a loss of $22 million in annual wages and tax revenue. The burden of ghost malls can also lead to cultural breakdown, increasing crime rates and endangering the local community. The situation is more severe when mass unemployment affects entire towns, as seen in the case of Youngstown, Ohio, where steel mills shut down in the late 1970s. The town was plunged into turmoil, sparking an increase in bankruptcy, foreclosures, abuse, addiction, and crime. In conclusion, the book highlights the need to address the ripple effect of mass unemployment and its impact on society.

The Reality of Unemployment in America

Despite the low unemployment rate, many Americans are struggling to find a job or have given up on their search, leading to an increase in disability benefit applications. The easy application process and fear of losing benefits keep many beneficiaries from seeking employment. The system, however, is not capable of supporting a large number of unemployed people, leading to cheating of the welfare system. Studies by Princeton psychologists and Harvard economists show that financial scarcity could reduce people’s rational behavior and diminish intellectual capacity. The American workforce needs a system that doesn’t involve financial scarcity.

The Growing Inequality in American Society

Income inequality is causing economic depression and civil unrest in America. Cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. are becoming hubs for top talents, depriving other cities of their achievements and adding to the wealth gap. Andrew Yang fears that such a scenario could lead to widespread upheaval, including protests, riots, and potentially violent conflicts. Some experts believe that mass unemployment may have been an underlying factor in the 2015 Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore. With growing civil unrest and racial diversity projected to increase, the potential for social upheaval remains high.

Transforming America’s Future

In “The War on Normal People,” author Andrew Yang envisions a bleak future for America due to automation and job displacement. However, he proposes a solution in the form of universal basic income, which he calls the Freedom Dividend. This would provide each American between the ages of 18 and 64 an annual income of $12,000 regardless of their income or employment status, effectively lifting them out of poverty. To cover the $1.3 trillion cost, Yang suggests implementing a value-added tax for goods and services. Although UBI might seem radical, it has been proposed by a wide range of historical figures, including Thomas Paine, Martin Luther King Jr., and even Richard Nixon. By adopting UBI, Yang believes that the federal government can still save America’s future and change its destiny.

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