Possibilities For the Future


Aaron David

A fourth generation Californian, befuddled.

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30 Responses

  1. Avatar InMD says:

    Good write up. My hope for Yang is that his candidacy starts getting some of these core concepts out into the larger debate. I think his vision for the future economy includes a lot of the framework we’re going to have to start getting more comfortable with if liberal democracy is going to continue. More open transfers of cash to consumers, but less bureaucracy and more creative ways of financing/risk sharing for basic needs.

    A path exists if we have the courage to follow it.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to InMD says:

      Cash transfers are from consumers, not too them. That’s why they’re called “consumers”, by consuming products that they pay for.

      The math on his plan, once you figure where the money will come from, doesn’t work.

      First, only adults get the money. Children don’t count. Thus it favors single people over parents. If you already receive government benefits, you don’t get the money. It doesn’t help poor people, those on SNAP or WIC because they already get government benefits, and it doesn’t go to those already drawing Social Security.

      All those people, along with everyone else, will have to pay an extra 10% VAT tax, along with a tax on all financial transactions, taxes on interest income and capital gains, the removal of the cap on Social Security taxes, and a big carbon tax to make energy more expensive.

      Like other politicians, he’s trying to buy your votes with your own money.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to George Turner says:

        Keep thinking small dude, keep thinking small. All the VAT and capital gains tax in the world doesn’t scare a guy who had to go into massive debt, lose all my deductions, and live in one of the highest cost of living parts of the country, all just to be in only a marginally less economically precarious situation than the lower middle class. We can do better, for the next generation anyway, even if not for us.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to InMD says:

          So you think we’ll be better off by transferring money from those who do work to those who, um, also work? What is even the point of that other than letting the government take a cut on the transfer fees?Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to George Turner says:

            I think we’ll be better off if we can find a way to have more cash in the pockets of regular people who go out and spend it as opposed to stockpiling it or using it to reorganize ownership of financial assets. Better would be if we can find a way to better handle the way we finance healthcare, housing, and education. Those are what drive the combination of indebtedness and precariousness (and a whole bunch of other bad incentives).

            There’s a generational disconnect I think on this issue. Even people who have made it are simply points of transition between their employers and creditors. None of us pay capital gains tax and those of us who can have to pay huge sums out of pocket for basic services that could all be gone tomorrow along with everything else due to the vagaries of Wall Street and local job markets. Obviously there’s no way to eliminate the risks of life but they could be managed better and paying a little more for a little more protection isn’t crazy. Hell it’d be nice to actually get something for my tax dollars instead of trillion dollar fighter planes no one will ever use and IOUs from programs that at current tragectories probably won’t even exist when I’m old.Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

            But the question is, will you get anything for your tax dollars or will you come out worse than you did before? You know that a whole bunch of people have to come out worse off, otherwise his plan requires money trees.

            You’ll be getting hit with a 10% VAT on top of your state and local taxes, so perhaps as much as 22% on top of your federal income taxes. For the average American single filer, just the 10% VAT might eat up $6,000 or more of the “free” money, which again doesn’t go to the poor. The average American emits about 20 tons of CO2, which Yang wants to tax at $40 a ton, so that eats up another $800. Then he taxes all your bank transactions, and of course there will be other taxes to make up the differences.

            It has to come out about even, aside from the considerable inefficiencies in all transfer schemes, because he’s taxing workers and giving some of the collected money only to workers, so for $12,000 a year goes to workers, and something more than $12,000 a year has to get paid in by workers to fund the payouts to workers.

            At first this sounds pointless, but what it also does is increase complexity, opacity, and decrease the connection between productivity and reward, which reduces everyone’s incentive to keep grinding away instead of sitting back and taking.

            That tends to decrease productivity, labor hours, and economic growth, and it doesn’t take many years of decreased economic growth to have very real effects on overall income.

            That might be why no country does this, not even socialist ones.Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to George Turner says:

              Ideally a conversion would be part of comprehensive changes. Less taxing of income more taxing of wealth and consumption, less bureaucracy and overlapping poorly run programs, more stimulus to regular people and investment in healthcare, education, and infrastructure for working people.

              These counter arguments really make no sense to me. Our system is already confusing and opaque. I also take it as a given I’ll probably never come out ahead. The boomer generation threw away the country’s wealth on expeditionary wars of choice and tax cuts for gazillionaires. That can’t be undone overnight but it can be corrected over time. Maybe my kids can live in a world where five figure debt isn’t necessary to even have a shot at a middle class life, or people don’t go bankrupt because they happened to have a health crisis during a downsize, or trillions of tax payer money has to be allocated to mitigating climate change because we just couldn’t bear to part with carbon based energy.

              And yea maybe it’ll fail. There are no guarantees, except perhaps that doubling down on our current approach to these issues will certainly result in a poorer, more unstable United States.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to InMD says:

                The problem with a wealth tax is that it would require a Constitutional amendment, because the current one only allows the federal government to tax income. Another problem is that eats into people’s savings (their capital) so the entirety of America’s wealth will end up in Switzerland.

                But don’t worry about the added costs from the climate. We’ll have to spend nearly zero dollars mitigating climate change because it’s warming up instead of cooling down. Tropical countries basically don’t have to spend anything because of climate, whereas Scandinavian countries spend a fortune just to survive that close to the pole.

                There’s a reason everybody retires to Florida or Spain or the Bahamas and nobody retires to Quebec.

                We evolved near the equator and life there doesn’t even require shoes.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to George Turner says:

                Fair enough. I say let the planet get hotter. We’ll grow oranges in Alaska.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to InMD says:

                It would take about 8 C of warming before oranges are a viable tree in Juneau, moving the winter lows from 20 F to 35 F. Oranges are happy from 55 to 100 F, but don’t like to go lower than 35 except for brief periods. So fortunately, we could still grow oranges in Florida with even 11 C of warming.

                But even though about 9 C of warming sounds ideal for future orange production, that’s just for growing them in the South or along the Northwest coast. To get them growing where I am we need about 14 C of warming.

                In case you’re interested, the US is divided into 11 climate hardiness zones, numbered 1 through 12 (I’m in 6B). Those cover a 66 C span of temperatures.

                Each number denotes a 5.5 6 C (10 F) temperature difference and each letter denotes half that, or 2.78 C. The UN is desperately trying to prevent a 2 C shift by 2100, so that’s half a zone. I would go from zone 6B to a 7A. Everybody shifts one shade on the elaborate USDA climate zone map.

                Only a few champion flower gardeners will probably ever notice the change.

                Almost anyone in a city is probably already a zone off just due to the urban heat island effect.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to George Turner says:

                Well when it happens I’ll send you my peppers guide. I’m in 7a now and someone will need to take up my kill a man jalapenos. I think they’re the only reason my wife keeps me around.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to InMD says:

                I had a neighbor who was growing Carolina reapers and banana peppers, and one year he got a banana pepper plant that was pretty much as hot as a reaper or ghost pepper. He saved the seeds, hoping that the trait would pass on, but I fear he may have lost them in his move back to Michigan.Report

  2. Avatar Dark Matter says:

    I don’t think he can win but I’d be thrilled if a lot of his ideas are “stolen” by the Dems and/or the GOP. And yes I’d vote for him.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    “To be sure, there are a few to make you remember he is running as a Democrat; lowering the voting age to 16, automatic voter registration…”

    Why are either of those unique/specific to Democrats?Report

    • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Kazzy says:

      I have never seen/heard those proposals come from anyone on the right. If presented with counter-evidence, I would gladly change my perception, and make note of it.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

      Historically, those kinds of proposals have tended to come from Democrats. Causal and low-info voters like teenagers and people who can’t be bothered to register.

      If you don’t think that’s a fair assumption, keep in mind that proposals to make voting easier tend to come from Democrats and Republicans tend to oppose them. Even if we assume that Democrats are motivated by a sincere desire to make democracy better (ha!), Republicans would have no reason to oppose such proposals if they thought they would help Republicans.Report

      • If you don’t think that’s a fair assumption, keep in mind that proposals to make voting easier tend to come from Democrats and Republicans tend to oppose them.

        Vote-by-mail is as easy as it gets. Always opposed by Republican politicians when it is proposed. They shut up after the system gets well established because among voters, vote-by-mail polls very highly across all party affiliations. As in 75-80% in favor of retaining the system, up there with Mom and apple pie.

        In the western states, vote-by-mail has become the most common way to cast ballots. Three states mail a ballot to all registered voters (and Hawaii will start that in 2020). Some states are partially vote-by-mail, with the decision being made on a county-by-county basis (in Utah, IIRC, all but one county has opted for mail). Some states have permanent no-excuse absentee ballot lists that are being used like vote-by-mail. The hold-outs are all relatively small population states: Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Michael Cain says:

          If you see a proposal to lower the voting age to conception, you can be pretty sure it’s Republican.

          And frankly, it makes more sense than vote by mail because they’ve obviously waited in line with everybody else and then entered the polling both with mom, whereas the vote by mail folks couldn’t even be bothered to show up. ^_^

          If you go back to the Swiss origins of modern democracy, there is also a framing that argues against vote by mail. All the fit adult males would show up in the town for a head count of which side can field the most pikemen (combat between pike squares was a pure numbers game, unlike earlier forms of medieval combat where mounted knights ruled all). In theory, males who didn’t care enough about the issues to even show up didn’t get counted because they also wouldn’t have been on the battlefield to decide the issue by force.

          So the system is really deciding among “Yes” “No” “Don’t care”, and the large numbers of “Don’t care” voters are eyed as easy ways to boost either “Yes” or “No” if you can just get them into one of the other columns.

          And that gets a bit political due to long histories of shenanigans like registered voters by writing names off tombstones (Lyndon Johnson tells a great joke about how he did that in Texas when he was starting out in politics), boxes of late ballots that somebody happened to find in their trunk, Chicago in every election, registering illegals, and most recently, massive ballot harvesting operations.

          So of course the victims of the fraud would prefer that voting requires retinal scans, DNA tests, and comprehensive background checks.Report

  4. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    From his web page on climate change:

    We should invest resources in large-scale geo-engineering measures like shoring up glaciers and reducing solar exposure…

    Sometimes he says things that make you go “Hmmm”, and sometimes he says things that are just insane.Report

  5. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    As a libertarian, I strongly disagree that Yang is libertarian-friendly. Support for civil liberties is a necessary but not sufficient criterion for identifying a libertarian. A candidate who’s good on (some) civil liberties but also supports a huge increase in government spending is a lefty, not a libertarian.

    Andrew “NEETBUX” Yang fits the bill. He’s out-Bernie-ing* Bernie and proposing to double federal spending. Marijuana legalization and cop cameras are already on their way, and will get soon here with or without Yang, but huge new entitlement programs will be a dead weight around our economy’s neck for all eternity.

    I also disagree that he has a particularly good handle on economics. Particularly embarrassing is his claim that the stimulus effect from a UBI will increase economic growth enough to produce an extra $600 billion per year in tax revenue. In a best-case scenario, if it’s used correctly, stimulus can produce short-run economic growth by increasing employment and getting the economy out of recession. But it doesn’t produce sustainable growth at the top of the business cycle (which is part of the reason why running trillion-dollar deficits right now is terrible policy). If you don’t believe me, take it from Paul Krugman.

    Yang is asserting that stimulus can produce a sustained 10% increase in GDP, which is just nuts. No responsible economist would endorse that claim. More likely, shifting that much money from savings to consumption would reduce the resources available for real investment, slowing long-run growth.

    *Bernie, verb, to aggressively court the gimme-gimme-gimme vote, named for the signature move of joke candidate Bernie Sanders.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      More likely, shifting that much money from savings to consumption would reduce the resources available for real investment, slowing long-run growth.

      You can eat your seedcorn for a long time, certainly longer than one term-limited politician will stay in office.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      To a greater or lesser degree, I am with you on much of what you are saying (bringing up Krugman as a good source does you no favors though). Mostly what I was getting at is that Yang is the MOST Libertarian friendly candidate on the left. For the most part, I do not consider them any better (or worse for that matter) than our current president from a Libertarian perspective. And at least one candidate (Harris) I consider to be far, far worse for the concepts that I feel are important than Trump.

      As I state at the top of the post, UBI isn’t something I particularly want, only that his version does take into account that cost of living expenses are lower outside of major cities and that the wealthy do use their money in such ways to create greater multipliers.

      He does, however, bring up and affirm many things that are libertarian friendly, such as the two you and I mention. And even though we are moving in the correct direction now with those issues I do feel that under many of the D candidates we could backslide (less with pot, more with cameras, considering Dems and Unions.) But law sunsetting, relocating federal agencies and such are things I do feel need to be iterated. And on the other side of the Yang coin, as I mention, there are many things that would be found unconstitutional, such as various gun control schemes, lowering voting age below the age of majority, etc. So, he is a mixed bag. But, again to restate my initial argument, he is the only one in the clown car thinking about the future. Will he fail in his presidential bid? Most likely. But getting these ideas out there is a sign that someone actually thinks about tomorrow, as opposed to yesterday.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      By the way, I love your new verb.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Eh, if you see Libertarianism as a vector rather than a destination, it makes a bit more sense to see Yang as the Libertarian one.

      I mean, there are plenty of ways to *NOT* be Libertarian. Yang’s version of not being Libertarian is too rare.

      Instead of the Republican version of “low taxes but you can’t do anything without a healthy dose of Paternalism” and the Democratic version of “high taxes but you can’t do anything without a healthy dose of differently-flavored Paternalism”, he’s going for “high taxes but with a less healthy dose of Paternalism.”

      Here’s your NEETbux. Do what thou wilt.

      Yay. Freedom.Report

    • This is your periodic reminder that Trump and the unified Republican government are running unprecedented deficits, without a peep out of the hawks who were willing to shut down the government for smaller deficits during a horrendous recession.Report

  6. Avatar sdfsdf says:

    pretty sure UBI is a libertarian idea to begin with.

    Milton Friedman’s baby.Report

  7. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    “What about variations in the cost of living? Wouldn’t major cities need much more money than rural areas?”

    This, incidentally, is why UBI won’t work. Because people won’t say “I can take this UBI and move to an area where the cost of living matches the UBI”, they’ll say “I’m right here where I am right now, I should get a UBI that supports me living here, in the San Francisco Bay Area!”

    And, y’know, it’s not wrong for them to want to live in the place where their parents grew up(*), and where they grew up, and where the kids that they’d have had if they’d ever had the time and met the right person would have grown up. But it is going to require some explaining as to why the UBI is not a Do Whatever You Want And It’s Free thing, and there are people who won’t vote for anything but Do Whatever I Want And It’s Free. Even if that latter is always something that will happen tomorrow because the Evil Racists are stopping it happening today.

    (*) in Oakland after buying a house that was Suddenly Available in February 1942Report