Yang Gang mania

All over 4chan and on Twitter, the the latest meme is the ‘Yang Gang’:

Many of the same alt-right people who three years ago were boosting for Trump are now behind Yang.

So what to make of this?

I dunno. I think there is a sort of desire, by young people especially, to reset the system. First it was Trump, but he has fallen short of that goal, being much more of a moderate than many of 4chan-ers had hoped, so now enter Yang.

The sentiment on 4chan has turned negative against Trump in recent months, as he is seen as too deferential to Israel and has not delivered on the wall (however, there are conflicting reports on how much progress has actually been made on the wall. Even though it is being challenged by court and Congress, it appears fence segments are being built nonetheless).

Regarding yang’s UBI, a lot of older people on the right are like “too expensive,” “lazy people,” “handouts,” “won’t work” etc. All of this is true. But that is not the point. It’s not supposed to work. It is supposed to engender the collapse of US financial system under a crushing tide of hyperinflation and debt, so that a new, presumably right-wing, government can be put in place. A historical analogue would be the NSDAP acceding the hyperinflationary Weimar Republic.

My own take is, Yang seems like a fad or novelty candidate. Instead of $1 million Bitcoin, which was the meme in 2017, now it’s a $1,000/month UBI. It’s the political equivalent of the pet rock. His odds are just 1% as of writing this, and even if he won, I cannot see his UBI ever being ratified. It would cost as much as the Iraq war, but every year. Even if it’s supposed to pay for itself (an overoptimistic assumption) and not be inflationary, it would entail too much risk. Maybe it could be tried for a city or a state as a trial run.

Form Vox Andrew Yang, the 2020 long-shot candidate running on a universal basic income, explained:

Yang, like many entrepreneurs who have become attracted to UBI, embraces the policy as a way to cope with automation. “Truck driving alone is the most common job in twenty-nine states with 3.5 million drivers — 94 percent of them male — and an additional 12 million workers supporting them in truck stops and motels across the country,” his website proclaims. “What happens when the trucks start to drive themselves?”

Although the UBI is proposed as a solution to automation, it could make automation worse. If a UBI make some people less inclined to work, then companies may be left with no recourse but to automate and or outsource such jobs.

Yang also says it will reduce entitlement spending by $800 billion a year, which again seems overly optimistic. From Quillette In Defense of Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend:

This is estimated to generate almost $1 trillion in national revenue, and when we take into account the $800 billion spent on welfare that would decrease in the wake of UBI, along with the tax revenue generated from the extra $1000 a month circulating back into the economy and the 100s of billions that would be saved in healthcare, incarceration, and homelessness services, the Freedom Dividend could end up paying for itself. That is not to mention the potential value gains from having a population with higher rates of education, health, nutrition, and productivity that are estimated to improve with UBI according to a number of studies on already existent trial runs. (The state of Alaska, the leading example, instituted a dividend for its citizens over 30 years ago primarily funded by oil money, and Yang is quick to note that technology is the oil of the twenty-first century.)

Not sure how it would reduce welfare, because if the UBI money goes into consumer goods, as Yang says it will, then that means that welfare spending will still be unchanged. If someone knows they are getting both welfare and the UBI, the rational choice is to spend the UBI on stuff that is not covered by welfare. Also, an extra $12k a year does not put much of a dent in the second biggest expenditure of all, healthcare. A week or two in the hospital or a medical procedure can eat up that $12k real fast. There are better ways to efficaciously spend $12k/year on services that can help people, yet that lacks the allure of a UBI.

Even though his UBI in its present form is unworkable and I oppose higher taxes, of all the democratic the candidates, I support Yang nonetheless because he seems to have the best grasp of the issues and his dialectical style of politics is a departure from the usual platitudes that we have come to expect from candidates. Yang’s success may inspire a right-wing version of him who is smarter than the typical conservative candidate and employs a dialectical approach, but rather than a UBI, immigration reform that actually works. A conservative candidate who, like Trump, appeals to young voters, but is smarter, will not sell-out, and is better able to get things done.