war on normal people
by Andrew Yang
acknowledgements (245) include: rutger bregman, yuval harari, alec ross, mark zuckerberg, sam altman, tim o’reilly, nick hanauer, scott santens .. shaped my thinking on many points, generally w/o knowing it..
normal people. 70% of americans consider themselves part of the middle class. chances are, you do , too. right now some of the *smartest people in the country are trying to figure out how to replace you w an overseas worker, a cheaper version of you, or, increasingly , a widget, software program, or robot.. there’s no malice in it. the market reward business leaders for making things more efficient. efficiency doesn’t love normal people it loves getting things done in the most cost effective way possible
*what exactly makes them the smartest..?
normal people.. smartest people.. dangerous labels..
lower end of the skill ladder
10 yrs into the nation’s recovery from the financial crisis and 95 mn working age american not in the workforce – i’ve taken to calling this phenom the great displacement
i’m also both an ardent capitalist and completely certain that our system needs to change in order to continue our way of life
the logic of the meritocracy is leading us to ruin because we are collectively primed to ignore the voices of the millions getting pushed into economic distress by the grinding wheels fo automation and innovation. we figure they’re complaining or suffering because they’re losers.
we need to break free of this logic of the marketplace before it’s too late..
we must find new ways to organize ourselves independent of the values that the marketplace assigns to each and everyone of us..
part 1 – what’s happening to jobs
1 – my journey
i would often fy back to manhattan or sv after a trip and think ‘i can’t believe i’m still in the same country’ i’d sit down for diner w my friends and feel like a character in a play about people who ate well while the world burned, struggling to understand & share what i’d seen
people who were considered the mostsuccessful in the field (would) confide in me that they didn’t believe they were meaningfully addressing the problems they set out to solve, that they would need 10 or 100 or 1000 times theresources to have a chance to do so
people (sv et al) were clapping us on the back, congratulating us on our accomplishments, and we were thinking to ourselves, what are you congratulating us for? the problems are just getting worse..
the sense of unease plagued me and i became consumed by two fundamental and uncomfortable questions: ‘what the heck is happening to the us? and ‘why am i becoming such a tool?..
i’ve switched gears. *my goal now is to give everyone a sense of what’s coming and then prepare us to fight for the version of the future that we want.. it’s up to us.. the market won’t help us. indeed, it s about to turn on us.. the solutions aren’t beyond us yet, but it’s getting late in the day dn time is running short.. i need you to see what i see
2 – how we got here
charts/stats on tech increasingly taking over, pay/jobs increasingly dropping.. ineq increasing and studies that everyone is less happy in unequal societies
3 – who is normal
when i say normal i mean the average.. the person in the middle.. so having a phd is not normal, but neither is being a jr high dropout
most of us live around people like ourselves. what feels normal to each of us is based on our context.. knowing what’s truly normal or average in a big country like america requires some work..
the avg american achieves something between one credit of college and and associate’s degree; 60.5% of americans 25 yrs and older have attended some college and 43.51% have at least an associate’s degree.. it would be entirely accurate to say that the avg american is not a college grad..
cool stats.. but not (college grads) what we need
then charts w level of ed compared to median income…
so what’s normal? the normal american did not graduate from college and doesn’t have an associate’s degree.. has anew worth of approx 36k.. and lives paycheck to paycheck.. .. these are mean stats w 50% of americans below these levels..
when jobs start to disappear in large numbers due to tech advance, the normal american won’t have much to fall back on
4 – what we do for a living
today this is the reality we face (after describing an automated secretary scheduling meetings).. many americans are in danger of losing their jobs right now due to automation..
clerical and admin staff.. this is the most common occupational group
he forecasts an ‘automation tsunami’.. that will leave ‘tens of millions of workers stranded’..
a friend at another bank ..told me that many of the people in the san fran homeless shelter he volunteers at .. used to work in clerical roles that are no longer necessary
we have to go deeper.. dang..
i grew up going to my local mall in yorktown heights, ny. i t represented the height of many things to me at the time – commerce, culture, freedom, status.. buying a thing or two would give me joy. i would run into classmates at the mall, for good or ill. that time is gone for good in much of the country
good thing.. dang..
when a mall closes.. there are many bad things that happen to the local community.. many people lose their jobs.. it gets worse.. the local mall is one of the pillars of the regional budget.. the sales tax goes straight to the county and the state.. .. this means shrunken municipal budget, cuts to school budgets.. job reduction in local gov..
we have to go deeper.. dang..
if you’ve ever been to a dead/dying mall, yo know that it’s both depressing and eerie.. a sign that community can’t support a commercial center and that it may be time to leave. it’ snot just you.. dying malls become haven for crime.. ie: cars randomly keyed in parking lots..
unused infra decays quickly and gives an environ a bleak, dystopian atmosphere.. i’m glad to say that detroit has gotten a lot better since 2011
really..? not according to drew.. et al.. ie: $500 dollar house
most retail workers at least had the gratification of leaving home, convo w colleagues and customers, getting a store discount, and generally being a member of society
the reason that even well meaning commentators suggest increasingly unlikely and tenuous ways for people to make a living is that they are trapped in the conventional thinking that people must trade their time, energy, and labor *for money as the only way to **survive.. you stretch for answers because in reality, ***there are none.. the subsistence and scarcity model is grinding more and more people up.. ****preserving it is the thing we must give up first..
*earn a living ness
**survive..? let’s focus on alive ness..
***let’s try this – a nother way..
****whew.. but a long way to go from there.. rather.. let’s do this first..
on food service becoming automated.. even to 3d ing pizzas..
when what we need is more time to grow our own food.. not jobs in food service..
clerical, retail, food service.. most common jobs.. each in grave dangers.. yet .. the even ones to worry about most.. single most defining job in automation story.. is the number 4 job category: truck driving
5 – factory workers and truck drivers
many, however will argue for the preservation fo truck driving because they recognized just how problematic it would be for such a large number of uneducated male workers to be displaced quickly..
6 – white collar jobs will disappear, too
some of the jobs requiring the most ed are actually among the most likely to become obsolete.. ie: computers to read patient films..
there is a lot of repetitive functioning in what we consider high end professional jobs – what i call intellectual manual labor.. a dr, lawyer, accountant, dentist, or pharmacist will go thru years of training.. then do the same thing over and over against in slightly diff variations.. much of the training is to socialize us into people who can sit still for long periods and behave and operate consistently and reliably..
much of this info is mundane.. but the point is that in this flood of new data, there will be very useful pieces of actionable info
yuval harari postulates a world where ai could tell you who to marry.. increasing and improved uses of big data..
again.. matters little if the wrong data.. in particular.. data from people who are not themselves.. ie: whales in sea world
i asked a high end dr friend who attended mit ad harvard how much of medical practice he thought could be performed via automation. he said, ‘at least 80% of it is ‘cookbook’.. you just do what you know you’re supposed to od. there’s not much imagination o r creativity to most of medicine’
why we need to get away from doping/fixing.. and back to preventative..
7 – our humanity and work
on foxconn bringing in robots to make apple products after 14 foxconn workers committed suicide..
the automation wave is coming in part because, if your sole goal is to get work done, people are much trickier to deal w than machines.. acknowledging this is not a bad thing – it is a necessary step toward finding solutions. it may push us to think more deeply about what makes humanity valuable..
it’s worth considering whether humans are not actually best suited for many forms of work.. (and) reverse.. is work good for us
voltaire wrote ‘work keeps at bay three great evils: boredom, vice, and need’.. the total absence of work is demonstrably a bad thing for most people. long term unemployment is presently one of the most destructive things that can happen to a person – happiness levels tank and never recover.. one study says worse than death of spouse..
on other hand, most people don’t actually like their jobs.. gallup.. only 13% worldwide report being engaged in jobs..
the relationship between humanity and work involves money.. but in something of a negative correlation
the jobs most human would naturally be attractive to pay nothing or close to nothing.. ie: parent; artist.. many of thees roles have high positive social impacts that are ignored by the market
the most lucrative jobs tend to be the most inorganic.. corp lawyers, techs, financiers, trader, management..
whether work is good for humans depends a bit on your pov. we dont’ like it and we’re almost certainly getting too much of it. but we dont’ know what to do w ourselves w/o it.. oscar wilde: ‘work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do’.. unfortunately that may describe the vast majority of us..
well.. as whales in sea world
we’ve been trained to follow orders.. so yeah.. we need detox from that training.. but in a natural state.. we would 1\ have plenty to do/be..actually plenty we couldn’t not do.. and we would 2\ realize there’s never nothing going on
the challenge we must overcome is that humans need work more than work needs us
8 – the usual objections
‘it is in fact diff this time’ – (58% of cross sector experts polled by bloomberg in 2017 agreed w this statement)
but not because of automation and job loss and whatever else.. it’s because we now have the means/tech to ground the chaos of 7b truly free people.. and that energy (the energy of 7bn alive people).. is something we’ve never tapped into.. and we won’t.. unless we let go
history repeats itself until it doesn’t no one has an incentive to sound the alarm. to do so could make you seem uneducated and ignorant of history, and perhaps even negative and shrill
it also would make you right in this case
there has never been a computer smarter than humans until now
being smart is a distraction.. esp computer smart
make a placard of this: gupta roadblock law.. let it sink in.. it’s huge (vinay seems to have lost it himself).. it can save a lot of time/energy
self driving cars.. *data is about to supplant human judgment.. and on an on
all that.. including on and on ness.. is a distraction.. the only data that matters now.. if we want that true different ness.. is *self-talk as data.. let’s focus on that.. 2 convos.. as infra (the means to ground the chaos of 7bn free people.. by listening to each one.. everyday.. as it could be)
teens in highschool.. 1910 19%.. 1940 73%..
not a plus.. a distraction.. gupta roadblock law..
getting rid of all the distractions/irrelevant s.. ie: school, work, money, measure.. imagine if you were ‘allowed‘ to continue being a free/curious spirit at age 5.. 2.. whatever.. and imagine if you were raised by parents that had the same.. freedom.. we’d live eudaimoniative surplus (aka:undisturbed ecosystem)..
the unemployment rate is like checking how a party is going based on everyone who’s at the party. it doesn’ take into account the people who were never invited to the party or couldnt’ get in.. it also doesn’t take into account the people who are in the wrong room at the party and having a bad time..
part 2 – what’s happening to us
9 – life in the bubble
our national unis are effectively a talent drain on 75% of the country
instead of seeing college as a period of intellectual exploration , many young people now see it as a mass sort or cull that determines one’s future prospects and lot in life.. ie: fb and google hiring from same schools.. w starting salaries in 6 figures..
one reason students feel pressured to seek high paying jobs is the record level of school debt
students from independent young adults to ‘brittle’ and ‘existentially impotent’
william deresiewicz’s excellent sheep: ‘driven to achieve w/o knowing why’.. and then they become paralyzed when they’re not sure how to proceed..
on hold at library
college.. a distraction.. gupta roadblock law..
mission statement (venture for america): to restore the culture of achievement to include value creation, risk and reward and the common good
thinking the common good has no rewards.. needing incentive a sign you’re doing it wrong
upon joining venture for america, we ask our fellows to adopt the following credo: my career is a choice that indicate my values
value creation is how i measure achievement
i will creat opp for myself and others
let’s just focus on that: equity.. everyday.. and ..’others’ has to be all of us.
for every person in venture for america, there are about 10 000 other young people who want the same things..
people in the bubble think that the world is more orderly than it is. they overplan.. they mistake smarts for judgment..for character.. they overvalue credentials. head not heart… they need status and reassurance..
yuval harari suggests: ‘ the way we treat stupid people in the future will be the way we treat animals today’.. if we’re going to fix things to keep his vision from coming true, now is the time..
10 – mindsets of scarcity and abundance
11 – geography is destiny
12 – men, women, and children
on decrease in marriage by unemployed men and increase in single parent (mostly moms).. and how difficult it all is.. at a time when raising and education children and forming our human capital is of the utmost importance, we’re heading in the other direction
we’ve been going in the other direction for years.. ed is part culprit/distraction.. let go
13 – the permanent shadow class: what displacement looks like
on mortality/suicides rates.. case and deaton point the finger at jobs.. people lost sense of status and belonging.. classic precondition for suicide
many of deaths are from opiate overdose.. approx 59 000 died of drug overdoses in 2016.. for first time drug overdoes have surpassed car accidents as leading cause of accidental death in us..
‘we are seeing an unbelievably sad an extensive heroin epidemic and there is no end in sight’ – daniel ciccarone.. ‘heroin has a life force of its own’
our drug co’s and med system have produced hundreds of thousands of opioid addicts who are now heroin users buying from dealers..
increase on those on disability.. most for mental disorder..
to apply for disability, applicants must gather evidence from med professionals. they compile notes from drs, send in the info, and wait to hear back. no lawyer representing the govt cross examines them. no govt dr examines them. about 40% of claims are ultimately approved,.. the lifetime value of a disability award is about 300k .. 80% of claimants are rep’d by counsel.. big business.. one law firm generated 70 mn in revenue in one year alone..
after someone is on disability, there’s a massive disincentive to work, because if you work and show that you’re able bodied, you lose benefits.. as a result, virtually no one recovers from disability..
one judge said ‘if the american public knew what was going on in our system, half would be outraged and the other half would apply for benefits’
disability illustrates the challenges of mandating the govt to admin such a large scale program. the truly diable and needy may find themselves shut out by red tape, while the process rewards those who lawyer up and the lawyers themselves.. pervasive message ‘game the system and get money’ and ‘think of yourself as incompetent and incapable of work’.. onceyou’re on.. you never leave
14 – video games and the (male) meaning of life
(after – the amt of time i spent on video games dropped dramatically after i graduated from college): i started reading books on investing and financial statement analysis, which seemed to me to be the real world analogue to becoming good at video games
they (video games) speak to a primal set of basic impulse – to world creating, skill building achievement, violence, leadership, teamwork, speed, efficiency, status, decision making, and accomplishment.. they fall into a whole suite of things that appeal to young men in particular – to me the list would go something like.. gaming, the stock market, fantasy sports, gambling, basketball, sci fiction/geek moves, and cryptocurrencies, ..
most of which involve a blend of numbers and optimization. it’s a need for mastery, progress, competition and risk.
the image of legions of men in their parents’ basements playing video games for hours on end may seem pathetic or sad. but their satisfaction level is high ‘happiness has gone up for this group’ says hurst.. despite the high rate fo unemployment..
video games are fun and communal
nowadays.. they’re also so well designed that many almost simulate jobs if a job’s progress were measure in minutes and hours instead of weeks and months.. in many games, you perform a variety of mundane, repetitive tasks in order to build points or currencies or accrue items.. you then use these items to make yourself more capable.. you experience a continuous feeling of progress and accomplishment
the game of monopoly.. et al
15 – the shape we’re in/disintegration
i love capitalism – we all have capitalism to thank for most of what we enjoy. it has elevated the standard of living of billions of people and defined our society for the better
? – we have no idea
that said, capitalism, w the assistance of tech, is about to turn on normal people.. capital and efficiency will prefer robots…
capitalism doesn’ work that well if people don’t have any money to buy things or if communities are degenerating into scarcity anger, and despair
addressing the conditions that breed hatred is very hard.. attacking other people will be a lot easier than attacking the system..
we have to start thinking more about what makes life worthwhile
part 3 – solutions and human capitalism
16 – the freedom dividend
peter frase points out that work encompasses three things: 1\ the mean by which the economy produces goods/and services, 2\ the means by which people earn income, and 3\ an activity that lends meaning or purpose to many people’s lives
easiest one first.. ubi to provide for basic needs.. which i would call the ‘freedom dividend’
17 – ubi in the real world
all part\ial.. so..
scarcity research indicates that the best way to improve decision making is to free up people’s bandwidth. people won’t ever make perfect choices. but knowing that their *basic needs are accounted for will lead to better choices for millions of people each day
18 – time as the new money
to be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization – bertrand russell
depends on who’s defining intelligently.. ie: i’m thinking the leisure we need.. in order to be.. has little to do with intelligence (and combining that phrase: fill leisure intelligently.. with this phrase: product of civilization.. is very suspect.. jaded at the very least) .. ie: there’s never nothing going on .. and if we doubt that.. if we don’t trust that.. we’ll be (and have been) missing it/us..
what we need.. in order to get to the energy of 7bn alive people.. is spaces of permission where people have nothing to prove.. we don’t need intelligence.. we need people’s art/gift/eudaimonia.. we need what’s already in them.. let’s facil that.. by listening to every voice.. every day.. as it could be..
work has been prove to be a vital part of a healthy life and society..
since when..? where .. ?
long-term unemployment is one of the most destructive things that can happen to a person..
should the govt guarantee work or creat jobs? may idealistic people i know advocate for universal service opps.. the problem s th tit’s very expensive to organize, train, and employ people. teach for america spends approx 51 000 per corps member o non compensation costs over two years .. peace corps.. 56 000 per volunteer.. venture for america.. 30 000 per entrepreneur.. us military.. 170 000 per soldier..
setting up a structure for people is wildly expensive..
many of the populations people are most eager to see employed and kept from idleness are among the least competent and able to be employed by the private sector. the natural tendency is to spend a lot of money on people doing things that *aren’t actually that valuable. since we’re talking about millions of people on the lower end of he education and skill range, this is likely where most efforts would lead if one tried to replace any significant proportion of private employment w govt service jobs
dang man.. so disappointing/frustrating.. these words you say..
i don’t even know how to respond.. i just keep hearing.. bubble.. whales in sea world.. not us.. ie: who’s deciding *this..?
the goal is for ted to acquire a set of interests and relationships that *replace the **structure that work used to provide
ted scenario.. message on phone.. neighbor annie needs help.. ted helps.. then ted gets 100 social credits..
my ie of social credits.. is based on a system currently in use in about 100 communities around the us.. called time banking..
marsh exchange law.. even exchanging time.. is killer.. why do we have to measure .. why do we have to do tit for tat ness.. why can’t we just trust ie: have/need ness.. why can’t we just trust us to do/be good/enough..?
some of the reasons: 1\ we believe the myth of the tragedy of the commons 2\ we don’t believe that there is never nothing going on 3\ we don’t see us as one family 4\ we don’t grok interconnectedness 5\ we believe our nature is like a whale at sea world.. et al
not dissing the personal stories of time trade.. it’s much better than what we do now.. but.. because we have the means to truly get at eudaimoniative surplus.. why would we bring in the ‘tragedy of the 10 day care centers‘)..?
let’s try this scenario: a nother way book
‘i esp like showing by daughter, that not every exchange is about money – randy’
despite the success of time banks in communities.. they have not caught hold that widely .. *in part because they require a certain level of admin and resources to operate.. now imagine a supercharged version fo time banking backed by the us govt.. where there’s real monetary value underlying it.. this new currency – social credits.. would reward people for doing things that serve the community.. the govt could put up significant levels of dscs as prizes and incentives for major initiatives..
the overall goal would be to improve social cohesion and maintain high levels of engagement for people in a post work econ..
then you’d be doing it wrong.. let’s try: a people experiment
19 – human capitalism
our econ system must shift to focus on bettering the lot of the average person
how about all people.. ie: equity: everyone getting a go everyday
we can harness the country’s ingenuity and energy to improve millions of lives if we just create a way to monetize and measure these goals.
wtf..? that’s how we got here..
i’ve concluded that there is *no other way to make these changes and manage thru the loss of jobs than to have the fed govt reformat and reorg the econ.. particularly suing tech to serve human needs
it (crisis) requires drastic intervention.human capitalism will reshape the way that we measure value and progress, and help us redefine why we do what we do
20 – the strong state and the new citizenship
we should give presidents a raise from their current 400 000 to 4 mn tax free per year plus 10 mn social credits.. w one condition.. they would not be able to accept speaking fees or any board positions for any personal gains after leaving offices.. this would keep them free and clear of any need to make powerful people happy.. we should do the same for members of the cabinet and the heads of all regularity agencies..
the whole system is a distraction.. gupta roadblock law..
most public servants i know are motivated by the right things. you go in hoping to make a diff. but you quickly get jaded by the system..
it would remove the ‘upside down’ incentives
tristan harris .. has written compellingly about how apps are designed to function like slot machines, vying for our attention and giving us variable unpredictable reward to keep us engaged..
so.. let’s turn that around.. app/tech/mech.. designed solely to listen to 7bn people.. everyday.. and facilitate that.. as it could be..
citizenship must grow to mean something again.. and we have to make clear that we value people intrinsically, independent of any qualities or qualifications
21 – health care in a world w/o jobs
ha.. imagine how healthy we’d all be.. just not having jobs..
22 – *building people
rather.. let’s try *listening to and facilitating 7bn people’s curiosities.. everyday.. ie: cure ios city
if equity is everyone getting a go every day.. redefining public education becomes revolution of everyday life.. aka: global equity
conclusion: masters or servants
a lot to take on.. we feel paralyzed because we fear that our institutions and leaders are no longer able to operate the solution required many to act against their own immediate interests..
i’ve been in the room w the people who are meant to steer our society
we are capable of so much better
indeed.. let go..