The War on Normal People
From 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, a captivating account of how "a skinny Asian kid from upstate" became a successful entrepreneur, only to find a new mission: calling attention to the urgent steps America must take, including Universal Basic Income, to stabilize our economy amid rapid technological change and automation. The shift toward automation is about to create a tsunami of unemployment. Not in the distant future--now. One recent estimate predicts 45 million American workers will lose their jobs within the next twelve years--jobs that won't be replaced. In a future marked by restlessness and chronic unemployment, what will happen to American society? In The War on Normal People, Andrew Yang paints a dire portrait of the American economy. Rapidly advancing technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and automation software are making millions of Americans' livelihoods irrelevant. The consequences of these trends are already being felt across our communities in the form of political unrest, drug use, and other social ills. The future looks dire-but is it unavoidable? In The War on Normal People, Yang imagines a different future--one in which having a job is distinct from the capacity to prosper and seek fulfillment. At this vision's core is Universal Basic Income, the concept of providing all citizens with a guaranteed income-and one that is rapidly gaining popularity among forward-thinking politicians and economists. Yang proposes that UBI is an essential step toward a new, more durable kind of economy, one he calls "human capitalism."

The War on Normal People Details

TitleThe War on Normal People
Author
ReleaseApr 3rd, 2018
PublisherHachette Books
ISBN-139780316414241
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Politics, Economics, Business, Science, Technology, Sociology, Culture, Society

The War on Normal People Review

  • Trevor
    January 1, 1970
    Richard - someone I’ve known on here for about a decade (how time flies) - recommended this book to me - or rather, recommended a podcast (https://art19.com/shows/the-ezra-klei...) where the author discusses this book. I ought to like podcasts more than I do - but I find them tedious and remarkably slow, and the main person behind them often comes across as annoyingly smug - if you listen to this podcast note when the interviewer first warns the author he is planning to have a go at him on the q Richard - someone I’ve known on here for about a decade (how time flies) - recommended this book to me - or rather, recommended a podcast (https://art19.com/shows/the-ezra-klei...) where the author discusses this book. I ought to like podcasts more than I do - but I find them tedious and remarkably slow, and the main person behind them often comes across as annoyingly smug - if you listen to this podcast note when the interviewer first warns the author he is planning to have a go at him on the question of the end of work. He sounds to me like someone holding a lay down misere. Which, while I was listening made me quite interested in what was to come, since I was keen to hear a good argument against the ‘jobs apocalypse’ argument. I was more than a little let down. Anyway, all of that is a bit beside the point. This book has two major themes. The first is to show that even if the new economy is to open up lots of new jobs ‘normal people’ aren’t likely to get any of them. The second is to argue for the need to implement a Universal Basic Income (UBI). Since this is written in the US, he changes the name of the UBI to the ‘freedom dividend’ - which, I have to say, reminded me a little too much of ‘freedom fries’ to take totally seriously.The first part of this book is a catalogue of despair. He starts by defining his ‘normal people’ - essentially, this is the median person in the country, if you were to lined up everyone in the US according to education, wealth, occupation and you put your hand on the shoulder of the person in the middle of those lines, what income, educational attainment and so on would they have? That person would have a high school education, work in a job with minimum skills and be terrified they might get sick since they live from hand-to-mouth, are a pay-check away from penury and so not working is not an option.He spends a lot of time reminding readers that the US is the wealthiest nation on earth, but since it is also the most unequal of the developed economies too, it might as well be two nations. One of the things he needs to do here is to show that a lot of jobs are about to disappear and not be replaced. He discusses the geography of poverty in the US - that is, the working class areas (steel working towns and so on) that have de-industrialised and the impact this has had on the local populations - a good series of books on this are Working Class Without Work and Class Reunion. The problem is that notions of a ‘frictionless’ job market would imply that people ought to move to where the jobs are. That people would take advantage of training to improve their skills so they can get the new jobs that have become available. He does a good job here of showing the inherent frictions within the system (and within people) that makes this unlikely. He points out that when many of the people who lost their jobs were given training it hardly improved their re-employability at all. This wasn’t only because there often weren’t new jobs available to match the new skills these people had acquired, but also that too often these people had come to define themselves as particular kinds of people - and often this was as men who do manly jobs. People think the patriarchy works ‘for’ men, but men, as bell hooks says, are often its main victims. Here, toxic masculinity involves them in not being able to do something as feminised as ‘book learning’. The consequences of this are spelt out in detail - the near impossibility these men face in forming relationships, their slow decent into playing video games and then also into opioid drug addiction. This is a vision that is hardly likely to fill you with optimistic joy for the future. It reminded me of Bourdieu’s discussion of French farm hands and how their loss of an economic fortune made them impossible to marry too. How, their becoming social outcasts, told on their bodies, in how they stood, how they avoided the gaze of those who would only reject them anyway. Since it is clear that working class women are more likely to acquire a college education now, and since someone with a college education is less likely to marry someone without one, this means a lot of these men now live outside of relationships.It is rare for people discussing the changes in work to follow on through to discuss the implications of this on personal and social relationships - notable exceptions are Bauman and Wyn - but this book makes a powerful argument that more needs to be done to address the social dysfunction that the current jobs disruptions are causing - regardless of whether or not a tidal wave is about to engulf even more jobs, the current levels of dysfunction require immediate action.A conference I attended earlier this year on the future of jobs had a panel of ‘experts’ who told us that everyone in the future will need to be entrepreneurs - this was presented as an article of faith to be taken to be a truism. What I found particularly interesting in this book was that he was able to show that today in the US there are fewer entrepreneurs than there ever have been in the past - measured on the basis of the proportion of those setting up their own businesses. This is interesting, because this shift to everyone being an entrepreneur is meant to be one of the major ways in which the current disruption to the jobs market is to be overcome. That is, when people become more flexible and more exposed to the demands of the world of work they will be best placed to adjust and acquire the skills needed in that future jobs market - basically, this is a version of the blind hand of the market realised in each individual worker. But the hyper-flexibility being proposed is much better in theory than in practice. The lack of job security, of health insurance, of fixed shifts, of a single employer - all of these work to make work terrifying, precarious and ultimately dangerous.He makes the point that this is all about to get much worse - technology has always replaced jobs, but the pace with which it is about to replace them now, including wiping out jobs from the middle class, like paralegal jobs, accountancy and book keeping and so on, means the ‘winners and losers’ tally board is set to become even more disproportionately tilted towards the winners than it already is. He provides a list of the major companies - both new and old - of how many employees they employ/employed. The lesson is that new companies are much more capital intensive, they do not employ nearly so many workers as companies used to. If this is the case, it isn’t clear where people will work.All of which leads him to believe that the solution is for a universal basic income (the second major theme to this book) - this is the idea that we should give all people over 21 an automatic $1000 per month as a ‘dividend’ for being a citizen. This isn’t enough money to live ‘well’ 9so people will still have an incentive to work) but it is enough to mean people can live if they are without a job, and that might become increasingly important to consider if what he says at the start of the book holds up. It would also be an incentive for employers to consider ways to make jobs more appealing - whereas, today all of the incentives are for employers to make jobs as punishing as they can possibly be, something they seem to have taken to with gusto. Bullshit Jobs is a good read on this theme.I don’t know what I think about a UBI - although, part of me thinks it is so unlikely to occur that it hardly matters what I think. He says that it could be funded by the US adopting a value added tax - a consumption tax. But the one thing I know for sure about the US is that even the poor hate the poor, so any proposal to alleviate the hardships of poverty in the US are unlikely to meet with any success. Also, we have seen for ever that a large increase in the proportion of the population displaced from the labour market generally results in an increase in blame being levelled towards those who have been displaced, rather than towards those who have benefited from them being displaced. I can’t imagine that changing any time soon.This guy is standing for US President in 2020. Look, stranger things have happened - I mean, Trump was elected President in 2016, I don’t make predictions on US politics anymore for that reason alone - all the same, I’ve a feeling you might see a UBI before you see this guy as President...I want to end by coming back to his discussion on the attraction of computer games to young men. I really did find this bit of the book fascinating. I haven’t played a computer game in probably 20 years. A friend of mine used to play Civilisation and he told me that he had to ask his wife to hide the disc from him as he had no self-restraint and would play it all night and then not be able to function at work the next day. He said that playing the game made him feel like a god and, unlike in his ‘real’ life - the decisions he made in the game had real consequences he could see more or less immediately. It isn’t difficult to see why that might be appealing to people in a dull job - of which too many of our jobs have become.
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    My review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, also can be found on my blog.The War on Normal People offers a staunchly capitalist and polemical take on the subject of Universal Basic Income (UBI), which proposes giving every person an unconditional small sum of money each month. Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur with presidential ambitions, claims that mass technological unemployment is imminent, and he argues that UBI is the only way the "normal people" of the American middle class will be abl My review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, also can be found on my blog.The War on Normal People offers a staunchly capitalist and polemical take on the subject of Universal Basic Income (UBI), which proposes giving every person an unconditional small sum of money each month. Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur with presidential ambitions, claims that mass technological unemployment is imminent, and he argues that UBI is the only way the "normal people" of the American middle class will be able to avoid destitution. If capitalism is to continue and social upheaval is to be averted, Yang suggests, the government must immediately shift toward what he calls “Human Capitalism” by instituting UBI, though he perplexingly uses a different term for the idea. The book is likely to appeal to those sympathetic to the Silicon Valley defense of UBI, which is less concerned with existing inequality but accepts as a given the idea that AI will soon make human labor irrelevant. I personally find that argument hyperbolic, but Yang offers an accessible introduction to it.
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  • Muhan
    January 1, 1970
    When Donald Trump was elected President in 2016, I was living in Miami, FL. At the time, I had lived through three cycles of boom and bust in the United States. The great recession, in particular, sparked my interest in economics and its impact on society. At the time, learning about subprime mortgages, securitization, foreclosures, and interest rates engrossed me in a profound but technical manner. As the Big Short summarized so succinctly, how could “5 trillion dollars in pension money, real e When Donald Trump was elected President in 2016, I was living in Miami, FL. At the time, I had lived through three cycles of boom and bust in the United States. The great recession, in particular, sparked my interest in economics and its impact on society. At the time, learning about subprime mortgages, securitization, foreclosures, and interest rates engrossed me in a profound but technical manner. As the Big Short summarized so succinctly, how could “5 trillion dollars in pension money, real estate value, 401k, savings, and bonds” just disappear? My fascination turned to shock, and eventually to a keen sense for economic justice, as I learned more about American economic history. Unlike the first half of the 20th century, the second half for real American income growth had been stagnant. Simultaneously, all the building blocks of the good life: real, nutrient-dense food; healthcare; education; and owning a home in a metro area with jobs, had skyrocketed in cost. In essence, labor had been abused and bloodied for a quarter century, and no one seemed to care.Given this, I was only mildly surprised by America’s electing of a fast dealing celebrity populist lookalike. All around me, among the immigrants, minorities, rideshare drivers and my fellow Miamians, there was sympathy for Trump, and what they believed to be a message for the little guy. Even Bill Clinton foresaw and worried about the wave of populism in the United Kingdom, a proxy for other “enlightened” countries, with Brexit and what it meant for Hillary. Despite the screaming and shouting of increasing racism/misogyny/xenophobia/etc, I came to see this viewpoint as intellectually lazy and a convenient scapegoat. It’s much easier to demonize someone who looks different than you than to look at numbers and the story those numbers tell. Thankfully, “The War on Normal People” has made understanding the story of those numbers, and the people behind the numbers, easier than ever. Reading Yang’s book is like a combination of Eddie Huang, Jane Jacobs, Matthew Desmond, Hanna Rosin, and Tyler Cowen. It is as unlikely a combination as it is valuable in its combination of humor and memoir, economic and social commentary, raw, unbridled intellectual ambition and audacity of topical breadth. In three eponymous parts, Yang covers “what’s happening to jobs”, “what’s happening to us”, and finally proposing “solutions and human capitalism.” Part I: reads like an economic undergraduate education in merely 80 pages. My favorite section by far, and emblematic of Yang’s pull-no-punches style, is “The Usual Objections” chapter, addressing usual objections to warnings of current economic peril, meticulously answering (with citations) arguments like “there will always be more jobs”, “government should retrain workers”, and others. The only topic I found under-addressed was the stagnant wages question and how, even for those with jobs, most of us are less well-off than a comparable American just a few decades ago. Yang covers this more in section, but I would like to have more material on the “silent majority” of situations between the dipoles of “displaced” and “bubble insiders.”Part II: Yang taps into his sociological side to explain “Life In the Bubble”, qualified by his experience founding Venture for America and years working to channel college educated youth to job creating businesses in underserved American cities. Through seven chapters, we are given a sweeping tour of societal collapse and disintegration on every level, tying research, evidence, and common sense to show the relation between economic security and our plethora of social ills. Turns out, everyone becomes a worse version of themselves when resources feel scarce: money talks, but often whispers, at all levels of the economic pyramid. *A favorite passage: “That is not to say that the people in the bubble have it good… In the bubble, the market governs all. Character is a set of ideas that comes up in the books we read to our children before sending them to test for the gifted and talented program, or a means of doing right by our bosses and reports, or a good way to burnish one’s personal network. On some level, most of us recognize that we are servants to the tide of innovation and efficiency. As the water rises, we will protest as we clamber to higher ground. We will be sure to stay out of the way and keep ourselves pliant and marketable to the extent possible. Our specialty is light-commitment benevolence. We will do something to help but not enough to hurt us or threaten our own standing. We know better than to do that.”Part III: is the most exciting section for anyone who wishes to peek at the good life of the future, (sneak preview: it includes AI, solar energy, and lots of mobile technology.) In the final and most radical conclusion, Yang paints a portrait of a revitalized state rebuilding a robust safety net. At the centerpiece of this safety net is universal basic income, a cash stipend of $1000 given to all American adults every month, no strings attached. Again, as with part one, Yang addresses the knee-jerk objections to basic income with plenty of evidence and citations. As someone who continues to wrestle with the implication of a basic income, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about Alaska and the Alaska Permanent Fund, which has paid an annual cash dividend to all residents successfully for decades.This is not to say that the final section of Yang’s book is an easy read, however. By his own admission, Yang states that basic income “...is the easy part of the transition. Money is easy. People are hard. For all of the immense good a basic income will do, it is just the first step.” He then promptly lays out what options for steps two, three, and beyond include: a value added tax of 10% that will in effect distribute wealth from the winners of new technology to the rest of society; time banking; digital social credits; and a potpourri of science fiction sounding solutions. Next to these radical, eyebrow raising proposals, giving people cash and adding metrics for human well-being to the national debate seem easy by comparison. In a critical twist: unlike most authors, Yang is also currently a U.S. presidential candidate running as a Democrat in 2020 to solve these problems. To the joy of some, the woe of others, much of his other solutions reads like a progressive agenda with teeth and fight: Medicare for all, banning public officials from getting in bed with industry, taxing megarich universities that skimp on student aid while hoarding billions in their endowments, regulating social media and technology companies that behave anti-competitively etc. If he maintains this clear and concise commitment to solutions that actually work, then the 2020 election will already be more productive than the last cycle.Reading “The War on Normal People” is mechanically an easy task, but emotionally exhausting. It is smart, tight, and occasionally sprinkled with comedic relief, with a very high density of knowledge to length. The scale of topics that it addresses are massive, however, and even for someone with a high degree of previous background, it can require the reader to reread for comprehension. (For example: combing Yang’s footnotes on the source of the 10% value added tax plan lead me to Andy Stern’s Raising the Floor, helping me understand that Yang’s plan only increases taxes on corporations and individuals consuming more than $120,000 annually, post-tax. This helped me understand the “tax on automation” and where the “money is coming from.”) All in all, for its category, “The War on Normal People” is a strong and surprisingly accessible sophomore work by a unique author. Yang appears to be a rare breed that has both the intellect to understand vast societal problems and the character to actually try and solve them. Either way, readers should be thankful to see an author bring us above the trees to see the forest on these modern issues, and read this book to understand the issues in 2020.
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  • Mrs. Europaea
    January 1, 1970
    Move over Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Mama has a new issue to plague her sleepless nights.In The War on Normal People, Yang, outlines the upcoming employment crisis to hit the United States. With increasing measures by businesses and organizations to make all things automated for reasons of "productivity and efficiency", he lists the industries most in jeopardy due to technological advancements. Industries include but are not limited to: Office and Administrative Assistant, Sales and Retail,, F Move over Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Mama has a new issue to plague her sleepless nights.In The War on Normal People, Yang, outlines the upcoming employment crisis to hit the United States. With increasing measures by businesses and organizations to make all things automated for reasons of "productivity and efficiency", he lists the industries most in jeopardy due to technological advancements. Industries include but are not limited to: Office and Administrative Assistant, Sales and Retail,, Food Preparation, Transportation, and Production.As a fairly new resident of the Midwest I can personally attest that the Transportation industry is in jeopardy. If you've ever driven on I-65 you know that no matter the time of day Semi's are overwhelmingly ubiquitous. When Yang cites that truck driving will go automated in the next ten to fifteen years due to "national competitiveness and human welfare" it's hard to develop an argument against it. We've all been held up in traffic due to an accident that was later deemed in full or partial fault to truck driver negligence. Yet when you look at the statistics for accidents of the automated trucks being tested in Ohio and California it is virtually non-existent. For this argument in particular, what are the solutions? Well, Yang again outlines a few possibilities, many of which seem as grim as the decline of employment and the increase of unemployment. Yet he ends optimistically enough by saying that many companies are already trying to change their work ethic to something more "human." Human capitalism as he calls it places more value on the human doing the task than on profit driven capitalism. Is this enough? Probably not, but the fight is in all of us not to stand by and let AI take over, and chances are that we will fight because as AI eliminates our opportunities we as a people will finally understand what it means to unite as one, to stand and fight for society's future. The bottom line is we do not want our future generations living in what used to only be true in dystopian novels and unfortunately it may take hitting rock bottom for many of us to realize it.
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  • Donna Hines
    January 1, 1970
    Americans are becoming more angered, more frustrated, even more depressed and despondent in this Dog Eat Dog world we currently reside in as they struggle for basics to simply survive.Jobs are being replaced by automation, innovation, technology as the new norm. What happened to benefits for all workers, affordable healthcare and childcare, availability of full time work with paid family leave, equal pay, living wages, seniority, and hiring based on skills and or education rather than income or Americans are becoming more angered, more frustrated, even more depressed and despondent in this Dog Eat Dog world we currently reside in as they struggle for basics to simply survive.Jobs are being replaced by automation, innovation, technology as the new norm. What happened to benefits for all workers, affordable healthcare and childcare, availability of full time work with paid family leave, equal pay, living wages, seniority, and hiring based on skills and or education rather than income or connections? Can we not keep nepotism and corruption out of human resourcing?Pensions are non existent , social security is depleted, our current form of government is too big and not transparent nor workable, cities and states are in the red, financial stress for families is beyond measurable and so too is accounting for accurate unemployment rates. The Great Displacement is in effect and steam rolling through leaving behind deserted and dilapidated buildings and shells of former life as we once knew it to exists.Companies are relocating for cheaper labor and less taxation while employees are being left to pick up the pieces being forced to reinvent themselves in hopes of securing a future that currently is beyond repair for many of us."The logic of 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 of automation and innovation. We figure they're complaining or suffering because they're losers."Survival mode is a daily mode for the former middle class , working poor, and the poor locked in to poverty ( myself).We are not uneducated. We don't want handouts. We don't want pity, empathy, sympathy.Let me begin my story in hopes of enlightening many about the new war against the 'Average American' as one of the so called Normal People as described here.For starters, according to stats quoted ," There are presently 95 million working age Americans, a full 37% of adults, who are out of the work force." "In 2000, there was only 70 million."Unemployment rates are inaccurate as they do not take into account the working poor who are working but not being paid a living wage to support themselves, those out of the work force longer than 6 months, those who gave up looking for work, and those who are working part time, temp, or seasonal work not receiving full time benefits nor pay.As I currently write this, I'm living below poverty in 2018; after divorcing a malignant narcissist from an 11 year marriage-13 yrs together.I'm the primary caregiver of our 3 kids ( 17, 13, 11 yo with oldest child med disabled since birth on social security disability) and have my Masters. My only income is child support and disability on behalf of son). When he turns 18 he loses child support and disability goes for review based on medical re evaluation. If he still qualifies he will then continue to receive and payments will be paid out to him directly. So our current un earned income will be far less than even below poverty level (if you can fathom that idea).My story is lengthy as I was left bankrupt, homeless, long term unemployed having given up career to raise family alone while spouse resided and worked entire marriage 5 states away having only weekend visits ( if at all). You can read my full story here : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dispel... Volunteering was a way for me to keep searching for employment while being useful and productive yet as you can see not one company wishes to hire the LT unemployed as I'm overqualified as noted by HR and under skilled having no prior work experience due to giving up career to raise my family. In addition I'm already below poverty level and need a job to lift me higher not lower with less salary than poverty level. My debt as you can imagine with Masters student loans is over 30k , my medical debt with a child born without insurance over 30k, my debt living on credit w/o income to support my family awaiting child support and alimony was over 100k and resulted in bankruptcy. This doesn't take into account the fact I'm section 8 approved but as a single mom with 3 teens was declined many apartments due to kids and domestic violence pfa filed. As you may know landlords don't like to rent with kids due to concerns for damage to property and dv survivors are often excluded for violence concerns as nuisance properties may result in too many calls for 911 assistance. Without credit you cannot get a car, an apartment , nor even a job so please read my link above as it's all listed there.Andrew Yang mentions the human component over the almighty dollar which sounds nice in theory but speaking isn't enough we need action and we need it immediately."The unemployment rate is like checking how a party is going based on everyone who's at the party. It doesn't take into account the people who were never invited to the party or couldn't get in."In addition, Brown U grads like yourself and my brother shows that many moved to 1 0f 4 metro areas after graduating ( yet fail to mention the over 100k debt he incurred @BrownU resulting in his bankruptcy) nor is the cost of living factored in moving and the issue that it's that much harder for the older crowd with families to uproot and leave a dying area economically. Might I add he moved from Pa to Ca and worked with an Ivy League education as an Uber driver. Not quite luxury. In addition, we cannot all move to Ca, DC, Boston, NYC, or Mass there must be another alternative."A culture of scarcity is a culture of negativity.""We are quickly transitioning from the land of plenty to the land of "you get yours I get mine." "Where jobs disappear , society falls apart."So the solution in all this despair?Well, UBI as the Universal Basic Income where a version of Social Security is paid out to all citizens to receive a set amount of money per month regardless of work status and income. Ie. Bernie Sanders -- : A minimum standard of living should be entitled for all Americans.Perhaps the Digital Social Credit is another avenue to explore. Rewarding for serving communities through volunteering.Ironically, Cabot Cheese Cooperative has already in place a similar program whereby incentives and prizes are awarded to not only the individual but their nonprofit for community service hours. In fact I was awarded the prize a few years ago for volunteering with over 13 nonprofits. For further information on my volunteering and the program see this link: https://rewardvolunteers.coop/donna-g..."Poverty is not a lack of character , it's a lack of cash."Human Capitalism focuses more on the human component and less on the greed.The market has overrun our leaders. Government is too big and not transparent to handle this fast moving technologically advanced global demand.Making education more affordable and accessible may or may not succeed. For me I'm not sure my masters was worth it as I graduated with high honors yet not one company believes in me nor my abilities nor skills to give me the chance after child rearing. I now am not sure what to tell my 3 teens one of which is a junior in high school about further education as less than 1/3 are hired in jobs requiring it.In closing, I've taken my story about food insecurities, poverty, domestic violence was told by Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) to every member of Congress. SEE pg 38 here: https://d3b0lhre2rgreb.cloudfront.net... I've also been awarded the Points of Light Award by Pres. George H.W. Bush in highlighting my struggles while serving others see here: http://www.pointsoflight.org/programs...I would add I've also counciled others while seeking employment in the field of criminal justice or Public Administration having over 36k readers on my FB page across 45 countries worldwide in 45 different languages : https://www.facebook.com/thelostself/My community service to help women and children was acknowledged with Maternal and Family Health Services : https://www.mfhs.org/?s=donna+hinesThe work I do to assist my community in reading enhancement through goodreads giveaways and direct library donations can be viewed here: https://www.netgalley.com/member/profile Having nearly 5 k viewers on my LinkedIn profile while seeking employment as a freelance writer with over 40 blogs can be viewed here : https://www.linkedin.com/in/donna-hin... Now I can tell you one last thing for anyone to think the poor don't work can simply click any one of my links or articles as I worked first hand with nonprofits on the front line to serve my community's needs.I know first hand the guilt, the shame, the embarrassment begging for basics for survival while being ostracized and shamed daily for not working hard enoughPrior to having kids I worked two jobs to put self through college and was top producer in two departments at Lord and Taylor Distribution Center (factory work over 400 units per hr).I was awarded a 10 cent raise as Associate of the month and top producer in both CTH and GTH with a total salary of $7.25 hr resulting in 3 degenerative disks now in upper, mid, and lower back and ganglion cysts on wrist requiring surgery to simply move my right hand nearly 30 years later. That job still pays same wage nearly 20 yrs later yet ironically cost of living has risen 10x since those earlier years.I left when I was injured without compensation when a 50 lb trolley went off rail landing on top of my head.I went to college, got married, had kids, and well the rest is history.So I ask anyone reading this what's next for those of us who are educated but lack the funds to establish our own way of life and are now 'locked in to poverty'.For every cent we receive increase ( ie cost of living ) we lose in another form of assistance as they go hand in hand and are all closely monitored.While jobs exists they pay peanuts and I can't afford to live less than poverty nor pay off debt with less than poverty.So I wonder where do we; the ones not in the top 1%; go from here as many us of have the skills, are trained, are educated but are passed up for nepotism? See link here as one such example http://standardspeaker.com/news/relea...Many jobs I applied were given to male counterparts even with my resume and application on file. Other jobs were lost during government freeze by governor and then downsized and lost even though I had better skills than the HR doing the hiring based on his own report to me.Another job was given to a man with more billing and coding experience than I yet the job will train and he was out of area. Ironically I was good enough to be provided the community service award a few years later but not for hire.I will also advise you that for white mid class women we are the minority. We are passed up because of being mothers of older age who require benefits and flex scheduling with child care options made available. Many of us were left without the basics no home, no income, no credit nor savings, in fact my kids college funds were depleted by their father and was to be repaid but much like the pfa it's a piece of paper that's not enforced.Companies want to be cost effective and the way to that is by hiring the young who don't require as much as the older skilled and well trained employees.Your novel talks plenty about the unskilled and uneducated but what about the skilled and educated who are passed up all for the bottom dollar?I wonder where we go now?
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  • Diane Pagen
    January 1, 1970
    I read The War On Normal People. I recommend it to everyone, which makes it a different kind of book. Even though I love, say, detective novels, and biographies, I won't recommend them to every kind of person. The War On Normal People stands out to me as being able to improve the lives of every person.Andrew Yang isn't screwing around, telling us that we need to ponder the problem of automation, so that in a few years we can maybe do something. Pondering is not helpful. Indeed, he points out tha I read The War On Normal People. I recommend it to everyone, which makes it a different kind of book. Even though I love, say, detective novels, and biographies, I won't recommend them to every kind of person. The War On Normal People stands out to me as being able to improve the lives of every person.Andrew Yang isn't screwing around, telling us that we need to ponder the problem of automation, so that in a few years we can maybe do something. Pondering is not helpful. Indeed, he points out that we continue to ponder automation at the expense of lives. And he is correct: look what "pondering" climate change for a few decades as something that was "in the future" got us: weather disasters more than once a year, a total mess that is upending the lives of millions. Kicking the can down the road on automation will destroy us, he portends, and we can't keep kicking that can down the road while people get more desperate and there are fewer real jobs and opportunities.This book is giving us an opportunity to act on the damage from automation that is taking place now. The proposal for a Universal Basic Income of $1,000 a month is realistic, fair, and smart. You only have to get on a subway in NYC to see what automation is doing to humans. Half the humans on a subway at 3am are homeless; the other half are working themselves into the ground for a job that has terrible hours and doesn't pay enough. Everyone looks shut down and devoid of joy. For many of us and our friends, we are running faster and faster trying to "achieve" but feeling unhappy a lot of the time. The book talks about this.I especially like that Andrew Yang explains the course of events behind how he came to believe in a Universal Basic Income, and that he goes into his trips around the U.S. He describes the blighted areas he saw, empty buildings that were once busy factories. He adds what he saw with his own eyes to the conversations he has had with well-off people in technology, all of whom tell him that automation IS already here and HAS already eliminated jobs and that more will be lost. This book doesn't pretend that slowing down automation or stopping it is realistic or desirable. Andrew makes the case that the answer is distributing income of $1,000 a month to every American. He argues that it will cause us to become better in many ways. More compassionate, more calm, more productive, more healthy, more able and enthusiastic about solving the OTHER problems of human existence because we won't be starving, stressed, or homeless anymore. It will allow us to use automation for good. And, the money tech companies will be taxed to pay for a Universal Basic Income is just a small portion of what they owe for us allowing them to automate us out of traditional jobs. The War On Normal People reads like a conversation, and that makes it easier to take in all the evidence he provides on mass job loss, the opiate crisis, and human relationships. Even though the book has a good amount of data to make the case for a Universal Basic Income, it "flows" smoothly.I think this book is capable of bringing strangers together in conversation about our mutual future, and it is a call to rally for an economy that doesn't consume humans as a way of generating wealth. I also think it is a great book to get teenagers interested in the economy and to educate them to play a role in changing the economy so they will have a real future despite automation.
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  • Andrew Frawley
    January 1, 1970
    It’s hard to be in the year 2018 and not hear about the endless studies alarming the general public about coming labor automation. But what Yang provides in this book is two key things: automation has already been ravaging the country which has led to the great political polarization of today, and second, an actual vision into what happens when people lose jobs, and it definitely is a lightning strike of “oh shit.”I found this book relatively impressive and frightening. Yang, a former lawyer, en It’s hard to be in the year 2018 and not hear about the endless studies alarming the general public about coming labor automation. But what Yang provides in this book is two key things: automation has already been ravaging the country which has led to the great political polarization of today, and second, an actual vision into what happens when people lose jobs, and it definitely is a lightning strike of “oh shit.”I found this book relatively impressive and frightening. Yang, a former lawyer, entrepreneur, and non-profit leader, writes showing with inarguable data that when companies automate work and use new software, communities die, drug use increases, suicide increases, and crime skyrockets. The new jobs created go to big cities, the surviving talent leaves, and the remaining people lose hope and descend into madness. (as a student of psychology, this is not surprising)He starts by painting the picture of the average American and how fragile they are economically. He deconstructs the labor predictions and how technology is going to ravage it. He discusses the future of work. He explains what has happened in technology and why it’s suddenly a huge threat. He shows what this means: economic inequality rises, the people have less power, the voice of democracy is diminished, no one owns stocks, people get poorer etc. He shows that talent is leaving small towns, money is concentrating to big cities faster. He shows what happens when those other cities die (bad things), and then how the people react when they have no income (really bad things). He shows how retraining doesn’t work and college is failing us. We don’t invest in vocational skills, and our youth is underemployed pushed into freelance work making minimal pay. He shows how no one trusts the institutions anymore.Then he discusses solutions with a focus on Universal Basic Income. I was a skeptic of the idea until I read this book. You literally walk away with this burning desire to prevent a Mad Max esque civil war, and its hard to argue with him. We don't have much time and our bloated micromanaged welfare programs cannot sustain.
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  • Miles
    January 1, 1970
    Like many others, I discovered Andrew Yang by way of his excellent interview with Sam Harris last month. Yang, who is running for President in 2020, immediately struck me as honest, intelligent, well-informed, and profoundly reasonable––a heroic foil for the repugnant personalities that dominate today’s national politics. Yang’s central campaign issue is the institution of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for all Americans, a daring and promising idea that has been on my radar for some years now. Like many others, I discovered Andrew Yang by way of his excellent interview with Sam Harris last month. Yang, who is running for President in 2020, immediately struck me as honest, intelligent, well-informed, and profoundly reasonable––a heroic foil for the repugnant personalities that dominate today’s national politics. Yang’s central campaign issue is the institution of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for all Americans, a daring and promising idea that has been on my radar for some years now. Yang’s excellent book, The War on Normal People, is the boldest and best argument for UBI to date.If you’re considering reading this book, be warned: it is tough. Not tough to understand––on the contrary, Yang’s writing is clean and balanced, with an appropriate smattering of personal anecdotes that humanize and endear him to the reader. But the majority of the book’s content is extremely grim. It comes as no surprise that one of his early readers suggested changing the titled to “We’re Fucked” (165). However, a hopeful path to positive solutions awaits readers willing to power through the first two sections.In Part One, “What’s Happening to Jobs,” Yang explicates the societal threat posed by automation, also referred to as technological unemployment. His case is persuasive, data-driven, and damned scary. Yang’s perspective is anchored by his personal experience in the world of traditional Ivy League elitism, as well as a more recent endeavor as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. He has seen firsthand how politicians and masters of industry leverage their wealth and influence to grow their careers and businesses, and assures the reader with confidence that “I am writing from inside the tech bubble to let you know that we are coming for your jobs” (xi).Inside this bubble, the idea that a company would give up a potential efficiency gain in order to retain employees is heretical, and companies routinely hone their cutting edge by automating one step ahead of the competition. The market cares nothing for the well-being of employees, rewarding scale and consolidation at every turn. In witnessing these patterns play out, Yang found himself forced to an unwelcome conclusion:"It has been my job for the past six years to create jobs. I’m about to lose––we’re all about to lose––on an epic scale. I’m now certain that the wave––the Great Displacement––is already here and is having effects bigger and faster than most anyone believes. The most pernicious thing about this wave is that you can’t really tell who it has hit as it grinds up people and communities. 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 will be a massive challenge. It’s up to us; the market will not help us. Indeed, it is about to turn on us. The solutions aren’t beyond us yet, but it’s getting late in the day and time is running short. I need you to see what I see." (11)Yang pulls no punches as he describes the dire circumstances that already dominate the American labor market, with an even bleaker forecast just over the horizon. Here are some of his most distressing findings:"America is starting 100,000 fewer businesses per year than it was only 12 years ago, and is in the midst of shedding millions of jobs due primarily to technological advances…I remember the moment it finally sank in completely. I was reading a CNN article that detailed how automation had eliminated millions of manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2015, four times more than globalization." (10)"Many Americans are in danger of losing their jobs right now due to automation. Not in 10 or 15 years. Right now. Here are the standard sectors Americans work in: Office and Administrative Support (15.69% of workforce), Sales and Retail (10.35%), Food Preparation and Serving (9.25%), Transportation and Material Moving (6.93%), Production (6.49%). Sixty-eight million Americans out of a workforce of 140 million (48.5 percent) work in one of these five sectors. Each of these labor groups is being replaced right now." (27-8)"More than 5 million manufacturing workers lost their jobs after 2000. More than 80 percent of the jobs lost––or 4 million jobs––were due to automation…What happened to these 5 million workers? A rosy economist might imagine that they found new manufacturing jobs, or were retrained and reskilled for different jobs, or maybe they moved to another state for greener pastures. In reality, many of them left the workforce. One Department of Labor survey in 2012 found that 41 percent of displaced manufacturing workers between 2009 and 2011 were either still unemployed or dropped out of the labor market within three years of losing their jobs. Another study out of Indiana University found that 44 percent of 200,000 displaced transportation equipment and primary metals manufacturing workers in Indiana between 2003 and 2014 had no payroll record at all by 2014, and only 3 percent graduated from a public college or university in Indiana during that time period." (41-2)This is just a small sampling of the jaw-dropping figures Yang cites throughout The War on Normal People. Often, he doesn’t have to work very hard to make his case; the numbers speak for themselves. Yang frames the situation with the correct degree of urgency, using an approach I would characterize as responsible alarmism. In Chapter Eight, “The Usual Objections,” he follows in the footsteps of Martin Ford by demonstrating how the coming wave of automation is a horse of a different color when compared to the automation anxieties of previous eras.The main thrust of his argument is that America is rapidly becoming a powder keg packed with the failures and frustrations of “normal” people, who he defines as people who occupy the middle of the bell curve on a range of objective measures (income, savings, education, assets, etc.). These are the folks whose economic value is being and will be most swiftly swept away by automation, a transition that Yang calls the Great Displacement. As the Displacement progresses, American society will become increasingly populated with “proud and desperate” former workers whose chances of finding alternative employment will be vanishingly small (47). If left unaddressed, this predicament will make American society increasingly vulnerable to social and political upheavals (Yang imagines an all-too-believable near-future scenario of how this might occur on pages 158-9).One of Yang’s most important insights concerns the effects of mass job loss on local tax revenue and infrastructure in small and midsize communities. As a torrent of national retailers across the country close up shop, the “pillars of the regional budget” begin to crack: “This means shrunken municipal budgets, cuts to school budgets, and job reductions in local government offices” (32). Additionally, abandoned buildings transform into “negative infrastructure,” attracting crime and creating “a bleak, dystopian atmosphere, like a zombie movie set” (32-3). Even now, when the worst effects of automation are only just starting to be felt, what American isn’t familiar with the ominous feeling of driving through a community devoid of vibrancy and hope, its once-respectable storefronts boarded up and its roads crumbling from disrepair? If we don’t act fast, Yang argues, this will become the new American norm.In Part Two, “What’s Happening to Us,” Yang takes up the social, psychological, and geographic features of the automation problem. Like many other futurists, he contrasts perspectives of abundance with those of scarcity, demonstrating the benefits of the former and the harms of the latter. Citizens with ready access to basic resources see opportunity around every corner, and partake in “light-commitment benevolence” to create the illusion of social responsibility as we horde more than our fair share (96). Obversely, those locked in cycles of scarcity are largely unable to achieve the socioeconomic stability that would allow them to better their lot (Chapter 10). In recent years, the geography of American opportunity has come to play a larger role in compounding this problem:"A mindset of abundance or scarcity is tied closely to what part of the country you live in. Different regions are now experiencing such different levels of economic dynamism that they often have utterly different notions of what the future holds." (109)In a country already wracked with ideological division that falls largely along geographic lines, this is not encouraging news. As Americans with similar backgrounds, values, experiences and incomes coalesce to form insular communities (both digital and physical), we lose the ability to understand and empathize with our fellow citizens who have less access to opportunities and resources. Yang points out that job loss contributes significantly to this process:"There’s a truism in the startup world: When things start going very badly for a company, the strongest people generally leave first. They have the highest standards for their own opportunities and the most confidence that they can thrive in a new environment. Their skills are in demand, and they feel little need to stick around. The people who are left behind tend to be less confident and adaptable. It’s one reason why companies go into death spirals––the best people leave when they see the writing on the wall and the company’s decline accelerates. The same is often true for a community. When jobs and prosperity start deserting a town, the first people to leave are the folks who have the best opportunities elsewhere." (117-8)This insidious dynamic has already played itself out in many towns across America, and will continue to destroy communities if current trends are not interrupted. Yang shores up his sense of urgency with perceptive chapters addressing how joblessness affects interpersonal and familial relationships; the growing reliance of the new “shadow class” on government assistance and drugs; how the addictive, escapist power of video games is hijacking the lives of many young men; and the ways in which all these factors contribute to social and political instability.In Part Three, “Solutions and Human Capitalism,” Yang explains how we ought to combat and eventually solve the automation crisis. His first imperative is to institute a UBI of $1000 per month for all citizens. This “Freedom Dividend” is Yang’s Americanized take on an old idea, one that has been advocated for by people across the political spectrum for several centuries (166-8). These days, UBI is typically a conversation-stopper in mainstream political discussions, but as the negative trends of automation continue to progress and become more visible, it is not hard to imagine it gaining support. And in a world where Donald Trump can be elected President, I’m done listening to anyone who argues that something is politically impossible.The Freedom Dividend will be enough to bring jobless people above the poverty line, but only just. The vast majority of citizens will still seek remunerative work in order to raise their standard of living, but will no longer have to worry about whether they can afford basic shelter or enough food to get by. Best of all, the Freedom Dividend would effectively end abject poverty for American children. Additionally, the huge number of citizens currently receiving disability insurance from the government would have the opportunity to switch over to the Freedom Dividend, which would follow them anywhere in the country and would not evaporate if they proved themselves able to work once again. The above arguments should be enough to convince most Americans that UBI is a good idea, but there are also the added benefits of scaling back the bureaucratic bloat of the welfare state and utilizing government for something it's actually good at: sending large numbers of checks to citizens in a regimented, timely fashion. The question is not whether we want a welfare state or not, but rather if we want a welfare state with perverse incentives or humanistic ones.Yang estimates that the Freedom Dividend would cost $1.3 trillion annually, which he would fund with a value-added tax (VAT) on consumption. Yang puts the lie to the conventional objection that there’s simply not enough money to fully fund a Freedom Dividend:"Out of 193 countries, 160 already have a VAT or goods and services tax, including all developed countries except the United States. The average VAT in Europe is 20 percent. It is well developed and its efficacy has been established. If we adopted a VAT at half the average European level, we could pay for a universal basic income for all American adults." (171)So, just as with universal healthcare, America’s inability to properly care for its citizens is not an issue of scarcity, but rather of political will. If we can harness that will for the good of the people (for once), the benefits will be immediate and profound:"With the Freedom Dividend, money would be put in the hands of our citizens in a time of unprecedented economic dislocation. It would grow the consumer economy. It’s a stimulus of people. The vast majority of money would go directly into the economy each month, into paying bills, feeding children, visiting loved ones, youth sports, eating at local restaurants, piano lessons, extra tutoring help, car repairs, small businesses, housing improvements, prenatal vitamins, elder care, and so on." (172)The Freedom Dividend isn’t the end goal of Yang’s political agenda––just the tip of the iceberg, in fact. He knows that this is a time for big and bold ideas, and he’s got them in spades. In a clarion call for sensible responses to deep systemic problems, Yang challenges us to remember that the market ought to serve humans, and not the other way around. This is what he calls Human Capitalism, which has three tenets:"1. Humanity is more important than money.2. The unit of an economy is each person, not each dollar.3. Markets exist to serve our common goals and values." (200)With these as his guiding principles, Yang advocates for concrete mechanisms that would create real accountability for our public servants and private companies, a universal health care system that leverages the power of AI to end the overworking of physicians, an overhaul of our education practices to focus on character-building and a diversity of employment pathways, and the creation of a technology-driven Digital Currency System (DCS) that would function outside the dollar economy to promote types of human-centric labor that are currently unrewarded by the capitalist market.Yang knows that it will take a lot of experimentation and hard work to successfully implement any one of these ideas, let alone all of them. But he also knows that we are at a crossroads where we will either resolve to do the hard work of bringing everyone along as we stride into the automated future, or we will ignore that call to action and prepare for the dystopian scenarios that inevitably result.While this is obviously a difficult situation in which to find ourselves, we ought to focus on the amazing future that is possible if we create an economy devoted to abundance for all. This future would allow normal, decent folks to be wealthier, healthier and happier with their lives, and would also prepare humanity for our next big challenge: climate change. I used to think that climate change was the most important battle of my generation, but Yang and others have convinced me that the battle for economic justice is even more critical. A downtrodden and desperate population will never respond to the environmental crisis effectively.In the final pages of The War on Normal People, Yang leaves the reader with a sober but inspiring message:"I have been in the room with people who are meant to steer our society. The machinery is weak. The institutionalization is high. The things you fear to be true are generally true. I wrote this book because I want others to see what I see. We are capable of so much better…It will not be easy…Through all of the doubt, the cynicism, the ridicule, the hatred and anger, we must fight for the world that is still possible…Come fight with me." (242-4)I will admit that I’m deeply skeptical of the political viability of this movement. Too often my mind gives safe harbor to the very doubts and cynicism that could render Yang’s mission dead on arrival. But, despite my fear and cowardice, I will strive to do my part. You can too.This review was originally published on my blog, words&dirt.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    I learned about Andrew Yang through Sam Harris's podcast in fall 2018, and put this book on my list to read more about his plans for Universal Basic Income and Human-Centered Capitalism. Through this book he poses a near-future where automation puts large sectors of the US economy out of work, small towns and cities die, and the life, as we have grown accustomed to, changes dramatically. The last third of the book sets the stage for the changes he proposes. His case for UBI is compelling, and I I learned about Andrew Yang through Sam Harris's podcast in fall 2018, and put this book on my list to read more about his plans for Universal Basic Income and Human-Centered Capitalism. Through this book he poses a near-future where automation puts large sectors of the US economy out of work, small towns and cities die, and the life, as we have grown accustomed to, changes dramatically. The last third of the book sets the stage for the changes he proposes. His case for UBI is compelling, and I liked his social crediting system that emphasizes service. The book was written before his official presidential bid, but it clearly states his campaign issues and proposed solutions (or the beginning of them).
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  • Cody Sexton
    January 1, 1970
    It seems that the world that we have all been preparing for, is on the verge of no longer existing. Technology is changing our economy now in ways that we aren’t fully equipped to understand, let alone control, and as technology continues to consistently advance, the shift of work activities now performed by humans and those performed by machines is going to change also and the shape the future of humanity will take will be the result of complex, changing, challenging and competing technological It seems that the world that we have all been preparing for, is on the verge of no longer existing. Technology is changing our economy now in ways that we aren’t fully equipped to understand, let alone control, and as technology continues to consistently advance, the shift of work activities now performed by humans and those performed by machines is going to change also and the shape the future of humanity will take will be the result of complex, changing, challenging and competing technological, political, social and economic forces. While some of these forces are known, there is a lot that is still unknown and the speed at which the unknowns will unfold are difficult to predict. But unless we make a strong effort to make the unknowns, known, the outcome of this emerging battle between technological singularity and economic singularity seems to be just the beginning of social unrest and turmoil. As Eric Weinstein, managing director of Thiel Capital, has stressed, “...we never really saw that capitalism might be defeated by its own child — technology.”In the book Andrew Yang argues that the sectors where most people tend to work, administration, retail, food service, transportation, and manufacturing, have profound levels of repetitiveness which makes them highly susceptible to automation. Meaning that many of America’s “Normal People” will soon be supplanted by AI software and robotics. Since competition in these sectors is quite fierce, companies are sooner or later, going to be forced to automate to keep up with the competition. Once a single competitor automates, the others will follow by necessity. In many cases, automation is not only cheaper, but also produces better products and services. The natural result is, as Yang relates through conversations he’s had with people in the tech industry, a race to make “Normal” people redundant.And it’s already happening. Millions of jobs have already begun to be automated away, especially in the manufacturing sector.A recent White House report has even predicted that 83 percent of jobs where people make less than $20 an hour will be subject to automation or replacement. And according to Wall Street the retail sector is already becoming almost completely uninvestable, in what’s being dubbed the “retail apocalypse,” partly due to in-store self-service and partly due to e-commerce. Next on the chopping block is transportation, as self-driving technology is replacing millions of truck drivers. The food service and administration sectors are likewise just as vulnerable. Even many white-collar jobs will likely disappear.The fact that Yang doesn’t just focus all of his attention on blue-collar jobs when discussing the looming employment crisis, is something I really appreciated, pointing out that 44 percent of the total jobs, according to the Fed, can be categorized as “routine” which includes high-skilled medical and legal work that students go to college for years to master. For example, Yang relates of a recent demonstration held by General Electric, in which some of the country’s best doctors were pitted against a computer to see which could better identify tumors on radiology films. The computer outperformed the doctors with ease. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. New software allows computers to see shades of grey that the human eye can’t, and they can reference films against data sets more numerous than any individual could ever hope to possess.This all may sound like science fiction, but as Yang says, “We are living in unprecedented times. The future without jobs will come to resemble either the cultivated benevolence of Star Trek or the desperate scramble for resources of Mad Max. Unless there is a dramatic course correction, I fear we are heading toward the latter.” If this doesn’t make you concerned for the future, you are either stupid, wealthy, or both.Yang’s fundamental message, of course, is that we are already on the verge of this dystopian future, with hundreds of thousands of families and communities being pushed into oblivion, and that Americans are already dealing with the lack of meaningful job opportunities, by getting married less and becoming less and less functional overall. Social mobility has declined, inequality has widened, and precarious employment has become the norm and these sweeping technological changes threaten to undermine what little stability people have left.But we must also understand that once the pace of these technological advances and automation changes goes from linear to exponential, becoming self-improving, self-replicating and distributed, the old business models, governance models, management and technology models are likewise going to be crushed under the weight of an outdated economics of efficiency.Over the past 40 years, the US government has done precious little to invest in our future. Instead of spending money on things that might make a difference in people’s lives, our politicians would rather spend the majority of their time shutting down the government over some petty political dispute. Time and again difficult decisions have been pushed off for later, and any complicated social issues that have arisen over the years have simply been relegated to the unforgiving "invisible hand of the free market" to resolve. It would appear as if Washington is as bereft of new ideas in social terms as it is of new technological ones.But Yang not only draws our attention to these current socioeconomic issues, he goes one step further by proposing genuinely concrete measures to face them, and ends up making one of the more noteworthy and pragmatic arguments in favor of a universal basic income (UBI) that I’ve heard so far, which is the very centerpiece of his platform as a presidential candidate. Yang’s unwavering support of a universal basic income (UBI) is just one aspect of his platform however. In the book he outlines three main solutions. First, a UBI of $1,000 a month for every U.S. citizen, over the age of 18, paid for by a 10% value-added tax on all goods and services. Which will be a dramatic expansion of the social safety net that will guarantee tens of millions of Americans at least a $12,000 annual income. Second, by establishing a new, secondary economy based on time rather than money. And third, instituting a tougher and more vigilant and yet dynamic government.It should also be noted however, that the idea of a universal basic income (UBI) isn’t a recent one. It has been floating around now for decades, and was almost passed in the US by the Nixon administration in the early 1970s. And currently, there’s more incentive than ever to roll out something just like it as support for a universal basic income (UBI) is higher than ever right now, particularly among the millennial crowd, which should amaze no one as millennials have had to deal with, not only a crumbling economy, but also increasing amounts of debt. People over the age of fifty however, are much more likely to be hostile to the idea. Older generations are also much more likely to blame millennials for our current economic problems. We either got the wrong degree. We still haven’t learned to code. We killed department stores and even chain restaurants. But what millennial-bashing really reveals is the very precariousness of our current economic model that Yang is talking about. A model that is no longer sustainable. It’s already starting to burn out and it threatens far more: a new Great Depression. The first Great Depression was caused because rampant inequality meant that consumers had no money. The engines of industry kept spinning, kept churning out new products, but there was nobody who could afford to purchase them. Right now we are heading for round two.Yet despite the books tagline, this isn’t fundamentally a book about universal basic income (UBI). It’s more about markets, and our attitudes surrounding them. As Yang says, “If we insist on seeing ourselves as inputs into the economic machine we are doomed. We have to make this economy work for people as fast as possible.” Markets should be a tool that society uses to its advantage, not something it must be a slave to and in this new emerging economy we will have no choice but to rethink what we label as ‘work’, or more to the point, what we label as ‘valuable.’As Yang rightfully points our current metric, gross domestic product (GDP) is a useless metric for measuring our progress as a society. Our market currently doesn’t value things that are vital to human existence, i.e. family, creativity, meaning and purpose.Right now the market is overrunning everything and we must get past the idea that unless the market says that what you contribute to society is valuable, then it must be worthless. We have no choice but to rethink what it means to be a contributing member of society. The stay at home mom, or dad increasingly, who may not have a job, but who still nevertheless, gets up every morning and gets the kids ready for school, helps with homework, cleans the house, and still finds time to fix dinner, and even volunteer at the local shelter, still contributes to society. Even though the market doesn’t recognize these contributions as valuable. As Yang says in the book, “Our economic system must shift to focus on bettering the lot of the average person. Capitalism has to be made to serve human ends and goals, rather than have our humanity subverted to serve the marketplace. We shape the system. We own it, not the other way around.” The War on Normal People also comes to stand as a serious rebuttal to some of the more optimistic thinkers, such as Thomas Friedman and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who believe that Americans can just simply be transformed into lifelong learners, and thus keep pace with changes in the workplace. But as Yang points out, “Some liberals imagine that we might be able to retrain hundreds of thousands of truckers as software engineers or some other occupation. But the reality is that federally funded retraining programs have an effectiveness rate of between zero and 15% when applied to manufacturing workers, and fewer than 10% of workers qualify for retraining programs as are currently offered anyway.” Adding, “We need to invest in education, job training and placement, apprenticeships, relocation, entrepreneurship, and tax incentives - anything to help make hiring and retaining workers appealing. And then we should acknowledge that, for millions of people, it’s still not going to work.” The oncoming wave of technological unemployment is going to be severe and the challenge we currently face, as Yang writes, “is that humans need work more than work needs us.”However, it’s not just that the future is going to be a place where people can’t find work but that it’s going to be a place where people will no longer need to work.Scott Santens, a writer and UBI activist, has written that, “Human labor is increasingly unnecessary and even economically unviable compared to machine labor. And yet we still insist on money to pay for what our machines are making for us. As long as this remains true, we must begin providing ourselves the money required to purchase what the machines are producing.Without a technological dividend, the engine that is our economy will seize, or we will fight against technological progress itself in the same way some once destroyed their machine replacements. Without non-work income, we will actually fight to keep from being replaced by the technology we built to replace us. To allow this to happen would be truly foolish, for what is the entire purpose of technology but to free us to pursue all we wish to pursue? Fearing the loss of jobs shouldn’t be a fear at all. It should be welcomed. It should be freeing. No one should be asking what we’re going to do if computers take our jobs. We should all be asking what we get to do once freed from them.”Never in the history of the United States would there be anything more conducive to freedom and independence than a universal basic income (UBI). Without economic freedom, liberty is a useless and callous abstract notion that lacks any real meaning for real people.Just think for a moment about all the talent and creativity that is squandered, and has been squandered over the centuries, due to the necessity of work. Think about the hopes that are dashed when we tell our children that they can’t pursue what they’re passionate about, simply because they will need to earn a living. Think about this. We tell our children that they must earn their right to live. We are born into a world that wasn’t of our choosing and then forced into wage slavery if we want to stay alive. Fifty years from now, people will look back in embarrassment that we allowed an economic system to use the fear of not being able to eat as a way to incentivize people to work. It’s appalling and anyone who would advocate for such an arrangement should rightfully be labeled a monster. This, as far as I’m concerned, is why a universal basic income (UBI) is so important and so needed. People would finally be able to exist without having to tolerate a job they hate, and consequently, a life they hate. It would allow people to go home and do something useful with their lives. What’s the number one death bed regret? That we didn’t spend more time with the people we love the most. A universal basic income (UBI) would finally give us that time.A universal basic income (UBI) would also have the added benefit of putting power back into the hands of the working class. In other words, it would right the power imbalances that are inherent in our current economic system, leading to a more egalitarian society overall. It would even improve the bargaining power of millions of low-wage workers forcing employers to increase wages, add benefits and improve conditions in order to retain employees. In addition, if a universal basic income (UBI) replaced specific programs for the poor, it would have the added benefit of reducing government bureaucracy, minimizing government interference in people’s lives and it would allow people to avoid the social stigma that so often accompanies government assistance programs. By virtue of being available to everyone, a universal basic income (UBI) would not only guarantee the material existence of everyone in our society; it would establish a baseline for what membership in that society really means.Mark Zuckerberg, in a commencement address at Harvard said, “Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract. We should have a society that measures progress not by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.”This book has proven to be an eye-opening and insightful analysis concerning our present situation and Yang has done a very effective job at highlighting our upcoming, and fast approaching, employment crisis. He also brings a very unique credibility to the subject, given his entrepreneurship as founder of the nonprofit Venture for America. But more importantly what Yang’s book has done, for me at least, is that it has provided me with a renewed sense of hope. Whether or not he is correct in either his assessments or his prescriptions. Our ability to hope is what will drive us forward into the future. Without it, we will go nowhere and we’ve been without it for sometime now.
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  • Yukari Watanabe/渡辺由佳里
    January 1, 1970
    As soon as I started reading this book, I started telling people around me, "This is exactly the thing I've been telling everyone what we should do to save this country!" And, since I finished the book I've been telling everyone to support Andrew Yang as a presidential candidate for 2020. He is the first presidential candidate since Howard Dean whom I passionately support. I'm going to write a detailed review for Newsweek Japan, but for the American people who reads only English, please, please As soon as I started reading this book, I started telling people around me, "This is exactly the thing I've been telling everyone what we should do to save this country!" And, since I finished the book I've been telling everyone to support Andrew Yang as a presidential candidate for 2020. He is the first presidential candidate since Howard Dean whom I passionately support. I'm going to write a detailed review for Newsweek Japan, but for the American people who reads only English, please, please just read Yang's book.
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  • Caren
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to read this book after hearing the author being interviewed on a podcast:https://samharris.org/podcasts/130-un...I actually listened to some of it in an audio-book format, read by the author, and then finished up by reading a physical book. (The author's audio performance was only so-so, but the content of the book was very thought-provoking.) More and more often, I read about the probability that automation will, in coming years, create worsening unemployment. What will happen to all I wanted to read this book after hearing the author being interviewed on a podcast:https://samharris.org/podcasts/130-un...I actually listened to some of it in an audio-book format, read by the author, and then finished up by reading a physical book. (The author's audio performance was only so-so, but the content of the book was very thought-provoking.) More and more often, I read about the probability that automation will, in coming years, create worsening unemployment. What will happen to all of those displaced workers? Mr. Yang has some interesting solutions in mind, one being universal basic income, funded by a VAT (value added tax, that is, a tax on consumption) of about 10% (which is half of the current VAT rate of European countries). Another solution is using a sort of time bank, in which a person could gain social credits by helping his neighbors with his own areas of expertise in exchange for receiving help later when needed. Mr. Yang plans to run for president in 2020. Given the entrenched two-party system we have in this country, I am dubious that he has much of a chance. Still, he has some serious solutions to problems the mainstream politicians seem to be ignoring. Listen to the podcast, read the book, and see what you think.
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  • Fiona Aboud
    January 1, 1970
    I found this amazing book to be incredibly powerful. The effect of reading Yang's book is literally like waking up and seeing the world in a new way. It's so easy to think of automation as someone else's issue, or a decades-away problem, but the book decidedly convinces the reader that we're already far, far in the middle of revolutionary changes that are manifesting themselves today for millions of people. The book is inspiring in the way it instills urgency. It moved me so strongly that I foun I found this amazing book to be incredibly powerful. The effect of reading Yang's book is literally like waking up and seeing the world in a new way. It's so easy to think of automation as someone else's issue, or a decades-away problem, but the book decidedly convinces the reader that we're already far, far in the middle of revolutionary changes that are manifesting themselves today for millions of people. The book is inspiring in the way it instills urgency. It moved me so strongly that I found myself sharing the arguments and evidence with everyone I know. Very well written, very well supported, and Yang's style is likable, factual, logical, and super engaging. I read the book in a little over a day because I couldn't put it down. Required reading for anyone that cares about the world.
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  • Aaron
    January 1, 1970
    First and foremost, before I get into anything, I fully recommend this book. I'm giving it a perfect score...... But if I could I'd give it a higher score.Get it from the library, Amazon, or borrow it from a friend. Read it asap, it's easily one of the best books of the year. I hope it catches fire before 2020 (more on that at the end of the review).I have been on board the Basic Minimum Income train for a long time (ever since I read "Saving Capitalism), and did not need any further convincing First and foremost, before I get into anything, I fully recommend this book. I'm giving it a perfect score...... But if I could I'd give it a higher score.Get it from the library, Amazon, or borrow it from a friend. Read it asap, it's easily one of the best books of the year. I hope it catches fire before 2020 (more on that at the end of the review).I have been on board the Basic Minimum Income train for a long time (ever since I read "Saving Capitalism), and did not need any further convincing that it constituents good policy.... But Yang's book has reinforced my resolve.The book touches all of the main reasons why a BMI is necessary. Rising inequality, stagnant wages, and reduced opportunitys are only getting worse. Rampant destruction of jobs in the future from automation will only exasperate the situation.... And none of the welfare or Social safety nets we currently have will be able to contain the coming tide of joblessness.A BMI is the only real solution to the problem.Yang Proposes a 1000 dollar a month BMI paid for by folding in every other current welfare program, pluss a 10% VAT. I feel that this strategy (called the Freedom Divided) has a real opportunity to work.Yang also suggests shifting from our current form of Capitalism, to human Capitalism. This entails a whole host of highly progressive reforms that would put a smile on any progressive.My favorite is adding a new law that requires one month of jail time for every 100 million dollars used in a bailout or fined by regulatory agencies (applied to the CEO and the largest shareholder, with clawback provisions to pull resources out of those two individuals).It's something real sweeping stuff, and it's extra impressive since this guy is running for president in 2020.I hope he gains in popularity and rides a populist victory to the White House. Much of what he wants is in line with old school socialists like Bernie Sanders...... But he it will be much harder to ignore him as some pipe dream crazy person.He's a former CEO, lawyer, and entrepreneur. He believes in Capitalism, but knows it must change to have a future. If he has a public speaking presence and takes the Democratic nomination..... He can win this thing.He's got my voteI hope he gets your
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  • Zach
    January 1, 1970
    I literally jumped out of my bed in excitement halfway through reading this book.Andrew Yang completely nails what has caused many of the problems in the US. His simple description of the human effects from automation, and his major policy recommendations to fix them are both a strong reality check and extremely inspirational.Whether you're Republican or Democrat, Andrew clearly proves that automation is real and having a negative effect on our society. Most importantly, instead of just identify I literally jumped out of my bed in excitement halfway through reading this book.Andrew Yang completely nails what has caused many of the problems in the US. His simple description of the human effects from automation, and his major policy recommendations to fix them are both a strong reality check and extremely inspirational.Whether you're Republican or Democrat, Andrew clearly proves that automation is real and having a negative effect on our society. Most importantly, instead of just identifying the problems, he suggests bold (but still realistic) policy solutions that can prepare us for this new reality.It's a quick read, easy to understand and Andrew throws in a few good laughs along the way.Simply put - This is a must-read for all Americans.
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  • Brian Moyer
    January 1, 1970
    Yang did a great job of illustrating the coming wave of automation and its effect on millions of low skilled American jobs (hint - elimination). He also does a good job of covering the common challenges "normal people" face, such as Oxycontin and opioid abuse, near-record income and capital inequality, single parent homes, etc. Then he introduces a plan for a VAT and Universal Basic Income, which I really liked. The problem I have with the book is the same problem I have with a lot of progressiv Yang did a great job of illustrating the coming wave of automation and its effect on millions of low skilled American jobs (hint - elimination). He also does a good job of covering the common challenges "normal people" face, such as Oxycontin and opioid abuse, near-record income and capital inequality, single parent homes, etc. Then he introduces a plan for a VAT and Universal Basic Income, which I really liked. The problem I have with the book is the same problem I have with a lot of progressive media over the last 10-12 years. It's naive about how the real world works and lacks a call to action. It's like listening to NPR, reading the Huffington Post, or reading an Obama book. Very inspiring but naive.The government should... The government should... The government should... Guess what, Republicans have locked up a 30 year initiative to gerrymander Democrats voices out of Congress and State Legislatures. A VAT to pay for UBI would improve the lives of 100s of millions of Americans, but has a near 0 chance of happening before 2030. Liberals are mostly satisfied to posture on social media against injustice and they get out to vote only once every 4 years for a general Presidential election. Until Democrats realize they need to start taking back state Legislatures in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, they will remain gerrymandered and everything in this book is a pipe dream. Democrats need to take back some control of drawing voting districts after each census and abolish the electoral college before any broad progressive agenda will make it's way through Washington. Until then, we'll have a Democratic populist President without control of both the House and Senate. Millions of jobs (truck drivers, retail workers, call center personnel, medical office assistants, Uber and taxi drivers, paralegals, Amazon workers just to start) will be automated into extinction, and nothing will be done to prevent it.
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  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    You know when you sit around with friends, a drink in hand, and hash out just what is wrong with the world and how to fix it? That is what this book is like. The author is obviously well-researched, well-intentioned and well-off. There is very good information in these pages - he covers a wide range of social issues and his views, backed by reputable sources, are somewhat utopian in nature. But there were times when his voice grated on me. The title is no good and he should not have chosen it - You know when you sit around with friends, a drink in hand, and hash out just what is wrong with the world and how to fix it? That is what this book is like. The author is obviously well-researched, well-intentioned and well-off. There is very good information in these pages - he covers a wide range of social issues and his views, backed by reputable sources, are somewhat utopian in nature. But there were times when his voice grated on me. The title is no good and he should not have chosen it - it reeks of entitlement, of how us "normal" people are being destroyed through an active campaign of war. Yes, I have a degree or two, but I am of the "normal" people and it is in our DNA to dislike elitist hippies, regardless of how well-meaning they are. We hate outsiders pointing out our failings, whether we need to hear it or not and yes, I realize how illogical my own reaction is. So - while there is so much good information in these pages - there is a specific audience for this book - and it is not "normals". Because of my conflicting feelings I cannot fairly rate this book so I leave it at zero.
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  • Ben
    January 1, 1970
    Universal Basic Income is a really interesting idea and it seems it would have something for everyone. Conservatives should like it because it can eliminate the cumbersome bureaucracy and disincentive to work of the current welfare state. Liberals should like it because it provides a safety net for the poor. Globalists and technocrats should like it because it will help them sleep better at night as they systematically eliminate millions of jobs. And the people who hold those soon to be obsolete Universal Basic Income is a really interesting idea and it seems it would have something for everyone. Conservatives should like it because it can eliminate the cumbersome bureaucracy and disincentive to work of the current welfare state. Liberals should like it because it provides a safety net for the poor. Globalists and technocrats should like it because it will help them sleep better at night as they systematically eliminate millions of jobs. And the people who hold those soon to be obsolete jobs would breathe easier knowing the rent will still be paid. Seems to be a great idea that should be able to transcend partisan politics. Of course, partisan politics infects everything these days so it’s probably fanciful thinking that politicians will actually have a reasonable, data-driven debate about the most important issue of our generation. Nah let’s just keep scoring points for our tribe instead!
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  • Daniel Arnstein
    January 1, 1970
    Human Capitalism is an excellent economic system that should be institutionalized within America. Yes, radicalizing an entire economic system seems crazy at first; but once you wrap your head around how basic it could be to implement & how effective it could be for 350,000,000 people, it feels like the only way forward. Human Capitalism builds a system for what America should look like in the 22nd century and beyond. In a world where globalism and technology are changing at a rate faster tha Human Capitalism is an excellent economic system that should be institutionalized within America. Yes, radicalizing an entire economic system seems crazy at first; but once you wrap your head around how basic it could be to implement & how effective it could be for 350,000,000 people, it feels like the only way forward. Human Capitalism builds a system for what America should look like in the 22nd century and beyond. In a world where globalism and technology are changing at a rate faster than most can keep up, it is time to truly help those left behind. Which American hubs will be thriving in 40 years? Can you list 25 cities with confidence? What will cities that thrived through the entire 20th century look like when current trends maintain their downward trajectory? We need to flip the system. We need to create an engine that will inspire people to be good, to do good, and to use the time they have to live a life of beauty. This book explores a way to do so. A universal basic income is the way to do so. It will unlock the next stage of humanity.
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  • Brendan Egan
    January 1, 1970
    Lots of good information in here about the future of jobs and their place in society. Even if predictions are off a little, AI is definitely coming for our jobs at some point. That store or restaurant is going to replace workers with kiosks whether we raise the minimum wage or not.Andrew's book will give you an idea of what to expect, and present some options and solutions for the future so that society doesn't decay and fall into ruin when no one can support themselves anymore.Check it out. An Lots of good information in here about the future of jobs and their place in society. Even if predictions are off a little, AI is definitely coming for our jobs at some point. That store or restaurant is going to replace workers with kiosks whether we raise the minimum wage or not.Andrew's book will give you an idea of what to expect, and present some options and solutions for the future so that society doesn't decay and fall into ruin when no one can support themselves anymore.Check it out. An interesting and quick read about issues we're going to have to deal with sooner or later. And, like the book says, sooner is the better option.
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  • C.J. Shane
    January 1, 1970
    I’ll admit. When I first heard about the idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI), I cynically thought that the chance of that happening in this country was as likely as gun control being implemented. Zero chance. Then I read Andrew Yang’s book The War on Normal People. He makes a very compelling argument for Universal Basic Income and Medicare for everyone. I also really like his "social credits" program which is in operation in a number of U.S. cities. Several countries are conducting small-scale I’ll admit. When I first heard about the idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI), I cynically thought that the chance of that happening in this country was as likely as gun control being implemented. Zero chance. Then I read Andrew Yang’s book The War on Normal People. He makes a very compelling argument for Universal Basic Income and Medicare for everyone. I also really like his "social credits" program which is in operation in a number of U.S. cities. Several countries are conducting small-scale UBI experiments now, among them Finland and Canada. There are UBI programs in place now in Alaska and Stockton, California. Yang’s ideas aren’t just pie-in-the sky. We have working models for change.However, not often mentioned in reviews of his book is Yang’s detailed and very well-documented description of the social disintegration happening in our country – what he calls the Great Displacement. In particular, he documents what is happening to our men and boys. Most of the manufacturing jobs that have been lost were held by men, as are most of the jobs in transportation currently being lost. [Keep in mind that unemployment statistics are lower than the actual unemployment rate because the statistics only count those individuals looking for a job. If a man has given up finding a job, then he’s not counted in the unemployment statistics.] I was shocked to learn how many people (again, most often males) are on disability. Millions of people! Disability is acting as a replacement for insubstantial or nonexistent unemployment insurance benefits for those who have been laid off from long-term jobs.At every level and institution, Yang points out how we are failing our boys and men. The education system is structured to favor girls who mature faster and who are less “rowdy” than little boys (sports, PE, arts, music have all been cut), and there are not enough options for boys when/if they graduate from high school to do something other than go to college. Yang makes the argument that college is questionable now give that a) higher ed is incredibly expensive; 2) jobs are not that easy to find after college; 3) a lot of so-called white collar jobs are becoming subject to artificial intelligence/automation as well (medicine, finance, law, etc.); 4) and most compelling, maybe a young man prefers to work with his hands. Yang argues in favor of more technical and vocational education that lead to real job options after training. Someone fixed the air conditioning in Yang’s building when it broke down. The fixer wasn’t a computer. It was a trained worker.Another problem affecting males is the lack of male parenting and mentorship. More and more families are female-headed which statistically leads to a high number of problems in boys and young men raised in those families. Yang has a high value for parenting. He has a wife and two sons. I give five stars to Yang for being the only man writing about current economic events who actually talks about the challenges and rewards of parenting. Many of the people (again mainly men) who lose jobs often end up abusing various substances (opioids, alcohol), and if they are young, they choose video games over the grim and limited “real life” they are left with. He devotes an entire chapter to the intense appeal of gaming to young men. I read just yesterday that the World Health Organization has recognized “gaming disorder” as a mental health problem.Our culture suffers from some failed ideas, especially that of “meritocracy.” Too many of us believe in the myth that if you are successful (read: you have money) that must mean you are working harder than everyone else. It dates back the Puritan idea that prosperity was a sign of God’s approval. If you were poor, then that was the sign that God didn’t love you. (this is most commonly called the Protestant Work Ethic). Today, Yang points out that there are many factors that hamper a person ever having an even chance of succeeding through hard work: where you are born, how much money your parents have, your sex, your race, and, yes, luck. Seriously. Do you think a kid that grows up in rural Madison County in the Arkansas Ozarks has the same chance at success as a kid born into a wealthy family in The Hamptons? Yang’s book is about a lot more than Universal Basic Income. It’s about what’s wrong with America now. He’s asking us what we’re going to do about it. And he has some very good ideas about how to correct these growing problems. Andrew Yang is running for president. I figure the entrenched Old Guard of the Democratic Party is unlikely to give him a chance. The Republicans (devoted to assisting the already-rich) will do everything they can to undermine him. My hope is that Yang will be able to change the conversation we’re having in this country. However, if Andrew Yang miraculously shows up on the ballot box in 2020, he’s got my vote.
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  • Meow
    January 1, 1970
    This review is long overdue and I find myself often referring back to bits and pieces I’ve read. The War On Normal People is a frightening commentary of our American economy and how ever advancing technology has already and will continue to create an epic scale of unemployment. More and more jobs are being eliminated as a result of “automation” and how is this affecting our society? Humans being rendered useless or irrelevant because their skillset is easily replaced by robotics, artificial inte This review is long overdue and I find myself often referring back to bits and pieces I’ve read. The War On Normal People is a frightening commentary of our American economy and how ever advancing technology has already and will continue to create an epic scale of unemployment. More and more jobs are being eliminated as a result of “automation” and how is this affecting our society? Humans being rendered useless or irrelevant because their skillset is easily replaced by robotics, artificial intelligence, and all our modern day technology? What future can we look to?The War On Normal People examines the future and the concept of a Universal Basic Income which would provide a guaranteed income for “normal people”. The author feels this “UBI” concept is a necessary and unavoidable step to create a more stable and long lasting type of economy - an economy akin to “human capitalism”.An excellent and engaging read! Thank you Hachette Books and NetGalley for the advance digital ebook!
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I was absolutely shocked by this book and can't stop talking about it. The author gives a background of the largest income sectors in the US, all of which have lost or will lose jobs to automation, including retail and trucking, and the impact this will have on income inequality, families, and the future economy - and he has a plan for how to ameliorate the situation.I'll do pretty much anything to avoid going to a mall (I bought this book from The Major Online Retailer!) and there's no shortage I was absolutely shocked by this book and can't stop talking about it. The author gives a background of the largest income sectors in the US, all of which have lost or will lose jobs to automation, including retail and trucking, and the impact this will have on income inequality, families, and the future economy - and he has a plan for how to ameliorate the situation.I'll do pretty much anything to avoid going to a mall (I bought this book from The Major Online Retailer!) and there's no shortage of vacant retail space in my city, but the bleak statistics on retail were still a surprise.Page 30: "The year 2017 marked the beginning of what is being called the 'Retail Apocalypse.' One hundred thousand department store workers were laid off between October 2016 and May 2017 - more than all of the people employed in the coal industry combined."Page 30: "Credit Suisse estimated that 8,640 major retail locations will close in 2017, the highest number in history, exceeding the 2008 peak during the financial crisis. Credit Suisse also estimated that as many as 147 million square feet of retail space will close in 2017, another all-time high... the equivalent of 52 Malls of America are closing in 2017, or one per week."Page 32: "On average, a single Macy's store generates about $36 million a year. At current sales tax and property tax rates, that store, if closed, would leave a budget hole of several million dollars for the state and county to deal with."What will this mean for our economy and our society if automation continues without a plan for those displaced? Why aren't we discussing this at a national level?
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  • Jakub Ferencik
    January 1, 1970
    THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK I'VE READ THIS YEAR. The first time I heard about Andrew Yang was when he was on Sam Harris' podcast, "Waking Up". Yang is a current 2020 presidential candidate and successful entrepreneur that has spoken to many about creating jobs efficiently, including the former president, Barack Obama. Yang paints a very bleak picture for the future of humanity, our economy, and jobs. He looks at the speed of automation and how the workforce will go through a complete revolut THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK I'VE READ THIS YEAR. The first time I heard about Andrew Yang was when he was on Sam Harris' podcast, "Waking Up". Yang is a current 2020 presidential candidate and successful entrepreneur that has spoken to many about creating jobs efficiently, including the former president, Barack Obama. Yang paints a very bleak picture for the future of humanity, our economy, and jobs. He looks at the speed of automation and how the workforce will go through a complete revolution within a couple of decades - if not sooner - because of the velocity of this change.Towards the end of the book (I read it in one sitting - it was that enticing) I felt perplexed, depressed even, with the situation at hand. This is not the problem of my future kids. This is our generation's problem. This is a challenge that we need to solve. That is why Yang proposes Universal Basic Income (UBI). UBI is not a new concept. Everyone from Obama to Bill Gates to Elon Musk to John Stuart Mill to Karl Marx has predicted capitalism to run its course to the point of no longer being a functional economic system. We're entering a new era of post-capitalism in which we'll have to have more control on the ecology, economy, and trade. A lot is about to change. Philosophers where you at?Yang ends in an optimistic note, however, saying if we raise awareness for the future, we'll be able to prevent calamity, destruction, and an apocalyptic nightmare. This is the most important book I've read this year. I plan on supporting Yang's campaign financially and I urge you to consider doing the same.
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  • thebakedbook
    January 1, 1970
    Such a good read, and I'm really excited for his candidacy for President. I'm glad that someone is running with the UBI platform. I feel most people know that automation is on its way (or already here), and the issues he brings up would be really hard to argue the opposite. It is a TRIP to think about all of these institutions becoming obsolete: college, cashiers, lawyers, doctors, factory line workers... etc etc. Our government has the capability of being about 30 years behind (sometimes it see Such a good read, and I'm really excited for his candidacy for President. I'm glad that someone is running with the UBI platform. I feel most people know that automation is on its way (or already here), and the issues he brings up would be really hard to argue the opposite. It is a TRIP to think about all of these institutions becoming obsolete: college, cashiers, lawyers, doctors, factory line workers... etc etc. Our government has the capability of being about 30 years behind (sometimes it seems like CENTURIES) behind on legislation to match the issue. Yang is introducing a radical shift in work to eradicate poverty. I believe a lot of our problems are stemmed from poverty, or lacking stability because of lack of money. One things that kind of peeved me, was how hang called for UBI and single payer income as "human focused capitalism" instead of SOCIALISM. Like... its socialism. I get it... the word is stigmatized by fascists, but its socialism. Would love to hear more people talk about this, because Yang is correct, it is not the business owners responsibility to care about anything than "what the market decides" or "efficiency". It is the job of the government to implement regulation to prevent... oh I dunno... the collapse of modern society. I think a collapse is coming with or without UBI (peak oil, climate change, etc.) but UBI would at least give us a last hurrah so were not all complete starved as the planet rejects our industrialism. I would recommend this to everyone. Its pretty accessible, and an interesting, informative take on UBI.
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  • Lana
    January 1, 1970
    This was an interesting read. The author has done a lot of research and the book is full with alarming statistics about how many jobs are being lost by automation and technology. He also is making bold predictions about how many Americans will be unable to find jobs in the future because of this automation. The picture he paints of the future is quite bleak. However, I can’t help but think that this was what humanity thought so many times before. When the industrial revolution started, I’m sure This was an interesting read. The author has done a lot of research and the book is full with alarming statistics about how many jobs are being lost by automation and technology. He also is making bold predictions about how many Americans will be unable to find jobs in the future because of this automation. The picture he paints of the future is quite bleak. However, I can’t help but think that this was what humanity thought so many times before. When the industrial revolution started, I’m sure people thought all jobs would disappear. They didn’t. The optimist in me can’t buy into the author’s conclusions. Furthermore, I don’t believe a “Universal Basic Income” would solve anything. It would likely create more problems than we already have. I would have rated the book higher if the part about “UBI” was omitted, since it was quite a jump and didn’t seem to fit with the rest of his arguments.
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  • Riley Redd
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very important book. Every American ought to read it. Universal Basic Income is an absolute necessity now.
  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    I knew I wasn't going to be thrilled with this guy. I just forced myself to read this because he's running for president in 2020. He probably will be one of the better candidates but I still can't say that I agree with most of his ideas. It's not universal basic income that bothers me. I actually think UBI does make sense right now. The problem is that it should be part of a plan for transitioning to a degrowth economic system and a truly sustainable way of life. Instead, Yang pushes the idea as I knew I wasn't going to be thrilled with this guy. I just forced myself to read this because he's running for president in 2020. He probably will be one of the better candidates but I still can't say that I agree with most of his ideas. It's not universal basic income that bothers me. I actually think UBI does make sense right now. The problem is that it should be part of a plan for transitioning to a degrowth economic system and a truly sustainable way of life. Instead, Yang pushes the idea as a way to encourage growth, by giving more money to the poor who will actually spend it instead of hoarding it in offshore tax havens, and taking the pressure off people so they can feel more comfortable taking risks and innovating new things, etc. That "trickle up" concept does make perfect sense from the mainstream perspective, basically the idea that the American middle class lifestyle should be the ideal for everyone on the planet, but when you understand how inherently unsustainable it is to be so reliant on high-tech gadgets and such a complex global industrial infrastructure you realize that this misses the bigger picture. Less jobs and less working hours should be a good thing because we're already producing and consuming way too much crap, and obviously if the things we use could be made more efficiently and with less effort then why do it the more wasteful or harder way? A lot of the jobs people are doing right now aren't just totally unnecessary, they're actually causing more harm than good. They're only being kept around because these workers need money. Society would literally be better off with these people being paid to sit at home and do nothing all day. It really is completely insane. As much sense as it makes to adopt a basic income though, I'm still not convinced that it's going to happen. The title would be more accurate if it was Why Universal Basic Income SHOULD BE Our Future, rather than IS. Looking around, it seems more likely that people will keep demanding that their lives be made as shitty as possible, the poor will keep being sacrificed even when it's in the rich's own best interest to help them (so they can afford to keep consuming), and stupid industries that should have vanished a long time ago, such as coal, manufacturing by hand and creating toxic farm chemicals, will keep getting subsidized with these idiotic job creation schemes. I do hope I'm wrong about that, of course. I'd much rather that people wake up, vote for things that actually make sense and that someday I can actually feel good about the way I'm spending my time on this planet. That's just hard to imagine at this point. Again though, I'm not giving this a relatively bad review just because I think his good ideas will be ignored. There are a lot of ideas in here that aren't that good.
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  • Daniel
    January 1, 1970
    Yang is running for America presidency 2020. He is the founder of Venture For America which distributed talents into developing cities in America, to staunch the brain drain of smart people into the coastal cities. Yang described the future jobless scenario when most things would be done by AI and robots. Though new jobs would be created, it will be 20 smart coders replacing 10000 blue or while collar workers. Many people will be out of a job, community will disintegrate and we will be living in Yang is running for America presidency 2020. He is the founder of Venture For America which distributed talents into developing cities in America, to staunch the brain drain of smart people into the coastal cities. Yang described the future jobless scenario when most things would be done by AI and robots. Though new jobs would be created, it will be 20 smart coders replacing 10000 blue or while collar workers. Many people will be out of a job, community will disintegrate and we will be living in a dystopic world where the rich lives apart in gated cities and the poor in crime infested wasteland. Yang promised to change all these by:1. Universal basic income for all, the Freedom Dividend. He would give $12k per year for adults 18-64 of age. He thinks that a 10% value added tax will pay for it. A quick calculation: US census 2017: 62% of population aged 18-64, or 326 million. Total cost= 12000 x 326 million = $2.4 trillionSaving on stopping welfare programs: $0.7 trillionSo total additional cost: $1.7 trillionCurrent US budget revenue: $3.3 trillion for comparison so yes Yang will be asking for a 50% increase in the budget to pay for the Freedom Dividend. Current US GDP: $20.4 trillionBut GST is a value added tax so only the final consumer pays the full amount. The intermediaries only pay the value added part. For comparison, in Canada the VAT rate is 5% but actual amount of VAT collected is only 2.2% of GDP. Additional the real VAT rate required = 1.7/20.4/45%= 19%. From Canada’s experience, the government would only collect about 0.9 trillion from VAT whereas the cost is $1.7. So there may be an additional deficit if 0.8 billion dollars... Yang is confident that the cash received will be spent and increase demand to grow the economy a lot. Canada is actually not bad; in Singapore the collected VAT (or Goods and Services Tax) was only 33% of the actual tax rate because there are exemptions for companies with less than 1 million turnover, and for some government hospital bills. 2. Disallow public servants from joining industries they regulate. Raise their pay dramatically 3. Federal Social Credit: when you help someone you earn this credit which can be used to ask for help when you need.4. Single payer health care. Disallow doctors from fighting to keep the current pay-for-service system 5. Make sure people stay married to improve education outcome. Provide paid maternity and paternity leave, counselling. 6. Jail CEO of public companies, a certain period for each $100 million dollar fine even because those fines are peanuts compared to the revenue of medication such as oxycontin which he thinks caused so much opioid addiction.7. Use AI to provide guidance for all sorts of counselling for marriage.8. Cut education cost: cut admin staff and force rich endowments to spend 6-8% of their income for poor students.This book gives an extremely gloomy prediction of the near future. However enacting these massive changes may be even beyond the American President.
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  • Andrew Georgiadis
    January 1, 1970
    “More men aged 18-34 are now living with their parents than with romantic partners...”Andrew Yang has written a provocative little book. The majority of the work presents us with an unmistakable truth: society has changed, conventional jobs are disappearing, there are two Americas divergent in economic outlook, and working-age lower-educated Americans (particularly white and rural) are increasingly left out of the equation.The data he presents is staggering, and even the most intrepid news junki “More men aged 18-34 are now living with their parents than with romantic partners...”Andrew Yang has written a provocative little book. The majority of the work presents us with an unmistakable truth: society has changed, conventional jobs are disappearing, there are two Americas divergent in economic outlook, and working-age lower-educated Americans (particularly white and rural) are increasingly left out of the equation.The data he presents is staggering, and even the most intrepid news junkie will find new information herein. One in six working age men is out of the workforce. Most of the new jobs “created” in the last 10 years are temporary or part-time positions (viz. without benefits or long-term prospects). Job retraining efforts, as currently constructed, generally don’t work. Computers can out-perform radiologists in many tasks. 1% of Americans apply for disability every year. University education has increased in cost ~500% in the last 20 years, and university administrators are now more numerous than all college teaching, research, and service staff combined. Of 196 countries in the world, only Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, Swaziland, and the United States of America do not mandate paid leave for new mothers. And so on.The crux of his argument boils down to Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a solution. Every American would get $1,000/month. The government is capable of mailing checks successfully – an argument in favor of feasibility. The arguments against UBI are numerous and treated in brief. * “It will decrease incentive to work”: small studies show it decreases work hours only slightly, mostly in high school aged kids or working mothers, to the tune of 5 hours/wk. * “It will cause inflation”: not so, as evidenced by other, even larger bank bailouts. * “It is unaffordable”: We are one of the only developed nations that does not have a value added tax (VAT), the proposed payment model. * “People will waste their money on drugs, etc”: there is evidence against this, based on other state-based programs that provide dividends to entire populations.Still, the details on UBI are scarcer than the overall message of urgency about American workers and a coming storm. UBI almost passed the US Congress in the 1970s, with the support of Richard Nixon. Radical changes are needed in this radically changing world. While I am not wholly convinced by this book alone, Yang is right about the concerns that have led him to support UBI. His urgency is unmistakable: “The revolution will happen either before or after the breakdown of society. We must choose before.”
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