, 12 tweets, 3 min read
1/OK, so, here's a thread about Andrew Yang, automation, and UBI, as requested by some members of the #YangGang2020.
2/I've repeatedly said that I think Yang is wrong about the threat of automation. Though robots may put humans out of a job someday, it definitely hasn't happened yet, and isn't happening right now.

BUT, I like Yang's focus on UBI!

How can this be?
3/Well, I think there are many good reasons for UBI that DON'T rely on the threat of automation taking jobs and lowering wages.

UBI provides economic security to people, allowing them to start businesses, go to school, have kids, switch jobs, etc. without fear of destitution.
4/In addition, evidence shows that UBI doesn't make people stop working. This means it's an efficient way of redistributing income.

5/So if I like UBI, why do I argue AGAINST the "automation threat" rhetoric?

Answer: Because I worry it'll contribute to anti-tech sentiment, which will harm the U.S. economy.
6/Yang's argument is basically a two-step argument.

Step 1: Automation is taking our jobs.

Step 2: Therefore, we need UBI.

Sorry, but two-step arguments are too hard for the general public to understand clearly. Lots of people are going to only hear Step 1.
7/Lots of people who hear the "robots are taking our jobs" rhetoric are going to ignore the UBI solution, and concentrate on boneheaded Luddite anti-tech ideas like a "Robot Tax".

De Blasio has already proposed this travesty.

8/The idea that technology is destroying jobs is a very appealing one. It offers a villain (the tech industry) that can be easily attacked with new regulations and taxes. Much cheaper to attack tech than to implement UBI!
9/So the reason I go out of my way to contradict @AndrewYang's rhetoric on robots is that I think it will ultimately lead not to embrace of UBI, but to an anti-tech panic.

And that is something I do not think Yang wants.
10/So how can the #YangGang and other UBI advocates improve their case?

Start developing and advancing a large variety of justifications for UBI!

@MattBruenig has plenty.
11/In addition to avoiding an anti-tech panic, developing more arguments for UBI represents diversification. It would allow @AndrewYang to push his big idea without relying on speculative predictions about the future.
12/Ultimately, what the U.S. needs is MORE robots, and better tech, to compete globally.

We just need ways to distribute the income from those robots more broadly.

Redistribute the robots!

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