“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer.
There is proof Andrew Yang is now a major presidential candidate. The American pundit class has launched an all out attack on Yang.
Pundits on both the left and the right are gunning for Yang. Yang’s impressive performance in the 15 October 2019 Democratic presidential debates inspired these ugly headlines:
“Andrew Yang Is Full of It” – Jordan Weissmann in Slate, 17 October 2019.
“Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman” – Rich Lowry in National Review, 18 October 2019.
“Democrats, Avoid the Robot Rabbit Hole: The automation obsession is an escapist fantasy ” – Paul Krugman in The New York Times, 17 October 2019.
Why do the Intellectuals Hate Andrew Yang?
Yang has become the new Trump. Everything Yang says and does seems to offend the intelligentsia. So we need to ask, why are the pundits so angry at Yang?
First, because Yang correctly points out the obvious but disturbing trends in modern society, the elitists prefer to ignore. In particular, the growing threat technology poses to jobs and middle-class incomes.
Notably, the Associated Press Fact Check of the 15 October debate had this to say about the recent job loss in America: “THE FACTS: Economists mostly blame those job losses on automation and robots, not trade deals.”
Thus Yang’s argument that technology is killing jobs is correct, but the pundits cannot see it. Yet average people can see the truth – why?
The Two Americas: Yang’s and the Pundit’s
My guess is that pundits and ordinary people live in two different Americas.
A soccer mom who shops at Walmart (NYSE: WMT); for instance, sees the robots that retailer is putting on the store floor. In addition, that soccer mom probably knows other women who lost their clerical jobs because of digital technology.
In contrast, the pundit who shops on Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN); and Instacart, does not see the robots who pack his groceries and underwear. Additionally, the pundit probably has no friends who are bagging groceries because they cannot find an office job.
Moreover, the pundit profits from automation because his Amazon stock’s share price goes up. In addition, the pundit will probably have a job, health insurance, and a decent income five or 10 years from now.
In contrast, the truck driver, the receptionist, and the bank teller could have none of those things in a few years. Instead, those people face a lifetime of shit jobs, low wages, and financial insecurity.
Consequently, the biggest problem in the pundits’ America is Donald J. Trump (R-New York). Meanwhile, the biggest problems in ordinary people’s America are paying the bills and putting food on the table.
Most ordinary Americans suspect technology threatens their income and ability to pay bills and buy food. In addition, most ordinary Americans understand Trump’s presence in the White House does not affect their ability to make money.
Indeed, ordinary Americans know Trump’s move from the Oval Office to Celebrity Apprentice 2021 will not stop technological employment and income insecurity.
Why Ordinary People Like Yang
“The best revenge is not to be like that.” — Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and philosopher.
Hence, the pundits do not understand ordinary Americans or their fears. Yang, however does and is touching a nerve. In fact, Yang came in fourth in Emerson Polling’s 2020 Democratic Primary/Caucus poll.
Notably, Yang beat such media favorites as US Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii); and North Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Indiana), in Emerson’s ranking. Hence, one reason the Pundit class hates Yang is that ordinary people like him.
In fact, Yang dared to tell a story about his friendship with a truck driver when CNN’s Anderson Cooper hit him with a loaded question about Ellen DeGeneres’s friendship with former President George W. Bush (R-Texas) on 15 October. Interestingly, Forbes’ Christopher Rim thinks “Andrew Yang Had The Best Answer To The Ellen Question.”
Essentially, what Yang said to the chattering class is: “your questions and opinions are irrelevant to ordinary people. Here’s what really matters to them.”
Yang offends the intelligentsia by saying ordinary people are as smart; or smarter than, the intellectuals. In addition, Yang tells the pundits they need to shut their mouths and listen to ordinary people.
Yang is succeeding because he listens to ordinary people and treats them with respect. Unlike Trump, Yang does not manipulate ordinary people’s fears and prejudices. In contrast to the pundits, Yang values what ordinary people think.
Krugman Does Not Care if 25% of Americans are Unemployed
The most frightening response to Yang is from Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman in The New York Times.
Krugman concedes the truth of a Brookings Institution study that finds 25% of American jobs are at a high risk of being automated away in coming decades. Theoretically, one out of four Americans could have no job soon.
That’s an unemployment level of 25%, higher than the worst year of the Great Depression; 1933 when unemployment was 24.9%. Hence, Krugman does not care about Great Depression level unemployment. My guess is Krugman will not notice that unemployment until rampaging mobs burn the Trump Tower and The New York Times’ building.
Paul Krugman’s Fantasy Economy
Instead, both Krugman and Lowry believe the economy will magically create good jobs for all Americans.
Oddly, Pollyannas such as Lowry and Krugman, are partially right America’s economy is creating lots of jobs. In fact, the USA had a 3.7% unemployment rate in August 2019. However, most of those positions are low paying, and often menial.
CNBC’s 2019 list of 20 fastest growing jobs in America includes such glamorous positions as home health aides and personal care aides. I cannot imagine America’s truck drivers, accountants, investment advisers, bankers, insurance salespeople, lawyers, retail managers, and factory workers settling for a life of bedpan cleaning.
Yet, Kruman believes they will; and will probably hold that fantasy until the first brick crashes through The New York Times’ lobby window. Sadly, bountiful full employment is only one of many economic fantasies the pundits believe.
The Imaginary Golden Age
Disturbingly, Krugman and Lowry cite the mid-20th Century (around 1950) as a “Golden Age” of high employment in America to support their theories. Krugman and Lowry broadcast their ignorance of history by making that assertion.
That “Golden Age” only occurred because of World War II. First, the war ended America’s unemployment problem by creating “jobs” for Americans in war industry and the military. For instance, there were 12.209 million Americans in the military in 1945, The National World War II Museum estimates.
Second, the war destroyed most of the industry in competing nations like Japan, France, Germany, the Soviet Union, China, and the United Kingdom. Hence American industry enjoyed a 20-year period (roughly 1940 to 1960) in which it had no effective competition.
The only way Lowry and Krugman’s Golden Age can occur is if we fight World War III in the next decade, and it is a repeat of World War II. Personally, I believe neither event will occur.
The existence of nuclear weapons makes World War III unlikely. Moreover, I think robots and artificial intelligence will fight the next war. In addition, I think robots will make the weapons for the next war.
The Pundits have no Answers
Hence, Krugman, and Lowry, have no answers only shallow nostalgia. I think the real escapist fantasy is Krugman; and Lowry’s, rosy predictions of the technology creating limitless good jobs.
Thus, ordinary Americans are right and correct to doubt the pundit class. The intelligentsia has no answers, only empty culturalism and bad economics.
Originally published at https://marketmadhouse.com on October 20, 2019.