Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang talking about urban entrepreneurship at Techonomy Conference 2015 in Detroit, MI.

Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang will be visiting Ames this Thursday as part of a six-state tour to promote his platform, which advocates for universal income, universal health care and “human-centered" capitalism.

Yang, an entrepreneur and founder of Venture for America, announced his candidacy on Nov. 6, 2017. A Democrat, Yang’s non-profit work through Venture for America aims to revitalize American cities through entrepreneurship in young professionals.

“I am running for president because we are in the third inning of the greatest economic and technological transformation in the history of the world,” Yang said. “I am running for president to help our society evolve and create an economy that works for us all — young people in particular.”

Prioritized in his campaign is what he refers to is a universal basic income called “the Freedom Dividend.” Through this policy, Yang wants to give every American adult $1,000/month despite one’s work, status or any other factors.

Yang, 44, believes this would allow all Americans to “pay their bills, educate themselves, start businesses, be more creative, stay healthy, relocate for work, spend time with their children, take care of loved ones and have a real stake in the future.”

“I realize anyone reading this might think that literally sounds too good to be true,” Yang said. “... What I’m saying to the people of Iowa is what we all know, which is that technology is the oil of the 21st century. This is much more of a deeply American idea than most people think.”

To test this, Yang has created a form on his website for Iowans to nominate someone to receive the dividend.

The nominee, selected in March, will receive an “unconditional payment of $1,000 a month,” personally funded by Yang. The only requirements include being a resident of Iowa who is an American citizen and over the age of 18.

“The most impressive thing is that a supporter in Georgia was so inspired by my campaign that they are now funding a Freedom Dividend to another family in South Carolina,” Yang said.

Like previous Democratic presidential hopefuls, Yang is also running a “Medicare for All” policy. Yang hopes, either through expanding Medicare or creating a new system entirely, to move toward single-payer health care.

Additionally, Yang would like to create what he refers to as “Human Capitalism.” The central tenets, as listed on his website, include seeing humans as more important than money; seeing each person, not each dollar; and creating markets that “exist to serve our common goals and values.”

In the higher education space, Yang believes how expensive college became in the past 25 years is one of the hardest problems to be solved.

“Not only do we have to put more money in the students' hands through the ‘Freedom Dividend,’ but we also have to get the cost of college down,” Yang said. “The best way way to do that is to work with schools to help lighten their cost structures.”

Yang said he is also for “mass forgiveness of student loan debt.”

“Not only do I want to give people $1,000 per month starting at age 18, I want to lower the cost of college and I want to forgive many of the outstanding student loan debts because that would be a stimulus of the economy,” Yang said.

Yang will be traveling across Iowa on Wednesday through Saturday. He will be in Ames on Thursday to meet with Story County Democrats at 11 a.m. at the Iowa Stater Restaurant.

“The young people of Iowa may not know this, but the future of the country rests in your hands. It’s up to you to decide who is going to be the next president ... It’s an incredible responsibility,” Yang said.

Reporting contributed by Emily Berch.

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