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Andrew Yang: We need a human-centered capitalism
A universal basic income is just one of Andrew Yang's ideas to update capitalism for the 21st century.
- Andrew Yang's universal basic income proposal has gained a lot of attention, but it is just one part of his "human-center capitalism" philosophy.
- Human-centered capitalism calls for government to refocus on human wellbeing, not GDP growth, as the go-to metric of economic success.
- Yang is one of many thinkers looking to update capitalism for the 21st century.
Andrew Yang's presidential bid has been receiving a lot of attention for his universal basic income (UBI) proposal. Called the Freedom Dividend, it would provide every American citizen over the age of 18 $1,000 every month for the rest of their lives. No strings attached.
Yang argues his proposal offers a slew of benefits: it will grow the economy, uplift people from poverty, enhance economic wellbeing, and offset the devastation automation will soon wreak on the workforce. He points to the Alaska Permanent Fund and other UBI studies to suggest the efficacy of such a policy.Despite the attention heaped upon it, a UBI is only part of a detailed and comprehensive philosophy motivating Yang's politics. Dubbed "human-centered capitalism," if adopted, it could dramatically shift the way the United States government views its relationship to the American people and their economy
What is human-centered capitalism?
A statue of Adam Smith in Edinburgh's High Street. His The Wealth of Nations challenged mercantilism and ushered in industrial capitalism. Are we due for another update to capitalism? (Photo: Kim Traynor/Wikimedia Commons)
In his book The War on Normal People, Yang defines human-centered capitalism as an update to or the next stage of classical capitalism. Contemporary American culture, Yang argues, imagines capitalism as a natural fit for the human condition, especially when compared to the centralized mechanisms of socialism. In turn, our culture tends to view the two as binary, almost Manichaean, opposites.
But these cultural arguments often miss some important points, including: Capitalism is not natural, and Western societies have experimented with many economic systems; there has never been a pure, laissez-faire capitalist system; and our form of corporate capitalism is but one of many.
Human-centered capitalism is Yang's answer to the problems plaguing our current form — one that sees the human experience, not institutions, corporations, or GDP growth, as the measure of economic success.
This economic philosophy follows three core tenets. They are:
- Humanity is more important than money;
- the unit of an economy is each person, not each dollar;
- and markets exist to serve our common goals and values.
"Our economic system must shift to focus on bettering the lot of the average person," Yang writes. "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."
Any talk of the economy today focuses almost exclusively on employment figures and GDP growth, metrics that undervalue or ignore many endeavors vital to human flourishing. Yang wants to shift that discussion to metrics like standards of living, childhood success, civic engagement, health and life expectancy, efficient resource use, and artistic vibrancy. Human-centered capitalism would make these measures the benchmarks of our economic success.
Andrew Yang's human-centered policies
The Freedom Dividend is the keystone to Yang's platform. When asked at the NBC News Democratic Presidential Debate what one policy he wanted to achieve more than any other, he answered the UBI. However, it is not the only human-centered policy he proposes.
His campaign website lists more than 100 policy proposals. Some of these focus on removing bloat and excess (like finally getting rid of the worthless penny). Others take aim at potentially dated facets of our government (like limiting U.S. Supreme Court terms).
But many directly speak toward the philosophy of human-centered capitalism. To name a few:
Combating climate change. Climate change will devastate our economies, environment, and wellbeing. To counter its effects, Yang proposes regulating fossil fuels, investing in renewable energy, instituting a carbon tax, and preserving natural resources such as our public lands and waters.
Reforming the justice system. More Americans live behind bars than live in many of our major cities. Prison populations come almost exclusively from society's lowest rungs, an inequality that is often invisible since prisoners do not appear in most measures of poverty or unemployment. Yang proposes reviewing current mandatory minimum laws, shifting drug policy toward treatment, ending for-profit prisons, and decreasing pre-trial cash bail.
Reducing the money in politics. Give Americans $100 a year to support their political candidates of choice. No more, no less. Yang's "Democracy Dollars" would aim to diminish the disproportional effect the wealthy have on our political system. He points to Seattle's democracy vouchers program as a potential model.
Scaling back the war on drugs. Yang believes it's time to federally legalize marijuana. Ten states have already legalized the drug recreationally, and none has become a Mad Max-style wasteland as a result. He also wants to decriminalize the possession and use of opioids to encourage citizens to seek treatment without fear of jailtime.
Better education and health for all. Yang supports both Medicare for all and universal preschool. He also wants to increase teacher salaries to incentivize educational improvements and to better control the cost of prescription drugs.
"What is required is a new, invigorated government willing to build for the long term," Yang writes. "We are in a slow-moving crisis that is about to speed up. It requires drastic intervention. Human capitalism will reshape the way that we measure value and progress, and help us redefine why we do what we do."
Updating to capitalism v 5.0?
A "Capitalism Isn't Working" sign hung during the Occupy London protests. (Photo: James Mitchell/Flickr)
Reconsidering and recontextualizing capitalism for the 21st century is gaining traction across Western democracies. Some call it purposeful capitalism, others wellbeing capitalism. Ironically enough, some even call it socialism.
In the United States, for example, the Green New Deal looks to do more than combat climate change. It aims to completely re-balance capitalistic and democratic norms. Some of its ambitions include universal health care, universal basic income, a right to affordable housing, abolishing the Electoral College, and breaking up "too big to fail" banks.
Across the Pacific, New Zealand has recently unveiled its new "well-being budget." The budget sets humanist priorities for governmental spending. These include improving mental health, reducing child poverty, and developing a sustainable economy. Other countries measure citizen wellbeing to influence policy, such as Bhutan with its Gross National Happiness index.
As New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the World Economic Forum's 2019 meeting in Davos: "This is how we bring meaning and results for the people who vote for us. It's not ideological either. It's about finally saying this how [sic] we meet expectations and try and build trust back into our institutions again, no matter where we are in the world."
If elected, will all of Yang's human-centered capitalism policy proposals come to pass? No. Even in less polarized times, the proposals are too sweeping. Even so, Yang's popularity, especially with the online community, shows a desire to upgrade capitalism to meet the challenges of the new century.
Whatever moniker it goes by, human-centered capitalism is trending.
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How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.
- A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
- It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
- The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
The ocean depths are home to many creatures that some consider to be unnatural.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU2NzY4My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTUwMzg0NX0.BTK3zVeXxoduyvXfsvp4QH40_9POsrgca_W5CQpjVtw/img.png?width=980" id="b6fb0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2739ec50d9f9a3bd0058f937b6d447ac" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1512" data-height="2224" />
What benefit does this find have for science? And is it as evil as it looks?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7XqcvwWp" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="8506fcd195866131efb93525ae42dec4"> <div id="botr_7XqcvwWp_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7XqcvwWp-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The discovery of a new species is always a cause for celebration in zoology. That this is the discovery of an animal that inhabits the deeps of the sea, one of the least explored areas humans can get to, is the icing on the cake.</p><p>Helen Wong of the National University of Singapore, who co-authored the species' description, explained the importance of the discovery:</p><p>"The identification of this new species is an indication of just how little we know about the oceans. There is certainly more for us to explore in terms of biodiversity in the deep sea of our region." </p><p>The animal's visual similarity to Darth Vader is a result of its compound eyes and the curious shape of its <a href="https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/research/sjades2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" style="">head</a>. However, given the location of its discovery, the bottom of the remote seas, it may be associated with all manner of horrifically evil Elder Things and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Great Old Ones</a>. <em></em></p>
We look back at a year ravaged by a global pandemic, economic downturn, political turmoil and the ever-worsening climate crisis.
Billions are at risk of missing out on the digital leap forward, as growing disparities challenge the social fabric.
Image: Global Risks Report 2021<h3>Widespread effects</h3><p>"The immediate human and economic costs of COVID-19 are severe," the report says. "They threaten to scale back years of progress on reducing global poverty and inequality and further damage social cohesion and global cooperation."</p><p>For those reasons, the pandemic demonstrates why infectious diseases hits the top of the impact list. Not only has COVID-19 led to widespread loss of life, it is holding back economic development in some of the poorest parts of the world, while amplifying wealth inequalities across the globe.</p><p>At the same time, there are concerns the fight against the pandemic is taking resources away from other critical health challenges - including a <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/charts-covid19-malnutrition-educaion-mental-health-children-world/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">disruption to measles vaccination programmes</a>.</p>
A new study explains how a chaotic region just outside a black hole's event horizon might provide a virtually endless supply of energy.
- In 1969, the physicist Roger Penrose first proposed a way in which it might be possible to extract energy from a black hole.
- A new study builds upon similar ideas to describe how chaotic magnetic activity in the ergosphere of a black hole may produce vast amounts of energy, which could potentially be harvested.
- The findings suggest that, in the very distant future, it may be possible for a civilization to survive by harnessing the energy of a black hole rather than a star.
The ergosphere<p>The ergosphere is a region just outside a black hole's event horizon, the boundary of a black hole beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape. But light and matter just outside the event horizon, in the ergosphere, would also be affected by the immense gravity of the black hole. Objects in this zone would spin in the same direction as the black hole at incredibly fast speeds, similar to objects floating around the center of a whirlpool.</p><p>The Penrose process states, in simple terms, that an object could enter the ergosphere and break into two pieces. One piece would head toward the event horizon, swallowed by the black hole. But if the other piece managed to escape the ergosphere, it could emerge with more energy than it entered with.</p><p>The movie "Interstellar" provides an example of the Penrose process. Facing a fuel shortage on a deep-space mission, the crew makes a last-ditch effort to return home by entering the ergosphere of a blackhole, ditching part of their spacecraft, and "slingshotting" away from the black hole with vast amounts of energy.</p><p>In a recent study published in the American Physical Society's <a href="https://journals.aps.org/prd/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevD.103.023014" target="_blank" style="">Physical Review D</a><em>, </em>physicists Luca Comisso and Felipe A. Asenjo used similar ideas to describe another way energy could be extracted from a black hole. The idea centers on the magnetic fields of black holes.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Black holes are commonly surrounded by a hot 'soup' of plasma particles that carry a magnetic field," Comisso, a research scientist at Columbia University and lead study author, told <a href="https://news.columbia.edu/energy-particles-magnetic-fields-black-holes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Columbia News</a>.</p>
Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration<p>While there might not be immediate applications for the theory, it could help scientists better understand and observe black holes. On an abstract level, the findings may expand the limits of what scientists imagine is possible in deep space.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Thousands or millions of years from now, humanity might be able to survive around a black hole without harnessing energy from stars," Comisso said. "It is essentially a technological problem. If we look at the physics, there is nothing that prevents it."</p>
A popular and longstanding wave of thought in psychology and psychotherapy is that diagnosis is not relevant for practitioners in those fields.