Biden’s administration represents a return to the status quo, leaving behind riled-up passions and controversial policies. In Biden’s first cabinet member draft, Andrew Yang of UBI fame finds himself as a Secretary of Commerce.
Using Novel Policy To Become Noticed
In the American political scene, presidential elections offer politicians a rare opportunity. During the parties’ primaries, where candidates are filtered, you will often find candidates who use that opportunity to educate the populace while uplifting their public profile. The libertarian Ron Paul is the most famous example of this, having run for president three times.
Each time, the 85-year-old Ron Paul used the opportunity of a presidential election to warn us about the perils of the welfare and warfare state, placing himself at odds with both major parties and the establishment media. On the other end of that ideological spectrum is Andrew Yang.
Yang was born in Schenectady, New York, in 1975. During the 2020 election the entrepreneurial Andrew Yang attracted the public spotlight by advocating for a never-before touched subject – Universal Basic Income – UBI. Small government advocates were appalled by this proposal, though they went on to eventually admit that UBI would cause less government waste than the current system of welfare.
Andrew Yang as Secretary of Commerce?
Having had experience both as a corporate lawyer and a business entrepreneur with ties to Taiwan, Andrew Yang appears to be on a short Biden/Harris cabinet list as commerce secretary. CNN first broke the list of cabinet candidates.
As the government’s reaction to the pandemic wrecked the livelihoods of millions of people, Andrew Yang certainly stands to be a popular choice as commerce secretary. He himself is a populist who was not afraid to exert some memetic force in the form of “Yang Gang” and “Secure the Bag”, referring to Yang’s promise to provide every American with a $1,000 monthly allowance.
With food lines piling up, worryingly rising as a modern version of the Great Depression, Yang’s UBI has never been more popular, transcending political party divides.
The Power of Secretary of Commerce
What does a Secretary of Commerce actually do? After all, under the Trump admin, Wilbur Ross held and still holds that position, but you would be hard-pressed to even find a news connoisseur to recall his name. According to the official definition, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has the following scope:
“The Department of Commerce works with businesses, universities, communities, and the Nation’s workers to promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable development, and improved standards of living for Americans.”
This means that the Secretary of Commerce deals with things less exciting for the news media, but not any less important. Primarily, DOC deals with:
- Foreign trade relations (import and export tariffs) and treaties.
- Setting the direction of the economy to achieve a growth goal.
- Regulating the bureaucratic and tax burden on businesses.
- Overseeing patents, trademarks, and licenses.
In 2020, DOC had a $12.2 billion discretionary budget, which makes it one of the smallest departments, way behind even the small Department of Transportation, with its $86.6 billion budget.
How Would Andrew Yang Affect Governance?
Outside of his populist, bi-partisan UBI proposal, Yang presents himself as an empiricist, prioritizing facts over wishful thinking. Many a time he tweeted his love for math:
“When I see a MATH hat in the wild it puts a smile on my face and I want to run and high-five the wearer. Let’s Make America Think Harder.”
Math can serve many meanings:
“Turns out MATH can stand for a few things – Make America Think Harder (or THink). Move America Towards Humanity. Make American Truckers Hopeful. Other suggestions welcome.”
Dedication to UBI comes from math:
“We need to do the opposite of what we’re doing right now, and the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math. I’ve done the math, and that’s why I want to give every American adult $1000 a month.”
Likewise, given how cryptography is a type of math, Yang has been an ardent follower of Bitcoin since 2013. In the early stage of his campaign, in 2018, Yang integrated cryptocurrencies as a way to finance his campaign. More importantly, Andrew Yang has previously stated how he would deal with cryptocurrencies:
- Introduce a nation-wide legislative framework to bring crypto market clarity.
- Define tokens and security tokens.
- Clear up the tax status of each stage of crypto assets: trading, selling, owning.
- Avoid the heavy hand of government to not stifle innovation.
In short, Yang recognizes that the US is behind other nations in how it treats cryptocurrencies, so he would like to bring America up to speed. Interestingly, he also claims to see a wide range of threats coming out of Big Tech companies, calling them “quasi-sovereign states”.
Lastly, having a Taiwanese origin, he will likely advocate for a more conciliatory approach to China, courtesy of his foreign policy advisor Ann Lee. The NY economic professor has been highly critical of Trump’s hardline policy toward China. Whatever Andrew Yang’s output may become, it would most likely be a massive improvement over the 82-year-old, steel and coal-minded Wilbur Ross.
💡 Did you know: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are now available through many of the leading apps for stock trading.
Are you excited to see Andrew Yang in action, or do you worry he will be swallowed by the establishment machine?