To the surprise of many, entrepreneur Andrew Yang has so far outpaced numerous veteran politicians in the Democratic presidential primary, bringing in an impressive third-quarter fundraising haul of $10 million dollars and polling at 10 percent among college students. Yang has risen to prominence largely on his plan to institute a universal basic income of $1,000 per month to every American adult. But another of his plans, Human-Centered Capitalism, may be among the most important ideas brought into presidential politics since Bill Clinton’s attempt at health care reform. More a bold aspiration than a policy proposal, the plan, in summary, is to shift our perspective of national success away from metrics of financial and economic progress, and toward measurement of “maximizing human well-being and fulfillment.” Rather than touting a growing GDP or soaring stock market as proof of progress, Yang seeks to understand our achievement as a society in terms of “median income and standard of living, health-adjusted life expectancy, mental health, childhood success rates, social and economic mobility, absence of substance abuse and others.”
This type of thinking is attractive in a country that, by current criteria, seems to be doing better each year. A decade into a stretch of unprecedented job growth, unemployment is at a historic low, and the country has a record number of job openings. Wages are finally climbing and GDP continues to grow.