Candidate Yang campaigns in Monticello

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang made a campaign stop at The Jitney in Monticello. Yang shared details about his $1,000 Freedom Dividend, and the importance of the Iowa Caucuses. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

Roughly 75 people poured into The Jitney on Jan. 6 to hear from Yang. He spoke for about 25 minutes and took questions from the audience.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

Entrepreneur and Democratic candidate Andrew Yang was in Monticello on Jan. 6. Yang addressed roughly 75 people at The Jitney Wine Bar in  downtown Monticello. 

Yang said he never aspired to become president of the United States. For him, it’s more about being a parent and a patriot and knowing what the future holds for the next few generations. 

“I have seen the future that lies ahead for our kids and that is not something that I’m willing to accept. We need to do better,” he said. 

To kick off the campaign event, one of Yang’s 14 “Freedom Dividend” recipients shared his story with the crowd. 

Kyle Christensen of Iowa Falls is his mother’s caretaker as she battles cancer. He said she lost her job because she was away from work so much for treatments and surgeries. Both were pouring their money into her medical bills before the Freedom Dividend came along. 

“It felt like a dark shadow came over us,” he said. “What the hell are we going to do? This is how people lose everything. While my mom lost her job, I had not been working much because her needs were increasing. We were both pretty well tapped out of cash. 

“But now, with the Freedom Dividend, we are doing great.” 

Christensen said his mother no longer financially depends on him. They are both able to build their incomes up again. And for Christensen, he’s able to invest his money for a stronger future. He said if everyone in his community had access to the Freedom Dividend, their community would thrive as more people spent money locally. 

The Freedom Dividend is Yang’s campaign stump. If he were elected president, everyone would receive $1,000 a month, no questions asked. 

“I’m sure the first time you heard that you thought it was a gimmick,” Yang said. “That it’s too good to be true. But this is not my idea and it’s not a new idea.” 

He said it was actually political activist Thomas Paine who came up with the concept of a “citizens dividend for all Americans.” Yang said Martin Luther King, Jr., before he was assassinated in ‘68, worked hard “for a guaranteed minimum income for all Americans.” Yang spoke with King’s son about his dreams for this country. 

In addition, economist Milton Friedman and thousands of other economists endorsed such an idea in the ‘60s. 

“It passed the U.S. House of Representatives twice in 1971 under President Nixon,” shared Yang. 

Eleven years later, the state of Alaska shells out a dividend to its citizens a couple thousand a year. It’s paid for through a tax on oil companies. 

Yang plans to pay for his dividend by taxing the technology companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. 

“Technology, data, AI (artificial intelligence), self-driving vehicles are the oil of the 21st Century,” he said. 

He said a recent study showed that technology is worth more than oil. 

“After we get our fair share from every Amazon sale, every Google search, every Facebook ad, we put it back into your hands in the form of this dividend of $1,000 a month,” continued Yang. 

The idea is to spur the economy and to help people live their lives comfortably. 

Yang said Iowa and Iowans hold a lot of power going into the 2020 campaign season. 

“You all are among the most powerful people in our country,” he said. 

Yang explained that one Iowa voter is worth 1,000 voters in California, a state that holds quite a lot of Electoral College votes. 

“If there are 50 people in this bar tonight,” he said addressing a room full at The Jitney, “that’s equivalent of a football stadium full of Californians. That’s the power you all have; the power to change the future of this country very quickly.” 

Yang said as he’s toured Iowa, he’s seen towns that have lost jobs, towns that have lost downtown storefronts, towns that have lost people. He said as businesses move overseas and online, something has to be done to keep these small towns viable. 

“You have to help us rewrite the rules of the 21st Century, the economy, the workforce for you, your families, your towns, your community,” urged Yang. “This is our chance to retake our government.” 

Yang said we need to leave our country in good hands for future generations. 

“If you were born in the 1940s in the U.S. there was a 93 percent chance that you were going to be better off than your parents,” he explained. “That’s the American dream. If you were born in the 1990s, you’re down to a 50/50 shot and it’s declining fast. This is what you all must change. 

“I am the ideal candidate for this job because the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math.” 


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