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💬 "Rebooting New York City"

Making Sense with Sam Harris

Photo by Emiliano Bar / Unsplash

Host: Sam Harris
Guest: Andrew Yang, Entrepreneur & Politician
Category: Society & Culture | 💬 Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[3:24] “I was an unlikely presidential candidate and we made a really powerful case around trying to advance and humanize the economy that I daresay ended up becoming mainstream popular wisdom […]. 85% of Americans are for tax relief during the pandemic and a majority are for tax relief in perpetuity, otherwise known as basic income. And I'm really eager to take principles that I fought for at the national level and apply them in New York City around fact based governance and trying to get bureaucracies to work in a more modern and technologically proficient fashion.”

[4:53] “New York City is badly wounded […]. It's been devastated by the coronavirus on multiple levels, and most […] know me as a numbers guy. Some of the numbers that reflect how bad it's been in New York City: Over 27,000 lives have been lost, over half a million have been infected, over 700,000 jobs have been lost. The unemployment rate is over twice the national average, in part because the city is missing 60 million tourists who used to support over 300,000 jobs. Midtown Manhattan commercial buildings are 82% unoccupied. Subway ridership is down 70%. Violent crimes are rising. 300,000 New Yorkers have left the city in terms of filing for change of address forms and just relocated. So there's just a lot of pain and suffering right now. Over 10,000 small businesses and restaurants have closed and more are joining them all of the time. This is a city that thrives based upon people coming together in large numbers and people visiting and people eating out every night. And a lot of those things aren't happening right now. So the adjustments have been really painful for many, many organizations and individuals and families here.”

[12:55] “[T]here are many New Yorkers who are in position to potentially get evicted if the moratorium isn't extended or if they don't have legal representation. It turns out if you have legal representation, the odds of your staying in your apartment go way up. So, one thing the city should be doing is making sure that any tenant who wants a lawyer can have one. We should be trying to keep people in their homes. The city has had a program for a while around emergency assistance. That makes perfect sense where you spend a little bit of money trying to keep people in their home. It ends up saving the city a lot of money on homelessness services.”

[13:35] “[T]he homelessness problem problem is growing in New York City. […] You have about 57,000 people in shelters right now in New York. And in some cases, New York is spending tens of thousands of dollars a head per year on providing shelter to folks, because of the overburdened shelter system, in some cases even finding hotel rooms, because that was the only shelter that could be found. […] We need to develop more sustainable, affordable housing, which has been a constant problem in New York City […]. So, […] there are a few things one can do. One is we should be expanding something called safe haven beds, which are beds that are provided by nonprofits […] that in many cases homeless people prefer to homeless shelters. […] But the other big move would be to quickly repurpose some of these vacant hotels that are going out of business […]. ”

[28:37] “[S]omething that I believe I'm going to help effectuate as mayor [is to] decriminalize or frankly, relax enforcement around certain forms of recreational drug use. I've already targeted opiates as an example of something that I don't want to be prosecuting. I've also championed decriminalizing sex work because to me […] police should be dedicating energies to more serious crimes that actually can serve the public to a higher level. […] These are things that we may be able to make happen in New York City as early as next year.”

[29:31] “One of the things I tell people […] all the time is that if New York metro area were a country, it would be the 11th biggest economy in the world […]. So, the amount of impact that we can have is really vast.”

[30:38] “The universal basic income I think most […] are familiar with as policy where everyone gets a certain amount of money to meet their basic needs. I was championing $1,000 a month during the presidential campaign, which now doesn't seem like enough given the pandemic. I think people are now advocating for $2,000 a month for everyone, which seems very reasonable to me. […] I’ve proposed [a] program to alleviate extreme poverty among the half a million or so New Yorkers who right now are at that level. We can lift them up out of extreme poverty and do so in a way that I believe is going to end up saving the city hundreds of millions of dollars because of the expenses that the city incurs when people end up in our institutions […], whether those be shelters or […] in worst case scenario […] prisons. So, this billion dollars in cash relief, I believe, could serve as a template because it's going to be the biggest program of its kind.”

[34:27] “I have a number of other anti-poverty plans that are related. One is trying to get people high speed Internet. 29% of New York City residents don't have high speed Internet right now. And so you can imagine some of them trying to have their kids learn from home. 12% don't have a bank account. So, they're subject to check cashers, money lenders and pawnshops, which sometimes charge usurious rates. […] One of the ways [the city] is going to come back is if we're willing to invest in innovative ways and programs that get people excited […]. I want to present a vision of New York City that different types of people will get excited about that, frankly, would not ever set foot in City Hall.”

[39:39] “I think that we need to regulate tech much more intelligently. And I've been very frustrated that a lot of politicians have just gotten accustomed to grandstanding and trying to score points for cable news, while the essential issues remain completely unaddressed. The insanity of having at this point a near trillion dollar industry being regulated by Section 230 of the Telecommunications Decency Act that was written in 1996 before Facebook even got started. […] No one could possibly have known what the Internet was going to look like in 1996. […] One aspect of that should be trying to respect our data rights as human beings, because right now our data is being sold and resold for hundreds of billions of dollars a year. And that cost is not just economic, it's actually in human agency. It's in public trust. We're getting packetized ourselves and sold to various advertisers in ways that also undermine the public good. And our government has been completely absent on this.”

Rating: 🍎🍎🍎

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 48 min | 🗓️ 02/11/2021
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