The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disap-pearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future

Andrew Yang. Hachette, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-41424-1
This eye-opening if depressing analysis from Yang, founder of the nonprofit Venture for America, proves far more effective at outlining an impending employment crisis in America than in offering practical solutions. Ascribing the crisis to increasing automation driven by artificial intelligence, Yang provides a sober rebuttal to more optimistic thinkers, such as Thomas Friedman, who believe that Americans can be transformed into lifelong learners, and thus keep pace with changes in the workplace that would eliminate millions of current jobs, including white-collar ones, such as attorneys specializing in document review, and even medical positions (computers have proven to be quite adept at reading and diagnosing radiology scans). Yang predicts, all too plausibly, that growing unemployment can lead to violent protests. But his efforts at offering hope fall short, since ambitious measures like providing a universal basic income for every American stand little chance in an ultrapolarized political environment. Utopian ideas like this undercut the seriousness with which his warnings about a dystopian near-future, with even greater income inequality, deserve to be received. Agent: Byrd Leavell, Waxman Leavell Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/19/2018
Release date: 05/22/2018
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