Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang’s wife, Evelyn, took a break from Iowa on Saturday to speak at an intimate gathering in Los Angeles, where she discussed how society overlooks the value of caretakers like herself.
“My job now is harder than anything I ever experienced working at companies large or small,” said Evelyn Yang, a stay-at-home mom to two sons, one of whom has autism. “But what is my value in the market? Zero. Caregivers to our aging loved ones, mentors and coaches, organizers and activists, most artists and creatives and local journalists.”
“We've been brainwashed by the market and brainwashed to worship the market,” she added at the event, which was hosted by fashion influencer Chriselle Lim and communications professional Katherine Moore, among others. “And if you don't have economic value, if there’s no use for you in a job, then you are worthless. And we've all been conditioned to ascribe to this.”
‘Our institutions no longer serve us. They serve the almighty dollar’
Evelyn, 39, who had maintained a private profile, gained public attention last month, when she revealed that her OB-GYN sexually assaulted her while she was pregnant. In her speech on Saturday, Evelyn echoed a core tenet of her husband’s platform — promoting “human-centered capitalism,” which would involve adjusting GDP to account for factors like mental health and childhood success.
“What does our market currently value? Banks, pharmaceutical companies, the big tech companies, the big corporations. As these companies grow and grow, so does GDP and the stock market. Well, people and communities are being left behind. Andrew sees this fundamental misalignment — this gap between people and our economy is growing wider and wider to where we as a country are in crisis. Our government, our markets, and our institutions no longer serve us. They serve the almighty dollar,” she said.
Andrew Yang, who previously worked as CEO at a test prep company, most recently founded Venture for America, a fellowship program that sends college grads and young professionals into struggling cities in an attempt to spark entrepreneurship and innovation. He also wrote “The War on Normal People,” in which he argues why automation is the biggest threat to the workforce.
In her speech on Saturday, Evelyn argued the so-called “freedom dividend” will “get the boot off of people's necks” (a phrase Yang frequently uses) and provide immediate relief to families in need.
Andrew Yang’s proposal for a value-added tax (or often referred to as the “tech tax”) would force tech giants like Amazon to pony up more than 1.2% of their profits. The revenue would help finance Yang’s defining policy proposal — the controversial universal basic income, which would provide every American adult $1,000 per month.
Around 100 people attended the brunch where Evelyn spoke, including TV personality Whitney Port. The Yang Gang now boasts an interesting mashup of celebrities, including Dave Chappelle, Elon Musk, Donald Glover, John Leguizamo, and Teri Hatcher, who also hosted a fundraiser last year.
Evelyn Yang is far from the only spouse of a presidential candidate to promote their partner’s policies. When Senator Elizabeth Warren was stuck in Washington for the impeachment trials, her husband, son, and golden retriever campaigned in Iowa on her behalf. Bernie Sanders’ wife Jane has also been thrust into the spotlight during this campaign.
"Four years ago, Bernie was just getting introduced to the people, and I kind of went and waved,” she said this week. “This time, especially because of impeachment, I've been doing a number of events by myself, and talking to people, and taking questions and learning from them."
Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finance’s west coast correspondent, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.