During a recent episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” civil rights activist and former ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young praised the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
“It took us a long time,” Young told Yahoo Finance. “But Joe Biden passed a bill last night, but we’ve been moving in that direction for a long time.”
The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed into law last week, invests about $375 billion in fighting climate change over the next decade. He also promises to cap prescription drug costs at $2,000 a year out of pocket for Medicare recipients and imposes a new minimum tax on big corporations.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Young served as a pastor and became a leader in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He served as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King in various civil rights campaigns. He also served as a US congressman from Georgia, the first African-American ambassador to the United Nations, and as the 55th mayor of Atlanta.
Young pointed to the Inflation Reduction Act as a sign of progress. He explained that despite occasional obstacles, social progress is ultimately certain.
“Change is inevitable,” Young thought. “The 100 million cells in your body are constantly in motion. And we have people who don’t understand that progress, movement, is inevitable. And you can’t stop it. You can’t stop the world from turning. And the more it spins, the more the genes and cells in our body multiply.”
In addition to his civil rights work, Young has been involved in other social causes. For example, he once toured Nigeria with CNN founder Ted Turner to fight the polio epidemic. Although UNICEF declared Africa polio-free in 2020 after Nigeria reported zero new cases of wild polio, the virus has since re-emerged on the continent. Young insists that the elimination and return of the virus go hand in hand with his view of progress.
“And so we wiped out polio, it seems like it’s sneaking back now, right?” Young remarked. “But the earth is a constant. Aircraft in motion, operation. It’s not going to stay the same.”
In recent years, the United States has experienced a sharp increase in polarization. Democrats and Republicans are further apart ideologically today than at any time in the last 50 years, according to Pew survey data from 2021. Americans are similarly divided on the issue of vaccines. For example, adults who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine are about three times more likely to be Republicans than Democrats, according to a 2021 analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Some say increases in vaccination reluctance have contributed to the resurgence of polio, which has recently appeared in the New York area.
Young stated that America’s division boils down to a simple dichotomy.
“It’s intelligence versus ignorance,” he argued. “My downtown office is full of bullets and they’re all spinning. It reminds me that nothing stands still in this universe. Nothing.”
Dylan Croll is a journalist and researcher at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @CrollonPatrol.
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