Basic Income & Soylent


#121

I would only provide financial care for it (assuming the law let me choose) if I cared about it emotionally. There are tons of orphans in the world, and I often wonder if I would really give my own kid money just because they’re my kid. The logic behind child support doesn’t really sway me. But I’ll admit it’s still something I’m thinking on. I’m still not sure what the obligations of biological parents should be, if any.


#122

Universal basic income makes no sense.
It would never work. It completely undermines the entire purpose and value of money.
Its the same as saying “Hey everyone, you can now print your own money at home, up to $1,000 a month”. The money is not backed by anything, not an item or a service. How does that sound like it wont cause massive problems and inflation?


#123

If its materialized from more abstract finances (like derivatives) or tied up in complex hedge funds, it wouldn’t be literally taking cash from people or making it up on the spot. It would have a complicated, indirect effect on the national/global money supply. But I think even when we talk hypothetically we should respect the sophistication of modern finance. It isn’t quite as straightforward as Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Although depending on how the system is set up, that analogy could possibly be made.


#124

I think you might be misunderstanding how UBI works. UBI does not involve printing new money. It involves redistributing money already in existence, which does not affect the overall supply of money relative to goods and services (though it may affect the velocity with which dollars are spent in the economy). There was a really helpful explainer discussing the relationship between UBI and inflation posted by @2noame earlier in the thread; I highly recommend it if you did not see it already.

(I should note that some folks have other independent issues with any notion that could be described as “redistributing” money – using that term for it probably sets something off for many people – but whether you think something like UBI is theft, unfair, or inappropriate for government to do is a separate issue from whether it is likely to cause inflation.)


#125

I second that suggestion. It is an excellent link.

This is sort of where I am wishy-washy on UBI. However, sans any evidence to the contrary I sort of have a gut feeling that it would be a good tradeoff to have UBI instead of the current amount spent on all of the welfare programs. However, I look forward to the studies being conducted in the countries mentioned above providing a more definitive answer.


#126

[quote=“inquirerer, post:125, topic:27058”]However, I look forward to the studies being conducted in the countries mentioned above providing a more definitive answer.[/quote]They’ve done a number of studies. Here’s a nice meta-analysis.

I will add that there are some advantages to having wealth/power concentrated. Mainly, they can direct/power that wealth towards a single larger purpose that might not have been achievable without it. Musk couldn’t have made SpaceX without several billion behind him, and China couldn’t have built their wind farms, and Britan couldn’t have eliminated smallpox. Spread that money/power out, and everyone will work for themselves, each with their own idea of how to do things. Everyone need to take the vaccine to eliminate a disease, for instance, even those against it.

Still, you need healthy and educated workers to accomplish those things. You can’t build pyramids with weak and starving slaves. Or start a mars colony without a lot of college graduates.

Of course, the wealth could just as easily be squandered on something stupid. Like war. Or writing your name so big you can see it from space (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/20/hamad-sheikh-name-private-island_n_904635.html). So it’s no guarantee of money well spent.


#127

At the end of the day, automation will remain the number one threat to job loss. This means a sizable portion of citizens will remain unemployed through no fault of their own. There needs to be something in place to counter this issue instead of doing nothing at all because we are afraid of moving away from our cherished and archaic principles concerning the idle hand. I bet people from the 1600’s would look at us as being lazy brats in comparison. Not working 15 hour days?! These kids today…

All of our lifestyles could improve if we let go to the fear of taxes and the big bad boogie man of government.


#128

I am all for a system in place that reduces the number of people in need of government assistance. For example, the USA does not view mental health issues as a problem in need of assistance. The system in place to held non-mental health related issues in far more pronounced. I bet if we worked against this then it would significantly reduce many social woes such as: Drug abuse (mental health can lead to drug abuse), Homelessness (Many homeless are undiagnosed), Going on the system (Because a health issue such as schizoaffective or avoidant personality can make it almost impossible to hold down a job). There is also the issue of the job market itself. Sometimes there simply isn’t much social mobility or work available. It’s gotten so bad that social security disability has essentially become a safety net for these ones. It’s become an extension of the welfare program.

As for extortion or threats, we have regulations to limit human greed. This may be controversial but people are animals and when an animal reaches a position of power, the temptations of that power makes it such that they squash the little guy. George Bush jr. actually talked about how the power went to his head in an interview and how intoxicating it is. Him of all people admitted this.

Where does the extortion lie? In the mega corporation that squeezes the local economy for personal gain or preventing this squeeze through a government enforced consequence?


#129

“The thing people don’t seem to understand is that the government is supposed to have only one purpose: to protect the individual rights of its citizens. Laws are for determining when someone’s right are being infringed by someone else, military & police enforce the laws.’”

What a clever sound bite. Why do you think it’s true? I certainly don’t.


#130

I don’t understand the basic concept of a “Basic Income.” Are we talking about a so-called “living wage,” in other words a federally mandated minimum wage that would allow every employed person, regardless of their job, to be able to afford a specific lifestyle to include the ability to pay rent and utilities, purchase groceries, etc.? Or is the concept a handout to anyone and everyone, paid for by the taxes of those who are employed?


#131

Pretty sure it’s this.


#132

Yes, it’s this, but putting it that the workers pay for this “handout” is misleading, since this “handout” becomes available to everyone, even people who are currently working. It’s a security blanket for everyone, and it may be cheaper than the current system, which is why some conservatives are for it.


#133

Ok, so it is basically enough free money to live on without having to work. So I can either work or not, and either way I will have an income that pays my bills, and that gift is paid for by someone else working. I think such a thing already exists. It’s called “being a child.”


#134

You’re not thinking of it in the right way. The reason a basic income system is important, at least in my opinion, is because as AI gets better and more and more jobs are replaced, it becomes the only way for some people to have any income at all.

More to the point though, a couple of countries (and even smaller areas within countries) have trialled such a system, and found that it does not lead to the drop in productivity you would expect.

The basic income isn’t really enough to live any sort of pleasant life on, it’s only enough to ensure you don’t have the permanent stress of bills or rent, and are able to buy food in in slightly larger bulk than current weekly benefit payments allow (thus allowing either better quality food which can improve mental well-being, or bulk purchases to allow the same food to be purchased at a lower price). It is extremely expensive to be poor in most western societies.

Basic income prevents these stresses, and also means people aren’t forced to take extremely low-paid work and work 60+ hours a week just to afford the basics in life. What this leads to is people either getting paid more for low-quality work, or being able to get more enjoyable work for a lower wage. The number of start-ups in areas that have trialled a basic income increase greatly too, which ends out leading to increased productivity.

There’s a reason this sort of proposition has its supporters on both the left and the right.


#135

Sorry, but I’m still trying to figure out the math. Let’s take a group of ten people. Eight of them work and pay income tax, and with their take-home pay (the money they are left with after they pay taxes), they pay for their rent, their cars, their clothes, their utilities, their groceries, etc., and two of the ten are “given” money from a governmental agency (which is also supported by the taxes paid by the eight who are employed) and that money pays for their rent, utilities, groceries, etc. Eight workers are supporting ten people.

Then three of the eight who are employed look at their unemployed neighbors and think about how difficult it is to work while trying to juggle daycare and time off and scheduling who takes the kids to soccer practice and the stress of long days at work and office politics and time away from their loved ones, and they see that their unemployed neighbors don’t have those problems and yet their bills are still being paid, so they decide to join the unemployed. Now there are five workers supporting ten people (plus the governmental agency that continues to grow as it gains more people to “care” for and has even more checks to process).

At what point is this no longer a workable solution? At what point is it even fair? If one of the gainfully employed decides that he wishes to keep his hard-earned money to benefit himself and his family, we all know what happens to him. So-called “tax cheats” will be fined or imprisoned for the crime of actually wanting to keep what they worked for.

“Basic Income” is just a fancy term for forcing someone else to support you against their will.

It’s a simple equation. Work and benefit from your effort, or don’t work and suffer the consequences. Are you having a difficult time finding employment? Last time I checked McDonald’s was still hiring. Are you mentally or physically handicapped? Every grocery store hires Courtesy Clerks.

Here’s an attractive, healthy looking, well dressed adult who is clearly thinking of it “the right way” when she suddenly finds that the government handout that she was expecting to use to purchase food for children that she cannot afford to feed suddenly and inexplicably is not available to her:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW-0xJb_FM4

“What’s going on with America? What are they trying to do to us? Now they trying to starve us to death?” she asks. See, that’s the “right way” to look at it. If you don’t work hard enough to support not only yourself and your own family but also those who don’t work and their families as well, you are “trying to starve them to death.” Welcome to the New America. Please leave your shame at the door.

Edited to add: Watch the video until the end. “How many kids do you have that you have to feed?” “I got six kids, ok? I got six kids that I have to feed.” And what benighted community of squalor is she living in and raising her large family in? Hollywood, California. I weep for us all.


#136

This is not what universal basic income is. Universal basic income isn’t money from income tax going to the unemployed - it is a complete rebalancing of the welfare system which leads to every person in the country - regardless of income, employment status, age, gender, any other metric - receiving a set amount of money each year with no requirements of them to receive it. The eight workers wouldn’t be supporting the ten, at least not in such a clear cut manner, because they themselves would be receiving the basic income as well. Most of the funding comes from non-income tax sources, such as corporation tax, or in my somewhat pessimistic example of AI replacing too many jobs, an AI tax that remains to be implemented. Naturally in a purely income tax funded system, the issues you mention are completely valid, but that isn’t what universal basic income is all about.

Also I think you’re overestimating how much people would receive from a Universal Basic Income. As a rough idea, if it were implemented it would not be significantly more than $5000 a year per person at the most, and even that may be an overestimate. Eventually, as more jobs are replaced by AI, the total pool to put towards a UBI would increase, and each person would receive a larger amount.

(plus the governmental agency that continues to grow as it gains more people to “care” for and has even more checks to process).

As I previously alluded to, as UBI is universal, the government actually saves money these checks would otherwise take, as everyone is eligible by default, and remains eligible regardless of what they do.

Without intending to cause offence, this is an absolutely ludicrous viewpoint. First, my opinion is very much that no person should be obliged to work to live just because their parents decided to have a child, but my opinion is not important nor is it shared by most proponents of UBI.

My main issue with the points you just made is about those who are mentally or physically handicapped, but to suggest people should just work in McDonald’s for a pitifully low wage and no job progression or security demonstrates, in my opinion, a troublesome lack of empathy.

The unemployed are not just a bunch of lazy people who can’t be bothered to work - in many cases, the wage McDonald’s would offer is not sufficient, even for the poorest. Before I go on, I live in the UK, not the US, so what I say may not be directly applicable, but I’m taking this page as an example of the pay for a McDonald’s crew member. We’ll take the maximum listed for a cashier, of $9.91/hour. Assuming 8 hours of work per day, 5 days a week (which you’d be lucky to get), and working 50 weeks per year, gives an annual total of $19820 per year. This is almost $9000 less than the cost of living for a single adult in the US (calculated here). Clearly just getting a job at McDonald’s isn’t going to solve any issues here.

However, by far and away my biggest issue with what you said is that the mentally and physically handicapped should work in a grocery store. Perhaps you meant this for some and not all, or perhaps you just don’t understand how terrible certain handicaps can be. I’d also speculate you’ve never suffered from depression, though please correct me if I’m wrong. Certain mental handicaps get in the way of your ability to motivate yourself to do anything, certain physical handicaps cause someone to be in pain 24/7 in such a way that even getting out of the house is a great struggle - these are people who should be looked after by society, and those who disagree are, frankly, completely unaware of the daily sufferings of those with such disabilities.

I’m quite busy currently, but will watch the video at a later point. I hope my explanation in this post, though, displays how the situation you describe the woman as being in is not applicable to a discussion of UBI - one where everyone, regardless of any metric, receives a flat rate of income. My personal ideal isn’t a universal basic income, but a basic income for those below a certain wage (say $50000-$80000 as a rough estimate) and further supplementation for those with serious disabilities who need more help, but realistically, a universal basic income is easier to implement than a non-universal basic income which would be my ideal.


#137

Ah, you are in the UK. My apologies and condolences.

I have been employed since I was thirteen years old. I have worked in the fast food industry, the military, the government, and the private sector. For several years I worked directly with the handicapped as an educator, and as a Buddhist, compassion for my fellow beings is foremost in my heart and mind. Also I adopted a child so as not to increase the population of the Earth while at the same time sharing what I had with someone who was in need through no fault of his own. Believe me, friend, I have all of the bases covered which you seem concerned about.

There was a time that I was paid minimum wage, because at the time that was what I was worth in the workforce. So I improved myself and made myself more valuable, and I was rewarded for it. Minimum wage jobs of the type that you linked information about are entry level jobs. I chose not to remain employed at that level. No one forced me to stay there, and no one kept me from improving my circumstances as I saw fit.

It’s interesting that you think that no one should be obligated to work in order to live. To an extent, I agree. You are welcome to not work, not own a home, and not produce children that you cannot care for. You are also welcome to live off the fruit of the labor of others if they willingly share what they have earned with you. Doing so at the threat of force is of no interest to me.

Everyone, in your plan, would simply be given money. And as you say, that money comes from taxes. In the end, as I stated, those who work to produce will have money taken from them, and some of it will be “given” back to them and the rest will be “given” to those who do not contribute. If everyone worked, the money that was taken from them would simply be given back. That makes no sense. Your system only works when the employed are forced to support the unemployed, which was what my example illustrated.


#138

Haha, I accept them, though if you’re in the US I feel obligated to send my condolences back.

Being employed since you are 13 means nothing in today’s economic climate. Things have changed a hell of a lot since the financial crash in 2008, and it is next to impossible nowadays (in the UK, and I’d assume many, many states in the US) for a 13 year old to get a job. That doesn’t mean you tried harder or were willing to put more effort in, it’s just a different climate, which makes comparisons extremely difficult. And this ties in to what you say about improving yourself and making yourself more employable. To be blunt, the economic climate is completely f***ed, with many previously ‘entry level’ jobs now requiring a Master’s Degree or higher. With so much higher education around, you can’t just make yourself more valuable, because there are so many highly educated, debt-ridden college students around who will take a job for pittance to start paying off their extortionate student loans. Sure, you can make yourself more qualified, but unless you’re willing to work for only slightly more than they are, you don’t have a chance. It is not a case of simply choosing not to remain employed at an entry level - those who are able to get such a job often can’t progress very easily at all - what would you propose they do? People are kept from improving themselves by the lack of time they have available, due to having to work for such a low wage for so many hours and being mentally and physically exhausted afterwards - this is just one of the things UBI would help fix.

We differ greatly in our opinion here. Firstly, I feel it’s important to say (and I’m not saying this to show off at all) that I am the owner of a small business - I’m not resentful of having to work, I actually enjoy what I do. With that said, I honestly don’t think the average person should have to work day in day out to have a roof over their heads and food to eat. No one chooses to be born, so why should they have requirements thrust upon them as soon as they reach adulthood simply to not suffer? We also have quite different viewpoints when it comes to tax I suspect, though with that said, I feel any UBI should mainly be funded by taxing of corporations who use machines to automate as opposed to taxing individuals via income tax. For the US, I’d also cut defence extremely heavily to provide extra money for citizens. My opinion is very much that society in countries like the USA and the UK is advanced enough and technologically capable of looking after every citizen to a much higher level than it currently does. Roughly 15-30% of people in both the US and the UK live in poverty - that clearly isn’t ok, and again, UBI would go some way to addressing that. There also isn’t a decrease in productivity in the areas that trial it - in fact, productivity goes up.

The vast majority of the money that funds this will either come from corporations or extremely wealthy people who pay the most income tax. The average worker would definitely receive more back from a UBI than their income tax funds of it.

No, if everyone worked we’d have a reasonably affective method of wealth redistribution, which would have barely any effect on the incredibly wealthy, but a huge and life-changing effect on those who are least well off. The average person would gain from such an initiative. I’d have to look into exact data for the US in terms of income brackets to tell you the cutoff point, but it wouldn’t be a case of the middle-class funding the lazy at all.


#139

I suppose we can use all the big words and personal anecdotes and economic citations we want, but in the end it comes down to a simple difference in how each of us sees the world. I believe that it is an individual’s responsibility to look out for himself, and you don’t. You would force someone by law (which means fines, imprisonment, or worse) to financially support another, and I wouldn’t.

I doubt that this is the right forum to debate these issues, so I’ll bow out, but I appreciate your civility and compassion, as misguided as I find it to be.


#140

This isn’t what I said. A UBI replaces all other welfare (except disability welfare) that is already in place - it’s just a repurposing of money that is already taken to deal with the issue, without chunks of it being wasted by unnecessary checks. But I suppose at a deeper level in the case of there being no welfare system at all or people being forced to contribute to one for those who are less fortunate, with the punishments you mention for not doing so, yes, I would impose that system if I had the choice to.

Yes you’re probably right. And I appreciate your civility too, thank you.