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Basic Income Means Basic Freedom

Wonder how long it would actually take this to happen in the States given today's political climate.



Rascale 510 days ago  ·  link

I agree, a BI is about freedom, freedom to choose how to spend the limited time we have on this planet. Simply exchanging our labour for wages is an out dated and increasingly unrealistic concept. There was never a time of full employment and there never will. Introducing a BI is looking forward while arguing for the status quo is living in a past that is less and less relevant every year.

Science and technology are eliminating the human component from the workplace at an ever escalating rate and there is far more that human beings have to offer each other than as mere workers and consumers. There are far more important and relevant ways for people to occupy their time and to value their lives than simply exchanging labour for wages and money for stuff.

A BI offers people the freedom to spend time raising their children, caring for infirm and/or the dying family members, volunteering and being involved in community endeavours. There would be an explosion of artistic talents and amateur sports, people would have the time and freedom to research and acquire ever more knowledge whenever the desire moves them and, thereby, enhance our collective knowledge base exponentially.

Employers would benefit greatly from a BI as well since they would not have to retain workers when markets are down or be vilified for shutting a business down or moving it to some other community. Employers would have people who actually want the jobs because those workers will want more than a basic existence while those who were taking jobs simply for a paycheck to survive will be directing their efforts o more self-fulfilling and community enriching endeavours. Employers will also be free to offer other incentives to employees other than wages such as homes, condos, cars, etc. But employers will no longer be able to impose unsafe working conditions and unhealthy workplaces on employees.

Granted, there are a great many people who are so tied to the existing structures that they fear or simply dismiss change. But change is inevitable, nothing is static, everything in the universe is in transition, including the universe itself. Yes those who have benefited the most from the existing structures will be the most fervent opponents of a BI, since may of them think their wealth represents their value as human beings while others find their value in their exchange of labour for wages - namely their jobs and careers. But no one is suggesting changing that. There is no reason those premises cannot continue.

At the end of the day a BI is about freedom. The freedom of a person to choose how to spend the time this life offers us. The idea that human beings are not self motivated to improve their lot in life is laughable and not worthy of debate. Those who argue against that concept of freedom are the ones holding back humankind.

flagamuffin 510 days ago  ·  link

Your post, and this isn't an insult, reads like a liberal wet dream. If we implemented BI into a perfect world, your post is what would happen. Nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, what will actually happen is unclear to me.

EDIT: here is some further discussion.

Rascale 510 days ago  ·  link

your liberal wet dream comment belongs in the last century. Such old worn out labels are irrelevant today. Please offer an alternative to the UBI or the reality that science and technology is replacing the human component in the workplace at an ever escalating rate. I know its easy to be dismissive about what might be and I know there will those who will work hard as obstructionists against progress and an evolving society preferring the status quo over change.

But those who have examined the existing economic structures closely will all tell you that they are but agreements regarding conditions and processes. They exist primarily in our heads and on paper and in our practices. Consider that we have already taken human beings, stuck them in a canister and sent them to the moon. We even brought them back safe and sound. And that was working with real world circumstances and conditions where we desparately needed new ways of looking at what we knew and what we needed to know to made the thing happen.

You don't need to know what will happen, or how it will actually unfold just as the first astronauts and the crews that worked with them did not know. But they knew what they wanted to happen and gave everything they had to get it done.

thenewgreen 526 days ago  ·  link

Let's say that basic income happens in the US at $15k a year per individual. Do you think this would satisfy people? You don't think eventually people would say that $15k year was inhumane? So long as some people have more jellybeans than others, there will always be the "poor" and unrest.

    Wonder how long it would actually take this to happen in the States given today's political climate.
-This wouldn't happen in the states.

mk, didn't you propose something like this to b_b and myself as we were having a beer in Royal Oak a while back? -a basic income that everyone received no matter what your total income was. Also, wasoxygen, I wonder what your take is on "basic income?"

mk 526 days ago  ·  link

I see it as an inevitability. The US is inefficiently subsidizing vast populations of workers that work full time at less than a living wage. i.e. you work 40+ hours per week at Walmart, then get subsidized housing, healthcare, and possibly food assistance. This is federal subsidization of an otherwise unsustainable corporate strategy.

We have constantly gained productivity over the last century, but that hasn't translated into less necessary work to provide for the essentials of living. At some point, we have to ask whether or not this is how we intend to spend all gains in productivity, and if work is how we fulfill the public contract of sympathetic coexistence.

$15k is in the neighborhood. It would have to be pinned to inflation.

kleinbl00 525 days ago  ·  link

The difficulty with a basic income is that it provides no necessity to strive, and it does not incentivize effort.

Just cranked through Tom Hartmann's "Screwed" and one of the points he makes is that liberty without opportunity is tyranny. You can have all the rights in the world but if you are not in a position to better yourself , you're in the same treadmill as if you were in prison.

He's a bleeding-heart liberal all the way, but his basic rights are:

- livable minimum wage

- free education through college matriculation

- single-payer healthcare

- strong labor unions

…in other words, Germany.

Rascale 509 days ago  ·  link

hardly worth the effort to respond to a pre-evolved scrooge other than to say humbug!

req 523 days ago  ·  link

I find that money is a very bad incentive. That is why the current generation of 16-30 year olds are rather lost in what to do, we've had money shoved down our throats as the reason to do anything...

Rather, everyone has things they want to do in life naturally. Usually it's based off of what they grew up doing or what they care about now. Everyone has things they would do with their time, and I don't mean just play video games or watch media endlessly.

About minimum wage, it doesn't really help too much. Raising minimum wage does help some in the short term, but the market will simply readjust after about 6 months or so and the CPI will go up accordingly, so those making minimum wage will be in almost the same position soon.

kleinbl00 523 days ago  ·  link

16-30 year olds have not had money "shoved down their throats" by the workplace. There's an important distinction there - reward for effort outside of your family is very different from reward for existence within it. By way of comparison, my generation was expected to work after school. I got my first after-school job in 4th grade, and held one or more through matriculation of college. The one summer I wasn't "working" I was mixing in the clubs 50-70hrs a week while also pursuing 20 credits… it didn't feel like "work" because I was being grossly underpaid.

Compare and contrast: if you graduate now, you'll be expected to take an unpaid internship. When I was in college, engineering majors could get $18-20 an hour as co-ops years before they had a degree.

Yes, everyone has "things they want to do in life naturally." Many of them require money. It's foolish to presume that money is its own incentive; it's a means to an end. Which is why when I say "liberty without opportunity is tyranny" that "opportunity" is the ability to strive. The ability to strive means providing for more than a bare minimum of resources. Discretionary resources are called "money."

You're also flat out wrong about minimum wage. It helps a lot. "The market will simply readjust" is a common, unfounded libertarian talking point. The minimum wage has been raised. If the two were positively correlated, a graph of real minimum wage vs. CPI should be complimentary.

They're not.

wasoxygen 521 days ago  ·  link

    You're also flat out wrong about minimum wage. It helps a lot.
I am not so sure. Here is another talking point emitted by wild-eyed libertarians when they are not screeching about the gold standard and "ending the Fed":

When something costs more, people buy less of it.

This hypothesis is not hard to back up with a high school economics textbook, and I think there is a bit of an onus of explanation on the person who argues that there is a special exception when the "stuff" is labor and the "people" are employers. If you have ever comparison shopped for car repair, plumbing, or lawn care you are experienced with this price sensitivity.

There are arguments to be made for special exceptions, using terms like monopsony, but they require a good deal more nuance than relying on the textbook demand curve.

I think we have to be especially careful in certain situations when the benefit of some thing is visible and obvious, but the downside is obscured or invisible. It's very easy to see a new stadium and celebrate it, walk in it, cut ribbons for it, and sell the naming rights for it. It is very difficult to see the costs -- distributed and dispersed as they are through an entire district's tax structure: a can of Pringles removed from a shopping bag to keep the total under $20, forty cents instead of sixty left in a tip box, a homeowner with a property tax bill a tenth of a percent larger.

Even if we do struggle mightily to imagine all these tiny costs, it is easy to dismiss them as trivial. Yet in total they equal the significant cost that it takes to get the benefit of the stadium. The shopper may value the stadium's existence more than his Pringles, but it is likely that no one thought to ask.

Here's the classic text: Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas

So it is wise to be on the lookout for hidden costs. In the case of minimum wage, the downside is easy to imagine -- reduced employment prospects for low-skilled workers -- but devilishly hard to measure. Here kleinbl00 provides a study, one of the many on both sides of this controversial subject, which states that "City minimum wages don't hurt the employment prospects of low-wage workers."

The study looks at city-based minimums in San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Washington, D.C. Rather awkwardly, the authors recognize that in one of the three test cases, minimum wage caused no benefit as well as no harm, because D.C. used a low minimum of $5.25 per hour. This solves the problem posed by the jeering libertarians: "If minimum wage is so great, why not make it $100 per hour?" Obviously, making labor too costly will cause it to be underconsumed -- fewer jobs. As we reduce the number from $100 per hour to something closer to the market rate, we reduce this effect, to the point where it becomes small enough to be lost in the error bars of salary surveys. We can't be sure there is no effect on consumption until the minimum reaches the market rate, at which time there is no benefit either.

In practice, the legal minimum wage is always $0 -- that is what you earn if you cannot provide enough value to an employer to cover the cost of a (legal) salary. (Which motivates the basic income discussion.)

So minimum wage benefits those it benefits -- the ones who enjoy a higher wage. (Surely no one thought this was in dispute!) A large enough increase would even justify a claim that "It helps a lot" if you are doing benefit analysis instead of cost-benefit analysis. Minimum wage also imposes costs, not only in the reduced willingness of employers to spend more for the same labor, but also in the likely outcomes that employers will modify non-monetary benefits, rely more on automation, or outsource to compensate.

One sometimes finds the rather incredible claim that employers will simply "absorb" the costs of higher wages without making any adjustments, as if they won't notice the change. Peculiar then, that the primary punishment for wage law violations is a fine.

    I got my first after-school job in 4th grade, and held one or more through matriculation of college. The one summer I wasn't "working" I was mixing in the clubs 50-70hrs a week while also pursuing 20 credits… it didn't feel like "work" because I was being grossly underpaid.
I don't think I am going out on a limb to suppose that kleinbl00's 4th grade job, like my summer lawn-mowing gigs, was paid below minimum wage. I only made pocket money, but crap jobs in high school gave me something to do besides watch TV and convinced me that I sure didn't want to be cutting grass as a career.

FLSA already has exemptions recognizing that certain classes of workers -- like babysitters, farmers, and "Homeworkers making wreaths" (?) -- would be more harmed than helped by minimum wage. Do we want to assume that this list was compiled with the neediest prospective workers in mind (think: inner city minority teenager looking for a starter McJob)?

    About minimum wage, it doesn't really help too much.

    Only someone not on the minimum wage would say such a thing.

Exactly.

Thanks to everyone for their comments on this interesting and important subject. I don't mean to be rude by referring to kleinbl00 in the third person, but I assume he ignored me as well as muted me when I made bold to ask him for evidence on another statement, and went so far as to entertain myself looking up factoids like the Pope's alleged income of $200 million (or is it $0?).

kleinbl00 519 days ago  ·  link

You are ignored and muted because you view antagonism and snark as civilized debate. When your antagonism was objected to, you doubled down. When your questions were answered, you changed questions. You aren't debating, you're snarking, and you're not worth my time.

The only reason you're reading this (because I didn't bother with your screed beyond skimming it) is so that you can be absolutely clear as to why you will receive no further responses from me.

Rascale 509 days ago  ·  link

sigh, another advocate for that tired, old, increasingly out-dated exchange of labour for wages.

Jobs are an rapidly disappearing premise. It is high time to move forward. Nothing is static, everything is in transition, even the universe itself, and economic systems need to keep pace or be tossed aside.

kleinbl00 509 days ago  ·  link

And… muted and ignored! Welcome to Hubski!

req 519 days ago  ·  link

Who said by the workplace? You have money shoved down your throat by school, society(family/friends), and the media. The biggest consideration most people have when considering careers is how much money will they make. The media constantly pushes things like a getting a higher paying job means you'll be happier and will be like a different person because of the stuff you'll be able to have. You need only look to see the emphasis on money being most important, the reason to do things, all around us.

I agree that it's foolish to think of money as an incentive, but that's my point. Our society today pushes money as the biggest incentive for anything. I'm not saying money isn't necessary or isn't required to do what you want, but it's bad at motivating people to do things worthwhile. Money alone does not make something worth doing. It makes more sense too when you think about how corporations justify things based on money, by pushing money as being important and reason enough to do anything, it helps society accept corporations using money as justification and reason.

Raising the minimum wage does not reduce poverty. I do honestly wish it was that easy. Minimum wage helps in the short term at best. Your links don't really prove anything in the bigger picture as the first only looks at the restaurant industry which is more more inelastic than other industries. Raising the minimum wage does make it harder to employ people, especially when it's a small company. Look at the affect of people getting laid off because of obamacare's health cost increase. More costs per employee means less employees being hired. Of course you also need to consider how it will affect jobs being outsourced. The higher the min wage, the more outsourcing that will occur. That said, we should be increasing the minimum wage at least along with the rate of the CPI increasing. If that isn't done, the minimum wage effectively goes down each year.

Rascale 509 days ago  ·  link

agreed, money is only a medium of exchange and local green dollars, credit/debit cards and bitcoins are but a few of the variations on that theme. Minimum wage is a stalking horse and never has a COLA - cost of living allowance - attached to it so them become useless very quickly as prices increase.

It also only addresses those who hold jobs and jobs are a disappearing premise in this modern age while there are a host of other things a person can be doing to create value for themselves and their communities which I have already mentioned above.

kleinbl00 519 days ago  ·  link

    Who said by the workplace?

I said "livable minimum wage." The only place one can receive wages is through labor. "Wages" are, by definition, an arrangement between employer and employee.

    You have money shoved down your throat by school, society(family/friends), and the media.

You do not. You have the idea of money shoved down your throat by all of the above. That's not what I'm talking about: we're not discussing the ideation of money. We're not discussing the cachet of money. We're not discussing the adulation of money. We're discussing the practical use of money, which is as a medium for the exchange of goods and services. Your school does not pay you. Your family and friends do not pay you. The media does not pay you. Employers pay you.

In a way, we're in agreement: You argue that the carrot is being dangled and it doesn't make you want to plow. I'm arguing that they used to feed you the carrot which made it a lot more motivating. The 16-30 year olds have been told they should like carrots, but they've never, you know, gotten a carrot. Thus, you say "money isn't motivating." I say "especially when you aren't given any." ;-)

    Raising the minimum wage does not reduce poverty.

Your study says that an incremental increase in the minimum wage does not raise the poverty level. Granted and agreed. Which is why I said, and pardon my bold, a livable minimum wage. To be really clear, I also said

    liberty without opportunity is tyranny. You can have all the rights in the world but if you are not in a position to better yourself , you're in the same treadmill as if you were in prison.

This is not a "$2.27 an hour" discussion, this is a "Henry Ford Doubles Wages" discussion. In that discussion, linking to Newsmax* and citing discussions about Obamacare are not useful. "Obamacare" does not directly put more spending power in workers' pockets. It does nothing to foster a "living wage." But what's really funny to me is we're having this discussion in which we're arguing for the elimination of wages entirely in favor of "basic income." Which, for my family of three in my city of Los Angeles, is $39k a year before taxes. A livable "minimum wage" in Los Angeles is about $23 an hour. The study you list talks about the difference between $7 and $9.

Do you see why I said "LIVABLE" minimum wage?

Do you at least see why I said "wage?"

* * *

* Related, keep your eye on the ball here: Newsmax lists nine medical device manufacturers and an auto parts company and says the layoffs are, and I quote, " increased costs for health insurance and, in the case of medical manufacturing companies, a new medical-device tax." Which is a whole 'nuther can'o'worms.

briandmyers 523 days ago  ·  link

    About minimum wage, it doesn't really help too much.

Only someone not on the minimum wage would say such a thing.

Raising the minimum wage matters, a HELL of a lot, to EVERYONE on it. And all those people are poor. It's the simplest easiest way to begin to address the income inequality problem.

req 519 days ago  ·  link

It really isn't that simple. By raising the minimum wage, the power remains in employer's hands. A basic income is a far better option, it helps the poor immensely and will not make employers higher less or outsource more.

We just passed a $600 billion military spending increase. If that were a basic income, it would be $2000 per person equivalent to $1/hr min wage increase.

Rascale 509 days ago  ·  link

an excellent point. The problem is not the amount of money required, but the current distribution and small minded view that a person's worth is defined solely by their bodies and how well they can exchange their labour for wages in a time when jobs are disappearing at an ever escalating rate.

Rascale 509 days ago  ·  link

agreed, which is why many UBI advocates point to freedom of the person to find their own meaningful way of occupying their time and employing their talents.

flagamuffin 526 days ago  ·  link

So an ironic side effect of a basic income will be paid wage increases.

mk 526 days ago  ·  link

Maybe. Or perhaps another fly in the chardonnay of basic income is that it might result in a proportional increase in the cost of living. I think that is why it would have to be pegged to some sort of index that kept the BI buying power near constant.

flagamuffin 526 days ago  ·  link

doesntgolf made that point above. I think it depends on basic income's exact impact on the work force.

wasoxygen 526 days ago  ·  link

I linked to some objections in another article.

In principle, helping poor people out is probably the most justifiable purpose I can imagine for "public funds." And simple, unconditional cash transfers appear to be a very effective way of fighting poverty. But the objection to Argument 3 in that article is compelling: "we do not have any way of setting up mechanisms for income transfer that can only work in the way we would want them to."

Government will administrate the program. And government has an unfortunate tendency to assist the well-off at the expense of the poor. Giving everyone with a pulse an annual stipend sounds too simple to mess up. But the devil is in the details. For example, surely felons will be excluded, and a majority of incarcerated felons are in for non-violent offenses, many of them drug offenses. An annual sack of cash will be an irresistible carrot for politicians to wave around and threaten to modify every election year.

There will be, as always, unexpected consequences:

· This will be a new incentive to have children. I think having children is great, but perhaps we should think twice before giving people who don't want kids a financial reason to.

· There will be greater pressure to slow immigration. I believe that immigration is one of the greatest moral and economic wins for the country, and it should be expanded rather than reduced.

· There will be greater incentive to keep suffering, terminally-ill people alive longer, making horrific tragedy more likely.

· There is no way to avoid the fact that you are reducing the incentive for people to work. Most people work for money. Some people who now work for their basic income will simply stop. Others will work less, or put less effort into finding work, just like many people getting unemployment benefits now. Less work means less production and less wealth to go around.

There is also a moral objection I can't talk my way around. People paying lower taxes will be getting their own money back, and perhaps more. The money will come from those with greater wealth. These wealthier people already have the option of giving to poor people. Many do. With some exceptions, most people do not condone forcibly confiscating wealth from a person even if the purpose is to give it to someone with less wealth. Even if I recognize benefits of providing a basic income, I don't see it as an automatic justification for an unjust action.

rooibos 526 days ago  ·  link

    This will be a new incentive to have children. I think having children is great, but perhaps we should think twice before giving people who don't want kids a financial reason to.

The immediate incentive completely depends on the implementation of Basic Income, and whether parents of children are given a full, partial, or no Basic Income for each child or the first X children, and in a more macroscopic perspective, flies in the face of consistent evidence that educating and bringing families our of poverty is the best way to get them to have fewer children.

    There will be greater pressure to slow immigration. I believe that immigration is one of the greatest moral and economic wins for the country, and it should be expanded rather than reduced.

First of all, most Basic Incomes plans require citizenship as the only condition, but cash transfer programs in developing countries show that immigration to an community receiving cash transfers increases even if immigrants don't receive the transfer themselves, because the program increases the economic activity in the area.

    There will be greater incentive to keep suffering, terminally-ill people alive longer, making horrific tragedy more likely.

I have to say, I think the misaligned incentives would be less warped than the opposite ones that happen today, in which the chronically-ill may have not enough financial support, and the incentive is to cut their life short instead of trying to take care of them. This is in part because an asymmetric difference exists between taking care of one's own day-to-day needs themselves (much harder to do) and willfully taking one's own life (much easier to do) as a chronically sick person.

    There is no way to avoid the fact that you are reducing the incentive for people to work. Most people work for money. Some people who now work for their basic income will simply stop. Others will work less, or put less effort into finding work, just like many people getting unemployment benefits now. Less work means less production and less wealth to go around.

The other way to look at this is that it would act as a subsidy for automation, as labor costs are purposefully pushed up. The immediate effect might seem to be a loss of productivity, but the long term effect might be the acceleration of the development of automation technology, and longer term gains in productivity.

Rascale 509 days ago  ·  link

Jobs and human employment are an increasingly archaic concept in an age where robotics, automation, technology and science are replacing the human component in the workplace at an ever increasing rate.

Time to move forward or be left behind.

Try thinking of a UBI as freedom to choose who to spend the limited time life accords us.

wasoxygen 521 days ago  ·  link

Agreed on children.

With immigration, I think the established residents will protest (with reason) that newcomers are coming to snatch benefits that they (the residents) paid for. Hurdles like citizenship could reduce the snatching, but many countries provide paths to citizenship for immigrants, and the U.S. offers birthright citizenship. I would prefer not to see immigration opponents have any more ammo. People are less likely to be concerned if the cash transfers are coming from a source outside the country; in that case the boosted economic activity is a win for everyone.

On the terminally-ill, of course you are right. Given medical costs, it's hard to imagine it would be profitable to keep someone on life support just to collect a basic income.

Your point on automation is interesting. Perhaps this points to a future in which automation (which sounds less farfetched than "robots") provides so many of our needs so cheaply that we will spend most of our time in leisure, pursuing hobbies and consuming entertainment. We have certainly been moving in that direction since the days of the washboard.

Rascale 509 days ago  ·  link

that is because you are stuck in the past and are still tied to the worn out old premise of exchanging our bodies/labour for wages and an economic system that has no more relevance than we accord it. .

A UBI is about personal freedom, the freedom to choose how to spend the limited time we have in this life without worrying about destitution and homelessness and a job/career that insists you place it ahead of family, community and self and any other endeavour a person finds meaning and purpose in. .

wasoxygen 505 days ago  ·  link

You have mentioned the successful Apollo program as evidence of our ability to accomplish great things.

When Kennedy announced the goal of sending men to the moon in 1961, he was a visionary. But Jules Verne was also a visionary when he wrote From the Earth to the Moon in 1865.

Both men were, like us, "stuck in the past" which was their present, a time before lunar travel became a reality. What made one vision a fantasy and the other a reality?

Timing was part of it. The moon shot was simply unfeasable in 1865.

But it also took a lot of planning, calculation, and work to make the Apollo program a success. It was far easier for Kennedy to say we should go to the moon than for thousands of engineers, machinists, chemists and other scientists and manufacturing workers to make it happen. (Side note: such professional workers relied on an army of secretaries, janitors, office suppliers, painters, and drivers to support their work. Would they all have continued working if they had the option of staying home and collecting a basic income?)

I suggest starting by calculating how much $15,000 times the population of the United States is. It is quite a large number, far larger than the 109 billion in 2010 dollars the Apollo program cost.

It is far larger than the "$600 billion military spending increase" (which is actually pretty close to the total U.S. military budget, not a spending increase).

It is in the ballpark of the total federal budget of the United States.

I am not saying a basic income is impossible. But I suggest that calls for UBI will be more effective if they are based on a plausibly realistic plan rather than simply accusing the doubtful of being "stuck in the past."

JakobVirgil 526 days ago  ·  link

I don't now if envy is that big of a deal when basic needs are met.

steve 526 days ago  ·  link

In the US - Envy is everything. I watch it ruin lives of people who make 15k/year and people who make 250k/year. Greed and Envy are the heart of many of our societal ills.

JakobVirgil 526 days ago  ·  link

Paul seemed to think so. but who can trust Paul. in our society I think accusations of envy are often leveled against those pointing out injustice. or just to excuse bad behavior.

flagamuffin 526 days ago  ·  link

At the heart of every single one, in my opinion. I recommend this book on hubski all the time, because it's one of the most important I've ever read.

req 523 days ago  ·  link

Yeah, it's sad. Consumerism makes people unhappy. The idea of prestige and image, the idea of materials defining who you are, are bullshit.

People need to learn philosophy. Nothing in the external world will fill the void inside you.

kleinbl00 525 days ago  ·  link

I think if you put a number to it you're missing the point. I don't think your number is wrong, and I don't think basic income is a viable social strategy, but I think if you start looking at it from dollars out you're not going to wrap your head around the problems and opportunities of the theory.

req 523 days ago  ·  link

$15k is too much. We can't provide their entire living nor expect them to live alone if they have nothing but basic income. Something closer to $3k would be more reasonable. Enough to feed someone for the year so they have the strength and mind to properly function.

flagamuffin 526 days ago  ·  link

Wouldn't happen right now. You have no idea whether it would happen in 50 years.

Dunno where all the money would come from, exactly.

b_b 526 days ago  ·  link

Huey Long was assassinated for promoting this very idea. Not sure any politician of today would fare much better (although I think it would be a character assassination instead of an actual one; much easier to do through the media in a fully legal way).

flagamuffin 526 days ago  ·  link

Haha, I'm -- still -- not saying today. Of course not today. I'm interested in the odds of this happening in the US this century.

thenewgreen 526 days ago  ·  link

There'd be no more welfare, welfare programs and bureaucracy. I bet that would handle a chunk.

flagamuffin 526 days ago  ·  link

That's what promoters say. Following your logic, though, there'd still be welfare, SSI, etc -- it'd just start when the 15k was used up. Flat minimum income is just the sort of project I'm extremely skeptical of in general, but I can't tell if that's me falling prey to inborn biases or not.

doesntgolf 526 days ago  ·  link

This is something that's always seemed like a cool idea to me. I hear a lot about the trend of 'bullshit jobs,' antiquated 40 hour work week, etc. And I agree with all of these points.

But my undercooked understanding of economics always brings up the question in my brain: wouldn't an unconditional basic income just raise prices of food, housing, etc. relative to the income given out?

kleinbl00 525 days ago  ·  link

The problem with a basic income is it pushes lots of people towards the basics. If you look at the UK, you can see that there are plenty of people who, for whatever reason, live marginally "on the dole". They have the equivalent of a "basic income" but they are a long ways from fulfilled.

I'm not an expert, but my sense on the subject based on stuff I have researched is that there's a powerful motivation for effort-based employment and a powerful disincentive towards subsistence for everyone regardless of societal contribution.

Rascale 509 days ago  ·  link

it is important to remember that every economic system exists solely in the minds of those who operate within it and that they have no more substance than we give them in our policies and our processes. There were numerous times in history when all debt was wiped out and everyone started fresh. There were also numerous times when charging interest was a criminal act.

As I posted above, if human beings can stick people in a canister and fire it to moon and even bring them back safely, dealing with all the real world ramifications involved, there is nothing we cannot do with a economic system that exists primarily in our minds and practices.

req 523 days ago  ·  link

Economics is half philosophy. A lot of things hold well on the microlevel, but the macrolevel? Macroeconomics is mostly assumptions built on assumptions. Hence why it's so confusing, because it's practically a religion.

The biggest issue in our monetary system currently is The Federal Reserve and our Debt based system relying on infinite growth in a finite world. It makes us all poorer and poorer and consolidates resources, land, and wealth in the hands of few. Checked out Money as debt if you want a good explanation of our current money system. This is a very good read too with numerous citations.

Edit: Look at the comments of this economic analysis of bitcoin. You see the religions going head to head :P

flagamuffin 526 days ago  ·  link

To me it all depends if a basic income would actually shrink the labor force. Intelligent arguments for and against have been made. If it did, that might raise the cost of food, for example. It might actually trigger a sea change away from corporate big business America. It could have a large snowball effect.

However, I think the smart money is on the work force not really decreasing much, because most people want more than 15000/year and I think those who are already sitting at that income level are in large part getting it from the government.

AlderaanDuran 526 days ago  ·  link

There will never be enough jobs to go around again. Driverless cars, more robots/automation in manufacturing, drones delivering pizza and packages from Amazon, brick and mortar retail failing, tablet ordering, self checkouts, etc. There will always be jobs, but a lot of the backbone jobs will just continue to disappear as automation takes off even more. To me, a basic income is going to become a thing, or governments will have to face insane unemployment rates which comes with high crime, and eventually full scale rebellions. If they want to keep people comfy and quiet, basic incomes WILL be a thing in the future.

I'm a huge proponent for a basic income for all, but we're not there yet. But eventually it's going to be a thing that has to happen, otherwise as the have-nots grow to even large numbers, a lot of bad things will happen that outweigh just paying some people to do absolutely nothing. And those of us that want to work and make more, still can.

flagamuffin 525 days ago  ·  link

I'm with you on employment. I don't have the expertise to back it up (yet), but I've long held that what we consider "full employment" is an anachronistic number in today's economy. It doesn't account for the unprecedented levels of structural unemployment we're seeing, or for the increasing idea that work isn't our default setting.

I'm not sure we'll ever go back to pre-2008 levels. The economy is evolving.

Rascale 509 days ago  ·  link

agreed, this exchange of labour for wages is out dated and increasingly irrelevant every year due to automaton, robotics and a host of other advancements occurring at an escalating rate every year.



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