Discussion on the idea of Universal Basic Income

01 May 2020 01:13 #351556 by Adder
I'm too busy to watch vids but have the flexibility to read and type... and think a bit enough to confuse myself, so any words are appreciated.

My first thought is; doesn't it just drive inflation in those areas of basic need expenditure... making it harder for folk with actual dependencies to stay afloat?

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01 May 2020 01:37 #351558 by Deimos
Thats what we and friend always consider, but people just seem to either ignore it, by saying it won't happen, or they blow it off as right wing ideas/not their problem in a sense. Or at least thats how I viewed it so I may be wrong.

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01 May 2020 03:22 #351562 by Rosalyn J

Can UBI work with capitalism, or does it require that the State own all major life support systems and infrastructure?

Not capitalism as it is currently practiced. Capitalism allows for a price to be set at what the market will bear (ie what people are willing to pay for goods) (Sandel, Justice, What’s the Right Thing to Do) and in those stores that are less expensive allows for exploitation (prison labor and labor outsourcing)

UBI might go a good way towards redistributing the wealth, but in general people need to be taught basic principles of money management over consumption, which doesn’t do well for capitalism which thrives on consumption. Think for example on the idea of planned obsolescence.

Someone(s) will get rich off of UBI if we allow capitalism as it is currently practiced to be the law of the land.

In America they protested for $15 wages and businesses responded by raising the price of goods so that there was virtually no difference. Basic goods can still not be afforded.

What is probably going to happen with UBI is that its going to put money in people’s pockets for a bit and then take it out in the form of a higher price for goods. As JamesSand alluded to it will either be in the form of higher taxes or a higher price for goods in general.

However, if we turn essential services over to the state there is no drive (for lack of a better word) to improve services. Consider public schools and the disarray they are in in the US despite them being state owned. What actually happened in the US is that schools are funded by taxes of the neighborhood. At least that was my understanding in Undergrad, someone correct me if I am wrong. Depending on the type of job you get your salary/wage is taxed at a certain rate meaning that if you have assets that are highly taxed you pay a higher portion to schools. Most people stick with their kind. Rich people in this neighborhood and middle class here and poor here. The result is some schools are able to provide excellent education on tax dollars and some are not. This has been the system for some time now. And there have been no changes. Now why that is is a rant all its own, but not for this thread.


In order to be eligible for these benefits though, one must in my opinion be willing to contribute in what ways they can. In my opinion, this best could be done through a draft-style employment pool for a sort of WPA-esque department, where individual public works projects would draw on those collecting benefits.

I like this idea. As it is currently, there is a severe disconnect between willing workers (who happen to be disabled) and employers willing to hire them and case managers and families willing to let them explore. In fact, just as an anecdote, I used to be on benefits. I have a case manager right now saying I should only be working part time and I should be trying to get back on because my body won’t last etc. What I am getting at is stigma, which is again related to mindset.. If you ever read anything about Individualized Placement and Support (IPS) concerning employment, a whoping 70% of individuals with severe mental illness want to work, but it is extraordinarily difficult to find work despite all the programs out there, so if we are going to have something like a WPA program, we need to cater to all strata and all abilities.

Although, if I give you UBI on the condition that you work in a WPA program is that getting paid for work? Hmm. Its a bit like the welfare to work program. Idk how effective that is. I’ll have to look up the numbers.

I’m going off memory and passion entirely, so I don’t have sources, but if they are needed I can spend some time digging around

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01 May 2020 04:11 #351563 by Rex
I think the idea that one must be wholly laissez-faire or in favor of unconditional cash handouts is a false dichotomy. Adam smith (the father of capitalist economics) complained about division of labor and the commodification of housing.

The idea that Chai brought up that "if only people made more money, we'd all be better off" ignores the entire historical gloss. Until maybe 300 years ago, the vast majority of people were subsistence farmers. What the average first world citizen has achieved would exceed their wildest expectations, and yet we're not immeasurably happier. If all production was automated, and humans didn't need to work, I would wager many of us would still want to.

Giving people cash relies on the same fundamental misunderstanding that underpins laissez-faire fans: that people always act in rational self interest. The fact that there's a homeless man along the freeway by my house with a sign that reads "need $ for weed and stuff" seems like a representative anecdote.

My idea of a "willing to work" schema hinges on the willingness itself. It's not a job in that you don't get fired for trying but failing to meet performance standards like every job I've had. Rather it's a way of being able to artificially create demand for labor without causing inflation in any given sector. Also, the draft picks young and fit men first, and no one complains that handicapped people are unpatriotic.

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01 May 2020 05:40 - 01 May 2020 05:41 #351564 by Adder
What are the essentials? Soylent Green, a clean feed to the Matrix, a copy of the book of laws... a compass? To what extent can nationalised industry not hamstring a State in a globalised world?

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01 May 2020 05:51 #351565 by steamboat28
UBI would do a lot to stimulate economies.
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01 May 2020 09:20 - 01 May 2020 09:21 #351567 by Alexandre Orion
But therein resides the misunderstanding. The UBI is conditionless, that is to say that there is hardly any way to abuse it. One may either choose to live tranquilly and pay their bills and feed themselves whilst watching Netflix and eating Doritos (in which case they probably won't live that long anyway), or as Chai was saying, people would pursue more rewarding - individually and culturally - activities.

So far, in areas where the tests have been conducted, people as a whole turn out more productive when they are not stressed out by having to meet basic vital needs.

Yet, we need to consider that this is not only an economics question, there are many dimensions. We may need to revise what we think of as "productive." We also need to stop praying so desperately at the alter of "economic growth" (cf. Serge Latouche, Pierre Rabbi et al.) There needs to be a cultural revolution (hopefully a bloodshed-less one) where we uphold and support the humanities as a baseline requirement for healthy, efficient democracy more than the rickety GDP guidelines we've stubbornly clung to for decades (cf. Martha Nussbaum, particularly "Not for Profit : Why Democracy Needs the Humanities" and "Political Emotions")

We might find that given the opportunity - and yes, I said "given" - people may discover in themselves the best avenues for their motivation. It is not surprising that we see people lacking in "motivation" when we are only looking for motivation in avenues where we value it. Motivation may operate vigorously in other avenues, but we don't recognise it as such because we don't view it as "productive."

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01 May 2020 21:22 #351587 by Carlos.Martinez3
One of the hardest things to break for me was that made up sinister eyes looking at me that everything is backed by some evil intent. I watched moral groups less spiritual create the same lifestyle as the more religious less moral did the same.
It’s hard for me to think such ideas on a global scale can’t be abused.

I was told “There’s a sucker born every minute”

In places where the bare Necessities are provided or in some cases created together given and taught , lodging and food - changes your time and your day to day.
Dynamic wise.

Maybe we needed a dynamic change in the world... hu?

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04 May 2020 07:41 #351648 by JamesSand
A "soft option" for this that might be more achievable and have many of the proposed benefits is

4 Day working week, this is a simple cultural and small structural change - any job now has two workers doing 4 days a week (whether you're a retail clerk, engineer or farmer, the load can be shared), and instead of "national" weekends, there is just continuous rolling time off (3 days) per your own life arrangements.

The 5th day (or 5th, 6th and 7th days, if you want to get away from the concept of "weekends") is paid for by the "UBI" - I'm going to make a number up and say "$200 a day" - but I guess the real number would be a calculated cost of living /365*3 in whatever the currency of the state is.

You now have more free time for all your personal growth in whatever way pleases you most, but still an expectation and "normalcy" to the concept on not necessarily fulfilling work in return for monetary value.

The next piece also eases the burden on living - both financial, and in time management and general administrative waste (depending on how your country is run, this may or may not be more or less of a burden for you) - Anything that is just a consequence of living in a civilised modern world is managed by the state and paid for (through whatever tax system you like best) - Things like insurance, water usage, power usage, vehicle registration, council rates, telecommunications - all that guff that has pushed onto the end user and has generated angst and basically created a full time job as your own personal assistant making sure you are complying with and maintaining tens of separate contracts and payments plans - bugger that off, give everyone across the board 50% tax on income, and then create jobs in the government managing that on everyone's behalf - you now have hours more per week to relax and come up with spiritually rewarding activities instead of wondering which days rent is due and which days the phone bill is due -

Technology was supposed to create that second world - those super computers in your pockets were supposed to make day to day living smoother and easier to organise - they really have not.

Also noting that if the state owns and manages all the essential services - your cost of living is now less, the UBI allowance can go down again - and you're free to spend all the money you earn in your 4 days work (or more days, if you feel so inclined) can be spent on all the luxury items you please.

The biggest issue in all of this I see is real estate...Capitalism allows me to do a bunch of cool things if I own assets, in particular housing assets - and there's no real incentive for me to be any nicer than I have to be to be competitive in the market. Is the state going to buy up all the privately own land to control rent? Will privately owning a nice piece of land to give to my dependents be an option? if not, who decides who gets the nicer pieces of land?

Perhaps you can privately own land, but you can't make an income from it?

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08 May 2020 12:59 #351813 by ZealotX
A lot of the focus seems to be on abuse rather than necessity. It's kind of funny to me but seems true nonetheless. We don't worry so much about the abuse that happens every single day when it comes to rich people exploiting their financial status and power. Whether it's tax shelters where they aren't paying their fair share or flat out scams and pyramid schemes, rich people get away with a hell of a lot more than we know about. And they have lawyers on standby to help them circumnavigate the law and bend and break it and get them out of trouble if need be. And often they have more money than they could need or want and then the desire for gain can mutate over time into greed and the hording of wealth so that the rest of us are fighting and arguing over the scraps from their table. Because they also own the table, the chairs, etc.

It is because of these abuses that social programs like universal healthcare and UBI are becoming more and more necessary. There was a time when you could afford a doctor, when wives didn't have to work, when a blue collar job was enough to feed a decent sized family, when school didn't cost a half million dollars. And there was a time when everyone got bent out of shape about communism and weren't having the majority of products made in China and staffing call centers with people from India. I'm not against globalism either. I'm against IMBALANCE.

The scales have simply been tipped and tilted in favor of wealthy people who are allowed to bribe the government because they use their money to put the people they want in power. Laws are written in their favor, not ours. And so costs go up while wages stagnate. Part of that is because of the global marketplace and how cheap things are elsewhere. And now robots are a new domestic threat to the blue collar workforce. And who knows. Maybe at some point software can take the place of accountants. At some point we may even be 3D printing food.

In my humble opinion, UBI is not about everyone making the same amount of money. It's about everyone having a basic income that ensures their survival. Believe it or not there are a lot of crimes that take place simply because people are trying to survive. They're not getting rich. They're just getting enough to live and pay bills. And possibly even put money on the books for people in prison caught doing the same thing. Trying to survive. No one should ever be so deep into poverty that they might become a danger to society. And yes, many of those people in jail are already costing us UBI type of money because we're paying for their basic needs already; while keeping them from getting employment or forcing them to work for pennies on the dollar. We pay and private prisons make a profit.

Not only this, but the system breeds distrust and fear. A jogger was basically hunted down and shot to death because that jogger was suspected of being a robber. Maybe if the community wasn't on high alert because of criminal activity in the area, people... any American... would be FREE to jog, drive, barbecue, sell lemonade, go swimming, mow lawns, or play with toy guns at a park. UBI would help protect everyone by taking care of all the BASIC needs. Universal health care should be part of that. Basic needs.

If a person is happy only having their basic needs met (and the government would save money by buying basic services in bulk, and companies would save money by not needing to staff for collections) then good for them. That's not me. I gotta have my VR headset, PS4, Samsung S10, gaming laptop, etc. If someone else is happy with a basic apartment, cheap clothes, no restaurants, no movies, etc. then wow but that's not really much of a life. So I think the vast majority would use their UBI to be at least at basic survival level and then they only need to work to pay for the things they want on top of that. Maybe you don't want to live on government cheese (and what about the farmers who have gotten paid by the government for not being able to sell product?). Maybe you could work a few months at a time and take a break; knowing you had enough saved up to float comfortably to the next job. And while you're not working, someone else who was taking a break before, now has another job opening to choose from. And maybe with UBI you could afford to take more risks when it comes to starting your own business. And not only would you not have to pay for health insurance as a new business owner, but the people working for you don't need that job to survive so that might help improve working conditions as well as pay. Because everyone would be getting supplementary pay, like the concept of multiple income streams.

Maybe one person uses their UBI to float while sinking their paychecks into long or short term investments. As long as people are buying products and services there will be a demand and jobs. I would limit UBI, universal healthcare and universal education to American citizens as benefit for citizenship. I would also require employers to pay a higher minimum wage to non-citizens, visa recipients, as well as undocumented workers. However, I would take more money out of their wages to help support these universal programs. I would also require companies to pay into UBI for each robot owned, not as much as a real salary, but some; to help compensate the workforce being replaced.

I would also put priority on lower income workers, to get UBI first. And then, depending on how much is in the pot, then you start going up to the income ladder to more and more people. If there is enough for people making $70K to get it, then they get it. If not, then they don't.

Ants are highly organized colonies. They have jobs and they all work. Somehow they've figured out how to survive without some ants being poor and robbing other ants. Are we not smarter than ants? And yes, part of it is that ants don't care who "owns" the land their hill is on. As far as they're concerned it's still their territory because they live there. We don't need to abandon the concept of ownership but we do need to rethink what can be owned and what should be for public use. Maybe people on UBI earn credits for working in fields or operating farm robots. I don't know, but we're smart enough to figure it all out.
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