Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?
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Old 01-15-2017, 03:49 AM   #1
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Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

Thread title says it all.

There's a growing push underway right now to introduce Universal Basic Income payments to everyone all around the globe, with some countries already undertaking studies and trails to see how such a system could be implemented.

A few months ago, the Swiss rejected such a payment system and there are many out there who don't like the idea..but it seems there are far more in favor of such payments, with supporters coming from all sectors in society, including politicians.

Wikipedia article.

BIEN ( Basic Income European Network )


A recent article in The Guardian

Historically, two of the main objections raised by those against the idea are that it would make people lazy and discourage them from working..and that it's just not financially do-able in the first place.

As "Creatives", getting such a payment could be a way for some to put more time into their art and "live the dream" full-time, rather than trying to things into their 9-to-5 schedule.

Such a payment would also enable people to split their time between earning an income..creating their art and doing voluntary work in their local communities...or whatever else they might want to be free to do.

Another knock-on effect that has been mentioned is it would force employers to get their house in order, as such a payment would enable employees to walk out of a shitty jobs without fear of not having an income if they did..which, in turn, would force the business in question to improve its standards if it wanted to remain viable.

Those for it see it as inevitable and the start of a new global renaissance for mankind..while those against it say it would destabilize what order we currently have have in the world.

Personally, I haven't really given it much thought beyond thinking how it would be a good thing for me and mine..but I think we're a good way off from any such system being adopted either locally or globally..but I could see it being introduced at some stage down the line.

What do the rest of you think?

Is it a good idea?

What are the pros and cons as you see them?

If it ever did come into practice, how would it effect you and yours and what would you do with the time it would or could free up for you?

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Old 01-15-2017, 04:28 AM   #2
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

I think it's a great idea. Just securing people above the poverty line and providing healthcare wouldn't really be such a terribly desirable life, so I would like to think that it would provide for enough incentive to aspire for more. In fact, research shows that at some point money ceases to be the main motivator.

Tricky to do globally, due to the great disparity on all dimensions. So, would this lead to more protectionism and isolationist policies? Also, in the current environment, it's not going to fly in the US.

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Old 01-15-2017, 04:42 AM   #3
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

It's all nice in theory.

It's healthy to aim high, in the long term. Yes we should remain hopeful that humanity will get there one day.

But like... I cannot see how we can have a realistic discussion about it happening in our lifetimes. No fucking way. We're going to hell first... the maybe later in a couple of hundred years at best.

But we're descending further in hell before we go anywhere else. I am optimistic. I just gave up the idea of living in a star-trek like peaceful world. I feel confident that humanity is going there though, eventually.

Unless a fucking space rock crashes the party. That'd be a
FUCKING
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Old 01-15-2017, 04:54 AM   #4
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

Quote:
Originally Posted by liquid_air View Post
I think it's a great idea. Just securing people above the poverty line and providing healthcare wouldn't really be such a terribly desirable life, so I would like to think that it would provide for enough incentive to aspire for more. In fact, research shows that at some point money ceases to be the main motivator.

Tricky to do globally, due to the great disparity on all dimensions. So, would this lead to more protectionism and isolationist policies? Also, in the current environment, it's not going to fly in the US.

Yeah..when I said globally in the OP, I'm speaking about on a "country by country" basis..and the actually rate of the payment would be country-relative, too.

It seems more and more politicians are getting behind it,though, as it could help address the growing unemployment issues they are having to deal with..and some have pointed out we are moving towards a future in which certain jobs will be taken over by robots and drones.

Driverless buses already exist and there's talk driverless taxies could soon follow..it's not too hard to see there could be a very real need for some sort of payment system like this in society, to help keep it ticking over.

Some think it would help kickstart the economies of those countries that adopt it by making more cash available to people, as well as the time to spend it..both of which are believed would have a positive knock-on effect for local and international businesses.

Obviously, all of this is just conjecture and I guess nothing will ever happen until the majority of both the public and their elected officials get behind it..and the way that's looking right now, well, it could be a bit of a wait.

Last edited by A.M; 01-15-2017 at 05:03 AM..

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Old 01-15-2017, 04:57 AM   #5
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

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Originally Posted by liquid_air View Post
. In fact, research shows that at some point money ceases to be the main motivator.
The lack of money... the vicious cycle. That's what you want to break. It's easy to become brainwashed into greed when, in the back of your mind, you know that life AINT SHIT if you don't make the minimum needed to live in dignity, that you might fall into a hole you might not get out of if you get behind on your rent... jesus christ that's no fucking way to live.

Even as it is, many of us would rather be rich in free time than financially if it means having no fucking life and only obligations.

We alllll know you can't fucking buy happiness. And when you're happy, you don't need to be stinking rich on top of that. If kids are born one day in a world that's free of that "GET RICH OR DIE" bs... then well...yeah that'll be the end of that.


Yes we can.

One day.
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Old 01-15-2017, 05:00 AM   #6
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thom View Post
It's all nice in theory.

It's healthy to aim high, in the long term. Yes we should remain hopeful that humanity will get there one day.

But like... I cannot see how we can have a realistic discussion about it happening in our lifetimes. No fucking way. We're going to hell first... the maybe later in a couple of hundred years at best.

But we're descending further in hell before we go anywhere else. I am optimistic. I just gave up the idea of living in a star-trek like peaceful world. I feel confident that humanity is going there though, eventually.

Unless a fucking space rock crashes the party. That'd be a
FUCKING
SHAME.
Yeah..I know what you mean, thom..though I personally think we're at a crossroads right now, where we could go either way. Sure, the orange guy isn't going to help matters any in the short term, but even with him in the picture, it could still lead to good shit happening as a result of others seeing how fucked things have really become at this stage.

Fuck that star-trek like peaceful world of tomorrow...legalize weed today and pay everyone so they can buy it. Better still, just give everyone weed and pass a law that says everyone HAS to ingest it daily..that would sort shit out. Period.

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Old 01-15-2017, 05:04 AM   #7
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

We might be at a crossroads but the fact is KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED because we ain't stopping at that intersection, the car has no brakes and five drunken guys with raging boners are fighting to get in the driver's seat.
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Old 01-15-2017, 05:17 AM   #8
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

Btw...it didn't make the headlines but an 86 meter-wide asteroid zoomed by as close as the moon's gravitational field this past year.

That moon is saving our asses all the fucking time, it seems, by pulling shit away from us...


We should get crackin' on some systems to avoid total fucking cosmic annihilation. Soon.

Sorry for the offtopicity.
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Old 01-15-2017, 05:31 AM   #9
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thom View Post
The lack of money... the vicious cycle. That's what you want to break. It's easy to become brainwashed into greed when, in the back of your mind, you know that life AINT SHIT if you don't make the minimum needed to live in dignity, that you might fall into a hole you might not get out of if you get behind on your rent... jesus christ that's no fucking way to live.

Even as it is, many of us would rather be rich in free time than financially if it means having no fucking life and only obligations.

We alllll know you can't fucking buy happiness. And when you're happy, you don't need to be stinking rich on top of that. If kids are born one day in a world that's free of that "GET RICH OR DIE" bs... then well...yeah that'll be the end of that.


Yes we can.

One day.

I guess I'm REALLY lucky, as I already am living that life in a way. My wife was born deaf and was automatically entitled to a weekly disability pension from the government here the moment she turned 16. When we married, she also started getting a reduced "adult dependent" payment for me..which meant we were getting enough each week to cover all of our basic needs, such as rent and food.

My point is what you said, thom, is true..the money really doesn't matter in the end..it's the quality of your life that really matters. It's a trade off between having a job that pays you cash you can blow whenever you want, without having to budget and save for everything in advance..against having just enough to live and time to do what you really want to do with your life.

That said, some folks really DO want to work every hour of their lives and love the extras having cash brings..but other, like me and my wife, find life is more meaningful when you have little disposable cash..it's actually liberating in a way..and once you see that and understand it in a real way in your life, well..you can never go back to how you viewed the world before.

Like I said before, if and when it happens, it won't make that much of a financial difference to us or our lives..we've already made that break, mentally, away from the rat race and that comes with it. Most of our extended family members think we're fucking crazy and/or drop outs / spongers / hippies..but they just don't get it..and they never will as long as their heads are locked into money and all the shit they can buy with it.

Don't get me wrong..buying stuff isn't bad..it's just most folks seem to have a serious problem distinguishing the difference between NEED and WANT, resulting in them buying shit they want, rather than stuff they really need.

In the end, we don't care..we have each other and our kids..we're happy and th love we share is honest and real..what more could we want in life?

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Old 01-15-2017, 05:47 AM   #10
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

I think it would save money in the long term. Spending money on prevention isn't as sexy as being "tough on crime" for getting votes, but a year in prison for a male is north of $110k in Canada. WTF!!!
http://www.edmontonsun.com/2014/03/1...-each-per-year

Not to mention all the legal costs through the court process and policing and all that jazz. Think about health care costs as well. Kinda makes basic income seem cheap tbh, but no, it won't happen.
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Old 01-15-2017, 09:49 AM   #11
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

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Originally Posted by thom View Post
We might be at a crossroads but the fact is KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED because we ain't stopping at that intersection, the car has no brakes and five drunken guys with raging boners are fighting to get in the driver's seat.
That's actually not too far from how the economy is run, I studied it for 3 years straight and that's just a dirty version of one of the ways control of the economy was explained to me.

As to the OP, it is something we are starting to look at in the more "experimental" economics (which I really know nothing about, so that will be all I mention of them), but economics as they exist today and as I understand them don't provide for something like that.

First of all, the very first thing I was taught about economics, and this was in my primer in highschool, is that economics can most broadly be defined as the allocation of a limited amount of resources to satisfy unlimited (or at least relatively unlimited) human wants. It's a basic assumption of the human condition, which may not hold in some individual cases, but we generally can assume it will hold in most cases, and in the broadest case, for society as a whole.

In short, modern economics is built on the assumption that there are not enough resources to give everyone what they want, or even for everyone to survive, and without a fundamental change in the "dismal science" (as economics is sometimes referred to), that will always be true. Truly dismal.

I did very rough math on this once, and if you took all the money in the world, converted it to dollars, and distributed it equally to the world's population, we'd all be in poverty by UN definitions. The above, like I said, is my own very rough math, so not best to trust that, but it has informed my opinion on the subject nonetheless, feel free to ignore that if it's too dismal for you though.

In the long term (and the long term can be very long in economics, centuries were mentioned earlier in the thread and I think that may be an appropriate timetable), I think we have to come up with something because of job automation and the way the economy distributes the wealth from that. If you want some well-informed reading, look up Bowley's Law. Typically, as the labor force has become more productive, their wages have risen apace. So a 5% increase in GDP would lead to a roughly 5% increase in the average wage. Automation of the workforce has massively increased the productivity of the workforce in most western countries (though rough numbers I'm quoting are for the US) nearly 300% since the 1970s, yet the average wage has risen only about half that. I believe the increases in wages are being eaten up by the relatively small group of "capital" owners whose investments in automation are increasing productivity. This is why one could say the rich keep getting richer.

So the long term solution would be to redistribute the extra wealth from the... wealthy to everyone else to support a fixed living wage for everyone (though there isn't enough for everyone, there may be in the long term, let's assume that's a solved problem). The problem with that, for me, is that I'm a small-government, businessman capitalist dude, so just arbitrarily redistributing wealth is a difficult thing for me to accept (in the US, the top %10 of earners already pay around half the taxes, and it's really difficult for me to justify asking for more unless they get a bigger say in government since they're funding it, but then that's just oligarchy). The economy is doing what I expect it to as a capitalist, it is distributing wealth to those who do the most to generate it by investing in the technology that increases the productivity of the workforce as a whole. That's no secret, the sticky issue is just how to get that wealth from them to the rest of us. I certainly don't trust government to do the job.

Now that I think about it, this may work if a machine (AI) just does the math and spits the money into everyone's account with electronic funds. Either way, it's a long way from reality, and it has some hurdles to overcome, but if we're going to continue to strive for equality of outcome, then yeah, we've got to figure it out eventually. To be clear, I'm not against the idea, I just don't trust a government run by humans to do it, and that's what we're stuck with for now.

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Old 01-15-2017, 10:53 AM   #12
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

Technology over all possible fields would REALLY have to catch up to this idea. To Star Trek TNG levels.

Even if we all had the same relative wealth as a starting point, how would an equal physical distribution of resources be managed? Consider a person living in a moderate climate making the same income as someone living in a harsh, hostile environment. There's no way they can possibly make use of their equal income to ensure an equal level of lifestyle.

Just the fact that the globe is vastly different geologically and meteorologically defeats this idea in any short term time line.

Ignore that how would we make use of technology? Everything would have to be the same. One kind of everything. One car. One phone. One kind of musical instrument. Meaning one brand of each kind I mean. At least for some time until we find alternate ways to define quality and exclusiveness.

Example for familiarity reasons. Synths. Would the worst designed synths cost the same as the best sounding ones. Or would we be reduced to a globally cost effective synth we'd all have to use?

So with that in mind would it be the end for us to attain quality craftsmanship? New innovation?

Even art is in some way influenced by the value of currency.

This is a whole new world that is far off as long as the robots don't take over too soon.

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Old 01-15-2017, 11:12 AM   #13
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

Even if such a Star Trek level technology were attainable, there would still have to be, in some way an upper tier in society motivated in some way to maintain such a thing.

E.G. work harder than the common man.

That, on all levels simply defeats the idea entirely.

That always bothered me about the Star Trek universe. In no way were they all really so equal. Individuals were still defined by strength of character.

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Old 01-15-2017, 01:04 PM   #14
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

@White Noise: according to World Bank data, global per capita GDP was $10k and the poverty line was $1.90 per day in 2015. One has to be careful to take into account differences in cost of living across different countries, but based on these numbers it simply cannot be said that there isn't enough value created to ensure no one has to live in poverty.

Put that in context: Oxfam estimated that the richest 62 individuals in the world own as much as the poorest 50% of all the people on the planet (3,500,000,000 individuals) [cf. http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2016-0...oxfam/7114666]. At what income level would a 99% incremental tax rate seem fair?

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Old 01-15-2017, 01:29 PM   #15
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

Has anyone (govenments, economists etc) actually mooted the idea of doing this on a world scale though?
All I've seen so far is mention of this on a country by country basis.

Also consider that it's not designed to replace work, it's literally a basic ration book to get everyone by.
Like a pre-emptive welfare payment to stop shit hitting fans.
What you can earn on top of that is still up to you.
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Old 01-15-2017, 01:40 PM   #16
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

All welfare is designed to stop shit from hitting the fan.

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Old 01-15-2017, 04:46 PM   #17
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

I'll have to read what you all said about it but I have to say first I've been obsessed with this idea ever since my sister presented it to me about five years ago, and all I'm thinking now is that believing this idea is a good thing only makes me depressed as fuck most of the time because I'm very disappointed with the system I have to cope with

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Old 01-15-2017, 06:06 PM   #18
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

i think it will become inevitable given the demographic structure, the export of work alongside income levels, the lack of unskilled labor opportunities that can support a person (let alone a family) and the inherent advantage that an unstratified basic income is an indirect subsidiary of local trade.

will not see it happen in my lifetime tho, probably never

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Old 01-15-2017, 07:04 PM   #19
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

@A.M. Google post-scarcity society Had a really bright student do a great research essay on the concept about a year ago. Still haven't watched the documentary he suggested yet, if I come across the title I'll come back with it...

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Old 01-15-2017, 08:26 PM   #20
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Re: Universal Basic Income - Good or Bad idea?

Hmm lots of ideas being bounced around here, it's gonna be hard for me to organize it all into a comprehensive position but here we go to try it out!

So I am currently re reading Collapse by Jarred Diamond and surprisingly, or not, there are lots of parallels between that books ideas and those in this thread.
@thom and @liquid_air, I think what some of you guys are talking about is akin to the way older societies elites continued to exert and expand their control regardless of the realities of the peasantry. The 5 dudes with bonners, the insane class disparity in the USA, which is worst than in some developing and third world countries that I have been to!
@White Noise is nailing it, the very finite nature of our environment is at glaring and intrinsic odds with the our capitalist economy's need for continual growth. Something will have to give, and evidently something has already given as was evident in Rwanda or Syria to just name 2 extreme examples.

As for the need for a basic guaranteed income, while I am sure it may be a good idea in the long term I think our society hasn't adapted its current structure to really support that kind of setup.
What I mean by this, and bear with me, is that all our industries are still in need of fairly unskilled labour but it is cheaper to export the work than to keep it in developed countries. That in turn causes the wealth gap we are all to aware of. That in turn is decreasing the ability of the lower class to participate in the capitalist orgy. So how do you create an economy that has less capital flow yet requires more state capital influx to the lower class?

Well that is where I see the collapse of a large portion of our western societies. It is already become evident if you watch population demographics, an aging population and less children per couples etc.
Once the technology and the population numbers even out a bit then maybe we can have self replicating machines creating themselves, creating consumer goods, and other than a minority of management and service positions the remainder of us peasants will be pumped full of free money, soma and reality tv.

But first I think a general degradation of western standards of living and a population decrease is to be expected. This in turn will cause different challenges that we may not be able to overcome.
The political, economic and military competition of other societies is already well underway in the Middle East in the form of mostly proxy wars and unconventional warfare. But also the economic pressure from china and India, that still have lots of unqualified labour but also the low standards of living necessary for that labour force to be employed easily. And lastly cultural pressures from changing demographics in Europe as migration of people come in to fill the void where westerners no longer produce enough children to support their own economies.
I don't know if all that makes much sense, and on top of all that there are the affects of climate on our ability to sustain our standards of living in the west

Tl,dr yes, maybe in the long run if we first survive through a simultaneous gradual decline in our standards of living and a continued increase in our technological advances, resulting in a population decrease and a change in the way our economy sees the production of goods.

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