The Unconditional Basic Income

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GamingGod
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Post by GamingGod » Tue Jun 23, 2009 6:49 pm

Communism will never work because people are more concerned with one upping their neighbors than they are concerned with their own needs and wants.

While some people do turn to crime because of bad living situations I think that the majority of crime is not caused by this, but by the fact that people have no respect for one another anymore. People aren't raising their children with morals or values of any kind. Many criminals also prey on the fact that people pity them and use that as an excuse for committing crimes. I have a rough life but I never rob, rape, or murder anyone, nor do I abuse drugs or alcohol. People use their crappy lives as an excuse to make other peoples lives crap. Everyone should be held accountable for their own actions. If the economy was setup in such a way where everyone had a real chance at a good life then people would have no excuse for committing crimes. But when you come from a family where you are not taught respect then what can be done to make you fit into society without being destructive. The prison system is completely out of whack. They are called reformatories but nothing is really done to rehabilitate inmates and make them into productive citizens. In fact prisons are a very abusive environment, and I don't see how anyone could come out from an extended stay in a prison and be even slightly normal.

Maybe one day when robots do all our dirty work then we could form a system where everyone did the job they wanted. But right now it would not work because we would have no garbage men, etc. and an excess of musicians and actors.
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mathias
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Post by mathias » Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:49 pm

GamingGod wrote:People aren't raising their children with morals or values of any kind.
How so? There is a lot of variety in society, parents are free to raise their children with all sorts of morals and/or values - although the system does a lot to impose it's competing quasi-morals.
GamingGod wrote:But when you come from a family where you are not taught respect then what can be done to make you fit into society without being destructive.
Well, sometimes you can learn it on your own or from elsewhere. Or you can just be kept in line through fear, some people are incredibly susceptible to it.

You know ... conversely, it is definitely possible for parents to teach respect, morals, values and so on with complete fanaticism yet make the kid turn out very bitter and hostile.

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Post by judge56988 » Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:24 pm

Ignorant parents generally produce ignorant children. It is rare that these kids can break out of this chain because most of them reject school, either not going at all or taking pride in being 'difficult'.
This cycle needs to be broken and the only way I can see of doing that is to have very strong role models for the kids so that they actually want to grow up to be like those role models and not like their ignorant parents. A lot of kids need a big incentive to do well at school and to lead a healthy life style. All parents know how hard it can be to drag teenagers away from their computer/video/music to do their homework. If kids know that the state will give them an income and look after them from cradle to grave, it doesn't help them - not kids from that kind of background anyway.

I think that "decent folk" (for want of a better expression) who live within the law, have respect for other people and don't consider there to be anything wrong with actually working for a living; constitute the vast majority of people in most Western countries. The so called "underclass" however, seems to be getting bigger - or is the media drawing more attention to the issue? These kind of people are the ones who will gain the most benefit from a free income. Whether people are born bad or become bad because of their upbringing is a contentious issue these days; personally I think there's some of each, however I don't think anyone can deny that some people are born lazy and if they can go through life living at the expense of others, then they will. To put it bluntly, I don't think that they should be allowed to.

All those horrible things in life that makes Cov despair so much will only be made worse by this ludicrous idea, not better. The only thing that will make the world a better place is an evolution in human nature.

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Post by ame » Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:25 am

Haven't had time to read the entire thread, I still need to work for living.

But it reminds me of a similar notion made by Karl Marx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx

And a similar experiment called the Soviet Union that basically proved that getting paid equally and for doing noting or anything just wont work.

Communism vs Capitalism is just like Dictatorship vs Democracy respectively.
Yes in a perfect world where all people are pure and want to share and work together without greed it might work but not in any real world I know of.

I also agree with the notion of helping the disabled, elderly and unemployed (AKA socialism) first. Try decent free healthcare first. Or maybe free education all these before you just decide to give away money to everyone.

Think what would happen if everyone had a full pocket? prices would just go up until even the 1500 euro would not be enough. The benefit of this plan would go to the big corporations - again.

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Post by L2GX » Wed Jun 24, 2009 3:48 am

judge56988: Likely as economical circumstances deteriorate- lack of production causing inflation- people would get back to work. However we are now in the opposite situation; deflation (think long-term here) caused by overproduction. If you look at the current crisis you'll find it was caused by artifical stimulation of consumption (loans).

qviri: you're right, for a lot of people money is the only incentive to work. The question is, how much work is actually required, and how much of that offers just money as incentive? Are managers, doctors, engineers, teachers, architects only in it for the money?
You're looking at losing the worst jobs in the economy. A lot of them are luxuries; waiters, cooks, etc. Others are technically outdated: many bureaucratic and factory jobs are already redundant.
Some jobs are necessary and shitty at the same time. But we might have to grow the same attitude towards garbagemen and cleaners as we do towards firemen and police: they keep our society liveable.

dr Prozac: you're completely right! however we have to distinguish the political seperate from the economical.
In Russia the necessity of suppressing the counter-revolution gave opportunity to suppress everyone else. In the Uk the threat of terrorism is giving politicians the same opportunity. I'll hope you agree that there is no such thing as a freedom-loving politician, and that the U.S. second amendment, if not to be taken literally, is at least a eloquent warning against civilian complacency. Changing economics might give an opportunity to tyranny, but tyranny is really a cosntant threat. Currenty, in Belgium, rampant nationalism is undermining democracy and giving the vote to increasingly fascist politicians.

Economically there remains the issue of a plan economy. The question of where the money will come from will likely involve nationalisation. But there's a big difference between nationalising a factory full of workers and turning the country into one big union or, for example, investing in automated factories to create a trade surplus. It's up to the proponents of UBI to suggest funding, and I'm sure good alternatives to communism will be found.

Our best shot at avoid such a mess is to adapt and incorporate the current marketing systems into the political planning.

In fact, such a government branch should be a seperate power without executive powers.

Even better, small, localized production could be favoured. We'll have to see how that plays out, but certainly smaller cornucopian production is easier to implement than a new branch of government.

Your emphasis on 'deserving' wealth is admirable, but unrealistic. If you're Polish, you should now how much your relatively low wages have meant in a European market competing with Asia. Unions and business loans and tax exemptions can't extend the life of our economy indefinetly- at one point we won't be able to offer jobs to everyone.

Once China gets tired of running us down we still have to face the entire postponed autmatisation revolution.
Could I ask you, what is your job? Do you think a human will still be doing it twenty years from now?

mathias: (first post)
all of those odd side effects are positive in my book, except for the criminal record one. Since I don't live in the commonwealth that one doesn't make sense to me. I'd think witholding jobs from criminals would increase crime, and thus giving them a subsistence would decrease it.

Boredom would likely result in an increase of crime, though.. Which, I hasten to add, is negative in my book.
Anyway, keep posting, it all seems original and interesting!

Gamingod, judge56988, I agree with a lot of what you say about crime- but you need to improve neighbourhoods before you can expect children raised in criminal subculture to improve their lives. Education, proper nourishment, healthcare, and perspectives all cost (government) money. Of course some people grow up in bad conditions and don't turn to crime, but they are statistical outliers.

Gamingod, What you say about robots does hit the mark. At one point automatisation will make a lot of jobs redundant. Rather soon actually, and this is all about preparing for that. Also, see my reponse to qviri.

judge56988, what you say about incentive is probably the most important point in the whole debate.

Given the end of economics as an incentive, how will we determine how we spend our lives?

Psychologists have a pretty good idea of what makes our lives worthwile. A good book on this is http://www.happinesshypothesis.com/
Warning: the first time I read that book it made me quit my job. I was scared to dath bu now I'm really happy I did that. The second time I reread it it made me commit to my SO and start working on daddyhood. I'm scared to death, but there you go. There's a lot of reasons for happiness in there, and some of them can be found in jobs, but most can't.

Here's another important question:

Why do the majority of people think humans will only self-realise themselves if they get paid for it?

Who told you that, and why do you buy it? And don't you think it's just a teensy-weensy counterproductive? Might a major cause of the malaise you describe not be that people are told they need a spectacular career and loads of money to be happy when that is clearly out of their reach? No wonder they don't bother trying.

Ame - again, rephrased, this is a bottom up rather than a top down thing. This is not people telling the economy what to do, but rather people panicking as the economy makes it clear they are no longer required.

In general, gentlemen, all bets were off since the industrialisation began. Marx was a keen observer of the initial effects, but everyone must see where it will end eventually.

The question is, when the last job has been made redundant, will we still be doing positive things with our lives, taking care of our children, the sick and the elderly, and advancing our culture?

Or will we roam the dystopian Australian desert in despair, like Max Rockatanski?

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Post by judge56988 » Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:39 am

L2GX wrote: Why do the majority of people think humans will only self-realise themselves if they get paid for it?

Who told you that, and why do you buy it? And don't you think it's just a teensy-weensy counterproductive? Might a major cause of the malaise you describe not be that people are told they need a spectacular career and loads of money to be happy when that is clearly out of their reach? No wonder they don't bother trying.
In a way, yes, I think that's true.

A big part of the problem is the advertising industry, which seems to be attempting to condition people from childhood that they won't be fulfilled unless they have all these "shiny things" - this is in turn driven by the endless search for economic "growth" and leads to continual upgrading and replacement of otherwise functional items.

Many people who have what you are calling a spectacular career are in it not so much for the money (although the two usually go hand in hand) but for such things as power, influence, admiration etc.; and once on that career path it is difficult to get off or to cut down on the hours to spend time with the family or to pursue hobbies because the competition is so intense. That leads on to another strong incentive, which is the fear of failure, the desire to be better than the next man (or woman); because a lot of humans have a very strong competitive instinct.
The basic driving force/incentive is to reproduce and to get the best or biologically speaking, "fittest" mate. This is why males of almost all species are highly competitive and in our species in these times, the competition is based not only on physical fitness, strength and attractiveness, but also on power, money and intelligence - and often these three things go together. As a teenager I was motivated to work during the school holidays so I could buy fashionable clothes, not because I needed them, but because I thought they would increase my chances of getting a girl. It's the same with all kinds of products.

Once you have your girl, then for many people, incentive or motivation changes slightly and now you want to earn more money to provide the best you can for your children - but, as I said, many people are by this time trapped in a career that is demanding more and more of their time.

The majority of people who do not have "spectacular careers", just ordinary jobs, are often disenchanted and unhappy because they can't afford all the nice things they see advertised - although the size of the debt problem indicates that many of them didn't realise that - but the thing is, a lot of those jobs can be very rewarding and satisfying. Jobs like farmer, fireman, nurse, teacher, carpenter and so on. Many of the jobs that are now mechanised used to be done by craftsman who took pleasure in making a door, for example, or a chair. Surely even a roadsweeper can get some satisfaction from doing a good job?
Where are they now? On the dole or working in a call centre probably.

Many of my most fulfilling moments have come from things like building a wall in my garden out of reclaimed stone, picking rhubarb that I've grown myself and even building a computer from a bunch of components bought on the internet.

What I said in a previous post about "de-mechanising" was slated by someone for being a backward step but if done selectively and people are happier because they are doing things that they enjoy doing, surely it's for the good? There are signs that it's starting to happen - there is a definite trend where people are leaving the rat race to run small holdings producing organic food, producing hand made furniture and the like. It's still mostly niche market stuff but it's on the rise.

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Post by Aris » Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:43 pm

"unconditionally basic salary" A.K.A. "Welfare"

We tried it in the states. Problem is most people, if given the choice, would rather just be a bit less wealthy and sit at home watching tv all day instead of actually contributing to society.

Then there's the other extreme, which is to set a standardized wage for everyone. That's called communism. Ask China how well that's working out for them. Experts predict China's government will implode within the next 50 years.

Does it suck that some people fall through the cracks? Sure, but that's life. Get used to it. People get what they put into life. If someone worked their ass off from day 1 and didn't make stupid mistakes they wouldn't be working in a dead end job for a crappy wage, unable to feed their family and pay the bills. 90% of the people i see that have nothing, either dropped out of school, got hooked on drugs, or got pregnant before they were ready.

Giving people free money does not solve problems, i know first hand. People need to learn how to live within their means on their own. Theirs a reason why the majority of the people who win the lottery are broke within a couple of years. Because they do not know how to be wealthy. You give people an extra 1500 a month, and most of them will just spend an extra 1500 a month on crap they dont need and still be unable to pay the bills or put food on the table.

Personally I'd rather see increased spending in education so people can make better choices in life so they wouldn't need a "basic salary" to begin with.

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Post by jessekopelman » Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:30 pm

Aris wrote:Problem is most people, if given the choice, would rather just be a bit less wealthy and sit at home watching tv all day instead of actually contributing to society.
How exactly are people earning minimum wage contributing to society? Society will grind to a halt if there is nobody to man the counter at Starbucks or McDonald's? There is nothing wrong with wanting to work for a living. Most people feel that way. But there is nothing holy about it either.

Society is all about trade-offs. The lucky and hardworking have to subsidize the unlucky and lazy. In return they get the benefits and conveniences that come from society. It is up to you to decide if these benefits and conveniences are worth the sacrifices. If you don't think they are, go off and live in the woods. To sit around and complain that if only everyone did the right thing and made the right choices the world would be a better place is not productive. It will never happen and any social policy dependent on it happening is doomed to failure. The bottom line is that we need some sort of welfare. We can reasonably argue about what form it should take, but we can't reasonably argue against its necessity.

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Post by jhhoffma » Mon Jun 29, 2009 6:55 am

jessekopelman wrote:How exactly are people earning minimum wage contributing to society? Society will grind to a halt if there is nobody to man the counter at Starbucks or McDonald's? There is nothing wrong with wanting to work for a living. Most people feel that way. But there is nothing holy about it either.
People who work for a living ARE contributing to society (at least in the US). They pay income taxes and also into social security. If nothing else, people who work for a living are not a drain on society as opposed to those who don't.

I'm going to rant here, so be warned:

I live in a 3 floor apartment, with 11 other apartments in the building. I have one neighbor direct below us. She is a young African-American woman, who is grossly obese, has two children, does not work, and lives off Section 8 funding.

Just about every day, she has all kinds of people in and out of our building, smoking cigars in the common hallway (illegal) and smoking marijuana in her apartment (very illegal) so that my wife an I have to keep our windows closed when she is around so our apartment doesn't smell like hers. Even when they aren't smoking and she has her windows open, you can smell the funk wafting up from her place. We have complained to our Apartment manager and they told us (though they shouldn't have) that they did not want to let her move in, but because her background checked out and due to the Fair Housing Act, they can't deny her. They did say that they can refuse to renew her lease and they promised to do just that as they know what she is doing, but cannot prove it. Even if they could prove it, FHA ensure that they cannot evict without a 30-day notice for the tenant to correct the situation, and the burden of proof is on the landlord (expensive). She's more secure in her apartment than I am in mine, but I work 55 hrs a week as a chemist and my wife works part time as well.

So tell me, what would someone like that do with another $1500 per month? She's been there for a year and hasn't seen fit to buy furniture, though she has money for weed. I don't think most Americans or people, in general, have a problem providing for people, who despite their efforts, can't provide for themselves. I get sick and tired of seeing homeless people who are truly in need due to mental illness or physical condition, while perfectly capable people sit on their asses and collect a check. Unfortunately, I fear a lot of the people who voted for Obama, did so because they though he would provide better for them, without effort on their part. It's an insult to the President, to the American people and to our (former?) way of life.

There's an old saying that I try to live by: "You get out what you put in." or "You get what you give".

If only....[/rant]
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Post by jessekopelman » Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:07 pm

jhhoffma wrote: People who work for a living ARE contributing to society (at least in the US). They pay income taxes and also into social security. If nothing else, people who work for a living are not a drain on society as opposed to those who don't.
US example. If the only work one could get was minimum wage and he worked a single full time job, he would earn $15,080 in 2009. FICA is 7.65% -- $1,154 for our person. In the 2009 a single person will be able to claim a minimum deduction of $9350. So, you are talking a maximum taxable income of $4,576. The Federal taxes on $4,576 would be $458. I have trouble believing his State Income taxes would be more than $150, if anything.

So, let's think about these numbers: $1,154 to Medicare and Social Security is something, but hardly the amount necessary to keep the system afloat. This is even more the case with the $458 in Federal income tax. He's certainly using more in services than he's putting in. Here we have a hard working person who is still a drain on society . . .

Something more to consider: Where do his minimum wages come from? Some company, right? But where do they get the money from? Companies with lots of minimum wage employees tend to be in some very high volume business, like fast food. The cost of these employees is built into the cost of their product -- which almost every American consumes to some degree. So, whether these people are on the dole of working at Burger King, I'm still paying their salaries. What does it matter to me if it is $0.25 out of the cost of every burger or some fraction of our tax dollar? Is having that burger made by someone who hates his job and has little incentive to do it with more than the most minimal effort somehow providing a valuable service to me? Going purely by the numbers, this person is still a drain on society. I don't see how forcing him to do a shitty job for 40 hours a week is ennobling him or me. Meanwhile, if there were no pool of minimum wage labor, the companies that employ them would have to mechanize further. This means more jobs for engineers and mechanics -- people who actually pay enough taxes to not be a drain on society!

To me, this is really a simple question of math. We need a certain amount of tax revenue for a certain population. We know, a priori, that having all members contribute equally is not going to provide enough revenue -- some people are going to have to contribute more than others. Since we've already established that fact, why is it such a big deal if some contribute nothing? Why all the hand wringing that a successful professional is paying more taxes than some high school drop out? There is nothing stopping that professional from becoming a bum, yet somehow he doesn't. This is almost like the gay marriage argument. Guess what; just because gay marriage is available doesn't mean that straight people are going to leave their spouses! By the same token, just because it becomes possible to survive a little more comfortably without working doesn't mean that everyone will stop working. And what's more, fewer workers would mean more money/better jobs for those who remain (making up for the higher taxes).

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Post by jhhoffma » Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:43 pm

But what do you do with all the people that can't be engineers and mechanics? What if their only redeeming value is that they are willing to clean someone else's toilet?

My point was at least the people who work minimum wage jobs are doing SOMETHING. There are far too many people out there receiving benefits (see earlier post) that do absolutely nothing to earn them. I have no problem with my tax dollars going to help support some poor schmuck who is just too dumb to perform a job that might earn more as long as he's willing to do something productive with his time.
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Post by LodeHacker » Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:46 pm

jhhoffma wrote:I have no problem with my tax dollars going to help support some poor schmuck who is just too dumb to perform a job that might earn more as long as he's willing to do something productive with his time.
Thanks in advance :mrgreen:
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Post by judge56988 » Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:22 am

jessekopelman wrote:So, let's think about these numbers: $1,154 to Medicare and Social Security is something, but hardly the amount necessary to keep the system afloat. This is even more the case with the $458 in Federal income tax. He's certainly using more in services than he's putting in. Here we have a hard working person who is still a drain on society . . .
So they are contributing a small amount - if they were not working and on welfare surely they would be taking much more out of the system?
Is a small net gain not worse than a much larger net loss? When multiplied by the numbers involved it adds up to a lot.

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Post by jhhoffma » Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:16 am

LodeHacker wrote:
jhhoffma wrote:I have no problem with my tax dollars going to help support some poor schmuck who is just too dumb to perform a job that might earn more as long as he's willing to do something productive with his time.
Thanks in advance :mrgreen:
Finns need not apply... :P

You already have universal health care and mostly paid-for college education.
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Post by LodeHacker » Tue Jun 30, 2009 7:54 am

jhhoffma wrote:
LodeHacker wrote:
jhhoffma wrote:I have no problem with my tax dollars going to help support some poor schmuck who is just too dumb to perform a job that might earn more as long as he's willing to do something productive with his time.
Thanks in advance :mrgreen:
Finns need not apply... :P

You already have universal health care and mostly paid-for college education.
That's why I said in advance :mrgreen:
You never know who'll be your neighbour in the future :twisted:
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Post by jessekopelman » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:11 pm

jhhoffma wrote:But what do you do with all the people that can't be engineers and mechanics? What if their only redeeming value is that they are willing to clean someone else's toilet?
But the issue is whether we should force people to clean toilets, if that is all they are good for. You are saying that if people are capable of work they must work, even if that work is largely pointless. I am saying that I have no need to for people to do pointless work. You are like the boss who makes people stay at the job until 5pm, even if there is no work left to do. Making earning a living all about how much of your free time you are willing to give up is odious to me.

There was a King of the Hill episode about this that I watched just last night. Bobby (the son) found out he could earn more per hour as a beggar than in his crappy part time job. He also found that being a beggar was more enjoyable and afforded him a higher status with his middle school peers. Hank (his father) found out and was appalled. In the end, Bobby redeems himself by getting a new job handing out fliers for vasectomy reversal and working really hard. This was the perfect example of how stupid this school of thought is. Was handing out vasectomy reversal fliers really a contribution to society? Meanwhile, Bobby was actually happier and better self actualized as a beggar. He was immediately spending his earnings from both jobs, and as a 14 year-old he wasn't paying taxes even from the legitimate job, so the higher paying beggar job was actually contributing more to society. Yet his father couldn't stand the thought of him being a beggar, even if it made him happy, but was proud to see him wasting his precious time working at a useless straight job.

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Post by jessekopelman » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:24 pm

judge56988 wrote:
jessekopelman wrote:So, let's think about these numbers: $1,154 to Medicare and Social Security is something, but hardly the amount necessary to keep the system afloat. This is even more the case with the $458 in Federal income tax. He's certainly using more in services than he's putting in. Here we have a hard working person who is still a drain on society . . .
So they are contributing a small amount - if they were not working and on welfare surely they would be taking much more out of the system?
Is a small net gain not worse than a much larger net loss? When multiplied by the numbers involved it adds up to a lot.
Not necessarily. There are hidden costs at work here. A smaller unskilled work force means either better pay for those that remain (and thus less reliance on the system from them) or more mechanization, which is good for skilled labor (and thus more money into the system from them). Also, people without full-time jobs have the potential to be healthier, thanks to lower stress, increased exercise, and cooking their own meals (whether they realize this potential is a good question) -- this means lower health care costs.

You also have to consider if the low wage earners are really drawing less out of the system. Yes they have an income, but they also incur all kinds of costs to earn that income. They have to pay transportation costs to get to work. Clothing costs to dress appropriately. If they have children (and they are more likely than the more successful to do so) there is an additional cost for child care. All these costs will eat the majority of their very small income and thus they are left just as dependent on welfare as people with no job. Meanwhile, their tax contribution is very small, as I showed previously. So, the actual net difference in societal burden between minimum wage and no job is actually much smaller than you might imagine.

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higher minimum wage vs. unconditional base salary

Post by jessekopelman » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:31 pm

To me the interesting debate to have here is not is welfare right or wrong, but what is more effective: unconditional base salary, or much higher minimum wage.

Interestingly, I think they both have the same end result -- more people on welfare. For UBS, more people will choose not to work (leading to greater mechanization). For higher minimum wage, companies employ fewer unskilled people (leading to greater mechanization). However, greater mechanization means more money for skilled labor, offsetting the greater welfare burden and higher cost of consumer goods.

So, in the end, the question becomes which policy would actually be easier to implement and more efficient in execution?

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Post by judge56988 » Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:14 pm

Welcome to the Brave New World...

One in which the divisions in society between the educated, working elite and the non-working peasants are greater than ever.

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Post by jessekopelman » Wed Jul 01, 2009 1:18 pm

judge56988 wrote:Welcome to the Brave New World...

One in which the divisions in society between the educated, working elite and the non-working peasants are greater than ever.
I don't think it's really anything new. If you study the history, it is actually the period between 1945-1975 that was a major aberration (massive growth of middle class). Most of human history has seen a vast divide between the haves and have-nots. There has been a pretty continuous struggle on the part of the haves to maintain their position, despite advances in technology that should have ostensibly narrowed the gap, and the occasional revolution by the have-nots triggered by too obvious a failure of the status quo.

So, the question is do we want to keep 1945-1975 a historical aberration or do we want to try and make it the new societal norm?

I will point out that you can't have non-working peasants. That is pretty much a contradiction in terms. You might consider the non-working to be lower class, but that is more a values judgment than an economic one. As I've been trying to point out, the working poor are very little different, in terms of net economic contribution, from the unemployed.

The idea of Unconditional Basic Salary is to expand the middle class to include the unemployed and unskilled. The mainstream argument against is that this would be accomplished by dragging down the existing middle class. It conveniently ignores that the middle class is already being dragged down by the current status quo. The mainstream argument for is that it would be accomplished at the expense of the existing upper class. This conveniently ignores the great historical success the upper class has had at keeping shit rolling down hill. The Randian argument against is that only the upper class matters and anything to benefit the lower classes is inefficient use of resources. The Marxist argument for is that only the workers matter and any upper or middle class (bourgeoisie) people effected owed their position to exploitation of the worker and need to be brought down a peg. The Maoist argument against is that everyone (except for the given great leader and his friends) should be brought down and no one should be lifted up. These last three are all too far divorced from reality to argue about . . .

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Post by GamingGod » Wed Jul 01, 2009 6:41 pm

LOL, this reminds me. I was working as an usher at a movie theater. I was having a particularly bad day as I had a coke dumped on me <on purpose> and then later I was cleaning the hallway and this redneck walked up and said, "They should get robots to do that". I proceeded very quickly to blurt out, "yea, well robots won't work for this cheap."

True story.

Several people keep saying "people that are incapable of doing any other work", as if everyone working for minimum wage is ignorant and/or unskilled. The fact is this country is more about who you know than what you know when you are trying to find work. It is not based on the the best person for the job.
I have a bachelor's degree, and was rated in the top 7% of business majors in the country and no one will hire me for anything other than minimum wage. Most of the people I worked with were highly intelligent people that simply couldn't find a better job. There were only 3 people at the movie theater that I doubt would ever get another job, 2 were retarded and the other was just a little off in the head.

I will add one more thing. I have seen it first hand, because I live in the ghetto. If you give someone a handout then they come to expect that from everyone. They get rude and nasty, and lazy. They will start committing crimes ect. No one should get something for nothing. Cut out all the affirmative action, welfare, ect. and use the money saved to boost up the minimum wage for people that will at least try.
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Post by judge56988 » Thu Jul 02, 2009 5:07 am

jessekopelman wrote: I will point out that you can't have non-working peasants. That is pretty much a contradiction in terms.
Figure of speech.
I'm fully aware of the literal meaning of the word peasant.


Interestingly, I think they both have the same end result -- more people on welfare. For UBS, more people will choose not to work (leading to greater mechanization). For higher minimum wage, companies employ fewer unskilled people (leading to greater mechanization). However, greater mechanization means more money for skilled labor, offsetting the greater welfare burden and higher cost of consumer goods.
I feel that what needs to be considered is what the end result of having many more people not working would be on society as a whole and the "non-workers" in particular.
I can see a host of problems arising, most of which have been mentioned already by me and others in this thread.

It's not all about efficiency and mechanisation; it's about peoples well being, their quality of life, how they achieve self respect and fulfillment, how they are motivated to do things and not vegetate their lives away. Many people are just not intelligent or proactive enough to do more than sit in front of a TV eating junk food.
Many younger people have an excess of energy and vigour that often needs to be given some direction otherwise the result is fighting, vandalism, drug abuse and so on.
The solution in "Brave New World" was state supplied drugs, and that would solve all those problems, but what sort of a world would that be?

People need a focus to their lives, a reason for being and a sense of self worth. They want to feel that they are doing something useful and contributing. Have you never felt that inner glow of pride when you've been congratulated on a job well done? I know that it makes me feel good about myself to know that someone has appreciated my efforts - it's a natural human emotion and has inspired our progress for thousands of years, right back to when a caveman brought home a big lump of meat for his family.

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Post by jessekopelman » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:39 pm

judge56988 wrote: People need a focus to their lives, a reason for being and a sense of self worth. They want to feel that they are doing something useful and contributing.
But the debate is not whether people feel better if they have something to do, it is whether they should be presented with the choice of work or starve. Or even work or be considered an underclass of society. You seem to imply that the only reason anyone works is for monetary reward and that is simply not true. The hardest working people I've ever encountered were all rich enough to never have to work again. Just because UBS would mean that people didn't have to work, it wouldn't actually stop them from working (even if only as unpaid contributors). The idea here is not to force people into staying at home, but instead allow them to work at the vocations of their choice, even if those things would not otherwise provide a sustainable living.

Let's say I wanted to go around picking up litter and cleaning up graffiti. It would be hard to earn a living doing this, but with UBS the earning a living part would get taken care of and I could devote 40 hours a week or more to cleaning up the area. Now you could argue that tax money would be better spent just hiring people to do this work than paying for UBS, but that is a harder program to administer and much more subject to local politics.

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Post by jessekopelman » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:50 pm

judge56988 wrote: Many younger people have an excess of energy and vigour that often needs to be given some direction otherwise the result is fighting, vandalism, drug abuse and so on.
I agree, but this is a separate issue. We already address it to some degree by mandating that people stay in school until 16 (in most localities in the US). Problems are more severe where you are allowed to drop out of school earlier (most other countries and places in the US where enforcement is lax). The only reason we even allow people to drop out of school at 16 is ostensibly because they may need to be helping out their family financially. With UBS, this excuse would be gone and we could mandate people stay in school until at least 18. The longer you stay in school, the more likely you are to continue going to school. So if we couple this with affordable/free higher education, you've gone a long way to solving the problem. A year or two of compulsory civil service (doesn't have to be military) might be a very good idea as well. If you go to post-secondary school, it gets delayed until you finally graduate, otherwise right after high school/vo-tech you go do your service. Either way, you have something to do until you are more of a functioning adult.

Again, the issue is not whether people need things to do. The issue is whether the work you do should be the sole determiner in whether you have enough food to eat. In other words, should market forces be the determining factor in your social framework or should the be subordinate to the needs of society?

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Post by AZBrandon » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:50 pm

How funny, the "guaranteed annual income" was just mentioned in a news story today. It actually dates back to 1966 and was one of many demands designed to destroy capitalist countries.

http://wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=102735

As I said before, I would LOVE to see this implemented in the UK, Germany, France, and anyone else that competes with the US. I want to see all our competition destroyed, and guaranteed annual income is just such a way to destroy all those countries! Awesome and fantastic, I hope you are successful in getting it pushed through all across Europe!
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Post by judge56988 » Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:08 pm

jessekopelman wrote: But the debate is not whether people feel better if they have something to do, it is whether they should be presented with the choice of work or starve. Or even work or be considered an underclass of society.
Who in the West starves because they don't work??? It's been pointed out enough times how well some people do on welfare.

Anyway we're going round in circles here, you see an army of vocational street cleaners and I see a a large chunk of the population doing as little as possible, despised by those that do work and pay taxes.

I think you might be looking at the world through rose tinted glasses and like many who dream of Utopian societies you are ignoring the baser aspects of human nature - greed, envy, sloth, gluttony - you know what I mean - there were seven of them and they've been around as long as people have.

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Post by qviri » Thu Jul 02, 2009 5:09 pm

judge56988 wrote:
jessekopelman wrote: But the debate is not whether people feel better if they have something to do, it is whether they should be presented with the choice of work or starve. Or even work or be considered an underclass of society.
Who in the West starves because they don't work??? It's been pointed out enough times how well some people do on welfare.
Unfortunately, although death is rare, malnutrition is too frequent even in the West.
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Post by mathias » Thu Jul 02, 2009 5:19 pm

qviri wrote:Unfortunately, although death is rare, malnutrition is too frequent even in the West.
Well, yeah, now that we're starting to understand it, we can see that malnutrition is massively widespread. But it's not all that connected to not working, and it's not actually all that low in the west.

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Post by jessekopelman » Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:09 pm

judge56988 wrote: I think you might be looking at the world through rose tinted glasses and like many who dream of Utopian societies you are ignoring the baser aspects of human nature - greed, envy, sloth, gluttony - you know what I mean - there were seven of them and they've been around as long as people have.
You might get that impression, but actually I look at this as a fairly pragmatic solution. I certainly don't ignore its many shortcomings, it's just that precious few people have actually brought them up. Instead I see a lot of proponents of the righteousness of work and no willingness to consider economics or the reality that humans do not act in rational self-interest. This is where I'm seeing the Utopian arguments: if only we take away the crutch of welfare, everyone will suddenly become a productive worker, or if only we let the market have free rein, the rising tide will lift all boats. The truth is that there is no perfect solution, so the question is what is the best solution. I'm not sure UBS is the best solution to even the basic problem of economic class warfare, but I do think it is better than what we have now in much of the Western world (which is pretty much a hunger is good motivator attitude).

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Post by judge56988 » Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:01 pm

I do agree with much of what you say - there can never be a perfect solution that suits everybody and I certainly agree that "humans do not act in rational self-interest". I think that Western society faces a huge problem.
I read a book a few years back, called "The Shield of Achilles" by Philip Bobbitt, which gives an historical account of how and why society has changed over the centuries. It certainly gives food for thought and points out that all major changes have been accompanied by a painful process of re-adjustment; war, revolution and so on. According to him, the world is in the process of going through another great change in which the relationship between government and the people will be redefined. The question is how painful will this process be and what will be the result?
Personally, I think that the pursuit of wealth and economic growth at all costs has got out of hand - we need to slow down a little and consider what really makes people happy. There are many old sayings about this: money can't buy happiness, money is the root of all evil etc. etc. and while they may sound cliched and old hat, these expressions did not arise without good reason.

Going back to the UBI - OK, maybe I have old fashioned views on the work ethic and "earning your keep", "doing your bit" - however you want to put it. I think of the spoilt child of rich parents who always gets the latest toys given to them, compared to the child of less well off parents who has had to put in a degree of effort to get maybe only one or two toys. Which child values their toys the most, and what sort of adults will those two children grow up to be?

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