If You Think Basic Income is “Free Money” or Socialism, Think Again

numbersjunkie

I thought this was a great article - UBI is Andrew Yang's signature policy proposal, and a number of other politicians are also now running on this platform. I think it will be getting a lot more attention no matter who gets elected in 2020.


I personally see this as a fair way to compensate us all for the use of our personal data, which is extremely valuable to the big tech giants and is often used against us!


Article is by Scott Santens, published about a year ago on Medium.com


If You Think Basic Income is “Free Money” or Socialism, Think Again

First, saying basic income is socialism is as absurd as saying money is socialism. It’s money. It’s all it is. What do people do with money? They use it in markets. In other words, basic income is fuel for markets. Markets are a wonderful invention that serve to calculate via a massively distributed computer comprised of people, what goods and services should be made, using what, going where, by whom, of what quantity, etc. It’s an incredible act of decentralization built upon supply and demand signaling.


When someone has money and wants to buy something, that is a demand signal. Businesses meet this signal with supply. Basically, buying is like voting. We vote on what we want using money as our ballots, and we do this over and over and over again, every day. Now imagine someone has no money in a system built around markets. How do they vote? They can’t. The market thus confuses this lack of a vote as a “no” vote. These two signals are of course very different. One is zero and one is null, but markets don’t know that. They can’t differentiate between them. This means markets containing people who don’t have enough money to signal their demand can’t function properly.


Have you ever played the game Monopoly? I’m sure you have. Is that a game about socialism? According to “free money is socialism” logic it is, because everyone starts the game with free money and everyone gets free money for simply passing Go. But I’m sure you know the game is actually about capitalism, right? It’s just a smart enough game to know that a game involving money requires that all players get a minimum amount of money.


Have you ever heard of the Alaska dividend? Every year since 1982, all residents of Alaska receive an equal dividend as their share of the dividend of the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF), now worth over $61 billion. Rich or poor, adult or child, everyone has received a Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) of $1,000 per year on average for over 30 years. Is Alaska a socialist utopia? Do people move to Alaska to worship at the altar of Karl Marx? Nope. Alaska is a red state, but not that kind of red state. It’s a conservative state where everyone gets what too many media outlets refer to as “free money”.

Of course, it’s not actually free is it? It comes from someone. It comes from the oil companies. How? Well, Alaska owns the land and charges oil companies for the right to drill in it. They then put 25% of the earnings in the APF. Being the conservative state it is, they figure that the government should keep it’s damn hands off that money. The APF is not to be touched, and the dividends go directly to Alaskans because Alaskans know far better what to do with that money than government does. As a result, the dividend boosts and stabilizes the economy, and every year come dividend time, local businesses compete against each other for the business of Alaskan consumers armed with dividend checks.


Does that sound like socialism to you?


It didn’t to Milton Friedman or Friedrich Hayek, both of whom supported the idea of basic income, and both of whom can be considered fathers of free market economics. Hayek was even from the Austrian school. If you are confused why free market economists could like the idea of basic income, that’s because you probably don’t actually know what basic income is.


But that’s not the only problem in such thinking. A bigger problem appears to be a preference of ideological thinking over scientific thinking. Here’s what you need to do to avoid this mental trap. Go out and find experimental studies that show how given two populations, one a control group, and one a group where the experimental variable is cash without conditions, that the one given money ends up worse off. Also, good luck with that. Because I’ve been looking for years now, and all I keep finding are study after study of people ending up better off.

Imagine that, right?


One of the biggest problems with government, and believe me, I recognize its many problems, is that it’s full of people who think they know what’s best for other people. But the thing is, it’s that way because that’s how we are. We vote for people who think they know what’s best for people because we think we know what’s best for people. It’s our problem. And it’s a big problem. Why?

Because that’s how places get to be what Americans think of when they think of the Soviet Union. Don’t trust people by giving them money and letting them spend it as consumers in markets. Give them food. Don’t let them choose what kind of food. They don’t know what’s best. Give them approved food as determined by a board of health specialists. Give them housing. Don’t let them choose their housing. Build public housing that’s best for them. Give them this. Give them that. Just don’t give them money, because money enables too much freedom. Money can be spent on anything. And don’t give money unconditionally, because money without conditions means lack of control. Money with conditions means people must do what we want them to do. No having kids out of wedlock. Two kids maximum. Fill out 10 job applications per day. No refusing a job no matter what it is or what it pays. Work eight hours a day. Go to school. Retrain. Do what we say, or else. That’s control. Conditions are control. Lack of conditions is freedom.


Do you think seniors receiving Social Security are under the control of government, because they’re all so scared that it can be removed at any time? Hell no. The exact opposite is true. Seniors vote in large numbers to make damn sure government responds to their needs. Government is afraid of seniors. And seniors can use their Social Security checks on anything. It’s cash. They can also work to the day they die if they so choose. No one is stopping seniors from earning additional income. Their Social Security checks are simply an absolute minimum. It’s a monthly non-zero income floor from age 65 or so till death, possibly 50 years.


Do you honestly think seniors are worse off with Social Security? That someone receiving it for 30 years is suffering under an oppressive socialist government that’s controlling them, and if only they stopped receiving checks, they would be emancipated and private charity would step in and lift them up just as high or even higher? Because there’s really clear evidence that before Social Security seniors were far worse off than after, and as Social Security spending per capita has risen, poverty rates have fallen in lock step.




But again, such understanding requires looking at actual evidence doesn’t it? It requires comparing the map that’s in our heads with the actual ground. Do they match? Always remember, the map is not the territory.


Here’s some more of the actual ground. UBI and UCT (unconditional cash transfer) experiments and programs have shown decreased hospitalization rates via reduced stress, lower crime rates, higher education rates, better education scores, healthier eating, reduced drug/alcohol use, increased entrepreneurship (3x more than control groups), economic multipliers ($1 grows the economy more than $1), healthier baby weights due to better maternal nutrition, higher rates of home ownership, reduced teen pregnancy rates, etc. The list goes on and on.


It’s really hard to look at the evidence and say giving people money is wrong, because having enough money means being able to buy enough food. It means being able to have a roof over your head. For those without money, money means everything. It can even mean the difference between life and death.


Now maybe you’re so extreme in your ideology that you don’t care about how basic income improves lives. Maybe you only care that the money had to come from someone in the top 20% (because the bottom 80% would all benefit from universal basic income), and that it’s stealing and therefore wrong. It’s wrong to eliminate poverty if it means yachts are a foot smaller, right? Okay, let’s look at that.


Once upon a time, none of the land was owned. Sure, in the US, natives lived here, but screw them, right? We started to carve up the land with invisible lines. It was done all over the world. What once wasn’t owned, became owned. That was a great deal for the new owners, not so much for those whose land was taken, or who lost access to the land or even just free passage through it. That land was passed down generation after generation and here we are now with everything owned where human beings are born onto a planet they aren’t allowed to exist on unless they work for those who own the planet.


Now that should be a problem to anyone who cares about voluntaryism. Should you be able to force someone to work by withholding the access they would have otherwise had to meeting their basic needs, had we not put walls up everywhere? I for one think the labor market should be fully voluntary.





Everyone should get enough money to be able to refuse to work. That way, the incentive is shifted to employers, where it should be. Want someone to do something? Pay them enough to do it. If you refuse to pay anyone enough thanks to their ability to tell you to take your job and shove it, then either automate that job, or let it go undone. If the work really needs to be done, you’ll sweeten the deal or hand it to a robot.


By the way, the best work is work done voluntarily. People are more engaged and productivity is higher. You should know that, but if you are fighting against a free labor market and for forcing people to do the bidding of those who own enough property to command people to do their bidding, maybe you don’t. Or maybe you’re the one enjoying the involuntary labor force?


Now, one of America’s founding fathers looked at this whole loss of common property situation and thought wait a second, when someone owns land, that land used to belong to everyone who no longer has access to it, and so they owe a rent to everyone to compensate everyone for their loss in exchange for the right of private ownership. That man was Founding Father Thomas Paine, and he thought the revenue from that rent should supply everyone an unconditional grant when reaching the age of adulthood and also pay for seniors and the disabled. Sound familiar?


Let’s also look at what’s been happening in the economy. For decades, almost all the economic growth has gone to the top ONLY. Our productivity has been going up and up and up, but wages haven’t.



It didn’t used to be this way. It used to be that as your income went down, the faster your income grew. Now it’s the opposite. Now, as your income goes up, the faster your income grows.




Even weirder, why did hours worked stop going down as they had for centuries, and instead start creeping back up starting in 1980? Does this make any sense in a country where productivity is increasing, that people are working more hours and earning less money?



So then let’s take a quick look at the technology picture where so many appear to subscribe to the silly notion that technology is nothing to worry about because jobs are always created. Yes, we’ve been creating jobs as we’ve lost jobs, but let’s look closer. We’ve been automating mid-skill, fairly high productivity jobs because the tech capability was there and the price point was right. Those unemployed were then put into new low-skill low productivity jobs, because the tech ability to automate those jobs wasn’t there (yet), and the price point wasn’t right (yet).



In other words, here many “experts” are saying everything is just fine and dandy when someone loses their $60,000 full-time 40-hour per week career job to a machine and gets handed two part-time $20,000 60-hour per week shit jobs. Notice how this explains the rise in hours worked? People need to work more hours in order to try to prevent their incomes from falling.

Meanwhile, what happens to all these newly created low-skill jobs once technology is cheap enough to even handle them too? Which jobs are left when technology is not only doing all the routine labor, but also the non-routine thanks to artificial intelligence breakthroughs like deep learning neural nets? There’s nowhere else to go except for the lucky few. Game over.

Yes, it really is different this time.

It’s also not only about how much people earn, but when they earn it, so let’s also make sure and notice that income variability has increased as well so even if someone is making the same amount of income per year working in a new job, their pay may vary a lot more month to month, which introduces the ability to fall behind on bills and fall into downward spirals of debt.


Suffice to say, our entire safety net is built around an antiquated notion of jobs, and universal basic income is a key component of a 21st century system built as a solid foundation instead of a hole-filled net.


By the way, about those holes, in the US about 1 in 5 people living under the federal poverty line get TANF (our cash welfare program). About 1 in 4 people who qualify for housing assistance get it. About 1 in 5 people with a disability get disability income. Basically, the way the system works right now is to exclude far more people in need than it includes. Even worse, due to targeting of benefits, those who receive them see the highest marginal tax rates of all. No billionaire sees as high a tax rate.


How does that work you ask? Well, by providing a targeted benefit, it gets pulled away when they earn income. Essentially, welfare punishes work. It’s built as a ceiling instead of a floor. Would you work a shit job if you were promised 5 cents on the dollar? Of course not. Why would you? Because any job, even a shit job that effectively pays 36 cents an hour provides the meaning of existence?



One final thing. Universal basic income need not be done via taxation, just as the Alaska dividend isn’t via taxation. It can be done in many ways including by non-debt-based money creation, which by the way is mostly done by private banks right now, not the government. And yes, even cryptocurrencies could be designed to provide UBI. So an issue against taxes is not necessarily an issue with UBI itself, at least it shouldn’t be, but with how it’s funded. In that case, be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem by talking about the best way to go about basic income instead of lying to people purposely or out of ignorance about what basic income actually is. Basic income is not left or right. It’s forward.


Basic income is also not charity. It’s not a handout. It is owed to you. It’s your dividend. It’s your compensation for your loss of access to this rock in space called Earth. It’s your return on investment for the tax dollars invested in Level 1 research and development behind the technology unemploying you. It’s your royalties for the big data which everything you now do (and even don’t do) is increasingly generating. It’s your share of rising productivity that used to go to you before it was stolen from you. It’s your right to life, and just as no one has the right to take your life, no one has the right to force you to do anything for them in order to stay alive.


Basic income is not free money. It’s freedom. And freedom belongs to you.


I like markets. I want to reduce the size of government. I want less bureaucracy. I want less administration. I want fewer government jobs. I want lower taxes for everyone who hasn’t been benefiting from our economic growth for decades. I want a simpler tax code. I want fewer subsidies. I want less market distortion. I want a voluntary labor market. I want more freedom. If we appear to want many of the same things, I urge you to question what you think you know, and spend some real time looking into basic income.


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numbersjunkie

Bumping since this was posted yesterday afternoon and didn't post until sometime today, showing up way down the list.

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margaritadina

''Basic income is not free money. It’s freedom. And freedom belongs to you.''

Here is your 1K per month if you have no other income. Knock yourself out having anything you ever wanted.


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elvis

I've read Santens' piece before. No offense, but it's nonsensical as written: incomplete and deeply flawed. Well, depending on what you'd like the outcome to be, except there wasn't any clear outcome. People can judge for themselves, here's the link:

https://medium.com/basic-income/what-is-there-to-learn-from-finlands-basic-income-experiment-did-it-succeed-or-fail-54b8e5051f60

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numbersjunkie

Elvis, can you be more specific? You say this piece is deeply flawed, but don't say how. And then you post a link to an article he wrote about a trial program in Finland that had some aspects of ubi but was not a true ubi program. Was that the one that was supposed to measure changes in unemployment rates? If so, that's a different goal than what supporters ubi (like Friedman) envisioned.

I'd be happy to consider to your specific concerns, but only if you can articulate them.

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elvis

Thanks for responding, NJ. It's late now, but tomorrow I'll try to remember to get back to this.

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Prim Rose

I remember my uncle, an economist who taught at UofM, went to China, when it first opened, to teach the Chinese about capitalism.

He talked about the UBI more than 50 years ago. No socialist or radical, he was a believer in capitalism. Also, was a Quaker. Perhaps he was living his faith. Which calls us to love our neighbor. And our neighbor is everyone. 2nd commandment.

I'm very glad Yang is in the race and has the platform to speak about this idea. Clearly, this thread is wasted on the close minded.

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arthurm2015(Micro-Climate, Zone 10b Sydney, Australia)

I love it. Those dumb dole bludgers! The problem is that many of the unskilled jobs are gone, replaced by a machine.

Here, we have the Newstart Allowance, sound like a nightmare existence to me, you have to apply for x number of jobs within a specified time period, otherwise no dole.

I went to work today, at Little Augusta. Swept the carpark for three hours and then did a tidy up of a shrub that snapped off in a gale. Enjoyed the work, had a chat, with the co volunteers and then went into the club- house for wages.... one free beer.

Seriously, work is a basic human need and I was lucky that I mostly enjoyed my 40 or so years of slaving way before I retired aged 55.

Now the problem is the Ghenghis Khans. They are everywhere! In every country. They inhabit this Forum, my Wife's relative let it be known that she had married a communist. Scrooge is alive and well.

Crunch time is now! Those jobs that are gone in the tying pool, in the back offices of banks, never get the publicity that lost Mining jobs get.

Time for some new ideas.

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lionheart_gw (USDA Zone 5A, Eastern NY)

I'm not completely opposed to a UBI although I have some reservations, which have less to do with money and more to do with human nature.

Money is important too and we don't want to create an elaborate system that costs much more, but I think such a program could be equally unraveled by poor outcomes that can happen when more people have some money and too much time on their hands.

Off the surface, it appears that Finland's experiment - which was only a two year experiment - showed that people on UBI were happier than people who were on traditional unemployment, but they had no better outcomes when it came to employment.

In other words, it didn't unleash a torrent of pent-up genius and entrepreneurship, which is often one of the over-hyped justifications for a UBI (and the least convincing).

It will be interesting to see how such experiments work out in other places. I don't have a problem with trying it out on a smaller scale, using both an experimental group and a control group, but we also need to define what "success" looks like.

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katrina_ellen

I believe basic income is tied to AI and the displacement of jobs related to it. Its not meant to be a sustainable income, its supposed to encourage people to find other employment because its hardly enough to survive, but knock yourself out. Is this one of those socialist utopian ideals that never work out in the real world? In the real world people will take your free money and sell drugs on the side. Next thing you know the old commune ideals of the 70's will be rehashed.

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batyabeth

very interesting read, thanks numbers. Still not sure where I fall on this but he brings up excellent explanations.

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JodiK

A discussion like this is liable to bring in all the normal stereotypes and prejudices... and, oh look, it already has...


Yes, most certainly, I say with sarcasm, a small stipend will result in lazy drug pushers. SMH...

(If people only knew how difficult it was to sell drugs... kidding)


But seriously... the opening article gets at the nuts and bolts of our civilization, giving us a rather easy to grasp view of that bigger picture... wherein a large part of society is, in effect, beholden to the minority who own and control the majority.


If you think you truly have freedom without oppression, then you don't understand how our civilization has been molded, and you've eagerly swallowed the propaganda that keeps you thinking you're free without strings attached...


Thanks, numbersjunkie... this is the stuff of nightmares for the 1%! But quite honestly, a small stipend would change the dynamics of our society in a rather positive way.




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numbersjunkie

"Off the surface, it appears that Finland's experiment - which was only a two year experiment - showed that people on UBI were happier than people who were on traditional unemployment, but they had no better outcomes when it came to employment."

I went back and read this article after Elvis posted it. The part about "it had no better outcomes when it came to employment" is misleading at best. The 2 groups in the trial were both unemployed.

"The single greatest problem with the design of the basic income experiment, aside from the exclusion of employed Finns, and the lack of using a saturation site to test everyone in an entire town or city, is that the treatment group continued receiving 83.3% of the conditional benefits as the control group. That fact is extremely important to understand, and it should be considered nothing short of shocking. If the primary goal of the experiment was to see what would happen if people stopped losing benefits in exchange for employment, then the treatment group should have received as close to zero conditional benefits as possible. If you don’t understand why, put yourself in their shoes.

Imagine you are receiving 560 euros per month in basic income (or about $630). Although true that if you accept employment you will get to keep that money where usually you would lose it under typical unemployment benefits, in this experiment, accepting employment would still mean losing the benefits you are receiving for your family, losing your other benefits, and possibly even losing your housing assistance. That’s still a lot of disincentive to work isn’t it?"

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lionheart_gw (USDA Zone 5A, Eastern NY)

"I went back and read this article after Elvis posted it. The part about "it had no better outcomes when it came to employment" is misleading at best. The 2 groups in the trial were both unemployed."

As I read more about it, I think the problem here is that it is called a "UBI program" when it was really an unemployment program.

This was not meant to be a UBI program and it was never sold as a UBI program, so I wouldn't waste time over-analyzing the ramifications in that context. I would disregard it as a UBI experiment.

As an unemployment program, it did NOT produce better results than the traditional unemployment program.

I remain agnostic about the various proposed UBI programs and would like to see some more experiments. There have been a few in the past and there are a few that will be implemented shortly, but I haven't looked into them and won't be free to do so for several months.

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bry911

The Finland experiment is completely flawed, I commented about it when the discussion first happened on this board quite some time ago. It has a massive confirmation bias.

To understand UBI you must think about it in context of the programs and systems it is meant to replace. It is essentially a modification of tax code and replaces the Standard Deduction, Earned Income Credit, and probably the Child Tax Credit. Instead your income is fully taxed and you receive a monthly check instead, for most this will be a rebate and for some few it will be a monthly wage.

The idea that a massive number of people are going to stop working if there is UBI is based on no reality. There will still be a marginal benefit for working, and the people who currently chase that marginal benefit will continue to chase that benefit.

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Jonnygun(zone 7)

So I went to Yang's website and read about his plan. The part that bothers me was this:

Current welfare and social program beneficiaries would be given a choice between their current benefits or $1,000 cash unconditionally – most would prefer cash with no restriction.


This bugs me because most "social benefit recipients" recieve an array of benefits that include housing, food, child care and utility payments. I hate the gimmies, but at least I don't have to listen to a bunch of "the children" arguments because at least they have housing, food and adult supervision during the day. My concern is what happens when people do what Yang believes they will do and trade several thousand dollars worth of "benefits" for a thousand dollars cash. Where do they then live, eat etc. I think we would just end up giving them a cool grand in cash and still subsidize everything else.

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numbersjunkie

Jonnygun, I do understand your concerns, but UBI would be on "opt-in" options for those people. If they are in fact getting all of those benefits which are worth more than UBI, they don't have to switch.

What have learned is that only a fraction of the people who need these safety net programs are actually getting the benefits because of all of the administrative hurdles required. And then, if they earn even a little bit of money, they are kicked off these programs and have to start the application process all over again. There have been a few discussions I've read where people tell their stories about the current system and they are overwhelming in favor of UBI. The truth is that our welfare system is badly broken, and has a built in disincentive to work. It does not "lift" people up out of poverty.

You may also have a concern about whether these people "can be trusted" to use the money on the things "you" think they should be using it for. I don't know what your political leanings are, but for Republicans and Libertarians, UBI should be a better option than traditional safety net programs because it means less government control, less administrative cost, less bureaucracy. Yang does have a policy for financial literacy training too, so that should help these people learn to manage their finances. It's kind of like the teaching a man to fish instead of just giving him the fish!

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JodiK

First, not everyone who receives state assistance benefits gets everything on that list... you only get what you qualify for. so, not everyone who applies will get housing, or utility payments, or child care... some will only qualify for medical assistance or LINK.


And in many cases, the amount received is not really enough to get by on. It depends on the state, among other factors.


The real problem seems to be... some folks want total control over what the poor receive. Reason forbid they should get anything that qualifies as a "comfort"!

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Jonnygun(zone 7)

Jodik, I was specifically referring to the most "needy". Those that recieve the whole spectrum of services available. Those folks are primarily composed of single mothers with children. Those folks living in section 8 housing and receiving Snap, wik, Medicaid, childcare and utilities. According to Yang they can choose cash in lue of all the above. I think it is obvious that many of these folks can not be trusted to make "good" decisions. They are free to make poor decisions, that is their right, I am just uncomfortable putting tax payer cash in their hands instead of "things" they need. Ya know housing and food.


If I though for a second that we could actually just pay them a grand and turn a blind eye to "the children" I still wouldn't be in favor of it, because of "the children". I would rather pay them to $10k each to recieve a 10 year contraceptive implant. That would save lot LOTS more money.


Consider that most of these folks are already receiving thousands in federal tax refunds annually and I fail to see the impact Yang's plan would have on the bottom.

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Kitchenwitch111

The article explains a lot of things that I wasn’t aware of.
One thing that stood out to me is that corporations, especially tech, are
making money off our lives for marketing & other purposes. These
corporations are making huge profits directly from us and could pay into a fund
like what Alaska has and distribute an amount to the population. Individual citizens would not have to be taxed
to pay these dividends.

How about the ranchers that want to graze their herds for
free on our public lands? Why should only the ranchers benefit from something
we all own?

No one is saying that anyone should live only on UBI. It’s
that extra cash that can take you out to eat if you’re doing well, and allows
you to eat at all if you’re poor.

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Jonnygun(zone 7)

You a declared socialist kitchenwitch?

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Kitchenwitch111

You a declared socialist kitchenwitch?

No. Think of UBI as a giant tip jar from the corporations that profit off us.

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haydayhayday

Hay

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numbersjunkie

"I think it is obvious that many of these folks can not be trusted to make "good" decisions. They are free to make poor decisions, that is their right, I am just uncomfortable putting tax payer cash in their hands instead of "things" they need. Ya know housing and food."

Oh. So the government should control our lives, tell us what to buy and what not to buy, where to live? I thought this was a "free" country.

You incorrectly assume that anyone who is in need of assistance is just plan stupid? There are plenty of stories of people and families who ended up homeless due to medical expenses, divorce, etc.

"I was specifically referring to the most "needy". Those that receive the whole spectrum of services available. Those folks are primarily composed of single mothers with children. Those folks living in section 8 housing and receiving Snap, wik, Medicaid, childcare and utilities. "

Please do some research and come back and tell us how many of those folks you can find who are actually receiving all of those benefits. Housing in most locations has a multi-year waiting list. The kids will be grown by then!

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haydayhayday

numbers:

"Oh. So the government should control our lives, tell us what to buy and what not to buy, where to live? I thought this was a "free" country."

"Progressive" "freedom":

Hay

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arthurm2015(Micro-Climate, Zone 10b Sydney, Australia)

Maybe it is not a problem that the "1%" have got even more wealth with the loss of the non skilled jobs in the work place? Perhaps it is an indication that Trickle Down doesn't work.

I've related before that my first job aged 15 was filling the inkwells in the Actuarial Dept of a Life Insurance company. No skills, not much education and got a job. Nostalgia Time!

As for the Socialism rubbish...looking after your citizens and business is all part of the difficult times of now crunch.

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adoptedbyhounds

“So government should control lives, tell us what to buy and what not to buy?...”

That’s exactly what Obamacare was designed to do. It gave away for free what other Americans were required to buy.

Once in power, Democrats immediately began to create rules compelling participation so that all Americans were forced to have health insurance. As usual, Democrats carved out special rules so that illegal aliens were not burdened. They could still get free maternal care, including labor and delivery. Meanwhile Americas own citizens, like retired folks not yet eligible for Medicare, were forced to buy policies that included maternity care and pediatric dental care. Democrats alone made it illegal for insurers to offer policies that didn’t include maternal care and pediatric dental care. Americans were not given a choice to only buy what they needed.

The Obama administration/Democrats ordered Americans to spend their money on health insurance premiums DEMOCRATS ALONE decided to mandate. They lied about keeping plans and doctors, and did away with plans that didn’t include all the bells and whistles Democrats decided every one must have. They even included IRS punishment to ensure defiant Americans would be forced to comply with the law.

Never underestimate what politicians will force others to do “for their own good.” The politicians (all were Democrats) who forced Americans to participate in Obamacare were often unwilling to participate themselves.

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Stan Areted

TELL IT adoptedbyhounds.

YOU ARE RIGHT.


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numbersjunkie

The above posts were not unexpected. Sigh.

I would point out that if you had read the article above, you would realize that UBI is not intended to be a welfare program and it is not Socialism. It's not Socialism any more than the Bank bailouts were, or the tax subsidies given to companies like Amazon & Google or the big oil companies. You pay more in taxes than many of these companies do! That's your tax dollars being handed out, but no one gripes about that? But heaven forbid someone wants to set us a system where these companies have to pay all citizens a "dividend" for the use of our personal data, for polluting our air and water, and/or for eliminating jobs by replacing people with robots. And if some of that money goes to those who are living in poverty with no strings attached, you have a meltdown!

No one is going to hold a gun to your head to force you to accept your UBI payment if you don' want it. It's an opt-out program. (So no, its not just like Obamacare). And unless you're so rich that you'd personally spend more than $120,000 a year on good and services covered by the VAT that would fund it, you're going to come out on the receiving end (based on Yang's proposed plan).

Did you read about how Alaska (a red state) has had a UBI program for years? About how renowned economists support it? UBI is capitalism where income doesn't start at zero.


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patriciae_gw(07)

We are going to have to figure out a way to transfer more buying power back into the hands of the larger part of the population vs the tiny uber rich part because our economic system wont work elsewise. If you have way more money than you will ever need you stash it and forget it. We have a consumer culture that is fast losing the ability to purchase to consume. This system needs tweaking. Why not a ubi?

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numbersjunkie

For those who question if the current welfare system is better than UBI, or for anyone who thinks those on public assistance are all "lazy" or "losers", I strongly recommend the book "Tyranny of Kindness", by Theresa Funiciello. The author won a Pulitzer Prize for this book. There is a youtube podcast of the first chapter which is all you need to get a clearer picture of the reality. HERE IS A LINK

Open your mind.

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Jonnygun(zone 7)

Numbers, you are just wrong, in my experience.


Despite what some of you think, most people who live their lives on the bottom are self destructive losers.


I was addressing Yang's propossed plan. I even quoted it. I am not for giving cash to people who are obvious losers. If public money is going to obvious losers I want it to be what they need to live. That's it. I don't care in the slightest if they are comfortable. If they want comfort and luxuries stop making bad choices. It is not hard.


Until we can figure out how to cure stupid, stupid people will get pregnant in their teens, do hard drugs, steal or rob or drink themselves even more stupid. The bottom of our society is not to be admired or glamorised. It is not difficult to achieve and live in the working class, all the sob stories will not change that simple fact.


If any of you think those on the bottom will improve themselves with $1k a month, you are delusional.

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catkinZ8a

Andrew "The Price is Right" Yang.

What a snake oil salesman.

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arthurm2015(Micro-Climate, Zone 10b Sydney, Australia)

Self destructive Losers. Lol. I remember my childhood and grinding poverty, not good memories.

I keep saying that the unskilled jobs are going.... hardly ever go to the bank these days, so no doubt some jobs are going in the banks where, I imagine Bank Teller was one of the starting jobs.

Go forward to about 2000 when my Daughter has a University Degree and is looking for a first job. She lands one with a Charity and starts work in the mail Department.

Went food shopping today and the shop was very busy. Choice of a normal checkout or the self service one. More jobs going!

So it is crunch time, many of the unskilled jobs are going! As are those basic type of starting jobs, gone where you could start off at the base and work your way up. Oops, maybe not gone, but certainly not available to those with Limited Education.

The world is the same everywhere. Talkback radio and right wing shock jocks bucketing "losers". This forum is partly evidence of why they are successful.

We are not all born with IQ's of 150 and film star looks Plus Bucket Loads of Right Wing Commonsense.

Finally, anyone who believes in trickle down economics must also believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.



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katrina_ellen

Why do the dems think ENABLING works? Every recovery group on the planet knows better than that.

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Jonnygun(zone 7)

Well Arthurm, guess you made it out huh? You don't have to be brilliant to not be the poorest of the poor. Just show up to work and be trustworthy, that's about it in my experience.

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bry911

You don't have to be brilliant to not be the poorest of the poor.

Why does the bar need to be so low? In the end, if you can't make ends meet even with reasonable steps to accomplish that goal, then there is a problem. Take a drive through rural West Virginia or Eastern Kentucky and it doesn't take long to figure out that there are not that many opportunities even for people who show up to work and are trustworthy.

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bry911

The problem with UBI discussions is that most people simply don't want to put forth the effort required for a reasonable discussion. If you don't understand fungibility then discussions on the costs and benefits of UBI will always be elusive.

The majority of Americans already receive some benefit that is essentially an non-guaranteed UBI. The entire progressive nature of the tax code is fungibly a UBI. Think of it this way, there is no need for a 10%, 12%, 22%, or even the 24% bracket. If everyone is getting a check from the government for $1,000 per month, there is no need for a standard deduction, a child tax credit, or an earned income credit. A true UBI flattens out the income tax system and makes it much simpler.

Currently a person making $50,000 per year with no credits has a net tax liability of $4,373. Suppose we adopt a $12,000 UBI and a 30% tax rate, a person making $50,000 per year would have a net tax liability of $3,000. Certainly lower but not breaking the bank. A person making $100,000 per year with no credits has a net tax liability of $15,416 under our current system, would have a net tax liability of $18,000 under the UBI system. Certainly, higher, but again, not breaking the bank.

The majority of people will see little difference in their lives from a proper UBI but doing your taxes will be a lot easier. Most tax preparation jobs will unfortunately not be there, Social Security will also not be there, and most social welfare programs will disappear. Much of the benefit to UBI comes from more efficient distributions of the money we already spend. Not all of it, certainly there has to be some increased taxation, but not so much as people believe.

Additionally, unlike our current system, it still encourages work. Work will always be marginally beneficial in a UBI system. In fact, it will be more beneficial at most lower income levels.

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haydayhayday

God:


"Deuteronomy 15:11

For there will never cease to be poor in the land; that is why I am commanding you to open wide your hand to your brother and to the poor and needy in your land.


Matthew 26:11

The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me.


Mark 14:7

The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them whenever you want. But you will not always have Me."


Millions of economists:

"Whatever you subsidize, you get more of."


You, doing God's work.


Bless your heart.


Hay



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bry911

Whatever you subsidize, you get more of.

I completely agree, which is why UBI is so great, it subsidizes working.

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haydayhayday

"I completely agree, which is why UBI is so great, it subsidizes working."

Give me a $1000 a month and I'll prove just how wrong you are.

The more money I have, the less I work.

I do drink better beer, though.


Hay

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

Also God:

It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.

If you have two coats and see someone with none, give him one of yours.

Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor.

Take care of the widows and orphans.

(Not going to bother with chapter and verse, you all get the point.)

Don’t bring God into discussions of economics. We live within a secular government system and we should keep it that way.

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haydayhayday

"Don’t bring God into discussions of economics."

Some times he got it right.

Hay

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

Really, you can work less if you get an extra $1000 per month Hay? AND drink better beer too? How do you have the ability to magically defy the law of opportunity cost, and how can I get that ability too?

Not me. $1000/month would be nice but couldn’t replace my income.

And if I spend that $1000 on better beer, that is stimulating my local economy isn’t it? The beer store or pub might actually need to hire more staff!

Or maybe I use it to give my kids an experience or opportunity they wouldn’t get the chance to have before. More economic stimulation!!

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haydayhayday

OK, how about Mother Nature?

You ever notice how much Mother Nature has a tendency to produce more offspring than could ever possibly survive?

And, being the good gardeners we are, how can you argue that, with a little fertilizer, we're going be getting even more that can't survive.

Whatever you fertilize, you get more of.

Hay



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bry911

Whatever you subsidize, you get more of.

The law really says, people respond to incentives. While this is close to what you noted as, "Whatever you subsidize, you get more of," it is a bit more nuanced. First, the subsidy must be an incentive to perform an action, that is why UBI must be money for everyone, by giving everyone an income without encouraging people of low wages not work there is no incentive not to work.

You are pretending, and I do mean pretending, that no one wants a better life for themselves if they can achieve so subsistence on some income. We know that not to be true.

Furthermore, the law doesn't say that people will respond only to positive incentives. People will also respond to negative incentives. There is little incentive to work and be trustworthy if there is no marginal benefit from doing so. Hopelessness is a real disincentive. If your require $800 per month to live why should you care about a job that pays you $750 per month. When we look at the low wage labor market, this is what we see.

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Jonnygun(zone 7)

That was helpful bry. Thanks.


Please explain how you see UBI replacing SS and how, in practice it would replace all the services currently provided the poor.


TIA

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haydayhayday

"Really, you can work less if you get an extra $1000 per month Hay? AND drink better beer too? How do you have the ability to magically defy the law of opportunity cost, and how can I get that ability too?"

I hardly work at all as it is. I worked hard when I was young. It's paid off.

"And if I spend that $1000 on better beer, that is stimulating my local economy isn’t it? The beer store or pub might actually need to hire more staff!

Or maybe I use it to give my kids an experience or opportunity they wouldn’t get the chance to have before. More economic stimulation!!"


"Progressive" nonsense. You forgot that someone has to come up with that $1000 that you will be spending. Money that they, in turn, will not be able to spend.

More "Progressive" "Economic Theory".

More nonsense.

Hay

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haydayhayday

I've never heard anyone say, "Boy, I'll be glad when I can start getting Social Security payments from the government so I can work more."

Hay


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adoptedbyhounds

You’re right, numbers junkie, to expect objections to politicians arranging involuntary wealth transfers. As for people “opting out” you mentioned only opting out of receiving a wealth transfer. Nothing about an opt out for those whose wealth is scheduled to be transferred to someone else. Bry cites higher taxes for some taxpayers, which I don’t doubt. So the “dividend” as you call it is no such thing. It’s simply a wealth transfer, as is Obamacare.

When employers cut hours from 40 hour work weeks to stay around 28/hours per week, therefore freeing them from offering health insurance to those employees, Democrats tried to sell that as a good thing.......for people who would qualify for subsidies AND have more time to stay home and write poetry.

While you promote what sounds good to you, keep in mind that folks who believed the hype about Obamacare saving average families $2,500 per year on premiums, and nobody losing plans and doctors, learned after it was passed by Democrats alone, that they had been conned. You are wise to expect objections to Democrats’ next big vote buying scam.

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katrina_ellen

"Whatever you fertilize, you get more of. "

That's right Hay, do you really think those who are used to "living off the land" are going to change their ways? They could probably do just as well using their creativity to lets say panhandle, sell drugs, work for cash, etc. I think a lot of people would be smart enough to make it work.

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adoptedbyhounds

Bry, If you require $800 per month to live, and government hands you $1,000, that wealth transfer allows you to stay home and write poetry, and have money left over for non-essentials. Subsidizing the choice not to work might not be attractive to you, but Democrats used working less as a selling point for Obamacare. We are all different. For some folks, money in place of a job is an attractive option and will serve as an incentive not to work.

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bry911

Subsidizing the choice not to work might not be attractive to you

Actually incentivizing work is attractive to me. If you require $800 per month to live then the government probably shouldn't be handing out $1,000. UBI, at least in current iterations, is an incentive to make work more rewarding rather than a subsidy for not working. Are there people who are going to decide to adopt communal living in order to pool money and avoid working? Sure, there are, but the system doesn't need to address every possible situation.

Do people have to go to law school today? Do they have to go to medical school? Do people have to become CEO's, architects, CPA's, engineers, plumbers, etc.? Why do people become those things? You can achieve subsistence living on far less than what most people already achieve, so the idea that this is going to suddenly encourage otherwise is a fallacy based on nothing.

---

Society already subsidizes people who don't work. We do it in many different ways, some apparent such as social programs, and some less apparent such as higher crime rates, etc. In the end, living in America is not free and anyone out there alive in America has found a way to access those benefits and their associated costs with or without a job.

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Kitchenwitch111

About Obamacare -- I doubt that few on this board get their health insurance from the ACA. I do, and when I started on the ACA in 2013, my insurance actually WAS about $2500 less than what i was paying before then, and it included more. I blame the Republicans for sabotaging the ACA to bring us to the currently unaffordable crappy sh*t I am paying for now. They could have worked together to make things better, but no, they just want to destroy it. What are they working on to improve this? Nothing, that's what -- there's your freedom, America.

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

Or maybe I use it to give my kids an experience or opportunity they wouldn’t get the chance to have before. More economic stimulation!!"


"Progressive" nonsense. You forgot that someone has to come up with that $1000 that you will be spending. Money that they, in turn, will not be able to spend.

————

No, I didn’t, and experiences and opportunities for my kids was just an example. I could just as easily spend the extra money on more wine (support local vintners!) or on a designer handbag (support local artisans!) and it wouldn’t look like progressive nonsense at all.

Society already pays the price of kids with no options or opportunities though. You know what a kid who is playing a sport or involved in a club or traveling with his/her parent is *not* doing? S/he is not costing us money through all the interventions that need to take place in the life of a kid who doesn’t have the money to keep pace with the rest of society.

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adoptedbyhounds

Republicans didn’t promise families would save $2,500 per year. Republicans didn’t promise nobody would lose plans or doctors. Republicans didn’t make it illegal for insurance companies to sell policies that didn’t include maternity care for men or pediatric dental care for grandparents not yet eligible for Medicare. Republicans didn’t decide Americans who couldn’t afford to come up with hundreds of dollars per month deserved to be punished with massive fines for not buying overpriced policies.

That was all done by Democrats who used their authority to compel Americans to send money to insurance companies, or be punished when they could not afford to do so. Democrats won! Democrats got what they wanted when Obamacare passed. They have no one to blame but themselves. They delighted in reminding us all that Obamacare is the law of the land. Obama remained president while his “legacy” became unsustainable. I am delighted Dems are trying to revive his punitive “legacy” because Americans have much to “thank” Dems for in the next presidential election. Free health care and special treatment for illegal aliens will go a very long way toward getting Americans to the polls.

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numbersjunkie

"Progressive" nonsense. You forgot that someone has to come up with that $1000 that you will be spending. Money that they, in turn, will not be able to spend.

***********************

It's pretty funny really, that "conservatives" don't seem to get upset when "their" tax dollars go to bail out the Big Banks (whose CEO's made away with huge bonuses), or to fund the tax breaks that allow Amazon/Google to steal "their" personal data and pay $0 in income taxes, or to government subsidies for big oil companies who are polluting the air and water and earning millions in profits.

But hey, if UBI uses some of our country's great wealth to pay a "dividend" to it's citizens, conservative heads explode!

The alternative my friends, is that wealth inequality will continue to become more and more extreme until the citizens of our country rise up in protest. The violence is already beginning. Or perhaps the economy will come crashing down because few citizens will have enough disposable income to fuel the system.

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haydayhayday

Numbers:

"It's pretty funny really, that "conservatives" don't seem to get upset when "their" tax dollars go to bail out the Big Banks (whose CEO's made away with huge bonuses), or to fund the tax breaks that allow Amazon/Google to steal "their" personal data and pay $0 in income taxes, or to government subsidies for big oil companies who are polluting the air and water and earning millions in profits."

You seem to think that you're talking to me. I mean, you quoted me in your lead in.

You must have one of my statements in mind when you went into that spiel.

Want to share just one of my quotes to support your accusation?

Or retract it.

Or leave it for all the world to see. That's actually the best. Nice strawman you created.

Hay

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Kitchenwitch111

In America, the argument really isn't about Socialism -- it's about who gets it.

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