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Thread: Guaranteed Basic Minimum Income

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    Guaranteed Basic Minimum Income

    Guaranteed Basic Income

    I just finished Robert Reich's Saving Capitalism, for the many, not the few. Towards the end he makes an argument for a guaranteed basic income for every American. At age eighteen everyone would receive a check from the government that would be enough for them to be economically self sufficient and independent. Basically he feels that as robots and AI take over the economy, there will be massive loss of opportunity for many Americans and without some kind of guaranteed basic income for all, our country can’t survive as a democracy. If only a few capitalists have all the money because they own the inventions, then there will be some kind of revolution.

    He argues that a guaranteed basic income will not merely create a class of lazy bums living off the teat but will free people to be free to follow their artistic dreams. Since the GBI will only be basic enough to survive many others will work to live better. People wouldn’t be so dependent on employers and thus free to speak their minds without fear of retaliation. People would be freer to pursue a wider variety of true avocations rather than simply have a job. People would once again view their work as a true calling. He points out that Einstein was able to pursue his theories while working as a patent clerk, TS Eliot worked as a land surveyor and Walt Whitman worked as an army clerk. Work was less intrusive then. He has a point there. Robots would do our dirty work.

    Theoretically. But is that what would really happen? Would we pursue our dreams while others do important but necessary work? Or would we sink into idleness and despair? Just sit around and get high or watch tv? Too many lazy bums and not enough hard working entrepreneurs?

    Thoughts?

    SLD

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    The idea is good. Guaranteed Basic Income will probably become necessary. But how is it to be financed? Western economies are running on debt as it is. According to reports, social security, pensions, unemployment benefits, etc, is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and fund, pension eligibility age having been increased and so on.

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    He probably came up short on numbers but I can attest it takes a good bit more than the typically referenced $500 a week (in todayish dollars) to meet basic needs. And if you want to throw the cost of a hobby in there? Hobbies cost money too. Then you have unforeseens. You know, those not so small expenses that seem to pop up regularly every couple months forever, every month if you have newly minted adult children striking out on their own.
    Just as a point of reference, for three and a half years I alone survived on $2200 a month with no mortgage or car payments. This was my "basic" threshold. The unforeseens had to come out of savings. The average person does have housing cost, car payments, and nary a dime in savings. So, where does this put the basic income level at? It has to provide the recipient the luxury to take their time and look for work they like or the time to turn their hobby into income. If it doesn't, there's likely to still be too many people scrapping for too few jobs.
    Dwight

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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    The idea is good. Guaranteed Basic Income will probably become necessary. But how is it to be financed? Western economies are running on debt as it is. According to reports, social security, pensions, unemployment benefits, etc, is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and fund, pension eligibility age having been increased and so on.
    But what is the reason for this debt? I think it's implicit basic income already, except that it is extremely inefficient one.
    With explicit basic income costs will change considerably because people will no longer have to pretend to do the work to receive basic income.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    The idea is good. Guaranteed Basic Income will probably become necessary. But how is it to be financed? Western economies are running on debt as it is. According to reports, social security, pensions, unemployment benefits, etc, is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and fund, pension eligibility age having been increased and so on.
    One thing to remember, is that if there is guaranteed basic income, there is no need for many of income maintenance programs (food stamps, "welfare", etc...) and it would relieve much of the spending pressure on programs like social security. In fact, one of the early proposals to save SS was to make it a two-tiered system - tier one was a basic stipend that everyone received and the 2nd tier was a stipend tied directly to contriubtions made by the individual.

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    Here's Kurzgesagt's take: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl39KHS07Xc

    Conclusion: inconclusive (overall, positive for UBI, just some big questions not yet worked out).

    But there are some important points made that fly in the face of right wing prejudices and stereotypes.

    1. Poor people do not generally waste money on drugs and tobacco as critics claim.
    2. A basic income alleviates stress and existential fears. (It's amazing what a society can be when the majority of its citizens are not worried about their next meal or how they will get the medical care they need.)
    3. People receiving UBI do not suddenly quit working and become passive and lazy. The ones who do opt to quit working do so for reasons like taking care of children and going back to school.
    4. UBI would eliminate quite a few existing programs and associated agencies and bureaucracy, so all the funds supporting them would pay for UBI.
    5. UBI would drastically reduce or remove the shame heaped on society's most vulnerable, which in and of itself allows for a more humane and dignified culture.

    The items in the "con" list that bother me the most are that UBI would become one government entity, which would make it easier to attack by political manipulation, and that it would require extensive safety mechanisms to keep government power from turning UBI into a central means of control over the populace.
    The Authoritarians

    GOP and Trump supporters will not be able to say they didn't know. Vote in numbers too big to manipulate.

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    I shake my head a little when I hear people claim a country as rich as the USA couldn't afford things like universal basic income or universal single payer health care. Yes you could. Quite easily. It is a matter of priorities, not resources.

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    The argument that I hear from many economists, at least in Canada, is that such a program literally would be too expensive. Then they raise the question of:

    - Why not just a more effective welfare program? Why give money to people who don't need it?

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    Social investment would be a wiser alternative at this point in time. I think I mentioned this before but the construction of mini-mall type modular craftshops that can be used for any number of crafts/trades that would allow for small businesses specialized in hand made goods and services. You'd basically be carving out an entirely new niche in the market for the soon-to-be middle class in a world of increasingly prevalent automated craftsmanship. Social investment comes in many forms but the idea is to switch from the life support model of gov assistance to something that actually improves people's lives substantially. Effectively what we need is a modern new deal. You could add to this the creation of new public works and buildings that integrate arcology and neo-futurist aesthetics. Public housing and office spaces as well as various social amenities such as gyms, parks, hospitals, courthouses, ect.

    I've thought about this a lot.
    Sure, shooting them in the back is illegal in those circumstances, but e cop getting convicted is not doing any good to the dead guy.

    -Derec

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    So basically my worry would be, instead of taking a rough idea and making a poor implementation of it because it's popular, why not take it a step further and figure out how to actually support people effectively while maximizing overall societal strength.

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