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TheAuthority

Universal Basic Income

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Yes, it's hardly a leftie position, Milton Freidman supported this in the form of a negative income tax (obviously for him it was in place of governments paying out welfare entitlements). Finland are actually trialing this right now, so will be interesting to see how the data looks after the trial has ended. I feel it's almost inevitable that a UBI will be in place in the not so distant future. 

Personally, with a UBI I think I'd scale back conventional working significantly, I'd probably do some contract work for a couple of days a week and spend more time managing my investments and advantage betting!

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3 hours ago, TheAuthority said:

UBI is a concept which has reasoning from both sides of the traditional political spectrum, so please discuss

It's an "idea" that at a very superficial level has lots of people drooling, but as soon as any detail gets discussed, unanswerable questions appear and the whole thing is quickly revealed as a ludicrous solution to a problem that doesn't and won't exist. Where there is something interesting, and kind of along the lines of what Finland is looking at is a non-universal way of helping people who need help.

Genuine Universal Basic income is utter claptrap.

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It's something I haven't been able to get my head around.  Would the income be enough to live off, or a smaller amount that everyone tops up with work?

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28 minutes ago, blandy said:

It's an "idea" that at a very superficial level has lots of people drooling, but as soon as any detail gets discussed, unanswerable questions appear and the whole thing is quickly revealed as a ludicrous solution to a problem that doesn't and won't exist. Where there is something interesting, and kind of along the lines of what Finland is looking at is a non-universal way of helping people who need help.

Genuine Universal Basic income is utter claptrap.

You might need to flesh this out a bit more (if you have time!). You're not saying why its a bad idea :)

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4 hours ago, TheAuthority said:

We also currently live in capitalism which allows whoever owns the systems to profit themselves into untold wealth. However UBI is a concept which has reasoning from both sides of the traditional political spectrum

As per Dr_P's post immediately after yours, I think it's almost inevitable.

What form it takes or how it comes about is a different discussion. Until the benefits of it as an idea to the (western capitalist) system (and, by extension, to those that require that system to work in order for them to continue to keep the vast majority of the profit and wealth that the system produces) become obvious, it will continue to be an idea with perhaps limited support and dismissive detractors. Once the Overton window moves sufficiently and that may unfortunately require the impetus of business leaders in specific industries - see some tech bods who are showing interest, things will become much more interesting.

Edited by snowychap

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Capitalism would have to change I suppose.

The ultimate aim for companies would be as few human employees as possible so they basically have as low expenditure as possible.  But if that is the end game then they are making products that nobody can afford to buy or use as nobody has a job.

Car production for example,  if it goes 99% robots for example and 99% of car workers are made unemployed,  what do they all do and the country as a whole,  they have no income and the robots that replaced them are not paying into the tax system.  

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1 hour ago, Dr_Pangloss said:

You might need to flesh this out a bit more (if you have time!). You're not saying why its a bad idea :)

Some of The monumental flaws with it can be seen by doing some maths and looking at known human behaviours and business practices.

For example. Let's firstly reduce the scope of UBI and assume that the "Universal" part doesn't actually mean "everyone", but only "everyone over 18". (Obviously the problem is much worse if it's everyone over 16, or absolutely everyone). 

There are around 31 million adults in the UK right now.

The basic income is supposed to be enough to survive on with no ther source of income. The state pension is just over £164 per week, so let's also assume that is enough to survive on and use that as a figure for the UBI.

31 million people each being paid/given such a UBI  = £265 Billion pounds a year.

The total tax revenue for the UK last year, from all sources was £730 billion, (more than half of which came from income tax and National Insurance - people in work paying tax and NI on their wages).

Now lets look at some known behaviours.

Some people, if given enough to live on will cease to do their crappy job that they hate. Some people will carry on working, but do fewer hours. Some people will carry on working as before.

Some employers will use the fact that their employees "already" get a load of money from the state to cut wages, or not to lift wages as they would otherwise have done. People's income will shift from (some) employers to the state.

Some (many) people will furiously resent those who can now genuinely choose not to work and to "live off the state" instead.

People who carry on working will pay more tax - a lot more tax. The hundreds of billions of pounds needed to fund UBI has to come from somewhere , right.?And because fewer people will be working and some businesses will be reducing their wage bills, either actually or relatively, tax rates will need to be raised to cover the shortfall in Gov't revenue. And then prices of goods and services rise, and then the level of the UBI needs to rise, as everything's more expensive now....

The government, by giving UBI to everyone will of course be giving money to millionaires and the very wealthy, who have absolutely no need of that money. The very wealthy will no doubt have been taxed much more heavily to contribute to the vast, vast cost of UBI. Offsetting that hike by 160 quid a week (or however much) is not going to stop them doing everything tax dodgy that they can to avoid (or evade) paying very large extra tax bills, which means tax revenue won't keep up with the Gov'ts need for taxes created by introducing UBI.

UBI, will also create a very appealing reason for people to come to the UK from abroad. I can imagine the Daily Mail and the Sun headlines. Creating and escalating yet another "reason" for neanderthal numpties to lamp a foreigner. It's basically a recruiting tool for racists and Nazis.

So in summary if TL:DR, it's an economically illiterate, counter-productive, bully-encouraging, dodgy employer helping, wet dream for idio...idealists.

 

 

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17 minutes ago, blandy said:

Some (many) people will furiously resent those who can now genuinely choose not to work and to "live off the state" instead.

Their furious resentment would be ill-founded.

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5 minutes ago, snowychap said:

Their furious resentment would be ill-founded.

Sure. But it would be no less real. Sadly some people now furiously resent the state helping those who need it.

Another argument against UBI in this country is that the Welfare State (although it has its flaws) helps those who need it and by concentrating on those people it's able to make best use of the resources given to it (with exceptions where improvement is needed). Basically, if it ain't broke, don't fix it*

 

*yes, bits of it are broken by various governements, but fix them, don't replace the whole system.

 

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57 minutes ago, blandy said:

Some people, if given enough to live on will cease to do their crappy job that they hate. Some people will carry on working, but do fewer hours. Some people will carry on working as before.

Some people at the margins will increase their hours worked and enter in to the labour market as they won't have to struggle with the poverty trap, the extra bureacracy, and the marginal rates of withdrawal issues that prevent them from doing so currently.

Which may well be considered to have an effect upon the assumption that:

57 minutes ago, blandy said:

fewer people will be working

the case for which appears to be criticized in a number of places that I've read. I'm not intentionally being sketchy on this as I'm rereading on the subject and am just about to read a couple of pieces before I link them here in support of the idea that a UBI doesn't (or may not necessarily) carry that work-disincentive as part of it.

57 minutes ago, blandy said:

Some employers will use the fact that their employees "already" get a load of money from the state to cut wages, or not to lift wages as they would otherwise have done.

Some employers may be forced in to raising wages, conditions and benefits in order to attract and keep workers who have their bargaining position reinforced by the support of a UBI.

 

I know we've had the discussion before so I'm not going to rehash it all with you in here as I know you're not a fan. :)

I'd suggest that you copied over the posts but you might delete one or both of the threads in the process. :mrgreen:

 

Edit: For anyone who might wish to peruse one of our previous exchanges on this (I wouldn't and, I guess, neither would @blandy!), it can be found in The New Condem Government thread from about here onwards.

On 26/01/2015 at 19:56, snowychap said:

 

I'll have a sportsman's bet with you [Jon not blandy] that this policy (or some form of it not too dissimilar to the kinds of proposals that you may read about here) is very much on the table being discussed by all parties (save perhaps the Labour party who'll probably still be concentrating on a job guarantee scheme) within the next two decades at the outside.

 

Edited by snowychap

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well creative solutions are going to be needed, when work ends up going. To be frank, there is already a lot of jobs for the sake of jobs about now, there is office admin, that remarkably employs people for a whole day to do 20 minutes work and natter / watch porn / browse VT / etc. People could be far more useful and less depressed if they had the opportunity to do something more purposeful,and more productive. Or work with business' to find a balance so workers can do less hours in roles where frankly the full 35  / 37.5 is a waste of people's lives, and be supported to by the govt for I dunno 10 hrs per week instead, studying / community involvement / research support / retraining / gardening for environmental reasons etc.  I dunno. That might be a totally stupid concept. But I'm typing as a I think.

Ultimately the logic of capitalism seems to always be to do more with less. more output, fewer people, to be efficient. Which I suppose isn't inherently evil, but it does have consequences - more people out of work, which will only expand with automaton and growing populations. Given how quick tech developments can suddenly appear at the mass market level - within 5-10 years or less sometimes from the first time you see them, I feel we're at risk of being completely unprepared for a sudden dislocation of people, that can only be masked so far by the proliferation of insecure short term contracts, limited hour jobs.

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43 minutes ago, blandy said:

UBI, will also create a very appealing reason for people to come to the UK from abroad. I can imagine the Daily Mail and the Sun headlines. Creating and escalating yet another "reason" for neanderthal numpties to lamp a foreigner. It's basically a recruiting tool for racists and Nazis.

They wouldn't get anything until they become citizens and that takes 5 years.

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@blandy

for sure the way any UBI works will take a lot of working out, as you correctly point out there are a number of problems/challenges. 

However the part of your post I was most interested in was where you said it's a solution to a problem which doesn't/won't exist. 

Are you in the camp that say as some professions become redundant through automation we will find new as yet unfounded industries (eg web design back in the day). Or that humans will be augmented by technology rather than replaced by it? Ie software/hardware will do some tasks that humans do allowing us to focus on other parts of a job. It's a fascinating topic and even if you do believe either of those things we'd be stupid not to consider at least some scenarios involving a UBI style solution because there is a strong case to suggest it will be necessary. 

For anyone interested in this topic I've literally just finished a book called the Economic Singularity by Calum Chace. It offers a pretty good overview of the thinking on all sides of this issue.

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"You see Mr Citibank, the problem is that we've made them so poor that they can't afford to buy the things that help to keep the markets on the up."

"Oh, I see Mr Morgan Chase, that's a problem, we can't have investors affected by this inconvenience. Why don't we get them to give themselves some money out of that tax thing they pay?"

"But Mr Citibank, the nation states can't afford that, they'd have to borrow a fortune from.........ah"

[bankers clink glasses, sit back and smile]

 

 

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20 minutes ago, villaglint said:

the part of your post I was most interested in was where you said it's a solution to a problem which doesn't/won't exist. 

Are you in the camp that say as some professions become redundant through automation we will find new as yet unfounded industries (eg web design back in the day). Or that humans will be augmented by technology rather than replaced by it? Ie software/hardware will do some tasks that humans do allowing us to focus on other parts of a job. It's a fascinating topic and even if you do believe either of those things we'd be stupid not to consider at least some scenarios involving a UBI style solution

Yes, basically. I am very sceptical about this notion that machines and computers are going to take all our jobs away, but that scepticism is not a reason or a driver behind my strong scepticism towards UBI. I'm sceptical about almost everything until or unless something better than some flakey-dream claims is available with which to change that scepticism - i.e I like evidence.

We've (in the UK) as an advanced, wealthy western nation seen the influence of technology over the past however long you want to mention. There are more people in work than ever before (partly because there are more people here, but still....) and unemployment remains historically low, as far as I'm aware. I know the past isn't always a good indicator of the future, but as yet, whilst it's true that cars replaced horses and put blacksmiths out of work, and CDs replaced Vinyl and mp3s replaced CDs and streaming replaced mp3s ...so I tend to think that industries and their jobs come and go but that they get replaced with other things people do, as you say.

We ought to be able to, with all this combined knowledge and understanding, make humans better educated and better informed and better thinkers and doers and thus humans will continue to innovate and create new things to keep the whole thing rolling along, creating new jobs and so on. And a heck of a lot of jobs will always be needed and wanted.

The big question for me is around the sustainability of it all environmentally and climate change, rather than giving everyone shiny coins.

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1 hour ago, snowychap said:

I'm not intentionally being sketchy on this as I'm rereading on the subject and am just about to read a couple of pieces before I link them here in support of the idea that a UBI doesn't (or may not necessarily) carry that work-disincentive as part of it.

I've just read these two articles A Universal Basic Income and Work Incentives. Part 1: Theory and A Universal Basic Income and Work Incentives. Part 2: Evidence.

They're too lengthy to reproduce here so excerpts as per guidelines:

Quote

A Universal Basic Income and Work Incentives. Part 1: Theory

Everywhere you look, it seems, people are talking about a Universal Basic Income (UBI)—a monthly cash benefit paid to every citizen that would replace the existing means-tested welfare system.

Supporters maintain that a UBI would not only provide income support to people in need, but would also increase work incentives. That is because, unlike the current welfare system, it would not claw back 50, 70, or even 100 percent of the earnings of low-income workers who make the effort to get a job. Opponents are more skeptical. They fear that if everyone were given a basic cash income with no requirement to work, people would quit their jobs in droves and we would end up with a nation of layabouts.

Who is right? This post examines the relevant economic theory. Part 2 will look at the evidence.

...

Quote

A Universal Basic Income and Work Incentives. Part 2: Evidence

...

The bottom line

In the two parts of this series, if have argued that standard economic theory and available empirical evidence support the idea that a well-designed and properly financed UBI, introduced as a replacement for our current welfare system, would be more likely to increase than to decrease average work effort for the population as a whole.

...

 

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53 minutes ago, blandy said:

Yes, basically. I am very sceptical about this notion that machines and computers are going to take all our jobs away, but that scepticism is not a reason or a driver behind my strong scepticism towards UBI. I'm sceptical about almost everything until or unless something better than some flakey-dream claims is available with which to change that scepticism - i.e I like evidence.

We've (in the UK) as an advanced, wealthy western nation seen the influence of technology over the past however long you want to mention. There are more people in work than ever before (partly because there are more people here, but still....) and unemployment remains historically low, as far as I'm aware. I know the past isn't always a good indicator of the future, but as yet, whilst it's true that cars replaced horses and put blacksmiths out of work, and CDs replaced Vinyl and mp3s replaced CDs and streaming replaced mp3s ...so I tend to think that industries and their jobs come and go but that they get replaced with other things people do, as you say.

We ought to be able to, with all this combined knowledge and understanding, make humans better educated and better informed and better thinkers and doers and thus humans will continue to innovate and create new things to keep the whole thing rolling along, creating new jobs and so on. And a heck of a lot of jobs will always be needed and wanted.

The big question for me is around the sustainability of it all environmentally and climate change, rather than giving everyone shiny coins.

You may well by right but as I said it would be crazy not to consider the alternative. I really would recommend the book btw there is whole section which takes into consideration the points you just raised and then looks at the reasons why "it might be different this time". I think it was William Gibson who said something along the lines of the future is already here it's just not evenly distributed. I think self driving vehicles and its effect on the transportation system will be an interesting first test case for how this will effect the economy/politics. 

Edited by villaglint
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4 hours ago, sharkyvilla said:

It's something I haven't been able to get my head around.  Would the income be enough to live off, or a smaller amount that everyone tops up with work?

It would surely have to be enough to live off. 

The idea of UBI is that when all jobs are replaced by automation there won't be enough jobs to "top up with work". This whole idea stems from humanity needing a way to exist when robotics and automation inevitably replace all humans in the work place.

So it would have to be enough to live off, though I don't know how they would work out what the ideal amount of UBI is as everyone's living situations are vastly different. 

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5 hours ago, blandy said:

It's an "idea" that at a very superficial level has lots of people drooling, but as soon as any detail gets discussed, unanswerable questions appear and the whole thing is quickly revealed as a ludicrous solution to a problem that doesn't and won't exist. Where there is something interesting, and kind of along the lines of what Finland is looking at is a non-universal way of helping people who need help.

Genuine Universal Basic income is utter claptrap.

I'll put you down as a maybe :D

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