Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

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Painboy
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Painboy » 05 Jul 2017, 18:53

Jennifer wrote:
Painboy wrote:
lunchstealer wrote:
thoreau wrote:I think Jason may have been slightly hyperbolic, but certainly if you delve deep enough into the disruptive transformative singularity talk from Silicon Valley there are people who believe that between robots getting better at shitty manual jobs and AI taking desk jobs, soon there will be very little for humans to do.
Or that software + robotics will mean that there are only really well-paying jobs, plus a few niche jobs, but basically no repetitive jobs that don't require the apparent emotional connection of an actual human being. But you're not getting shitty Walmart jobs because what does Walmart need with meatpuppets when everything is self-checkout and iRobot's Storeba can handle the stocking just fine, and not long after that the bulk of not-top-tier lawyers and doctors and basic web coders and IT support guys get replaced by AIs.

So services like luxury mani-pedi where the whole point is to be pampered by a person may be around, but many will be replaced by the iPedi or whatever. It'll take a long time to get holosuites sufficiently advanced that they put real hookers out of business, but even then minus UBI there might not be enough customers to keep all but the highest class hookers in business.
I don't understand why Walmart style jobs are "crap" jobs. They require essentially no education and you do very little hard labor. Much of it is just stocking some shelves and standing around and answering the odd question. It's far easier than an assembly line job. The pay isn't great obviously but what is anyone doing that demands it?
The answer to your question is contained in it -- it's a crap job because the pay is crappy enough that even the most frugal of single people with no dependents or health problems can't live on it. (And such jobs also usually have irregular schedules, which means the jobholder can't even get a second job to supplement the income.) Which would be okay if such jobs were mainly held by teenagers who still live at home and want spending money, or bored housewives looking to earn pin money (do such people even still exist in large numbers?), but when the bulk of new-job growth is in such low-wage fields, that is NOT a good thing.

As for "the pay isn't great, but what is anyone doing that demands it" -- that again would be NBD if it were only a relative handful of workers we're talking about, but when the bulk of new jobs are in such "they don't pay much because they're not worth much" fields, that is a genuine society-wide problem.
You are acting as if the job is the problem when the situation the people taking the job are in is the problem. If I were to run up 50k in credit card debt (for sake of argument let's say it was for a good reason) it isn't my job's fault that it doesn't pay enough for me to pay that off. It's not Walmart's fault others aren't in better circumstances.

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 05 Jul 2017, 19:30

When did it become a given that anyone has the right to an income sufficient to live away from home without roommates?

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Jennifer » 05 Jul 2017, 19:47

You are acting as if the job is the problem when the situation the people taking the job are in is the problem. If I were to run up 50k in credit card debt (for sake of argument let's say it was for a good reason) it isn't my job's fault that it doesn't pay enough for me to pay that off. It's not Walmart's fault others aren't in better circumstances.
I didn't realize "people in debt for 50K" were the only ones struggling. And, FWIW, nobody here (at least, not me) is saying it is the "fault" of Walmart or any other low-wage employer, that the people who work for them are in poor circumstances--even if their poor circumstances are entirely due to their abysmal wages. What I am saying is, it's bad for society overall when large numbers of adults are trying to support themselves off the types of low-paying jobs I held as a teenager looking to earn spending money.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 05 Jul 2017, 19:55

Jennifer wrote:
You are acting as if the job is the problem when the situation the people taking the job are in is the problem. If I were to run up 50k in credit card debt (for sake of argument let's say it was for a good reason) it isn't my job's fault that it doesn't pay enough for me to pay that off. It's not Walmart's fault others aren't in better circumstances.
I didn't realize "people in debt for 50K" were the only ones struggling. And, FWIW, nobody here (at least, not me) is saying it is the "fault" of Walmart or any other low-wage employer, that the people who work for them are in poor circumstances--even if their poor circumstances are entirely due to their abysmal wages. What I am saying is, it's bad for society overall when large numbers of adults are trying to support themselves off the types of low-paying jobs I held as a teenager looking to earn spending money.
Say what? Okay, we're all agreed that Wal-Mart employees and such are there because they have few if any immediate options available to them, but let's give them a tad of agency nonetheless. Life can be hard, but to the extent its difficulty lies in not being able to see or do anything about options beyond Wal-Mart, that isn't Wal-Mart's fault.

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Jennifer » 05 Jul 2017, 20:05

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
Jennifer wrote:
You are acting as if the job is the problem when the situation the people taking the job are in is the problem. If I were to run up 50k in credit card debt (for sake of argument let's say it was for a good reason) it isn't my job's fault that it doesn't pay enough for me to pay that off. It's not Walmart's fault others aren't in better circumstances.
I didn't realize "people in debt for 50K" were the only ones struggling. And, FWIW, nobody here (at least, not me) is saying it is the "fault" of Walmart or any other low-wage employer, that the people who work for them are in poor circumstances--even if their poor circumstances are entirely due to their abysmal wages. What I am saying is, it's bad for society overall when large numbers of adults are trying to support themselves off the types of low-paying jobs I held as a teenager looking to earn spending money.
Say what? Okay, we're all agreed that Wal-Mart employees and such are there because they have few if any immediate options available to them, but let's give them a tad of agency nonetheless. Life can be hard, but to the extent its difficulty lies in not being able to see or do anything about options beyond Wal-Mart, that isn't Wal-Mart's fault.
If Walmart were the only shit-pay employer out there, I'd likely agree. But BLS charts and the like continue predicting the bulk of job growth in low-wage professions--retail clerks, fast-food workers, nursing assistants, hotel maids, that sort of thing. And of course, it is by definition impossible to live in a Lake Wobegon country where everyone has above-average skills and credentials, and can find above-average jobs.

At the same time, I don't think it reasonable or feasible to expect such employers to simply up their wages so that crap jobs are all magically transformed into decent jobs, either. Which is why I support a UBI -- coupled with the end of minimum-wage laws and all current social-welfare safety nets.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 05 Jul 2017, 20:18

Well, Jason's moral risk qualms and rugged individualism aside, I do think a UBI will turn out to be a political necessity because of the near elimination of most low skill and many high skill jobs. But in the meanwhile I'll return to the notion that no one is entitled to economic independence, per se. Can't afford to live by yourself? Get roommates. Can't "afford" to feed yourself on minimum wages? Really? Or is it just that you can't afford the sorts of food you'd prefer to eat? Sure, health care is a problematic area, but no one, not even those of us with great medical insurance, is entitled to unlimited medical care. If everyone could afford medical care a half century ago, it's largely because 60s era doctors would quickly reach a point where they'd shrug and say there was nothing more they could do.

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Jennifer » 05 Jul 2017, 20:49

D.A. Ridgely wrote:Well, Jason's moral risk qualms and rugged individualism aside, I do think a UBI will turn out to be a political necessity because of the near elimination of most low skill and many high skill jobs. But in the meanwhile I'll return to the notion that no one is entitled to economic independence, per se.
No one is "entitled" to anything, per se. But simply pointing this out does nothing to reassure people who are struggling, miserable and either frightened by or mad about it.
Can't afford to live by yourself? Get roommates.
Makes sense in the short term -- if it's allowed (my cheaper-than-average apartment complex will not allow roommates to combine their wages to meet affordability requirements -- three people can not split the cost of a three-bedroom unless at least one of those people can afford the whole cost by him or herself.) But in the long-term, I doubt many Americans will be content with a new status quo "Look, you just have to accept that only people doing better than the average can afford to so much as rent their own apartment, let alone buy a place to live." (Granted, a lot of "the rent is too damned high" complaints are due not to basic supply-and-demand economics, but NIMBY and snob-zoning laws which specifically make housing much more expensive than it has to be.) We've already had one President Trump elected by riding a wave of resentment into office; I don't want the next guy to be even worse.

Granted, one could counter "Well, maybe Americans are spoiled, and need to quit whining and be grateful for the fact that even a poor American today is much better off, materially speaking, than a poor or even middle-class person from a century ago." But that's not going to happen, anymore than Jason's oft-stated fear of "If everyone is guaranteed a bare-minimum subsistence living, what if the majority of people settle for that and never want anything more?" is going to happen, and for the same reason: human nature guarantees people are not going to be satisfied with "the bare minimum necessary for survival," not in a world filled with far more wonderful things. Nor will people be happy or even content when they think they've "come down in the world," compared to their parents or grandparents. "Grandpa had his own house and could afford to take his family on a vacation every year; I'm not happy with the fact that I share a 2BR and can't afford to take any time off. Not even my smartphone and Netflix subscription, which Grandpa never could've had, is enough to make up for that."
Can't "afford" to feed yourself on minimum wages? Really? Or is it just that you can't afford the sorts of food you'd prefer to eat?
I suspect it's more like "after paying for housing, transportation and other living costs on minimum wage or a couple bucks an hour above that, there's not enough money left for a full month's worth of food every 30 days."
Sure, health care is a problematic area, but no one, not even those of us with great medical insurance, is entitled to unlimited medical care. If everyone could afford medical care a half century ago, it's largely because 60s era doctors would quickly reach a point where they'd shrug and say there was nothing more they could do.
Speaking anecdotally: I personally have been fortunate in that the relatively few medical problems I've had (problems bad enough to require actual doctor visits, not simply self-treatment with OTC drugs) have been fairly simple matters which were just as treatable in the 1960s as they are today -- kidney stone tiny enough to pass on its own? Take these-here painkillers, and drink like the proverbial fish. Sick with an infection your immune system can't beat on its own? Take these standard generic antibiotics for a few days. Stupid shoulder decided to freeze up? Take these-here steroids, and go to physical therapy. The physical therapist will indeed cost $$, because it requires hands-on labor from a professional with some specialized training, and that professional needs to be paid well and cover the costs of the therapy place and all the therapeutic machines and gewgaws they have on hand -- but, while the painkillers I took last time I had a kidney stone were super-cheap, I had to pay through the nose for the permission slip I'm legally required to get so I can buy and take those painkillers without being arrested and put in prison for it. "Fancy new technologies" doesn't explain why treating my small kidney stone in the 2000s cost so much more money, adjusted for inflation, than that same stone would've cost in the 1960s.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 05 Jul 2017, 21:00

Actually, human nature makes it a near certainty that people make do with however little they have if there really are no other options, e.g., war rationing, the Great Depression. Anyway, housing and medical care seem to be the major bugaboos of arguments over minimum wages. We're pretty much all agreed here that there is no market price for medical services and no one knows how much that office visit to get the prescription for the kidney stones would be if we did. As for housing, again, young Boomers capable of affording their own place straight out of college or even close to 30 were the exception to the rule, not the rule. If Gen X'ers had an easier time of it, well, I think it's more like they're the anomaly than evidence we're all headed for hell in a handcart. I suspect that in many cases publicly imposed restrictions on house sharing and such are either remnants of efforts to prevent houses of prostitution. Privately, landlords should be free to impose those restrictions though, shouldn't they?

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Painboy » 05 Jul 2017, 21:21

Jennifer wrote:
You are acting as if the job is the problem when the situation the people taking the job are in is the problem. If I were to run up 50k in credit card debt (for sake of argument let's say it was for a good reason) it isn't my job's fault that it doesn't pay enough for me to pay that off. It's not Walmart's fault others aren't in better circumstances.
I didn't realize "people in debt for 50K" were the only ones struggling. And, FWIW, nobody here (at least, not me) is saying it is the "fault" of Walmart or any other low-wage employer, that the people who work for them are in poor circumstances--even if their poor circumstances are entirely due to their abysmal wages. What I am saying is, it's bad for society overall when large numbers of adults are trying to support themselves off the types of low-paying jobs I held as a teenager looking to earn spending money.
You are aware that some people stayed in those jobs you left stayed on and became managers and the like? You can make a career out of a retail job. You don't get stuck with your starting wage in perpetuity. Something you continually seem to assume.

You can also use your experience gained from there to find a better job. Walmart has something like a 44% turnover rate. If Walmart was full of these people who were trapped in these jobs why is there so much turnover? It's likely they are finding better work using the experience they've accrued there.

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Jennifer » 05 Jul 2017, 21:31

D.A. Ridgely wrote:Actually, human nature makes it a near certainty that people make do with however little they have if there really are no other options, e.g., war rationing, the Great Depression.
Key words being "no other options." War rationing was tolerated because there was no choice (and also because everybody knew "We're all in the same boat"). And the Depression led to the New Deal and other programs whose effects are still being felt today. But the modern cries for "UBI!" or "$15 minimum wage plus free college and single-payer healthcare!" wouldn't exist, if the majority of people truly felt they had "no other options." There are plenty of other options; I support a UBI (plus suspension of minimum wage and all other social welfare programs) because I think it would be the best option (or at least the least-worst).
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by JasonL » 05 Jul 2017, 21:32

I haven't read all of the responses, but to be clear, not very much exaggeration that many SV software people believe they are on the verge of eliminating most work. The snark is mostly about the timeline. I don't think we're all that close. What we have now is lots of healthcare jobs and fewer manufacturing jobs. I see nearly all near term labor market concerns as skills mismatch not net elimination.

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Jennifer » 05 Jul 2017, 21:34

I suspect that in many cases publicly imposed restrictions on house sharing and such are either remnants of efforts to prevent houses of prostitution. Privately, landlords should be free to impose those restrictions though, shouldn't they?
Definitely, landlords should be (and clearly are) free to impose such restrictions. FWIW, every time I've complained about my complex's anti-sharing rules I've also admitted that, from the owners' perspective, I completely understand why they do this: I'm sure that going after one fairly prosperous person for nonpayment of rent is much easier than going after three individuals, none of whom could afford the rent on their own anyway. But at the same time, it does make life harder than it already is, for a low-wage worker who can't even afford a one-room studio apartment by himself, but could afford one-third of the rent on a three-bedroom (especially since utility costs would also be divvied up by thirds).
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 05 Jul 2017, 21:36

JasonL wrote:I haven't read all of the responses, but to be clear, not very much exaggeration that many SV software people believe they are on the verge of eliminating most work. The snark is mostly about the timeline. I don't think we're all that close. What we have now is lots of healthcare jobs and fewer manufacturing jobs. I see nearly all near term labor market concerns as skills mismatch not net elimination.
I agree. Separating ought from is in both cases, I think we'll see single-payer medicine long before, but they're both on the way.

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Mo » 06 Jul 2017, 11:13

What's funny is that I think the lowest end jobs will likely be later to the automation game than higher end jobs. I think automation will hollow out the middle more than it will skim off the bottom. Partly because stuff like stocking shelves is programatically and mechanically complex, while the cost is pretty low. On the other hand, analyzing an x-ray or tissue sample is relatively simpler programatically and mechanically, while the cost per unit is high.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by JasonL » 06 Jul 2017, 13:47

I agree with both Mo and DAR. I prefer my UBI discussions to be either "in the very long run" or "in the near term" type discussions. They are to me very different situations. The thing I worry most about in public policy is a handling of the inevitable transition to universal government coverage that destroys private investment. I think that's a very real possibility and there will be piles of dead people associated with it and nobody will care because pony.

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Shem » 06 Jul 2017, 14:12

Mo wrote:Partly because stuff like stocking shelves is programatically and mechanically complex, while the cost is pretty low. On the other hand, analyzing an x-ray or tissue sample is relatively simpler programatically and mechanically, while the cost per unit is high.
Depends on the shelves. You could mechanize a milk cooler right now if you really wanted to, and probably at least break even if you were willing to work on a timeline of 3-5 years. Between the high product demand and the fact that you already have space behind the shelves, you wouldn't need to change much and would sell more product to help offset costs more quickly. The stuff in the middle doesn't move as fast, so there wouldn't be as much pressure, but you could still do it if you were willing to overhaul new stores.

Though, stocking shelves isn't really the largest part of grocery work. Most of it is either ordering (which could already be done by a computer program in a significantly improved manner if you set something up to track sales and order accordingly) and specialized services like meat cutting, floral, bakery, and produce. Bakeries are already going away as places stop making stuff in house and start shopping items in to reheat, and as soon as I saw Starbucks had made a machine to produce a latte, I figured it was only a matter of time until a programmable meat slicer took any specialization out of the butcher block. Those are the mid-level jobs people who stay wind up in on their way to management, and mechanization is going to hot them just as hard as it hits everywhere else. I don't envy anybody in that store, least of all the managers who have to lead people who know that their only path to advancement runs through their boss' job.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Warren » 06 Jul 2017, 14:16

Automated warehouses have been a thing since the 80's.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Shem » 06 Jul 2017, 14:19

Warren wrote:Automated warehouses have been a thing since the 80's.
A warehouse where people don't walk (at all, like the Amazon warehouse where it's forbidden) is different from a retail store where people need access to goods.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Warren » 06 Jul 2017, 15:33

Shem wrote:
Warren wrote:Automated warehouses have been a thing since the 80's.
A warehouse where people don't walk (at all, like the Amazon warehouse where it's forbidden) is different from a retail store where people need access to goods.
Accommodating people isn't much of a problem. Open shelving that people can rearrange goods on is a bigger problem, but one I think current technology is capable of handling.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Shem » 06 Jul 2017, 15:57

Warren wrote:
Shem wrote:
Warren wrote:Automated warehouses have been a thing since the 80's.
A warehouse where people don't walk (at all, like the Amazon warehouse where it's forbidden) is different from a retail store where people need access to goods.
Accommodating people isn't much of a problem. Open shelving that people can rearrange goods on is a bigger problem, but one I think current technology is capable of handling.
Accommodating people is a massive problem. Accommodating people is why self-driving cars are just now developing when, on a purely technological basis, they've been possible for years. Making a robot capable of reacting to unpredictable humans without damaging itself or them is the programming challenge of the modern era. It's why in the Amazon warehouses that are fully robotic, humans aren't allowed in the floor unless the whole works are shut off.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by dead_elvis » 11 Aug 2017, 16:51

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by nicole » 25 Apr 2018, 09:35

Finland is scrapping its pilot:
Finland's two-year pilot scheme started in January 2017, making it the first European country to test an unconditional basic income. The 2,000 participants - all unemployed - were chosen randomly.

But it will not be extended after this year, as the government is now examining other schemes for reforming the Finnish social security system.

"I'm a little disappointed that the government decided not to expand it," said Prof Kangas, a researcher at the Social Insurance Institution (Kela), a Finnish government agency.

Speaking to the BBC from Turku, he said the government had turned down Kela's request for €40-70m extra to fund basic income for a group of employed Finns, instead of limiting the experiment to 2,000 unemployed people.
...
The pilot's full results will not be released until late 2019.

In February this year the influential OECD think tank said a universal credit system, like that being introduced in the UK, would work better than a basic income in Finland. Universal credit replaces several benefit payments with a single monthly sum.

The study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said income tax would have to increase by nearly 30% to fund a basic income. It also argued that basic income would increase income inequality and raise Finland's poverty rate from 11.4% to 14.1%.

In contrast, the OECD said, universal credit would cut the poverty rate to 9.7%, as well as reduce complexity in the benefits system.

Another reform option being considered by Finnish politicians is a negative income tax, Prof Kangas said.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43866700
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by JasonL » 26 Apr 2018, 08:42

nicole wrote:Finland is scrapping its pilot:
Finland's two-year pilot scheme started in January 2017, making it the first European country to test an unconditional basic income. The 2,000 participants - all unemployed - were chosen randomly.

But it will not be extended after this year, as the government is now examining other schemes for reforming the Finnish social security system.

"I'm a little disappointed that the government decided not to expand it," said Prof Kangas, a researcher at the Social Insurance Institution (Kela), a Finnish government agency.

Speaking to the BBC from Turku, he said the government had turned down Kela's request for €40-70m extra to fund basic income for a group of employed Finns, instead of limiting the experiment to 2,000 unemployed people.
...
The pilot's full results will not be released until late 2019.

In February this year the influential OECD think tank said a universal credit system, like that being introduced in the UK, would work better than a basic income in Finland. Universal credit replaces several benefit payments with a single monthly sum.

The study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said income tax would have to increase by nearly 30% to fund a basic income. It also argued that basic income would increase income inequality and raise Finland's poverty rate from 11.4% to 14.1%.

In contrast, the OECD said, universal credit would cut the poverty rate to 9.7%, as well as reduce complexity in the benefits system.

Another reform option being considered by Finnish politicians is a negative income tax, Prof Kangas said.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43866700
Increase by 30% over a current income tax base of 51% so like 66% and increase income inequality? Yikes.


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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Jennifer » 26 Apr 2018, 16:18

I wish there were more information regarding why they decided to end it -- did it not have the results they'd hoped for? Did the cost prove higher than expected? Merely saying "They decided to experiment with other schemes" is insufficiently informative, IMO.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by JD » 02 Aug 2018, 13:21

Ontario has scrapped its experimental UBI program. Not a lot of details, just
MacLeod said program was "not doing what it's intended to do and it's quite expensive." She did not elaborate further.
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