Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

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JasonL
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Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by JasonL » 02 Aug 2018, 13:50

New government may just be philosophically opposed. Still with Finland first then this one the consensus at a minimum is it’s expensive.

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Fin Fang Foom » 02 Aug 2018, 13:54

JasonL wrote:
02 Aug 2018, 13:50
New government may just be philosophically opposed. Still with Finland first then this one the consensus at a minimum is it’s expensive.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Eric the .5b » 02 Aug 2018, 20:24

JasonL wrote:
02 Aug 2018, 13:50
New government may just be philosophically opposed. Still with Finland first then this one the consensus at a minimum is it’s expensive.
But why would it be expensive to give everyone money? :D

(OK, to be sure, this program was income-gated, despite the "U".)
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Jennifer » 03 Oct 2018, 19:28

Apparently Obama has climbed aboard the UBI bandwagon.

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by JD » 08 Feb 2019, 08:00

So far Finland's experiment shows that recipients' (self-reported) health and happiness is better, but their work habits are unimproved:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-finl ... SKCN1PX0NM

I'm not sure that this experiment is really a great one, since the recipients were/are all unemployed, so I'm not really sure how it boiled down to anything more than more generous, no-strings-attached welfare payments. Then again, my feeling has always been that since UBI is paid for out of taxes, some people are going to be net losers and some are going to be net gainers, meaning that UBI will essentially always boil down to "more welfare".
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Painboy » 08 Mar 2019, 16:35

UBI, one art installation at a time.
Starting in 2026, this will be one lucky (or extremely bored) worker’s everyday reality, thanks to a government-funded conceptual art project in Gothenburg, Sweden. The employee in question will report to Korsvägen, a train station under construction in the city, and will receive a salary of about $2,320 a month in U.S. dollars, plus annual wage increases, vacation time off and a pension for retirement. While the artists behind the project won’t be taking applications until 2025, when the station will be closer to opening, a draft of the help-wanted ad is already available online, as Atlas Obscura reported on Monday.
The job’s requirements couldn’t be simpler: An employee shows up to the train station each morning and punches the time clock. That, in turn, illuminates an extra bank of fluorescent lights over the platform, letting travelers and commuters know that the otherwise functionless employee is on the job. At the end of the day, the worker returns to clock out, and the lights go off. In between, they can do whatever they want, aside from work at another paying job. They’re not even obligated to stay at the station all day long. They can quit or retire and be replaced by another worker anytime they want; otherwise, their employment is guaranteed for life. No specific qualifications are needed, and the artists overseeing the project assured Atlas Obscura that anyone in the world could apply.
“Old Social Democrats accused them of using financial realism to mock the transcendental accomplishments of the welfare state,” he recalled. “Neoliberal ‘progressives’ accused them of wasting taxpayers’ money to stage a nostalgic return to that same welfare state.” Lars Hjälmered, a member of parliament from Gothenburg who belongs to Sweden’s center-right Moderate Party, decried the conceptual artwork as “stupidity” in the news magazine Dagens Samhälle.

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Hugh Akston » 08 Mar 2019, 17:29

If you don't know how to fund UBI, that story makes a compelling case for eliminating NEA funding first.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Ellie » 08 Mar 2019, 21:20

Hugh Akston wrote:
08 Mar 2019, 17:29
If you don't know how to fund UBI, that story makes a compelling case for eliminating NEA funding first.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by JD » 04 Sep 2019, 12:46

A small-scale experiment with UBI in Mississippi, of all places. It wasn't quite "universal", in the sense that you had to be an African American single mother living in public housing, and you had to explicitly apply for it, but it was $1000/month without strings.

First finding: just giving people cash may not be enough.
Kira Johnson, a social worker, asked how much money the women had saved.
“I blew all of it,” Gray recalled. “It only took a weekend.”
Most of the women said the same thing. In a month, nearly all of the money had vanished.
But with some financial counseling:
At the end of six months, none of the women reported using an emergency lender. Nearly all said they had enough money to buy school supplies, when fewer than half had said that before. They reported cooking more balanced meals, visiting the doctor and attending church more often.
Ultimately I'm not sure these small-scale tests are very meaningful, because if people are short on cash, then giving them more cash every month will help: duh. But that seems very different from the effects of giving everyone an additional $1000/month (and figuring out where that comes from).
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Dangerman » 04 Sep 2019, 12:51

Of course the first month goes really fast, that's not surprising and not an indictment of the recipients. I'm glad they were getting some counseling, that probably should have been the only string attached. I think the real question is 'how long do they need to receive it before they don't need it?'

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by JD » 04 Sep 2019, 13:07

Of course, if it's really "universal" then there will never really be such a thing as "not needing it", although there would come a point at which you would go from net recipient to net donor as you got wealthier.

Here's an article about an experiment in California, although only at $500/month: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/pol ... 201024001/

If the discussion is about "should we have more generous, no-strings attached welfare", then I think that's actually a useful discussion to have; unfortunately UBI discussions usually get muddled by people who want to talk about THE FUTURE OF CAPITALISM and all that.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by thoreau » 04 Sep 2019, 13:17

I still think UBI could be a net plus for society IF:
1) It displaced most other social welfare programs and the rent-seeking bureaucracies and contractors attached to them. We can talk about an additional benefit for kids and the seriously disabled through no fault of their own, but everyone else gets a UBI calibrated to local cost of living so it's shitty but survivable.

2) It displaced minimum wage laws.

I'm ever so slightly optimistic about the first point, but not the first one. I feel like the exception that I'm willing to allow would inevitably swallow the rule and return us to the status quo plus $1000/month.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by JasonL » 04 Sep 2019, 14:47

JD wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 13:07
Of course, if it's really "universal" then there will never really be such a thing as "not needing it", although there would come a point at which you would go from net recipient to net donor as you got wealthier.

Here's an article about an experiment in California, although only at $500/month: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/pol ... 201024001/

If the discussion is about "should we have more generous, no-strings attached welfare", then I think that's actually a useful discussion to have; unfortunately UBI discussions usually get muddled by people who want to talk about THE FUTURE OF CAPITALISM and all that.
That's them showing their hand.

"Of course unemployment wont skyrocket, marginal incentives are positive to do additional work," followed immediately by "freedom from having to do work we hate is our post capitalist future".

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Mo » 04 Sep 2019, 17:49

I mean it depends why unemployment rises. If it’s because people are choosing to stay home and play X-box, that’s bad. But if it’s because people choose to go back to school to learn a new skill, a parent in a couple stays home with a kid/sick relative or a 63 year old decides that they’ll retire a couple years earlier, I’m less fussed.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Warren » 04 Sep 2019, 20:41

Mo wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 17:49
I mean it depends why unemployment rises. If it’s because people are choosing to stay home and play X-box, that’s bad. But if it’s because people choose to go back to school to learn a new skill, a parent in a couple stays home with a kid/sick relative or a 63 year old decides that they’ll retire a couple years earlier, I’m less fussed.
What if they're writing songs and playing guitar?
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by JasonL » 04 Sep 2019, 22:23

That new skill should have value in the market. If it doesn’t, that skill is just another version of video games. A world of endless shitty garage bands is what I fear.

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by thoreau » 04 Sep 2019, 22:59

My best guess at what happens with a well-designed UBI:

-A whole bunch of people who barely change their habits, but perhaps when they're unemployed they spend a bit more time taking classes for new skills and a bit choosier about their next job (since presumably the UBI is on top of an unemployment insurance scheme). This seems entirely positive, if it improves labor market sorting.

-More stay-at-home moms, longer maternity leaves, etc. I can live with this, but I think the gender breakdowns of certain professions will change. We already see motherhood effects on wage gaps, etc., and I think we'll see even more. I won't be able to live with the cognitive dissonance between what I'll see and what I'll be required to say.

-Some new grads who decide to spend a year working very part time while pursuing some dream, before realizing that their lifestyle sucks and they need to do better. Visiting coffee shops in certain hip neighborhoods will suck, and the European backpacking circuit will get overcrowded, but otherwise I think we can live with it.

-Very few people who go from working full-time to playing video games (or starting shitty bands, or whatever), but more effects among people who were always on the margins of the labor market. People who were frequently bouncing between work, public assistance, living off relatives, etc. will probably just work very part-time. Honestly, if we also lose the bureaucracies that were built to monitor and cajole them and scrutinize their benefits usage, it might be a net plus. They were on the margins of the labor market before, and they'll still be on the margin of the labor market. They were living off public benefits before, and they're still doing so, but at lower overhead costs.

OTOH, if we still have a bunch of social welfare programs for them to try to sponge off of (and consequent monitoring efforts) then all we've done is add $1000/month to the problem.

-If the UBI is well-designed, we'll have a bunch of former social welfare program employees living off the UBI while trying to figure out what to do with their lives. Sadly, many of them will eventually find some other boondoggle.

If it is poorly-designed, they'll just keep on doing what they were doing.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Warren » 05 Sep 2019, 00:47

JasonL wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 22:23
That new skill should have value in the market. If it doesn’t, that skill is just another version of video games. A world of endless shitty garage bands is what I fear.
And fan fiction.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Shem » 05 Sep 2019, 02:55

JasonL wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 22:23
That new skill should have value in the market. If it doesn’t, that skill is just another version of video games. A world of endless shitty garage bands is what I fear.
At least half of that is because you find it morally distasteful, though.

Personally, I have a lot more faith in that most innate of human needs, the desire to be able to show off to the schlubs who live next door. Historically, almost none of the advances in society happen because someone wants more access to material goods. Mostly, they happen because the person doing it wants to be recognized by those around them for one psychological reason or another. A world where every basic need is met doesn't end with everyone being lazy hedonists. It ends with everyone chasing social approval in some kind of kudos-based system, in order to get the ever-shrinking items and experiences that can't be replicated out. The "future is a shitty garage band assaulting the ears...forever" argument is the other side of the coin from the "robots will eliminate all work, leaving all humans completely bereft of tasks and forced to live at the mercy of the robot owners" argument. Both are possible, but they're both on a timeline that's far beyond any of our likely lifespans, unless the singularity really does happen and the robots decide to put us all in the equivalent of an Alzheimer's Ward to prevent us from doing ourselves an injury.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Eric the .5b » 05 Sep 2019, 03:31

Shem wrote:
05 Sep 2019, 02:55
JasonL wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 22:23
That new skill should have value in the market. If it doesn’t, that skill is just another version of video games. A world of endless shitty garage bands is what I fear.
At least half of that is because you find it morally distasteful, though.

Personally, I have a lot more faith in that most innate of human needs, the desire to be able to show off to the schlubs who live next door. Historically, almost none of the advances in society happen because someone wants more access to material goods. Mostly, they happen because the person doing it wants to be recognized by those around them for one psychological reason or another. A world where every basic need is met doesn't end with everyone being lazy hedonists. It ends with everyone chasing social approval in some kind of kudos-based system, in order to get the ever-shrinking items and experiences that can't be replicated out.
The future is PewDiePie screeching into an ear, forever?
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Mo » 05 Sep 2019, 05:07

JasonL wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 22:23
That new skill should have value in the market. If it doesn’t, that skill is just another version of video games. A world of endless shitty garage bands is what I fear.
Things like taking care of a kid or an elderly relative does have market value though. And while people may work because they can earn more than it would cost to hire a lower cost professional to do it, there are intangible societal benefits to people doing it for their own families/communities. Not everything is measured in GDP alone.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by JasonL » 05 Sep 2019, 06:52

As I’ve said before, a well designed and LOW benefit level UBI, if I could bring myself to believe it would stay that way, would be something I think is reasonably positive. How low? It has to fucking suck to live on UBI alone.

My concerns are the employment and more generally effort sensitivities to the level of UBI. If the dial is turned juuust a hair to high, I think many people who could significantly improve their lots through effort - training, relocation, and maybe most importantly shifting identity - simply won’t do that. UBI, net of the effort required to change their lives materially, is good enough. It is a job with infinite vacation. It is possible you could very suddenly collapse employment for low skill jobs.

Yes there are moral sentiments I have about this but not all of them are aesthetic. I think sources of meaning are hard enough to find and this is a tax on the motivation to keep seeking.

I also think long run real economic growth dominates other concerns in terms of making living conditions for everyone better. This is a tax on growth to the extent growth requires lots of people trying hard things, which I believe is the case. Everything is a hobby. Some people dive into their hobbies to deep depths, seek mastery of something etc, but not most people.

Finally this will start as one thing but it will become “the way regular people get paid”. This is broad dependency disguised as liberation. The people delivering surplus in the market are paying for it, and the stability of the benefit hinges on a decreasing number of people if employment collapses. That’s bad. For society as a whole.

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Andrew » 05 Sep 2019, 08:21

Shem wrote:
05 Sep 2019, 02:55
JasonL wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 22:23
That new skill should have value in the market. If it doesn’t, that skill is just another version of video games. A world of endless shitty garage bands is what I fear.
At least half of that is because you find it morally distasteful, though.

Personally, I have a lot more faith in that most innate of human needs, the desire to be able to show off to the schlubs who live next door. Historically, almost none of the advances in society happen because someone wants more access to material goods. Mostly, they happen because the person doing it wants to be recognized by those around them for one psychological reason or another. A world where every basic need is met doesn't end with everyone being lazy hedonists. It ends with everyone chasing social approval in some kind of kudos-based system, in order to get the ever-shrinking items and experiences that can't be replicated out.
After years of watching the antics of clients and their families, I find this take unrealistically optimistic. People are good at creating other (anti-social) status games if they find themselves losing mainstream ones.
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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by JD » 05 Sep 2019, 10:22

Shem wrote:
05 Sep 2019, 02:55
Historically, almost none of the advances in society happen because someone wants more access to material goods. Mostly, they happen because the person doing it wants to be recognized by those around them for one psychological reason or another.
Hm. Can you give some concrete examples?
I sort of feel like a sucker about aspiring to be intellectually rigorous when I could just go on twitter and say capitalism causes space herpes and no one will challenge me on it. - Hugh Akston

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Re: Money for Nothing: the Universal Basic Income

Post by Warren » 05 Sep 2019, 10:42

JD wrote:
05 Sep 2019, 10:22
Shem wrote:
05 Sep 2019, 02:55
Historically, almost none of the advances in society happen because someone wants more access to material goods. Mostly, they happen because the person doing it wants to be recognized by those around them for one psychological reason or another.
Hm. Can you give some concrete examples?
Polio vaccine sprang to mind.
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