Universal Basic Income


  • Admin



  • In theory I like it a lot. I think it has potential both to simplify government programs and raise living standards.

    In practice I'd like to see how it works long-term on a large scale before getting too excited about it, but it's one of those economic ideas I'm surprised there isn't more chatter about.


  • Admin

    @Three-Eyed-Crow I think it's because such a hard sell, politically.

    Even if you could (I'm not necessarily saying you can, or that it's feasible, but assuming you could) prove mathematically it would save money, it's still extremely difficult for some people to vote for what is perceived as them funding a bunch of people to sit and do nothing while they work for a living.


  • Politics

    @Three-Eyed-Crow said in Universal Basic Income:

    In practice I'd like to see how it works long-term on a large scale before getting too excited about it, but it's one of those economic ideas I'm surprised there isn't more chatter about.

    There's no chatter about it because it is inimical to the American attitude of bootstrap-pulling.

    The economic models look good. Getting it paid for is a different issue entirely. I would be concerned about whether this will cause other, unintended problems, like rising prices and a lower standard of living for the middle class.


  • Admin

    @Ganymede Also 'basic' will be a hell of a variable to define.



  • "Quit'cher bitchin' and hike up your bootstraps."


  • Pitcrew

    In theory, it's probably preferable to the income disparity present all over the globe. It would be a very hard sell because of what Ganymede said.

    I hope they do get it going somewhere, just to see.


  • Admin

    I think the decisive factor here is the growing unemployment induced by both technological advancement and globalization; for instance the fast food service industry, cashiers etc will most likely be largely redundant in the next few years (or the number of positions will have scaled back very significantly) so something will need to give.

    Not that such things haven't happened before but there is obviously a threshold past which abolishing manual labor further will cause unemployment to reach critical levels. As we reach that point some interesting decisions will need to be made either way.



  • It would eliminate the need for Medicaid, Food Stamps and other subsistence level aid programs. That alone with save a ton of money.

    Being a dirty socialist (in the European model), I'm in favor of the idea as well as universal health care and free university.


  • Politics

    As a communist, I can only sigh.



  • It's a fantastic idea. As someone who likes going to work, the thing I've usually hated about going to work was working with people:

    1. Mailing it in and taking up space so they could pay their rent.
    2. Coming in still high/drunk/whatever, making the workplace dangerous
    3. People just being dicks to work with.

    If we could get those people out of the workplace, that alone would be worth the headaches associated with implementing this sort of program, with the added benefit of helping people out.



  • @TNP said in Universal Basic Income:

    It would eliminate the need for Medicaid, Food Stamps and other subsistence level aid programs. That alone with save a ton of money.

    This is the conservative argument for it (the most serious investigation of this as an economic option in the US was back during the Nixon administration as an alternative to expanding welfare programs). There are liberal arguments I'm more personally sympathetic to, but it's the kind of thing that pulls economists from pretty disparate ideological viewpoints out of the woodwork in favor of it.

    I don't think we'll see it pursued seriously anytime soon, but maybe in 10 or 20 years. What I think might be more viable short-term is experiments in individuals cities, which I think some places are exploring.


  • Coder

    @Arkandel said in Universal Basic Income:

    @Ganymede Also 'basic' will be a hell of a variable to define.

    Basic is well defined in Swedish Law, it's calculated each year based on the expected minimum amount of money to buy food and necessities in a given month(Currently around $300). I think basic income makes sense because noone wants to be unemployed and the bureaucracy involved in welfare is both dehumanizing and a huge waste of money.



  • @Groth said in Universal Basic Income:

    @Arkandel said in Universal Basic Income:

    @Ganymede Also 'basic' will be a hell of a variable to define.

    Basic is well defined in Swedish Law, it's calculated each year based on the expected minimum amount of money to buy food and necessities in a given month(Currently around $300). I think basic income makes sense because noone wants to be unemployed and the bureaucracy involved in welfare is both dehumanizing and a huge waste of money.

    Pretty sure the United States Military already has a scale for basic monthly income and expenses.


  • Pitcrew

    I think this may end up eventually becoming a possibility as it becomes more and more impossible to truly "pull oneself up by the bootstraps" and in addition I notice that despair over that reality is starting to creep in to even the people who need/want to believe in it most fervently.

    I think however, it's best combined with single payer health care. Because until that has gotten under control, I'm not sure lifting up everyone to a basic standard of guaranteed income would help those that it really needs to help--they tend to be the most sick, disabled, ect who accrue a huge amount of expense because they cannot afford to get care until it's truly catastrophic.

    But i do think things will have to get significantly worse. I think we're headed down that path (of things getting worse). It makes me sick, frankly, but I'm doing what I can to at least hopefully support people who can be ready to get us to UBI/UHC when we're ready for it. Or even before. I'd love to not be right.

    Most of my extended family is of the folks who really need and want to believe that "anyone can make it rich," and "everyone who needs any kind of government assistance or programs, including public school, publically funded highways, anything where my money doesn't always go 100 percent back into helping me personally--is a total scum-sucking loser who should be drug tested...oh, except for me when I've had to go on assistance/the coal industry consolidated/local economy collapsed/I got cancer without insurance so went on medicaid/I went into the military as a career so have never had to pay a dime for health insurance/care or much in the way of housing until I retired) But frankly, even some of them are having oh shit moments.

    Right now they're blaming it on brown and black people and muslims, but even some of that is starting to fade.



  • The issue becomes where does the money come from more than anything else. I've lived in countries (on the economy) like Kuwait where the country has so much money they try everything they can to provide for the citizens of Kuwait. But there is so much money from oil they can do it.

    Then places like Japan that have great and affordable healthcare but most people would say its because all (or most of) the hospitals and such are not for profit. So there isn't that drive to make money off of you, so things cost what they cost so the business can run and the employees are paid.

    In the US we're all trying to make money, have the highest gains, ect ect. If we went to a system that gave everyone 20K a year, I think we'd soon find that 20K would be below the poverty line as businesses and services increase prices to meet tax and / or other requirements that would come up to make sure the country could pay eveyone 20k a year.


  • Pitcrew

    I don't see how this works in the USA. We have over 300 million people here. Our annual budget is about 4 trillion dollars. For a family of four to receive $2000 a month (which seems pretty basic to me) that's almost 2 trillion dollars in UBI.

    That sounds pretty good since our social services are almost half the budget anyway, but the reality is most households are not families of four, but more between 2 and 2.5. How do two people (especially two elderly people) survive on $1000 a month total? Currently the average SS benefit per person is $1000.

    Do we scale benefits for age? Income? Location? Your lifetime earnings? Wow guess what, this system isn't sounding so 'basic' anymore...


  • Coder

    @Ide Let me know when you figure that out, because I survive on less than 1K a month at the moment and I actually make BETTER than minimum wage.


  • Coder

    @Ide said in Universal Basic Income:

    I don't see how this works in the USA. We have over 300 million people here. Our annual budget is about 4 trillion dollars. For a family of four to receive $2000 a month (which seems pretty basic to me) that's almost 2 trillion dollars in UBI.

    That sounds pretty good since our social services are almost half the budget anyway, but the reality is most households are not families of four, but more between 2 and 2.5. How do two people (especially two elderly people) survive on $1000 a month total? Currently the average SS benefit per person is $1000.

    Do we scale benefits for age? Income? Location? Your lifetime earnings? Wow guess what, this system isn't sounding so 'basic' anymore...

    Basic is minimum to survive, not minimum to live a comfortable life with all the toys that you want. It would also be in addition to SS, not instead of SS, it also tends to assume that rent and healthcare is covered separately.



  • Keep in mind that a single payer health system would save the US a gigantic amount, right now the US government spends more per capita on medicare, medicaid, etc than it costs the government here in the UK to run the National Health Service.

    Overall health spending in the United States is over double per head for (on average) worse health care, having a single central authority which is not seeking profit might lead to a lot of bureaucracy but also gives it titanic power in negotiation and the ability to pursue legitimately cost effective solutions.

    Free doctor's appointments for example end up saving money - they catch a lot of health problems early, before they can get too expensive. Health care spending in the United States is around ten thousand dollars per person per year so halving that? Suddenly there is a lot more money floating around.


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