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To my mind, Universal Basic Income (UBI) is the most radical attempt to address the complexity that is introduced by trying to only give benefits to the "deserving": there's often a view that social benefits (food stamps, income support, child benefits, health care, etc, etc) should only be given to those who "need" it. So then you need to:

- decide who actually "needs" the benefit

- figure out how to recognise these people ("means-tested" benefits!)

- catch the people defrauding the system

Instead, you could just say, e.g. for the case of child benefit, that every child receives $400/month and get rid of:

- the complexity in deciding who gets $400/month

- the enforcement of fraud

The "underserving" middle- and upper-income will receive this money too, but it doesn't matter - it's effectively coming out of the higher taxes they are paying already.

UBI is just a generalization of this idea to all benefits.

Introducing two kinds of dollars smacks, to me, of the same mindset that introduced means-testing/etc in the first place: "we don't want fraud", "we want this to only go to deserving purposes". Lots of complexity, hard to manage, and for no convincing benefit.




Yes. Even structuring a two-tier payment type implies central planning and the thought that some group of people in front of a whiteboard can choose best for others who they have never met.

Even if some people waste the money on drugs the net benefit is still higher. The person determined to waste whatever income, in whatever form, will do so. The person who just needs cash to make ends meet doesn't need ever changing rules and calcified structures to try and work around.

Just give everyone the money, including the entire buildings of people who follow around making up rules and then making sure the rules are followed.

Welfare by basic income can be run by a set of scheduled tasks in a server. It's sheer simplicity outweighs all other drawbacks. Add a flat tax rate to the income side of the ledger and shackles are really starting to fall off.


I don't see how this will get rid of the need to enforce fraud.

Such a system will still require systems to prevent multiple claims, ensure people aren't claiming for others and making sure people aren't claiming on behalf of dead people.

Sure you remove means testing, but that is only one part of it. The measures which will need to be in place will still require a lot of bureaucracy.


#1 One system, one set of rules, easier to administrate. Much like single payer healthcare systems have less fraud.

#2 Uniquely, correctly identifying every single person participating in the economy is currently being done by data aggregators like LexisNexis (nee Seisent), ChoicePoint, others. Basically a private (non govt) RealID. This could and should be a government function.


#1 Less fraud, but not no fraud.

#2 The system you describe is also bureaucracy.


Do you agree with the fact that UBI means less fraud and less bureaucracy? I can safely assume that you do. Attempting to reject solution by calling it imperfect is a strawman.


Nowhere in my posts did I seek to reject UBI. In fact, I am excited at the possibilities it may bring.

The claims made by davidgay are flawed and if UBI is a good policy, it should work despite those claims.

Making weak, unsubstantiated claims about anything is a good way of undermining it. My criticism here is to stop muddying of the waters and focus the discussion on the core arguments around how social protection should be done.

For a pretty balanced fictional treatment of a future with UBI I recommend James S. A. Corey's novel series "The Expanse" (now a SyFy TV show). Specifically, the novella "The Churn" deals with characters living in a society with universal basic income, and to a lesser degree "The Vital Abyss".


Thanks for clarifying, because I also interpreted your comments as opposition. (And out of step with your comment history.)

Thanks also for "The Churn" tip. I'm enjoying syfy's version.


One comment on higer taxes + UBI. This curve is interesting to think about, slowly ramping or fixed percentage? I prefer simpler when it comes to large scale concepts, but maybe it needs to ramp up and affect all income equally (long term capital gains as well).




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