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I'm working on a piece about universal basic income, and I have the following summary of the how I think that many tech people like yourself believe UBI is going to work:

1. Companies innovate by doing things more cheaply with automation than human workers can do them.

2. As a result of automation, the more efficient companies reap all the profits in a market as they drive the less efficient companies out of business (and the humans out of jobs).

3. This bonanza of profits that automation yields is taxed.

4. The taxes from the accumulated wealth of the winners -- wealth that, again, exists because the winning companies' machines were able to do things more efficiently than the losing companies' human laborers -- go toward paying the laid-off laborers a basic income.

Any I missing anything?




> This bonanza of profits that automation yields is taxed.

Optimizing companies will do everything possible to avoid the corporate taxes (>60%) required to make universal basic income a reality. If you are assuming that winning companies are the best at implementing automation and reducing cost, it is a fatal mistake to assume that they will suddenly become charitable when it comes to wealth redistribution - no, they will "win" because they optimize every single aspect of their balance sheets. They'll move their capital offshore where it will be taxed at a fraction of the US rate. They'll pay lobbyists to make sure tax loopholes stay open, and that the wealth accretes to the few at the top of the company who run the business. This is simply the nature of capitalism. If you allow a few companies to gain too much power, they will abuse that power. That is why we have a government that does an OK job of breaking up monopolies, creating anti-trust laws, regulating risk-taking, etc.

> taxes from the accumulated wealth of the winners...go toward paying the laid-off laborers a basic income

What about the people who never had a job? Those born into a society where they are not needed for labor? UBI for everyone creates a large misdirection of resources that perpetuates the problem of too many people, too few jobs, social unrest. We have solved this problem in the past through war, which stimulates the economy through government spending, reduces excess labor (especially young, angry, dangerous men), reignites nationalism and social cohesion (against a common and clearly evil enemy such as Hitler), and realigns national incentives towards R&D and infrastructure investment. I am not advocating for war, merely making an observation. Does UBI get distributed to everyone who is unemployed, or only those who are laid off from jobs?

I encourage you to examine the concept of "helicopter money" and study the incentive structures it creates and why we haven't truly implemented it before during tough economic times.


It is a job of the government to counteract destabilizing influences such as the wealth concentrating effects of technology and under-competition. As a foreigner living in the US, the US government honestly sucks eggs at it. Healthcare, banks, cable, broadband, cell phone service, Google, Apple, Microsoft... all classic antitrust cases across the board, waiting for an un-captured regulator.

If world governments continue to fail also at corporate tax, the current dystopic situation of regressive effective corporate tax rates through profit export will persist, and risks everything we have gained through capitalism and democracy.

I encourage you to read the definition of UBI. Universal means you give to everyone, from the homeless guy on the street, to Bill Gates. Not just laid off people. Also, your top-of-head speculations are not the best evidence available for its effects.


A Universal Basic Income is not necessarily paid to everyone, at least not directly. A UBI means a certain income level is guaranteed, if you are earning more than the guaranteed level, you may not be given anything in addition. This is most clearly demonstrated by one proposed implementation of UBI, namely, a negative income tax. A negative income tax would entail those earning below the guaranteed level being paid enough to raise their income to the guaranteed level. Those earning more than the guaranteed level are taxed.

Negative Income Tax is pretty much the only implementation of UBI I personally could get behind. I just wouldn't be able to support an implementation of a UBI that pays Bill Gates the same amount as a person born with a severe disability (which obviously they had no choice about being born with).


It wasn't Bill Gates' choice to be born without a disability. Honestly, I despise your opinion. Bill Gates pays so much more in taxes that a basic income would hardly matter to him. It's just part of his tax calculation: X% - UBI. It's nothing to us either. There aren't many Bill Gates out there. Also, in this way nothing needs to be measured. It's simply: Are you human? Here's your UBI. Do you have income? Here's how much you owe in taxes.

The system for everyone should be the same. It's simpler and more fair. Bill Gates deserves to know that if he lost it all tomorrow we would take care of him. We can make one system that ensures everyone is cared for. The sickly and the ambitious. I don't think we have the proficiency necessary to keep people from falling through the cracks otherwise. Maybe in very specific cases (like Bill Gates) but not at scale. There are disabilities that exist that we don't even know about yet.


I won't argue about definitions, except to say I am following [1], and suggest you do the same (because it is a use of words that matches their general meanings, not because it is there).

Unless taxation and reporting are made trivial (which is hard without giving up on privacy including cash), the poorest do not have the money or time to jump through hoops. Hence UBI, having the minimal requirements, will help the most of the poorest. This more than compensates for the (arguable, but I'll concede it) bug of giving some money to the rich as well.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income


>A Universal Basic Income is not necessarily paid to everyone, at least not directly. A UBI means a certain income level is guaranteed, if you are earning more than the guaranteed level, you may not be given anything in addition.

Well that is fucked up? They dont call it a "UNIVERSAL" basic income.

Yeah let's give a basic income to EVERYONE, EXCEPT ... that makes 0 sense. You just described wellfare really.

Universal or bust. Everyone or no-one imo. It's a universal basic income afterall. Not a conditional basic income.



> wealth that, again, exists because the winning companies' machines were able to do things more efficiently than the losing companies' human laborers

Losing companies also produce wealth, perhaps even more so, because e.g. they didn't spend enough on advertising. However, in this winner-takes-all economy, the losers have to give up.

All wealth does not exist only because of winning companies.


You're missing alternative opportunities created by 1, 2, and 3. For example, wage insurance, a negative income tax, or state-funded retraining.

You're also missing other big upside to UBI. For example, if people can be more sure that they won't be reduced to destitution if the quit there 9-5 to work on a passion project, they will be more likely to do that. More people taking more bets on passion projects means more opportunities for explosively successful companies.


It's likely that any cost advantage that the innovators have will be short lived as competitors follow suit or one-up them. Competition will erode the profit advantage and in the end, the consumers will benefit.

It would be interesting to see an analysis not just of automation and robotics putting pressure on employment, but the effect of same on consumer prices and cost of living.


UBI has to pay enough for health and dental insurance so in case something happens they can pay the bills.

If you pay a small amount of money to live on and they can't afford insurance and they get sick they can't afford the bills.

I myself am on disability and filed chapter 13 bankruptcy due to medical bills. It ruined my credit and now I have dental that doesn't cover my root and gum scalings and I have a cadaract forming in my left eye and can't afford surgery. I might even end up homeless as a result. I used to be a programmer until I got too sick and had to quit.

Disability is like basic income but it only pays what your FICA contrubuted to it. The more you pay into it the more you get if you become disabled.

Also working on challenges and projects mean nothing if you have no money to market them and get investors. Esp if you can't afford a good computer or a web server. Get stuck with cheap ones that are limited.




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