And then, towards the end where it starts looking at numbers, it starts saying things like
> But by excluding 45 million retirees who already receive a basic income through Social Security, the cost falls to $2.7 trillion. And if the benefit is phased out for households earning more than $100,000 (that would be 20 percent of the U.S.'s 115 million households, or about 70 million people, assuming three to a household), the cost declines to about $2 trillion. You could confine the program to adults and shrink the price tag even more, possibly to as low as $1.5 trillion.
Yes, you can reduce the amount paid out by making it not a universal basic income scheme any more. But that rather misses the point.
(The correct thing to say here is: Yes, a universal basic income sufficient to keep everyone out of poverty would be really expensive. Taxes would need to go up a lot, which would leave wealthier people less well off than they are now. If you don't want a large-scale redistribution of wealth, then you don't want a BI scheme sufficient to keep everyone out of poverty. But you might still want to consider a BI scheme that's not sufficient to keep everyone out of poverty, to simplify and to reduce poverty traps. No one would have to be much worse off then. But it wouldn't be enough for anyone to live on, and would still need supplementing by other safety nets.)
You get $700 / month from the government for basic income. Your social security, welfare, unemployment, disability, etc is reduced by $700 / month. Reducing all of those programs by the first $700 would effectively gut each of them enough to finally make some reforms without inducing panic in everyone who uses them.
If you were to implement the Fair Tax, which includes a stipend for basic needs, you'd get bipartisan support as well. The only difference is that you increase the stipend to the level of the BI.
For kids, you give the parents their basic income until they hit school age and then the BI goes towards funding their school. This would also enable people who wanted to utilize private schools a much easier choice by essentially becoming a voucher.
No loan could utilize the BI as security...except for student loans. That would allow driving down of interest rates as well as default aversion too. Payments could be automatically extract from the BI since student loans would finally be secured against something other that expected future earnings.
That said, agree with your main point that making BI deductible from [mostly] retained existing benefit entitlements is the least messy way of introducing it, but it also makes it more politically difficult since it's paid for purely by tax increases.
Now perhaps a consumption tax combined with a large capital gains tax and inheritance tax -- to keep taxes going in the oligarchs economy AND the regular economy, and prevent capital from being tied up between generations in the least productive way possible, then you might get some of them on board.
What about the tax of inflation that serves to redistribute wealth from savers to debtors? (middle class -> government)
Also interesting how you know better than others how they should arrange their financial lives. Would like to hear your thoughts on the "productive ways" the "oligarchs" could better deploy their capital.
The broader they are, the more likely liberals are to oppose them, and oppose expanding them. Replacing the progressive income tax system with something regressive isn't something that's going to get support on the left.
> Gas tax? Hugely regressive.
But very narrow.
> Wouldn't liberals support additional carbon taxes?
Many liberals support the concept of carbon taxes as a behavior control mechanism, but not as the main way of funding government, and many raise concerns about the regressive impact. But, with them, the goal is to limit the thing being taxed and fund efforts to improve our ability to avoid it, not be the primary funding method for government.
> Value-added tax?
Virtually all the support I've seen on this in the US is on the right (often competing against flat tax proposals.)
> What about the tax of inflation that serves to redistribute wealth from savers to debtors? (middle class -> government)
While the classical middle class (e.g., Marx's petit bourgeoisie) are net holders of assets, the "middle class" as the term is used in modern discussions in the US (which is largely the middle income segment of wage laborers) aren't really net savers.
With the goal of eliminating carbon use (and through this, eliminating the carbon tax), yes. The key understanding is that destroying the environment is a significantly worse problem than a regressive tax.
And destroying the environment also has a highly regressive impact; The impact on livability is not uniform, and people that can afford to relocate will have a much better time of it.
Apparently obesity and diabetes hit lower-income families disproportionally as well http://www.livescience.com/37923-type-2-diabetes-low-income-... (who would have thunk), but we can always create a government program to conduct more research on causes.
I will oppose a 'sugar' tax because I don't think the government should be deciding what foods I consume, especially when I think taxes should be for raising money.
I am aware it's not the full picture and I haven't explained it well but I hope I got a little bit of my view across.
What liberals aren't likely to support is replacing the current federal tax system with a consumption tax. Making it much more progressive and including a consumption tax alongside, they might, but probably not (just because that might look like what exists in some more leftish European states, there are path dependencies.)
So the proposal is to combine something like VAT with a basic income.
Doing that would cause low income people to have a negative effective tax rate (basic income exceeds taxes), low-middle income people to have a near-zero tax rate (basic income equals taxes), high-middle income people to have a moderate tax rate (taxes exceed basic income by a little) and high income people to have a higher tax rate (taxes exceed basic income by a lot).
In what sense is that regressive? It's the purest form of a progressive tax system. It even has a built in social welfare system for low income people.
The fallacy which is usually put up against this is that the super rich don't spend as much as they earn. The problem is, that's not how income tax works either. Bill Gates doesn't have to pay tax on the appreciation of Microsoft stock until he sells the shares and he doesn't have to sell the shares until he wants to spend the money. "Super-rich don't pay tax on money they don't spend" is the status quo.
And consumption taxes benefit debtors at the expense of creditors. Income tax makes the debtor pay back the debt with after-tax dollars. Consumption tax causes the creditor to be paid in pre-tax dollars.
Only if you ignore estate taxes...which FairTax eliminates.
For the rich (defined here as anyone with enough wealth that, if they don't spend it down, they will face estate taxes) they either have to realize the gains (and be taxed) and spend down or leave an estate which will be subject to estate taxes, giving them a maximum time window on taxation equal to their lifespan.
With "FairTax", which eliminates estate tax and goes to a strict consumption tax, there is no such maximum window.
> And consumption taxes benefit debtors at the expense of creditors. Income tax makes the debtor pay back the debt with after-tax dollars. Consumption tax causes the creditor to be paid in pre-tax dollars.
Because it also changes the cost structures on which debt is occurred, this only is meaningful as a one-time effect on debts that exist at the time of the transition to a predominantly-consumption-tax system, not as durable feature.
It would be if not for the "estate tax holiday" we have periodically which together with a bunch of other ways of avoiding the estate tax is why it only constitutes a negligible amount (0.6%) of federal revenue.
The fundamental problem with the estate tax is that it's a huge tax that happens with semi-unpredictable timing, which induces rich families to do estate tax planning to avoid having liquidity problems when it happens. But "estate tax planning" means paying fifty million dollars to tax lawyers and lobbyists to avoid paying a billion dollars in estate taxes.
In practice what it means is that rich families will do much more to avoid and lobby against the estate tax than they would against a tax that collected the same amount of money from them but more predictably over a longer period of time. Which makes it a losing proposition if your goal is to get the rich to pay taxes.
> Because it also changes the cost structures on which debt is occurred, this only is meaningful as a one-time effect on debts that exist at the time of the transition to a predominantly-consumption-tax system, not as durable feature.
It applies equally to the interest paid on the existing debt. And given that the total interest generally exceeds the principal (and exceeds it moreso for poorer people paying higher interest rates), the "one time effect" would be with us for a generation or more.
Well, yeah, it would be much simpler and more effective if inheritances were just taxed as income to the recipient with provisions allowing them to be split and recognized over several subsequent tax years (e.g., if the total inheritance received in any year is greater than 1/10 the pre-inheritance AGI, the excess can be recognized for tax purposes in subsequent years, with a minimum per year amount equal to the lesser of 1/10 the pre-inheritance AGI in the year received or 1/20 the total amount of the inheritance.)
I just want to make one glib comment here about liberals and regressive taxes.
The Northeast is generally thought of as the most liberal part of America (aside from coastal California maybe). So why is it that I've seen far more toll roads and bridges there than in any "red state"?
I think some liberals make some good points about regressive taxes, but in practice, it seems like the liberals who actually get to power just love them.
I sure don't think of the northeast that way. I see it as fairly conservative both in politics and business. One data point is that it wasn't anywhere in the northeast that first legalized weed. It was Colorado and Washington, followed by Oregon and Alaska. Another data point is that people wear jeans or shorts at work in Silicon Valley (or Socal, Oregon, Colorado, etc) whereas they're far more likely to be required to wear suits in the north east.
The northeast is very urban, which has some overlapping effects with but is still very different from actually being liberal. Change is mostly driven by the west. It's just that the change reaches the dense cities of the northeast more quickly than the rural areas in between.
But agreed, there's absolutely a huge difference between west coast liberals and east coast "liberals".
The marijuana issue is an interesting thing to look at too, when you compare to red-vs-blue state maps. The "liberal" northeast still hasn't legalized weed (not even Vermont), whereas Colorado was one of the first two, and CO is a rather purple state (CO Springs is a ridiculously conservative place), and Alaska is very much a red state, being the place that elected Palin governor. It really seems to come down to social libertarianism versus authoritarianism. The "liberals" in the northeast want to ban sodas for your health, whereas the liberals in the west want to legalize drugs.
Because the Northeast was also the most heavily developed area of the country before the Interstate Highway System came about with a funding system that made non-toll roads the norm for new limited-access highways (funding rules which have since changed, weakening the financial incentive against new toll roads.) Modern political orientation has little to do with it: outside the Northeast, the people trying to introduce toll roads where they haven't been in the past are conservatives, the people opposing them are liberals.
Then, when you realize that toll roads are correlated with population density, perhaps you could realize that toll roads are then only also correlated with politics of state, not caused by them.
For example: If liberals loved toll roads, then California, Oregon and Washington would be full of them. But only the NorthEast is, right?
So your hypothesis falls apart here anyway.
BTW, the population density of metro areas in California is higher than most places in the northeast.
Also how is taxing labor in any way liberal?
And for your last question:
1. What is your working definition of liberal(positive vs. Negative freedoms)?
2. Income tax taxes... Income. Not labour. Ideally not discriminating between capital and labour income.
The rates for long-run capital returns and dividends are such that they are very beneficial to owners of capital, and they like to keep it that way. The upper-middle class folks who are working have their labor and ordinary income taxed at increasingly higher marginal rates. The rich often fund demagogues who talk about handouts for the poor while ensuring that "progressive" tax rates remain high on their potential rivals who pay high labor taxes.
>1. What is your working definition of liberal(positive vs. Negative freedoms)?
Today, I think the word "liberal" means "someone who thinks that the poor should benefit at the expense of the rich, through government coercion"
>2. Income tax taxes... Income. Not labour. Ideally not discriminating between capital and labour income
Why tax income? Why not your bodyweight? Or height? Why not tax consumption? If the answer is "to punish those with high _incomes_" you are in violent agreement with the ultra-rich.
Consumption tax paired with a BI would significantly raise the offset at which it starts to affect people.
Things that hurt the middle class much worse than a consumption tax are an income tax that is a percentage and continually increases in that percentage until the percentage caps at the point that most people would call "incredibly wealthy" (IMO).
The perk to something like a Fair Tax is that it's also an economic solution to illegal immigration. If you're in the country, you're paying taxes. If you're legal, you're getting the BI/stipend. If you're illegal you are basically paying to be here. It guts a big portion of the cost argument.
A FairTax + Basic Income hybrid solution could solve a vast majority of hotly debated issues in this country.
Basic income is a conservative proposal (now gaining support among us liberals). My trog relatives are pimping the idea to me, a screaming pinko socialist hippie.
The conservation appeal, rationalization of BI is fairness. It lifts the floor for everyone, doesn't reward cheating, doesn't thwart personal initiative, etc. Being easier to admin is a bonus.
Uh, what? In general conservatives consider basic income as welfare/wealth redistribution and hate the very notion of it. Just because some of your conservative relatives like it doesn't make it a conservative thing, it's very much a liberal policy, not a conservative one.
"The idea isn’t new. As Frum notes, Friederich Hayek endorsed it. In 1962, the libertarian economist Milton Friedman advocated a minimum guaranteed income via a “negative income tax.” In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” Richard Nixon unsuccessfully tried to pass a version of Friedman’s plan a few years later, and his Democratic opponent in the 1972 presidential election, George McGovern, also suggested a guaranteed annual income."
Lincoln for example was a republican, but by today's standards he's a liberal. Basic income is a liberal policy in today's world, not a conservative one by any means. It is very much a liberal policy.
Completely aside from the other response, this point is just...wrong. The vast majority of hotly debated issues in this country are not hotly debated because people share a concern but are divided on the best way to address it, such that there is some policy solution that exists which could "solve" the issue. They are hotly debated because people disagree on the first principles of what goals we should seek, not the mechanics of how to address them.
As well as the obvious culture-war issues where this is the case, this is true of much of the immigration debate, many economic debates (where fundamentally clashing ideas of what constitutes "fairness" that should be sought exist), and so on.
That's not rebranding basic income to appeal to people on the right. That's rebranding "FairTax", a right-wing proposal, with fairly niche support on the right, despite a small group spending lots of effort trying to promote it, as basic income. Presumably, to gain some support on the left for FairTax. But Basic Income is also a fairly niche idea, and the people that do support it tend to have a fairly specific idea of the features they support and why, and not just be attached to the BI brand, so rebranding FairTax as BI probably won't get you support from left-wing UBI fans, for whom the tie to a progressive income tax is pretty central to their support (though there's probably some on the left who support UBI who would prefer moving to a Georgist Land Value Tax.)
There's nothing there getting you bipartisan support.
> Things that hurt the middle class much worse than a consumption tax are an income tax that is a percentage and continually increases in that percentage until the percentage caps at the point that most people would call "incredibly wealthy" (IMO).
How does that hurt the middle class? (And, incidentally, are we using middle class in the common modern media sense of middle income workers or are we using it in the classical sense of the petit bourgeoisie? Because it makes a pretty big difference in evaluating claims about what hurts them, and to how important that is -- how it affects the latter will, of course, vary from person to person.)
> The perk to something like a Fair Tax is that it's also an economic solution to illegal immigration.
No, its not. (OTOH, the 2001 and 2009 recessions, and the poor distribution of the gains between and after them, was an economic solution to illegal immigration. But a solution worse than the problem...)
> If you're in the country, you're paying taxes.
True without the hilariously misnamed "FairTax".
> If you're legal, you're getting the BI/stipend.
Without the "FairTax", if you can establish that you are legally present (and, for some of these, legally eligible to work, which aren't the same thing) you have access to a variety of public benefits, perks, and, well, the right to work that aren't available if you can't establish that.
This hasn't been true in decades. The people ("millionaires") who make ~150K/year pretty much spend all of it. It's the multi-millionaires and billionaires who make millions a year and don't spend that much, but those are the same people whose "income" is mostly unrealized capital gains. Switching to a consumption tax wouldn't materially reduce their taxes because they're not paying hardly any taxes as it is. (And getting rid of capital gains tax would increase economic efficiency because it currently prevents people from selling shares in order to buy better shares unless the advantage of the new shares can overcome the taxes due from selling the existing ones. Which would grow the economy and increase government revenue.) It's conceivable that a consumption tax would cause the super-rich to pay more taxes, because if you want the yacht you have to pay the tax, but there are currently a lot of tricks you can play to convert stock into stuff without paying tax, like selling only the shares that have decreased in value.
The best way to think of a basic income is as a fixed tax refund. A middle class person who pays $10,000/year more in taxes to fund a basic income and then gets the $10,000/year basic income it isn't actually any better or worse off than before.
Getting rid of capital gains tax to encourage reinvestment is kind of silly. Heck, you could tax capital gains as regular income, and still eliminate any drag on reinvestment by allowing deductions for investment so long as the investments for which such deductions were taken were treated as having a zero basis value.
> It's conceivable that a consumption tax would cause the super-rich to pay more taxes, because if you want the yacht you have to pay the tax
Not really. You just structure the transactions to avoid what is taxable, e.g., you buy the yacht at a low nominal price and simultaneously (and completely coincidentally) by some financial investment not subject to consumption tax from the same party at an inflated price.
Anyone who can avoid paying taxes on their income in an income tax system can avoid paying taxes on it in a consumption tax system. (If you have an "unconditionally tax every transfer of money between two parties" system, it gets harder, but that has all kinds of downsides.)
> but there are currently a lot of tricks you can play to convert stock into stuff without paying tax, like selling only the shares that have decreased in value.
Sure, if you only ever sell shares that have lost value, you can avoid paying the (low) capital gains tax, at the expense of always losing money.
That's not a way to maximize your net, after taxes, utility, but if you want to lose money just to avoid paying a small portion of the gain in taxes...
> The best way to think of a basic income is as a fixed tax refund.
I think you mean "fixed refundable credit" rather than a "fixed refund".
Which is a de facto consumption tax because it means you only pay tax when you sell securities without buying other securities, which you only do when you want to spend the money.
> Not really. You just structure the transactions to avoid what is taxable, e.g., you buy the yacht at a low nominal price and simultaneously (and completely coincidentally) by some financial investment not subject to consumption tax from the same party at an inflated price.
As opposed to the current system where you work for somebody for a low nominal wage and simultaneously (and completely coincidentally) they "sell" you a car for one dollar. Which in either case will get you prosecuted for tax fraud.
> Anyone who can avoid paying taxes on their income in an income tax system can avoid paying taxes on it in a consumption tax system. (If you have an "unconditionally tax every transfer of money between two parties" system, it gets harder, but that has all kinds of downsides.)
This is not actually that hard. You make the amount of the consumption tax based on the market value of the purchased item rather than the amount you nominally paid for it, with a presumption that the amount you paid is the market value, which the IRS can easily rebut when you're claiming the market value of a yacht is $20.
> Sure, if you only ever sell shares that have lost value, you can avoid paying the (low) capital gains tax, at the expense of always losing money.
It's not actually losing money. You invest in a diverse portfolio of stocks, some go up, some go down, some stay the same. When you want to spend some money you sell the stocks that have underperformed rather than the stocks that have performed well, which (at the risk of selling low) is plausibly what you want to do anyway, and then you pay no taxes because you realized no gains.
Even if all your stocks went up and by the same amount, if you want to spend 1% of the total assets then you still only pay tax on 1% of the gains because the rest of the gains are still unrealized. So it's already effectively a consumption tax as long as you can avoid changing what you're invested in.
Except that it's a consumption tax that taxes only the spending of interest (and earned income) but not principal, which seems to be to the benefit of people with more wealth.
With that said, the FairTax is bad for other reasons -- by concentrating all your taxation on something that's relatively easy to hide, you massively increase regulatory and compliance costs. Imagine the blooming industry in recharacterizing consumption purchases as investment purchases! (For the rich, "sufficiently advanced investment is indistinguishable from consumption".)
No, you wouldn't. Flat tax proposals and national sales tax proposals like the "FairTax", have support almost exclusively on the right (and each particular such proposal has minority support on the right.) You won't get bipartisan support for any of them.
The very rich spend less money relative to how much they make, which puts higher burden on the poor than with our progressive tax.
Flat fax is bad, because 40% of the guy making 20k per year is going to severely change quality of like. 40% from the guy making $40 million has much less impact on his quality of life. This is the whole reason for having a progressive tax... Impact of money on quality of life doesn't work on a linear scale, so neither should our taxes.
That's the missing element, not paying. As much as IN THEORY I agree with these ideas, in practice, rich people find all sorts of ways to not pay tax.
Most of the issue with support for Fair Tax is that it's enough of an overhaul that people believe it to be an unrealistic pipe dream, which is may well be.
One of the big perks of the Fair Tax is that it makes it easier for people to pay off debt and would actually encourage it. That gets a lot of support from many different angles.
No, it doesn't. Social security isn't a fixed amount, its based on prior earnings, adjusted by a wage index since the time they were earned, put through formula to get a base benefit amount in the year you start drawing them, and then inflation adjusted after retirement.
So calling a UBI "Social Security for everyone" does not, in fact, tell you what the benefit amount would be -- if the benefit amount is calculated anything like Social Security, the program is nothing like a UBI.
To be more specific, I'd set UBI at a level that everyone who is currently getting Social Security based on age would rather switch to getting UBI instead. Then I'd discontinue SS and call the UBI program "Social Security", and pretend that I didn't get rid of the entire SS program. Wrap that change up as a package deal along with taxes to fund it, and call it "Social Security for Everyone".
I thought the idea was that it be enough to live on.
What happens to Medicare under that scenario? Some medical procedures, particularly for old people, can exceed that.
Current federal government revenues top out at $3 trillion. Dividing it by a rough population number of 300 million (and ignoring the fact that portion of it comes from corporate income tax, excise taxes, etc.), the revenues collected stand at $10,000 a year a citizen. Distributing $8,400 a year back requires rather deep cuts to every single entitlement program and then some (defense, USPS, air traffic controllers, national parks, etc.)
In a system with UBI, we'd really need to have universal healthcare ("Medicare for all"). Someone making only the basic income isn't going to have any money for sky-high Obamacare premiums, and would likely be on Medicaid. But that whole system is a complete mess, with a lot of people unable to afford Obamacare because their state didn't expand Medicaid enrollment. And now with one of the biggest insurance companies pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges, rates are going to skyrocket even more. There's only two solutions to this: 1) repeal Obamacare and change to a system where people who have no insurance are denied healthcare and are left outside the ER to die on the street, or 2) universal healthcare.
The way politics are going in this country, I predict we'll see #1 before we see #2.
It seems like we currently have 2 buckets:
- living money for people who, for whatever reason, have no source of income
- publicly funded medical insurance
It doesn't seem totally unreasonable to classify medical expenses separately from routine living expenses.
The amount of spending in the routine-living-expenses bucket is enough to pay about $350 per month to each of the country's 320M residents.
I think a good proposal is to instate that $350 universal half basic income, replacing social security and unemployment insurance, and then reduce the minimum wage to $0. Even with the rise of a robotic workforce, just about anyone should be able to find work that will pay the remaining 350 if they're allowed to work for little enough.
Edit / Afterthought: No one currently receiving social security or unemployment will support this proposal because they are all receiving way more than that. More than 700/month, and certainly more than they need to survive.
What would work, I think, might be a phase-out: for anyone who's getting less in SS payments than the UBI, just replace their SS with UBI. For everyone making more, they don't get a UBI, they just keep drawing SS. (Or, you could say they get UBI plus the difference between SS and UBI.)
Then eliminate the SS portion of the FICA tax and stop everyone from paying into it going forward. Then there'll be some math involved in figuring out how much people who partially paid into it get, but the end effect is that SS will cost less and less money until finally everyone's aged out (to the point where the amount they'd draw is less than UBI so we can just cancel SS altogether). It'll cost a bit more in the short term to do it this way, but it's more fair to people who paid into the SS system and it won't get the AARP voting against you.
>Edit / Afterthought: No one currently receiving social security or unemployment will support this proposal because they are all receiving way more than that. More than 700/month, and certainly more than they need to survive.
Again, you'll have to phase it out. Unemployment is an insurance program that people have paid into, just like SS, so of course they expect it to be there if they need it. And it may (or may not, depends on the person and their income) pay more than they need to survive, but if they have a lot of expenses like a big mortgage then that's irrelevant. They've been forced to live in a society where having a job is basically required for survival unless you get on the dole (which prevents you from working, so it's a trap), so unemployment is something the society has created to mitigate risk.
But like SS, it could be phased out (and the taxation from that eliminated). It could probably be replaced with privately-run unemployment insurance though, but it wouldn't be as necessary with UBI.
But your $700/month sounds low to me. I know it's supposed to be a bare minimum, but even that seems too little to me to live on with today's rent prices. I do think the government has a responsibility to do something about that; rents have been driven up far too much by Wall Street, foreign investors, speculation, etc. UBI needs to be enough for someone to live on with roommates (and not more than 1 per bedroom at market rates), in an average cost-of-living area, plus reasonable grocery store bills and a bit extra to cover transportation costs. If it isn't enough for that, it won't work, and it needs to be jacked up until it is. If that means instituting a big tax on Wall Street, then so be it, since they're largely responsible for the cost of living being what it is.
But I also think a system that requires taxpayers to fund more than basic living expenses for non-taxpayers is unjust.
Everyone should be able to stay warm and dry, safe and clean, with a soft bed and a healthy diet. Anything beyond that is luxury.
- Just because you don't have enough income to pay your big mortgage doesn't mean others should have to pay so you can live in a massive house. Regardless of your previous income, you should sell it or let it be repossessed (and continue to live safely and healthily elsewhere). Otherwise you're asking people who live less extravagantly to fund your own extravagance.
- Likewise, many hardworking people take a roommate to save money. Should they have to pay for other people to live more extravagantly? There is nothing unhealthy or unsafe (in general) about sleeping in the same room with another person, or turning a room that fits 2 people into two smaller rooms.
I think in an average cost-of-living town in the US, you need 300 to 350 to rent a room (all to yourself!), 250 for groceries, soap, razor blades, etc. That leaves 100 or 150 to get around. Certainly not enough for a car or taxi rides. But I think just about everyone should be able to find a place within walking/biking/city-bus distance from the grocery store, though in some sprawly towns it might take a couple of hours to get there.
The definition of "luxury" changes over time. Today, you should include internet access in the list of basic needs since it is needed for many forms of social interaction.
A more normal number, I think is $50.
If you couple that with the fact that people with out income most likely need to share housing and might as well share in internet connection too, you're already down to $17 per month for broadband.
Also, you're assuming someone has internet service where they live and a stable enough situation to sign up for long-term service. I was thinking more like mobile internet service, which is how people in developing countries use the internet (and they don't pay the ridiculous monthly rates we do either).
Yes, they should. This is the way it is right now. That's how unemployment insurance works: you pay into it as you work, and then draw from it when you're unemployed. (Of course, a lot of people don't bother because it's a huge hassle, but that's beside the point.)
Do you also think that someone who has full insurance on their $90,000 Mercedes shouldn't get a full payout when someone crashes into it?
I do think that unemployment insurance (since it's a government program and not optional) should be phased out under UBI. But "phased out" is the key phrase here, just as with SSI.
>- Likewise, many hardworking people take a roommate to save money.
>Should they have to pay for other people to live more extravagantly? There is nothing unhealthy or unsafe (in general) about sleeping in the same room with another person, or turning a room that fits 2 people into two smaller rooms.
This is illegal. Most municipalities have codes which prevent more people from living in a place than a certain number, based on the bedrooms (usually 1 per bedroom, except with kids). And yes, I think asking people to have roommates (in the same bedroom) is going too far. Housing is this country is cheap: it's cheaply constructed, with cheap materials, and land is plentiful outside of downtown metro areas. There is absolutely no reason for rents to be as high as they are. Instead of trying to force people into unsafe living situations with strangers, the government needs to fix the housing problem. They're not going to do that as long as people like Hillary are in bed with Wall Street and allow speculation on residential real estate.
>I think in an average cost-of-living town in the US, you need 300 to 350 to rent a room (all to yourself!), 250 for groceries, soap, razor blades, etc. That leaves 100 or 150 to get around. Certainly not enough for a car or taxi rides.
This is what I'm proposing. If that's enough for someone to get by in an average location in the US, that's what the UBI should be set at. And $150/month for a car is actually doable: you can get a pretty decent used car for $5k, and if you're mechanically handy (buy tools at Harbor Freight) you can maintain it yourself for next to nothing, and then as long as your commute is short, and with liability-only insurance, the monthly cost for your transportation should be in that range, even better once you get the vehicle paid off (which you can do by doing some extra work for more money, then after it's paid off you can relax and not work as much or at all). But really, affording a car shouldn't even necessarily be part of it (though as I pointed out, if you're frugal and able to do your own maintenance, it's not that expensive; insurance might blow the budget though). There is public transit in places (though it mostly sucks and needs serious revamping; see SkyTran), and people at the minimum could just get by with a bicycle.
The whole point of UBI is so people can get by and not have major financial stress; it literally kills people, by shortening their lifespans. Sticking them in a room with some stranger and not allowing them any privacy at all is not the answer. So the UBI should be set so that they can afford to rent a room (the whole room), buy groceries, and have a little extra (maybe riding a bicycle) so they don't feel completely miserable, and then can go seek employment as they wish for more money.
I do think unemployment insurance and SSI should both be phased out, and maybe unemployment insurance can be a private matter instead, and I also think universal healthcare needs to be instituted. I also think the UBI should be the same for everyone; it's too complicated otherwise, and I don't think people who want to live in Manhattan or other high-rent areas should be given that luxury and funded by the rest of us (otherwise, we'll all move to high-rent locations). People living in high-rent places like that now with government benefits will have to move under UBI; too bad. If $700/month is enough to make all this work, then great, let's set it at $700/month.
If you were to implement the Fair Tax, which includes a stipend for
basic needs, you'd get bipartisan support as well
It's called the FairTax, and it would replace nearly all federal taxes with
a 30 percent national sales tax. That on its own is a regressive idea —
low-income people spend more of their incomes than the rich do, so would pay
a greater share of their incomes in sales tax — so the FairTax would give
each household a "prebate" equivalent to the sales tax they'd pay on
poverty-level spending. For example, in 2013 the FairTax "consumption
allowance" for a family of four (two parents, two kids) was $31,020. If you
spent that much money in a FairTax world, $7,135 of it would go to federal
sales taxes. So the FairTax provides a $7,135 annual rebate to families of
four, distributed monthly.
Make no mistake: this is a basic income. There is no work requirement. You
get it regardless of whether you make any money. It is a straight-up basic
income. FairTaxers object to this characterization, saying that because the
prebate is meant to compensate for taxes you pay on necessities, it's "your
money being returned to you." But if you live below the poverty level, you
come out ahead from the rebate. It's just a cash transfer program.
Prior to school it would allow parents to pay for daycare, diapers, food and subsidize paternity/maternity leave.
An 18 year old these days is still a child. Give them a couple years into the drinking age to get their bad decisions out of the way.
It is my opinion that this huge collective distrust towards youth is one of the biggest hidden problems of today's society. If it was up to me, kids would get a basic income from the age of 14.
It's not the children's fault, either. It's just a fact of the times. More schooling is required than before, and continuous schooling shelters people from having to make many real world decisions. It's easy to live a "don't care" lifestyle during college, only to be hit with reality hard once you graduate. I've personally experienced this.
There is a major difference in meltalities of someone who's been in school their entire life and someone who's been in the "real world" for a few years.
I'm not sure of your age, nor am I suggesting that it would have any negative impact on your perception here, but we seem to have different perceptions of the youth of today. I am 25 years old and I can only speak on my experiences.
And my experience shows that there's not much of a difference in maturity between an 18 year old senior in High School and a 22 year old Junior in college.
However, there's a huge difference between a 22 year old Junior in college and a 24 year old who's been working for a year.
In the end all society's have a baby-elder process with many stages. We let 15 year old's risk their and others lives driving multi thousand pound vehicles at 70+MPH. We keep prescription medication behind many additional hoops even for well educated 60 year old's.
IMO, the real difference is how much education people need. A 15 year old can dig a ditch just fine, but cancer research takes quite a bit more. In the end society simply values 15 year old's time less.
I don't see what's wrong with my stereotype in this case. Most people under 25 are not financially independent, and it's mainly due to the society we live in, not the children themselves.
When my Dad was growing up, people had full time jobs at 16 years old and were married with kids by 25, where as today, the average person doesn't even graduate college before 23.
I'm not blaming the children for that.
First of all, you are in fact wrong. The majority of young adults do in fact live independently. 
Second of all, if you think that adulthood isn't reached until 25, why would you be advocating for reinforcing this supposed infantilization?
 http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/07/29/more-snake people-living-with-family-despite-improved-job-market/
Um, has that url been through this?
[How very convenient that the cutoff of adulthood is your own age]
I chose the number 25 because it is usually a few years after most people have graduated college and have entered the work force. The number 25 is used in many places as a "special" age. Insurance companies, rental car companies, hotel bookings, etc...
[you're going to insult vast numbers of functional adults, at least insult yourself in the process. Silly child.]
I don't know about your peers, but from my graduating class of ~1000, I would guess there were less than 100 who were completely independent by 23.
[First of all, you are in fact wrong. The majority of young adults do in fact live independently.]
I'll do some research on that.
By that measure, I reached adulthood two weeks short of my 25th birthday. That, of course, was when I was laid off for the first time, just after signing a year-long lease on a new apartment.
That's probably just coincidence, though. I'm sure that many people realized the real world sucks earlier than I did.
I eventually ground out night classes while working and job-hopped my way into industrial automation and a halfway comfortable life, so I understand the appeal of passing judgement from a high and mighty place - but don't. It's a particularly pernicious intellectual weakness.
Most people at the age of 23 are not in a position to support themselves yet, which is kind of off-topic w.r.t my original point anyway.
The fact that there are people like you who were able to work hard and make good things happen at a young age doesn't nullify the fact that the average 23 year old is still dependent on their parents.
This can be learned at any age (as pointed out by my comment about my Dad working at the age of 16). However, many people today are not exposed to these types of desicions until after they get done school, which is usually at the age of 23.
An outlier can't be treated like the center of a distribution. Your own experiences don't mean that most 18 year olds aren't still children. It's not like the government is going to start maturity-testing people to decide when to start dispensing a basic income. They're more likely to test a "representative population" and set the age to the point where 2/3 test as "adult", or use one of the traditional age-cutoffs like 18, 21, or 25.
My main point is that a few years should go by after a child enters into the adult world before they have access to a fund left for them.
There's usually a short "reckless" period immediately after graduating high school and college. However, this usually calms down after the initial shock of having sudden freedom wears off.
I have two friends who inhereted $20,000+ sums of money from relatives when they were in their late teens, and both of them pissed it away in under a year. Looking back, both of them seem to regret it.
(Me and my friends are all around 25 years old).
Would they have learned that lesson without making that mistake? Are you even sure they really wouldn't do the same again?
To quote Time, "About 70 percent of people who suddenly receive a windfall of cash will lose it within a few years, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education."
Just to make the anecdotes match the statistics, I inherented roughly 30k. It remained in my education fund until I finished undergrad. At 22, I opened an investment account. It's been paying dividends for the better part of a decade now.
It's hard to say. However, I think one really learns the value of money after having been in the work force for a while. I think that experience may have had a positive impact on their decision making had this happened later on in their life.
[To quote Time, "About 70 percent of people who suddenly receive a windfall of cash will lose it within a few years, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education."]
I believe it. But I also believe that the likelyhood of making good financial choices increases with some time spent in the work force. In this case, they had been living a nice lifestyle under their parents when they received the money.
[Just to make the anecdotes match the statistics, I inherented roughly 30k. It remained in my education fund until I finished undergrad. At 22, I opened an investment account. It's been invested in the TSX60 for the past 6 years now.]
You are also on hackernews, a website which consists of generally well-educated people. I'm not trying to sound snotty here, but there's a good chance that you have better judgement than most people.
Perhaps you should consider using that as your criteria rather than discriminating based on age. I'd still disagree, but that policy would deprive fewer people than your current proposal.
> But by excluding 45 million retirees who already receive a basic income through Social Security, the cost falls to $2.7 trillion.
These retirees can be excluded from the calculation because they are already being paid, they wouldn't add any additional cost to the system.
Theoretically the system could be justifiably stopped at any second and simply drained by the current pensioners (which would probably happen almost instantly). But good luck explaining that to people raised under the false assumption that the public pensions are "safe" (as politicians like to announce so frequently).
Our best bet would probably be "universal basic income for everyone below retirement age" but pensions are "topped up" to parity with basic income. A not-insignificant portion of pensioners already gets pensions below social security levels (meaning it is topped up to social security levels -- not that they get welfare on top). You could then fade out the pension system and replace it with basic income.
Once a system like that is in place, it's very hard to stop the pipeline.
I honestly don't see the purpose of that type of system either.
Why create this pipeline of money anyway? Why not just take the contributions that everyone makes and put them into individual retirement accounts?
Assuming the system is stable (which it's probably not), it seems there would be virtually no difference between me paying for the current retirees (and expecting my children to pay for my retirement) vs. me paying into my own retirement.
I'm not too familiar with these concepts, so maybe someone will school me.
Because after WWII, there were no retirement accounts in Germany (simplified and not completely correct, but you get the point). Should they have let old people starve?
It seems you're now stuck with a program that was designed to address a problem of 70 years ago.
I'm especially curious about the history of Social Security in the USA. I can read about this on my own time, though.
It does seem like it was a tool used for polotical gain.
The reason that it's not done that way is three-fold:
(a) People's contributions are not enough to cover their social security. Instead, they depend on the current workers paying in more than the previous generation did (in a perpetual cycle).
(b) Liberals oppose the idea of personal responsibility. If you don't save any money for retirement, they think society still has an obligation to fund your retirement.
(c) It's a benefit which goes to old people and old people vote a lot.
In reality, it's just a cleverly marketed way of stealing money from the youth and giving it to old voters.
In fact, most liberals I know are very much about personal responsibility - including towards society and the environment.
Wealth transfer is not necessarily a bad thing.
Also, the pay-as-you-go systems allows the politician to hand out money straight away. Making the programs instantly popular and entrenched.
First, SS is universal rather than means tested in order to garner enough support to keep it in place. It's ridiculous that someone with millions in assets will receive a relatively small SS payment each month once they turn 70, but if the system had any decision making in it, it would eventually be gutted by those who "only want it to go to the deserving", with all the misty, hoop-jumping etc that you get with welfare assistance. Essentially money is wasted on the wealthy in order to make sure those who really need it get it.
Second: "they paid into the system" is deliberate propaganda. We all "pay into the system". Dollars are fungible -- one marked "social security" on your paystub is no different form the one marked "federal income tax" any more than the electrons in your GPU are the same as the ones in the CPU. And we are entitled to the benefits of air traffic control, food safety, schools etc. And in practice the SSN money does work that way: how do you think it's "invested"? It buys government bonds.
It's a cumbersome fiction, with rich kabuki elements (I myself appreciate the wasteful "statements" that some idiotic congressman decided should be sent to every recipient). Claiming you paid for it so you were entitled to it was a clever idea.
This crazy system arrived because the model people had was private pensions; many people didn't or couldn't invest in them so the Roosevelt administration developed "a pension fund for everyone" in the face of stiff opposition. It was very similar to the difficulty of implementing Obamacare: the whole ludicrous infrastructure was designed to bring insurance companies into the system rather than sit beside them. So SS is much more efficient than Obamacare because the opposition wasn't as effective back in the early 1930s.
This whole "you paid for it" scheme has other pathologies as well: the tax is regressive. The people who need it pay a higher proportion of their income than the people who don't. That's just cruel.
Imagine if you put money into your 401k, and then the government came along and decided that you didn't need that money so they just took it all away from you. Do you believe THAT would be OK?
Because if SS is a retirement system, that's effectively what the government would be doing.
I described why it was advertised that way and it is operated to resemble that, but that is not in fact how it operates.
In fact I do think it is ludicrous that the US government will pay me SS money when I get old, even through I certainly won't need it. But I am glad they will do so because people have a screwed up model of how things work, so if they have to pay a bunch of people who don't need it in order to make sure those who do need it get their money, well, it's worth the cost. But what a waste. How much better not pay Bill Gates an SS payment and give it to someone else who needs it more?
You should be more outraged that a huge chunk of your taxes is wasted on beating up random people in other countries rather than fixing the bridges or giving it to people who are suffering. You should be more outraged that you are told that ISIS is some sort of existential threat to the republic, which is of course absolute nonsense.
How about the fact that the US created and underwrites all the "conforming" mortgages (i.e. essentially all of them outside a few pockets like the Bay Area and Manhattan). Another program from the 1930s that is taken for granted today with a cover myth a private mortgage market.
Look, I'm no flat-earther, gold-standarder, or conspiracy theory loony. I am hugely in favor of SS payments, welfare, Obamacare, FDA, etc etc -- in fact I think they should be stronger. But if you read history and some of the original debates and documents from the Roosevelt administration it is clear they are good medicine wrapped in a sugar coating of fakery in propaganda in order to get them implemented.
No it isn't.
> The money you put into SS is used to pay the benefits of the people drawing on it today.
That doesn't make it a pyramid scheme.
It is not being set aside for me to use when I theoretically begin to draw Social Security in the future.
Because it is. What you're missing is what the word entitlement means. They paid into the system, they are entitled to get those checks, i.e. they have a right to it. Calling it an entitlement is not an insult.
You are entirely correct.. but I think you're missing the point.
Think of that first description as the marketing pitch to the general public. By saying it is universal and "free" to administer, it gets people behind it who don't think through the consequences.. which is a large chunk of the target audience. They are also the people who could put amicable politicians in power and keep them there.
But a "no-strings-attached" basic income would force politicians to give up the one thing they desire more than anything: power. So the second description with the actual mechanics of it, is for those people who actually get to administer the "free" program and tie their strings to groups, situations, and behaviors they want to punish or promote.
I am as free market as they come and find myself intrigued by the UBI... but the thing that prevents me from supporting it is that politicians and political systems DO NOT give up power so the "we can get rid of everything else" line is obviously a lie.
I tend to think the exact opposite is true: a universal basic income is conceivably one of the most massive power grabs imaginable.
If this comes to pass in America, you're going to have a large chunk of the population COMPLETELY dependent on the government's teat. And ultimately, a population that's dependent on the government for their means of survival (even if its spun as "no strings attached") is indirectly under total political control.
You won't, without substantial productivity improvements, because economics; UBI at any level that would, in the short term, make people willing to accept it and not seek outside income will rapidly lead to inflation from the increased cost of labor from the mass workforce exodus, rendering it no longer adequate to such lavish support.
In the long-run, with massive improvements in productivity and automation, sure, its conceivable that a well-designed (I mean this in terms of sustainability and stability) UBI could eventually result in a large portion of the population relying on it for their main source of income, but that's essentially a post-singularity economy by that point.
However, I think it will be nearly impossible to succeed in spinning it is "no strings attached" unless everyone really can continue to exercise all of their current rights (to free speech, to the democratic process, etc) without losing the benefits.
You make it sound like the state will be able to say "Don't speak in opposition to our policies or we'll let you starve". I'm skeptical.
The 'amount' of money in the system stays the same and therefore inflation stays the same.
Also, at least recently everyone has been talking about how inflation is too LOW not too high.
Now obviously, if what you have isn't actually a free market but an oligopoly with government protections, price fixings etc., this won't work. You'll have some of these problems in some markets, but that would just have to be next thing to concentrate on.
Yes you can save money by cutting these programs, but that argument doesn't add up for me yet because you still have to pay EVERY person in the country. (or is it every adult)
A flat tax (or even just a decrease in progressivity) directly works against the purpose of adopting a UBI.
EDIT: Changed "all" to "most"; I've definitely seen right-wing proponents advocating varieties of UBI + Flat Tax schemes and UBI + National Sales Tax schemes, which are not funded by progressive taxes; also added the note about no-new-funding programs.
I have seen some proposals involving replacement of taxation generally with a flat tax coupled with a UBI - sold specifically as being able to still produce an overall progressive curve with the simplicity of a flat tax. While I think those are both positive things, I find this oversold - most of the complexity of taxation has little to do with brackets, and while the resulting curve is progressive it is only a particular family of curves and it's plenty possible that the optimal curves (by whatever metrics we assign) are not in that family.
I have seen some proposals that involve a progressive increase in taxation; these have been (in my recollection) fewer and less detailed than the first category - mostly, I expect, because they are a bit harder to analyze.
> your next dollar earned still means more money in your pocket at any point
This is critical as well, I've known people who get trapped in welfare because they are so far into it that going to work isn't really advantageous.
Thanks for your input!
In this sense, it can be seen as an application of the DRY principle.
Actually you can pay for it. Exactly because any regular ordinary person can pay for it. Exactly because abundance is inherently free. (For the rest of the comment I'll redefine the label "you" to be one single ordinary person who wants to make a basic income happen IRL.) 
Abundance is free because it defeats the fundamental condition required for a scarcity-allocating market. That fundamental condition is: there is not enough for everybody. For example, try selling stray kittens in a neighborhood overrun with stray cats. No scarcity, no market price. In contrast, basic income requires abundance otherwise you have no business trying to universally share something you don't have enough of. Everybody can't have formula one race cars and red bottom heels. So just to be explicit:
With a universal basic income, you should only seek to share only those things you have in abundance. And since abundance is free, you are merely
**seeking to share free shit**.
B) You give the tiny house to a handy builder-type who redirects the savings in rent towards spending more time building, you guessed it, more tiny houses. You use the remaining $10K to cover materials for the initial THOWs that the builder builds from scratch.
**Zero net cost** (nee Shit's free yo!)
tl;dr($tl;dr) Because abundance cycles
 precedent https://www.reddit.com/r/BasicIncome/comments/3m8x3d/hey_guy...
If by year 10 the economy still functions as desired, we keep UBI. Otherwise we taper it off again.
Otherwise, it will be nearly impossible to taper "off" in the event of a failure.
It's easy to start giving people money that they never had, but once they have a taste, it's going to be hard to take it away.
You can't dismantle those until you're at the 90+% range of any reasonable UBI payout.
For what it is worth, I don't think anyone sane would have kids to get money. In fact, you couldn't pay me to have children and raise them. I know what a shitty brat I've been and I'm sure if God or karma exists, I'll get an equally shitty child or worse I'll make a very shitty parent. (Parents: yes, people without kids also have nightmares about fucking up as parents)
Thankfully though many if not most people want children even though it makes no sense. This is good for me because these are the kids who will build and maintain roads, hospitals, and electric lines when our generation can no longer walk without a cane.
I don't think we need to encourage people to have many children. Those who want multiple children should find alternate ways to fund their lifestyle.
Edit: I assume above that basic healthcare for everyone exists with $0 out of pocket even if it is some couple's 99th child.
It's well cemented in the public consciousness as a result, so you'll see it trotted out whenever monetary benefits are proposed to help children.
No idea at all how to do that though.
Man, that kept me up many a night before my kid was born! She turned out to be amazing, though. Definitely didn't get it from me.
We had to rely on EBT (food stamps) and Medicaid when she was little and we were both in college. Medicaid was amazing, at least for someone who couldn't afford to go to a doctor for a decade or more beforehand, but besides that perk the welfare benefits for having a child basically balanced out the increased costs of raising one. Can't say how well this would scale with n+1 kids though.
I see you haven't met my mother. Count yourself lucky.
Those people exist – there's some quite generous child benefit programs in some EU countries, and the math seems to be simple –, but they're far more rare than the "OMG WELFARE PARASITES" would want you to believe. (And in many cases child protection agencies intervene and get the kids off to safety, because as it turns out, people using kids as money presses tend to have a screw loose or five.)
And honestly, I don't see the problem. People get kids for all the wrong reasons, people abuse their kids for all the wrong reasons; that won't get significantly worse. At the same time, fewer kids will grow up in crippling poverty and have their lives ruined before they turn 10 because their parents can't afford to give them any useful education outside the bare minimum provided by public schools.
Having children for financial benefits is a real thing.
It's not just something people accuse the poor of for the purpose of hate (although it is commonly used in such a way).
It's usually not as direct as "let me have this kid so I can get my rebate check", but it's certainly a consideration for many people who are poor. The mentality is more along the lines of "I can't make it by myself, but as a family, we might be able to sustain ourselves".
Most people are aware that it will probably end up costing them more in the long run, but people do crazy things in desperate times.
Edit: yes, I do, but I am unsure if it will stand the test of Hacker News readers :)
What I've picked up from 'rule-making' so far is that rules in general are OK for 80% of the users. It's the 20% that is the exception (to the rule) and that requires additional rulings. And then the problem starts: of this 20% again only 80% is fixed by the extra rule, so more rules are needed. Then the third rule to fix things actually allows some to profit extra, so... well, you get the idea. Wherever there are rules, some people suffer, and fixing it breaks things...
You're seeing pitfalls in rolling this out, that's great, we can fix those. But saying it shouldn't exist at all (like many commenters are in this thread) because of potential problems here and there is nothing but defeatism.
If you don't like it, attack it at the principal. If you do like it then let's make it happen. None of this in between bullshit.
It is not just money for formula. WIC has a potential to be so much more to new families. I know I sound hypocritical now but I'd like to think of it as being practical. Sorry, I'm not very articulate.
Edit: my mother had me checked - I am not insane. Anyway: while you are right that keeping two unhappy people together might be much worse than them splitting up, I can imagine that a big organisation like the church (any church) will be a force opposing this idea once they figure this one out.
Might as well make divorce illegal again. After all, something nicer might come along.
If the only thing holding your marriage together is needing to pay the bills or a judge, being forced to stay together only serves to make people like you feel righteous.
Your comment makes me wonder about what other unhealthy ideas about relationships you want to force upon others. Perhaps you should spend less time on r/MRAs and r/TheRedPill.
> So with everyone getting free money, including the children, there is no need for a father to take care of the family when he decides to diforce, right?
Having to pay child care costs and alimony above the poverty line are things that exist now and will have reason to exist even if a BI is implemented.
Is a family that's only together for the money worth keeping around?
It certainly would mitigate the social harms caused by deadbeat abandoning parents, but since neither child support nor alimony are currently limited to the amount necessary to provide basic survival necessities, a UBI mature enough to provide basic necessities would not seem to be a basis for eliminating existing child support and alimony provisions.
Obviously, even with existing formulas, the fact that more of the family's income wouldn't be leaving with the prime breadwinner would reduce the amount of support and alimony orders.
> So marriage will no longer be a bond forever
Marriage, in the US, is only a "bond forever" now to the extent that the parties decide to make it one; divorce is readily available, and frequently chosen.
Honestly, I'd rather see families split up, if by "split up" you mean "find independence from someone with whom you do not want to spend your life". There's levels here- children are a responsibility that someone needs to shoulder (and emphatically not just Mom), but if the alternative right now is being trapped economically in an emotionally traumatic relationship, that's not good either.
There shall be no back pay. If you could have gotten basic income but didn't accept it last year, you can't get that money this year. (You might still get this year's distribution.)
For "true" criminals, I believe that's economically fair, but it raises terrible questions about incentives for the guy caught with a joint.
As soon as you give people as little as 100$/month you will see some people tweeting about all the tricks they found to make it enough. Of course it wont be enough to bring most from poverty and those who can live off that will often start off some possessions, but the goal is to lower the bar of entry into that situation.
Only under these conditions can we transition from the bullshit-job economy we have and make sure that the general automation of production will benefit most instead of a few.
Does anyone advocate giving it to everyone?
What about children? Does a child get the same as an adult?
What about non-citizens who are in the nation legally?
What about non-citizens who are in the nation illegally?
What about citizen children of non-citizens who are in the nation illegally?
There are consequences to saying yes to any of these we need to think through, but perhaps more importantly, is there even a chance of passing some of these (could you imagine the Republican attack on answering yes to either of the last two?).
[What about children? Does a child get the same as an adult?]
Yes, but the funds are stored in an account and are inaccessible to them until a certain age is met (or they qualify as an independent, similar to how the FAFSA (doesn't) work).
[What about non-citizens who are in the nation legally?]
[What about non-citizens who are in the nation illegally?]
[What about citizen children of non-citizens who are in the nation illegally?]
> What about children? Does a child get the same as an adult?
Maybe; if so, the child's allotment goes to the legal guardian (and, like the guardian's own UBI, is treated as income for tax and other purposes), but you also eliminate child-care related tax deductions and credits.
> What about non-citizens who are in the nation legally? What about non-citizens who are in the nation illegally?
I would lean toward saying citizens and legal permanent residents (green card holders) get UBI. Others do not (note that this includes non-immigrant work visa holders, like H-1Bs), though in the odd case of a non-UBI-eligible (but legally present) parent with a UBI-eligible child, the parent would be eligible to draw the child's UBI, just as a parent with their own UBI eligibility with a UBI-eligible child would.
> What about citizen children of non-citizens who are in the nation illegally?
That's...trickier. My preference would be that the citizen child would get an allotment, but that the guardian would have to normalize status to draw that allotment. The details of that are more for a discussion of immigration policy than UBI policy though.
An even trickier question is non-resident citizens, and particularly non-resident U.S. citizen children of non-resident non-citizens.
But, the big problem is the idea that the UBI should initially be sufficient to lift everyone out of poverty. The immediate goal should be to have a UBI which reduces poverty and addresses the fact that capital increasing takes the reward of economic growth, rather than it being broadly distributed. The long-term goal should be to displace and go beyond existing means-tested anti-poverty programs in lifting people out of poverty, but the best way to do that is to build a system that grows naturally.
As an example: eliminate preferential treatment of capital income in income taxation, maintaining otherwise general structure of the existing progressive income tax system, and set aside a portion of the total income tax revenue equal to the initial increase in tax revenue for the "Common Welfare Fund".
90% of the new money in the fund is distributed as UBI by equal division among qualified recipients (e.g., all citizens and LPRs, if that's the group defined to receive the UBI), the remainder is retained as a stabilization fund (with returns on the stabilization fund treated as "new money" in future years, and rules providing for some distribution from the stabilization fund to current benefits to reduce calculated benefit declines.)
Each year, reduce the actual minimum hourly wage from its nominal level (which I'm presuming gets inflation-indexed before this) by 1/2000 of the annual UBI level (for wages covered by overtime mandates, the minimum overtime wage is calculated first, and then reduced for the UBI) -- over time, the UBI displaces the minimum wage.
Other (e.g., means-tested) benefit programs aren't directly eliminated (immediately), but income from the UBI is treated as normal income for both income tax and benefit calculation purposes, so (assuming economic growth such that real tax revenues pre capita increase faster than inflation), even with eligibility criteria indexed for inflation, growing UBI will reduce the proportion of the population eligible for any such programs, eventually to 0 as the UBI crosses the maximum threshold for each program, allowing the programs to be retired.
If you consider as a method to introduce an income floor it makes sense. At 100k+ I really don't need any sort of basic income. A senior citizen getting paid social security is already getting the money out of that bucket (arguably that bucket should be phased out and everyone should be entitled to their basic income instead, perhaps with extra breaks for seniors).
I really don't support just giving out 30k a year to everyone. I can see the logic in giving out money to get everyone to that level (or whatever sensible number). I also think it's sensible to say that the benfit doesn't just go away if you start a job making 35k a year, but it does start to reduce as your income goes up. This gives you an incentive to work, even if your job isn't that high paying, but makes the program cheaper by not giving out money to people who really don't need it.
Basic income is known to create a large disincentive for work. In previous experiments (Mincome) labor supply dropped by about 10% - double what happened during the great recession.
This means that fewer working mothers can find child care, fewer laborers to mow your lawn, fewer nurses, fewer teachers, etc. No matter how much money you give to people, fewer services provided makes us all become poorer. That's simple arithmetic.
First of all, even if the people in positions like this were only working for sustenance and UBI provides it for them, it doesn't mean some wouldn't want to continue working to make even MORE money. UBI is a baseline, not welfare. If previously a lawn mowing job was only enough for rent and food, maybe now with UBI it'd be enough for rent, food, and the occasional dinner and a movie. Ain't nothing wrong with that.
But you're right, at least some people would definitely completely exit the work force. Well, that just means the salaries of the rest would go up. Simple economics. Does that mean that some working families can no longer afford to pay a new immigrant bottom dollar to mow their lawn and instead have to pitch in themselves? Maybe so. Is that so bad.
Okay, you say, but what about those working mothers that are barely making enough money to be able to afford the most basic child care while they make their income? Good news - UBI also helps THEM too so either they no longer need to work if all they're doing is getting by to keep a roof over the child's head, or they have enough extra to pay for the increase in child care.
I'm not saying "don't worry about, it'll all sort itself out". This is a very complex policy with millions of consequences to our societies - intended and unintended. A lot of research must be done, and also experimentation. But to say that with UBI everyone would be worse off is ridiculous bordering on propagandistic.
As costs for services go up, costs of products go up as well. For example, if I'm in the beer business, and the cost for me to bottle a single beer is $.10 per bottle on my assembly line. If labor costs increase under UBI to double that ($.20/per bottle) (because cheap labor is now harder to find), I must increase my sale price by at least the same or go out of business.
Now somebody buying my beer has to pay $.60 more per six-pack, potentially wiping out that fraction of new income UBI was providing them.
The government could come in and say "the price of beer may not increase at all" and set some kind of price control. So now I need to cut $.60 of cost somewhere else in my product.
But wait, it gets worse!
Bottling isn't the only cost for me to make and sell my beer.
- Grain harvest is more expensive - increasing my cost
- Transport costs are more expensive - increasing my cost
- Blank bottles are more expensive - increasing my cost
- Brewing is more expensive - increasing my cost
and so on...
So to prevent inflation I have to cut costs everywhere else. Cheaper glass, worse grain quality, worse brewing methods, worse water supply, and so on. If I can't balance the cost equation I simply go out of business, decreasing the supply of products in the economy and increasing unemployment.
In effect, nobody gets paid more because everybody gets paid more, which drives up prices, which is the definition of inflation. If inflation is artificially capped by price controls, then product quality either goes down, or I go out of business.
It's basic economics.
Sounds more like fantasy than economics.
> AND it will decrease so substantially that all markets will have to increase prices to a 1:1 ratio with the new UBI.
No, all money will devalue with the increase in supply and increase in labor costs. That's pretty basic economics.
They will, and I never said they wouldn't. The problem with your "theory" is that they are going to decrease at a 1:1 ratio with increase in labor costs from the UBI resulting in an overall "0 gain" from the UBI.
> No, all money will devalue with the increase in supply and increase in labor costs. That's pretty basic economics.
True, but that's not the argument you are making. You are arguing that nobody will be better off because the decrease in available labor will be entirely offset by the increased costs in goods/services based exclusively off of labor losses from the UBI.
That is a nonsensical argument. There is ZERO evidence to support it. The overwhelming likelihood is that the price goods will increase, but no where near enough to offset the UBI. The remaining difference in the economy will come from wealth redistribution.
Actually, I never said 1:1 ratio with UBI. I just claimed the labor markets would decrease and monetary supply would increase.
> True, but that's not the argument you are making.
No, that's exactly and precisely the argument I'm making. I'm not an opponent of UBI for wishy washy wealth redistribution reasons, but because of the lousy labor markets it would create and the inflation it would create.
The models for what would happen under UBI are not clear, but there are not positive economic models under a UBI scheme by major economists.
UBI proponents have failed to provide any model whatsoever and fall back on vague handwaivy feelings that seem to always only show extremely positive outcomes with no possible negatives and a reliance on magic automation technology that doesn't exist.
But that is what you said:
> In effect, nobody gets paid more because everybody gets paid more, which drives up prices, which is the definition of inflation.
Emphasis is mine. That's a pretty clear indication that they will entirely offset each other.
Fact is, labor is not 100% of the cost.
If UBI makes HALF of the worforce quit -which is not very likely- salaries wouldn't go up 100%. So it's not a 1:1 ratio.
The potential for number 3 is the reason I think UBI is a macroeconomic necessity. Currently, our monetary system is based almost entirely on debt; only if that debt (private+public) grows is there an incentive to invest and further grow the economy. When the country and its citizens reduce their debt load, the currency deflates, which distinctivises investment and growth---a depression. With UBI, we could potentially replace this system with a much more stable and robust one, while simultaneously eliminating poverty and poor working conditions.
Capital gains taxes only occur if money is made from investments, and there's lots of wonderful ways to show losses or get around that kind of tax system by reinvesting or working the books over to show losses.
You don't want to tax asset ownership too much, because then you'll be taxing people's stock and bond ownership and their retirement accounts and it produces a disincentive to invest in businesses that would need that money to produce the kind of automation revolution that would make UBI work (your #2). A great many assets also only have value and not intrinsic worth. For example, Donald Trump is on record saying that he believes his personal fortune can vary by billions of dollars on any given day given how he "feels" about his brand image. We all know about VC valuations. Do we tax paper billionaires who are pulling down $100k in real income? How can they possibly pay that?
Consumption taxes have been demonstrated to have an outsized impact on the poor.
and so on.
A notion that "well we'll just close all the tax loopholes to make UBI work" is quite frankly a fantasy.
I agree that UBI would stabilize boom bust cycles, but it's not clear that that's a desired end-state. Boom cycles are often when major innovation happens.
e.g. When the Fed raises and lowers rates, it's using inflationary models to inform that decision. With a desired goal of sustainable and controlled minor inflation.
An amazing amount of work is not mindless factory work.
Yes, it's bad because now we are all poorer. We have fewer goods and services to go around. The fact that salaries (paper) go up doesn't change this fact.
Okay, you say, but what about those working mothers that are barely making enough money to be able to afford the most basic child care...
I'm referring to highly productive women who should be designing self driving cars, automating business processes, and other such valuable things. Instead they are stuck at home changing diapers.
We, as a society, lose the value of their output.
This is absolutely true in a free market with no labor distortions (BI, tax, etc). However, we already live in a world with distortions (taxes, welfare, regulations) that drive a wedge between economically optimal and actual choices. How would adding an even bigger wedge help?
Also, due to women's sexual choices, most likely the father is also highly productive. So your "fathers change the diapers" is not really a viable solution - it just means you lose his output rather than hers.
The current market is not free because people are forced to offer their services if they don't want to starve. That's a huge distortion that you would remove with basic income.
At the margin this will certainly cause people to drop out of the workforce. Heck, as I get closer to having enough assets saved to be able to require, I'd probably choose the pull the trigger on that decision sooner.
So we may be removing other large disincentives at the same time.
Later: Which is not intended as more than hand-wavy thinking out loud. Regardless of the impact, a basic income is a political pipe dream in the US. More immediate improvements in quality of life might come from better aligning incentives in the healthcare system and fixing cliffs in existing programs.
Many here believe that if people weren't forced to work for income, they would be doing things that are more valuable but also more difficult to monetize (at least initially but perhaps generally), like open source development. There is an underlying belief that vast creative talents are untapped or wasted because of the need to work for money. It's the intellectual's dream lifestyle. One that used to be possible for writers and academics.
Other reasons are largely an afterthought. That's why basic job for example is not a convincing counterargument despite the numbers. This is not really about helping the poor, that would be an auxiliary benefit at best.
As I noted in the blog post you cited, most of this discussion is just meaningless verbiage. No one even attempts to quantify the the effects they claim are so important. (In the HN comments on that post, many people suggested such effects; the minute you crunch numbers they turn out to be tiny.)
It's the intellectual's dream lifestyle. One that used to be possible for writers and academics.
It still is possible - go live in a rural area, consume very little, and survive with bad internet (still vastly better than the no internet of previous eras). People just don't like to do it because of the low status it entails, and because they've grown used to modern consumption that they'd need to give up.
Perhaps I didn't phrase that strongly enough but growing the economy or making it more efficient is not the point. It's at most a rationalization.
go live in a rural area, consume very little, and survive with bad internet
That's not a realistic advice. It's extremely difficult, puts having a family largely out of reach, and places you away from potential collaborators. Even Joey Hess has to resort to crowd funding and grants.
Also, the only reason it "puts having a family largely out of reach" is due to women's sexual choices - most women prefer a man who lives a higher status lifestyle. Sorry, but you aren't entitled to a wife; if women prefer a different lifestyle, that's their choice.
And again, what fraction of people who stop working in the for-profit economy will actually be as productive as Joey Hess?
It's a weird observation that going off the grid would price you out of the dating market. Plenty of "starving artists" and outright bums have more success with women than salarymen.
That's the direct counterargument to most BI hopes. Of course, it's very difficult to verify empirically and mostly depends on what you already believe about human nature. We don't even know if Joey Hess is more or less productive than he would be otherwise.
It's literally how it was done. Go west, steal some land from whatever non-white people are there. Have many babies and bootstrap civilization on the empty land.
yummyfajita's is missing that this isn't possible now because we're out of land to steal, and the state gets pissy about building a log cabin in national forest service land.
It's also about knowing what facts need to be true for a BI to work. Then we know what facts we need to verify to determine if it's true, in contrast to all the meaningless verbiage in this thread.
Also, Scarmig's comment was quite valuable. It showed exactly what the driving effect is - that's precisely why you should do a back of the envelope calculation. And as all the non-quantitative comments show, it's also why any comments suggesting an effect but not doing such a calculation are worse than useless.
And the driving effect turned out to be a disputed premise that we already knew about from our directional, non-quantitative discussions. The quantitative side is just a meaningless overcomplication (the monte carlo part especially), especially when none of the parameters was empirically validated. You wouldn't value a company you were thinking about investing in that way.
A quantitative examination would be valuable if we agreed on the premises, or if we disagreed on conclusions but weren't sure where the disagreement on premises that was driving this was. Neither of these scenarios is the case for basic income. We know what the questions under dispute are; it's time for empirical experiments.
That's exactly how you value an early stage company - back of the envelope calculations and monte carlo.
Many people never get a chance to discover a passionate relationship with work. Collectively, when we kick the habit of forcing people into doing things out of fear (with money) means that a lot of people are gonna be feeling like fish out of water. Generations of slaves don't just jump out of their chains eager to get working again.
Believe it or not, there are jobs that need to be done, but nobody in the world has a passion for them.
Employment isn't about fear or force. It's about two parties agreeing that they each come out better after the transaction of selling labor. I may not love what I do every day, but the sacrifice is worth it to have the benefit of the salary and other benefits that my employer gives me. And she probably isn't enamored with having to give up that money to pay me, but values the productivity I deliver (when I'm not on HN) more than that money.
The ability to trade labor for goods or money is the single greatest invention in the history of humanity. Without it I'd have to grow my own food and fibers, weave my own cloth for clothing (in the house I had to construct myself), sitting in a dark drafty room wishing that some altruist would come cure my illnesses.
But instead, we found that people can decide they value one thing more than another, and engage in voluntary commerce so that they can trade in kind.
I work a day job because the state will literally show up with police and guns if I went out into the mountains and lived off the land. Therefore unless I want to starve I must work. Even when it's on shit I hate.
I am lucky enough to have a skill that is sufficiently valuable that I can survive despite disabilities making it difficult to work.
If you imagine that the labor market is free because it happens to mostly be positive sum, you haven't lived at the bottom of the labor market for any length of time.
Why? Is it someone else's land that you're trespassing on, using up their resources, hunting their animals, etc?
Shall all of us who don't feel fulfilled do the same thing as you propose? When you hurt yourself and get an infection, are you going to crawl back out of the woods and expect there to still be other people to care for you, supply your antibiotic, and yes, clean your bedpan while you recover? What right to you have to expect the bedpan cleaner to serve you?
unless I want to starve I must work.
Who do you expect to plant, harvest, and distribute the food you want to eat?
When you want something from someone - food, medicine, etc. - you're going to have to offer something in return, else why should they provide it? For almost all of us, our labor is the product we can offer in trade. Only by all of us making this tradeoff does society survive.
What if the value of someone's labour is not enough for the things they need to survive? There's no function of the market that ensures it will be.
At some point, you either have to help people out without anything in return, or choose to let them die.
Sure, we can make a moral argument about that. But that's not what this branch of the debate is about. We were debating the proposition that "money itself tends to disincentivise work for a lot of people" and employment is force.
But since you bring it up, my biggest concern about BI is along the same lines as your moral question. Suppose that every year we hand out $X,000 to each person. Some people are going to waste that on booze, gambling, etc., and still be left with nothing to eat. What's our moral obligation to those people?
I think we can all agree it to be none.
Yeah. Just about every bit of land is owned by someone. In order to have my own land to live off of I need to produce some income to pay property taxes, lest the state confiscate it from me.
Fortunately, given your basic income in this scenario, you have more money to do so!
Why are passion projects only ones that have no economic value?
I'm not holding a gun to my lawn guy's head to coerce him in any way. This is what he chose to do to make money, in the face of all other money making opportunities.
If he took another job or income source tomorrow, and simply didn't show up again and didn't let me know, I have no power or authority to get him back behind a mower.
If he's doing it out of fear, it's not fear I'm placing into him. He has plenty of other ways to make money, so if fear of doing those jobs is what's driving him into the lawn care business, then nobody but him is responsible for cultivating that fear.
There's nothing wrong with mowing somebody's lawn, he beautifies my property, saves me from working in the heat, and in exchange I pay him slightly more than what he asked.
There's innumerable other things he could be doing for money, but he chose this one. Since he's good at his job, reliable and reasonably priced, I and my neighbors benefit from his choice and he benefits from having blocks of contiguous neighbors all hiring him.
Bonus, he even has two employees who he keeps in the labor market.
but i guess that would make sense, .. since.. well, you know.
Somehow, you're assigning lesser intrinsic value to lawn mowing than you are to (eg.) jobs in STEM. Society may have assigned a lesser monetary value to it, but that's a function of supply and demand, and not a suggestion that the job is somehow "lesser" in some way.
It doesn't make sense to judge another person's job decisions using your own value system. Many (perhaps even most?) people see their job as a means to an end -- a way to make money to do the things they love. That's a perfectly reasonable and honorable way to live your life.
What we do need is equal access to the means to do other things. If you're interested, capable, and willing to have a career in (eg.) STEM, you should be able to do so without having to fight the socioeconomic conditions into which you were born.
Where do you read me assigning more value to STEM work? You're totally injecting that into what I wrote.
On the contrary, I'm saying that all work can be fulfilling, not just STEM work. But all work can also be degrading if it forces people to compromise themselves unreasonably.
Also I think a side effect of Basic Income will be greatly increased quality of jobs, because I'd imagine for a lot of jobs, making them less shitty is a lot more attractive for the cost than a higher wage.
For example, a lot of service jobs have polices of putting up with extremely obnoxious behaviour, because it marginally increases revenue at the expense of the employee's sanity, which is effectively free. But if you're not quite as desperate for a job, you're much more able to price that in, and choose to work for less at the restaurant next door, that lets you tell jerks to GTFO.
All work can certainly be fulfilling, but more because of the reasons I described (it's a means to an end) than the reasons you're describing. Certainly, people shouldn't be forced to take particularly degrading jobs when they don't want to in order to survive. But do they find it degrading, or do you? Those are two very different things.
It's impossible that there are enough people in the world passionate about garbage collection -- allocated perfectly across the correct geographic regions, mind you -- to fill all of the available positions.
And you base this claim on what?
I'm not saying it's likely, but it's certainly not "impossible."
I feel like your ideals are very far away from a gritty reality of the working arrangement for most people.
The foundation of society is people working for each other and for themselves, regardless of whatever so-called "economy" is imposed on top of that. Underneath the money (or in some societies the lack of money), what do you have? People doing work, getting in the flow of life, sharing and receiving with the people around them. That's the basis of living life.
Isn't this the exact effect you would want, if you are instituting basic income partly as a response to structural unemployment as a result of automation?
> fewer working mothers can find child care, fewer laborers to mow your lawn, fewer nurses, fewer teachers, etc.
Maybe these jobs start paying more. How is that bad? With basic income, more mothers would be able to stay home with their kids, more people would care for their own homes, and the nurses and teachers we need would see bigger paychecks.
Net, I don't see how society is worse off under that arrangement. It sounds a lot like how life was in this country before huge income disparities made hiring servants normal for people with means.
> It's not just wealthier people who will be worse off - it's everyone.
You assert this, but your comment doesn't successfully back up your assertion.
If we don't have robots providing child care, cleaning houses, and all these other services, then "structural unemployment as a result of automation" is not actually a problem we have.
That's not how our economy works. Only a small percentage of the population can afford to hire maids, nannies and gardeners, and even the wealthiest people will only hire a certain number of them. Just using simple logic should show that if 1% of the working population were all able and willing to maintain a staff of 5 full-time servants, this would only be able to absorb 5% of the unemployed population.
Structural unemployment has nothing to do with these servant-type jobs, and there is no way that these kinds of jobs can absorb unemployed workers laid off in other industries.
This is true because we live in a situation of scarcity. In other economies (e.g. India) where labor is not so scarce, far more people can afford help.
If people were actually willing to work, but simply couldn't find work, prices should drop so that a much larger percentage of the population could afford maids and nannies.
Also, the unemployment rate in the US is 5.5%, i.e. the natural rate of unemployment. We simply don't have the problem of not enough jobs.
> We simply don't have the problem of not enough jobs.
I would argue that the proof of the emergence of structural unemployment is not in the current rate of unemployment, but in how long it took for us to return to this level after the housing crisis. Structural unemployment will manifest itself in longer and longer recovery times, always returning to near full-employment as the economy adjusts, until the point at which demand collapses and recovery becomes impossible.
Like the tipping point that climate scientists talk about with regards to climate change, we have to implement a solution before we get to that point, because it might not be possible after. Basic Income, above all, should be embraced as a mechanism to stabilize consumer demand during the periods of radical realignment in the labor markets that will be brought on by robotics and AI.
I would argue that the proof of the emergence of structural unemployment is not in the current rate of unemployment, but in how long it took for us to return to this level after the housing crisis.
So your claim isn't that jobs don't exist, but merely that it takes people time to find them.
How is a massive labor force disincentive like BI a solution to this problem at all? We already know that unemployment benefits make this problem worse: https://www.nber.org/papers/w20884 Why would BI - essentially permanent unemployment benefits - help?
If anything the solution to this problem is just making labor markets more flexible. E.g., NGDP targeting, making it easier to hire/fire workers, eliminating employer mandate in Obamacare, discouraging home ownership, etc.
[edit: here is non-paywalled link: http://econweb.umd.edu/~davis/eventpapers/ManovskiiEntension... ]
No, my claim is that it will take more and more time for new jobs to be created, and for laid-off workers to retrain for them. At the beginning of a recession, the jobs don't exist because they have been destroyed, and they are only re-created because the persistence of demand for goods and services--driven primarily by consumer demand--compels it.
I believe that at a certain point, in some future recession, that process will take so long, and will be so expensive, that supporting the levels of consumer demand necessary for economic recovery will be infeasible without government intervention at a scale even larger than what is envisioned with regards to basic income itself. That is, unless basic income is instituted first.
Suppose country A consists of 99 peasants and 1 plutocrat. The peasants work full-time and the plutocrat consumes their entire economic output living a life of fabulous luxury. Country B consists of 100 people who work part-time and live simple lives that they can afford. Country A produces more goods and services and has a higher GDP than country B - let's say twice as high. Nevertheless it is reasonable to consider country B better-off.
Edit: The above is probably conflating some unrelated issues, so let's just simplify: country A works full-time (40hrs/week) and spends their leisure time expensively, country B works part-time (20hrs/week) and spends their leisure time cheaply. Country A's GDP is twice that of country B in the obvious way. Is country A really better off than country B? (If you're going to make a revealed preferences argument about working hours then bear in mind that there are very few less-than-full-time jobs on offer, partly an artifact of the way current regulations treat full- and part-time jobs)
The blue waters and great snorkeling of the Caribbean, the rugged landscape and Northern Lights of Iceland, the various cultures and climates across Europe, the stark differences between rain forest and desert. There's a massive variety in the world and I'd much rather experience that (and share that with my wife and kids) than to stay in my ultra-luxe Cambridge/Rt 128 bubble world.
Someone going out to work and paying a large fraction of their income for child care is counted, whereas someone staying home and looking after their children is not. Only the first has value in an economic sense. Is it the only work that has value in a moral sense?
It's a tenable line of argument to argue that the opportunity cost of child care - typically less than earnings foregone - isn't as high as the social benefit from taking care of one's own child, but I can't really think of a less efficient means than BI to try to redress that imbalance.
From a GDP-maximising point of view, it's better for everyone to contract out every aspect of their household than it is to do it themselves. An economy built on taking in each other's washing has a much higher GDP than one where each does their own. Stepping back from GDP makes that look nonsensical.
In contrast, the unskilled woman who might otherwise work in day care only produces $X value/hour.
By taking the unskilled woman out of the labor force, you've destroyed $Y - $X of value.
It's even a common trope that shows up in literature fairly often.
On the other hand, empowering an impoverished woman to provide higher quality care for her children will significantly increase their upward mobility.
It was this exact calculation (and a high marginal rate) that led my own highly skilled wife to conclude that it wasn't worth working when we had our second child.
Which is one reason I think that basic income would broadly improve the level of care given to children. It would enable the people most qualified to give care--children's own parents--to provide that care instead of working excessive hours just to put food on the table.
So what? Those people spent their time on things they valued more than the money they could earn by selling it. This just shows that they were underpaid for the value of their time through the threat of imminent pain of starvation or homelessness.
The market will adjust and pay those people more if the value they create and the profits reapable from their labor make that paid labor worth it.
Low value jobs will go away.
Some of that freed time will be spent on consuming, no doubt, but much will be spent on longer horizon value adding activities like schooling or starting businesses or more efficient uses like taking care of children.
"... found that only new mothers and teenagers worked substantially less. Mothers with newborns stopped working because they wanted to stay at home longer with their babies, and teenagers worked less because they weren't under as much pressure to support their families, which resulted in more teenagers graduating."
And that does not sound bad at all and it rather counters the lack of supply of nannies (if there was such).
(Quotes from wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincome)
Look at the response to a higher minimum wage - McDonalds, which typically runs a store with 8 to 10 people at $7/hour discovered that most of those jobs could be automated (with better results) for the capital expenditure equivalent of less than $15/hour. So now there are McDonalds stores that run with 2 people instead of 10. People still get their hamburgers, but now orders are taken by a computer screen, hamburgers are assembled by a machine instead of a person, etc.
Lawnmowers, street sweepers, taxi cabs, factory lines, farms can all be nearly fully automated these days, but it's cheaper to put a person there right now.
This will produce a constant back-and-forth impact on labor markets as jobs are automated, then new jobs are created as a result, and then those jobs are automated. Having the basic income in place allows society to remain functioning while this happens and makes it more able to weather the changes and adapt.
FWIW I'm in favor of a UBI to replace almost all other assistance programs.
If the work is so valuable and necessary, compensation should then reflect a price that incentivizes people who are no longer completely desperate for food, housing or healthcare because of a Basic Income.
I speculate that a BI would bring compensation closer to labor's real value, rather than the stagnant wages we see now because people have no other recourse to negotiate higher pay. The elimination an underclass that absolutely needs exploitive work to survive would drive pay higher as well.
Meanwhile, other studies have shown productivity actually increased when basic income was instituted amongst extreme poverty - http://www.bignam.org/BIG_pilot.html
Either way, whether it's 13% or 5%, it makes us all poorer.
The Namibia experiment is not remotely comparable. That was a) a transfer of wealth from outside the community into it (closer to imperialism than redistribution), b) poverty in Namibia is not remotely like poverty in the US, and c) a big chunk of the BI in Namibia was directed into investment.
The closest analogue of (c) in the US would be funneling money to rich people (who invest) rather than poor people (who consume).
With mincome didn't they determine that the work hours decreased was dominated by 1) young males entering the work force later due to increased high school completion rate and 2) females talking longer maternity leave?
If thats the case, then its possible that it made everyone richer if over the lifetime more educated workers and more cared for infants are more efficient.
*Note: I actually am a huge skeptic of basic income schemes as the math seems dramatic, but I think a simple "people work less hours" counterargument is overly simplistic.
However, it's a bit strange to expect that all the second order effects will happen to point in the direction of our preferred policy. The only quantified effect here - labor force disincentive - has been measured and agrees 100% with economic theory. It also agrees with other related (but not identical) results, namely that welfare/unemployment also has a huge labor force disincentive.
Why are we appealing to unquantified second order effects when the first order effects are measured and shown to be large, shown to be in 100% agreement with basic economic theory, and viewed by many proponents of BI as a desired feature ?
 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11619712 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11619690 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11619691
You also gloss over the fact that it allowed mothers to stay home with their children. The benefit to society and productivity of stronger families shouldn't be understated.
Finally, you assume that people would stop cutting lawns, nursing, and providing childcare – why?
1: The Rise and Fall of American Growth: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10544.html
If someone's doing an effectively-below-minimum-pay job at 30, I hope they just quit if universal basic income is introduced.
This is, in fact, precisely backwards. There are plenty of jobs that people simply cannot do because they cannot make a living at them both through lack of money as well as lack of stability. Social workers, elderly healthcare support, child care, etc. are all very poorly paid and basically not worth doing if you have any other choice.
With a UBI, people can work those jobs for very small amounts of money knowing that they are covered.
Not sure where you got your numbers from. Wikipedia suggest that it was not even half that.
>The results showed an impact on labor markets, with working hours dropping one percent for men, three percent for married women, and five percent for unmarried women.
Anyway, per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincome, this 5 year study has many qualifiers placed upon why the drop in labor, with the more interesting of these involving child care, education, and mental health: The results showed an impact on labor markets, with working hours dropping one percent for men, three percent for married women, and five percent for unmarried women. However, some have argued these drops may be artificially low because participants knew the guaranteed income was temporary. These decreases in hours worked may be seen as offset by the opportunity cost of more time for family and education. Mothers spent more time rearing newborns, and the educational impacts are regarded as a success. Students in these families showed higher test scores and lower dropout rates. There was also an increase in adults continuing education. ... Manitoban economist Evelyn Forget conducted an analysis of the program in 2009 which was published in 2011. She found that only new mothers and teenagers worked substantially less. Mothers with newborns stopped working because they wanted to stay at home longer with their babies, and teenagers worked less because they weren't under as much pressure to support their families, which resulted in more teenagers graduating. In addition, those who continued to work were given more opportunities to choose what type of work they did. Forget found that in the period that Mincome was administered, hospital visits dropped 8.5 percent, with fewer incidents of work-related injuries, and fewer emergency room visits from accidents and injuries. Additionally, the period saw a reduction in rates of psychiatric hospitalization, and in the number of mental illness-related consultations with health professionals.
For most goods, the ratio of the new to old price should be less than the ratio of the post-distribution to pre-distribution income of the group demanding the item, though this may not be the case for, e.g., goods where there are monopoly rents being extracted.
Its unacceptable that food in the US is 2x the cost of that of china, for instance.
There needs to be solid evidence to justify a 2x increase in the cost of food.
Productivity decreases costs, not the other way around.
Did you mean to say the value of unskilled labor?