And you expect people to get "Social responsibility, sense of purpose, community, meaningful ways to spend their time" from that?
Meaningless jobs invariably turn into that special sort of hell you get when your ability to do politics and to step on the guys below you are much more important than any actual skill or ability.
The number of elders will only increase in most of the world over the next few decades and no automation could replace the human touch, or even physical dexterity, in the near term. Granted the people performing the job would need training and perhaps some supervision from professionals, but much of the work requires the skills like empathy and physical agility that most humans are endowed with (despite being left dormant from lack of practice by some).
The same sorts of skills are needed as part of a program that would be useful for mitigating the homeless problem as well.
The majority of people continued turning up to work afterwards because they found it intrinsically rewarding.
Also curious why they converted it to no requirement?
They didn't realize that it would be so popular with women.
I believe they withdrew it because government thought that the program was providing jobs to women who should be at home instead of working.
Perhaps with smaller companies this would work better and not conjure up ideas of digging and refilling holes on some soulless corporate farm.
Imagine a single-person company that sells homemade organic jam at a farmers market. As a one person doing everything, surely this person is overworked and couldn't possibly think of hiring someone until years later. What if this person was part of a program that allowed them to hire from a pool of candidates where the company pays a portion of the wage and the gov program subsidizes.
This person hiring really needs the help. The person being hired wants the job doing fulfilling work. The money assigned for the person through UBI is reassigned to this program.
Probably just a pipe dream, but could be similar to the incentives companies get for hiring ex-convicts, etc.
I would prefer that families provide these services (and, therefore, the state focus on the formation of strong families). The market is too brutal for most of this work and the state, in addition to general incompetence, lacks the moral authority to do so, especially when hard decisions must be made (e.g. when homelessness is driven by mental illness.)
Pay a stable, living wage to build strong families, allowing one person to stay at home and provide for the domestic economy in a sphere they have natural authority in.
I have no children. I have never wanted them, and it is a relief that I shouldn't have any (medical wise). Besides, it'd be risky at my age anyway. I have a spouse, but otherwise have no family on this side of the Atlantic. My father died, my mother is getting older, and my siblings both have families that include children. I'm supposed to burden my family with my care? I'm not sure immigration would let them come over here and if I go there, I have no health coverage. Sure, my spouse would take care of me. But at what cost? Quit his job and actually make less money, right when medical expenses go up? What if he's already died or disabled? Well... I'm screwed.
I'll add this: I did a lot of care for my ex. It was mental illness, but still. And I felt freaking trapped, and it took longer to leave. My grandmother married a man who had a stroke a year later. He became abusive, but she was scared to leave due to getting in trouble for abandonment (this was in the late 90's). She was stuck for a while. Your plan does nothing to help the folks that are in bad situations. Sure, you might want strong families, but the reality is that not every family is going to be that way.
The market is too brutal for most of this work and the state, in addition to general incompetence, lacks the moral authority to do so, especially when hard decisions must be made (e.g. when homelessness is driven by mental illness.)
Sorry you live in such a country, and glad I no longer do. The country I live in tries to do these things for folks, provides healthcare and elder care. It isn't perfect or anything, but they are doing more than the states did and they are trying to improve things slowly. The state doesn't have to be like that, and you can change it. Vote for different people. And if they don't do the stuff, vote them out of office.
In addition, changing culture takes generations but the number of elders who needs help will grow quickly in the upcoming decades. Japan is already facing the problem  and the rest of the developed world are following closely behind.
(Note: I didn't downvote you.)
I think the point being made in the original post is that modern agriculture has a lot of problems and this is a way to address some of those. Producing local foods in a sustainable way requires more labor and a more distributed structure, with many more individuals involved directly in the process. Market gardeners around the world produce high quality foods without millions of dollars of equipment. Anyone can be taught enough to be highly useful in this role.
The original poster is correct when (s)he asserts that there would not be much meaningful work for an unskilled laborer in most sectors of modern agriculture. But that's not a bad thing, that's a good thing.
Paying half of farmer's wages to make small scale farming more tenable and accessible is not digging holes and filling them again.
In New England, there are lots of hobby farmers who would love to do it full time but cannot support themselves + a few employees to scale it into a full time thing. This might not create farmers from scratch where there are none, but it could make New England farmers + farms more like the Swiss: Small scale but still viable, distributed, and well, subsidized.
It's paying them to cast a specific ballot. Farmers are politically powerful in most cantons.
This article is proposing an alternative to UBI, where you are just giving no strings $$$ handouts to all citizens.
Clearly basic jobs won’t be as efficient at producing e.g. agricultural products as the free market. But that’s not the goal with UBI or UBJ - it’s to deal with societal inequality in a world where increasingly most jobs are eliminated and those who control capital (the robots) have 100% of the wealth and everyone else is starving. That is the world many feel we are heading towards.
There is a good track record of government jobs programs during times of severe unemployment, e.g. the Great Depression:
One advantage UBJ over UBI has is that it is something you can transition into; it doesn’t require a societal level disruption to put into practice.
No, you're subsidizinng agricultural production to preserve your production capacity or else when the next war breaks out your country is unable to feed itself once your safe imports from south america and africa aren't safe anymore.
That is a sustainable business model.
Continuous subsidy - using public funds - of an activity that will not generate profit and overall return is not sustainable.
Isn't it used as a punishment for some offenses?
* Triborough Bridge
* Griffith observatory in LA
Is this really worse than those market-driven jobs created to harass people to pay debts, build McMansions where nobody wants them or create social networking sites for dogs?
Civil engineering has become massively mechanised, so the vast majority of jobs in the industry are highly skilled. A job that would have needed 200 men back in the '30s is now done by three men and a giant machine.
Make-work is make-work, however you slice it. We could choose to build bridges and roads like they did in the '30s and create millions of jobs. We could also impose vast tariffs on imported cloth and ban automatic looms, creating millions of jobs in the textile industry. Philosophically, it's no different to paying people to dig holes.
And I say that as someone who is generally pro-union.
Severely restricted fiscal spending got converted into tax cuts for the wealthy. Necessary work didn't get done. Robots were made a convenient scapegoat for that process, probably because of their natural immunity to pitchforks.
The US is getting leapfrogged by poorer countries like China on infrastructure largely because of this process.
And yet the Empire State Building was erected in a year. Faster than any comparable modern structure.
The alternative is UBI, which should cost under $20K per body, and would give people an alternative to accepting a BS market-driven job just to put food on the table.
UBI might only cost $20k plus admin costs per recipient, but as you're paying it to well over 20x as many people it's well over 4x the cost. And you don't get the hole...
I'm not convinced Basic Job programmes are a fully scalable welfare replacement, or that agriculture or construction work would be a particularly good focus for a more limited workfare programme, or that advocates of such ideas have necessarily considered the risk of crowding out paid work at proper salaries, but the idea that indiscriminately doling out money to people irrespective of whether they've indicated they might want it is cheaper than welfare state alternatives is palpably false.
Education needs massive reform as well anyway.
Ultimately you don't know how to farm, so you need the farmers working a full week. Adam Smiths rules of specialisation still apply.
You need to give up your time so those you rely on to produce stuff will give up theirs. Or they won't bother.
While there is definitely truth in this statement, there is still a spectrum of work to do on modern farms and plenty of it isn't highly skilled. This is especially true on farms that are optimized for high margin vs. volume. For example, organic or local farm to table places.
Subsistence farming that's augmented to produce a little surplus can be an only somewhat skilled job that can be done by everyone with relatively little capital. Pre-potato famine Irish peasants and many pastoral peoples throughout history demonstrated that subsistence farming can be done for basically nothing.
Unskilled laborers are more hindrance than help, and will be sent off to the "back 40" to indulge in mindless busywork.
If granted land, such unskilled laborers could probably satisfy most of their needs. The Pareto principle would rear it's ugly head again, and the top 20% of such farmers would out-produce and could be paid to "redistribute" food.
From the article: From some psychologists’ points of view, one of the worst things you can do to someone who is suffering from addiction or loss of hope is to give them no-strings-attached money, when what they really need is regularity and the responsibility that comes from having a purpose, even if its simply a job or a station.
Another thing that the an early 1800's Irish model might indicate, is that such a model might have serious problems. There is a far cry between the culture of German expatriate famers or the self-reliant farmer of colonial New England on the one hand and the early 1800's Irish peasant from the same time. Huge social problems accompanied the potato famine Irish diaspora. Up to and including unimaginable squalor, neighborhoods where sewage and garbage sat stagnant and out in the open, where police were afraid to travel in groups of less than 6, and the rule of law was abridged by shadow criminal/terrorist governments that could even conduct their own trials and executions.
From the article: This is not the kind of thing you can catch with a UBI pilot, but it is the kind of thing that you can answer by asking a more obvious question: Are wealth and poverty inter-generational? Of course they can be. As a society, we should be careful to not put a system in place that accidentally entrenches poverty when the initial goal was to alleviate it. A child growing up in a Basic Job household almost certainly has a better shot at life than a child growing up in a UBI household, with parent(s) who might have never worked.
The article might be putting the cart before the horse. People who have been given the right human capital through their culture can pull themselves up in a few generations. (This is the case for Chinese immigrants all over the world throughout history.) People who do not have that human capital must then gain it through a process of cultural transmission or assimilation. This assimilation does not have to be complete, and the group can still retain their cultural heritage and distinctiveness. Again, the story of the Irish diaspora is a good model for this. The power of culture is tremendous, and the cultural transformation will not be easy.
The point of the U in UBI is that you can discard the expensive bureaucracy. The article proposes keeping it as well as UBJs! Literally missing the entire point. But providing lots more jobs for bureaucrats to administer both...
Has there been any research into how to set up UBI that actually remains politically/bureaucratically stable? It seems like any implementation would be extremely vulnerable to media cycles highlighting the plight of some poor single mother who didn't spend her UBI wisely and now can't feed her kids, or a rich billionaire who pocketed his UBI rather than giving it to charity. It doesn't matter how infrequent these cases are, it would happen a nonzero amount of times and that's enough to get media stories trending about it. In the face of that, people would start wanting to build in exceptions or adjustments, at which point you end up with the expensive bureaucracy again.
I do think it's true that "people suffer from lack of work AND lack of money." That is, if you just give people enough money to survive, and nothing to do, they still suffer.
It's not really valid to compare the experiences of old retired people and working age people (or younger). Age is a major complicating factor. And, at least in the U.S., we already give money to old people; it's called Social Security and Medicare.
The question is, what do we do with 22 year olds who can't find work? What will the rest of their life be like if they go on the equivalent of Social Security and Medicare at 22? Anecdotally I think we all have a sense of the potential for problems when young people are too idle.
They’ll need to find a job, since drugs tend to be expensive luxuries.
If people freed from the necessity of work can't figure out anything better to do with their lives than consume entertainment and get high all day, I find that rather sad. It's still not as sad as forcing them to LARP at obsolete agriculture on arable land that used to be productively mechanized. At least if people who can't be matched with genuinely productive jobs stay on their couches all day they're not actively sabotaging the productivity of the remaining market economy.
I'm ok with governments employing people to do productive tasks that still require human labor -- many others have mentioned elder care or fixing aging infrastructure, for example -- but I think that the specific agricultural proposal floated in the original article is terrible. Unlike the author, I'm also not anxious on behalf of other people who might end up "deprived" of a time clock and obeying a boss 5 days a week. I'm not going to tell them that I know better if they think that games are more enjoyable than farming like it's 1899.
You're forgetting that these people can still vote. I can imagine a lot of ways that promises of bread and circuses could be used to form them into a dangerous voting bloc.
There are a lot of cases where introducing untrained human labor into an existing production process has a marginal productivity less than zero. Adding random people to a process that doesn't need more people, or needs people with specific skills, isn't just poor value for effort. It's negative value for effort. Every additional hour that somebody who doesn't know what they're doing tries to "help," they're destroying more.
These caveats only apply if people are assigned pointless jobs that they're not even good at. It's destructive to replace high-productivity mechanized agriculture with random unemployed wielding hand tools. It's safe, though still IMO insulting and a bad idea, to make people perform some pointless but harmless pseudo-white-collar job like adding up columns of random numbers with pencil and paper. It actually adds value (though perhaps not a lot) if governments can assign jobs that people can actually perform competently and that machines aren't great at yet, like collecting litter.
Which would be a rebuttal if doubling food cost wasn't an expensive luxury in context; people choosing drugs without food is a self-limiting problem, and most optimistic (and, unreasonably so, in my view) near term UBI proposals barely hit the federal poverty line for a one-person household.
You probably still can't get cheap cocaine, since it doesn't have a cheap synthesis route yet, but every major class of recreational drugs at least has potent, cheap-to-manufacture synthetic or semi-synthetic members. In the case of weed it's probably not even worth pursuing synthetic analogs to THC given how easy it is to grow.
IMO choosing to indulge in some of these drugs, without medical need, may be akin to a slow-motion suicide. But I'm not in favor of outlawing suicide either.
UBI (or uncontrolled UBJ) that lets somebody do drugs all day makes society worse.
If you're totally incapable of work, the US has a program for that today, its called SSI, Supplemental Security Income. Not to be confused with Social Security or SSDI, this program is paid for with income taxes, not social security taxes. There are ~5 million people in the US on SSI.
Are you looking forward to your mandatory assigned job? Or are you imagining that it's just for other people?
Imagine a future that includes the options today + a few additional options for employment. That is all I'm describing.
Very few people starve in the US: https://twitter.com/Noahpinion/status/937204945379454978
You were the one coming up with government-mandated jobs for people who are deemed unable to work. If you frame your policy as government jobs for those who have no alternative, what else would you call it?
And the people who misallocate their UBI and can't afford food? It seems what UBI supporters truly desire is a maternal figure in their lives.
At the end of the day, there has to be some personal responsibility, true.
It seems what UBI supporters truly desire is a maternal figure in their lives.
Not really; if I had UBI I'd almost certainly donate it to charity while I was working. My interest in UBI is as a low-overhead, efficient mechanism for social stability.
"Fake jobs" have been tried before, and usually end up costing more than the benefit they provide, and are often mandatory and stigmatized, so don't necessarily improve the prospects of participants.
I own shares that have already been issued. I've paid a certain price for them. I will not give my shares to someone else for free, and I will not tolerate more shares being issued for frre because that will devalue my own shares.
This idea of freely distributed shared equity ownership is a nonstarter since equity is only created when people pay for it.
No, this is equity in real things: land, timber, minerals, clean water, road access, electricity etc. Your company wouldn't owe anybody any shares. Your land value taxes, however, would be distributed to everybody equally. As would the proceeds from your utility bills.
Ideally, you would pay back exactly your share of the net externalities your company benefits from. That may be very hard to calculate in practice, though.
This all just takes you right back to where we are today: you have to tax the top 1/3 heavily to pay for the money you're taking away from utility companies or infrastructure (and redistributing to everyone).
You could allocate shared ownership into currently non-utilized land, mineral rights, spectrum, etc. That also simply takes revenue away from government that would otherwise receive that money, which you then have to tax back away from the population afterward to replace it.
If I take out a mortgage on 40 acres, I might log it to generate revenue, and then plant it in hay grass to make (or help make) the mortgage payments, which in turn lets me build equity that I can leverage to acquire additional capital. That's a lot of work. Why would I ever go log, plant, and harvest public land when I don't substantially benefit from it?
The profit one stands to make of improving the land is always going to be the driver to do it in any system. The difference is this is taking "public land" and making it pay out to the "public" directly (supposedly). Unless one veers too far into socialist territory and removes property ownership completely, none of this precludes private property owners from continuing to profit off fees for land use, or even profiting off developing the land they own same as before. If one does take private ownership off the table, you're dealing with a much larger social change and impact than this particular discussion.
That's doesn't seem fair, or productive, so I think the land itself should be owned collectively to some degree, but
you would still own your improvements, and even 'own' the land in the form of a lease or whatever.
But there are lots of different types of people. The system has to work for all of them. That's why you need large-scale studies, to figure out whom a given system works for and whom it doesn't. Nobody can do this in a thought experiment, because nobody can conjure up every type of person and predict how they will interact with the system.
It's true some people are unsuited to industry, and some people are unsuited to child care or elder care. These still are not getting done nearly at the levels we'd like, though.
"Let's just send all these people to work on farms!" - TFA literally says that this would be an attempt to solve a lack of "Social responsibility, sense of purpose, community, meaningful ways to spend their time"
Instead of agriculture we can create part-time minimum wage jobs doing other productive things like cleaning up litter and graffiti, trail maintenance, coaching youth activities, etc. This will help to maintain basic employment skills until they can find something better, and give them a stake in the community.
Apologies for my cynicism. Workfare in the UK hasn't been very fluffy.
"Workfare provides free labour for businesses and charities, enforced by benefit sanctions."
"What boss would want to employ a worker they have to pay, when the government will give them someone off the dole to do it for free? The aim of workfare is simply to drive down wages.”
It's also worth noting that there is a narrative (as with most historical narratives, difficult to prove or disprove) that the national socialists created an economic miracle in Germany by guaranteeing pay for any and all labor.
Some interesting findings. What happens if its just a matter of putting the technology together to make local produce actually cost competitive for the consumer, profitable for the producer and more sustainable and secure for society.
The key is to focus on high value winter crops for high end restaurants (micro greens, asian greens, arugula, beets etc.).
Some more links:
How is adding one more option feudalism?
You can get yourself thrown in prison and have guaranteed housing, healthcare, and a job. That option doesn’t make the dynamics of power in the system any less feudal.
It's the reason parents until recently would tell their fussy kids, "Eat your food, there are children starving in China."
(1) You are strategically wrong, in that having policy goals (e.g., UBI) and talking about them front and center has always been instrumental in building labor/populist movements.
(2) You are factually wrong about the current context, in that the US has substantially and political relevant populist factions (both the energization of the one on the right and the alienation of the one on the left were key factors in the 2016 election.)
You dont just make people create value. Creating value is the hard part - and the problem is, it becomes harder for humans than for machines.
> like Switzerland, where 55% of farmer income comes from the state
Norwegian farming subsidies for example to date still is based on a principle of food security that first gained widespread support in Norway as a result of the British naval blockade of Denmark-Norway during the Napoleonic wars that caused occasional famines.
The importance of this was driven home again during World War 2.
So protectionist, yes, but widespread support has largely boiled down to food security rather than caring particularly much about farmers.