Kudos for making it a reality. It may be scratching a personal itch, but the positive externalities to society are real.
Sadly, the best argument against UBI is that vast, vast majority of people will not be working full time on F/OSS or quite possible anything else.
Having these people on UBI would actually allow productivity to rise.
However, I'm really concerned about UBI because:
1) One way to get more money on UBI is to convince others to give you their money. Many people on UBI will stop producing positive or neutral work and start finding ways to trick their fellow citizens into giving them their money. We will still need some sort of welfare to provide food to people who are tricked into giving away all their money for worthless services or items.
2) Some people have terrible planning skills and just want to be happy now. They'll spend all of their UBI on worthless items and go hungry until the start of the next month. Worse, they'll spend their children's UBI allocation on worthless items as well (or trick their children into doing it if it turns out parents don't get direct access to their children's allocation). We will still need welfare to feed the children of these people.
3) Some people will decide that their calling in life is now to cause problems for others. The food check comes once a month, so now their full time job is dressing up as a clown and terrorizing random people. Don't have to get up for work? Be really loud until 4am. The people who actually do have to get up for work will naturally get the option to live in a gated community because we need the few that actually do produce more than ever. This very well may cause society to schism into people who work and people who don't.
4) The potential long term effects are pretty scary. If you never have to work will you worry about education, socialization, or how to function in a society? How many people will decide to never learn any skills whatsoever? Sure, we could build up a lot of automation to take care of these people, but the result is going to be a massive schism where some people only know how to take their UBI money card to the food silo. And their children are probably going to be in the same bucket.
Ultimately, I think we as a society have a responsibility to use our plenty to help those who are going without. However, I'm not convinced that UBI is the right way to make this happen.
The most important tool there is a good education, which is mandatory for even the children of the laziest and most shiftless. That's where they get exposed to the possibilities of what they could do, and be engaged by. They'll be presented with role models in the form of teachers, who do get up and do work every day, and live better lives because of it.
Maybe they'll create nothing more than pointless forms of art. But even so, what would be wrong with that? Movies and video games are both pointless idleness, but they create genuine joy, and there were lots of mis-steps as people learned what forms of them would be worth doing. Similarly, a lot of the most advanced science seemed like navel-gazing until it turned into transistors and lasers and GPS.
I don't mean to be blandly utopian. There are many ways UBI can fail, and we will probably do all of them in varying experiments. But neither would I be so dystopian about people doing nothing at all with their lives. People enjoy comforts and they enjoy having purpose. Between the way our existing technology creates more than enough food and shelter at little cost, and the desire of many people to improve their lot in ways that also continue to move society forward, I think we can afford to experiment with letting some people live lives of complete (but unenviable) idleness.
4) is a very good point. We don't actually know what keeps our civilization running. UBI assumes that people have a natural drive to be productive, but we got to where we are in a context of natural selection, survival instincts and greed. Removing those aspects from society is rightfully scary.
People make some pretty bad decisions. And people like to trick other people into making bad decision. I didn't think this was controversial.
Why is this relevant to UBI? One of the benefits of UBI is that it allows us to get rid of the welfare system. However, if people are tricked into giving away their money OR if they spend all of their money on non-food items, we now have to decide if they just go hungry or if there is a welfare for them. This is more complicated because some of the people going hungry will be children who have irresponsible parents.
To recap. One of the arguments of UBI is that it will be cheaper than it looks because we can get rid of welfare. This argument only works if we're willing to let people who misspend their UBI go hungry. I'm not willing to let people go hungry if I can help if, so I'm only interested in a UBI program if we also find a way to feed irresponsible people. OR I'm not interested in UBI being enacted.
I’d further suggest that only a portion of their UBI go to the institution, while the balance would be available to assist with the later transition out.
and what about those who waste their ubi money, welfare money, and backup welfare money? we need a failsafe fund for those too!
People are free to make their own decisions. It's good to help people and lessen the blow of mistakes, but at some point, a stupid person who keeps getting tricked into wasting their money, is not very helpful to anyone around.
If you're being given free money just for existing, and you can't figure out how to keep it? I think thats your problem, not society's.
"There's a sucker born every minute."
Barnum may not have said it, but it holds true even today ... probably every millisecond, if you take the ratio of the world's population to the number of suckers/suckees/suckincidents ...
We already see some of this with student loans. The government decided that education is important, so it created federally-backed student loans that anyone can apply for, and effectively increased the amount of money available for education by a large amount. Some of this did go into increasing the number of kids that could go to college, but much of it just went into increasing the price of education. Plus, the supply of good jobs didn't really go up by much, so all those extra kids who went to college are now fighting over the same jobs they would've gotten in the first place, just with crushing debt burdens.
The upside is that the UBI will still support people that end up with financial shocks -- something unexpected happening in their lives. That little bit could help a lot
Closest I got to seeing a counterargument is me vs. JoeAltmaier a couple of weeks ago:
As for how to pay for this, consider that central banks have printed trillions of dollars and basically handed that money to corporations, bailing them out of their debt. We live in the world of corporate welfare. We could expand the money supply and give that money to the people instead. In some ways, this is more capitalist than the alternative. Why? Because corporations who get too far into debt should die. If you give money to the people, you at least ensure that corporations will have to sell people something that they actually need/want, instead of being able to count on a corporate bailout.
Most people will want to do something to supplement their basic income. It doesn't have to be useful. In fact it could be to scam other people out of their UBI. Additionally, if we schism society into people who work and people who don't work, then it will almost definitely be to scam other people out of their UBI because that will be the most obvious course of action to get more money having been isolated from people who do actual work.
That's sad only if we have the scarcity induced morality of associating "getting to have a living" with "earning it by working".
There are also many jobs which are actively harmful to society and/or the environment (e.g. cold calling), where it would be better for everyone if those workers could just watch TV instead.
I think this is one of those areas that can't be solved by deduction, since there are valid arguments pushing both ways. It needs measurements, observations and experiments to see what the relative impact of those arguments are.
If the corporations had to pay the full cost of employing people without the option to subsidize it witch cheap Chinese labour, they would long had to get rid of most bullshit jobs (some inefficiency is of course unavoidable) and make work much better organized.
The point I was hoping to bring to the discussion is the fact that nearly all of our value-preferences (here, the value of time spent on various activities) come from social conditioning.
In this particular scenario it could well be the case that this particular value-preference (the belief that watching TV is wasteful) comes from the work ethic (as in 'working' is useful, and 'leisure' is wasteful).
There is no autonomous thinking in all of this and yet we claim to be living in an individualistic society. Doesn't that make anyone pause?
The belief that watching TV is wasteful comes from the experience of actually wasting time watching TV when one would prefer to have done something else. Why don't we do something else? That's a good question, but not the question you asked.
A better example of social conditioning is "common sense". If you ask a question and the answer is "common sense", the likelihood is that the person is simply socially conditioned to think that way. An example that I've given a talk on is that Japanese people sit down while showering. Western people stand up while showering. Explain why one is better than the other. I did this in a workshop composed of half Japanese people and half westerners. After 10 minutes I had to halt the exercise because people were close to coming to blows. It was amazing. The answer, of course, is that it doesn't matter really (apart from preference for a couple of minor details), but I was not prepared for the backlash of unthinking cultural beliefs.
Perhaps a better question to ask would be "Is it better to read a book or watch TV"? There I would agree with you that people are socially conditioned to respond with "read a book". They don't actually know why a book is better and, in fact, are unlikely to have ever thought about it in detail (and almost certainly have never looked at any studies on the matter). They just know it to be true (for various values of the word "true").
However, I think these socially conditioned preferences are not in the majority. People's preferences are actual preferences. Someone likes meat, another likes fish. You can learn to like something else and you may be pre-disposed to like something based on familiarity, but that's not social conditioning. People do think about their preferences quite a bit, even if they are influenced by others. People like pop music, not only because it is popular, but also because the genuinely like it. If you ask them what they like about a song, they can actually tell you in surprising detail. Often they like some popular songs and don't like other popular songs. That most people enjoy the same songs in a culture is not surprising -- that's familiarity working. You like what you know.
One of the reasons I responded to this message is because I think it is a big mistake to underestimate people and classify them as a kind of "sheeple". They aren't a big unthinking herd, just following the person in front of them. There is an aspect of that, yes, but it is really dangerous to imagine that this is all there is.
It's easy to convince yourself of the opposite position due to confirmation bias (there are lots of examples of social conditioning), but I recommend looking for the opposite. I think it will surprise you.
Maybe my 'value-preference' wording is the source of confusion. For maximum effect, here's a fuller list of words that comprehensively refers to what I was talking about: beliefs, ideas, theories, concepts, maxims, dictums, truths, factoids, philosophies, values, principles, ideals, standards, credos, doctrines, tenets, canons, morals, ethics, customs, traditions, psittacisms, superstitions, myths, legends, folklores, imaginations, divinations, visions, fantasies, chimeras, illusions, delusions, hallucinations, ...
This is not an issue of people being conditioned unthinkingly to accept that TV is a low value activity. I don't believe people believe this. I think that if you were to do a survey of people and ask the questions: "Do you believe watching TV is always a waste of time" I think overwhelmingly people would answer "no". If you ask, "Do you believe that watching TV is sometimes a waste of time" I think overwhelmingly people would answer "yes".
That's the point I was trying to make. People are making rational value judgements about their TV watching habits. Sometimes it is very valuable. Most time it is very wasteful. I think that people have very rational reasons for believing this and have actually thought it through.
As to why people do things that they believe is a waste of time? Why did you write that long list of words. Did you believe I would read it? Did you believe it would add value to the conversation? Did you believe it would add value to your life? Or did you do it without really evaluating whether or not it was a valuable thing to do?
I think these answers, if considered with introspection will answer the question you posed.
Yet this is exactly the issue, as evidenced by the parent commentor spouting out an automatic "gigahours wasted in front of TVs are sad", that I have been focusing on this thread.
> People are making rational value judgements about their TV watching habits
While people could be making explicit rational value judgements on top of implicit pre-existing socialized values (aka. borrowed beliefs), it is the later that I'm interested in talking about (and is relevant to this thread).
> As to why people do things that they believe is a waste of time? Why did you write that long list of words. Did you believe I would read it? Did you believe it would add value to the conversation? Did you believe it would add value to your life? Or did you do it without really evaluating whether or not it was a valuable thing to do?
I wrote it to clarify your confusion which you seemed to get at first ("I think I understood ...") yet went on to proceed on the same tangent, in the next two paragraphs, that prompted it in the first place.
There's a reasonable argument to be made that those people that'll end up doing nothing are already doing nothing. They're either unemployed, mooching of someone, or working some completely useless unproductive job that needs a slot to fill, that could easily be replaced by a machine.
As for actually productive people, I think very few of them would actually be happy with sitting around watching TV all day.
And some of how we got Perl. I had read some time ago that Larry Wall said that Tim O'Reilly was his patron, as in the medieval sense of the term (think Florence etc.), when the nobility or rich people used to patronize (i.e. financially sponsor and recognize) artists, craftsmen, scientists, etc.
And Tim did sponsor Larry (and others who worked on Perl, I guess), via publishing Perl books and organizing conferences, etc.
The actual best argument against UBI is that if you used the total of US government Social Security, Other, and Nondefense spending (At least portions of them seem to be UBI-replacable) on it, divided by the population of the United States (326,000,000), you end up with about $7,000 per person, per year. If you take the entire budget (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget#/...) of $4,000,000,000, you end up with $12,000 per each, per annum.
Obviously, it's not affordable everywhere, but I think incentivizing people to live outside of expensive areas is a good thing (adjusting for cost of living would mostly just funnel the extra money towards landlords, i.e. rent-seekers).
Also the numerator could be increased via a wealth tax on the top 0.1% or so.
And certainly, as Zarel says in a neighboring comment, it wouldn't be affordable everywhere to live on just the BI. It doesn't need to be.
I also imagine that if vast amount of people suddenly had more time on their hands there would be lot less need for services now optimized to keep them employed. Day care, schools and such would perhaps change into something more participatory.
I doubt this. Everyone has dreams or long-term things they enjoy working on. And UBI wouldn't be enough for most people, so they'd at least pursue some form of cash-generating work.
> 60% of the folks I meet would be pretty content watching TV all day, every day. When you talk to them, they just talk about the shows they watched.
My hunch is that many people would indeed find something other than mindless TV if they weren't having their intellectual/emotional energy used up on a daily basis by a job. Not all people, maybe not even most, but many.
What they got up to instead is a whole nother question, but I do really think that the typical human would find something active to do, given no forced use of their time.
Personally, I hang out with regular "normies" as much, if not more, as with technical people, and all the boring TV-watching "normies" I know do have dreams and hobbies, but it takes getting to know them better to discover that. And those dreams and hobbies are generally blocked by dayjobs and errands.
How many people would ignore education, socialization, and general societal cohesiveness if they knew that they would never have to worry about getting along with anyone else in order to survive.
First, crimes usually come with financial consequences I doubt that this would change even with UBI.
Secondly, its just as likely that the opposite becomes true and people learn to appreciate a sense of community much more deeply due to the lessening of competition. For instance intramural sports teams might become even more popular than they are now which could increase the general sense of camaraderie.
I think that without constant competition it is equally possible that people would have higher regard for community than less. There are many things to consider here, but I am generally not concerned about people becoming more problematic or dangerous as a result of UBI.
Nah, that's called rolling in it. Not UBI.
In fact, their initial foray into leisure generally leads into negativity and moral ineptitude.
Given with how normalized 1) consistent drug usage (ie alcohol) and 2) prioritizing pleasures like watching TV or playing video games for the majority of one’s free time have become in western society, I can’t see UBI being of any productive benefit to society. A major problem is who is going to pay for it? The productive, taxing paying folk, who will be receiving UBI as a paltry percentage of their existing, work-based income? It doesn’t seem fair to penalize the most productive, those who choose to work, in order to subsidize those who don’t wish to contribute to the game we called society.
One of the best arguments for universal health care falls into this same category: tying health care to employment greatly increases the risks of being self-employed. I know more than one person who's stayed with a job they don't like -- even a job that doesn't pay particularly well -- because of this concern. The concept of a UBI expands this freedom past just health care. The point isn't to pay someone a handsome wage so they can sit around and do nothing; the point is to cover an absolute bare minimum so choices that might not otherwise be available become open.
The F/OSS developer support case seems like a perfect candidate for a microtransaction-funded model. The kind of thing cryptocurrency enables, where one can passively receive as little as fractions of cents from a pool of millions of people without any transaction costs.
We just need to integrate the solutions better.
F/OSS developers work hard and provide value to many people. If there were a way for me to automate a tiny monthly donation to the projects I most use in Debian, without involving credit cards or routing numbers or other personally identifying information, where 100% of the contribution reached the intended people, I'd already be doing it. The kernel, Xorg, vim, firefox, screen/tmux, systemd, all these things would be on my list, and I doubt I'm alone here.
The distributions should be working on this problem. Forget 'popcon', give me an integrated solution to distribute cryptocurrency from a wallet I occasionally top up somehow to the developers and package maintainers I implicitly love.
That said, UBI and working aren't mutually exclusive. It seems entirely reasonable to assume there will still be people working lower-end jobs to augment their UBI. If there aren't enough garbage workers, it seems only natural to also assume the pay for garbage workers would go up to entice more people to take the job.
I've always worked CS and CS-related jobs (but have volunteered at non-CS jobs), but I'd be very likely to take up some kind of monotonous-but-fulfilling service job like garbage collecting. Probably not full time, but I'd love to have the time to help out others more.
As a side note, there's probably also a lot of work to be done in transitioning these kinds of assumedly-low-interest jobs into a gig-based paradigm. I think more people would take up "shifts" in something new than committing to it as a career. Obviously there's a lot of logistical problems (training, accountability, insurance, etc) that need addressed, but that's part of the fun of figuring it all out. :)
Of course you're right that we'd see pay go up for these jobs as a result, but I think the thing that many don't consider is how relatively little money there is to go around. This is masked by scale. We see billions and think of just enormous amounts of money, yet that's of course less than $3 per American. That of course means the even more unimaginable trillion dollars is merely $3000 per American. We have so many people that it can be difficult to really intuitively grasp.
So one of the most important numbers here is the GDP per capita. The GDP being the total market value of absolutely everything produced within a nation over a set period of time. This is what makes GDP per capita so interesting. It tells us how much money each and every person would receive if the market value of absolutely every single good or service was split completely equally. And in the US it's shockingly less than $60,000.
With an absolutely huge motivation to overproduce everything imaginable, and a countless array of artificial demand being created and sated, our GDP is still less than $60k. That's not a particularly huge amount of money! And while we could debate to what degree, I think nobody would disagree that an UBI would depress overall production. So we're not even going to be getting to that $60k point, and probably not even particularly close to it.
And this amount of money needs to be used to provide a livable stipend to each and every person, and then also account for 100% of the market driven economic success for each and every individual. I'm sure you can see the problem. Exactly how much money is our janitor supposed to be earning? And where does this money come from? You have to keep in mind that when we talk about this < $60k GDP/capita this isn't "money" but rather real money that represents a share of access to a finite set of resources. In other words you can't just go above this number and call it debt - the resources that such "money" (as it would become at that point) would represent literally do not exist. It'd be like in a world of 100 with a total of 5 cars telling each and every person that they can have a car. It just doesn't work.
I find it weird that on HN of all places, so many posters think that all other people would enjoy being poor.
Good luck Drew!
Plus, it's a cheap way to virtue signal, and goodwill is always good for business!
Are those people available to work extra hours for pay though?
I help maintain some open source software but if someone offered me money to work on it more then sorry but I don't have magic extra hours in the day to do that - I've got a full-time job and hobbies of my own.
I think it's better the companies step forward and put the hours in as well as the money.
Of course, with enough donations going on, it would be possible to quit your fulltime job like this fellow has done, freeing up even more of his time.
Anyone know of a nonprofit that pays for health insurance for ppl working on OSS?
Sweden, UK, Norway... the list goes on.
If you make $60,000 here in the USA, you can expect to pay about 22% in taxes (https://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/tax-brackets.aspx) so ~$12,600.
You move to Sweden and make that same $60K USD equivalent. Their tax rate is 61.85 percent (https://tradingeconomics.com/sweden/personal-income-tax-rate) so ~$37,110.
I bet you can stay here and buy some pretty great healthcare (plus a lot of other stuff) with that $24,510 difference.
There's no such thing as a free lunch (or free healthcare). Not only are your taxes covering your "free" healthcare, but they're also covering "free" healthcare for several people who aren't working while you are.
If you were to be consistent, you could use the figure for America's marginal tax rate listed in your second article, which is 37%. So apples to apples comparison would be that the US pays $22,000 in taxes at the highest marginal rate on 60k.
Keep in mind that the US also has state income tax, which can be upwards of an additional 15%.
Anyway, these figures are all kinds of wrong. You need to account for the progressive tax rate for each country, the state taxes you might be subject to, and the tax benefits / write offs that are available to you for your tax bracket.
When you add everything up, it really comes out that the US isn't very low cost comparatively. The striking thing for me is how much more progressive US taxes are than in Europe - where even the lower middle class seem to get taxed heavily.
This is because, at least in Sweden, the first ~25% isn't strictly taxes, but fees for public benefits. Like 10% pension and 2% parental leave.
Also, let’s look at what that 24k gets you in Swedish healthcare:
* Automatic paid sick leave for any duration that your physician orders you not to work.
* Capped payments on drugs per year, after which the government pays for you
* Cheap visits to generalists or specialists, capped at a low level, after which the government pays.
On top of all of that, they have lower infant mortality rates, lower rates of preventable deaths, higher average lifespans, and employ _more_ nurses and physicians per patient despite spending HALF of what we do as a percentage of GDP.
The most revealing statistic however, is that Sweden dedicates a lower percentage of government revenue to healthcare than we do. They get much more than the average American citizen while spending much less percentage wise.
Free healthcare isn’t free, but it’s sure as hell better than what we have.
If you look at a tax calculator you will see that for a Swedish salary equivalent to $60K, the effective tax rate is actually ~27%.
$60K USD == ~540K SEK, which is 45K SEK a month.
Plugging 45,000 into  and choosing the municipality of Stockholm results in a net monthly income of 32,587 SEK.
That's a tax rate of ~27%...
Then on most goods there is a 25% tax, additional taxes other categories of goods such as gas, cars, alcohol and so forth.
So if the company pays you 60k SEK, you'll see ~45k on your payroll slip. The 61% percentage is the average total tax burden on a individual from all of these taxes.
(Would they pay you more if that tax wasn't due? Well, possibly, I suppose. Or they might just pay you the same, and then buy more stuff, employ more people, pay the company owners more money, that sort of thing.)
But the argument being made appeared to be that it will give its existing employees pay rises, to each one in line with how much payroll tax it was paying for each of them previously - but this just strikes me as a bit unlikely.
Don't they also have to compete with other employers in the labor market for labor. How can they possibly keep paying the same salaries.
However, you are just presenting numbers in misleading ways that do not accurately reflect the actual taxes paid. Please stop.
If you actually wanted to make a factual argument about high taxes in Sweden the tax you're better off looking at payroll taxes.
[Anecdote from the Canadian socialized healthcare system]
For instance, when my brother was 11 he was diagnosed with an advanced brain tumour the size of an average naval orange. He was admitted to one of the country's leading children's hospitals (McMaster in Hamilton) one day and was in surgery the next. He spent a week in recovery, half of that week in a private room, then shared with two others. He received follow up appointments there for the following year or two. They were able to remove the entire tumour in one session, with no remaining traces, and without the [temporary or permanent] paralysis they supposed could occur (they gave it a 50% chance he would lose all feeling and motor ability on his left side). He was in hospital, and they accomplished this all in inside of 36 hours.
The cost out-of-pocket to my family was the gas to drive there, and the parking in Hamilton over a couple of days.
Oh yeah, and we bought the doctors a Tim Hortons coffee and donuts...
edited to add: The mentioned visits included a large number of MRI and CAT scans, among other tests.
I'd like you to compare that situation with a like American anecdote: https://www.thebillfold.com/2015/06/the-cost-of-things-a-bra...
Nobody lives in a vacuum, my friend. Wouldn't that be nice if we could account for all cases as you have?
I strongly doubt that someone winning $60K pays 61.85% in Sweden. Your source seems strongly geared towards rich people.
The number is closer to 16k USD if you make 60k USD, see:
This "free" in quotes is such a stale talking point. No one thinks it's literally free, it's free AT THE POINT OF USE, which is assumed anyone knows, but apparently not.
Mozilla is a non-profit, while I worked there I worked exclusively on free software.
And the health insurance fantastic.
Much of what you work on a GitLab, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Redhat, etc. is also open source, depending on what team you join.
>Will the revenue info be public?
Yes, I intend to publish quarterly reports, and I'm open with the financials whenever anyone asks. I generated this report just now for you: https://sr.ht/QOml.txt. This is combined with my donation income, which is already public: https://drewdevault.com/donate/
>Hopefully sustainability is not far off
I hope so too! The way I plan with these numbers is to assume yearly payments are added to the reserves and starts burning down immediately, then I do worst-case projections based on existing monthly donations with a churn factor built-in, then other projections assuming various degrees of growth based on historical numbers. The most pessimistic projections give me ~10 months and the more optimistic ones show sustainablity coming soonish.
>Are the current subscriptions close to replacing what you were making at your fulltime job?
No, but I hope it will be soon!
>I look forward to the day when you can hire other prominent contributors such as emersion.
Me too :)
Just be careful if this is your life savings.
Best of luck Drew, and thank you.
Good luck with everything. And thanks for checking out my project.
Odds are good for TrueCraft, though!
Looking forward to sr.ht being a success :)
My TV told me a "living wage" is at least $15 (but probably higher in liberal controlled areas like NYC / most CA cities / etc due to high cost of living & taxation), but we'll start with $15 to make it easy.
$15/hr at 40hr/week = $31,200 per year.
$31,200 * 328,300,000 population of USA = $10,242,960,000,000
Written out (for emphasis) that's TEN TRILLION TWO HUNDERD FOURTY THREE MILLION DOLLARS. That's just the handouts, not counting in any overhead / administrative costs to give out the handouts. It'll likely be more than that if you adjust it higher than $15 for people living in NYC, etc.
Meanwhile, the entire GDP of the USA is less than 20 Trillion. That's the current GDP where people are incentivized to work, so it would likely go down (perhaps drastically) when people are paid to do nothing under UBI.
Let me know how that adds up.
Keep in mind that when you are counting per person that means you are allocating that much for people not in the workforce like children too. A 4 person household is getting $50,000/year with the above number.
Expecting people who are just living on a UBI to move somewhere with a low cost of living also seems reasonable to me, I suspect you could substantially slash even the $12,000/person/year number and still have it be sufficient.
I also think that a partial UBI (e.g. $3000/year) would likely be nearly as beneficial as a full one, but it does increase overhead costs because then you can't get rid of the rest of the social services.
(Other people have addressed the fact that a comparison to GDP isn't valid because of taxes).
> not counting in any overhead / administrative costs to give out the handouts.
These costs are negative, in the sense that it allows us to remove the other low income services with much greater overhead.
Also, I suspect the formula you intend is X + max(UBI - X, 0)—or, more simply max(UBI, X). Consider what your formula does for pension < UBI.
A UBI that pays a portion of a living wage might be a very good idea, but it's not going to allow the majority of Americans to lay on their butts all day watching TV and eating cheesy poofs.
Some you can get rid of, others you shouldn't. Even if you have UBI, some medical procedure might cost an individual more than they are getting in 10 years. So a proper healthcare system is still important.
I'm a Canadian and basically think you all need to fix your healthcare system anyways, but for simplicities sake I'll just declare that to not be part of what I meant by the rest.
If Americans want UBI, they'll either get it with the repeal of the minimum wage, medicare, medicaid, federal student loans and the complete privatization of healthcare - basically the dismantling of the entire social safety net with the exception of programs to aid the military and agriculture - or else opponents will sabotage what futile efforts are made the way they did the ACA, and then work to repeal it as soon as possible.
As long as UBI is payed for via taxes and not deficit spending than the money supply isn't changing. And as economists say, inflation is a monetary phenomenon.
Supply & demand aren't radically changing either. America's poor eat too much, not too little. And while there are homeless people in America, most sleep in shelters.
If anything, you might expect the price of the cheapest staples and crappiest housing to go down as UBI enables the poor to upgrade their food and housing.
You'd be surprised.
If everyone has another x+12,000 dollars, the amount of money available for low income housing has strictly increased. Landlords are then in a position to raise prices proportionally.
The "America's poor eat too much" line is also not strong. You might argue that they eat the wrong things; this is the food desert/education argument that's commonly made. Regardless there is already artificial price fixing of many staple foods like milk and bread, which is a much better argument.
First, if landlords go to charge more they are increasing the attractiveness of using housing more efficiently. If everyone is getting an extra $1k/mo and landlords are charging an extra $1k/mo, then I'm saving an extra $500/mo when a friend and I decide to room together. For some people this will make the difference in their decision making, and this will increase the number of available units and put downward pressure on prices. From this dynamic alone, we should still expect prices to rise, but less (and likely much less) than the full amount.
Second, we're not really constrained on "supply of housing" at a national scale. We're constrained on supply of "housing where someone wants to live". "Where someone wants to live" comprises a lot of factors, many differing by the individual, but "sufficiently close to ability to make sufficient income" is usually a big part of it. A UBI directly increases our supply of "housing sufficiently close to ability to make sufficient income" which would now be competing against existing stock.
You're contradicting yourself through sloppy thinking. If everyone has another x+12,000 dollars, the money supply has increased. That's the definition of money supply.
It's also a total strawman and not what UBI proposes to do. For example, my wife and I make about $150,000 combined. UBI would basically do nothing for us because of the taxes we'd pay to support it. If anything we'd have less money, not $12,000 more.
The only people who'd have $12,000 more are the totally unemployed and homeless.
The point of UBI isn't that everyone gets more money, it's that everyone is guaranteed to have the means not to starve or be homeless at a minimum.
People who support UBI (including myself) do so not because they would have more money (as stated, I personally would almost certainly lose money), but because they would have less RISK. That's what UBI really does. It lowers the risk of life choices and gives people the freedom to make choices that otherwise they could not have made.
If I'm one of the lucky (which so far, I have been), UBI does nothing for me. But if tomorrow I'm crippled in a car accident and can no longer work, UBI guarantees a certain minimum standard of living.
UBI is a transfer of money from the wealthy, who would have used it to buy filet mignon or something, to the poor, who would likely use it to buy food and shelter. One should expect the prices of food and shelter to rise, relative to other products.
I already live a better, more comfortable life than any Roman emperor ever did. We have the means to ensure that no one in our society suffers in destitution, by a vast margin, and that margin increases continuously as automation of menial work proceeds over time.
Not doing so because it might not be "optimally efficient" according to some arbitrary metric is inhuman.
then you have a money supply issue.
You do realize that is self-contradictory, right? More people buying X means the price of X goes up, not down. (Modulo a bunch of factors that probably don't apply to housing and staples.)
Not unless you are providing means-tested relocation assistance (which is against the spirit of UBI), and ignoring that UBI and the associated taxes to fund it will:
(1) reduce CoL in high CoL areas and,
(2) raise CoL in low CoL areas.
And assisted relocation actually magnifies this effect.
The rest of the money people spend is to bring their existing wealth with them, something that society doesn't need to assist with.
I suppose they would have an account number within the organization that is distributing the money, but that's not quite the same thing, and surely has less overhead.
"liberal controlled areas" is an indicator. People vote for policies that make sense to them. Most people like living in cities, and they like living in places where government provides services that aren't well-distributed by market mechanisms.
Let's go with your $10T number. Then, let's apply a standard progressive income tax, of the kind that has been operating your entire life. Numbers are chosen for convenience and being not too far off from realistic.
At 0 income, you now make $31.2K. No income tax due.
At $7.5K income, such as a $15/hour job you work at for 10 hours a week for 50 weeks, you take in $39K and pay $750 -- a 10% tax bracket.
At $15K income, working that job for 20 hours/week, you take in $46K and pay $1875 in income tax. 7.5K * 0.10 + 7.5K * 0.15
At $30K income, working full-time at minimum wage, you take in $60K and pay 7.5K * 0.10 + 7.5K * 0.15 + 15K * 0.20 = $4875.
At $45K income you take home 75K and pay $4875 + 15K * 0.25 = $6100.
At $60K income you take home 90K and pay $6100 + 15K * 0.33 = $11K.
At $75K income you take home 105K and pay $11K + 25K * 0.5 = $26K, and so you are a net contributor to taxes.
You can set the balance point where you wish: below it, people gain money; above it, people pay more in taxes than they take in from UBI.
While that's going on, you can have smaller government: you no longer need most pensions, most welfare programs, and lots of bureaucracy devoted to finding out whether people should get assistance.
And one more simple change: make income tax calculated by the IRS and you file changes against their preparation, rather than you sitting down and trying to figure everything out each April. Cuts down on frustration and tax avoidance.
Yes please. It drives me crazy that I have to waste time copying numbers between forms for my taxes.
...but this increase of taxes would not harm average people, because they would basically receive the same back in UBI as the increase.
Overhead would be lower than administering current welfare payments, since it's universal so they wouldn't need to do any eligibility checks - just making sure you're a real person so that you can't get it twice under multiple names or something.
Other than that it would be break-even for the government, and for the average person. It's just income redistribution. You're taking the money from the wealthy, and giving it to everyone. The average person will receive as much as they pay and will be in the same position as before. The wealthy will pay more in taxes and have less money after tax. The poor will pay less than them and will have more money in the end.
It's not that complicated, and it's not magic. UBI advocates are advocating redistribution large enough to support basic needs. Yes, that means taking money away from the wealthier people in society, but UBI advocates think we can afford this as a society.
1) People will realize they can work less and still get paid the same. This results in less work than we require getting done.
2) We will still need welfare because some people will spend all of their UBI on non-food items. They will also spend their children's allocation OR trick their children into spending their allocation on non-food items. The option will be to either let children go hungry or create a welfare system that provides only food.
3) It turns out that some people will get bored without jobs and decide that the meaning to their lives is to cause trouble for society at large. Without the need to get up for work they can now stay up until 4am every day finding ways to make life miserable for people who actually do the work that the rest of us rely on. At this point society gets schismed into those who do work and those that don't.
4) In the long term people decide that they don't need education, the ability to socialize with anyone, or the need to participate on any level in a positive fashion towards civilization. We'll have generations of people who only know how to go to the food silos.
5) Maybe there's some problems with actually paying for everything.
And Counting money is a bit harder than that. When I tip waitstaff, that income for them was my income before that and my employer's income before that and hospitals' income before that and, just maybe, that same waiter's income before that. But if instead it was medicare's money, it got an excellent ROI in terms of GDP output per tax dollar spent.
I think you underestimate the amount of people that are content with not doing anything.
I'm more concerned with people who decide that they want to do something destructive. Staying up til 4am is possible when the food check comes no matter what. Deciding that you want to ruin someone's life by not letting them sleep ever seems like it could easily become a pastime.
Also concluded ones in Namibia and in India i think
I'm really not worried about the people who decide to do nothing (at least not in the first generation of UBI). I'm worried about the people who realize that now they can dress up as clowns and terrorize random people as a full time job because the food is coming regardless of what they do.
I think some people like it because it could act as a replacement for so many other government "aid" schemes. Disability allowances, Housing allowances, Health spending could all be cut to zero, as we would know everyone had money to spend on what they liked. Personal responsibility all the way.
Other people like the idea of money for nothing, and well, if we manage to automate everything then we might need money for nothing to keep the wheels turning.
There are two main differences of this system from true UBI: First, it's only paid to people who don't have any money at all (beyond a couple thousand euros). Any car, flat, house, expensive TV, etc. that you own is subject to that rule and if you possess those, you are required to first sell them.
Second, it's not additional. Once you do make money, your income will only rise if you make more than what you'd have gotten from the social services. This locks in quite many people into this system because even if they would seek employment, maybe what they get in the end is only €100 more than without the social services, but they gotta get up every day at 6 am.
What needs to be added along with being paid for existing, is training and potential job opportunities to be setup to get them off of the system. I think that most people in these programs would have no issue being given the ability to work. The major issue with be with people who will object to getting jobs they are "too good for." Hopefully those people are few and far between.
That's why UBI is a hot topic. Its a way out of a collapse.
Yes and no. I think a lot of of this automation will mean we will be going back to the world of trade schools where repair becomes a lot more important. Same goes with installation of these automated systems. The US loves to push "shovel ready" construction jobs but we should be focusing more on training for installation and repair of automation.
I've found it kind of odd that we've lost a lot of the trade skills being taught in high school. I'm in my mid 30's and I'm the only person my age I know who took classes in Small Gas Engines, Carpentry, Electrical, Plumbing, etc. From that point a lot of kids went right on to get Journeymen certs and many now own their own businesses. If they would bring those classes back and also teach these types of skills to those underemployed I think you could easily transition into any type of related field.
As for whether we need 30 million engineers, thats entirely up to what we want to be as a society. If you don't think we can come up with engineering work for 30 million people I beg to differ.
We're down 5M factory jobs since 2000, to something like 13M. And the rest are slated to go as automation becomes cheaper. When factories 'come back' from overseas, its only because now automation is even cheaper than foreign labor.
Less than I would of thought- considering it used to be a rite of passage for many teenagers.
In Ontario (before the new government killed it before the study could be completed), the system was going to include a progressive taxation system— essentially, the more you earn, the less you receive in UBI payments, until you are actively paying into the system. The system would have also included the end of our current welfare and disability payment systems— putting less pressure on the bureaucracy and on the people who are in need of assistance. Many people taking part in the study were using the additional help (it was actually around $23k CAD here) to start businesses and go back to school.
It's a little disingenuous to just shout about totals when I don't think anybody [serious, or to be taken seriously] has proposed such a plan.
Almost all of the Democrat 2020 field (that we know of so far) have come out with some kind of handouts-in-exchange-for-votes platform for their campaign https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/democrats-eye...
It's still early, but I'd expect to see them solidify over some of these types of income redistribution strategies as we near Nov 2020.
Sure, Social Security is not like a perfect, shining example, but it can be fixed/improved, and scaling it up by 10x (which is a gross overestimate, as other commenters have pointed out), is nothing to sneeze at. But at the same time, it's not really as ridiculous as your comments wants to paint it (i.e. "omg this is clearly patently absurd, why even entertain this nonsense?").
You've completely glossed over the fact that people generally don't hoard money, especially not those living on $15/hr. People will spend that money, and it could even grow the economy (by GDP). Your little mind experiment is not nearly rigorous enough nor realistic to justify dismissing UBI out of hand.
To start with, 24% of the population are minors, so that knocks a few trillion off that figure.
Secondly, a UBI isn't a living wage, so $15 in today to dollars is not a starting figure, because that is a wage in exchange for work.
UBI is meant to cover the very basics, like a food and varying amounts of housing (depending on the local housing market). For some, it operates as a dividend that helps make ends meet on top of their regular work, especially in high cost areas.
In low cost areas it could function as a living wage, and even cover a significant portion of housing.
This merely will keep wages low (what currently is happening) by subsidizing poor pay. Many cities have subsidized housing (and/or rent control). The net effect is these people can 'afford' to live in areas while making lower pay. Without subsidized housing, employers would literally have to pay more or rents would have to go down; there wouldn't be anyone able to sustain the rents.
The big difference is, with subsidized housing, society has created a captive poverty tier.
Many wealthy people who live in rent-controlled or property-tax capped housing benefited handsomely from the huge tax break passed by the previous Congress. Some of them have normal income but large inherited wealthbheld in securities like stocks, which also appreciated due to the corporate cuts. They can afford to live in places their income couldn't otherwise support. Your logic applies equally to that situation. You will always find people who you can argue unfairly benefit from a redistribution scheme.
At least with subsidized housing the program is government administered so it can be accounted for when considering UBI.
UBI doesn't erase the reality that some people got a better deal in housing, or life, but for a huge number of people who are scraping by, it helps put a floor under them.
> You will always find people who you can argue unfairly benefit from a redistribution scheme.
A redistribution scheme is inherently unfair.
> At least with subsidized housing the program is government administered so it can be accounted for when considering UBI.
Subsidized housing creates artificial housing demand, raising rents. Without subsidized housing, wages would need to raise in order for people to live in a given location or rents would need to fail. Failing rents make rental units less profitable, thus more people would be able to purchase homes and get out off the rent treadmill entirely.
Solving the affordable housing problem cannot be achieved by subsidizing low wages and high rents.
> A redistribution scheme is inherently unfair.
I would love to see what a strong defense of this looks like, that doesn't wind up having all kinds of weird and probably unintended implications. I can't think of one. Best I can do is to define terms such that it becomes tautological.
All systems of tax, benefits, and even property rights are redistribution schemes, including the recent tax cut, which was a redistribution upwards in the income/wealth scale. Redistribution is always relative to the previous state of societal wealth and resource distribution. There is no set point of "fairness".
> Subsidized housing creates artificial housing demand
What exactly is "artificial housing demand"? The need for primary housing for poorer people (as fulfilled by subsidized housing) is anything but artificial. You can't fake needing a roof over your head. The only place you can see anything like "artificial" housing demand is at the high end in demand for second homes, investment real estate, and vacation properties.
> Solving the affordable housing problem cannot be achieved by subsidizing low wages and high rents.
Agreed. It can only be solved by building more housing. But the purpose of UBI isn't to solve the affordable housing problem. Society can walk and chew gum at the same time by also building more housing where people want to live, which seems like an equally high a political and economic hurdle as UBI.
UBI could in some cases, however, give some people the means to move away from high housing cost areas to areas where UBI goes a longer way towards providing housing for them. Many people are stuck in high-housing cost areas because that's the only place that job opportunities exist. This is not just true for professional workers, but also for blue collar and lower income workers who are even less able to afford housing in expensive metropolises.
The net result of a tax cut, even if applied unevenly, would be less redistribution, by definition, not more.
> What exactly is "artificial housing demand"?
Supply and demand. Everyone obviously can't afford to pay $1 million in rent per month, thus market rents are substantially lower. Government intervention is creating artificial demand at a higher price point than would otherwise be sustainable.
> Agreed. It can only be solved by building more housing.
Why would a city build more housing when the wealthy control the poor with subsidized housing. They always have a steady stream of income thanks to welfare.
> UBI could in some cases, however, give some people the means to move away from high housing cost areas to areas where UBI goes a longer way towards providing housing for them.
The market has an answer for this. It's just going to raise prices in those more desirable areas.
You are leaving out what follows tax cuts, which is the cutting of government services to the poor. That's where the upward redistribution would in the near term. That might have happened if the political winds were blowing in a different direction this past November.
For now, those disproportionate tax cuts for the wealthy are being paid for with record national debt, which will be borne by the non wealthy of a future generation.
Yours is the same logic that lauded the tax cut for giving a secretary a $1.50/week after tax pay increase, a boast which was then retracted in apparent shame:
> The market has an answer for this. It's just going to raise prices in those more desirable areas.
As will tax cuts.
How does that work? Is the UBI of both parents (or, worse, the single parent) supposed to cover the costs of raising their children for those primarily dependent on UBI?
Beyond that, it looks like wages being roughly half of the GDP matches our current setup fairly well: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=2Xa
ten trillion two hundred forty two billion nine hundred sixty million and no thousands ;-)
How about "over $10.2 trillion"?
UBI is supposed to support people so that they can do the work that they believe is most valuable and to prevent people from being dis-incentivised from pursuing work. It has other goals as well such as eliminating other welfare services, removing minimum wage, and incentivising moving away from cities but those first two are the primary reasons.
In that light, something like $10-$12,000 is more like it -- should cover rent, basic food, electricity, and so on. It's to not have homeless, destitute, left behind people, not to cover nice living expenses.
For a family, $10 will be of course $20, and so on. A few friends could pool and stay in the same house with $1000 rent and get $40K between them, etc.
I'm not sure it's the right option, but it's something to consider. If you have someone below the poverty line and you tell them "I'll give you 30k, but due to inflation each dollar will only be able to buy half of what it can now." I think they'll take that deal.
Print money to fund government programs = Venezuela
Historically, was there ever a time that hyperinflation didn't end badly?
Most UBI proposals don't cover a living wage. They're usually something like $10k/year for all adults, which would come out to $2.5 trillion. Most proposals both cut benefits and raise taxes, so this is very doable.
Second, your example is kind of a socialism strawman, but let's take it to its logical conclusion. The current total income of the US is about $16.4 trillion (after Social Security, etc.). If we were to redistribute that across everyone in the US, that's close to $50k/yr. Considering that the average wage for men is $33k/yr and the average income for women is $19k/yr, that's a huge raise, 52% and 163% respectively.
But that's giving everyone $50k/yr -- from toddlers to the mega rich. If we just include adults, it's closer to $66k/yr. That's a 200% raise for men and 247% raise for women.
Of course, if you have an above average income you're losing money. And there are real questions about what such an egalitarian society and economy looks like. But you would eradicate poverty in the US and solve countless social problems.
Fundamentally, UBI policies are about _redistribution_ of wealth, not additional expenditures as you suggest. Any serious UBI policy proposal takes into account budget and administrative overhead. For example, this  proposal from AEI, a conservative think tank.
Tell me where am wrong on this, because you can't start talking about UBI in the USA, while the political class in the country is super hostile even to the concept of universal healthcare, a policy that is uncontroversial in much of the developed, (even developing!) world.
What about paid sick leave, maternity leave, paternity leave etc.? Here the USA does even worse, since not only does practically every developed and developing country have these, but in fact almost every country has some form of these. If USA is hostile to implementing social policies common in much of the rest of the world, you can't start talking about UBI in any serious manner anyway.
And they're a segment of the population. To study the result of a population receiving a BI, there's plenty of data.
Which of them completely displaces means-tested welfare to provide the support floor for all who are in the eligible population. Social Security doesn't. Pensions don't. Being idly rich might, I suppose, in that that is just “living of capital” but ignoring all the people who don't have a lot to live on.
> And they're a segment of the population. To study the result of a population receiving a BI, there's plenty of data.
Not relevant to UBI there isn't. Some segment of the population receiving income varying a Ross indiciduals based on their past work and investments isn't even loosely similar to the whole population of a community receiving equal unconditional UBI, and there is little reason to expect the former to provide much insight on the latter.
You can't of course study the impact on the economy, but you can surely understand how people change with the UBI.
I'm going to assume you're not in the USA. Washington DC is over 70% Democrat (which is our left wing party) https://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/housing-complex/blo...
Washington DC hasn't elected a Republican (our right wing party, about 6% of the population there) since the 1870s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_party_strength_in_Wa....
Am not, but follow the politics there closely.
> Washington DC is over 70% Democrat
Am not talking about the actual place "Washington DC", am talking about it as a seat of power, the seat of government. The politicians in the House and Senate and their leanings.
> which is our left wing party
The Democratic Party is nowhere near "left-wing" by what most of the developed world understands that to mean. The Democratic Party has policies equivalent to the Conservative Party in Britain, (The Conservative Party is a right-wing party).
It is precisely because of the extremely right-wing ideology of most lawmakers in Washington that you have moved to such a position where the center-right, (Democrats), are called "left-wing" and the far-right, (Republicans), are refereed to as "center-right". Only in the USA. You don't have a viable left-wing party over there.
There's people like Bernie Sanders and AOC that are what I'd call center-left, but because how far right the acceptable debate in the USA has shifted, they're "socialists".
There is effectively no real representation of the left, beyond the center-left, in US electoral politics.
Yes she does, because she's working within the American context.
What I am saying is that she would not be refereed to as"socialist" in much of the rest of the developed world.
She is only a "socialist" because of how right-wing the USA political context is.
An easy way you can tell, even as an American, is that she's not advocating for abolishing capitalism and seizing the means of production, which are the central pillars of socialism. She's advocating for some social policies that have been common elsewhere for decades.
Depends. Socialism has a wide variety of forms. Some are closer to communism than others. Whether we talk about socialism, or communism, more "worker-control" over resources is usually a central pillar of both. It's just that the closer one gets to communism within socialism, the more "means of production" they support turning over to the worker.
It's worth noting that even the USSR did not refer to itself as communist, it was simply 'on a path there', if you will.
From all I know, in the US they think of this when they think "socialist". There's little difference in their mind. I simply wanted to dispel the notion that somebody like AOC is anywhere near "socialist" in the Soviet sense. What she's advocating for is just to import some social policies as per the Nordic model, but not to fundamentally change the existing system to be closer to USSR, which is what many on the right seem to imagine.
In American English, in political contexts, “Washington” is a frequently used idiom for “decision-makers in the US Federal Government”. (This applies mutatis mutandis, to the names of political capitals generally, which stand in for the leadership of the government seared their; in the context of discussions of a particular corporation or other organization, this also applies to the names of cities wherein regional or central HQs are related).
Anyone who misses this has really no place commenting that other people must not be American because of ignorance free of the partisan alignment of the electorate in the capital district.
You know they don't have any real federal representation, right? Calling them an electorate when referring to anything other than local DC politics is probably not appropriate.