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Basic income in Finland did not lead to finding work, researchers said (bbc.co.uk)
127 points by grahamel 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 333 comments





It's a general misunderstanding that Basic Income is some sort of job program, it's not. It's a job replacement program for a society where there aren't enough jobs for everyone because technology have taken over most.

Basic Income should provide fundamental living cost support in a society that has no jobs so there is no "but" in there.

Edit: Keep in mind we already have Basic Income it's just conditional. UBI is different.


True. In addition, from an employer's perspective, it unlocks easy employment of people without massive commitment from either side.

Can I do a few hours work for this guy without losing my unemployment? Yes.

Can I employ this person for a few hours without having to pay them while on paternity leave to make sure their kid gets a good start to life? Yes.


> Can I do a few hours work for this guy without losing my unemployment?

UBI doesn't really make sense as a replacement for unemployment insurance, unless benefits are really high. If you replace UI with a poverty-support-level UBI, it makes unemployment a lot worse for anyone but the lowest-paid workers.

UBI might reduce the perceived need for public funding of additional unemployment benefits in extended downturns (though if the be benefit level is poverty-support-level, probably not that much; that's more of a support for middle-income dislocation.)


UBI doesn't really make sense as a replacement to almost any traditional welfare programs for the simple reason that by limiting the money to only those who qualify for it, you can give more. Yet unfortunately UBI is often presented as an alternative that would supplant traditional welfare.

It replaces more than just welfare. There are lots of different programs to prevent people from falling into poverty, whether due to long term unemployment, disability, retirement without savings, or part-time work at minimum wage. UBI can replace all of them. Progressive tax rates tend to have a 0% tax rate for the lowest bracket because people with a very low income need it all to just get by. If they get UBI on top of that, it could be an option to compensate that by raising the tax rate on the lowest tax bracket (and others maybe too).

The point is not simply to give people more money (though in some countries that might not be a bad idea), but to ensure that they don't lose that money if their situation changes. Often it's more attractive to remain completely unemployed than to work part time at minimum wage. With UBI, every bit of paid work you do, leaves you better off financially. It removed disincentives to work, because working people get it too. The costs of UBI are easily balanced with taxes. And because you don't have to qualify for it, you can save a lot on bureaucracy; it leaves people at the bottom of the economic ladder with a lot more freedom in their lives.


> UBI doesn't really make sense as a replacement to almost any traditional welfare programs for the simple reason that by limiting the money to only those who qualify for it, you can give more.

For means-tested programs, you can replace means-testing with unconditional benefits and appropriate progressive tax rate changes, and acheive exactly the same effects (modulo differences in definitions of income, but is there really a big benefit there?) while eliminating duplicate bureaucracy. Most UBI proponents don't prefer as rapid of a claw-back (which sometimes exceeds 100% in some ranges) as the aggregate of existing means-tested welfare programs, and would instead claw-back at a slower rate but extend the claw-back higher up the income distribution so that the drag is on the rich rather than the lower middle class, to improve upward mobility compared to existing means-tested welfare, but if you wanted to optimize only for bureaucratic efficiency without moving the claw-back higher up the income distribution and keeping it below a 100% marginal rate to eliminate perverse incentives, you could do that with UBI and tax changes, too, and still have a (smaller) net win.


The standard counterargument is that the current welfare system uses a shambling bureaucratic apparatus which forces people to go through an onerous, dehumanizing process of filling out endless forms to determine whether they're the "deserving poor" or the "undeserving poor". UBI, in dispensing with with this expensive process, is claiming back money that's essentially just being hurled into a void for no reason.

I have no idea whether that's enough to make up the difference.


Yeah, your point is strongly supported by this experiment. The majority of the UBI recipient subjects switched to standard unemployment, which was of greater value.

Which is why ubi mostly make sense if there arent any jobs left not if there still is a substantial jobmarket.

I am not surprised at all with this result. Why would anyone expect that conditional assistance would lead to people finding jobs. A good number of people might just be comfortable with the assistance and might decide to just stick with it.

And while doing that, cut the bureaucracy and stigma of having to continuously apply for welfare, food stamps etc. Not that this would offsets the cost of basic income.

If we picture a dystopian future where due to the rise of automation, increases in population, lack of education and ability, ~90% of people cannot realistically work in a productive jobs, I think it's a good time to experiment now what and how to keep all these people busy, preoccupied, and happy.


I don't picture a dystopian future. I picture a post-scarcity future.

So I am all for these experiments but judging them based on whether people stay jobless is missing the point of UBI in such a fundamental way it's hard to understate that.


I always think of Star Trek. It isn't really explored in depth but there isn't money and people don't have to work, transporter rationing is alluded to though. I guess in a world where everything can be made in a replicator, 'employment' becomes untenable. You still need some way of rationing scarce resources, and allowing people to 'vote' for what they want more of though.

Scarcity is beyond just stuff. Land for example is a finite resource.

If we are efficient enough in our use of land, the demand relative to the supply will shrink enough that it's no longer scarce.

I suppose lots of people enjoy owning their own land-- large tracts of it in fact, and not sharing it with anyone. That's a little tougher to conceptualize as post-scarcity as there's a limit to making land enjoyment more efficient with advanced technology. But in a world where other resources are less scarce perhaps we can think about colonizing other planets and terraforming as ways to increase supply.


Land will always be scarce because it isn't quantity of land (though that too can be a separate issue) but quantity coupled with positioning of land. Most people could afford to purchase four acres of land in Alaska or VT's north east kingdom, but four acres along central park is quite expensive because, due to the location of the site relative to all the services of NYC and the access to greenery, it is rather exclusive... and I don't believe (including references from all the SciFi I've ever read) that there is any situation society could be in that would nullify the difference in value of two parcels of land - Judge Dredd and Mega City one I believe come closest, even though land overall is much more of a limited supply, most of the inhabitable land is equally worthless - but there are still a few Oasis of dystopian high society around that have vastly different value.

If we draw even to Hitchiker's Guide's concept of built planets, and we considered the cost of making planets would eventually trend to zero... there is still the concept of locality that would influence price.


Presumably, if you have unlimited resources, you can create most, if not all, of what makes that land in NYC valuable. You could create enough city districts to meet demand.

There's lots of factors that go into the value of land. Available amenities, jobs, being near other people, quality of schools and other resources, transportation, etc. But those all seem to boil down to scarce resources being pooled in one area. If you could mass produce amenities, buildings, school supplies, etc, then NYC wouldn't have any inherent value, because its equal would exist everyone someone cared to plop one down where there was enough demand to fill it with people.


I don't know if post-scarcity must mean perpetual motion machine. I'm not certain if you're familiar with the societal concept of systems collapse but it may be that attempting to do that would result in a maintenance burden that's untenable... Also I think a large chunk of NYC's value is in its people and I believe there's always going to be advantageous positioning from rarity, maybe this eventual society still has a government that has a capitol building and people congregate specifically around that... or perhaps it's more artificial - if the whole world was a city perhaps it'd get less significant and value would come from living at exactly 0' 0' or 3'14" 15'92" and so on.

I think there's a bit of innate petty jealousy in human beings so land value differentials will always exist.

But, that angle is pretty thin, so maybe I'm just stretching the argument at this point. Quite interesting to ponder!


I think that the problem is that the time when technology causes dramatic unemployment is likely to happen long before the time when technology can provide unlimited resources. So the question is: what do we do in-between?

The idea of land ownership is as mythical as Thor's hammer. You don't own land - you own a right to do certain things on that land to the exclusion of others. Only sovereignty gives actual ownership of land - transferring it to another jurisdiction, setting up your own laws, destroying said land and doing whatever the fuck one would do when one is literally "law onto oneself".

Also - money is no longer representative of a thing you can hold. Money is a share of wealth of a nation, which includes trust, culture, people, land and buildings.


How is land ownership different from anything else, say like the Thors hammer I bought on ebay?

It seems to me that colonizing other planets would only be a viable solution if we first developed faster than light or at least near light speed travel; and those may or may not be physically possible. Otherwise we would just end up with a scarcity of planets within practical travel distance of each-other.

Not really. Even if we triple land use efficiency, population growth will increase the demand to compensate

Not at current fertility rates. If the current trend continues we're in for a world-wide population decline.

Other replies addressed the issues with assuming that population growth will continue as-is, but I also wanted to mention that humans are pretty creative so if we did continue to grow we'd likely start doing ecumenopolis things, deepening ocean trenches to concentrate oceans more and increase the usable land area on earth, start seriously considering the moon/mars for terraforming, building more vertically (above and below ground).

I don't think the volume of land will ever be an issue for humans, but I think that land will never be equally valued.


If you increase education, you'll learn that population will not grow that fast.

Population growth has been steadily slowing down since 1960s.

Broadly speaking, that is because we're approaching something like a carrying capacity, estimated to be somewhere around 10B.

If we increase land use efficiency dramatically, that effectively raises the carrying capacity and population growth can continue much longer


The population growth decline is not tied to the carrying capacity but to the development of the economy. Countries that are further economically developed have lower birth rates and vice versa. For example Finland is mostly a country of deserted forest, yet it has a very slow growth rate. The country could carry a population of 50 million easily, but is hardly growing anymore at 5 million.

It is and it isn't. Land in Manhattan is scarce. Land in the non-coastal western US or most of Canada or Australia is theoretically scarce too, but not so much in practice.

If humanity lived at the density of Paris (21,438/km^2), we could all live in an area half the size of Texas (695,663 km^2).

So if we're talking about material post-scarcity, land is more than plentiful.


If humanity lived at the density of Wyoming (5.97/mi^2), we would have to get rid of 50% of the U.S. population or 98% of the world population, because only 147M people could fit on the habitable land on earth.

So yes, it is and it isn't. The question is how many people want to live in Wyoming-level densities vs. Paris-level densities, given the elimination of any cost constraints.


> The question is how many people want to live in Wyoming-level densities vs. Paris-level densities.

Do they get a choice? I want to live in Disneyland, but there's sadly a distinct lack of real estate available.


That's sort of the definition of a post-scarcity world. If people want stuff but can't have it because there's not enough to go around, that's pretty much the definition of scarcity.

The idea of a "post-scarcity" world is silly. Some resources will always be limited. Land, diamonds, prestige, etc.

What matters is, how scarce are the necessities of a moderately-comfortable life? I would posit that people who live in cities do just fine. If some people want more space, well, you can still work for it. Not all jobs are going to disappear.


> Land in the non-coastal western US or most of Canada or Australia is theoretically scarce too, but not so much in practice.

If the acquisition cost is >0, it is scarce in practice as well as theory.


"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice but in practice there is."

Land in these places can be something like $500/acre. That's not zero, but compared to the land prices people are more familiar with, it's as close as makes no difference in practice.


> Land in these places can be something like $500/acre. That's not zero

...and thus economically scarce...

> but compared to the land prices people are more familiar with, it's as close as makes no difference in practice.

It's very cheap. But very cheap things are still scarce. Something that isn't scarce has no price and everyone (even the poorest of the poor) who wants any quantity of it will have as much as they want without sacrificing anything.

Land in the places you describe is cheap. The price may even seem negligible to people in the upper middle class in the developed world. It's very much still scarce.

The difference between scarce and not scarce is not a matter of price, it's a fundamental difference of kind.


Horizontally maybe, but not vertically.

So post-scarcity we should all join the Space Force and subject ourselves to the Captain's whims?

I'll take scarcity, thank you.


This isn't a dystopian future, it's a dystopian present.

Most of the work people do today doesn't really need to be done, but we force people to do it anyway for various reasons. https://strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs/ (there's also a pretty decent free ebook on the subject by the author)


The Expanse (books and TV show) use that idea pretty well

Amos was such a happy child :-)

Usually war served to reduce that surplus, but with automation in the military as well, this is uncharted territory.

The Black Death in the 14 century killed a third of the population of Europe, which lead to a surprising rise in wages and standards of living.

It's weird and uncomfortable how tragedy sometimes leads to very good things. Similarly in the opposite direction, automation should have been a good thing yet it leads to unemployment and poverty.


So Thanos was right all along, no?

In a sense, yes. But if he has that power, he could just as easily have doubled the resources in the galaxy, and that possibility never even occurred to him.

It seems like to him it's more a convenient excuse to kill lots of people.


Don't forget that all that bureaucracy is the source of thousands of good paying jobs that now also are worse off even when they get added to UBI. Also, don't forget that now that they have less money, their collective reduced spending means the business they used to patron will have to lay people off. Now those people also need UBI. This doesn't spiral to infinity but their is a huge ripple effect.

Yes, bureaucracy provides a lot of jobs, but they're not jobs that produce anything useful. You're just paying people to check if other people should also get paid. Just pay everybody and be done with it, and maybe let people do something more productive or fulfilling.

The overhead for condional basic income is huge, if most things are done by machine the cost of those will drop quite substantially whichmeans you need much less to get by.

Why not just optimize human output like China did and incentivize education in fields that provide large scale value to society (STEM primarily) so that children are likely to deliver commensurate value to society to their costs?

That's kind of missing the point, if theres 90% unemployment, unless you arrange is so people are in education or retirement for all but circa 5 years of their life, most won't get a chance to use their skills, and no one will have money to buy the things they make anyway.

In Finland there's no tuition and almost all students get financial aid: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_financial_aid_(Finland...

Has there been any exploration of a version of Basic Income in exchange for community service?

There's a virtually endless amount of unskilled work that could be done to improve the environment and people's lives.


Paying people in exchange for work is called a job, not UBI.

Kinda except you get to pick any "job" you want, work any amount of hours you want but still know you will get paid exactly the same amount. People might be happier reading to seniors 10 hours a week but not for minimum wage.

So how do you determine want amount of community service is necessary? Does picking up one piece of trash off the sidewalk count as community service?

As soon as you tie the payment to a certain type of task, you have to enforce a standard of time/quality.


Sounds sort of like the New Deal "Civilian Conservation Corps" that built up many of the national park facilities we now enjoy in the USA.

I have proposed something similar here:

https://medium.com/s/free-money/guaranteed-minimum-agricultu...

(I use agriculture as the catchy example because almost every community could use some amount of it, but it goes well beyond that)


I think this is a great idea. I have also been pitching it in conversations with people who oppose UBI for years and it is generally very well received by them. Unfortunately I am unaware if this has actually been implemented anywhere.

I think it'd be a great idea.. you either are on disability, work an average of at least 20 hours a week at a paid, taxable job (under the table work won't count), or you volunteer for registered services programs for 20 hours a week.

20 hours a week is just my suggestion as a minimum that would allow for people to still job search if they choose to and could be averaged over a quarter or year or similar. Exceptions would be for those who would traditionally be on Medicare. Note: I think if UBI were implemented that Medicare and a lot of other programs should be replaced by it.


> Note: I think if UBI were implemented that Medicare and a lot of other programs should be replaced by it.

Medicare is a program that solely exists for the retired who over 65 and disabled people.

Medicaid, on the other hand, is available to those who live in states that accepted federal funding via the ACA and are within a certain percentage of the federal poverty line.

Those who don't qualify for Medicaid, but are under a certain income level, have their health insurance premiums subsidized via the ACA.

If you plan on eliminating Medicaid, you'll need to acknowledge the fact that even people who earn many multiples of the federal poverty level are still eligible for subsidized health insurance due to burden of costs. If people who are not poor by federal standards need to have their health insurance costs subsidized, that means people whose income is derived from UBI-esque make-work programs will have a hard time affording health insurance if they're considered eligible for Medicaid, but it was eliminated.

This is why many proponents see UBI as an adjunct, not a replacement, for existing programs.


I specifically said medicare... also, I meant medicare. If there's a program for UBI, then medicare should be part of it. I said nothing of medicaid, or the ACA subsidization, and you are assuming a lot here.

Similarly, I think socialized insurance programs should also fold in VA medical benefits, medicaid and other subsidized programs under a single umbrella. I'm not a fan of bureaucracy. That said, the post you replied to mentions no such thing.


Most of the discussions of UBI are amounts too small to cover e.g chemotherapy. Or are you picturing a collapse in prices of healthcare as well?

Again, I'm not talking about touching medicaid, I'm also not talking about any specific limits for given age brackets. Only suggesting that any such new organization should fold in one or more existing organizations.

> It's a general misunderstanding that Basic Income is some sort of job program, it's not.

The problem is that I've heard many proponents of UBI sell it as exactly that, a way for people to get better jobs. And I can't really blame them, framing UBI as a way to make unemployment more comfortable is not going to be very successfully politically.


> framing UBI as a way to make unemployment more comfortable is not going to be very successfully politically.

Not least because in developed countries alternative redistribution systems exist to make unemployment more comfortable (much more comfortable than UBI, potentially, since fewer people will be net recipients), but on the assumption that people will actually take a job if offered it. Arguing it's worth redistributing funds from those who need or want to work to those who prefer leisure is a much harder sell...


I'm not sure I'd call it a "general misunderstanding", because people seem to have very different thoughts on what UBI is or should be for.

I generally align with your view, but I'm not convinced our definition is more "correct" than others. It would be nice to get the terminology straightened out.


The misunderstanding is that UBI in the first world is some kind of benevolent gift to the unemployed. UBI is the government's and elite's way of making sure people don't revolt against them because they have no way to support themselves.

The big fail is that the proposed way of giving it is the no "strings attached" method. A total waste of resources. If people get so lost, that they can't provide for themselves; how is money going to solve the situation? It can't and it won't. A societal characteristic is that their will always be levels. People that are taken care of are always at the lower level. UBI will only keep people at the lower rungs of society.

If UBI is ever going to be a reality it needs to come with guidance that helps people get out of the hole they are in.

The idea of a future with no jobs is silly. It will only come to be if that's what we make it. A job can be anything. I go out and I see ads for a local Palm reader. A BS job if there was ever any. But yet, it's been a business for at least 20 yrs. Don't tell me that people can't be creative and create jobs but without any force or guidance to help people out of the problem there will never be a solution.

I will go as far as saying that a future with a widespread no strings attached UBI will cause a future with no jobs.


Andrew Yang (pro-UBI candidate for U.S. President) lists as the first benefit of UBI:

> UBI encourages people to find work. Many current welfare programs take away benefits when recipients find work, sometimes leaving them financially worse off than before they were employed. UBI is for all adults, regardless of employment status, so recipients are free to seek additional income, which most everyone does.

Not increasing employment contradicts this claimed benefit.

https://www.yang2020.com/blog/ubi_faqs/benefits-universal-ba...


We shouldn't just accept a future of joblessness. It's a terrible waste of human capital. Rather than simply paying people to be unemployed, we should find work for them to do that benefits society in some way. To an extent we need to be investing more in our people, especially in the U.S., but there are also things we could do like large scale infrastructure projects that could help fill the gap for people that don't have the knowledge/skill for many of the jobs that can't be automated.

> we should find work for them to do that benefits society in some way

introduce basic income and people will make themselves useful.


There is little to no evidence to support this claim. Whereas what I'm talking about was done after the great depression and developed a lot of infrastructure, especially in rural America, that wouldn't have existed otherwise.

how many of those who have enough money to never work again, never work again?

you severely underestimate the psychological desire to be useful and live a fulfilling life.

the evidence is there - it's ideological convictions that prevent you from seeing and accepting it.


Besides the job thing, there are a lot of UBI criticisms around the "dignity if work" and how UBI will make them unhappy, so I am glad this exists as a counterargument.

> there aren't enough jobs for everyone because technology have taken over most.

And yet the US has full employment.

Could it be that Finland lacks jobs for some reason other than technology?


The US does not have full employment. The actual percentage of working age people who are employed is below peak levels. Also quite a few people are working part time.

Also, the unemployment rate communicates nothing about the dignity of a job. The 45 year old former factory worker who is now fighting for hours at a retail job counts as employed. He also counts as angry, depressed and ready to burn the system down.

> The US does not have full employment.

* Citation needed.

Here's the Fed saying we are:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-fed-kaplan/feds-kapla...


From a similar time frame: https://slate.com/business/2018/05/the-unemployment-rate-is-...

Just like the cost of living index, Politicians often use misleading techniques to calculate "employment rate"


Alright then, let's look at this index that article proposes:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS12300060

At 79.9, it's not quite record high employment, but it's close.


Someone working an hour a week counts as employed.

I wonder if the rise of gig-economy type work has dirtied the employment data pool? If you're out of work and looking for a employment, yet you're still scraping by a few bucks every week due to Uber or Lyft or something similar, and you're a part of a significant percentage of people doing the same then unemployment numbers probably aren't as pretty as some would like us to believe.

U6 unemployment numbers include workers who are employed part time but would prefer to be full time, and U6 is near all time lows.

But labor force participation rates are still very, very low. If you'd like a job but don't have one, you don't get counted in any unemployment stats except the aggregate labor force participation.

This caught my attention so I looked for a source. Looks like this rate is the number of people who are Employed (60.7%) or have been actively seeking work in the last week (4%) out of the total population of people who are 16 years or older, not institutionalized, and not active military.

The source I found doesn't break down the remaining 35.3% of the population much, except to pull out about 2% as marginally attached or discouraged. Basically, people who have given up looking for work. I tried figuring out the makeup of the remaining 33%, but without much luck. How many 16 and older students are out there not working because they are full time committed to schooling? Hard to figure out, because so many students have part time jobs or are at least actively looking for part time jobs. Then, how many people are retired by choice, versus retired because there's no more work for them? How many homemakers are staying home with kids because they can't earn enough to significantly exceed childcare expenses versus those who stay home because they don't need or want to work?


Overall (all ages) labor force participation rates are low, but labor force participation among people 25-54 are very high.

All ages LFPR are probably low because the Baby Boomers are retiring and Millenials are still in college.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS12300060


So, an Uber drive that's in the app available for calls 35+ hours a week but gets few calls, are they part-time or full-time?

Don't worry they are getting paid 80 cents an hour.

No, it doesn't count.

> And yet the US has full employment.

The US has “full employment” only under a definition of “full employment” that allows significant involuntary under- and un-employment to exist while still applying the label.


That an entirely different discussion.

My point is that saying "people are happy but jobless" is missing the point of UBI.

UBI at this point is more an experimental pilot project to see what it does to people not to actually figure out how to pay for it which is another discussion also.

What it's not a pilot project for is to see if people get jobs as it's a proposed solution for a jobsless future for most.


The existence of Marie Condo would suggest we have too much stuff, as would the fact that we are using the earths resources faster than we can replenish them. Growth at the moment is predicated on buying ever more 'stuff', theres a limit to how long we can keep doing that.

At the other end we get better at making ever more stuff with less labour. That widget factory that used to employ 1000 people 50 years ago, now employs 10 for the same output. Now from a stuff buying point of view that's good, your products are cheaper so people can buy more. But what happens at the extreme. 0 employees in a factory? If everyone does that there aren't any employees to buy the stuff you've made.

Both of these trends are happening, both are unsustainable, sooner or later we are going to have to address them.


right, this is why whenever I drive through any major metropolitan area in the U.S the only thing I ever see is people being gainfully employed. What, this U.S you're talking about - it really is Utopia.

It's neither (at least, exclusively) a jobs program nor a jobs replacement program, but it has elements of both; it makes more work available (when replacing minimum wages as a floor-setting system), improves capacity for labor market realignment via retraining, and better addresses the needs of those who, even with that, cannot find adequate work.

I think that's the wrong premise.

UBI is based on the assumption there will be no jobs because no one can deliver better value than technology rather than just a small job market. We already have the other Conditional Basic Income which is probably optimal as long as there is a solid jobmarket.


> UBI is based on the assumption there will be no jobs

No, it is not. UBI, under a variety of names, is an idea much older than, and not at all dependent on, the idea of a situation where there are no jobs.


How does one contend with inflation when money is free? Is the idea that goods are produced so cheaply that the basic living costs are stable?

In my mind, yes! We would implement basic income to offset the number of jobs lost to automation. Because robots don't need to be paid, the cost of goods would decrease in a more-or-less proportional amount to the number of jobs lost.

Except, of course, that the actual report has not been completed yet.

The article has a single quote from a participant, and the rest is literally just opinion and thoughts.

There's nothing to get excited about yet.

It's going to be very interesting to read the report though, once it's published.


There's a webcast here:

http://videonet.fi/web/stm/2019028/eng/

They are very open that the trial was not perfect and should be bigger / longer / better structured. Obviously economic experiments cannot control all variables.

Interesting that the majority of the UBI recipients switched back to standard unemployment.


> Miska Simanainen, one of the Kela researchers behind the Finnish study, ... says that while some individuals found work, they were no more likely to do so than a control group of people who weren't given the money.

There is a quote from a participant but the quote is much more convincing.


Which would be a fine outcome. We're entering a real messy period where dignified, decent paying jobs are becoming scarce. All of our philosophies about work and welfare are rooted in a post WWII era where we were essentially rebuilding the world and there was more work than competent people. If we are going to insist that all productivity gains must now go directly to the capital class, we're going to need a UBI, universal healthcare and housing guarantees.

I worry that greed is too baked in, and those that have would rather let the world burn before they give the current system up.


Lately, I’ve been in the mood to read recently-published business self-help books. One thing that surprised me was that three of the books had a common premise. They began by describing the habits of some of the most notable people in history (scientists, artists, business people, etc). Then, they went on to say how these habits would be necessary to maintain a job in the new globalized marketplace.

Wait, what? So, anyone who wants to have a job in the near-future must emulate the habits of some of the most impressive people in history? Wow.

I don’t know if this premise is true or just marketing hyperbole. But, if that’s what workers think is required of them, we are in for a scary future.


Wait, what? So, anyone who wants to have a job must emulate the habits of some of the most impressive people in history? Wow.

Isn't that how a lot of human progress works? The scientific viewpoint was once a pastime of educated elites. Now the world model derived from it is very much mainstream. (Though it isn't 100% universal) Reading, writing, and arithmetic were once elite and esoteric specialist skills, now they are basic requirements.

Mercy, humanitarianism, and individual rights are all fairly recent innovations in human history.

I don’t know if that’s true or hyperbole, but if that’s what workers think, we are in for a scary future.

Or a fantastic one.


Viewpoints and skills are teachable, although that can take a lot of effort.

But habits ? depending on what habits are we talking about, some are highly related to personality, to willpower, to interpersonal skills,etc and those are really hard to change, or maybe impossible, for some.

And if aim so high in changing human beings, is this the best we can do ? to create better money making machines ? And what will that do to our old values - stuff like kindness, family values, creativity for it's own sake ?

And will it even work ? Or is being an Elon Musk copy will just become a requirement for working as a barista ?


is this the best we can do? to create better money making machines?

Of course not. The best AI we could possibly create wouldn't be a paperclip optimizer. Presumably, there could be another AI who would realize and say, Let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.

And what will that do to our old values - stuff like kindness, family values, creativity for it's own sake?

Actually, that's also along the lines of not being a paperclip optimizer. Some people are way too obsessed with sex. There will always be others who will realize that's a bit imbalanced, and decide not to be like that. There will always be people who ask, "Is that all? Is there nothing more?" That, or we'll die out sooner than we should. In other words, if the human mind is really that bounded and limited, some problem of our own making is going to kill us off.

Or is being an Elon Musk copy will just become a requirement for working as a barista ?

Didn't being a [famous hacker here] clone become a requirement for working as a programmer in the Bay Area? Aren't there towns where all of the baristas have scripts they're working on?


With few exceptions, all societies have Pareto distributions. All societies (of any decent size) are also subject to unrest from relative inequality. All successful societies also managed to engage in some form of distribution of power and some form of redistribution of wealth.

Distribution of power: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rStL7niR7gs

Perception of relative wealth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3XYHPAwBzE

The redistribution of wealth can only be conducted voluntarily or at least somewhat voluntarily, without inviting inter-group conflict.

I worry that greed is too baked in, and those that have would rather let the world burn before they give the current system up.

Greed is baked in. Sorry, but that's just how people work in groups larger than about 450. However, far seeing elites can preserve the current order by creating works to uplift the common man and create community spaces of pride and joy. [1] This is also borne out in the historical record, as are the consequences when the elites do too little or imprudently do too much.

[1] -- I would say that we in the US have forgotten how to create public spaces of worth, and the trend is to take the activities of the common person and stratify them by class. This is a very bad trend, which speaks against the long term viability of our society.


Regarding activity in the US... Do you think it's because we have no cultural knowledge/history of peasants vs the aristocracy? I find that Americans are very confused when discussing class issues and any discussion usually devolves into racism or simple consumerist preferences.

Regarding activity in the US... Do you think it's because we have no cultural knowledge/history of peasants vs the aristocracy?

We very much have had class divisions right from the get-go. Class distinctions were codified into voting rights!

I find that Americans are very confused when discussing class issues and any discussion usually devolves into racism or simple consumerist preferences.

1) There is a faction in US society which is actually invested in the sabotage of public discourse. Devolving discussions into terms which have historically caused hate and violence is a very effective tool for doing this. So long as American society has public discourse and the norms and institutions that make us free, US society is strong and unassailable. There is a faction that wants to roll the dice and ruin the qualities and practices which make society great, in order to see if they come out on top.

2) A lot of culture has always expressed itself in material culture preferences. We're just a lot more up-front about it today, and so much more of our culture is wound up in it.


America is a anti-culture society(Americans have little culture that is shared among the absolute majority). At best there are 7-10 major cultural regions in USA. Who's values change as much as you going through Europe... It also broadly matches European cultural differences.

So it's hardly surprising that Americans can't define certain things, to span the whole country. It's an ongoing project of Enlightenment, that I'd like to succeed.


Do people really want to have all of their support depend on the government? As an American I know people that don't and even reject government paid food stamps and healthcare, although they are poor enough to qualify for them. I don't think it is very psychologically healthy to be so dependent on things out of your control. A better system would be some system where people can earn a large chunk of capital that basically sets themselves up with enough to have their own basic income that they control.

In the old days in America one had the homestead act that would give you 160-640 acres of public land if you could improve it and live on it for 5 years. This program lasted from the 1862 till 1976 if you can believe it. That was a large chunk of capital one could get by working hard at creating wealth. Not sure if a new homestead act could work, but something similar where anyone can volunteer to do some hard and needed work for five years and at the end of it get a good payout that they can use at they see fit. Maybe $250,000. One could start a business, go to college, invest and live off the interest, etc. This I could get behind.


We're all entirely dependent one things outside our control, and it's a worldview that's romanticized to the point of silliness to say anything else.

As for the land grant you're talking about, that's a huge, huge give-away right there; and, I'd note, in your hypothetical, you already inverted the sequence of events (be given land => you keep it, work hard => you get $250k).

All UBI does is recognize that, given how technological progress puts people out of jobs, we'd better find alternatives to distributing resources than what we do now, because we're going to end up with a lot of heads on spikes if we don't.


"All UBI does"

UBI is a very specific solution to a very real and difficult problem. I think other solutions to the problem of quick technical advances would be better, that's all. The sequence is , you are given a resource for a period of time, see if you can use it well, if you do you get to keep it. Not sure what a good modern equivalent would be but such a scheme seems like a much better mode to the future than a UBI. Or maybe a combination of things.


What if you're given farmland and have a 5 year drought?

What other solutions are you talking about? Except giving away land?


I don't think it's psychologically healthy to deny that you are incredibly dependent on things outside your control already.

Sure. Only a psychopath would think such a thing. Thinking UBI is not a good idea is not something only psychopaths might believe.

Not psychopaths, more like people who just don't think things through. Arguing against UBI because you don't want to be dependant on things outside your control is definitely something you have to be in that group for.

> A better system would be some system where people can earn a large chunk of capital that basically sets themselves up with enough to have their own basic income that they control.

There is no reason that UBI isn't compatible with that, and a lot of its proponents would think that UBI will facilitate personal development and entrepreneurship.


I disagree. Even the developed world is still lacking in many cities. New York City could be cleaner, have a nicer transit system and guide tourists better. You can also have more TSA workers.

There is lots of work to be done even in developed countries.


The experiment was probably staked with an agenda to show that UBI doesn't work, given the parties in the government and the massive bias in selecting the participants.

The sample of 2000 people were chosen from a group of unemployed people. I think the criteria for being randomly chosen was having been paid unemployment benefits during some range of dates.

So it's not representative of a real UBI at all: the point of UBI isn't to necessarily make things better for the unemployed but, rather, the large group of people who make very little money and barely get along.

Cashiers, cleaners, etc who can't live on their earnings, at least in big cities. Or self-employed one-person shops whose income stream is very choppy and who don't make much anyway. Real UBI would be universal so those who are working would get it too -- of course the UBI would increase your income and likely your tax percentage so it would mostly be taxed away from those who do earn a living.

The point of UBI is to cut down on bureucracy by removing various individual case-by-case subsidies (but bureaucrats would never vote for that) and make some base level of income predictable and reliable, mostly for people who make less than the lower middle class.


I think experiment totally fine, just “journalists” decided to put smear into title. I would say that this experiment is successful: UBI did not prevent people from finding jobs, just made them less stressed about it. Current title is little clickbaity

I agree, but I do think it's important to specify that this is only one UBI proposal (it's the UBI proposal that I favor, that Milton Friedman supported as an alternative to bureaucracy heavy welfare programs).

There are plenty of UBI proposals out there that are not universal (you don't get it once you hit a certain income threshold) and that don't replace other welfare programs. These are nontrivial differences that I don't think should be obscured.


> There are plenty of UBI proposals out there that are not universal (you don't get it once you hit a certain income threshold)

Means-tested programs like that are, by definition, not unconditional basic income. So there are no UBI proposals that do that, since a proposal that does that is not UBI.

> and that don't replace other welfare programs.

It's unusual for a UBI proposal not to replace other means-tested benefit programs (though it may not do so immediately absolutely; my preferred implementation would, e.g., merely count as income against other programs qualifications and only shutter each of them completely when the UBI floor had reached above the point where it was possible to qualify for the one of the other programs.)


> most likely taxed away

Yes, most UBI proposals (as designed by economists) tax earnings with little to know exemption. That is, we give you $15k per year, but start taxing you the very first dollar you earn rather than only taxing income about , say, $20k.


> That is, we give you $15k per year, but start taxing you the very first dollar you earn rather than only taxing income about , say, $20k.

Yup; even in formal models of "utility-maximizing non-linear taxation", it's actually very common for optimal clawback rates to be fairly high for lowish incomes, because (1) this allows you to have a decent UBI for people who literally don't have any other income, while at the same time (2) any money you claw back early is money you won't have to pay out or claw back higher up in the income distribution, and this allows you to lower marginal tax rates a lot for the bulk of income earners, which is good for incentives - especially long-run incentives on skill acquisition and the like. Think of the break-even point where you're getting nothing on net and have to start paying into the system - you don't want that income level to be too high, or else the whole thing would become both unfair and infeasible to fund!

In the real world, UBI is mostly about slashing complex paperwork, and preventing marginal clawback rates as high as 100% or perhaps more(!). But a clawback rate of even 60% or perhaps a bit more, is in fact quite appropriate.


But what a waste of effort. Why do they suggest this instead of starting at UBI+$1, at least?

UBI itself isn't usually considered taxable income in the proposals, so effectively that's what happens.

Personally, I wouldn't increase pre-UBI marginal tax rates for taxable incomes below (pre-UBI median minus UBI), but I'm not a right-wing UBI proponent, and I favor focusing first on taxing capital income equally to labor income as a revenue source.


If the experiment was committed by people with an agenda to show UBI doesn't work (or even by people who were neutral on the idea and genuinely interested in its net impact) they'd have picked a random sample of people to pay $8K per year to whilst increasing their personal taxes by a substantially larger amount, in order to make transfer payments across the whole programme net to zero. Suspect that cohort's impressions of the programme would have been less positive...

> The aim was to see if a guaranteed safety net would help people find jobs

I'm confused, was that ever the expected goal of basic income?


Never a central tenet, but I've seen/heard some conjecture around UBI that it would help lift people out of the poverty trap, and this could help them find a path to fulfillment that for many might lead to a fulfilling job/career that's done as much for passion as profit.

It's not something I've heard strongly voiced or considered, certainly surprised to see it defined as the aim of UBI as this article puts it. But then again there's a million definitions of UBI out there right now.


It seems more like almost the opposite of the expected goal.

My main sympathy for a basic income is that "get people into jobs" so often comes up as an argument against all kinds of progressive changes (environment, shutting down harmful industries, automating bad jobs away, ...).

The goal of a basic income should be to let people without a job live a more fulfilling life.


It isn't, the proposed benefit of a basic income is that it does less to discourage finding jobs than traditional welfare where you lose benefits when you find a job. How many of the people with a UBI got jobs compared to people without a UBI would very much be a question of interest.

Yes, as it lowers marginal tax rates. Currently with welfare, you have a very high marginal tax rate. You earn an additional $20,000 say, but lose the $10,000 you had with welfare. 50% marginal tax rate. Even higher if there's some actual tax on that $20,000.

If there was basic income where you still kept the $10,000, you would have a 0% marginal rate.

It's not clear how the finns designed their system. But Milton Friedman was actually for a form of basic income instead of social support, for this reason.


I don't think at all that a two year study with a tiny subset of a populace would be adequate to produce the desired effect, and I don't think framing it as "find jobs" is sensible either.

But a lot of the UBI movement likes to think that if given a long-term guarantee on a society-wide basis after a "vacation" period where people adjust to having the bottom rung of the hierarchy of needs guaranteed they would pursue higher actualization and often greater economic benefit to the society by doing so.

Its the difference between why a lottery winner will splurge it all in excess and vice and wind up bankrupt again while a hereditary millionaire can live a productive managerial life on top of a corporate hierarchy. The former lived without, had fortunes rain upon them, and treated it like evaporating water to be drowned in. The later had from birth, never went without, and thus never had to fear being without. They didn't know the scarcity or struggle and thus didn't overdose on excess since they always had it.

The opposites also happen. Lottery winners sometimes stay responsible with the money. Rich kids blow their family fortunes and end up destitute. But the disparity between them is the divide between the fleeting sensation of plenty and being immersed in it in perpetuity.

So for UBI advocates, the idea is that immersion in a basic standard of living would enable the masses to behave much like how the billionaire playboy philanthropist does on a smaller scale - learn more, expand your horizons, take more risks, and pursue your passions. If you don't feel like you could ever lose the basics, and everyone has them likewise, nobody is in a struggle to survive that breeds animal instinct anti-rational behavior like payday loans or buying lottery tickets. If you are instead struggling for splendor and prestige rather than food and shelter you have a lot more room to grow as a person, and for those that do they will be much more valuable to society as innovators than burger flippers.


If someone can't put in the effort to get a stable job because they are too busy dealing with the immediate consequences of a lack of income, giving them a handout might be expected to help. And IIRC, we've seen that with one-time cash assistance of a significant amount.

Right, this article seems to be so intentionally missing the point that one has to wonder if it's an attempt at manipulation.

Same here. I've never heard that angle.

I definitely did hear it as once facet of why UBI could be good. Right now, in some places there are people who will lose benefits (I forget which variety) if their income goes above a certain point, so they are disincentivized to seek a better job -- as it would net them less income. One thing I recall reading about UBI was that it removed that _condition_, and so there would be no incentive not to get a job (other than feeling like UBI was "enough", which IMO is reasonable).

Those places would be the US and many anglo-saxon influenced countries. Where it is seen as if you are unemployed then it is a failing on your part, not the job market or any other factors. If you do find a job it better pay a living wage and it better pay now. The state will pull benefits almost immediately once your paperwork goes through. And if the job is temporary or seasonal be prepared to start at square one to resume benefits payments.

The incentives are really screwed up. They do want you to use it and if you do they don't want you to leave it.


I always interpreted 'find jobs' as 'create their own activity without toxic pressure'

So, basically the article says that unemployed people who received a basic income stipend of $685/month weren't any more likely to get jobs within 2 years than a control group who didn't.

This doesn't seem very surprising to me – if anything, I would expect people on UBI to be less likely to get jobs, and this study seems like evidence against that.


The experimental outcome is actually indirect evidence against the view that traditional unemployment insurance makes people a lot less likely to get a job, at least in this specific experimental population. This is interesting news - it suggests that unemployment benefits works so well already that incentive effects just aren't hugely important, at least not to the extent that you'd find a statistically-detectable difference by giving UBI instead.

The control group also got money. Just via more paperwork. UBI for Finland is more about reducing bureaucracy and social security errors.

Yes, the missing context here is the idea that UBI will be financed by cutting existing social services.

I'm confused - you expect people on UBI to be less likely to get jobs, the article is evidence against that, and you're not surprised?

The article acts as though UBI should have caused people to get more jobs, and is a failure because they didn't.

This is a weird title. The article says that the people on basic income were equally likely to find a job as those who were not receiving it. I was expecting that basic income might make people less motivated to find jobs, and that would have been an issue. But this result seems like a positive outcome for UBI.

It went to 2000 people already getting unemployment benefits.

> It was run by the Social Insurance Institution (Kela), a Finnish government agency, and involved 2,000 randomly-selected people on unemployment benefits.

So I'm curious what affect that had vs the general population's approach to finding employment. Particularly young people who may have never had a job before.


As someone who wants to remain in the workforce, the absolute most frustrating thing about taking a break between jobs or wanting to bootstrap a company or start something new is not the lack of income during that time but that my healthcare in the US is tied to having a job.

Yes, I can buy individual insurance, but moving off and on new plans is incredibly time consuming, and if you have a certain prescription that you are on or have something that is covered by an employer plan but may not be covered by an individual on then it's highly risky to leave.


> Yes, I can buy individual insurance, but moving off and on new plans is incredibly time consuming, and if you have a certain prescription that you are on or have something that is covered by an employer plan but may not be covered by an individual on then it's highly risky to leave.

As someone who spent time doing contract work, and working on my own business, this is what made me seek out work as an employee.

I cannot, and will not, play the game of paying for individual insurance. Employers can negotiate for better rates and better plans than you, as an individual, will ever be able to.

If you have a health condition or injury, the chances of which will increase each day that you're alive, the individual health insurance market is a disaster.


While this article is about an even more special population of UBI recipients I have two general criticisms about UBI studies:

1. They are usually time limited. You can expect different behavior if you get financial security for limited time or for life.

2. Most studies seem to be externally financed (here the whole state vs a small population). The interesting part is if people are willing to pay for this within their community. Are you okay to pay for your slacking neighbor (even if she is the exception and UBI turns out to be overall good)?


> Are you okay to pay for your slacking neighbor (even if she is the exception and UBI turns out to be overall good)?

Finnish society has already shown this willingness to pay. All mainstream political parties support the existing welfare state for the most part, and any Finn knows a few people who live on benefits and want to avoid any kind of hard work.

Furthermore, over the 20th century the Church and other forms of private philanthropy have dwindled away in Finnish society. The average Finn today does not want to have to make an effort to personally help out other people, and engage in uncomfortable social interaction, even if we are talking about their neighbours. (After all, those living in blocks of flats rarely even know their neighbours.) So, Finns are quite happy to have a wide social safety net provided by the state – even if it is sometimes "abused" – in order to save them the effort of returning to a charity model where real effort and personal interaction would be expected of them.


As long as the disbursal is direct (handled by the FR for example), and cuts out bloated gov. orgs.

As it pertains to other people, I see it as a floor that will hopefully help people unlock their potential by taking some of the pressure off the exchange of time for wages and focusing it on the meaning of work.

If people want to do nothing beyond their UBI income, that's fine - but I don't see this being a widespread phenomenon. It covers the basics, and we have a tendency to yearn for more.


It can never be time unlimited. Laws can change and will change eventually. Any reasoning about UBI for life is flawed.

Well, neither extreme seems right. We reasonably expect Medicare to pay out for decades and plan around that even if there's a possibility of laws changing.

I find the narrative of the article focussing on "how it failed" and only one condition. "Did it increase employement" Of course this is what some might have expected from it, but the researcher itself not. Which is only included as a very last line.

I still see some big issues with universal basic income, and would appreciate one of its supporters responding to some of them:

Cost. $3.8 trillion by many estimates. That's nearly 20% of America's GDP. How is it possible to pull this much money out of the American economy without crashing it?

Scope. I am of the opinion that one of the beauties of federalism is that policies can be tested first at the state level before we commit our entire nation. Why would a national government do this?

Necessity. I don't think we need to be paying anyone who makes over 50k (maybe not the right number, but there should be a cutoff). That just takes money away from those who need it.

If a supporter of UBI can respond, I'd like to discuss possible concerns and benefits.


> How is it possible to pull this much money out of the American economy without crashing it?

The money isn't pulled out, though. It is redistributed to people, many of whom will immediately spend it, and others will invest it in various (hopefully efficient) ways.

> Why would a national government do this?

The problem of entry and exit. Say one state like Massachusetts implemented a UBI. Then we could expect many people to move to MA from surrounding states, or do whatever they can to have a legal address there. However I think there are possible solutions to this and a state-by-state implementation is actually possible. For example, Alaska has their dividend program and I think the results from that have been quite good.

> I don't think we need to be paying anyone who makes over 50k

I think I agree which is why I'm more in favor of a negative income tax or other means-tested system than true UBI. But if I were to argue in favor of an "everyone gets the same" program I'd say something like, implementation is somewhat less complicated, or it's easier to explain to the public.


Yup, a negative income tax is a much better policy avenue to deal with this. It's much better to subsidize people doing things of varying degrees of productivity in an otherwise open employment market, than to discourage work entirely.

Work is how you learn and often have some kind of basic dignity and meaning, not to mention how you eventually move up to better positions.

This is essentially what the Earned Income Tax Credit is, and what should be expanded rather than something that would dis-incentivize working at all.


I would be more inclined to agree with you. Inciting hard work is a much better idea then giving everyone money regardless.

> Cost. $3.8 trillion by many estimates.

$3.8 trillion would be about right if you set the benefit level equal to the poverty line for a single-person household, and then gave it to every many, woman, and child in the country, starting at birth, irrespective of citizenship or immigration status, while...

> That's nearly 20% of America's GDP.

...nearly 20% of GDP would be accurate for the benefit level you suggested, if you instituted it at that level today. Anything phased in over time would be lower even when fully phased in, because GDP growth per capita over the long term is more rapid than inflation.

If instead you took the poverty line for the median household size, divided by the median household size, and assigned that as the per person benefit (and still had no citizenship/immigration status test, and no phase in period, you'd drop the cost to about $2.2 trillion, or about double existing combined state/federal welfare spending.)

Any reasonable UBI will also be restricted to those legally present (and quite likely only LPRs, citizens, and nationals of the United States; maybe only citizens and nationals) and not initially start at a full poverty support level (meaning other programs will phase out rather than be big-bang eliminated.)

> Scope. I am of the opinion that one of the beauties of federalism is that policies can be tested first at the state level before we commit our entire nation. Why would a national government do this?

Because without authority for immigration controls, migration for benefits is a problem.

> Necessity. I don't think we need to be paying anyone who makes over 50k (maybe not the right number, but there should be a cutoff). That just takes money away from those who need it.

Means testing is additional bureaucratic cost to serve the same function that can instead be served by tax allocation, and you already need income-verification bureaucracy and income sensitive formulae on the income tax side, so the choice is between two bureaucracies duplicating function and one serving the function. The latter is clearly more efficient. There's going to be an income level beyond which, considering taxes which fund UBI, people get no net UBI payment; you don't need a cutoff in direct UBI benefits to acheive that.


> GDP growth per capita over the long term is more rapid than inflation

At this point, we're down to conjecture. It will doubtless require higher taxes, which will quite possibly counter or outweigh any benefit of more money to spend. It's a big risk to take with the entire country.

> migration for benefits is a problem.

You don't have to have immigration controls, just establish residency requirements with a certain amount of time, holding down a job for however long, etc.

> Means testing is additional bureaucratic cost

Still doesn't make sense to send money to Jeff Bezos.


> Still doesn't make sense to send money to Jeff Bezos.

The cost to send Jeff Bezos $10k/yr is $10k/yr. The cost to NOT send Jeff Bezos $10k/yr might well be higher, because now you need to pay for a system to work out if you should be sending Jeff Bezoz $10k/yr or not.


Cost: The money isn't going into a black hole, it's being given to those who tend to spend their money more quickly and more locally (aka the poor). So I would expect it to increase the velocity of money rather than decreasing it, giving the economy a nice boost.

Necessity: Any sane UBI system is revenue neutral. So anybody with above average income is going to pay more in increased taxes than they receive in benefits. That's easier and fairer than a claw-back.


Never-mind the money, I fear that even if we can implement it and pay for it, there will still be a host of social problems that UBI advocates do not want to grapple with. There's still no answer to questions like "what if it starts to entrench a permanent underclass and make inter-generational wealth worse, as people who stop working bear a generation of people who have never worked, and they bear children, etc".

https://medium.com/s/free-money/after-universal-basic-income...


> There's still no answer to questions like "what if it starts to entrench a permanent underclass and make inter-generational wealth worse, as people who stop working bear a generation of people who have never worked, and they bear children, etc".

Why would reducing disincentives to work, as compared to means-tested welfare, rationally be expected to have anything like that effect?


The main incentive to work is that you need to work to make a living. If the government hands you everything you need without working that is a massive disincentive to work

> The main incentive to work is that you need to work to make a living.

No. The main incentive to work is to have something meaningful to do with your time. Every experiment with UBI has shown that — given guaranteed support income — people are generally happier (or less stressed) and have a greater incentive to find work because the disincentive of reporting job-searching efforts is removed.

In addition, under a UBI everyone who has a paying job will have more disposable income than people who don't have a paying job. So while UBI will cover rent and food, if you want a nicer house or other trappings of luxury you'll need a paying job to find the extra money.

Nobody is going to be setting up a real estate empire or discovering the cure for cancer on UBI.

Another thing UBI will achieve is allowing people to move jobs without fear of being trapped in poverty. They won't settle for a low satisfaction, low pay job and will move to optimise their personal benefit.

Finally: UBI is not about "handing you everything you need." Universal Basic Income is there to provide for the basics: food & shelter. That's it. It's not supposed to replace an average wage, it's supposed to provide the minimum cost of living.


> The main incentive to work is to have something meaningful to do with your time.

Not sure about this. Only short-term experiments have been conducted. Who knows what might happen if we have people who are raised on the idea that a living will come to them no matter what?

I think there's also an assumption that everyone loves what they do. Many of us do, so it's easy to think. However, the people who arguably need support the most often have the worst, least-likeable jobs.

> They won't settle for a low satisfaction, low pay job

Somebody has to do the work. Garbagemen will never be worth $15/hr. Many jobs that aren't will simply end up outsourced.

> Universal Basic Income is there to provide for the basics: food & shelter.

Then why would it be administered to everyone, on a national level, regardless of other factors? Food & shelter cost orders of magnitude more in San Francisco, California then in San Francisco, Texas. Why would it make since to give two hypothetical people, one living in each, the same amount of money to cover the "basics"?


> Somebody has to do the work. Garbagemen will never be worth $15/hr. Many jobs that aren't will simply end up outsourced.

Testing out UBI is predicated on the assumption most of those jobs "nobody wants" will be automated, and thus not available anyway.


> The main incentive to work is that you need to work to make a living.

With means-tested social benefits, that is not the case, and, in fact, you lose some (or in some particularly perverse, but unfortunately not all that uncommon cases when multiple means-tested programs are involved, more than all) of the additional money gained by adding work to reduced benefits.

That is the disincentive UBI removes (or, more accurately, reduces and/or pushes to a higher income level, because you run into it—though not the more perverse form unless marginal tax rates are above 100%—in the taxes to pay for benefits.)


> people who stop working bear a generation of people who have never worked, and they bear children

Discourage bearing of children by pushing contraception and providing the poor and unemployed with free internet access, with streaming and online gaming, in order to occupy their time. Birthrates are already going down in the West, and probably a further push can be made here and there so that people are even less interested in children. Then, that underclass status won’t be passed on to another generation, it will stop with the first generation.


Whoa, this is starting to sound kinda disturbing. Serious Brave New World stuff here. Let me guess, the government should encourage and provide freely sterilization? And every woman should wear a Malthusian belt?

This kind of population control is rarely, if ever, a good idea. What happens if a racist decides to push stuff that targets blacks to try to shrink their numbers? You don't know that we won't get some awful person in charge of that.

Be really, really careful what you wish for and what you argue for.


Yes. The white Irish in Boston are the stock example of this (speaking as someone who has part of my family from there). I have heard story after story from people who really do live and die reliant on this. I would also say that the poor having many children is somewhat of a problem. Not sure how it's fixable, but it doesn't make since for the people who can afford children least to bear the most. Especially since the burden of said children tends to fall to one parent more often in such cases.

> How is it possible to pull this much money out of the American economy without crashing it?

UBI actually injects money into the economy. Accompanying UBI would be reducing minimum wage to zero, managing inflation by increasing income taxes in higher brackets, and removing deductibles so that more tax is collected. By reducing minimum wages you encourage people to start up new companies — with no salaries to pay, you reduce startup costs significantly (there are still costs such as insurance, legal filings).

The whole point of UBI is to pay everyone the same guaranteed amount. If you start scaling back as income rises, what you are actually doing is a different scheme called Negative Income Tax. UBI basically pushes any wages into the taxable brackets immediately.

A national government would institute a UBI to encourage a mobile workforce, since reducing the cost of switching towns reduces the friction of moving to find better work. A UBI also reduces the level of exploitation of workers, so there would be less workplace induced chronic injury which is a net drain on the country. There will also be improved mental health as people aren't forced to work in dead end jobs just to make ends meet.

For the USA specifically, UBI would need to be accompanied by reformation of the health care system, basically completing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act so that health insurance is actually affordable, and not bound to employment. The USA will also need to implement similar systems of regulation of the cost of health care services and products.


> UBI actually injects money into the economy.

Not if it is tax funded (EDIT: But, even then, it doesn't pull money out of the economy); it may, however, increase the domestic velocity of money, which has a similar effect to injecting money.

> Accompanying UBI would be reducing minimum wage to zero

Maybe, maybe not. I think it would be more sensible to reduce minimum wage to it's non-UBI target minus (annual UBI/2000hrs); with a $8000 UBI (about right for poverty support given median household size) and a $15 non-UBI minimum wage target, that would be an $11 minimum wage (with the current $7.25 minimum wage as target, it would be a $3.25 minimum wage.)

> managing inflation by increasing income taxes in higher brackets,

Using fiscal policy to manage inflation is probably not a great idea; let the Fed do that with monetary policy, and if you raise taxes (whether by raising rates in higher brackets or by taxing capital gains the same as labor income or both), do it for revenue not inflation control.


> UBI actually injects money into the economy.

Not unless you're printing it; that's the only way to "inject" money.

> Accompanying UBI would be reducing minimum wage to zero

This is not a "standard part" of all UBI proposals. Some agree; some don't.

> managing inflation by increasing income taxes in higher brackets

Any specific numbers on who would pay what? I may not be rich now, but I don't really like the idea of having to pay a bunch of taxes if I do become wealthy some day.

On the managing inflation part, giving more people more money to spend would make money move around more and quite possibly increase inflation. For an example, let's say I own an apartment building and currently rent a unit at $400/mo. If everyone starts getting $800+/mo, I know I can double my rates without anyone complaining too much. I might not do it all at once, but it seems almost inevitable that this will cause a significant amount of inflation by giving a large class of people more to spend.

> reformation of the health care system

That seems like a whole other kettle of fish. We do have one of the most innovative health care systems in the world, and I'd hate to see that stifled. I had some bad stuff I needed treatment for, which I'd rather not detail specifically. I talked to others in countries with government healthcare who had the same problem, and had to travel here to get treatment as it's a rare condition with most of the good treatments on the bleeding edge. A friend of a friend's mother was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer; told to come back later as it wasn't advanced enough to warrant operation.

As someone who's had to rely on treatment not deemed standard by the government, I get twitchy when people mention single-payer etc. Had I been stuck with the treatment prescribed by the gov't, I'd likely be dead.

Lastly, regulating health care prices removes incentives to develop really cool new treatments. They may cost more than your average kidney, but some of the knew cancer biologics are amazing. My parents have friends who have gotten amazing results, though they did have to use a significant chunk of their retirement for said results.


Do you have a source of these estimates for me to learn?

A lot of people kept saying it is very expensive but they did not factor in that UBI replaces all current social welfare programs we have with a single program. When you compare both, it is not that expensive.

For an example, Social Security alone is ~5% of current GDP and ~4% for Medicare. [1]

> Expressed as a share of GDP, program costs equaled 4.9 percent of GDP in 2017, and the Trustees project these costs will increase to 6.1 percent of GDP by 2038, decline to 5.9 percent of GDP by 2052, and thereafter rise slowly, reaching 6.1 percent by 2092.

> Social Security’s annual cost as a percentage of GDP is projected to increase from 4.9 percent in 2018 to about 6.1 percent by 2038, then decline to 5.9 percent by 2052 before generally rising to 6.1 percent of GDP by 2092. Under the intermediate assumptions, Medicare cost rises from 3.7 percent of GDP in 2018 to 5.6 percent of GDP by 2035 due mainly to the growth in the number of beneficiaries, and then increases further to 6.2 percent by 2092.

[1]:https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TRSUM/index.html

That's just two walfare programs alone; there are others like SNAP, unemployment, etc.


> UBI replaces all current social welfare programs we have with a single program

This is the conservative argument for UBI - liquidate social security and distribute the proceeds; do more good with the same money because we don't have to pay means testing overhead; smaller, less intrusive government as a bonus.

The reality though is that every single social security program has been put in place as the result of a tough political fight. That politics isn't going to go away with the introduction of UBI. There will be demands to keep or reintroduce each and every social security program that currently exists. Funding can't realistically come from this source.


> liquidate social security

That's not a just action for the government to take. The original premise of social security was pay in money as you work, get it out when you're old. Though FDR started paying out immediately from the younger generation, so it started a generation in the hole. However, it was supposed to be basically forced federal savings, with some sort of safety net component as well. Not fair to tell those who paid in they'll never get anything out because someone wants it for policy goals.


> The original premise of social security was pay in money as you work, get it out when you're old.

No, the premise was always “pay taxes when working, receive benefits based on a formula driven by qualified earnings, with both pre- and post-retirement adjustment factors.” It has never been an investment vehicle with individual accounts, you aren't paying in and getting your money out with investment returns or matching or whatever.

(That said, because it's not a traditional means tested benefit but time-delayed inverse means tested one, it doesn't really make sense to replace it with UBI.)


Re: Cost. Here is one attempt to describe how to pay for it without raising any income taxes: https://medium.com/economicsecproj/how-to-reform-welfare-and...

My personal preference, very different from the above article, would be for a wealth tax that helps keep capital flowing, sort of like a company's dividend going back to investors. We the people are the investors in the wealthy's endeavors that led to that wealth. They keep the bulk, but they pay back some to all of us. If they don't make productive use of the wealth, something that benefits others, then their wealth slowly falls until they are like the rest of us.

By some measures of the wealth of the US, we have 100 trillion dollars in wealth and so 4% wealth tax would fund a 13k per person (including children) UBI.


To your list of issues I'd add extraction by rentiers.

My (perhaps naive) understanding is that rents tend to rise to a market equilibrium. Infuse the the aggregate market in an area with X dollars, and rents will rise to consume X.

I'd be curious to hear counterarguments to that point.


> Infuse the the aggregate market in an area with X dollars

UBI (designed sanely) doesn't involve any net infusion of dollars (which would require government borrowing or printing money to distribute), it is paid for from tax revenues; it's a downstream redistribution, not an infusion.


Perhaps my wording was poor. I'm thinking of geographical regions, not the economy as a whole. Thus, despite a net zero effect globally, any redistributive effects would be unevenly allocated to various regions. And it's easy to imagine certain areas -- in particular, poorer ones -- having a higher income per capita of renters in particular.

Toy example: a population of 100, with one billionaire who owns their house outright and 99 people renting apartments. Take X dollars from the billionaire, distribute it to the 99. Why would the rentier, esp. if it happened to be the billionaire, not raise rents in aggregate by X?


Why don't rents consume all the economic growth without UBI?

If there is, in a market (of whatever scale, and whether it's housing rental or anything else), a monopoly or coordinated oligopoly that is abused so as to absorb all income growth, that's a problem calling for government intervention independent of UBI.

Maybe these exist in some housing markets, but if they do it's an orthogonal problem to UBI that is just as important to correct even if we don't adopt UBI. It's not, in any way, an argument against UBI.


> Why don't rents consume all the economic growth without UBI?

They sort of do (at least in some cases; see San Francisco, New York, tons of other big cities).

> that is just as important to correct even if we don't adopt UBI. It's not, in any way, an argument against UBI.

The fact that the we need to address it doesn't mean we easily can. And doesn't mean that just blindly doing it is justified, just because there shouldn't be such a problem.


> The fact that the we need to address it doesn't mean we easily can.

The mechanism for dealing with an essential service that, left to private industry with only normal consumer protection regulation, is difficult to prevent becoming a rent-extracting monopoly or oligopoly is well-established—you make the service a utility, either privately owned but publicly regulated for price and service requirements, or publicly owned. This isn't a deep mystery.

Now, most of the people that cry “housing is already oligopolistic and would extract rents defeating any UBI” as an excuse for opposing UBI evidently either don't actually believe that market condition really exists or want to preserve it in the absence of UBI even though it has the same impact on income gains without UBI as they complain it would with UBI, but the mechanism for addressing it is obvious and, if it really exists, essential even in the absence of UBI.


> you make the service a utility

This is just a silly idea for housing. Power, water, etc. involves one set of infrastructure that runs across public and private land. It is very difficult to become a utility because of the insane investment required. Because almost no one can compete, it is regulated to prevent the otherwise-inevitable monopoly. Land is in no way the same; it's literally everywhere and many people own it.

Better solution? According to a professor of economics I talked to, it's to create tech hubs in other cities (at least for San Francisco; finance for NY, etc.).


> Power, water, etc. involves one set of infrastructure that runs across public and private land.

Yes, that's the reason that they naturally tend to monopoly that is resistant to correction, but it is the fact that they tend that way, and not the reason for that tendency, that justified treatment as a utility.

> Land is in no way the same; it's literally everywhere and many people own it.

Are you arguing that residential rentals do not, in fact, either in general or in specific locales, tend to difficult to correct monopoly? If so, you aren't arguing against my point, which I'll remind you is merely that it doesn't matter if this is true in terms of UBI; if it is true, it is a problem of exactly the same dimension without UBI as with UBI, and thus irrelevant to the debate over UBI, and if it is false, then it's clearly irrelevant to anything.

> Better solution? According to a professor of economics I talked to, it's to create tech hubs in other cities (at least for San Francisco; finance for NY, etc.).

Well, not any kind of solution if you are an academic economist with no concern for pragmatics. Virtually every metro area of notsble size that isn't NY or SF had been trying to do that for a long time. Just choosing a policy result like that isn't a real-world solution, a real-world solution involved a policy action that can reasonably be expected to produce the desired result.

Also, either (1) local housing markets don't tend to monopoly, and this isn't needed, or (2) they do, and this just extends the time slightly before a successful firm in one market diversified into and also monopolizes other markets until you have the same problem nationally that you had in the local markets you tried to provide alternatives to. So, even if you had a mechanism to acheive what is sought as the solution, it wouldn't be a solution.


Yes, the rents in popular areas will rise. Since people have a basic income to support them regardless where they are living, they can move to areas with lower rent (thus increasing the rent — and net rental income — of the area they move to).

At present, most unemployment benefits systems require the recipient to stay where they are, or move to places with better employment opportunities. This places a large burden on the recipient since they might already be in a high rent area and are not allowed to move to somewhere they can afford to live.


I figure low-rent areas will have rents go up as well. It may take longer, but it will ripple through the whole economy.

Yes, all rents will rise, but most rents will rise less than the rise in income until rental vacancies hit 0%.

Not sure. In a normal, gradual rise in wages, this might be true. But in a massive, sudden income increase, I personally would try increasing my prices (by at least some) immediately. And more over time.

I think this is a key concern. I don't think that there is a good counterargument, but the best that I've heard is that UBI will enable mass migration to rural areas or remote exburbs (including corporate sponsored - welcome to your new Google Home!). Of course some are happy to introduce rent controls or spark an inflationary death spiral with 'cost of living' adjustments.

You're saying I should go live in the countryside, away from everyone? Yeah, teleconferencing is possible, but I don't know that most people would want to.

It's also impractical to build public transportation that far out (you have to build increasingly more for each mile you expand from the nearest city center; distance between angles grows as you move outward), meaning that people would be driving a LOT more (higher gas prices). Or, if you by some miracle built all that transportation, it would be expensive. And people still need to "go to town" for many supplies, so just staying there isn't practical (let alone realistic for most).


It's less 'should' than that UBI enables the possibility of reversal of the long term rural -> urban migration trend, since this trend is driven by job seekers. I don't think it will occur (the lower your income, the more you rely on geographically-based support networks) but if it doesn't, then UBI increases will be largely captured by rentiers. If it does, then urban rentiers will have to compete with non-urban rentiers, and UBI will have a chance to have the economic effect intended by proponents.

There are a few interesting ideas about how it could financially function mentioned here:

https://worldaftercapital.gitbooks.io/worldaftercapital/cont...


Surprising that paying people to not work didn't lead to more people working!

Er - I'm not a proponent of UBI, but there's an important, but subtle distinction here.

UBI is not "paying people not to work." That's more like typical unemployment - when people find jobs, the benefit goes away, creating a disincentive. With UBI, the benefit remains, (theoretically) encouraging risk taking.


It's different to the normal dole in that you can take on part time work without losing the benefit.

This is not "paying people not to work" - that is a bad characterization of this trial, but maybe an accurate characterization of the dole. It's saying: Here's your minimum money, go and see what you can do.

For a local business owner, it's a big deal to take on a full time employee. If they have UBI, it is not. This makes it attractive and less risky for employers to give a few hours here and there.


It would have been nice if Ontario was permitted to finish our Basic Income pilot project. It would have been a valuable other data point. Sadly it was killed off before we could see any results.

The project in progress, however, saw people leave their existing jobs to, get this: go back to school full time so they could improve their lot, have children, or start businesses.

[Instead they got the rug pulled out from under them ~1 year into the program by the new government after being told they could rely on the program for 3 years]

I know it's a bit of snark, but your take is a bit simplistic and hand-wavy.


That's not what's surprising: if anyone was "paid not to work" in this experiment, it was the control group who stayed on traditional unemployment benefits - and yet they found jobs just as much as the UBI group did!

What is supposed to be the bad part of this? I would equate 'happier' with 'getting their needs met.'

If you have more people than work that needs to get done I don't have a problem with the people who aren't working being able to live.


There is a basic misunderstanding here. A basic income is unconditional. The Finnish study was not basic income because it was not unconditional. It was instead an experiment to find out if giving specifically unemployed people money would help them find a job.

It sounds like perfectly ordinary social security from my perspective in Norway, perhaps with some of the requirements relaxed.

If people want to find out if basic income works it has to be given to a representative slice of the population. This has been done several times in North America (once in Canada, and twice in the US), as far as I can tell it was successful.


I always thought the point of basic income was so that you didn’t necessarily need every member of society employed in the traditional sense

UBI serves two purposes.

The first is stopgap rhetoric to prevent socialist-inspired rhetoric from making popular gains as traditional employment is eroded away.

The second is to point at UBI and go "See, if you give money to people who were made redundant in the labor market, they probably still won't be able to sell their labor" while doing everything to ignore the fact that the market has moved past certain people.


> 'happier but jobless'

That's a very misleading title.

> Universal basic income, or UBI, means that everyone gets a set monthly income, regardless of means. The Finnish trial was a bit different

That's a huge difference. It encourages some of the unemployed people to stay unemployed. That's called "poverty trap".

This was not real UBI. Also, a 2-year long trial can be very misleading. People take very different choices knowing that they'll receive UBI for 2 years, or 10 years, or their whole life.


The only difference the article mentions is that the experimental subjects were chosen among people getting unemployment benefits. What this suggests is that if you're on unemployment to begin with, differential incentives do not have a detectable impact on whether you'll find a job - that's all. It's saying that incentives aren't everything, at least on a 2-years-out scale.

Very true.

There's always the fact that Finland isn't exactly poverty-stricken as a country.

I would like to see this repeated on some real impoverished communities, with a guarantee of income for life, to see if they become more productive as a result.


Very dishonest headline. It failed to increase employment among people who are already unemployed, which no one expected it to do. It also did not decrease their number of working days.

https://twitter.com/MattBruenig/status/1093859412182212609


So that if they are happier then that IS success. Job or no job is irrelevant.

Unfortunately the prevailing ideology dictates that if you're not working you are worthless and you should not feel happy.

It's a tough sell you gotta admit it. That money came from someone making an effort (even if it was in form of large [reluctant]corporate taxes).

Also slacking (I am half a slacker on the way to ~zero) is toxic on the long run.

I always thought of universal income as way to allow me to grow without a burden. Learning, helping, producing (whether art, tools, ...).

It's supposed to help strengthen the social tissue.


yes that money came from someone making an effort, but on the premise that it came from someone who derive happiness by doing the work not because of necessity.

it's hard to ensure honestly

but I think we agree, the goal is to reduce faux-slavery due to the need for basics necessities


In a nation that has its own fiat currency, the money does not come from someone making an effort. It is printed, invented. Taxes only control inflation.

That may be the prevailing American ideology, but it certainly isn't the prevailing ideology worldwide. The idea that being bad at capitalism makes you deserving of misery is just awful - our country is too wealthy to act that way.

They were also healthier. Those who received UBI stayed healthier than the control group but the article fails to mention that.

When you consider that the group was selected from those receiving long term unemployment benefits (Finland has different types) and were by large unemployable, them staying healthier is important result.


There is the small matter that someone else's labor is filling their bellies. Humans try to take advantage of any system, and it's not hard to see where the failure point for UBI is - it's everyone becoming a freeloader, with no one left to do the work necessary to feed, clothe, educate, etc. the people on UBI.

It is absolutely relevant.

That money isn't just pulled from the ether. Another citizen worked to produce that value which is distributed through UBI.

One happy person at the expense of someone else is not success.


The money (tax) will be pulled regardless. It's the cost of doing business. You should be producing value because producing value make you happier. Basic income enable both type people to be happy.

> You should be producing value because producing value make you happier

That is your opinion, and to some degree it’s an opinion I agree with.

That doesn’t mean the opinion has any basis in reality however.


Can u clarify, How is it not have any basis in reality ?

I mean I would expect you to back up your claim with some kind of scientific study that humans in general opt to produce value for society purely altruistically.

I highly doubt that’s the case, but I have an open mind and I’d be delighted to be proven wrong.

As I understand it, most societal benefit and technological advancement has come from humans acting selfishly. You develop an idea while seeking profit — not necessarily money; this behaviour far predates money — and society benefits as a side effect (if the development of that idea is in some way beneficial).


>I mean I would expect you to back up your claim with some kind of scientific study that humans in general opt to produce value for society purely altruistically.

That's not what I claiming at all.

What I'm saying is if you want to produce value then go ahead keep producing value for whatever reason, it could be purely for selfish reason for all i care.

But You still have to pay tax for your income though, thats for allowing you to do business.

Of course if you produce value you will be a lot more richer than people who don't produce value, thats an advantage for you.

And for people who can't or won't produce value, fine, here is basic income for you so that you can still fulfil your basic needs.

So its not one happy person at the expense of someone else.


> But You still have to pay tax for your income though, thats for allowing you to do business.

I don’t think “allowing you to do business” is the arbitrary motivator for taxes. Societies deem it more efficient to pool resources for common needs we all have. This is taxes.

Conventional welfare also provides for a person’s “basic needs”, usually with the condition that that person is actively searching for an opportunity to add value.

People need to add value for societies to prosper. Wealth doesn’t just appear. Bear in mind that the only reason, e.g., Sweden can spend so much on welfare is after long periods of wealth creation through Capitalism.

If enough people are on free money with no incentive to work, there isn’t enough wealth generated to pay for the people living on free money.

> And for people who can't or won't produce value, fine, here is basic income for you so that you can still fulfil your basic needs.

Who gets to decide what a basic need is, anyway? Since I’m paying for it through taxes, I would deem your basic needs as shelter, food, and water. Warmth? Luxury. Television? Luxury.

> So its not one happy person at the expense of someone else.

It really is though. There’s no other way to put it. It’s the consumption of wealth on the back of someone else’s labour.


> If enough people are on free money with no incentive to work

A central point of UBI as a replacement for means-tested welfare is that people without employment always have a financial incentive to work, because they keep the additional income from work rather than having sharp, sometimes more than 100% when aggregated across multiple programs, offsetting reduction in benefits.

It's true that UBI at a poverty support levels can be said to remove economic coercion that can exist to work without welfare (e.g., due to time limited benefits or qualifications besides means testing), but it does not result in people having no incentive to work.

> Conventional welfare also provides for a person’s “basic needs”, usually with the condition that that person is actively searching for an opportunity to add value.

Conventional means-tested welfare has massive inefficient bureaucracy because it works at cross purposes with itself, with means-testing creating a financial disincentive to added work (and duplicating bureaucratic functions already present in the tax system), which it then tries to counteract with behavior testing (which adds another set of layers of bureaucratic functions whose entire purpose is to provide coercion to counteract the work disincentives created by means testing.)0


>If enough people are on free money with no incentive to work, there isn’t enough wealth generated to pay for the people living on free money.

Is not an issue because one of the main reason for basic income in the first place is the increasing prevalence and advancement of AI and automation. Means we are needing less and less people to work.

>Conventional welfare also provides for a person’s “basic needs”, usually with the condition that that person is actively searching for an opportunity to add value.

What often happen is welfare incentives discourage work. Because entering the labor force or working more hours can lead to a loss in benefits.

>Who gets to decide what a basic need is, anyway?

Government. Of course it's based on research to determine the actual dollar amount.

>It really is though. There’s no other way to put it. It’s the consumption of wealth on the back of someone else’s labour.

Sure, but the thing is no once is forcing you to work, if you think its unfair or you think its better for you not to do work then fine don't work then. Other people will.


> Government. Of course there will be research to determine the actual dollar amount.

This seems a reductionist perspective. The government is made up of people like you and me. It is not an omnipotent entity.

The way I'm interpreting what you've written, you could swap out Government for God.

Like any other moral question, there is no one true answer to a question like "how many dollars/facilities constitutes basic need?". That's why there are different political parties, opposing views, debates.

> Sure, but the thing is no once is forcing you to work, if you think its unfair or you think its better for you not to do work then fine don't work then. Other people will.

…But everyone is forced to pay taxes. If I choose not to work, the government still takes your money by force and gives it to me.

> Other people will.

This vague "other people" somehow stands at the core of every argument for Socialism.


I'm not religious so not sure what god has to do with this.

Yes there are no true answer, its open for debate. Andrew Yang, 2020 candidate, for example propose $12000 a year. Its a start.

>…But everyone is forced to pay taxes.

Not if you are not working. No income (other than basic income) -> no tax.

>If I choose not to work, the government still takes your money by force and gives it to me.

sure, fine by me. I'll just treat the tax as cost of doing business. I still get to make more money.

> Other people will.

For example me, I will still continue to work even if basic income enough to cover my needs. Why? because I enjoy it and fulfilling or maybe I just simply want to earn more money for luxury or whatever.


> Not if you are not working. No income (other than basic income) -> no tax.

I think you've completely missed my point here.

> For example me, I will still continue to work even if basic income enough to cover my needs. Why? because I enjoy it and fulfilling or maybe I just simply want to earn more money for luxury or whatever.

You comprise but a single datum — not enough upon which to base societal economic policy.


>I think you've completely missed my point here.

So can you reiterate your point?

>You comprise but a single datum — not enough upon which to base societal economic policy.

I'm just giving you one concrete example of why people would still want to work.


This is bad economics.

Jobs are literally necessary for our society to function.

If everyone was jobless but 'happy', they wouldn't be happy when the food runs out. Or houses start to get old. Or iphones stop being built and websites are taken offline.

Economics are more important than a single individuals happiness, its our survival.

EDIT: Don't shoot the messenger. Fun ideas are not reality.


That would be solved by ai/automation, which they reason why basic income is needed in the first place.

>That would be solved by ai/automation

Lots of these topics have different outcomes when you start to assume sci-fi tech. I won't argue about what life should be like when we build fusion reactors or figure out nuclear 3D printing.


At least we can start work/strive for it right now.

Seriously asking. Is it possible to use your basic income to get a loan?

I just envision people buying all sorts of things without understanding what they're signing up for.

And from a U.S. perspective, I don't trust a system filled with rent-to-owns, payday lenders, and car dealer/financers stopping anyone from making bad choices.


Presumably you could. It is money granted to each person without strings. Not sure how you could avoid it. A better questions would be whether the courts could impose UBI garnishing similar to wage garnishing. I would presume not and hence giving a loan to someone would have to be with the knowledge that the government would not force repayment with UBI funds. It gets back to an issue of whether someone has a history of responsible payments, something which would be more in a person's control with a guaranteed flow of UBI.

I view UBI as a way to help ease the debt of many people, particularly those incurred because of lost wages (loss of job, illness). It could also ease the college debt issues because we could stop subsidizing college costs, leading to decreased tuition, and instead the colleges would have to compete with other uses of this money, something they do not have to do with direct college support programs.


This title misrepresents the outcome. A better headline would have been:

> Finland basic income trial improved happiness but not employment

It’s unfortunate the BBC chose that quote, as it misrepresents the outcome of the trial as _creating_ joblessness, rather than failing to _alter_ joblessness.


> The Finnish trial was a bit different, as it focused on people who were unemployed

I think UBI would help people who are already employed in jobs that they hate, to find/invent meaningful jobs. A lot of employed people are miserable but just surviving doing things that they hate (because that's the only thing that pays and so are chained to their misery).

I think real UBI would create strong bottom up economies and get rid of value extractors, intermediaries and schemers. It would also help people move out of big cities back to rural areas where things are not so expensive


> Finland became the first European country to test out the idea of an unconditional basic income.

Isn't unconditional, you know, unconditional? As opposed to "From January 2017 until December 2018"?


Did they not have an identical cohort serving as a control to compare employment rates at the end of the trial?

The did. and the result showed that their employment chances were 'no more likely to do so than a control group of people who weren't given the money.'

What they didn't do (although some wanted them to), is also check the system on already employed people and checked if that changed their likelihood of staying in a bad job/finding a better job or anything like that.

Because that's the real idea behind basic income. not just giving it to the unemployed, but to everyone, with the hope that it would encourage people to find jobs better suited to them, and to allow people to take bigger risks.


Increasingly I feel like all my philosophical problems with UBI are irrelevant in the face of the fact that apparently UBI is too expensive to even do a proper small-scale trial. If we can't afford that, we even moreso can't afford simply leaping to full scale.

(And one thing these trial do seem to show is that giving it out, and then removing it, is at least modestly disruptive.)


I think most people struggle to understand how plastic money is in the context of a government that runs its own presses.

Everything is affordable in that situation. In a smaller country, if you do nothing else to manage it, it increases inflation.

In a 'reserver currency' country that inflation is spread out across the globe.

And that isn't even addressing things like how the USA could reinstitute the wealth and income taxes of the 40's, or charge market (rather than fire sale) rates for national resources (drilling on fed land, grazing on fed land), airwaves, or alter how we grant monopolies (patents) and many other untapped flows of public wealth to private entities.


> UBI is too expensive to even do a proper small-scale trial.

UBI isn't too expensive to do small-scale trial, it's entire theory of operation (and the key criticisms raised, like the inflation-spiral one) is too dependent on universality and coordination with other policy changes to do a meaningful small-scale trial, as you can neither validate the claimed benefits nor refute the claimed drawbacks that way.

You can do a gradual ramp of benefits trial, but not a limited sample of population in an otherwise open environment with pre-existing policies generally applicable.


The Finland trial replaced existing unemployment insurance with a no-conditions payment of about the same value. No extra expense, in fact it would have been cheaper to administer since there was no compliance paperwork to process and police.

no they did not.

Yes they did, according to the article:

“Mr Simanainen says that while some individuals found work, they were no more likely to do so than a control group of people who weren't given the money.”

Note this means the headline is the opposite of the truth. And the quote is not to be found in the article. It’s how the author/editor chose to interpret a single individual’s statement, despite the overall finding being very different.


quote: Included in the random sampling were all individuals between ages 25 and 58 whom Kela paid labour market subsidy or basic unemployment allowance in November 2016 for some other reason than a temporary layoff. Random sampling means that all who satisfied the requirements for inclusion in the experiment had an equal probability of being selected into the study population.

so the group who received the subsidy was already skewed by a previous selection process.

I don't see any mention of a control group in the experiment web site:

[0] https://www.kela.fi/web/en/basic-income-objectives-and-imple...

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