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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
I have no idea whether that's enough to make up the difference.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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 we increase land use efficiency dramatically, that effectively raises the carrying capacity and population growth can continue much longer
So if we're talking about material post-scarcity, land is more than plentiful.
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.
Do they get a choice? I want to live in Disneyland, but there's sadly a distinct lack of real estate available.
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.
If the acquisition cost is >0, it is scarce in practice as well as theory.
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.
...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.
I'll take scarcity, thank you.
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)
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.
It seems like to him it's more a convenient excuse to kill lots of people.
There's a virtually endless amount of unskilled work that could be done to improve the environment and people's lives.
As soon as you tie the payment to a certain type of task, you have to enforce a standard of time/quality.
(I use agriculture as the catchy example because almost every community could use some amount of it, but it goes well beyond that)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
> 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.
introduce basic income and people will make themselves useful.
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.
And yet the US has full employment.
Could it be that Finland lacks jobs for some reason other than technology?
* Citation needed.
Here's the Fed saying we are:
Just like the cost of living index, Politicians often use misleading techniques to calculate "employment rate"
At 79.9, it's not quite record high employment, but it's close.
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?
All ages LFPR are probably low because the Baby Boomers are retiring and Millenials are still in college.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is a quote from a participant but the quote is much more convincing.
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.
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.
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.
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 ?
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?
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.
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.  This is also borne out in the historical record, as are the consequences when the elites do too little or imprudently do too much.
 -- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 other solutions are you talking about? Except giving away land?
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.
There is lots of work to be done even in developed countries.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
I'm confused, was that ever the expected goal of basic income?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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)?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
$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.
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.
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.
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.
Why would reducing disincentives to work, as compared to means-tested welfare, rationally be expected to have anything like that effect?
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.
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"?
Testing out UBI is predicated on the assumption most of those jobs "nobody wants" will be automated, and thus not available anyway.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not unless you're printing it; that's the only way to "inject" money.
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.
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. 
> 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.
That's just two walfare programs alone; there are others like SNAP, unemployment, etc.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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.).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
but I think we agree, the goal is to reduce faux-slavery due to the need for basics necessities
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
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
Isn't unconditional, you know, unconditional? As opposed to "From January 2017 until December 2018"?
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.
(And one thing these trial do seem to show is that giving it out, and then removing it, is at least modestly disruptive.)
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 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.
“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.
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: