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Obviously this is not a new idea... Twenty years ago I sat around with college mates, in Canada, listing the merits of the "Guaranteed Income" and quite frankly I still support the idea today.

If you took all the salaries, property and operations cost associated with distributing old age security, welfare, disability, unemployment wages etc etc, it would probably pay for much of the cost associated with the Guaranteed Income (even if you had a small group dedicated to counter fraud abuse).

I could list out the many benefits and the nay-sayer objections with counter arguments, but after twenty years I've come to realize money distribution is not the problem. The problem is money = power and society is hell bent on gaining power.

The real solution is to move to a resource managed economy that eliminates money all together. But quite frankly we as a society are not there yet and I doubt we will be in my lifetime.




> The real solution is to move to a resource managed economy that eliminates money all together

So, rationing? I wonder if that's been tried before.

Money is a repesentation of resources. And resources cannot be allocated efficiently by central authority, because of the calculation problem[1]. But maybe some college dorm discussions will bear some other solution.

[1] http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_calculation_problem


"Resource-managed economy" does not imply a centralized authority, which is where your snide rejoinder comes off the rails.


How the hell do you allocate resources with maximal efficiency, without either a central authority or trade?

Maybe I'm just an old stick in the mud, but those two are "I tell you what you want" and "You tell me what you want", and I don't see the third option.


You could manage (distribute) the resource of money, and allow people to spend it how they like within a free market.

Of course, I'm aware that whyme said "eliminates money all together" so this might not be what he meant.


I don't think it matters which. We are potentially going to go from 7 billion people to 9 billion people. At the 7 billion mark we would need 5 planets worth of resources if everyone were to consume at the level Americans do, so where does that leave us is a few decades while the poorer nations are evolving at such a rapid pace? Ideally we get engineers and scientists to start with x amount of resources and x number of people then learn along the way.


At the 7 billion mark we would need 5 planets worth of resources if everyone were to consume at the level Americans do

You're assuming that we are already making maximal use of all available resources. We aren't; we're not even close. The reason the "poorer nations" are poor is politics, not lack of resources.


What indication did I give you that leads you to believe I'm making that assumption?

I didn't make any claim to suggest why poor nations are poor, did I? I simply suggested that as poor nations evolve, their people will consume more.


What indication did I give you that leads you to believe I'm making that assumption?

You said we would need 5 planets worth of resources if everyone lived at an American standard of living. That would only be true if it took a full one planet's worth of resources for everyone at the standard they are living at now. But it doesn't; we aren't using the full productive capacity of planet Earth now, not even close, and a lot of what we do produce gets wasted for political reasons. If we got rid of that waste, we might well be able to support everyone at an American standard of living with just one planet's worth of resources, not 5.

I simply suggested that as poor nations evolve, their people will consume more

That's part of what you suggested, but it isn't all of it. See above.


The American standard of living is inherently based in part on the standard of wastefulness. Our attitude towards wastefulness in general is a prerequisite for many of our liberties worldwide. If you remove these properties from the equation you don't really have the American standard of living anymore.


What's your definition of "wastefulness"? For example, am I being "wasteful" by using a computer connected to the Internet to make this post?

If your answer to that question is yes (I don't actually think it is, but bear with me), then you are right that the only way to have an American standard of living is to be "wasteful" in this sense; but that would be true of any standard of living beyond bare subsistence. Good luck convincing people to buy into that.

If your answer to that question is no, then you're wrong that we need to be "wasteful" to have an American standard of living. The computer I'm using to make this post is considerably more efficient than the computer I would have used to do so when I first joined HN a few years ago, let alone the one I was using to make posts on CompuServe discussion groups a couple of decades ago. The new car my wife and I bought recently is considerably more efficient than the 12-year-old car I have (which we are going to replace soon for that very reason). We have a lot of room to make things more efficient without sacrificing any functionality at all--indeed, while continuing to add functionality. The computer I'm using now is not only more efficient (less power consumption, longer battery life, etc.) than older ones, it's more functional as well (faster CPU, more RAM, more hard drive).


Being wasteful, in my mind, is wasting resources, energy, effort etc. for slight conveniences and superficial benefits. Most of the things people do are wasteful, but I think what's important is a matter of degree. And no, not being able to convince people to buy into that is completely irrelevant to the argument.

Where is the computer you were using before now? Chances are that someone else is using it, which more than cancels out any perceived efficiency gain. Chances are that you just threw it away, which is more detrimental to the environment than continued use. Maybe it's just collecting dust in your attic, where it will stay useless until any of the above two scenarios happen.

More importantly, I'd like to propose that what drives innovation in computer hardware is largely our attitude towards wastefulness. You couldn't sell and develop new hardware at such a rapid pace if people weren't readily throwing their old stuff away to have it replaced. I'm arguing that the whole process is wasteful, never mind that your machine performs better per Watt. Your old laptop probably had a greater cost to the environment in its manufacturing process and after you got rid of it than whatever energy you spent using it during its lifetime, and even more definitely the cost of manufacturing your current laptop was more than what you save by using it instead of the old one.

Let's get into farming, food production and food packaging if you still aren't convinced.


Being wasteful, in my mind, is wasting resources, energy, effort etc. for slight conveniences and superficial benefits.

And who gets to decide which conveniences are "slight" and which benefits are "superficial"? Sounds like nice work if you can get it.

Where is the computer you were using before now? Chances are that someone else is using it

Not likely. Computer recycling centers return the materials to manufacturers so they can be used as raw materials for new production. They don't resell the systems as-is.

Chances are that you just threw it away, which is more detrimental to the environment than continued use.

If your definition of "wasteful" is "putting things in landfills instead of recycling them", you could have just said so.

You couldn't sell and develop new hardware at such a rapid pace if people weren't readily throwing their old stuff away to have it replaced.

This is quite true. But you're failing to ask the next question: why are people readily throwing their old stuff away? Because the new stuff is perceived by them to have better functionality. (This is not just true for computers; it's true for pretty much everything, cars, houses, clothes, etc.) They may be wrong, but who made you the judge of that?

For example, when you say:

the cost of manufacturing your current laptop was more than what you save by using it instead of the old one.

You are completely ignoring the benefit to me of having my current laptop instead of my previous one. You're basically saying that people should be satisfied with old, outdated products that don't work very well compared to new ones, just so that we can avoid manufacturing new ones. If you want to make that tradeoff for yourself, fine, go for it. But if you expect other people to accept your definition of what are "slight conveniences and superficial benefits" that don't justify buying new stuff, you're going to need to do a lot better than just pointing out that people buy a lot of new stuff.


> And who gets to decide which conveniences are "slight" and which benefits are "superficial"? Sounds like nice work if you can get it.

By that I did not mean to suggest that there's is or should be a universally enforced definition of what is "slight" or "superficial". I meant to point out that no matter how you define those words the definition of wastefulness depends on it. How you choose to implement it is a matter of values.

> Not likely. Computer recycling centers return the materials to manufacturers so they can be used as raw materials for new production. They don't resell the systems as-is.

There are various ways to go about recycling computers. Even if your computer was sent straight to a manufacturer to have its raw materials extracted, it would be better if it was given to someone in need of a computer for immediate reuse.

> If your definition of "wasteful" is "putting things in landfills instead of recycling them", you could have just said so.

"Throwing away" was admittedly not very carefully worded, try "getting rid of it in a way that does not guarantee continued use". Never mind that millions of tons of electronics go into landfills every year.

> This is quite true. But you're failing to ask the next question: why are people readily throwing their old stuff away? Because the new stuff is perceived by them to have better functionality. (This is not just true for computers; it's true for pretty much everything, cars, houses, clothes, etc.) They may be wrong, but who made you the judge of that?

Why anyone is throwing their stuff away in favor of new stuff is besides my point. Perhaps they don't realize the consequences, or they ignore them on the basis that they won't personally have to face them.

> You are completely ignoring the benefit to me of having my current laptop instead of my previous one. You're basically saying that people should be satisfied with old, outdated products that don't work very well compared to new ones, just so that we can avoid manufacturing new ones. If you want to make that tradeoff for yourself, fine, go for it. But if you expect other people to accept your definition of what are "slight conveniences and superficial benefits" that don't justify buying new stuff, you're going to need to do a lot better than just pointing out that people buy a lot of new stuff.

I am not ignoring that there is a benefit to you having a new laptop, and I'm not trying to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't do. All I am saying is that the shape of our society largely depends on our general lack of interest in the consequences of what we do with discarded products.


I did not mean to suggest that there's is or should be a universally enforced definition of what is "slight" or "superficial".

Perhaps not, but you did appear to be suggesting that some people should be able to tell other people what is "slight" or "superficial", instead of everyone getting to decide that for themselves. If everyone gets to decide for themselves what is "slight" or "superficial", then we basically have the situation we have now; but you don't seem satisfied with the situation we have now.

it would be better if it was given to someone in need of a computer for immediate reuse.

Not necessarily; there would have to be sufficient benefit to the person re-using it. You keep on ignoring that part of the equation.

try "getting rid of it in a way that does not guarantee continued use"

Same comment here: you're assuming that continued use is actually a benefit for whoever is using the item. What if it isn't?

I'm not trying to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't do.

Huh? Saying that people are not taking proper account of the consequences of their actions is telling people what they should do--it's saying they should take proper account of the consequences. If you're not willing to own that statement, then you should stop harping about the consequences.


I think I'll skip the debate over "the size of things" and just suggest there's a significant problem with our current rate of utilization and fair distribution. If your argument is simply that we have room for optimizing the worlds resources, then sure I can agree with that, but frankly I doubt that's going to work very well under a model that's really dog eat dog and has a hoarding, power hungry society that uses money as the means to manage the distribution and ownership of things.


a hoarding, power hungry society that uses money as the means to manage the distribution and ownership of things.

Actually, I think the problem is that we don't use money enough to manage distribution and ownership; too much distribution and ownership is controlled by factors other than money. But it's true that there is a problem with money as a control mechanism, though it isn't what you appear to think it is: the problem with money as a control mechanism is that governments manipulate the money supply for political reasons.


"...is that governments manipulate the money supply for political reasons."

That's the power hungry part I'm talking about. The government is not some machine that is broken, it's a select group of people within our society running around trying to balance appeasing the public horde while trying to amass as much power as possible. The behaviour of the people within government is a reflection of the state and quality of our society as a whole.


So how would you fix this problem?


How is not relevant. What's relevant is that society has to change to the point where it becomes possible and also a priority. I do believe, unfortunately[1], that the money system has to collapse first.

1. unfortunately in the sense that some hardship will follow suit.


How is not relevant.

In other words, you're punting. You say "society has to change" but you refuse to give any information about how it has to change. Other than saying you think the money system has to collapse first, which doesn't inspire confidence; to say that "some hardship will follow suit" is a massive understatement.


I don't see the how part as something worth getting into. It's also dependant on the technological advancements and makeup of society at the time change starts to happen.

It took centuries for the monetary systems to develop with many bumps a long the way. That will also need to happen in a resource managed economy.


I don't see the how part as something worth getting into.

In other words, you advocate a "resource managed economy" but you conveniently exempt yourself from having to explain how you are going to avoid having it suck the way the Soviet Union sucked. Pardon me for not getting all excited about society spending centuries in that quagmire. For all the problems our current money economies have, they are still way better than the Soviet Union.


Their people will consume more, but their GDP will go up as well.


There are more resources than just money. Metals are in high demand already, and the prices have increased faster than anyone's GDP.


And if that trend continues, at some point in the not too distant future, it will become profitable to mine metals from, say, automobile junkyards, instead of from the ground. Or we'll find substitutes, as we already have for many metals (an automobile junkyard a decade from now, containing mostly cars built around this time, won't have nearly as much metal in it because the car bodies will be mostly composite).


You can't make more aluminum just by wanting it. If our usage of aluminum increases, eventually there will not be enough aluminum.


You can't make more aluminum just by wanting it.

No, but if the price goes up enough, you can mine it, as I said, from places like auto junkyards where people have thrown it away.

If our usage of aluminum increases, eventually there will not be enough aluminum.

No, if our usage of aluminum increases, assuming the supply is constant, its price will go up, so people will have incentives to find substitutes. (I already gave one example: using composites instead of metal for car bodies; that mostly substitutes for steel, not aluminum, but it does substitute for some aluminum usage, and the general point is the same.) So the increasing price of aluminum will regulate its usage so that we never run out; we just keep shifting certain uses to substitutes so that aluminum is only needed for uses that are valuable enough to make it worth paying the market price.

This is not just theoretical, by the way; it has happened many, many times. Aluminum itself is an example: most of its uses are uses in which it displaced other metals, like iron and steel (a good example is car engines: most of them are made of aluminum now because it's cheaper than cast iron).


GDP does not mean your country produced $3B money. Notice it stands for gross domestic product. It's just measured in dollars.


Distributed resource-managed economy sounds a lot like a barter economy. IMHO, money-based trade is almost always better than bartering.


I support the basic income, but I have also thought about alternatives that do not require government support. Consider e-currency with a time based demurrage (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demurrage_(currency)) fee. The demurrage fees would be paid out equally to all consumers. The demurrage fee plays the same role as a job in the current economy by circulating currency from producers to consumers. Since it is an e-currency, it would be independent of governments. The good news is that if in the future wealth inequality causes economic output to shrink, businesses might be forced to accept these types of currencies in order to grow.


> The problem is money = power and society is hell bent on gaining power.

A major source of trouble now is that money is tightly coupled with politics. It boggles the mind how it's not universally understood that politics should be entirely de-coupled from private money. All of politics should run 100% (including elections) on a public fund.

Unless this is done, very few things of true substance will be fixed.

> The real solution is to move to a resource managed economy that eliminates money all together.

I don't think that's doable unless we've made work entirely optional. When AI and robots could do any job we don't want to do, then you could instate some form of basic income, or even your more radical idea.

But until then, it's going to be very, very hard to change things in a fundamental way.


100% on a public fund? So I should be paying for the elections of Republicans and Democrats even though they are private parties that may for no reason exclude me?


It's done this way in many other countries. For example, in Canada, each party receives $2 per vote received in the last election to campaign in the next election. Corporate donations are banned, although small donations by individuals are still allowed.

You're paying now through the distortion of the electoral process and the indirect increase in your cost of goods and services (the hundreds of billions spent on elections comes from somewhere). Don't you think it's worth it for your taxes to go up $2 to eliminate those costs?


We can ban corporate donations without raising taxes, and without giving people's money to parties they don't support.


Or.... you could still run, but not as a Republican or a Democrat?


And lose, like everyone else who tried. When was the last time a president wasn't a Republican or a Democrat? That's right, when he was a Whig.


>And lose, like everyone else who tried.

You mean like everyone else who's tried before moving to public funded elections, with restrictions on campaign donations?

Of course I can't guarantee that one change will result in a third-party getting meaningful representation, but it's at least a start.


>All of politics should run 100% (including elections) on a public fund.

That's a horrible idea. The dominate parties would become even more dominate with the backing of the government. I do not approve of my tax money being spent on ridiculous political commercials either.


And where will the source for the Guaranteed Income come from? It will surely be taxes - income, sales, other. All taxes in some way or the other depend on the state of the economy. What if the economy goes into a recession or has severe fluctuations from year to year? Will "Guaranteed Income" be continued if there isn't sufficient wealth and production to pay for it?

Ultimately, it is another form of "spending other people's money" which runs out at some point or the other.

Any guaranteed entitlement scheme that does not account for the source of the funding will run into the same problems, sooner or later. (Just see the fate of a number of guaranteed pension funds in some parts of the country).


Yet, somehow, welfare, food stamps, medicaid, social security, etc etc etc still keep writing checks when the economy is down. Ok, so wipe all those out (including the significant overhead of running each one by its own, separate organization), and send the checks to everyone who's a citizen.

> Ultimately, it is another form of "spending other people's money" which runs out at some point or the other.

This is already happening. See above. It doesn't run out if you have a functioning economy. I'd also argue that GBI would make the economy function a lot better by opening up business opportunities to those who don't have access currently.


Most could come from the money diverted from existing anti-poverty programs. The rest could be made up by the increased taxes collected on the jump in spending by those receiving the BI. (Those at or below the poverty line spend more then 100% of every dollar they receive.)


...that eliminates money all together

You can't eliminate money. It's a natural creation of human interaction. Even prisoners have money.


This "natural instinct to truck and barter" only showed up about 200 to 300 years ago. Before then there was feudalism, chieftains, etc. Humans have had other technologies for distributing social assets.


I think I'm missing what you're saying, can you expound on this? There are records of mercantile law going back to Hammurabi; there's been paper fiat currency in China since the 7th century or so. Coinage and trade has plenty of historical record in Phoenician and Roman era.


It is a powerful assertion to say you cant do something ever. There are many "natural creations of human interaction" to be discovered, and many that died or we definitely wish they died with a really strong consensus.

And prisons having currency could be a model example of how money is an arbitrary and unfair element of trade and distribution.


If we can create , then we can destroy just as easily.


It's not enough to 'destroy' money, you'd have to prevent it from reappearing. Since it's easy for communities to create 'money', destroying it won't bring any freedom or radical change; just disruption.

It's just as with anarchy - you can destroy government, but you can't prevent "government"(s) from springing up to replace them, and usually worse than the ones before.


It's not enough to 'destroy' money, you'd have to prevent it from reappearing.

If you can't get rid of drugs and prostitution, you won't be able to get rid of money.


History has shown that black markets are extremely resilient. Those two are great examples.


Idiotic equivalence. There are very few processes that can be reversed just as easily.

Radiation, waste heat, carbon dioxide - the list goes on and on.


Markets are powerful.


Surely the only society that could stably operate as a "resource managed economy that eliminates money all together" would be a post-scarcity society.


I agree with this sentiment, and money is without a doubt a huge obstacle in properly reassigning and redistributing resources. It allows hoarding more than any other asset, being so abstract and thats a fundamental flaw in its mechanics.


Negative karma? how come


Because your comment was very stupid.




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