Affordability of a basic income proposal is a function of the social/government services it replaces, any tax increases, and the less tangible positive effects on spending and tax receipts associated with wealth redistribution towards the poor, and any social savings as a result of less crime, or fewer incarcerable offenses.
Specific, though informal, measurements were made by Pascal J. for Canada. A 2004 taxable basic income benefit of $7800 per adult could be afforded without any tax increases by replacing welfare, unemployment, and core Old age services. (Canada has supplemental poverty old age programs and pension system). The number excludes any intangible benefits of tax revenue increases due to higher spending and lower personal savings, and any expenditure savings on criminal enforcement.
But unless the welfare bill has an astronomical amount of waste (which I don't deny may be the case), surely this redistributes welfare from those who need it to those who don't? At the moment, for example, I receive no welfare payments. Thus my "share" of welfare is actually going to people who require it. In the basic income universe, suddenly I get a share of this money, which must come from those who currently get it, thus reducing their share. Moreover, this is ignoring all the inflationary pressures that a basic income would induce.
There's no reason a basic income would be inflationary. Sure, if it's funded by debt or printing money. But you can't simultaneously worry about it being costly to fund and it being inflationary.
Beyond that: yes, you could in theory make things cheaper by only giving the basic income to people who need it. But that's a fool's errand: although that course would reduce average tax rates as a first order effect, it would drastically raise marginal tax rates, which are much more relevant for predicting behavior. On top of that you instantly add a whole lot of administrative costs and interest group jockeying about determining who deserves it and who doesn't.
You get a huge amount of value out of an unconditional grant, and it distorts the market far less than any other structure of welfare scheme.
This isn't really true. Inflation is defined as the cost of purchasing necessities (for a specific set of necessities designed by the BLS - basically housing, food, medicine, etc).
If a BI shifted spending from investment/savings to consumption, demand for necessities would increase, driving up the cost. I.e., inflation.
Also, there is another structure which distorts the market even less than Basic Income. It's called the Basic Job. You get a Basic Income, but you need to show up and do work to receive it. It solves all the same problems as Basic Income, but with far lower disincentive for work, and at far lower cost.
"Only two segments of Dauphin’s labor force worked less as a result of Mincome—new mothers and teenagers. Mothers with newborns stopped working because they wanted to stay at home longer with their babies. And teenagers worked less because they weren’t under as much pressure to support their families."
I hear about Dauphin occasionally, but it would be great to see actual data rather than breathless reporters fawning over it. Unfortunately that's all wikipedia links to. I really want to see good data on this, since it seems useful. Do you have any?
Also, wikipedia's secondary sources don't agree with each other. Some do list small disincentive effects, and suggest they would have been larger if mincome wasn't a short term thing (i.e., "don't quit your job, mincome is going away").
The fact that the quote is pulled from a site named "disinformation" aside, I find it hard to believe that anyone worth reading would make claims as to why those two groups' workforce participation (?) rates declined in such certain terms.
1) Good point, but it's not clear to me demand for necessities would actually increase. Bear with me: virtually no one in the United States actually starves, and only a very small number lack a roof over their head or other "necessities." I might even be tempted to defined a necessity as something a person will consume regardless of income. What people do do instead is externalize the cost of their purchase, through shifting it onto their social networks, relying on public funds either implicitly (nonprofits, churches) or explicitly, or by debt. Debt acts funny, though, because it either shifts costs to their future selves (reducing future consumption of non-necessities) or to creditors (who'll eat some of the cost and pass the rest on to borrowers in general). We can theorize all day about what the actual effects would be--it seems a bit opaque to me, and I'd like a small sized country to play with a reasonably sized basic income to give us some real data.
2) I'm not too familiar with the Basic Job idea, and it's not very google-able. But I expect my general response would be two-pronged: firstly, I reject the idea that there's a huge disincentive to work with Basic Income. No one is materially satisfied at the basic income level, which my gut says should be $10k-$12k. Most working age Americans make more than that, and most are happy to take on more work when it means more money. (At some point most people do value time over money, but that's well above the minimum income level.)
But more fundamentally I reject the idea that a government has the capability to designate what're jobs that involve real, economically valuable work and what're not.
Should a person who dispenses psychoactive consumables be considered a worker? Yes, but try getting that through Congress. Should an NSA snoop? No, but same deal. What about an artist? An entrepreneur exploring a new market? An unpaid intern building up social and knowledge capital? A family caretaker?
Even if I trusted bureaucrats in DC not to be subject to special interests and regulatory capture, it's a matter of capability. They just don't have the knowledge to make these judgments, and investing enough money into providing that knowledge would be a huge waste if not impossible. On-the-ground individuals have far more knowledge about their particular circumstances and the needs of their communities than anyone else. Building the ability for dispersed economic activity to leverage dispersed knowledge has to be a cornerstone of policymaking, because those knowledge costs are increasingly the costs that define our modern economy.
Bear with me: virtually no one in the United States actually starves, and only a very small number lack a roof over their head or other "necessities."
Your definition of necessities is, I believe, narrower than the BLS. Consumer goods is probably a better term in retrospect. When you redistribute wealth from savers to spenders (as a BI is purported to do), you are increasing demand for consumer goods.
No one is materially satisfied at the basic income level, which my gut says should be $10k-$12k...No one is materially satisfied at the basic income level...(At some point most people do value time over money, but that's well above the minimum income level.)
This is simply incorrect. Most Americans below the poverty line already choose time over money.
I don't propose that basic jobs necessarily involve real, economically valuable work. I expect basic jobs to cost the government money.
The point is that it's cheaper than a BI, for two reasons. First, only a small subset of the population will even take the basic job - perhaps 10-50 million people. The rest will find jobs in the market economy paying more than $7.25/hour. Second, you gain some economic output from them - a low skill worker might be worth only $3/hour, and you pay him $7.25, so the loss is $4.25/hour rather than $7.25/hour. This would actually save the government money in some cases if the basic job worker replaces a unionized government worker making $20/hour.
Incidentally, the Basic Job program has been tried. FDR did it. We got a national park system out of it, among other benefits.
Basic job is dumbest idea ever. It was implemented in eastern block european countries and failed horribly. It was good against poverty but it barred all of the population from any individual effort and formed the connotation thay you go to work to get money and you don't need to do any actual work there. Imagine ou have a job that you know is unnecessary, you don't do much there but they pay fairy well so you keep your head down, take the money home and wait till the company or you division drops dead. Sort of like huge fraction of corporate and goverment nowadays but extened to whole population. Increadibly soul devasating.
> Eastern block countries had nothing but a basic job, i.e. no private sector.
From what I remember from my childhood there was some very limited private sector. Trust me, much damage on the psyche was done not by not allowing people to start companies but by bringing all to places where they couldn't do much and giving them money for just sitting there (and usually drinking copiously).
No you don't. The basic income is set off against your income tax liability, in fact, it's also been referred to as "negative income tax".
One of the nice aspects of the negative income tax is that it reduces the marginal tax rate at the bottom, which can often approach or even exceed 100% (you lose close to or even more benefits compared to the income from a low-paying job). Instead it's all just one smooth scale.
Another aspect of this is that it is one way of distributing the "automation dividend" that technology has given to society more equitably: "if robots and algorithms replace us in the labour market, they should also substitute us as taxpayers."
> Another aspect of this is that it is one way of distributing the "automation dividend" that technology has given to society more equitably: "if robots and algorithms replace us in the labour market, they should also substitute us as taxpayers."
As an IT professional who spends his days writing code to automate people away, I'm completely okay with this.
Just to be clear, basic income is not the same as negative income tax. Guaranteed income is the same as negative income tax; it has the benefit that it should cost less overall since it only goes to people who need it but it has the cost of trying to catch all the people cheating on it.
Present-day welfare systems have tremendous amounts of overhead to run. In a basic income system, most of that overhead goes away - you don't need an Office of Unemployment Benefits, or a Food for Underprivileged Children program - because everybody gets a check.
Do the savings completely offset the cost? I have no idea. But, it seems reasonable that they could offset a substantial portion. Of course, getting a government to willingly reduce it's size is a whole other problem.
Eliminating administrative overhead would be a saving, but it's unrealistic to expect those savings to fund a substantial part of a basic income by themselves.
Social Security and Medicare comprise a large majority of social spending in the USA. SS-OASI has overhead costs of 0.5%, and Medicare has around 1%. That's owing to them being unconditional, outside of age. Even their less efficient brethren aren't that bad: SS-DI is around 2%.
Medicaid is much higher (~6% I think) because it is so targeted and is really administered by 50 different agencies on top of the feds. But after that you get to programs that might be super inefficient but just aren't big enough to generate the huge kinds of savings we might want.
> Social Security and Medicare comprise a large majority of social spending in the USA. SS-OASI has overhead costs of 0.5%, and Medicare has around 1%. That's owing to them being unconditional, outside of age.
Social Security is not unconditional; both whether you are eligible at all and the benefits for which you are eligible are based on your history of qualifying contributions, not merely your age.
The Social Security Administration considers interest on its special treasury bonds as pure free money (negative overhead). That's plainly ridiculous, as it's just tax money that came from the general fund.
> Medicaid is much higher (~6% I think) because it is so targeted and is really administered by 50 different agencies on top of the feds.
And because, while Medicare is usually a primary payer, Medicaid is the payer of last resort, so Medicaid has a lot more expense in verifying that there isn't another payer with an obligation to pay (including Medicare -- there is a substantial population eligible for both programs) that should pay before Medicaid, or reimburse Medicaid.
Welfare politics are driven by resentment, and offense that "My tax dollars are paying for lazy welfare queens to drive Cadillacs!" Because of this, there's a tremendous amount of overhead built into fraud prevention and making sure no one who isn't utterly desperate gets it.
With GMI, there's no justification for class resentment - you get the same benefit as everyone else.
Guaranteed Minimum Income is the idea that if your own income is insufficient, the state will step in and provide one for you. The conditionality in that definition, however, means that it would be a means-tested programme with all the attendant implications for marginal tax rates, poverty traps, class resentment, etc.
A Universal/Unconditional Basic Income is different -- it's provided to everyone with no means testing whatsoever. I think that's what you meant, based on how you're using it. But just be aware that GMI/UBI are actually quite different things.
> But unless the welfare bill has an astronomical amount of waste (which I don't deny may be the case), surely this redistributes welfare from those who need it to those who don't?
For replacing poverty-targetted programs, this effect is limited if its used in a system which already has an appropriate progressive income tax system, further, it makes "needing it" less durable, as it doesn't prevent gains in personal earning potential from being negated by cutbacks in benefits that create a disincentives (because the costs to realize the gains + the cutbacks do to receiving the gains mean that gaining income-before-benefits actually reduces effective income-after-benefits.)
It's also possible the money comes from eliminating the welfare administration system. All the paper and offices and maintenance must
cost a ton of money. (I don't count salaries because if you fired all those government workers their salaries would get replaced with
the basic income.
Ah. I agree it would be more informative but also more depressing: a countdown gives you a (inaccurate of course) number of days left to 'make the most of'; showing the number of days done gives you an (accurate) count of days you (perhaps) haven't made the most of.
But to be honest the App was something I quickly put together in a few hours and I didn't really consider alternatives to a countdown.