Author Topic: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?  (Read 11273 times)

Shane

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #150 on: May 12, 2019, 11:40:34 AM »
I addressed these two points in my post. Currently, many low wage workers are working multiple jobs, which they might not wish to do if their first job paid them more.
Second, if automation displaces a good number of workers, which I am skeptical of actually happening any time soon, government entities could hire them to do things (e.g. subsidized daycare, park maintenance, etc), rather than paying them to not do anything.
Where I live, the minimum wage recently went up to $10/hr, and it would be fine with me if we raised it to $15. I'm also not against the government's hiring workers not employed by private companies. I think I'm just skeptical that raising the minimum wage can really "force" employers to pay employees more, overall, or that raising the hourly minimum wage will, necessarily, reduce the number of people currently working multiple jobs. Sure, by raising the minimum wage to $15/hr, the government can "force" companies to pay workers more per hour, but it can't "force" companies to pay more money to workers. afaik, there's currently no way for the government to "force" employers to hire workers full time. If an employer can afford to spend $1500/month on labor, she can either hire people to work 150 hours @ $10/hr or 100 hours/month @ $15/hr. That doesn't really change much, though, does it? The government can't "force" anybody to spend more on labor than she wants or can afford to spend.

Where I live, if an employer regularly hires an employee to work 20+ hours/week, the employer must offer and help to pay for health insurance. To avoid having to pay for their employees' health insurance, many employers choose to only hire part time workers, strictly limiting them to <20 hours/week. Of course, everyone should be covered by health insurance. I just think the law in my state which "forces" employers to pay for their employees' health insurance has had the unintended consequence of causing more workers to have to cobble together a living by working multiple part time jobs. Completely decoupling health insurance from employment might encourage employers to hire more full time workers and to pay them more.

John Galt incarnate!

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #151 on: May 12, 2019, 12:15:10 PM »
the wholesale liberation of able-bodied people from doing work they'd rather not be doing, at the cost of overall tax revenue, is not something that I agree with.

Could you expand on this point? Is it really just the tax implications you object to or is it something more philosophical to do with able bodied people not having to work?

I object to the idea that able-bodied people should be able to retire unconditionally and at an early age on the taxpayer's dime. Simple.

I believe early retirement is a lofty goal to aspire to. You earn it, you get it. But if you're able bodied, you have to earn it (like we all aspire to).


Regarding  aspiration, a UBI would provide some of its recipients the option of  pursuing aspirations they otherwise could not.

 Some legislators who advocate for UBI  cite the desirability of this option.

In terms of recipients' humanity,  the effects of  implementing   a UBI can never be entirely salutary, which, I hasten to add, is certainly not a reason to abandon it.

Aspiration lifts the human spirit.

What gives me pause  is that a UBI may result in  atrophied  aspiration for some of its recipients thereby deadening  their spirit which is not a desirable outcome.

In plain English, if millions of people will be paid not to work  if they so choose,  is this pay-for-no-work option really good for them or society?



maizeman

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #152 on: May 12, 2019, 01:32:40 PM »
Thanks Shane, that makes a lot more sense, I appreciate you being willing to go into specifics about what the differences in behavior you are concerned about are.

Yes I agree that there are a good number of folks who lack either the capacity or the self control to ration out spending over a month. A monthly UBI then presents a moral quandary because either we reinstitute other safety nets to take care of people who have run out of money and are going cold and hungry (canceling out one of the major proposed benefits of adopting a UBI, a dramatic simplification of many of the means tested and restricted use portions of the social safety net*), or we don't create an additional safety net and might potentially end up with more people cold and starving people than we have under present policy.

To me the simplest solution to this would be to shift from monthly payments to weekly or even daily ones. Since everything would be managed by electronic transfers anyway there wouldn't be any substantial extra cost of lost efficiency in paying smaller amounts in more rapid intervals, and while a person who has spent all their money and isn't getting paid for another 20 days is in for a lot of pain and suffering, a person who has spent all their money and isn't getting paid for another couple of days (or maybe another 12 hours), isn't in for a pleasant time, but not on nearly the same scale.

While this seems like a straightforward fix, I will also concede that -- to the best of my knowledge -- it's not a fix being proposed by any of the politicians talking about a UBI at the moment, so the issue of how to deal with people unable or unwilling to budget over the course of a month could really present itself as significant complication if a UBI were actually implemented.

*Food stamps, section 8 housing, etc (to be clear since it was apparently misinterpreted up thread, not social security)

Shane

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #153 on: May 12, 2019, 08:29:57 PM »
Thanks Shane, that makes a lot more sense, I appreciate you being willing to go into specifics about what the differences in behavior you are concerned about are.

Yes I agree that there are a good number of folks who lack either the capacity or the self control to ration out spending over a month. A monthly UBI then presents a moral quandary because either we reinstitute other safety nets to take care of people who have run out of money and are going cold and hungry (canceling out one of the major proposed benefits of adopting a UBI, a dramatic simplification of many of the means tested and restricted use portions of the social safety net*), or we don't create an additional safety net and might potentially end up with more people cold and starving people than we have under present policy.

To me the simplest solution to this would be to shift from monthly payments to weekly or even daily ones. Since everything would be managed by electronic transfers anyway there wouldn't be any substantial extra cost of lost efficiency in paying smaller amounts in more rapid intervals, and while a person who has spent all their money and isn't getting paid for another 20 days is in for a lot of pain and suffering, a person who has spent all their money and isn't getting paid for another couple of days (or maybe another 12 hours), isn't in for a pleasant time, but not on nearly the same scale.

While this seems like a straightforward fix, I will also concede that -- to the best of my knowledge -- it's not a fix being proposed by any of the politicians talking about a UBI at the moment, so the issue of how to deal with people unable or unwilling to budget over the course of a month could really present itself as significant complication if a UBI were actually implemented.

*Food stamps, section 8 housing, etc (to be clear since it was apparently misinterpreted up thread, not social security)
@maizeman , I like your idea of electronically loading a UBI onto a debit card weekly or even daily. For many people, that might be the safest way to parcel the money out to them to make sure they never run out. People like you, me and most others on this forum could just allow our daily UBI to accumulate for a month, and then have it automatically transferred into our investment or savings accounts or whatever. People who needed the money daily to buy groceries or other necessities would always have a little money, ~$33/day, with which they could buy food, so they'd never go hungry. Sounds like it might work to me!

sol

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #154 on: May 12, 2019, 10:08:07 PM »
People who needed the money daily to buy groceries or other necessities would always have a little money, ~$33/day, with which they could buy food, so they'd never go hungry. Sounds like it might work to me!

In addition to preventing people from blowing their monthly allotment on spinning rims on the first of the month, it probably also prevents them from saving it up to buy something big that they need to pay for, like rent.  So I can see this idea cutting both ways.  Dribbling it out in tiny increments virtually guaranteed it all gets spent every day.

I have family who are desperately poor in part because they cannot manage money.  Giving them $30 per day would result in a $14 breakfast followed by a $16 weed purchase, and then going hungry until tomorrow.  It doesn't really matter how you break it down, some people just don't function well enough to live any other way.

Shane

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #155 on: May 13, 2019, 01:11:30 AM »
People who needed the money daily to buy groceries or other necessities would always have a little money, ~$33/day, with which they could buy food, so they'd never go hungry. Sounds like it might work to me!

In addition to preventing people from blowing their monthly allotment on spinning rims on the first of the month, it probably also prevents them from saving it up to buy something big that they need to pay for, like rent.  So I can see this idea cutting both ways.  Dribbling it out in tiny increments virtually guaranteed it all gets spent every day.

I have family who are desperately poor in part because they cannot manage money.  Giving them $30 per day would result in a $14 breakfast followed by a $16 weed purchase, and then going hungry until tomorrow.  It doesn't really matter how you break it down, some people just don't function well enough to live any other way.
Agreed, there could also be a downside to parceling money out to people daily. Maybe we could offer people who know they're bad at managing money the option of having a lump sum paid directly to a landlord's account at the beginning of the month. Then, they could just receive the remainder of their UBI parceled out daily. For example, if a person's rent was $700/month, she, or maybe her social worker, could ask to have $700 paid directly to her landlord on the first of every month. Then, she could get the remaining $300 dribbled onto her debit card at the rate of $10/day. That way she'd always be able to afford to buy a little bit of food, or weed, as the case may be, each day. :)

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #156 on: May 13, 2019, 01:14:39 AM »
I think it would be easier just to provide centralised shelters / soup kitchens for displaced people and otherwise let people take control of their own finances. Otherwise you have some people wanting a daily stipend, some people objecting to the paternalism of a daily stipend, some people wanting money funnelled to their landlord, some people worried their landlord will abuse that arrangement, etc. At the end of the day you probably have to have faith in people that they can understand how to make a handout work.

Telecaster

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #157 on: May 13, 2019, 12:07:14 PM »
On topic:

Amazon is increasing automation in its fulfillment centers.    The ultimate goal is a lights out warehouse with no workers.   

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-automation-exclusive/exclusive-amazon-rolls-out-machines-that-pack-orders-and-replace-jobs-idUSKCN1SJ0X1

maizeman

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #158 on: May 13, 2019, 12:25:30 PM »
That was a fascinating read, thanks Telecaster. I'd heard that "picking" of items was still one of the main challenges to a completely lights out warehouse, but there are still a lot of the other parts of the process like boxing where automation could come into play.

Two useful datapoints from the article:

"Amazon has considered installing two machines at dozens more warehouses, removing at least 24 roles at each one... Amazon would expect to recover the costs in under two years, at $1 million per machine plus operational expenses"

...

"Believing that grasping technology is not ready for prime time, Amazon is automating around that problem when packing customer orders. Humans still place items on a conveyor, but machines then build boxes around them and take care of the sealing and labeling. This saves money not just by reducing labor but by reducing wasted packing materials as well."

Boofinator

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #159 on: May 13, 2019, 03:16:44 PM »
On topic:

Amazon is increasing automation in its fulfillment centers.    The ultimate goal is a lights out warehouse with no workers.   

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-automation-exclusive/exclusive-amazon-rolls-out-machines-that-pack-orders-and-replace-jobs-idUSKCN1SJ0X1

Fantastic. Who the heck wants to be packing Amazon boxes all day?

This will free up people to help fill the demand in the labor market and perform jobs that could not possibly be any more menial than packing for Amazon. I imagine that those who get laid off due to this technology disruption will receive unemployment benefits and a nice little break from employment (at least those not living paycheck to paycheck).

Telecaster

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #160 on: May 13, 2019, 03:31:55 PM »
Fantastic. Who the heck wants to be packing Amazon boxes all day?

This will free up people to help fill the demand in the labor market and perform jobs that could not possibly be any more menial than packing for Amazon. I imagine that those who get laid off due to this technology disruption will receive unemployment benefits and a nice little break from employment (at least those not living paycheck to paycheck).

I hope that's the case.  My fear is that lots of people who were only qualified to get jobs at an Amazon FC now won't have any jobs.  And I'm sure working in the FC is no fun, but the jobs have full benefits.   So, one could do a lot worse.

I do not blame Amazon or think this is necessarily a bad thing.    This is a trend that has been going on for a long, long time and by making stuff cheaper to buy, Amazon is  increasing our standard of living.    But we are increasing seeing jobs that only humans could do become automated.   Writing sports stories, for example.   I'm not sure how this will turn out, but not all the scenarios are rosey.   

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #161 on: May 13, 2019, 03:37:33 PM »
The displaced workers will find plenty of work in the gig economy - Uber, Airtasker, etc.

Telecaster

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #162 on: May 13, 2019, 03:46:13 PM »
The displaced workers will find plenty of work in the gig economy - Uber, Airtasker, etc.

Possibly.  But Uber doesn't provide a 401(k) or health benefits.   I suspect the pay is worse too. 

Cool Friend

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #163 on: May 14, 2019, 09:26:03 AM »
Uber is heavily investing in self-driving cars which will eventually replace those workers.

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #164 on: May 14, 2019, 10:45:40 AM »
I suspect in twenty years it will seem phenomenally weird to young kids that we used to get into the cars of complete strangers and have them drive us around - whether that was a taxi or an Uber/Lyft. 

I'm also skeptical that my daughter will want or get a driver's license when she's eligible in ~15 years.

Boofinator

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #165 on: May 14, 2019, 12:20:11 PM »
Fantastic. Who the heck wants to be packing Amazon boxes all day?

This will free up people to help fill the demand in the labor market and perform jobs that could not possibly be any more menial than packing for Amazon. I imagine that those who get laid off due to this technology disruption will receive unemployment benefits and a nice little break from employment (at least those not living paycheck to paycheck).

I hope that's the case.  My fear is that lots of people who were only qualified to get jobs at an Amazon FC now won't have any jobs.  And I'm sure working in the FC is no fun, but the jobs have full benefits.   So, one could do a lot worse.

I do not blame Amazon or think this is necessarily a bad thing.    This is a trend that has been going on for a long, long time and by making stuff cheaper to buy, Amazon is  increasing our standard of living.    But we are increasing seeing jobs that only humans could do become automated.   Writing sports stories, for example.   I'm not sure how this will turn out, but not all the scenarios are rosey.

I feel sorry for the marginalized underclass, but a marginalized underclass has been around for a long time. As others have noted, increasing the minimum wage and removing the implied high marginal tax associated with getting off welfare would be a major step in the right direction for reducing inequality for this group.

However, here's why I don't see a swath of unemployment as being a problem arising from the advent of new technology: technological innovation has been eliminating "jobs" for as long as humans have had technology. Up to today's present day and age, it has not caused some massive inability for most people (outside of the infirm) who want to work to produce work and make a living from this work.

Let's use a hypothetical: Uber and/or other companies master the self-driving car and truck, thereby eliminating most paid jobs that involve driving on the road system. Sure, hundreds of thousands of jobs might be eliminated in the course of a decade, and those who lost their jobs would certainly suffer in the short-term (though unemployment benefits should help). However, let's consider the other economic effects. In the near term, the owners of the businesses who operate vehicle fleets would profit and the creators of the robots and technology would profit; in the medium-term, the general population would profit from having cheaper goods as the reduced operating costs for everyone drives down prices. All of these people now have more capital with which to pay people to perform jobs that these displaced individuals can now take up. Maybe the robot creators will want mansions, which need to be constructed, maintained, landscaped, etc. Maybe the business moguls will want to expand their business. Maybe the general population will now be able to hire a maid for a couple of hours a week. Bottom line is, nobody hoards cash (even Mustachians), and even if they did the government prints it like its going out of style in order to balance the economy. So of all of these people who have lost their jobs, they will be able to get new ones, though they will almost certainly need to learn new skills.

TL;DR: Rosy? Perhaps not for everyone, as there will be some short-term suffering as people lose their jobs. But those people will have to adapt and learn new skills, and when they do jobs will certainly be available (unless humans become completely worthless, as robots learn to perform every conceivable function better than humans).

Watchmaker

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #166 on: May 14, 2019, 02:02:13 PM »
All of these people now have more capital with which to pay people to perform jobs that these displaced individuals can now take up. Maybe the robot creators will want mansions, which need to be constructed, maintained, landscaped, etc. Maybe the business moguls will want to expand their business. Maybe the general population will now be able to hire a maid for a couple of hours a week. Bottom line is, nobody hoards cash (even Mustachians), and even if they did the government prints it like its going out of style in order to balance the economy. So of all of these people who have lost their jobs, they will be able to get new ones, though they will almost certainly need to learn new skills.

You're describing a world that depends on continued growth in consumption (to eat up the increase in productivity). To me, that sounds neither sustainable nor desirable.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #167 on: May 14, 2019, 02:10:15 PM »
However, here's why I don't see a swath of unemployment as being a problem arising from the advent of new technology: technological innovation has been eliminating "jobs" for as long as humans have had technology. Up to today's present day and age, it has not caused some massive inability for most people (outside of the infirm) who want to work to produce work and make a living from this work.

While this is true, the rebuttal I've seen in other threads (and maybe even this one) is that the continued existence of human jobs is not sufficient. In order for most able-bodied folks to remain employed for wages, you need to have quite a lot of jobs available that can be done by people with below-average intelligence and little education. Before this wasn't a problem because these folks were able to move from agricultural labor to factories with little training necessary. When the factories closed, people were able to move to jobs in Amazon fulfillment centers or Walmart or driving an Uber, none of which require all that much intelligence or training.

What happens when most of these jobs are automated out of existence as well? Assume some large fraction of people holding these jobs will never get a college education or a job that currently requires one. Will our economy come up with enough non-automatable tasks for such people to do that there will be abundant jobs for all who want one? I really do have doubts about this.

maizeman

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #168 on: May 14, 2019, 02:32:28 PM »
Yes, I share the same concern as seattlecyclone. I anticipate will be plenty of jobs for robotic engineers, and AI experts, and also for gifted singers and artists and things like that for many years to come.

But it is not necessary for robots/automation to replace every conceivable job which could be performed by a human in order for them to replace all the jobs* some people can perform.

And to be clear, I am neither notably artistically/creatively gifted, nor particularly skilled at working with computers or robots, so I definitely include myself in the "some people" who may find essentially all of their options for earning a living replaced by automation at some point in the future.

*To avoid ridiculous edge cases, I will specify that here I specifically "all of the jobs" which add enough value to the economy to make it economically viable to pay someone enough money to do the job that they can in turn afford food and shelter.

Boofinator

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #169 on: May 14, 2019, 02:39:54 PM »
All of these people now have more capital with which to pay people to perform jobs that these displaced individuals can now take up. Maybe the robot creators will want mansions, which need to be constructed, maintained, landscaped, etc. Maybe the business moguls will want to expand their business. Maybe the general population will now be able to hire a maid for a couple of hours a week. Bottom line is, nobody hoards cash (even Mustachians), and even if they did the government prints it like its going out of style in order to balance the economy. So of all of these people who have lost their jobs, they will be able to get new ones, though they will almost certainly need to learn new skills.

You're describing a world that depends on continued growth in consumption (to eat up the increase in productivity). To me, that sounds neither sustainable nor desirable.

There's good consumption, there's neutral consumption, and there's bad consumption. Food, we can agree, is good consumption, because without it people would die (some might argue the environmental externalities of the agriculture industry is a bad thing, but I think the humanist approach is the focus of this thread). Neutral consumption would involve minimal environmental impact and a fair labor market, though not something that fulfills a need (MMM's carpentry, for example). Bad consumption would be rolling coal and sex trafficking (to use two examples).

Consumption in and of itself is not a dirty word. Every time we create or use something that is of value to humans, we consume. It is when we consume blindly, without regards to the environment or the welfare of others, that our morals begin to erode.

Watchmaker

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #170 on: May 14, 2019, 03:03:54 PM »
All of these people now have more capital with which to pay people to perform jobs that these displaced individuals can now take up. Maybe the robot creators will want mansions, which need to be constructed, maintained, landscaped, etc. Maybe the business moguls will want to expand their business. Maybe the general population will now be able to hire a maid for a couple of hours a week. Bottom line is, nobody hoards cash (even Mustachians), and even if they did the government prints it like its going out of style in order to balance the economy. So of all of these people who have lost their jobs, they will be able to get new ones, though they will almost certainly need to learn new skills.

You're describing a world that depends on continued growth in consumption (to eat up the increase in productivity). To me, that sounds neither sustainable nor desirable.

There's good consumption, there's neutral consumption, and there's bad consumption. Food, we can agree, is good consumption, because without it people would die (some might argue the environmental externalities of the agriculture industry is a bad thing, but I think the humanist approach is the focus of this thread). Neutral consumption would involve minimal environmental impact and a fair labor market, though not something that fulfills a need (MMM's carpentry, for example). Bad consumption would be rolling coal and sex trafficking (to use two examples).

Consumption in and of itself is not a dirty word. Every time we create or use something that is of value to humans, we consume. It is when we consume blindly, without regards to the environment or the welfare of others, that our morals begin to erode.

I don't really agree with your categories. Food isn't good consumption if I eat a diet that consists of only red meat, caviar, and bottled water. Carpentry isn't "neutral consumption" if it's the construction of McMansions on drained wetlands.

The point I'm making is there's a minimum level of consumption needed to sustain a person and a level beyond that to make that person's life feel luxurious. Current productivity already far outproduces those needs in America, though, so we have to trick ourselves to consume more and more. All of this additional consumption doesn't make us happier or better off though--just the opposite. 

That's a basic tenet of the mustachian lifestyle: "your current middle-class life is an Exploding Volcano of Wastefulness".

If productivity goes up more (it will with automation), that means we need to consume more and more to maintain "full employment". We already consume more than we need; more consumption will just be consumption for consumption's sake. Whether the environment can handle it is one question, but why we would even want that life is another.

Boofinator

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #171 on: May 14, 2019, 03:35:47 PM »
However, here's why I don't see a swath of unemployment as being a problem arising from the advent of new technology: technological innovation has been eliminating "jobs" for as long as humans have had technology. Up to today's present day and age, it has not caused some massive inability for most people (outside of the infirm) who want to work to produce work and make a living from this work.

While this is true, the rebuttal I've seen in other threads (and maybe even this one) is that the continued existence of human jobs is not sufficient. In order for most able-bodied folks to remain employed for wages, you need to have quite a lot of jobs available that can be done by people with below-average intelligence and little education. Before this wasn't a problem because these folks were able to move from agricultural labor to factories with little training necessary. When the factories closed, people were able to move to jobs in Amazon fulfillment centers or Walmart or driving an Uber, none of which require all that much intelligence or training.

What happens when most of these jobs are automated out of existence as well? Assume some large fraction of people holding these jobs will never get a college education or a job that currently requires one. Will our economy come up with enough non-automatable tasks for such people to do that there will be abundant jobs for all who want one? I really do have doubts about this.

Let's look at this question through a historical lens. If you told people a couple of hundred years ago that the percentage of people in the United States working in the agricultural industry would decrease from roughly 90% to 5% of the population due to technological advances, would they be concerned about jobs? Probably, because they couldn't conceive the jobs that would open up in the future. Fortunately, with future sight, we can allay the fears of those in the past by saying the job market will be just fine, at least through 2019: A lot of those people who worked on farms their entire lives would now attain education through at least their 18th birthday, if not their 22nd. Even the relatively unintelligent would easily get jobs with minimal training as restaurant servers ('what's a restaurant?'), nurses' aids ('why would an assistant need an assistant?'), or landscapers ('huh?'). These three professions require practically no higher education, but are available everywhere, and are in little danger of being replaced by robots any time soon.

I'm not saying this day of reckoning won't come, but I have serious doubts that people who want to work would not be able to find work. I, for one, spend about ten weeks of my annual wages from labor on taxes, five weeks on food and other necessities for the family, and ten weeks for housing. The other 27 or so weeks I can spend on whatever I want: currently I spend it on investments (which involve a lot of jobs), but perhaps in the future I might hire a maid and landscaper as I age; or perhaps on a house in MMM-utopia; or maybe on a fancy education for my children or my children's children. But whatever I spend my money on, it will invariably involve hiring people (perhaps indirectly) to perform some menial tasks.

Also, I might add that most of the people I know without a college education are not 'dumb' (for lack of a better word on my part). Almost all of them can learn to do tasks, and as long as they have a good work ethic they can generally complete those tasks competently and with a little imagination. And as long as there are business-minded people willing to fulfill society's wants and needs and able to manage people in this endeavor, I believe that jobs will be available.

P.S. I believe that every generation has a subset of society that, by choice, fails to produce and contribute (this excludes the disabled and temporarily unemployed). I also believe that these people (as adults) aren't owed anything by society except laws that promote success and equality under those laws (the debate in my mind for UBI is whether or not it promotes success). For those who choose not to contribute, society's compassion should come in the form of encouragement, not alms.

P.P.S. I don't think a lack of jobs is a scary thing; I think a lack of food would be. I can't imagine the consequences of a famine in modern times. UBI would be next to worthless in this case due to inflation.

Telecaster

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #172 on: May 14, 2019, 04:06:19 PM »
Yes, I share the same concern as seattlecyclone. I anticipate will be plenty of jobs for robotic engineers, and AI experts, and also for gifted singers and artists and things like that for many years to come.

But it is not necessary for robots/automation to replace every conceivable job which could be performed by a human in order for them to replace all the jobs* some people can perform.

Here's one scenario I see playing out:  Basically, traditionally automation frees up mindless work, which allows people to move onto higher value work, using their minds.  But as Seattlecyclone reminds us, someone (I think it might have been you) pointed out there is a upper bound.   Being a truck driver or Amazon FC worker requires uniquely human skills.   But many of those people don't have the ability or skill to become AI engineers or patent attorneys.   

The scary part, as I see it, is the bots are now coming for knowledge jobs.  I mentioned above that bots now write sports stories and election results.  That means we need fewer writers.   And yes, that leaves people more time to write better stories, but there are fewer entry level reporter jobs as well.   We have Robo-advisors, which I think are kind of a bust, but they are better than a lot of real financial advisers and people who use Robo-advisors aren't using humans (or not as much anyway).   Reading electrocardiograms used to be something of an artform that required a skilled, experienced cardiologist to interpret, but now most are analyzed by computers.  IBM's Watson was designed as a medical assistant.   Plug in the symptoms and it spits out the most like diagnosis and a course of treatment, and it is always on top of the current literature.   That means doctors can treat more patients, which means fewer doctors will be needed.   And shoot, maybe soon you can start plunging in your own information at home, which also means fewer doctors are needed.   

After bots get done eliminating driving and warehouse jobs, bots are coming after knowledge jobs.   Actually, they are not even waiting, they are coming right now.   The former drivers and warehouse workers won't be able to become doctors or sports writers because those jobs are going away too. 

And yes, the bot owners will need luxury mansions and staff. But Jeff Bezos makes 10,000 times more (completely made up number) than the FC worker.  But he doesn't buy 10,000 times more houses, cars, or shoes, or eat 10,000 times as many meals.   

"Aha" you say "these people can also become artists and musicians.  How many Picassos and Beethovens were trapped in the FC until they were able to find their calling?"  They answer is very close to zero.  You can't make a living as an artist unless you are popular, so by definition there is a very limited number of artists who can make a living being an artist.

Maybe this all turns out okay.  It looks grim from here. 

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #173 on: May 14, 2019, 04:08:35 PM »
I think one assumption that needs to be examined is whether we have an obligation to help society other than basic forms of welfare to the infirm and a basic safety net to the indigent. I'm not sure that we need to otherwise worry about what happens when automation rolls around. People either find an alternative job or they get the safety net.

shenlong55

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #174 on: May 14, 2019, 04:48:23 PM »
However, here's why I don't see a swath of unemployment as being a problem arising from the advent of new technology: technological innovation has been eliminating "jobs" for as long as humans have had technology. Up to today's present day and age, it has not caused some massive inability for most people (outside of the infirm) who want to work to produce work and make a living from this work.

While this is true, the rebuttal I've seen in other threads (and maybe even this one) is that the continued existence of human jobs is not sufficient. In order for most able-bodied folks to remain employed for wages, you need to have quite a lot of jobs available that can be done by people with below-average intelligence and little education. Before this wasn't a problem because these folks were able to move from agricultural labor to factories with little training necessary. When the factories closed, people were able to move to jobs in Amazon fulfillment centers or Walmart or driving an Uber, none of which require all that much intelligence or training.

What happens when most of these jobs are automated out of existence as well? Assume some large fraction of people holding these jobs will never get a college education or a job that currently requires one. Will our economy come up with enough non-automatable tasks for such people to do that there will be abundant jobs for all who want one? I really do have doubts about this.

Let's look at this question through a historical lens. If you told people a couple of hundred years ago that the percentage of people in the United States working in the agricultural industry would decrease from roughly 90% to 5% of the population due to technological advances, would they be concerned about jobs? Probably, because they couldn't conceive the jobs that would open up in the future. Fortunately, with future sight, we can allay the fears of those in the past by saying the job market will be just fine, at least through 2019: A lot of those people who worked on farms their entire lives would now attain education through at least their 18th birthday, if not their 22nd. Even the relatively unintelligent would easily get jobs with minimal training as restaurant servers ('what's a restaurant?'), nurses' aids ('why would an assistant need an assistant?'), or landscapers ('huh?'). These three professions require practically no higher education, but are available everywhere, and are in little danger of being replaced by robots any time soon.

I'm not saying this day of reckoning won't come, but I have serious doubts that people who want to work would not be able to find work. I, for one, spend about ten weeks of my annual wages from labor on taxes, five weeks on food and other necessities for the family, and ten weeks for housing. The other 27 or so weeks I can spend on whatever I want: currently I spend it on investments (which involve a lot of jobs), but perhaps in the future I might hire a maid and landscaper as I age; or perhaps on a house in MMM-utopia; or maybe on a fancy education for my children or my children's children. But whatever I spend my money on, it will invariably involve hiring people (perhaps indirectly) to perform some menial tasks.

Also, I might add that most of the people I know without a college education are not 'dumb' (for lack of a better word on my part). Almost all of them can learn to do tasks, and as long as they have a good work ethic they can generally complete those tasks competently and with a little imagination. And as long as there are business-minded people willing to fulfill society's wants and needs and able to manage people in this endeavor, I believe that jobs will be available.

P.S. I believe that every generation has a subset of society that, by choice, fails to produce and contribute (this excludes the disabled and temporarily unemployed). I also believe that these people (as adults) aren't owed anything by society except laws that promote success and equality under those laws (the debate in my mind for UBI is whether or not it promotes success). For those who choose not to contribute, society's compassion should come in the form of encouragement, not alms.

P.P.S. I don't think a lack of jobs is a scary thing; I think a lack of food would be. I can't imagine the consequences of a famine in modern times. UBI would be next to worthless in this case due to inflation.

Intelligent life is still in it's infancy in relation to the universe.  The history your using to make your argument is actually a fairly minor data point/period of time and I don't think you should be giving it nearly as much weight as you are.  Immediately before life popped up an outside observer could have said "We have 9.3 billion years of history indicating that life can't exist in the universe, I don't think this 'life' thing is going to be a problem anytime soon." and look how wrong they would have been.

Watchmaker

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #175 on: May 14, 2019, 04:52:19 PM »
I think one assumption that needs to be examined is whether we have an obligation to help society other than basic forms of welfare to the infirm and a basic safety net to the indigent. I'm not sure that we need to otherwise worry about what happens when automation rolls around. People either find an alternative job or they get the safety net.

If you'll excuse numerous clarifying questions: What do you mean by a basic safety net, precisely? What is, or isn't included? And why do you think we have have an obligation to provide welfare to the infirm and indigent?

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #176 on: May 14, 2019, 05:04:09 PM »
I've described it before. It would consist of shelter/heating, clothing, food, and healthcare.

I think we have an obligation to provide this form of welfare because otherwise people's physical constitution will suffer, and I think as a society we have an obligation to keep everyone alive and physically nourished.

maizeman

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #177 on: May 14, 2019, 05:16:39 PM »
The scary part, as I see it, is the bots are now coming for knowledge jobs.  I mentioned above that bots now write sports stories and election results.  That means we need fewer writers.   And yes, that leaves people more time to write better stories, but there are fewer entry level reporter jobs as well.   We have Robo-advisors, which I think are kind of a bust, but they are better than a lot of real financial advisers and people who use Robo-advisors aren't using humans (or not as much anyway).   Reading electrocardiograms used to be something of an artform that required a skilled, experienced cardiologist to interpret, but now most are analyzed by computers.  IBM's Watson was designed as a medical assistant.   Plug in the symptoms and it spits out the most like diagnosis and a course of treatment, and it is always on top of the current literature.   That means doctors can treat more patients, which means fewer doctors will be needed.   And shoot, maybe soon you can start plunging in your own information at home, which also means fewer doctors are needed.   

After bots get done eliminating driving and warehouse jobs, bots are coming after knowledge jobs.   Actually, they are not even waiting, they are coming right now.   The former drivers and warehouse workers won't be able to become doctors or sports writers because those jobs are going away too. 

Yup. I'd definitely consider my field knowledge work and yet more and more of what I do can either be replaced by computers or done by humans with technology acting as a force multiplier so that one person can do the work that used to do ten.

Also, I might add that most of the people I know without a college education are not 'dumb' (for lack of a better word on my part). Almost all of them can learn to do tasks, and as long as they have a good work ethic they can generally complete those tasks competently and with a little imagination.

I agree that most people, with or without a college education aren't dumb. The problem isn't that people are dumb but that computers and algorithms are getting smarter and smarter. Given enough training data, computers can generally learn to complete tasks competently and even display properties that look an awful lot like imagination.

sol

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #178 on: May 14, 2019, 05:57:13 PM »
Yup. I'd definitely consider my field knowledge work and yet more and more of what I do can either be replaced by computers or done by humans with technology acting as a force multiplier so that one person can do the work that used to do ten.

I'm less worried.  I agree it's going to happen, but I disagree that there is a finite amount of "work that needs doing" in the knowledge economy.  Technology acting as a force multiplier just means more work gets done, not that half of the workers become unemployed.

I was a professional scientist.  We definitely used many different kinds of technology to do our work, but it seems silly now to say that word processors caused unemployment for secretaries, or that mass specs caused unemployment for analytic chemists.  Quite the contrary, these types of technologies made those jobs infinitely more powerful and effective.  We found new uses for that newly force-multiplied productivity and made huge advancements for society as a result.  Making menial jobs obsolete has been one of the best things modern society has ever done, from every angle imaginable.

Fields like agriculture and factory work are maybe a different story, because there is literally a finite amount of food a given population could possibly eat, or cell phones they could buy.  But there is no limit to the amount of scientific research and technological development that they can utilize.  There is no physical constraint on the value of our collective work in a knowledge economy, and any time we supplant menial production jobs with automation that just frees people up to work on things for which we have unlimited capacity to consume because they advance our species.  I'm all for it.

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #179 on: May 14, 2019, 06:17:10 PM »
We definitely used many different kinds of technology to do our work, but it seems silly now to say that word processors caused unemployment for secretaries, or that mass specs caused unemployment for analytic chemists.  Quite the contrary, these types of technologies made those jobs infinitely more powerful and effective. 

Yet people do say that word processors dramatically reduced the demand for what were then called secretaries. Several months ago this was discussed in a fascinating obituary for the inventor of the first such word processor. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/10/obituaries/evelyn-berezin-dead.html

Yes there are still secretaries today, the qualifications (in terms of both credentials and skills/abilities/personality traits) to be a professional secretary today are far more demanding than in the 1960s when simply being able to type was enough to make one employable (although obviously other skills also helped).

sol

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #180 on: May 14, 2019, 06:34:04 PM »
Yet people do say that word processors dramatically reduced the demand for what were then called secretaries. Several months ago this was discussed in a fascinating obituary for the inventor of the first such word processor. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/10/obituaries/evelyn-berezin-dead.html

Yes there are still secretaries today, the qualifications (in terms of both credentials and skills/abilities/personality traits) to be a professional secretary today are far more demanding than in the 1960s when simply being able to type was enough to make one employable (although obviously other skills also helped).

Yes and that's a GOOD thing.  Those women are no longer relegated to secretarial jobs, they can become fully fledged administrative assistants or analytic chemists now.  I'm happy we got rid of those menial typist jobs and put their talents to better use.

Otherwise the argument quickly devolves into cutting grass with scissors and riding horses instead of driving cars.  The relentless deployment of new technologies has made those old jobs obsolete, and thank god for that.  Taking care of all of those horses was a huge drain on our economy by forcing people into menial work.  I'm also happy about the advent of mechanical dishwashers.  Or electric streetlights that killed off the lamplighters.  And indoor plumbing and heating that means we don't have to carry water or chop our own firewood anymore.  Life is measurably better because we got rid of these menial tasks and replaced them with automated alternatives.  We didn't run out of work to do when all of the lamplighters went out of business, we just found new and more important work.

I feel similarly about most jobs in the knowledge economy.  We're not going to run out of scientific discoveries to make, or new technologies to roll out.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 09:34:09 PM by sol »

maizeman

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #181 on: May 14, 2019, 06:42:39 PM »
Wait so now I'm confused. You're saying it's silly to say that the word processor eliminated a lot of secretarial jobs, or you're saying agreeing that it did, but that that is a good thing?

To be clear, I certainly agree that if there is a job a human is stuck doing that we can replace with AI or automation, that's a good thing and we should do it. I don't support holding back technological process to force people to spend their lives working.

I simply also think that we should make sure there are ways for people to survive when their labor is no longer needed. Because the vast majority of them won't be able to adopt the solution I've taken of saving up enough capital to become FI while their labor still holds significant value.

Watchmaker

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #182 on: May 14, 2019, 09:13:09 PM »
It would consist of shelter/heating, clothing, food, and healthcare.

That's more than many UBI systems are designed to provide, so you have no problem with the level of welfare provided, just with who it is provided to?

I think we have an obligation to provide this form of welfare because otherwise people's physical constitution will suffer, and I think as a society we have an obligation to keep everyone alive and physically nourished.

Well, say you were allowed to craft the welfare system in this country. And I was a mental and physically sound person, but chose not to pursue paying work. Does your society have an obligation to keep me alive and nourished?

sol

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #183 on: May 14, 2019, 09:58:24 PM »
Wait so now I'm confused. You're saying it's silly to say that the word processor eliminated a lot of secretarial jobs, or you're saying agreeing that it did, but that that is a good thing?

I'm saying that the word processor fundamentally changed the job we used to call secretary, for the better, and it's not like no one does that work anymore.  We didn't do away with the job of secretary, we made it a much better and less menial job.  We still have millions of administrative and personal assistants, and receptionists.  Unemployment did not spike as a result of the invention of the word processors.  Secretaries just got much better at their jobs because they were no longer forced to do menial repetitive tasks the slow and hard way.  They diversified into related fields like bookkeeping and event planning, also using new technologies.  The advent of word processing allowed us to do more and better work.  It did not mean that the same menial work got done by fewer people and the rest became unemployed.  It means the workforce changed and improved to make better use of the new technology and people who were previously constrained to limiting tasks were instead allowed to fulfill their real potential.  And everyone came out better on the far side and we all lived happily ever after.  The End.

Quote
I simply also think that we should make sure there are ways for people to survive when their labor is no longer needed.

I can see that being a legitimate concern, mostly for people who have no real skills.  If you were secretary typist who couldn't learn to answer phones or schedule appointment, and turning handwritten notes into typed pages was really the sum total of your limited talents, then what other work did the economy offer you after typists slowly became obsolete?  I mean there's always farm work, and these days you can do fiver or drive for uber, but there are always going to be some people who just can't get their act together enough to do much of anything.  Are we prepared to let distraught widows and the mentally handicapped just die of starvation because they can't feed themselves?  How about people with severe autism, or debilitating agoraphobia or OCD?  Or ADD?  Alcoholism?  How about people who are killing themselves with chewing tobacco?  Where do you draw the line?

Some folks can't do anything of value to the modern economy.  I think the boundaries of that group are kind of fuzzy, but I think we can all conceptually agree that the group exists.  Personally, I'm in favor of providing for them using tax dollars, one way or another.

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #184 on: May 14, 2019, 11:47:10 PM »
It would consist of shelter/heating, clothing, food, and healthcare.

That's more than many UBI systems are designed to provide, so you have no problem with the level of welfare provided, just with who it is provided to?

I think we have an obligation to provide this form of welfare because otherwise people's physical constitution will suffer, and I think as a society we have an obligation to keep everyone alive and physically nourished.

Well, say you were allowed to craft the welfare system in this country. And I was a mental and physically sound person, but chose not to pursue paying work. Does your society have an obligation to keep me alive and nourished?
I actually I don't think my proposal is more than current welfare systems, except in terms of medical care, but the reality there is that medical care is costly in the U.S. for no particular reason. Other countries provide much more comprehensive coverage for less drain on the public purse.

And I don't support a UBI - I believe welfare should be minimal and targeted - and that makes my proposal much more efficient. A UBI has really bad flow-on effects for inflation, which a normal welfare system largely avoids.

As for your example of a sound person choosing not to pursue paying work, my welfare system would require you to do X hours per week of jobseeking/education if you want to gain welfare benefits.


maizeman

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #185 on: May 15, 2019, 06:02:32 AM »
And I don't support a UBI - I believe welfare should be minimal and targeted - and that makes my proposal much more efficient. A UBI has really bad flow-on effects for inflation, which a normal welfare system largely avoids.

As for your example of a sound person choosing not to pursue paying work, my welfare system would require you to do X hours per week of jobseeking/education if you want to gain welfare benefits.

As has already been explained up thread, the second bolded part of your statement means the first bolded part of your statement is false.

Providing educational resources and tracking and verifying hours spend job seeking makes a have far more overhead and be far less efficient than a UBI.

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #186 on: May 15, 2019, 06:22:27 AM »
Depends what you mean by 'efficiency'. Yes, delivery costs increase whenever a payment is not unconditional.

However, you have to offset the delivery costs against:

- The tax revenue gained from those who are prodded by the conditional job-seeking measures to find work: such earners benefit the budget in two ways. Less welfare revenue out; more tax revenue in (from their income, from payroll taxes, etc)

- The increased employment and profit generated by the job seeking/education centres;

- The better targeting of welfare (whereas in an unconditional system, everyone gets welfare, in my system, only certain people get welfare, and only just enough for subsistence level);

- The lack of inflationary pressures created by giving an unconditional benefit to a wide variety of people.

So, if you look at efficiency as minimising delivery costs, obviously an unconditional payment always wins.

If you look at efficiency as trying to limit market distortion and limit overall revenue expenditure, my welfare system wins out, and still has the benefit of providing a basic safety net to everyone.

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #187 on: May 15, 2019, 06:26:07 AM »
And I don't support a UBI - I believe welfare should be minimal and targeted - and that makes my proposal much more efficient. A UBI has really bad flow-on effects for inflation, which a normal welfare system largely avoids.

As for your example of a sound person choosing not to pursue paying work, my welfare system would require you to do X hours per week of jobseeking/education if you want to gain welfare benefits.

As has already been explained up thread, the second bolded part of your statement means the first bolded part of your statement is false.

Providing educational resources and tracking and verifying hours spend job seeking makes a have far more overhead and be far less efficient than a UBI.

The divergent approaches highlight how people view government assistance.  Some believe that benefits should go towards individuals who are or are working towards being productive members of the greater society.  To that end they propose work or educational requirements to qualify.  Other people see governmental assistance as an inherent benefit of being a member of society, regardless of their past choices or current circumstances. 

How one views these issues largely shapes their opinions on UBI, welfare and other assistance programs.

maizeman

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #188 on: May 15, 2019, 06:33:31 AM »
...in my system, only certain people get welfare, and only just enough for subsistence level)...

Bloop Bloop, I am confused why you keep repeating this point. In this post, you agreed that a $12,000 UBI -- the highest level which is commonly discussed -- is probably about subsistence level.

I have nothing against the level of subsidy ($12,000 USD a year) that you put. The 'right' figure might be $10,000 or $14,000, but I will not cavil with the figure.

Yet you keep repeating that you're different, because you only want to fund a subsistence level. That doesn't make you different, it makes you the same as everyone else.

nereo

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #189 on: May 15, 2019, 06:36:46 AM »
...in my system, only certain people get welfare, and only just enough for subsistence level)...

Bloop Bloop, I am confused why you keep repeating this point. In this post, you agreed that a $12,000 UBI -- the highest level which is commonly discussed -- is probably about subsistence level.

I have nothing against the level of subsidy ($12,000 USD a year) that you put. The 'right' figure might be $10,000 or $14,000, but I will not cavil with the figure.

Yet you keep repeating that you're different, because you only want to fund a subsistence level. That doesn't make you different, it makes you the same as everyone else.

As I understand it, Bloop Bloop's proposal differs insomuch that it imposes work or educational requirements and therefore is not "Universal" - but targeted towards those trying to find work or improving their future ability to work via education/training.

maizeman

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #190 on: May 15, 2019, 06:50:10 AM »
Yes, I understand he or she wants to track people to make sure they're going to school, applying to jobs, etc. I just don't understand the repeated reiteration about how it is so important that their plan is for "subsistence level" benefits when no one is proposing more than that.

It would be like if I was arguing in the ACA thread about how I have a new plan for healthcare in the USA, and kept repeating that one of the key points of my new plan is that it would not cover americans living overseas. <-- just as the ACA does not cover them today.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 06:52:05 AM by maizeman »

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #191 on: May 15, 2019, 06:52:39 AM »
Maizeman, it's very simple. Whilst I might agree on the "subsistence level", I expect people to work for it, other than the very small minority of genuinely disabled people.

There is a vast difference between $12k as the byproduct of work (or even just unsuccessful job-hunting), versus $12k as a free gift. The latter is inflationary. The former, much less so.

Also, because my welfare payment would only be a top-up, in practice, it would be less than subsistence level in most cases - where a UBI set at a subsistence level would be thus for everyone, and would therefore be much more expensive.

maizeman

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #192 on: May 15, 2019, 07:00:17 AM »
Maizeman, it's very simple. Whilst I might agree on the "subsistence level", I expect people to work for it, other than the very small minority of genuinely disabled people.

Yes I get you want to spend a lot of resources making sure people are doing things you approve of before you think they should get financial support. However, since you've stated you don't disagree with $12,000 as an approximate subsistence level, your focus on how your plan would provide subsistence level support is disingenuous as that is the level of support all the plans being discussed.

You are proposing to provide the same level of support as everyone else. You just want to provide it to fewer people and spend more money per person to deliver it.

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There is a vast difference between $12k as the byproduct of work (or even just unsuccessful job-hunting), versus $12k as a free gift. The latter is inflationary. The former, much less so.

This is incorrect. Transfer payments funded by tax revenue (or borrowing, ugh) are generally noninflationary in either case. Payments made using money produced out of thin air are generally going to be inflationary in either case.

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #193 on: May 15, 2019, 07:06:33 AM »
What you said about the difference between tax revenue and thin-air money may be true. But I posit that there is a further, independent factor. Encouraging low-income earners to keep having to work low income jobs (i.e., continuing the market force status quo) will keep the minimum wage low and will prevent wage inflation pressure going up the chain. Doing what you propose (giving everyone a UBI, thus effectively boosting the national minimum wage by the UBI/52/38) will lead to extreme wage inflation at the low end, which will then flow up the chain, thus spoiling the nice market equilibrium we currently have.

Finally, in relation to the following:

"Yes I get you want to spend a lot of resources making sure people are doing things you approve of before you think they should get financial support. "

If people are going to want hand-outs, they need to understand that there may be conditions on those hand-outs. There is a way to get money without conditions and strings - and that is to earn it.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 07:09:02 AM by Bloop Bloop »

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #194 on: May 15, 2019, 07:09:51 AM »
Yeah, again, it's a point of view that's reasonable only if you completely ignore technological development of the past two decades, and the swaths of labor sectors that are being automated as we speak.  We're not talking the death of the buggy whip industry here.  I urge you to learn more about this subject.  It's not going to be giving money to lazy people who don't feel like working--it's going to be giving money to people who can't work because most of the work is being done by machines who are owned by a rarefied group of techno-industrialists.

Waiting to see if society is torn apart before doing anything about it is not a plan.  Taking on faith that billions of jobs will appear to replace the old ones is not a plan.

Please please please try to learn some new information.

maizeman

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #195 on: May 15, 2019, 07:25:15 AM »
What you said about the difference between tax revenue and thin-air money may be true. But I posit that there is a further, independent factor. Encouraging low-income earners to keep having to work low income jobs (i.e., continuing the market force status quo) will keep the minimum wage low and will prevent wage inflation pressure going up the chain. Doing what you propose (giving everyone a UBI, thus effectively boosting the national minimum wage by the UBI/52/38) will lead to extreme wage inflation at the low end, which will then flow up the chain, thus spoiling the nice market equilibrium we currently have.

No that does not follow. Remember that, unlike in your plan, people who work would still receive a UBI.

Hence, if I'm paying someone $7.25/hour to work today, and tomorrow a $12,000 UBI comes into effect, that person can still come into work and I'm still just paying them the same $7.25/hour and and they're still receiving the same $7.25/hour. The value proposition for both me and my employee stays the same.

The only people who would drop out of the job market voluntarily are those who feel like $12,000 is all they need. We can estimate how common losing interest in earning more money once you have a bare subsistence level met is by looking at minimum wage workers today. How many minimum wage workers, when you give them a $1/hour or $2/hour raise, use that to cut back the number of hours they are working while maintaining the same income? In my experience, the answer almost none of them do so.

In a means tested system like yours where you stated you'd phase out your non-universal basic income at 50 cents on the dollar for earned income, each hour my employee works for me still costs me $7.25, but they're only receiving $3.63/hour in benefit from working (+7.25 from the wage I'm paying them and -3.62 from the way you're cutting their benefits). So if working for me at $7.25/hour was the break even point for them between deciding to work or not today, I'd likely have to double my wage to $14.50/hour (so they'd still receive $7.25/hour of new income) under your system.

Hence, becuase a UBI is not withdrawal as people earn income, it doesn't create the same distortions on the labor market, but because your system is withdrawn as people's income increase, it creates substantial distortions in the labor market (particularly at the low end).
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 07:27:35 AM by maizeman »

shenlong55

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #196 on: May 15, 2019, 08:09:03 AM »
Can anyone explain to me why printing money and giving it to average people is always seen as a scary inflationary nightmare that would ruin the country but printing money and giving it to banks is seen as a perfectly rational and necessary means of increasing the monetary supply?
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 08:13:58 AM by shenlong55 »

sol

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #197 on: May 15, 2019, 08:13:15 AM »
Can anyone explain to me why printing money and giving it to average people is always seen as a scary inflationary nightmare that would ruin the country but printing money and giving it to banks is seen as perfectly rational and necessary means of increasing the monetary supply?

Because it's rich people saying so.

maizeman

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #198 on: May 15, 2019, 08:35:59 AM »
Can anyone explain to me why printing money and giving it to average people is always seen as a scary inflationary nightmare that would ruin the country but printing money and giving it to banks is seen as a perfectly rational and necessary means of increasing the monetary supply?

If you give money to poor people they spend it. This both stimulates the economy and increases tax revenue, and yes, can also create inflation if you create the money out of nothing.

If you give money to people who are already absurdly rich they don't have anything to spend it on, so it neither stimulates the economy nor increases tax revenue, but it also doesn't produce inflation (except maybe among investible assets, as is being debated in the "everything bubble" thread).

J Boogie

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Re: Why did anyone ever think UBI would work?
« Reply #199 on: May 15, 2019, 08:41:08 AM »
Can anyone explain to me why printing money and giving it to average people is always seen as a scary inflationary nightmare that would ruin the country but printing money and giving it to banks is seen as perfectly rational and necessary means of increasing the monetary supply?

Because it's rich people saying so.

Let's not be misleading though, because someone with less banking knowledge here might read this and assume that the Fed GIVES banks money. It doesn't. Banks transact with the Fed but the Fed doesn't just give random banks billions for nothing. It's lending, borrowing, buying treasury bills, mortgage backed securities, etc. It's not gifting.

Regarding inflation, the Fed closely monitors inflation and tweaks their policy to aim for a healthy inflation rate.

I'm open to UBI, but I really do think it would drive up our already dangerously high housing costs - just as low interest rates correlate to higher home prices. Most people want to live in the best accommodations they can afford.