Author Topic: Do mustachians support universal basic income?  (Read 23110 times)

robartsd

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #300 on: October 25, 2019, 05:41:19 PM »
Landlords also adopt risk and renters generally pay some premium for this.

Here's a question: if vacancies spike and rental rates drop below mortgage payments, are the tenants now profiteering?
Of course. Capital risk is a thing. People can and do lose money when going into landlording or investing. But on the macro, capital risk is largely mitigated by the way we choose to run things. States and municipalities love landowners. And the Federal government showed some love too in the housing crash. Even if places where that love is written less explicitly into legislative register or the tax code, it's shown implicitly in the form of zoning.
Landlords risk far more than the capital they've already sunk into a property; there are plenty of potential liabilities that come with land ownership.

The more obvious and less esoteric example is with equities. Yes, there is theoretical risk inherent in investing in US equities. But does anyone on here really even consider that risk beyond short-term volatility? I know I don't. Because the last time equities went south, the Federal government bought up troubled assets and the Fed put us in a low interest rate environment for the next ten years. And what do you know? A quick turnaround in equities and a subsequent 10 year bull run.
Yes, when buying broad based index funds, most of us here believe our primary risk is volatility - not long term capital loss. Plenty of individual stock pickers do risk long term capital loss, the saving grace of index funds is the diversification. A landlord diversifying over many properties (especially if diversifying over multiple types of properties and regions) can similarly reduce risks. Of course both diversifying over thousands of stocks and diversifying over thousands of properties is very difficult to do as an individual investor, so somebody invented mutual funds and real estate investment trusts.

Andrew Yang has put together a pretty good case for why we should pay all Americans between 18-64 a monthly dividend. We can decide to do this in the same way that we routinely decide to do things that benefit capital.
I agree with this premise; but I also agree that the Federal government has grossly overstepped the Constitution over the past 100-150 years (including basically all of the other examples of what "we" decided to do).

Indeed. The key here is recognizing how the powers of government are laid out (in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, which functions like a "statement of intent").

Firstly, the powers given to the government are enumerated powers - meaning they are designated with specificity, and they are finite in number.

Secondly, any rights not enumerated to the government are reserved for the states, or with the people (tenth amendment). The people are meant to have the greatest amount of freedom and discretion possible in their daily lives.

Thirdly, the Bill of Rights as a whole functions as a set of restrictions on what the federal government may NOT do. The potential for abuse is high when power is supreme. The intent is to limit the scope of what the federal government may do precisely because it is the supreme authority within its scope.

All of this is hardly surprising. A cursory reading of the Declaration of Independence, or of colonial history, will show that the colonies were dissatisfied with the king because he disobeyed his own laws whenever he liked, selectively enforced laws across his domain, made seeking a redress of grievances tremendously inconvenient, and outright ignored those requests for redress whenever he wanted. The colonists were keenly aware of what can happen when authority is both centralized and absolute, because they experienced its effects.

Limiting the scope of government was their fundamental intent.

Of course reality is that we (or more accurately the past few generations of our countrymen) have consented to be governed by a powerful Federal government and "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." I can't argue that our current Federal government's evils are insufferable enough that we should throw it off; perhaps @EscapedApe feels differently.

Optimiser

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #301 on: October 28, 2019, 11:46:48 AM »
No one thinks sitting on your ass is valuable. No one is willing to pay money for it.

I realize the conversation has moved on, but this stood out to me so I wanted to comment on it.

I actually disagree with this point. There are many people who currently engage in activities that are harmful to society. There is value in paying those people to sit on their asses.

For anyone who currently engages in prostitution, drug dealing, theft, etc., not because they find those activities intrinsically valuable, but because they meet their need to earn money, I think we would be better off as a society to simply pay enough that they don't need to commit crimes.

We currently disincentive these behaviors, by making them illegal. However, this turns out to be very expensive, and judging by the number of people that are currently incarcerated, not all that effective.

I'm not saying UBI wouldn't eliminate crime, but a lot of crime is committed by people who are trying to meet their financial needs. Paying these people to do nothing is valuable.

Boofinator

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #302 on: October 28, 2019, 12:46:53 PM »
No one thinks sitting on your ass is valuable. No one is willing to pay money for it.

I realize the conversation has moved on, but this stood out to me so I wanted to comment on it.

I actually disagree with this point. There are many people who currently engage in activities that are harmful to society. There is value in paying those people to sit on their asses.

For anyone who currently engages in prostitution, drug dealing, theft, etc., not because they find those activities intrinsically valuable, but because they meet their need to earn money, I think we would be better off as a society to simply pay enough that they don't need to commit crimes.

We currently disincentive these behaviors, by making them illegal. However, this turns out to be very expensive, and judging by the number of people that are currently incarcerated, not all that effective.

I'm not saying UBI wouldn't eliminate crime, but a lot of crime is committed by people who are trying to meet their financial needs. Paying these people to do nothing is valuable.

Your logic rests on several assumptions:

1) Most people engage in these illegal activities because they currently have no other means to make money.

2) The income from UBI ($12k per year) would be enough to encourage people to stop performing these behaviors (or not perform them to begin with).

3) UBI would reduce overall crime, rather than increase crime.

4) UBI would reduce overall poverty, rather than increase poverty.

Without getting too deep, I don't think any of these assumptions are a foregone conclusion with UBI.

Optimiser

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #303 on: October 28, 2019, 02:43:27 PM »
No one thinks sitting on your ass is valuable. No one is willing to pay money for it.

I realize the conversation has moved on, but this stood out to me so I wanted to comment on it.

I actually disagree with this point. There are many people who currently engage in activities that are harmful to society. There is value in paying those people to sit on their asses.

For anyone who currently engages in prostitution, drug dealing, theft, etc., not because they find those activities intrinsically valuable, but because they meet their need to earn money, I think we would be better off as a society to simply pay enough that they don't need to commit crimes.

We currently disincentive these behaviors, by making them illegal. However, this turns out to be very expensive, and judging by the number of people that are currently incarcerated, not all that effective.

I'm not saying UBI wouldn't eliminate crime, but a lot of crime is committed by people who are trying to meet their financial needs. Paying these people to do nothing is valuable.

Your logic rests on several assumptions:

1) Most people engage in these illegal activities because they currently have no other means to make money.

2) The income from UBI ($12k per year) would be enough to encourage people to stop performing these behaviors (or not perform them to begin with).

3) UBI would reduce overall crime, rather than increase crime.

4) UBI would reduce overall poverty, rather than increase poverty.

Without getting too deep, I don't think any of these assumptions are a foregone conclusion with UBI.

I totally agree. My main point is that sitting a person sitting on their ass is actually more valuable to society than the alternative for a subset of the population.

Wrenchturner

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #304 on: October 28, 2019, 03:05:58 PM »
No one thinks sitting on your ass is valuable. No one is willing to pay money for it.

I realize the conversation has moved on, but this stood out to me so I wanted to comment on it.

I actually disagree with this point. There are many people who currently engage in activities that are harmful to society. There is value in paying those people to sit on their asses.

For anyone who currently engages in prostitution, drug dealing, theft, etc., not because they find those activities intrinsically valuable, but because they meet their need to earn money, I think we would be better off as a society to simply pay enough that they don't need to commit crimes.

We currently disincentive these behaviors, by making them illegal. However, this turns out to be very expensive, and judging by the number of people that are currently incarcerated, not all that effective.

I'm not saying UBI wouldn't eliminate crime, but a lot of crime is committed by people who are trying to meet their financial needs. Paying these people to do nothing is valuable.

Your logic rests on several assumptions:

1) Most people engage in these illegal activities because they currently have no other means to make money.

2) The income from UBI ($12k per year) would be enough to encourage people to stop performing these behaviors (or not perform them to begin with).

3) UBI would reduce overall crime, rather than increase crime.

4) UBI would reduce overall poverty, rather than increase poverty.

Without getting too deep, I don't think any of these assumptions are a foregone conclusion with UBI.

I totally agree. My main point is that sitting a person sitting on their ass is actually more valuable to society than the alternative for a subset of the population.
But paying someone to sit on their ass doesn't guarantee they will.  So the incentive issues still remain.

Boofinator

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #305 on: October 28, 2019, 03:15:46 PM »
I totally agree. My main point is that sitting a person sitting on their ass is actually more valuable to society than the alternative for a subset of the population.

I can agree with that statement. (With the caveat that 1) we don't know who belongs in that subset, 2) with UBI, we'd be paying literally everyone, not just those in the subset, 3) there might there be a larger subset of the population where value decreases due to UBI, making UBI a net negative.)

EscapedApe

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #306 on: October 28, 2019, 11:05:04 PM »
No one thinks sitting on your ass is valuable. No one is willing to pay money for it.

I realize the conversation has moved on, but this stood out to me so I wanted to comment on it.

I actually disagree with this point. There are many people who currently engage in activities that are harmful to society. There is value in paying those people to sit on their asses.

For anyone who currently engages in prostitution, drug dealing, theft, etc., not because they find those activities intrinsically valuable, but because they meet their need to earn money, I think we would be better off as a society to simply pay enough that they don't need to commit crimes.

We currently disincentive these behaviors, by making them illegal. However, this turns out to be very expensive, and judging by the number of people that are currently incarcerated, not all that effective.

I'm not saying UBI wouldn't eliminate crime, but a lot of crime is committed by people who are trying to meet their financial needs. Paying these people to do nothing is valuable.

The evidence already disagrees with you.

Drug dealers presently take advantage of existing social programs like food stamps supplemental income provided by the state. The existence of these programs in no way dissuades them from seeking other illegal sources of income.

robartsd

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #307 on: October 29, 2019, 09:45:25 AM »
The evidence already disagrees with you.

Drug dealers presently take advantage of existing social programs like food stamps supplemental income provided by the state. The existence of these programs in no way dissuades them from seeking other illegal sources of income.
I agree that many more crimes are committed out of greed rather than need. The only hope I'd have for UBI reducing crime is that those who would have entered a life of crime due to need (then escalated) would never take the first step into it - I don't think it would amount to much.

NorthernBlitz

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #308 on: October 29, 2019, 10:27:09 AM »
While the philosophical argument is interesting its not really relevant IMO. We have to ask 2 questions:

1) Can we afford to instantaneously double the expenses of the largest government in human history?

2) Is Yes above, what is the opportunity cost of UBI vs any other use of the huge amount of money required.

UBI seems mostly like a political ploy to buy the broadest spectrum of voters possible. Especially if you believe that there's no chance that it actually happens because the price tag is basically unimaginably high.

EscapedApe

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #309 on: October 29, 2019, 11:15:09 AM »
The only hope I'd have for UBI reducing crime is that those who would have entered a life of crime due to need (then escalated) would never take the first step into it - I don't think it would amount to much.

All socialist-style policies are passed with hope and good intentions.

And those policies always end disastrously.

You'd think that the historical evidence of socialism's failures would have clued people in by now. But our drive to feel good and virtuous is more powerful than reason, evidently.

Davnasty

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #310 on: October 29, 2019, 11:52:42 AM »
The only hope I'd have for UBI reducing crime is that those who would have entered a life of crime due to need (then escalated) would never take the first step into it - I don't think it would amount to much.

All socialist-style policies are passed with hope and good intentions.

And those policies always end disastrously.

You'd think that the historical evidence of socialism's failures would have clued people in by now. But our drive to feel good and virtuous is more powerful than reason, evidently.

So the public school system, electric grid, police/fire departments, and every form of financial assistance for the disabled and elderly, all disastrous?

Or perhaps you're referring to a more strict definition of "socialist-style policies" only including instances where the public owns the means of production of some good? But then that would have nothing to do UBI. Help me out here, can you be more specific?

Boofinator

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #311 on: October 29, 2019, 12:29:07 PM »
While the philosophical argument is interesting its not really relevant IMO. We have to ask 2 questions:

1) Can we afford to instantaneously double the expenses of the largest government in human history?

2) Is Yes above, what is the opportunity cost of UBI vs any other use of the huge amount of money required.

UBI seems mostly like a political ploy to buy the broadest spectrum of voters possible. Especially if you believe that there's no chance that it actually happens because the price tag is basically unimaginably high.

I don't believe those are the appropriate questions to ask, necessarily. First, federal expenditures nearly quadrupled after the 1930's, and in retrospect we were able to afford it (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FYFRGDA188S). Second, those expenses aren't being spent by the government, but rather act as a redistribution of wealth, so measuring the opportunity cost really doesn't make a lot sense (in my opinion).

Personally, I don't think UBI is the best way to redistribute wealth. But I think the calculation of a price tag could only be estimated through macroeconomic principles (with an associated large range of uncertainty), rather than microeconomic ones (such as opportunity cost).

EscapedApe

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #312 on: October 29, 2019, 12:59:34 PM »
The only hope I'd have for UBI reducing crime is that those who would have entered a life of crime due to need (then escalated) would never take the first step into it - I don't think it would amount to much.

All socialist-style policies are passed with hope and good intentions.

And those policies always end disastrously.

You'd think that the historical evidence of socialism's failures would have clued people in by now. But our drive to feel good and virtuous is more powerful than reason, evidently.

So the public school system, electric grid, police/fire departments, and every form of financial assistance for the disabled and elderly, all disastrous?

Or perhaps you're referring to a more strict definition of "socialist-style policies" only including instances where the public owns the means of production of some good? But then that would have nothing to do UBI. Help me out here, can you be more specific?

Are you familiar with the concept of the "commons"?

To put it simply, the "commons" are a resource from which common people benefit, but where access cannot be restricted solely to "subscribers" (for practical reasons).

As an example, the fire department is a resource of the commons. That is, firefighting protection cannot be restricted only to people who pay for the service. If it were, then it would produce results that defeated its purpose.

Say for example that firefighting were a pay-for-protection service. Now suppose your house and my house were next to each other, and you were a subscriber to firefighting protection and I was not. If my house caught fire, then the firefighters would not come extinguish my house. But this would pose a problem because, since your house is adjacent, it might also catch fire as a result of mine catching fire. A subscriber's house would be placed in jeopardy because a non-subscriber's house was not being protected. So all houses must be protected, because fire spreads and it doesn't distinguish.

Clean air measures are another example of a resource of the commons. If you pay to have the air cleaned through preservation methods or emissions standards, but I do not pay, I still get to enjoy the benefits of cleaner air. For practical reasons, there's no way to prevent non-subscribers from enjoying the benefits.

It is my contention that the government be the custodian of the commons, in order to avert the tragedy of the commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons). However, beyond safeguarding the commons, the government should have no other authority.

Why not? Because of government's inherent inefficiency.

Government introduces inefficiency wherever it operates because government is a monopoly within its domain. It has no competitors, and no incentive to improve.

Private interests do not typically suffer from the same inefficiency because their profits are threatened by it. They are incentivized to seek and provide their services more efficiently, lest they be beaten by competitors providing the same service. The market weeds out those who are not constantly searching for ways to provide their services, faster, cheaper, and/or more effectively. And in those industries where private provision is inefficient (the telecom industry, for example), that inefficiency is usually the result of government policy shielding the private company from competitors.

"Socialist policies" are therefore defined by their being subsidies of goods and services which are not strictly part of the commons. The strife, impoverishment, and/or disaster which follows socialist implementation of these services usually results from the government's inherent inefficiency in providing them.

So here's what we know:

Government introduces inefficiency wherever it operates, because government is a monopoly within its domain. It has no competitors, and no incentive to improve. But it is uniquely able to act impartially because, when it is appropriately restricted, it has no personal interests to pursue. The key to ensuring this impartiality is to eliminate the incentives to influence government for personal reasons, and that means restricting the scope of government. When the government is limited in scope, there are fewer incentives to try and manipulate it for private gain (such as through bribes, campaign contributions, lobbies, etc).

Businesses are highly efficient because their survival and interests depend on being as effective as possible. However, this makes businesses ill-suited for matters where impartiality matters, because every business cares ultimately about its success. Therefore, businesses should be tasked with providing for our wealth and prosperity, but not for matters which fall under the commons.

So, some examples of services within the commons include: human rights and justice, clean air and water, firefighting, police, vaccination, and the military.

Things not in the commons include: roads, public education, health care, universal basic income, social security/retirement, and unemployment.

mathlete

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #313 on: October 29, 2019, 01:17:45 PM »
I don't agree that government introduces inefficiency everywhere. Healthcare is a good example. Medicare has lower administrative costs than most private plans. And on the whole, it's silly to think that there can exist a marketplace where consumers, with inelastic demand, can make informed market choices on healthcare; a subject that people study for a decade in order to comprehend.

Furthermore, we ask consumers to navigate a cumbersome insurance system with deductibles and OOP maxes, in-network, out of network. We do this because life-saving care is unaffordable for virtually all Americans people, so we need a cost sharing scheme. For most people, this comes from their job, which creates additional friction in the labor market. The result is that we spend more than double the OECD average per-capita for very mixed outcomes.

This is a market failure. We'd be better off with a strong, universal public option. Public education is similar. Everyone agrees that an educated populace is ideal, but where is the free market solution for that?

« Last Edit: October 29, 2019, 01:20:59 PM by mathlete »

mathlete

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #314 on: October 29, 2019, 01:34:38 PM »
While the philosophical argument is interesting its not really relevant IMO. We have to ask 2 questions:

1) Can we afford to instantaneously double the expenses of the largest government in human history?

2) Is Yes above, what is the opportunity cost of UBI vs any other use of the huge amount of money required.

UBI seems mostly like a political ploy to buy the broadest spectrum of voters possible. Especially if you believe that there's no chance that it actually happens because the price tag is basically unimaginably high.

1.) Yes. Hypothetically. There would be a new VAT tax, and welfare offsets.

2.) This is a good question. If we have to make choices, I'd rather do universal healthcare and universal childcare first. Targeted programs that address demonstrable needs. I'm glad the UBI is becoming a topic of conversation though. Frankly, because we need to decouple the value of human life from the supposed market value that the human produces. As we become richer, and as human labor is devalued, this paradigm becomes more and more toxic.

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #315 on: October 29, 2019, 03:17:48 PM »
To put it simply, the "commons" are a resource from which common people benefit, but where access cannot be restricted solely to "subscribers" (for practical reasons).

As an example, the fire department is a resource of the commons. That is, firefighting protection cannot be restricted only to people who pay for the service. If it were, then it would produce results that defeated its purpose.

Say for example that firefighting were a pay-for-protection service. Now suppose your house and my house were next to each other, and you were a subscriber to firefighting protection and I was not. If my house caught fire, then the firefighters would not come extinguish my house. But this would pose a problem because, since your house is adjacent, it might also catch fire as a result of mine catching fire. A subscriber's house would be placed in jeopardy because a non-subscriber's house was not being protected. So all houses must be protected, because fire spreads and it doesn't distinguish.

Private fire protection actually is a thing. https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-private-firefighters-20181127-story.html

EscapedApe

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #316 on: October 29, 2019, 03:54:08 PM »
To put it simply, the "commons" are a resource from which common people benefit, but where access cannot be restricted solely to "subscribers" (for practical reasons).

As an example, the fire department is a resource of the commons. That is, firefighting protection cannot be restricted only to people who pay for the service. If it were, then it would produce results that defeated its purpose.

Say for example that firefighting were a pay-for-protection service. Now suppose your house and my house were next to each other, and you were a subscriber to firefighting protection and I was not. If my house caught fire, then the firefighters would not come extinguish my house. But this would pose a problem because, since your house is adjacent, it might also catch fire as a result of mine catching fire. A subscriber's house would be placed in jeopardy because a non-subscriber's house was not being protected. So all houses must be protected, because fire spreads and it doesn't distinguish.

Private fire protection actually is a thing. https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-private-firefighters-20181127-story.html

Indeed, I was aware of this. And when I first learned of it, its existence didn't surprise me one bit. Even a commons service like firefighting is still subject to the inefficiencies of the government which administrates it. People will hire private service providers to satisfy wants that remain unfulfilled by government, if they deem the price acceptable.

But that's the great thing about the free market. If someone wants it, odds are someone else is willing to provide it.

mathlete

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #317 on: October 29, 2019, 04:01:16 PM »
The existence of private services to supplement public services isn't necessarily evidence of inefficiencies.

EscapedApe

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #318 on: October 29, 2019, 04:19:45 PM »
I don't agree that government introduces inefficiency everywhere. Healthcare is a good example. Medicare has lower administrative costs than most private plans.

Administtrative costs are not even close to being the most salient example.

Ever wonder why certain treatments and medications are incredibly cheap, while others seem inordinately expensive? It's thanks to government interference in healthcare.

Here's what really happens: the government declares a certain medication to be "essential" and establishes a price ceiling, regardless of the supply/demand situation. The real price of the drug ends up being higher than the ceiling, so the company is forced to sell the medication at a loss. In order to recoup this loss, the company marks up other drugs, treatments, or procedures which are not subject to a government price ceiling. And because these unregulated treatments are more profitable, the company is incentivized to urge people to undergo them more often than they would otherwise.

My close friend, who is an actuary for a medical insurance company, tells me horror stories of the spreadsheets she reads, and the bottom-line calculations that go into determining healthcare costs, and all of it comes from attempts to skirt around constraints enforced by government.

And on the whole, it's silly to think that there can exist a marketplace where consumers, with inelastic demand, can make informed market choices on healthcare; a subject that people study for a decade in order to comprehend.

LOL

The whole point of a market is to hire someone who is more knowledgeable or skilled than you to do something that you cannot do for yourself. People don't have to be knowledgeable about the things they buy. They need only look at the price, and decide if it is one they are willing to pay. Doing a little reading can give you an edge in determining whether a price is reasonable given the quality and price of competing offers, but that's up to the individual consumer. No one is an expert in everything they buy. If they were, they would just provide the service for themselves.

I wonder how it is you simultaneously have such dismal regard for the judgment of consumers, and high regard for the judgment of elected officials. They're mostly ignorant of the issues they make decisions on, and they follow personal incentive just as anyone else would.

Furthermore, we ask consumers to navigate a cumbersome insurance system with deductibles and OOP maxes, in-network, out of network. We do this because life-saving care is unaffordable for virtually all Americans people, so we need a cost sharing scheme. For most people, this comes from their job, which creates additional friction in the labor market. The result is that we spend more than double the OECD average per-capita for very mixed outcomes.

It's all legal CYA. Take a wild guess who these companies are C'ing their A's from.

Public education is similar. Everyone agrees that an educated populace is ideal, but where is the free market solution for that?

Home-schooling? Private schools? Online resource academies? YouTube tutorials? You've never heard of any of these things?

Davnasty

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #319 on: October 29, 2019, 05:30:50 PM »
The existence of private services to supplement public services isn't necessarily evidence of inefficiencies.

It seems some of us don't require trivial things like evidence to make bold and absolute statements.

NorthernBlitz

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #320 on: October 30, 2019, 04:17:41 AM »
While the philosophical argument is interesting its not really relevant IMO. We have to ask 2 questions:

1) Can we afford to instantaneously double the expenses of the largest government in human history?

2) Is Yes above, what is the opportunity cost of UBI vs any other use of the huge amount of money required.

UBI seems mostly like a political ploy to buy the broadest spectrum of voters possible. Especially if you believe that there's no chance that it actually happens because the price tag is basically unimaginably high.

I don't believe those are the appropriate questions to ask, necessarily. First, federal expenditures nearly quadrupled after the 1930's, and in retrospect we were able to afford it (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FYFRGDA188S). Second, those expenses aren't being spent by the government, but rather act as a redistribution of wealth, so measuring the opportunity cost really doesn't make a lot sense (in my opinion).

Personally, I don't think UBI is the best way to redistribute wealth. But I think the calculation of a price tag could only be estimated through macroeconomic principles (with an associated large range of uncertainty), rather than microeconomic ones (such as opportunity cost).

But if you had all that money, why would you not ask "is this the best way to spend it"?


Boofinator

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #321 on: October 30, 2019, 08:05:33 AM »
While the philosophical argument is interesting its not really relevant IMO. We have to ask 2 questions:

1) Can we afford to instantaneously double the expenses of the largest government in human history?

2) Is Yes above, what is the opportunity cost of UBI vs any other use of the huge amount of money required.

UBI seems mostly like a political ploy to buy the broadest spectrum of voters possible. Especially if you believe that there's no chance that it actually happens because the price tag is basically unimaginably high.

I don't believe those are the appropriate questions to ask, necessarily. First, federal expenditures nearly quadrupled after the 1930's, and in retrospect we were able to afford it (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FYFRGDA188S). Second, those expenses aren't being spent by the government, but rather act as a redistribution of wealth, so measuring the opportunity cost really doesn't make a lot sense (in my opinion).

Personally, I don't think UBI is the best way to redistribute wealth. But I think the calculation of a price tag could only be estimated through macroeconomic principles (with an associated large range of uncertainty), rather than microeconomic ones (such as opportunity cost).

But if you had all that money, why would you not ask "is this the best way to spend it"?

The point I was trying to make (perhaps poorly) was that there is an opportunity cost, but calculating it is not straightforward at all. Probably similar to social security in this respect. What is the opportunity cost of the social security program?

NorthernBlitz

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #322 on: October 30, 2019, 02:34:12 PM »
The point I was trying to make (perhaps poorly) was that there is an opportunity cost, but calculating it is not straightforward at all. Probably similar to social security in this respect. What is the opportunity cost of the social security program?

Thanks

I get that it could be difficult, but I don't think politicians are even asking the question... Maybe because they know that they're never going to implement it because of the cost?

mathlete

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #323 on: October 31, 2019, 01:18:07 PM »
healthcare stuff

There is no such thing as a functioning free market for healthcare. Demand is inelastic. People would kill to get life-saving treatment and there are no substitute goods. We spend 2X the OECD average because our government is too involved? It's ostensibly less involved than in any other OECD nation.

The image of a world in which people talk down the cost of destroying their malignant tumors with radiation, or shop around for surgeons after they accidentally cut their fingers off slicing onions is a libertarian fantasy.

Home-schooling? Private schools? Online resource academies? YouTube tutorials? You've never heard of any of these things?

The free market has no solution for educating everyone. Not everyone can afford a private school and working parents cannot home school. You can sit your kid in front of YouTube, but I don't think you'll find that a satisfactory replacement for adult supervision and interaction for 7 hours a day while you're able to work. Where is the replacement for extra circulars that build self-esteem like sports? Or after school programs?

Public education has been an unambiguous win.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2019, 01:24:55 PM by mathlete »

mathlete

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #324 on: October 31, 2019, 01:31:02 PM »
I wonder how it is you simultaneously have such dismal regard for the judgment of consumers, and high regard for the judgment of elected officials. They're mostly ignorant of the issues they make decisions on, and they follow personal incentive just as anyone else would.

Healthcare is complicated, important, and expensive enough that I think it's beyond the capacity of a majority of people (if not everyone) to effectively "shop" for it.

An effective alternative is to have lawmakers, checked by voters and advised by experts, come up with a plan that covers everyone. Then the plan is administered by bureaucrats.

I'm not automatically repulsed by words like government and bureaucracy, so I can see how this has worked out well in other countries. It's not perfect, of course. There are queues and care rationing, to some extent. But the big picture outcomes are better for most people.

EscapedApe

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #325 on: October 31, 2019, 04:36:20 PM »
I wonder how it is you simultaneously have such dismal regard for the judgment of consumers, and high regard for the judgment of elected officials. They're mostly ignorant of the issues they make decisions on, and they follow personal incentive just as anyone else would.

Healthcare is complicated, important, and expensive enough that I think it's beyond the capacity of a majority of people (if not everyone) to effectively "shop" for it.

An effective alternative is to have lawmakers, checked by voters and advised by experts, come up with a plan that covers everyone. Then the plan is administered by bureaucrats.

I'm not automatically repulsed by words like government and bureaucracy, so I can see how this has worked out well in other countries. It's not perfect, of course. There are queues and care rationing, to some extent. But the big picture outcomes are better for most people.

I'm trying to apply the principle of charity here and argue to the strongest interpretation of your statement. But I'm at a loss here.

If healthcare is, as you say, too complicated for most people to shop for it, how does adding more people to the process (most of whom are just as unqualified to shop for it) make things better? The answer is, it doesn't.

Healthcare has become complicated because we have gotten government involved. We've intertwined disparate conflicting agendas and interests using law as an instrument of coercion, and now we're left with a spaghetti mess which only becomes more tangled as we try to use more law to "fix" it.

To compare, have a look at veterinary medicine. If my cat gets sick, I can take him to the vet, wait my turn, and pay for an examination. I can explain from my direct experience what is wrong, and the vet can make a judgment call unfiltered by non-medical considerations. If medical imagery or a special procedure are needed, I can make an appointment within days and I can afford to pay those costs out of pocket. All of this involves filling out one or two forms, and it doesn't involve insurance companies. And all of this pertains to fixing the specific problems of my cat. I have the most relevant knowledge about how my cat is suffering, and the person I am doing business has the most specific knowledge about how to remedy that suffering. We deal with one another directly.

Animals get simpler and cheaper care because no one is wound up about trying to protect them. They're just the responsibility of their owners. The vet wants to make a profit. I want my cat to get better. We negotiate on a price.

Imagine if we were also allowed to just be responsible for ourselves.

It doesn't have to be complicated.

robartsd

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #326 on: October 31, 2019, 04:46:22 PM »
Many countries with basic, single payer healthcare still have a private market for non-emergency care. Under such a system everyone has access to essential medical care, but those who pay privately don't have to spend as much time waiting in queues and may have some non-essential care options that are not considered cost effective in the public system.

While I appreciate the comparison with veterinary medicine, there is a big difference in the cost of lifesaving intervention people are willing to pay for people vs. what people are willing to pay for pets.

Telecaster

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #327 on: October 31, 2019, 06:39:27 PM »
Many countries with basic, single payer healthcare still have a private market for non-emergency care. Under such a system everyone has access to essential medical care, but those who pay privately don't have to spend as much time waiting in queues and may have some non-essential care options that are not considered cost effective in the public system.

While I appreciate the comparison with veterinary medicine, there is a big difference in the cost of lifesaving intervention people are willing to pay for people vs. what people are willing to pay for pets.

And it must be said that if you move across the border to Canada, or any other first world country for that matter, the socialized medical system provides objectively better health care outcomes by almost every measure, but at half the cost.   

So yes, our system is better if you want worse health care at double the cost, but is ideologically more pure.  So if you care about ideology our system is better.

If you care about being alive, and the ability to pay for it all, then not so much.


Wrenchturner

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #328 on: October 31, 2019, 06:40:55 PM »
I appreciate Thomas Sowell's work very much and I can't shake his assessment that economics is really about incentives.  This video is only tangentially related but it does make a similar point:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd3ly0u8ipg

I think it's hard work to be a doctor.  Takes lots of training, patience, dedication and there's a huge pile of responsibility!  I don't think it's as glamorous as it's made out to be, and when the negotiating power for the individuals that have the audacity to pursue medical practice gets pulled out from under them by central planners that try to make healthcare a right(?) it shouldn't be expected that a quality healthcare system would be the outcome. 

It's a nice idea in theory but there isn't a vast surplus of medical practitioners so I believe their value will have to be established through some type of consensual price discovery.  It's not reasonable to think that something of high value to society can somehow have its price reduced by involving third parties.

EvenSteven

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #329 on: October 31, 2019, 07:10:44 PM »
I appreciate Thomas Sowell's work very much and I can't shake his assessment that economics is really about incentives.  This video is only tangentially related but it does make a similar point:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd3ly0u8ipg

I think it's hard work to be a doctor.  Takes lots of training, patience, dedication and there's a huge pile of responsibility!  I don't think it's as glamorous as it's made out to be, and when the negotiating power for the individuals that have the audacity to pursue medical practice gets pulled out from under them by central planners that try to make healthcare a right(?) it shouldn't be expected that a quality healthcare system would be the outcome. 

It's a nice idea in theory but there isn't a vast surplus of medical practitioners so I believe their value will have to be established through some type of consensual price discovery.  It's not reasonable to think that something of high value to society can somehow have its price reduced by involving third parties.

I think the bolded is a reasonable hypothesis, but how do you explain the empirical data to the contrary?

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #330 on: October 31, 2019, 07:53:26 PM »
Many countries with basic, single payer healthcare still have a private market for non-emergency care. Under such a system everyone has access to essential medical care, but those who pay privately don't have to spend as much time waiting in queues and may have some non-essential care options that are not considered cost effective in the public system.

While I appreciate the comparison with veterinary medicine, there is a big difference in the cost of lifesaving intervention people are willing to pay for people vs. what people are willing to pay for pets.

And it must be said that if you move across the border to Canada, or any other first world country for that matter, the socialized medical system provides objectively better health care outcomes by almost every measure, but at half the cost.   

So yes, our system is better if you want worse health care at double the cost, but is ideologically more pure.  So if you care about ideology our system is better.

If you care about being alive, and the ability to pay for it all, then not so much.

Canadian doctor average salary is 50% to 70% of that of the average doctor salary in the USA.

Telecaster

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #331 on: October 31, 2019, 09:12:28 PM »
Canadian doctor average salary is 50% to 70% of that of the average doctor salary in the USA.

Great point!  Let's discuss.  Are American doctors 100% more skilled than Canadian doctors?  The answer appears to be the higher priced American doctors provide negative value.

NorthernBlitz

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #332 on: November 01, 2019, 03:49:45 AM »
I appreciate Thomas Sowell's work very much and I can't shake his assessment that economics is really about incentives.  This video is only tangentially related but it does make a similar point:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd3ly0u8ipg

I think it's hard work to be a doctor.  Takes lots of training, patience, dedication and there's a huge pile of responsibility!  I don't think it's as glamorous as it's made out to be, and when the negotiating power for the individuals that have the audacity to pursue medical practice gets pulled out from under them by central planners that try to make healthcare a right(?) it shouldn't be expected that a quality healthcare system would be the outcome. 

It's a nice idea in theory but there isn't a vast surplus of medical practitioners so I believe their value will have to be established through some type of consensual price discovery.  It's not reasonable to think that something of high value to society can somehow have its price reduced by involving third parties.

I think the bolded is a reasonable hypothesis, but how do you explain the empirical data to the contrary?

I'm not convinced the hypothesis is false.

On one hand, I agree with you because other countries get at least equal results with far less spending.

On the other hand, I think the vast majority of medical innovation comes from the US. I don't know if those other countries would still have the same results if the US wasn't doing the R&D (or essentially subsidizing things like prescription drugs).

I think it's very complicated.

I also think changing the US system will be very hard because the transition to something very different (and potentially better) would probably be pretty painful for lots of people (not that the current system isn't painful for lots of people).

The political cost will also be very high, which I think is why we got Obama care instead of modeling it after something like Britain's hybrid system.

I think the issue in the US is that the conversation is about who pays for it, not why is inflation so high. Same think in higher education.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #333 on: November 01, 2019, 04:42:59 AM »
No one thinks sitting on your ass is valuable. No one is willing to pay money for it.
37% of British workers think their jobs are meaningless. Another 13% are unsure. Source 1. Thus, 37-50% of total work hours are spent doing nothing productive.

By an assessment of people's digital devices, white collar workers spent about 12.5hr a week - or 2.5hr a day for a 5 day week - actually working Source 2. A survey of white collar workers gave similar results Source 3, and I note with amusement that they were searching for other jobs for 26 minutes a day - perhaps they felt overworked?

So, only 50-63% of people are doing jobs where they produce anything of value, and even those producing something of value are only doing it 30% of the time. Thus, only about 1 in 6 of the hours people are working is producing anything of value. This is by their own assessment, mind you. This isn't some Marxist idea of labour being meaningless unless it produces tangible goods - it's people's own assessment of their work.


Now, it may be that some people feel their job is unproductive but it's actually useful in less than obvious ways (for example, most workplace safety planning), but by the same token someone else will feel they're very productive but actually be useless or even destructive of other people's productivity, like a micromanager. But anyway: 1 in 6 white collar work hours are productive. Or if we got fewer people to do the same total work, 1 in 6 workers are productive.

Put another way, 5 in 6 white collar workers are being paid to sit on their arse. Evidently, someone thinks sitting on your arse is valuable.

The average white collar wage in the US is about $45,000. Is it better to pay people $45,000 to do nothing productive, or pay them $12,000 to do nothing productive? I don't know about you, but I'd go for the cheaper option, myself.

Wrenchturner

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #334 on: November 01, 2019, 06:58:34 AM »
I appreciate Thomas Sowell's work very much and I can't shake his assessment that economics is really about incentives.  This video is only tangentially related but it does make a similar point:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd3ly0u8ipg

I think it's hard work to be a doctor.  Takes lots of training, patience, dedication and there's a huge pile of responsibility!  I don't think it's as glamorous as it's made out to be, and when the negotiating power for the individuals that have the audacity to pursue medical practice gets pulled out from under them by central planners that try to make healthcare a right(?) it shouldn't be expected that a quality healthcare system would be the outcome. 

It's a nice idea in theory but there isn't a vast surplus of medical practitioners so I believe their value will have to be established through some type of consensual price discovery.  It's not reasonable to think that something of high value to society can somehow have its price reduced by involving third parties.

I think the bolded is a reasonable hypothesis, but how do you explain the empirical data to the contrary?
I suppose I'd have to see the data.  I think there are places where socialist policies can be useful, mostly-it seems-where people can be reduced to simple units; where precision is unnecessary.  In the medical system this would probably be stuff like vaccines and generic prescriptions.  Our dental system seems to work pretty well as well, but that is not free.

Wrenchturner

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #335 on: November 01, 2019, 07:01:22 AM »
No one thinks sitting on your ass is valuable. No one is willing to pay money for it.
37% of British workers think their jobs are meaningless. Another 13% are unsure. Source 1. Thus, 37-50% of total work hours are spent doing nothing productive.

By an assessment of people's digital devices, white collar workers spent about 12.5hr a week - or 2.5hr a day for a 5 day week - actually working Source 2. A survey of white collar workers gave similar results Source 3, and I note with amusement that they were searching for other jobs for 26 minutes a day - perhaps they felt overworked?

So, only 50-63% of people are doing jobs where they produce anything of value, and even those producing something of value are only doing it 30% of the time. Thus, only about 1 in 6 of the hours people are working is producing anything of value. This is by their own assessment, mind you. This isn't some Marxist idea of labour being meaningless unless it produces tangible goods - it's people's own assessment of their work.


Now, it may be that some people feel their job is unproductive but it's actually useful in less than obvious ways (for example, most workplace safety planning), but by the same token someone else will feel they're very productive but actually be useless or even destructive of other people's productivity, like a micromanager. But anyway: 1 in 6 white collar work hours are productive. Or if we got fewer people to do the same total work, 1 in 6 workers are productive.

Put another way, 5 in 6 white collar workers are being paid to sit on their arse. Evidently, someone thinks sitting on your arse is valuable.

The average white collar wage in the US is about $45,000. Is it better to pay people $45,000 to do nothing productive, or pay them $12,000 to do nothing productive? I don't know about you, but I'd go for the cheaper option, myself.

It might be easy to look retroactively on the economy and see this 1 in 6 number, but you're going to have a hard time finding the 1 in 6 and keeping them employed and incentivized when the other five get to eff around on the dole, so to speak.  Incentives are the problem with UBI but I do still see UBI as some type of inevitability.

mathlete

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #336 on: November 01, 2019, 08:48:27 AM »
I'm trying to apply the principle of charity here and argue to the strongest interpretation of your statement. But I'm at a loss here.

If healthcare is, as you say, too complicated for most people to shop for it, how does adding more people to the process (most of whom are just as unqualified to shop for it) make things better? The answer is, it doesn't.

Because the people you add to the process are better equipped to help navigate the process. The same way our educational outcomes are much better when we have a bureaucratic system that considers and decides what to teach in free public schools, and then hires people to teach these things. The alternative is to have every parent being personally responsible for getting their kids educated. If you're rich, or really smart and great with kids, maybe this works out. For most people though, it makes more sense to go trade their time for labor elsewhere and let the state handle it.

This isn't to say that I have no problems with public education. Like everything else in the world, it could be better. But it largely does a good job of teaching kids things. And it gives them adult supervision and interaction. It gives them healthy outlets. And it provides this for everyone. Not just the kids of rich or smart parents.

Healthcare has become complicated because we have gotten government involved. We've intertwined disparate conflicting agendas and interests using law as an instrument of coercion, and now we're left with a spaghetti mess which only becomes more tangled as we try to use more law to "fix" it.

Again, we're ostensibly less involved in Healthcare in the US than in every other industrialized nation. But we spend more money for a similar range of outcomes. And 27 million people go without access to healthcare. About 10% of the non-elderly population. We already have so many working models for how more government involvement helps. I feel like my work there is done.

To compare, have a look at veterinary medicine. If my cat gets sick, I can take him to the vet, wait my turn, and pay for an examination. I can explain from my direct experience what is wrong, and the vet can make a judgment call unfiltered by non-medical considerations. If medical imagery or a special procedure are needed, I can make an appointment within days and I can afford to pay those costs out of pocket. All of this involves filling out one or two forms, and it doesn't involve insurance companies. And all of this pertains to fixing the specific problems of my cat. I have the most relevant knowledge about how my cat is suffering, and the person I am doing business has the most specific knowledge about how to remedy that suffering. We deal with one another directly.

The value of animal life is so much lower than the value of human life. That's not me saying this, that's what we've all decided as a society. We make decisions about animals that we would never make about humans. We do not round up and euthanize homeless people, nor do we sterilize people to prevent the cost that future human births might inflict upon us.

A lot of what vets do is humanely euthanizing pets. If a ten year old dog is sick with cancer, maybe surgery and radiation treatment could buy him another year. But the thousands that you'd spend could go to your kid's college fund too. So maybe you decide that he's had a good life and it's fine to put him down. This isn't an unreasonable decision, but if a 10% increase in a human's life is on the table, few people would make this call.

Interestingly enough, this dichotomy was made really clear to me once again, just this week. A friend of mine had an old cat that was struggling with bladder control. The vet said there wasn't much to do and they put the cat down. But I also have a 89 year old human family member who is dealing with the same issue (among others). He's about to go into a skilled nursing facility. I'm sure you can imagine how much that costs.

I could go on all day about the difference between animals and humans.

Animals get simpler and cheaper care because no one is wound up about trying to protect them. They're just the responsibility of their owners. The vet wants to make a profit. I want my cat to get better. We negotiate on a price.

There is no substitute good for life saving healthcare. And demand is inelastic. I will pay whatever it takes to get life saving treatment for myself. And if it's not enough, I may kill people to get it. This is a market failure.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #337 on: November 01, 2019, 02:36:04 PM »
It might be easy to look retroactively on the economy and see this 1 in 6 number, but you're going to have a hard time finding the 1 in 6 and keeping them employed and incentivized when the other five get to eff around on the dole, so to speak.  Incentives are the problem with UBI but I do still see UBI as some type of inevitability.
You are imagining that only 1 in 6 are productive. That's not what I said. I said that 37-50% of people were doing entirely unproductive jobs, and that even those doing productive jobs were only working 12.5hr pw, ie one-third of the time. Of every 6 people in a company we don't have 1 super-productive person and 5 freeloaders, rather we have 2-3 freeloaders and 3-4 people third-arsing things.

Thus, "but we'd be paying people to do nothing!" is not a valid objection to UBI, because we already do that - we'd just be paying them less to do nothing than we are now.

Most UBI proposals are for something like $12,000 annually. US white collar jobs average $45,000. If being paid FOUR TIMES the UBI is not an incentive to stick with your job, then you must have a truly awful job, and your employer needs to figure out how they can improve the quality of the job, the pay and conditions, to get people to want to do it.

Perhaps this is part of the opposition to UBI: managers thinking that it would be harder to find people to do pointless jobs with shitty conditions. "We would actually have to provide meaningful fulfilling work... dear God, is it possible?" Fear not! The appetite for pointless work will be kept up. There'll always be someone who wants to be a stockbroker or a diversity manager.

bacchi

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #338 on: November 01, 2019, 02:45:25 PM »
Perhaps this is part of the opposition to UBI: managers thinking that it would be harder to find people to do pointless jobs with shitty conditions. "We would actually have to provide meaningful fulfilling work... dear God, is it possible?" Fear not! The appetite for pointless work will be kept up. There'll always be someone who wants to be a stockbroker or a diversity manager.

Douglas Adams had a solution for this.

Wrenchturner

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #339 on: November 01, 2019, 03:25:23 PM »
It might be easy to look retroactively on the economy and see this 1 in 6 number, but you're going to have a hard time finding the 1 in 6 and keeping them employed and incentivized when the other five get to eff around on the dole, so to speak.  Incentives are the problem with UBI but I do still see UBI as some type of inevitability.
You are imagining that only 1 in 6 are productive. That's not what I said. I said that 37-50% of people were doing entirely unproductive jobs, and that even those doing productive jobs were only working 12.5hr pw, ie one-third of the time. Of every 6 people in a company we don't have 1 super-productive person and 5 freeloaders, rather we have 2-3 freeloaders and 3-4 people third-arsing things.

Thus, "but we'd be paying people to do nothing!" is not a valid objection to UBI, because we already do that - we'd just be paying them less to do nothing than we are now.

Most UBI proposals are for something like $12,000 annually. US white collar jobs average $45,000. If being paid FOUR TIMES the UBI is not an incentive to stick with your job, then you must have a truly awful job, and your employer needs to figure out how they can improve the quality of the job, the pay and conditions, to get people to want to do it.

Perhaps this is part of the opposition to UBI: managers thinking that it would be harder to find people to do pointless jobs with shitty conditions. "We would actually have to provide meaningful fulfilling work... dear God, is it possible?" Fear not! The appetite for pointless work will be kept up. There'll always be someone who wants to be a stockbroker or a diversity manager.

I read your post, even if workers are averaging 1 person-output in six, it's not as flagrant as paying people to actually do nothing.  The perception matters.  And no body runs at 100% all the time anyway.

It would be great if employers would raise wages to incentivize employees to work for them.  But when people have the choice of not working for x amount that permits survival, they will likely choose it.  And if it's less than that, it just seems like it will be eaten up by inflation.

I don't see how we can have it both ways. 

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #340 on: November 01, 2019, 04:09:13 PM »
Quote
even if workers are averaging 1 person-output in six, it's not as flagrant as paying people to actually do nothing.  The perception matters. 
So it doesn't matter if they're actually productive or not, only that they look busy?

You wouldn't by chance be a middle manager?

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #341 on: November 01, 2019, 04:56:25 PM »
I think the point is, if we pay people a survivable wage to do nothing, no one will want to do (or have any incentive to do) the shitty jobs like Uber Eats and cleaning and fruit picking and whatever that they currently have in order to have a survivable wage. Or if they do it, they will do it for a higher wage. So every time you go to the grocer for fruit, or want your meal delivered, or your office cleaned, you'll pay more.

Optimiser

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #342 on: November 01, 2019, 05:21:53 PM »
I think the point is, if we pay people a survivable wage to do nothing, no one will want to do (or have any incentive to do) the shitty jobs like Uber Eats and cleaning and fruit picking and whatever that they currently have in order to have a survivable wage. Or if they do it, they will do it for a higher wage. So every time you go to the grocer for fruit, or want your meal delivered, or your office cleaned, you'll pay more.

So everyone will have enough to survive, no more homelessness? Those that choose to work will actually make enough to make their efforts worthwhile?

This seems like a really good outcome. I would gladly pay more for fruit, meal delivery, and office cleaning in exchange for that. Especially since my spending is so low that UBI would likely be a net positive for my bank account.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #343 on: November 01, 2019, 05:32:16 PM »
But if I have an extra $12k annually, I can afford to pay more for this stuff.

I am prepared to believe that some jobs will not be viable in different economic conditions. Since economic rationalism and free trade destroyed millions of jobs and people were told, "oh well, do something else, then," I am not sure why this is an objection to a UBI (or a carbon tax, or many other suggestions people have).

Wrenchturner

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #344 on: November 01, 2019, 05:41:28 PM »
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even if workers are averaging 1 person-output in six, it's not as flagrant as paying people to actually do nothing.  The perception matters. 
So it doesn't matter if they're actually productive or not, only that they look busy?

You wouldn't by chance be a middle manager?
Now you're playing the other side.  No one was producing 0% output in your post, were they?  Because a UBI reflects money for nothing.

How exactly do you plan to identify who is working in unproductive jobs?  If a large company makes a bad decision at the top end, everyone beneath that decision is going to be working against the goals of the company without even knowing it.  And this is despite our best efforts to optimize.

Perhaps some of the other 5/6 is an opportunity cost for using humans in a system.

And no, I am NOT a middle manager.  How DARE you!!!

Wrenchturner

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #345 on: November 01, 2019, 05:51:06 PM »
I feel like a UBI relies on a spread between the unfortunate having not enough and the well off having too much, and the willingness and charity for the well-off to subsidize the unfortunate. 

Whereas our current arrangement relies on the same spread, but a willingness for the unfortunate to work to earn enough to live and even thrive.

Price discovery in the latter is going to be a very strong force because the lowest level of working class will sort of set the baseline for inflation based on their sheer capacity to produce enough cashflow to exist, while the former relies on some sort of good intentions from people that aren't directly affected by the prices of inelastic needs(like food or housing).  Wealthy people(investors, I suppose) don't seem to have to worry about inflation so much.  Because their investments will climb with inflation(could be wrong on this!), and because they have more discretionary spending.

When we consider how much money is put into offshore accounts, the amount of effort spent on tax avoidance, and Laffer's work(which I don't know much about) I think UBI is dangerous for the monetary system, essentially.

I'll admit I'm not a great economist but UBI sounds utopian to me because of the strange mechanisms for pricing that comes out of it.  Could be consequences for the velocity of money in relative terms too.

Edit: I suppose it's plausible that the $12k or whatever it is will always remain a non-zero amount of purchasing power, regardless of inflation, so it might work out, and people will only buy so many tomatoes, or oats or what have you.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2019, 05:53:05 PM by Wrenchturner »

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #346 on: November 01, 2019, 06:02:15 PM »
But if I have an extra $12k annually, I can afford to pay more for this stuff.

I am prepared to believe that some jobs will not be viable in different economic conditions. Since economic rationalism and free trade destroyed millions of jobs and people were told, "oh well, do something else, then," I am not sure why this is an objection to a UBI (or a carbon tax, or many other suggestions people have).

The rise in costs will be a lot more than $12k a year.  Because all the cheap things in life will no longer be cheap. Plus, UBI will be taxed at marginal rates, so that $12k after tax will be only $6k.

Because the UBI is not economic rationalism or free trade. A UBI is directly counter to meritocracy and I won't support it for that reason.

Boofinator

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #347 on: November 03, 2019, 04:05:04 PM »
No one thinks sitting on your ass is valuable. No one is willing to pay money for it.
37% of British workers think their jobs are meaningless. Another 13% are unsure. Source 1. Thus, 37-50% of total work hours are spent doing nothing productive.

By an assessment of people's digital devices, white collar workers spent about 12.5hr a week - or 2.5hr a day for a 5 day week - actually working Source 2. A survey of white collar workers gave similar results Source 3, and I note with amusement that they were searching for other jobs for 26 minutes a day - perhaps they felt overworked?

So, only 50-63% of people are doing jobs where they produce anything of value, and even those producing something of value are only doing it 30% of the time. Thus, only about 1 in 6 of the hours people are working is producing anything of value. This is by their own assessment, mind you. This isn't some Marxist idea of labour being meaningless unless it produces tangible goods - it's people's own assessment of their work.


Now, it may be that some people feel their job is unproductive but it's actually useful in less than obvious ways (for example, most workplace safety planning), but by the same token someone else will feel they're very productive but actually be useless or even destructive of other people's productivity, like a micromanager. But anyway: 1 in 6 white collar work hours are productive. Or if we got fewer people to do the same total work, 1 in 6 workers are productive.

Put another way, 5 in 6 white collar workers are being paid to sit on their arse. Evidently, someone thinks sitting on your arse is valuable.

The average white collar wage in the US is about $45,000. Is it better to pay people $45,000 to do nothing productive, or pay them $12,000 to do nothing productive? I don't know about you, but I'd go for the cheaper option, myself.

Talk about bullshit statistics. Sure, I won't argue that a bunch of people are completely unproductive. But that doesn't mean that the work that they are supposed to be doing is unproductive. It just means that it is difficult to separate the future productive employees from the bullshitters during the interview process. It also means that a lot of people are working jobs that are unsuitable to their strengths, but this is unfortunately a part of life when people fear the uncertainty of change, and I don't think a UBI would make those people any more productive (because very few people would quit their jobs given an extra $12k a year, they'd just inflate their lifestyle by that amount).

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #348 on: November 03, 2019, 05:10:38 PM »
The rise in costs will be a lot more than $12k a year.  Because all the cheap things in life will no longer be cheap. Plus, UBI will be taxed at marginal rates, so that $12k after tax will be only $6k.

You seem unaware that we already spend about that much on social welfare.

In 2019-20 the Commonwealth government expects to spend $191.8 billion on social welfare source 1. There are some other benefits people get which fall under different departments, for example old aged pensioners getting cheaper medicine, people on low incomes getting discounted travel, and so. Notably, the childcare subsidy isn't part of social welfare, and that's huge. And there are various state subsidies for those on lower incomes, the disabled and older people, like public housing. So in practice it's a lot more than that.

Obviously we can argue who should get UBI. I would suggest that minors and non-citizens should not get it. In other words, just adult citizens. We can take the number of registered voters as a good representation of how many adult citizens we have; there are usually some younger people who've not yet registered to vote (requiring registering to vote a requirement to get UBI would, I think, encourage younger people to do so), but there are also some people from the UK etc who came here years ago when the law was different and remain on the roll despite not being citizens. The AEC says there are currently 16,486,185 registered voters source 2.

Dividing the $191.8 billion budget among 16,486,185 people gives us AUD11,633 each. Adding in the benefits and subsidies I mentioned above which aren't part of the official social security budget and it's trivial to get an extra $377 to take it to an even $1,000 a month, or $12,000 annually.

We already spend $12k per adult citizen on social welfare. We just give more to some like old aged pensioners, and spend lots on admin to decide who is "worthy" or not.

Abolish the dole. Abolish the aged pension. Abolish disability pensions. Abolish childcare subsidies. Replace them all with UBI, keep the tax brackets the same so that people on high incomes get small net benefit.



Of course if we did all that then we would have to abolish our judgement of who is "worthy" poor, and who "unworthy." The admin fraction of the budget would be considerably reduced without having all those people to decide who is worthy and who not.

And we are very, very attached to our moral judgements. Which is why we scream about the $12k cost of someone on the dole, but make no comment about the $12k cost of a family on $140k getting $12k in childcare subsidy, or the $22k cost of someone on an aged or disability pension. There are worthy poor, and unworthy poor, and - more important, electorally - worthy middle class.
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Because the UBI is not economic rationalism or free trade. A UBI is directly counter to meritocracy and I won't support it for that reason.
We don't have a meritocracy. 5 in 6 work hours are, by the assessment of the people doing them, spent unproductively. For at least 5 in 6 work hours, the only "merit" anyone is asked to demonstrate is to persuade others that actually they're being productive and useful, honest.

But fear not! Nobody will be willing to set aside their moral judgements, they'd rather spend more money instead.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Do mustachians support universal basic income?
« Reply #349 on: November 03, 2019, 05:26:53 PM »
Talk about bullshit statistics. Sure, I won't argue that a bunch of people are completely unproductive. But that doesn't mean that the work that they are supposed to be doing is unproductive.
I'm going by their own assessment. Firstly, of whether their job is in itself at all productive and useful: 37% of people say it's not, and 13% aren't sure. Secondly, of how much of their work day is spent doing productive work: the average is 2.5hr.

Obviously, some people will feel their job is bullshit but it's actually important, but the reverse is also true. And some people will do much more than 2.5hr a day of productive work, and some much less. These are averages after surveying many tens of thousands of people.


Not all of the unproductivity is the worker's fault. Coders have to wait for their program to compile, many workers are dragged into meetings on topics irrelevant to them, barristers have to wait for judges who are always late, and so on. So this does not necessarily reflect laziness of the worker, much of it is just human nature: 2 cooks do not necessarily produce twice the amount or quality of broth as does 1 cook, and 10 cooks will probably make no broth at all.

I've no doubt that you have a very important and productive job, and that you are productive for 10 of your 8 work hours each day; you would not, of course, be so indignant about this if you were one of the people doing a pointless job, or doing a useful job but slacking. But some people have bullshit jobs, and even some of the people with productive jobs are only productive for a small fraction of each day.


Given that most work hours paid for are unproductive BY THE ASSESSMENT OF THE WORKER THEMSELVES, it is not an objection to the dole, aged pension, disability pension or UBI that "but we'll be paying people to do nothing!" And as I noted above, we already spend that much money paying people to do nothing. It's just that it is socially acceptable for a person to do nothing after 65 years old, or if they're disabled, it is less socially acceptable for them to be unemployed, a single mother or whatever, and it's not only socially acceptable but socially praised for a parent to do paid work, thus our subsidies of it.


So again, a UBI will never happen, because this is not about what is economically sensible, but about us wanting to keep our moral judgements. We like wagging a moral finger at some people and patting others on the back. Typically, we shake a moral finger at people we don't know, and pat on the back people like us.


Thus, unemployed and disabled are firmly in favour of benefits for unemployed and disabled, but against childcare subsidies for middle class; middle class are not so keen on the dole but pretty keen on childcare subsidies, and older people are of course very much in favour of the aged pension but those dole bludgers? to hell with them!


Just the other day my elderly mother visited, and told me with a straight face that older people receive less benefits than the unemployed. $23k is less than $12k, apparently. Everyone feels horribly oppressed, and people will not set aside their self-interest and desire to wag a moral finger. UBI won't happen, so calm down.


But it's still economically sensible, and still fair.