[ POLL ] An Argument Against Universal Basic Income.

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Do you agree with the premises and conclusion of the essay?
Yes, absolutely! 9%  9%  [ 3 ]
Yes, mostly. 12%  12%  [ 4 ]
Some things yes, some things no. 30%  30%  [ 10 ]
No, mostly. 27%  27%  [ 9 ]
No, absolutely! 21%  21%  [ 7 ]
Total votes : 33

Fnord
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14 Apr 2020, 4:19 pm

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means-test or work requirement.  Everyone gets the same amount of cash: the homeless and the billionaire.  No questions asked.  Forever.

Some proponents will claim that UBI is essential so everyone can pursue their individual passions.  While this may seem reasonable, it clashes with two unpleasant truths:

First: Since we need human work to improve our collective lot, the priority is to make sure everyone contributes to the best of their abilities.

Second: These abilities are very unequally distributed.  Not everyone has a passion, and not everyone is equally talented.  This is a simple fact of life.

Not everyone can be an entrepreneur or an artist.  Our economies need construction workers, welders, plumbers, electricians, nurses, firemen, policemen, janitors, waiters.  Some people go into some of these jobs with passion, others because it pays the bills -- and these jobs need to be done.

We already have a shortage of skills in a number of industries.  In oil and gas, mining, shipping and a host of other sectors sizable cohorts of experienced workers are about to retire with no pipeline of younger workers to take their place.  This is hardly the time to send young people the message that they should follow their (as yet unidentified) passion and not worry about living-wage job prospects.

UBI would send exactly that wrong-headed message, reducing people's incentive to work.  And it would get worse.  Our concept of a dignified life is relative.  Getting by on my guaranteed basic income, I will look at my richer, working peers and feel that my lifestyle is not quite dignified.  So I will lobby politicians for an increase in UBI.  As UBI rises, even fewer people will work; those who still work will have to be taxed more, and so even fewer people will work, et cetera, et cetera...

If you doubt these arguments, consider that advanced economies are already littered with young people with college degrees no employer considers useful -- while Ancient Greek Literature may be a passion, it does not guarantee a job and a living wage.

The countries toying with the idea of UBI -- all advanced economies -- are deep in debt, with pitifully low productivity growth and a massive looming rise in pension and health care expenditures (think of Italy, where the populist Five Stars movement secured one-third of the vote in the last elections by promising UBI).  They desperately need to generate more income and spend it wisely -- it makes no sense to waste money on those who do not need it.

Also, the proletariat insisting on UBI tend to be talent-less and underemployed.  They tend to believe that their mere existence as living human beings somehow entitles them to a portion -- their "Fair Share" -- of everyone else's income.  This is false reasoning; the conclusion does not follow from the premise, thus making any alleged "facts" used to support the argument both nonsensical and irrelevant.

...

I'm posting this essay from the role of "Devil's Advocate".  Personally, I'm in favor of a basic universal income; and by "basic", I mean really, really basic -- just enough to provide the barest essentials of life -- food, shelter, education, clothing and medical care.  1500 to 2000 calories per adult per day, 80 square feet of living space per adult, an associate degree in a skilled trade, ordinary work-a-day clothing, and preventive medicine plus emergency care.  That's it; no gourmet meals, no mansions, no degree beyond 2 years, no high fashions, and no elective cosmetic surgery.   Just.  The.  Basics.

You may select only one option in the poll, but you may change your selection at any time.  You may post your comments in the thread.  You may ignore this thread completely, if you so choose -- no one will force you to respond.

This poll will run indefinitely.



Magna
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14 Apr 2020, 4:30 pm

I think the essay puts forth some valid points worth considering. In regard to "following one's passion". There are many young people today whose "passion" might just be playing video games all day, eating junk food and getting high. It's a free country, but I think the essay points out that the greater the number of people wanting to do nothing means the fewer people there are that would normally work at jobs that are required for society to function effectively and that's an issue that would need to be given consideration rather than dismissed.



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14 Apr 2020, 4:34 pm

Magna wrote:
I think the essay puts forth some valid points worth considering. In regard to "following one's passion". As stated in the essay there are many young people today whose "passion" might just be playing video games all day, eating junk food and getting high. It's a free country, but I think the essay points out that the greater the number of people wanting to do nothing means the fewer people there are that would normally work at jobs that are required for society to function effectively.
By doing so, the burden of providing the money falls squarely on the Government.  But from where will that money come?  If nobody is working, then whom shall they tax?  If no one can afford any but the basics, then who will buy the taxable luxury goods?  How will the government impose tariffs on importable goods if those goods are no longer being imported?


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14 Apr 2020, 4:40 pm

Good questions. It's a certainty that there will be people who will respond to this tread that will be pro-UBI so maybe they can answer your questions. Perhaps they'd say the money should be taken from billionaires and millionaires? I'm curious to what others say on this though. Good thread.



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14 Apr 2020, 4:43 pm

Magna wrote:
Good questions ... Good thread.
Thank you.


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14 Apr 2020, 5:06 pm

I admit my brain is not entirely working correctly these days, but I don't see how giving everyone the same amount of money would lead to anything but inflation.


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14 Apr 2020, 5:17 pm

dragonsanddemons wrote:
I admit my brain is not entirely working correctly these days, but I don't see how giving everyone the same amount of money would lead to anything but inflation.
My guess is the amount given out would be based on something called the "Poverty Level" -- an income below which a person could be classified as being "in poverty".

Some say it's as high as $120 per day ($31,200 per year). Others say it's as low as $1.90 per day ($494 per year).  Once the final amount is universally agreed upon, it can then be given out as UBI.

What gets me is that pro-UBI forces -- while exceptionally brilliant at arguing the need for UBI -- are exceptionally lacking in any truly effective plan on how to redistribute the wealth so as to provide UBI to everyone.


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17 Apr 2020, 10:39 pm

dragonsanddemons wrote:
I admit my brain is not entirely working correctly these days
Same here. I'm not sure I fully understand this but I think there may be a better way to implement this. The UI should be based on people's income. It would be kind of like the SSI system except people wouldn't have to be disabled. The UI would be reduced by a certain percent of people's wages. The more people earn, the more their UI gets reduced. The top few percent will get nothing, the upper middle class will get a tiny bit, the lower middle class will get like half of the UI, & the homeless, disableds, & seniors who have no income will get the full UI. The UI would be funded by a progressive tax system. The people who's only income is the UI won't pay any tax for the UI, the lower middle class will pay a small tax percent, the upper middle class will pay a higher percent, & the top few percent will pay a moderate tax. I think this system would encourage the people to work who are capable cuz they would have more money & this system will take care of the people who cant work or people who don't want to work & are OK with living a minimalist lifestyle. This system will also reduce income inequality between the poor & the CEOs who make hundreds of thousands more than their average employee.
I'm not sure if that makes much sense. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night & I'm drinking. I am pretty sure thou that you guys can tell that I'm a progressive/socialist.


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18 Apr 2020, 3:05 am

I take completely different view on UBI.
I'm not sure we will always need that much workpower to ensure everyone's well-being - the essay completely ignores the topic of automatization.
I think a lifestyle of richness competition between neighbors is unhealthy. I come from a culture where it is considered bad taste.
To gain respect of your neighbors, contribute to well-being of the local society - sing in a choir, sweep your church, organize <whatever needed>, bake cookies for school feast, have time to listen to your neighbor's worries, be nice and well behaved, lots and lots of opportunities not requiring being rich and many of them not requiring any rare talents.
The essay points at downsides of UBI specifically in a consumerist society. It's not the only possible culture, in my opinion, it's quite unhealthy society anyway - but forced cultural revolutions would be still much worse.

European culture is not that much consumerist. However, based on what I could observe around me, there would be another problem that I never saw discussed: Immigration.
If a rich country starts to offer UBI, it will attract massive immigration of people mostly not intending to contribute at all. Western Europe struggles with this already - with some success and some failures - and UBI would make it even more problematic.

Maybe in some future the humanity will be able to afford UBI worldwide, leaving all the essential work to robots and volunteers. Maybe. It hasn't happened yet.


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quite an extreme
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19 Apr 2020, 6:55 am

magz wrote:
I take completely different view on UBI.
I'm not sure we will always need that much workpower to ensure everyone's well-being - the essay completely ignores the topic of automatization.

This. You don't need as much people anymore to produce what people really need. Because of machines, automatization and computers become more and more jobs obsolete now. There are only two simple ways in near future. Either to kill a lot of people soon or to ensure all of them a basic income that they are able to live from but pay the ones a bit better who work. I would prefere the second way.


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19 Apr 2020, 7:27 am

magz wrote:
However, based on what I could observe around me, there would be another problem that I never saw discussed: Immigration.
If a rich country starts to offer UBI, it will attract massive immigration of people mostly not intending to contribute at all. Western Europe struggles with this already - with some success and some failures - and UBI would make it even more problematic.
I think the way for a country providing a UI to avoid that immigration problem is to have a citizenship requirement for their UI. The country could have fairly strict regulations on who can become citizens. Like people seeking citizenship will have to have skills or experience for essential jobs that are in high demand or they'd have to already have close family there or be marrying someone there.


quite an extreme wrote:
magz wrote:
I take completely different view on UBI.
I'm not sure we will always need that much workpower to ensure everyone's well-being - the essay completely ignores the topic of automatization.

This. You don't need as much people anymore to produce what people really need. Because of machines, automatization and computers become more and more jobs obsolete now. There are only two simple ways in near future. Either to kill a lot of people soon or to ensure all of them a basic income that they are able to live from but pay the ones a bit better who work. I would prefere the second way.
Less people will be needed to physically produce stuff but more people will be needed in the IT field. At least untill the machines get smart enough to design, build, & program themselves. It takes a lot of people doing hard work to design, program, & build a different iPhone every year.


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quite an extreme
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19 Apr 2020, 12:00 pm

quite an extreme wrote:
Less people will be needed to physically produce stuff but more people will be needed in the IT field. At least untill the machines get smart enough to design, build, & program themselves. It takes a lot of people doing hard work to design, program, & build a different iPhone every year.


Currently right but there are already enough people or they would pay higher wages. Most people aren't bright enough for a job in IT or engineering either. This won't change much in future. Nobody pays people if a machine is able to do the same things faster, more correct and cheaper. You can reduce the time that people work of course. But also this won't change the things forever. Some companies move production to countries where they can pay wages that are a shame only e.g. to India where they pay about 100$ a month only. At least Trump is aware of this and tries to stop this a bit. But the biggest problem is that most people aren't really bright and don't realize the situation. The precariat is the fastest growing social group today.


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19 Apr 2020, 1:06 pm

Fnord wrote:
Magna wrote:
I think the essay puts forth some valid points worth considering. In regard to "following one's passion". As stated in the essay there are many young people today whose "passion" might just be playing video games all day, eating junk food and getting high. It's a free country, but I think the essay points out that the greater the number of people wanting to do nothing means the fewer people there are that would normally work at jobs that are required for society to function effectively.
By doing so, the burden of providing the money falls squarely on the Government.  But from where will that money come?  If nobody is working, then whom shall they tax?  If no one can afford any but the basics, then who will buy the taxable luxury goods?  How will the government impose tariffs on importable goods if those goods are no longer being imported?


And you expect the gummint to be able to pay up???! !!!HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! !! !! !! !! !! !! !

I’ve been working since 1969, starting with delivering newspapers. I worked through high school, college and grad school (and have the now-forgiven debt burden to prove it!). Even after getting my first job, I was still working 2 side gigs to barely keep my head above water (and a lot of times, failing.). Even when I finally qualified for SSDI, I was told I was a lazy, no good for nothing fat-assed motherf!cker who deserved to die an inhuman death and rot in hell. (That’s just my brothers and their wives). I have heard worse from most of my relatives and from the public in general. (And you wonder why I stay locked in my apartment, except to take out the trash, get my mail, go to the doctor, and go to church?)

I’m constantly amazed that I get my SSDI check every month, let alone getting care from Medicare and Medicaid (Medicaid pays my Medicare Part B premium.). I remember quite a few times NOT getting a paycheck from the DoD contractors I worked for, and was told I don’t deserve to be paid!

I agree with the verse in II Thessolonians: “Those who don’t work, don’t deserve to eat!” It matters not whether you are disabled or otherwise, at least to the public at large, at least in this day and age.



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25 Apr 2020, 10:27 pm

I had a thought that if the Coronavirus is seasonal & comes around every year like the flue, lots of countries will have to implement a UI due to lots of people being out of work every winter.


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26 Apr 2020, 7:19 am

nick007 wrote:
magz wrote:
However, based on what I could observe around me, there would be another problem that I never saw discussed: Immigration.
If a rich country starts to offer UBI, it will attract massive immigration of people mostly not intending to contribute at all. Western Europe struggles with this already - with some success and some failures - and UBI would make it even more problematic.
I think the way for a country providing a UI to avoid that immigration problem is to have a citizenship requirement for their UI. The country could have fairly strict regulations on who can become citizens. Like people seeking citizenship will have to have skills or experience for essential jobs that are in high demand or they'd have to already have close family there or be marrying someone there.

This would result in significant unrest among non-citizen long-term residents.


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26 Apr 2020, 8:00 am

Seems to me there aren't too many people doing work that is absolutely essential for society, instead there are a lot of people unemployed and even more working BS jobs creating paper-trails and credit-pyramids. Here at least, unemployment is worse in the younger age bracket - plenty of twenty-somethings are finding they're just not wanted.
Then we have this punitive system of requiring the unemployed to submit a certain number of job applications weekly before they can receive any benefits - all that happens is that prospective employers get swamped with applications from completely unsuitable candidates.
To me it's just wrong-headed. I don't know anyone who wouldn't be willing to work at something in which they were genuinely valued for providing a real contribution to society. Instead young people are made to feel that they are in competition to secure work, however meaningless, and those who don't are failures or trash.
I guess what I'm saying is that if there aren't enough meaningful jobs to go around, those who miss out may still have much to contribute to society, but only as long as they are not in danger of homelessness or malnutrition or mental ill health from not having enough money for a dignified life.