That Universal Basic Income Nonsense.

Over on the Book of Faces there was this:

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Okay, let’s say that Bruce Wayne is as rich as Bill Gates. So, net worth of $113 billion. That sounds like a lot, but let’s look at Gotham City. It was based on New York in the comics so let’s use New York’s population. 8.4 million. Divide one into the other and that’s $13,452 per person. Since that’s per person rather than per family, that amounts to an annual income enough to keep everyone out of poverty. Yay, problem solved, right?

Well, not so fast. Doing that for one year and Bruce Wayne is low flat broke. There’s nothing left to do it again for a second year. And on top of it, by liquidating all his assets he’s destroyed, or at least seriously damaged, the businesses that employed a bunchaton of people. That means a lot of people, a whole bunch of people now out of work. And since they’re out of work, they’re not producing goods and services for the rest of us. But there are a bunch of people out there with money to spend on those goods and services that do still remain. More money available to spend, less goods and services to spend it on. There’s a term for that. Inflation. Prices of the remaining goods and services goes up.

And when that year is up what then? Wayne is tapped out. So, what next? Grab Gates’ money this time? Okay, you keep up the “basic income” for another year by completely impoverishing Gates. This puts still more people out of work, producing less in goods and services. Again, more money chasing fewer goods and services. Prices go up more.

And the next year, you’ll probably have to grab at least two billionaires to impoverish to keep this up.

Even if we assume that the billionaires just sit around and wait until it’s their turn to be stripped of their wealth and don’t flee the country, taking their wealth with them, this is a recipe for disaster. More and more jobless, fewer goods and services being produced, higher prices for those that remain, and basically making everyone, rich and poor alike, poorer.

And that’s just for Gotham City (or New York City in the “real world”). The country as a whole has about 35 times as many people as does Gotham/New York. The disaster sweeps in that much faster as you shovel more dollars into a bigger maw.

One might say say that one wouldn’t really completely impoverish each billionaire in turn but instead take a little bit from each of them all together. “They won’t notice it.” Except, while they might personally suffer no hardship from being a few billion less rich than before, the secondary effects are the same in terms of reduced jobs and production if it’s $100 billion from one or $1 billion from each of 100. The effect on the economy is the same. You have the same more dollars chasing fewer goods and services. You can just hide it better and pretend the economic disaster is unrelated.

Politicians are very good at that, in fact.

 

39 thoughts on “That Universal Basic Income Nonsense.”

  1. There was an experiment in Manitoba when I was a kid involving one of their small towns. They then memory holed the whole thing for decades. I heard they were gonna release their results a few years ago, but never saw anything afterwards about it.

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  2. In a strange way, she’s right.

    Instead of throwing money at the problem and assuming that would fix it, Batman goes around and actually fixes stuff.
    Hitting the guys who need to be stopped– like the Joker is doing this for cash? Or any of the rest of the villain’s gallery?– and applying money, influence, or the amazing power of being able to FIND A JOB to fix the other problems he identifies.

    That is the kind of logic you need to remain (and grow) a second generation, minimum, billionaire …..

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      1. And that’s just for Gotham City (or New York City in the “real world”). The country as a whole has about 35 times as many people as does Gotham/New York. The disaster sweeps in that much faster as you shovel more dollars into a bigger maw.

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  3. We can even be more generous to the theory– go with Gotham being Chicago, like in the JLA animated series.

    That would give you between two and four years of not-poverty for everyone! (20k being the poor line that came up in a quick search)

    Or you could take the 15% poverty line, and only give them the 10k/year to escape poverty…of course, each year, that poor group would grow, both from immigration and because you took the money that was giving them a job. Ending, of course, with Bruce himself being in that “poor” group that needs the 10k to maybe beat poverty.

    And I’ll bet the crime rate wouldn’t drop a bit, either, until you fired all the cops so you can hand out the money that was paying them. (If you don’t take the report of a crime, it didn’t happen! Weeeeeee!)

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    1. The money would come from the treasury after being converted to treasury bonds mostly bought by foreigners. the money would be given to those in need in exchange for work at the minimum wage. The current Keynesian or Friedman scheme requires a certain unemployment level—which is cruel. Check out Modern Monetary Theory or better yet read “The Deficit Myth” by Stephanie Kelton. Where do you think the recent distribution of the Trillions because of COVID-19 unemployment came from?? The money is not given to the ones in need it is earned in my hypothetical suggestion. MASSES OF UNEMPLOYED LEADS TO SOCIAL UNREST.

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      1. Repeating your fallacious arguments again doesn’t make them any more valid. Nor does pointing to the same Marxist drivel book.

        It’s still inflationary. It still stealing from the productive to give to consumption. You can add all the extra steps you want and it remains true because money is fungible. Foreigners buy treasury bills (taking the money out of the US economy)? They do that whether you have UBI or not. They may buy the treasury bills with the “fresh ink” money but that’s at the expense of not buying treasury bills from the existing supply. Thus the net result is still more money in circulation than otherwise, driving up costs–inflation. This is nothing more than a Three Card Monte shuffle to try to hide the result.

        In your hypothetical suggestion the fact that the government has to require them to do the jobs demonstrates that the jobs are not valued enough for people to pay for them without force. That means that they don’t produce value commensurate with the compensation. So you’re paying them more than the work is actually worse. That difference is inflation–increase in money supply (what they’re paid) relative to the economic output (what they’re producing).

        The “requires unemployment” is also at best a misrepresenation. What it is is is a recognition that there’s always a certain amount of “churn” in a healthy job market. To be unemployed a person has to 1) not have a job and 2) be actively looking for work. People who are looking for their first job? Unemployed. People who quit a job for whatever reason (didn’t like the work conditions, personality conflict with the boss, not enough pay, whatever) and are “between jobs”? Unemployed. People who have taken a leave from working, again for whatever reason (go to school, have children, whatever)? Unemployed. Fired for cause and now have to find another job? Unemployed. All sorts of reasons that there are always some folk looking for work but don’t have a job yet in a healthy economy. That’s not “cruel”. That’s reality.

        In a healthy, growing economy those numbers tend to be small. Most of the unemployment tends to be short term and economic growth leads to a rising standard of living for everyone, rich and poor alike. And the 3-6% unemployment that the normal “churn” of jobs produces does not, in and of itself, lead to social unrest. It’s only when the neo-Marxists start blovating and preaching the gospel of Marx, which can be summed up as “hate the man who has more than you” that you start seeing said social unrest.

        Inflationary policies, like “UBI” (however dressed up), leads instead to a lowered standard of living for everybody, but mostly on the poor. But a lot of people would rather be equal in poverty than unequal in wealth.

        That is what is really cruel.

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          1. I was responding to his comment (threading makes it hard to tell)– it just wasn’t related to anything I’d said. It was definitely in response to my comment, WordPress brings responses to my side-bar, but it…didn’t click, we’ll say?

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      2. It’s particularly ironic that someone regurgitating a failed 19th century philosophy (can’t really call it “economics” since Marx contributed exactly nothing to economics) a “modern monetary theory.”

        But you want to cite a book? Okay, let me cite some books for you:

        By all means…let’s party.

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  4. Folks, Mack Reynolds wrote a set of science fiction tales that featured Basic Income, Trank supplied by the Government, and folks born into their parents’ occupations.
    RAH also wrote using Basic Income, Excess World riches generated due to Computerized Economic Planning, and a Social Credit type of economy. RAH also used universal open/closed carry of personal weapons.
    :
    On a future-looking basis, we are going to see AI and Robotics making human labour unnecessary. A real Technological Singularity, which will change many more things than just ‘work’.
    :
    Ken Wilber, in “Trump and a Post-Truth World, wrote about the need for Basic Income.
    :
    Quote: (pg 28 of 94, .pdf version)
    But the period of actually getting to that point, where
    virtually one hundred percent of the population is free of work, will be a time of enormous
    pain for billions of people, as countless people lose their jobs with nothing to support
    them. This is why Silicon Valley—who is, whether it admits it or not, working as fast as
    it can to put as many people out of work as soon as possible—takes it as a matter of
    uncontested faith that something like a guaranteed basic income for everybody will soon
    be put in place, which is almost certainly a necessary program.
    Unquote.
    :
    In an article, we see…
    :
    https://metro.co.uk/2017/07/27/the-end-of-humanity-as-we-know-it-is-coming-in-2045-and-big-companies-are-working-towards-it-6807683/
    :
    Quote
    Robots ‘will reach human intelligence by 2029 and life as we know it will end in 2045’. This isn’t the prediction of a conspiracy theorist, a blind dead woman or an octopus but of Google’s chief of engineering, Ray Kurzweil.

    Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2017/07/27/the-end-of-humanity-as-we-know-it-is-coming-in-2045-and-big-companies-are-working-towards-it-6807683/?ito=cbshare

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/
    :
    Unquote.
    :

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    1. Things being used in a story does not obligate me to believe in them, even if I enjoyed the author’s work, especially when I have read enough of the history of population control to recognize that they were likely building on the theory most famously assumed by Marx and those in his footsteps.
      (The idea that technology which improved efficiency would make people worthless as their labor was no longer required. Which is where the “charitable” population control comes in, with the idea of preventing those useless eaters their theory insists will be here Any Day Now from coming to be.)

      While the theory is really handy for giving drama, it hasn’t borne fruit; we went from about seven in ten folks working to raise the food we eat in 1900, to about two in a hundred. Even with actively throwing roadblocks in folks’ way when they try to find work, and people surviving things they never could have in the 1900s, we still don’t have the theorized masses of helpless people who dearly wish to labor but cannot find a taker.

      I’m not sure why I’m supposed to believe the guy who has been pushing that we’ll have true Artificial Intelligence in just a few years since I was in grade school. (Although then I was supposed to respect him because he headed the text to speech division at Xerox.)

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    2. People have been predicting automation causing widespread unemployment since the apocryphal Ned Ludd and the very real Jaquard looms. It’s crap. It’s always been crap. It will be crap for the forseeable future. Heinlein, in his early years, like may people was something of a socialist. And also like many people he got better as he gained more experience in the world.

      From the dawn of time, producing more goods and services with less input of raw materials (of which “human labor” is a big one) has been the source of economic growth. Flake technology over core technology in stone tools producing more cutting edge from the same original piece of flint led to a major improvement in the lives of our paleolithic forebears. The invention of the scratch plow vice the old “poke a hole to drop the seed in” method meant that fewer people were needed in farming. That meant more people could be involved in other things.

      And so it’s been through the centuries. If you could go back to when first the reaper was reducing the number of people necessary to harvest grain and were able to explain to those people (and get them to believe it) that far from being the vast majority of the population, in the future only 1.3% of the US population would be farmers. How would you explain to them the other jobs that people have moved into.

      People keep predicting automation or mechanization will eliminate jobs and there’s a ring of truth to that. There are far fewer farming jobs (for instance) as a fraction of the population than there were before. But the economic growth spurred by the improved production efficiency, ends up creating more jobs. They’re just elsewhere. A hundred years ago “domestic help” was a thriving industry. Even relatively middle class people often had paid help to do the cooking and cleaning and so forth. Hell, forty years ago my own family, far from “wealthy” had somebody to come by daily to do just that. Now that particular industry is essentially non-existent. Does that mean that we have a huge pool of unemployed “domestic housekeepers” out there since that job went away? Nope. They moved to other areas.

      So it has been every time this prediction has been made. Because despite the pontifications of a “Google Engineer” as reported in a media outlet (and I suggest you look up Gell Mann Amnesia if you are not already familiar with that, before taking anything you see in a media outlet seriously), we’re nowhere near to creating a “true AI” that comes close to matching human. Oh, sure, you can do a particular computer that outperforms humans in specific tasks. But then, that’s nothing new either. A horse outperforms men in pulling plows too but that didn’t meant hat horses made humans obsolete.

      And even if it were “true” it still does not lead to the conclusions being made for it. You’re basically describing a post scarcity society. The only commodity that would be necessary to trade would be real estate. After all, if robots could produce anything humans can produce, then they can also produce the robots. And there would be nothing stopping simply producing and handing to each person (perhaps as part of a “coming of age” ceremony) their own general purpose fabrication unit to produce anything they want. All they would need is a piece of land on which to settle. Not even that really. With that kind of industrial base there is no show-stopper for routine access to space and space resources–a Kardashev Class 1 well on the way to being a Class 2. The reason we can’t do it now is cost, in terms of expended time, effort, brainpower, and resources. With this universal automation we would have pretty much all of those that we would want. So, with this universal automation, O’Neill colonies are a piece of cake. We can, therefore make real estate as easily as any other goods and services.

      Universal Basic Income? For what? Each individual could have, in terms of material goods, anything they could possibly want. That is, _if_ this “universal automation” really does render the need for human input superfluous.

      And if it doesn’t? Then there will still be jobs and historic precedent indicates there will be more and more varied jobs than there were before.

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      1. Oh, sure, you can do a particular computer that outperforms humans in specific tasks. But then, that’s nothing new either. A horse outperforms men in pulling plows too but that didn’t meant hat horses made humans obsolete.

        Take teaching, for an example.

        My kids are homeschooled– that doesn’t mean that I re-create the kindergarten experience by sitting there singing “ABC” every day for a month, it means I let them play on Starfall or similar computer games, or let their siblings play at “teaching” them, for a lot of it.
        Still need me to figure out issues like “why does this paper with a drawing of a tree say ‘C-H-R-E-E’ under it?” for teaching, but a lot of the repetitive work can be done by machines. With better enunciation (the folks at Starfall can do it until they get the sound just right, while in real life we slur words) and the computer isn’t going to get annoyed or bored.

        ********

        Think of all the economic activity that was destroyed by digitizing the Vatican Library! SO MANY people are going to be able to quickly access a copy of documents, without flying to Rome, getting permission to enter, and all that stuff!

        Oh. Wait. It creates more activity by letting people use those resources, including time, for other stuff….

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      2. Yes, my own (limited to FORTRAN using punchcard), Basic, and HPL on HP41CX, experiences at programming surveying-focused program-writing, does drive home how hard it is to write Programs which cope with human-to-machine-to-human actions. Saying that, I also have worked as Crew Manager of a fifty-man Seismic Crew. The sheer chaos that weather, and human beings activities, bring to keeping needed fuel, food, parts, people, and unexpected trips with injured/sick folk; has to be experienced. AI and Robotics are a wonderful dream, I do respond. The hidden problem with Central Planning is in the response loop, plus the Disasters resulting from “ignore instrument readings beyond ax??”, and the Satellite instrument Ozone Readings Unreported due to a Programmed order to discard readings outside the expected values, show that it is a real problem. : Still, if we use Canadian experiences in 2020 with a COVID employment job shutdown “ weekly monetary deposit into a person’s bank account, when the jobs restarted, we have a benchmark for how folks react to a choice among UBI, and working, and Unimagined Reaction.

        On Sun, Aug 9, 2020 at 3:40 PM The Writer in Black wrote:

        > thewriterinblack commented: “People have been predicting automation > causing widespread unemployment since the apocryphal Ned Ludd and the very > real Jaquard looms. It’s crap. It’s always been crap. It will be crap for > the forseeable future. Heinlein, in his early years, like may p” >

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      3. The basic problem I see here is that those personal robots and presumably an extensive set of basic tools for those robots such as shovels and plows and saws and so forth will still require at a minimum access to raw or semi-finished materials such as chemical or organic fertilizers, wood or other building materials, and whatnot, all of which will still possess some nominal value even in a post-scarcity society with mining robots swarming all over the asteroid belt and the gas-giant moons. People do have an unlimited capacity for expanding their desires to meet immediately available wealth, after all, and pressure from hundreds of millions of wealthy individuals for ridiculous extravagances will put measurable pressure on prices for basic commodities such as CHON organics and metals. How will the unemployed individual pay for those materials even given a free troupe of robots and a tiny but hyper-efficiently exploited parcel of arable land? What about specialized repair services and parts for those personal robots? High-technology medical care in hospitals? Monetary or in-kind donations from an organized welfare system, year after year? I suppose that would work, yes. Why not? Each unemployed individual or family having their own little fiefdom of dedicated robots and regular supplies of necessary materials is sufficient unto preventing thoughts of revolution amongst the masses, which realistically is the true motivation behind most forms of modern welfare.

        Anyways, I’m just musing. The entire subject doesn’t lend itself easily to quick sound bites.

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        1. A necessary component of the “post-scarcity” society is that it will require your personal fabrication units to be able to rearrange the chemical structure of things, to synthesize different alloys and chemicals needed for the things it’s building. Feedstock? Have one robot shovel dirt, grass clippings (clipped by another robot) the contents of your vacuum cleaner (another robot), suck in air, products you’ve had made before and are now finished with (recycling will be trivial in such a “post-scarcity” society), etc. and the chemical plant in the fab will break it down and sort it into various basic supplies which can then be recombined (chemically or physically as needed) to make the various things demanded from the output. You don’t need high quality ores or the like just enough of whatever’s lying around for the trace amounts of, well, everything, to be found in it is sufficient for a given task.

          Before that, people look at automation creating jobs, particularly for the “less skilled” (taking those manual drudgery jobs away), but they forget how it also make what once were high-skilled jobs accessible to those “less skilled.” Example: computer spreadsheets. People use them to routinely do things that would have taken highly trained accountants or mathematicians a great deal of time to do in the past–if they could have been done at all. So now, whole classes of labor activity are available to people than were possible in the past. And the beauty of it is that it hasn’t “taken away” the jobs of those highly skilled accountants and mathematicians. They are still needed to set up and vet the spreadsheets (at the level I’m talking about, not just balancing your checkbook). But now others without the extensive and expensive skill set can _use_ that to do useful work instead of pushing an idiot stick somewhere (which is now done by a machine).

          We are a long, long way from automation being likely to put large swaths of people out of work for the long term. This is not to say that there won’t be disruptions along the way, but births are accompanied by blood and pain (and while we may be able to do something about the pain these days, we can’t really make it go away entirely and the blood is still there). But “this too shall pass.”

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          1. It’s a fascinating topic, isn’t it? One does wonder what human jobs might spring from the chaos of a post-scarcity society. Robot-manned back kitchens with a single gifted human chef overseeing recipe development and other kitchen matters and smiling, attractive humans serving the food with clever banter that satisfies the need of customers for emotional human contact? Artistic custom residential designs by human architects that are executed in practice by the competent but arguably unimaginative artificial intelligences driving the builder robots? Highly trained human butlers who satisfy the egoistic urges of very wealthy humans for status symbols? The scope for previously unimagined employment is vast.

            Still, I harbor serious doubts about the ability of newly invented jobs to overcome the obsoletion of wide swathes of lower-intelligence individuals. The major difference is that the current severe limitations on “personal attention” will be eliminated by virtually unlimited attention from sophisticated artificial intelligences capable of flattering and buttering up individual humans to the nth degree. Where then lies the formerly precious quality of personal attention? To what degree does human attention retain essential value over robot attention?

            These are mere musings, mind you. I don’t pretend to possess the wisdom to foresee the future. My crystal ball is cloudy beyond the messy point of sheer speculation. Did that make sense? I’m drunk again, an unfortunate habit. -_-

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            1. When it comes to jobs, I can make some speculations. Consider, in the late 19th and early 20th century, the dispersal of the population combined with the railroads made mail order the big thing for a great many products. There weren’t enough people in a given area to support local “department stores” as we know them now. You had a “general store” handling some basics (foodstuffs, hardware, guns and ammunition, that sort of thing) but the giants Montgomery Ward and Sears Robuck & Company were the major source of all sorts of durable goods. Move into the 20th century and the automobile and truck, and increasing population density, made the department store a viable entity, first James Cash Penny and his chain of stores, then Montgomery Ward and Sears following in his wake. Come the 21st Century. Courier services like UPS and Fedex and this newfangled “Internet” thing turn the wheel again and a new form of “Mail Order” suddenly becomes ascendant once more.

              Now, let’s look at something else. In the early 20th century “domestic help” was a big market segment. Even as late as the 1960’s my own family (middle class at best) had a housekeeper who would come over and take care of cleaning, some cooking, and look after my sister and I when we got home from school (mother and stepfather both working). However as time wore on, various “convenience” appliances–improved vacuum cleaners, washers and dryers, dishwashers, microwave ovens, heat and eat meals, and so on–made the “cost/benefit” of domestic help vs doing the reduced amount of work yourself fall increasingly on the “do it yourself” side of the equation. Domestic help rapidly fell out of the job market except at the very top of the economic ladder.

              Now run things forward, say a “hair styling helmet” (like seen on the old cartoon The Jetsons) that automatically styles your hair into any of a number of different styles. You could do that. Or, you could pay an actual person to actually wash, cut and style your hair. On those rare occasions when I go to get my hair trimmed, it’s actually nice to have a human being handling my hair, washing it, combing it out, and so forth. That “human contact” just plain feels good. So, I can see “personal service” making a big comeback in a not-quite-post-scarcity society.

              That’s just one thing. Most things are things we probably can’t even imagine today just like nobody working the accounting department of the Montgomery Wards mail order central warehouse could imagine data entry technicians today.

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    3. Mack Reynolds was raised as a Marxian socialist, and was an active member of the Socialist Labor Party (until they booted him out for being a successful capitalist author). Even after being tossed from the party, he still pushed socialist ideas, admittedly very often entertainingly.

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    4. Then you have Sci-Fi writers like David Weber and the Honor Harrington series. Basic Living Stipend payments in the Republic of Haven / People’s Republic of Haven are akin to a basic standard income. Haven tries to ride that tiger, and gets eaten multiple times. Have a look at Mackey Chandler’s April series for a world that has gone down the tubes but on a different path, feels like current events.
      Good article, thanks.

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  5. You are wrong. It doesn’t work by just taking one billionaire or two. It would require some sort of tax. And even if, this system does get put into law, it will be those who need the most first, and extended to others. It isn’t one size fits all solution, but it is a necessary in our time.

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    1. You can say “You are wrong” all you want but wishing doesn’t make it so. If wishes were fishes we’d walk on the sea.

      Whether you impoverish one billionaire or spread it over a hundred (or all 603 in the US). Doesn’t matter. The result is the same: you are taking resources from economic production and turning it to economic consumption. This means that less of the goods and services that make up the real wealth of society are produced (resources taken away from production) and more are spent chasing that reduced production. The term for that is “inflation”. Hel’s Misty Halls, that’s the _definition_ of inflation. And, so with inflation driving prices up, well, you have to increase your “UBI”, which means you have to take more from the productive to give it to the non-productive, leading to more resources chasing even less economic output, which drives the prices further up and round and round and round again. It’s the Broken Window Fallacy writ large.

      “It will require some sort of tax.” Seriously, do you even math? 330 million people in the US. With a “basic” income of about $10,000/year each, that comes to $3.3 trillion per year. The entire combined wealth of _all_ the billionaires in the US wouldn’t even last two years. And then what? You’ve eaten your seed corn. Because, again, that money isn’t sitting in big swimming pools that the billionaires lounge around, or go dive into. No, it’s the assessed value of the assets and businesses they own, businesses that are busy providing the goods and services that are the real wealth of society.

      “It isn’t one size fits all solution” So, you lied about it being Universal? I suppose “Basic” and “Income” are lies as well.

      There are two kinds of people who support “universal basic income”: Those who are completely economically illiterate, and those who know better but hope to fool others who are economically illiterate. There is no third category although I will admit to the possibility that someone might be a combination of both.

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      1. I can see myself supporting this “universal basic income” concept in a future society that’s been overrun by a mechanical ecology of billions or trillions of self-replicating robots. I simply can’t shake the uneasy feeling that a large percentage of the population will be functionally obsolete — they’ll just not be bright enough to compete with tireless, utterly competent robots that clean sewers and streets with Japanese thoroughness, cook delicious meals with inhuman fussiness over each small detail, drive automobiles and trucks with nearly flawless safety, and otherwise perform every other task under the sun with matchless brilliance. So-called “true” artificial intelligence inherently raises the bar across the board — for example, imagine that virtually every successful restaurant is now equivalent to a Michelin three-star establishment with impeccable service, sparkling cleanliness, and outstanding amenities. Much the same concept applies to the vast majority of menial jobs. How will any lower-intelligence, unimaginative worker meet that challenge? Will great masses of surly, unemployed, resentful residents of the United States insist on patronizing only human-run businesses even at the cost of markedly inferior goods and services, thus essentially creating their own shadow economy? It’s a possibility, I’ll grant.

        I could go on, but the entire subject of a post-scarcity society is dauntingly complex. I’ll reserve my many other tentative thoughts for another occasion. In any case, the other topic on which I wished to touch was the implied lack of regard for the value of the intelligence, determination, and self-discipline that went into building those billionaire fortunes with which to begin. To judge from the anti-capitalist invective so common these days, great numbers of people seem to think that billionaires somehow sneakily grabbed their “wealth” directly from the pockets of hard-working people. Good management is remarkably hard as is the core challenge itself of turning a raw business idea into a thriving business that provides useful goods and services to people who do after all continue to voluntarily, knowingly fork over their lettuce for said goods and services. I see no invisible monkeys yanking out that cash from the pockets of customers to throw at successful businesses. I’m heartily disinclined to believe that aliens from outer space are beaming down thought-control waves to force commercial transactions. No, customers want what said businesses have to offer and are clearly willing to trade, without force or fear, stored representations of their own labor in the form of paper money or virtual cash for those goods and services.

        In the semi-socialist United States, governments at all levels already insist on forcing wealthy individuals to pay far more than their fair share of income and other taxes. As you’ve pointed out, for virulent anti-capitalists such as socialists and communists, this is still not enough. No! In a rage of spiteful envy, they’d have it that especially successful individuals be raped of their hard-earned fortunes for the sake of a fantasyland of “income equality.” Funny thing about that — I’m not seeing any of these looters volunteering to replace the lost goods and services with their own labor. They just want to loot and hate and destroy. Presumably, they believe that magical, invisible elves will then step up to the plate to fill the terrible void once filled by driven, ambitious businessmen.

        What was that classic Heinlein quotation? “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. … Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as ‘bad luck.'”

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        1. We’re nowhere near any such self replicating robots (or Drexler’s “universal assemblers”). And once again, people keep predicting that automation will put huge swaths of humanity out of work, just as they have been predicting since punch-card looms and might well have been predicting since the invention of the scratch plow and the potter’s wheel.

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    2. “if, this system does get put into law, it will be those who need the most first, and extended to others”

      Then it’s not -universal-. What you are advocating is -welfare-. And let’s say you define those who need the most as those who have an income of X. Do you think those who have an income of 1.2x, or 1.5x are going to be on board for this?

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      1. And being inflationary (as I point out in the OP and in other comments), the result is that people a little bit better off than the “income X” people soon find their status worse than it was before the “U”BI was implemented. And so pressure is on to increase “X”. Which than makes the people who are a little bit better off than the new X worse off. And on and on. Inflation and a reduced standard of living for the population at large.

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  6. modern monetary theory has the treasury issue money at the minimum wage-say $15/hour for government assigned work. this avoids unemployment and there is always work that needs to be done. The money will get spent in the economy. This would work because we have our sovereign currency. See the book : DEFICIT MYTH

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    1. More Marxist bullshit. (The tell is “people’s economy” in the book description.) “Government assigned work” is a nice euphemism of conscription, which itself is a nice euphemism for slavery. The work in question is not producing economic output at the rate proposed, otherwise there would be no need for it to be “government assigned”, the incentive would be there for people to already be doing it because people would be willing to pay for that economic output. Since it’s not producing economic output in keeping with the amount being paid for the work the result is inflation once again–growth of the money supply outpacing economic output. Government issuing money and inflating the money supply is basically a stealth tax. Instead of directly taking money from others, you simply print more money (or even easier, add numbers in computer accounts) so you have money and everyone else’s money is now worse than it was before. It’s also a regressive “tax” which hits the poor harder than the rich.

      And “The money will get spent in the economy” is, once again, another application of the Broken Window Fallacy.

      This just uses some slight-of-hand to attempt to disguise these very basic and very non-controversial economic facts.

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  7. Dollars are just a proxy for real goods. If a social justice “solution” doesn’t create more goods, then it does not address poverty no matter how muck lipstick you slap on that pig.

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    1. Yes. The wealth of a society is in the goods and services produced and traded for, neither more nor less. Money is just a counter for how much of that set of goods and services one can obtain. In the static case the money itself is irrelevant. However, when things are changing what the money represents when you acquire it and what it represents when you spend it can be two different things.. This is especially magnified in things that take place over extended time–investment, debt and repayment, that sort of thing.

      Keynes was right to the extent that monetary policy does matter, but was wrong in that it’s not the driving force behind the economy and certainly not the be-all and end-all. Thus Friedman’s “In one sense, we are all Keynesians now; in another, nobody is any longer a Keynesian.” Keynes brought some important tools to understanding monetary policy but his conclusions…

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      1. The thought does occur that the broader wealth of a society that occupies and controls a specific geographical region arguably also includes such factors as an extensive navigable river system, direct access to the oceans, oil and natural gas resources waiting to be exploited, sufficient arable land to feed the populace, and so forth. As we’ve seen most recently in Venezuela, an incompetent government can horribly screw up the economy, but those natural resources remain available for brighter times. Hmmm, this view might also include a highly educated populace with skills relevant to a modern economy even if they’re currently being sandbagged by a corrupt socialist government.

        This may be more a matter of semantic quibbling over the meaning of “wealth,” but there it is. Is this view mistaken?

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        1. Sowell goes into geographic factors behind why some regions (Europe for instance) took off economically where others (Africa) stagnated: Navigable waterways, length of coastline relative to the size (which speaks to the number and frequency of sheltered bays and inlets), resources, domesticable animals, the direction in which the waterways tend to run (east-west vs. north-south), and a variety of things that I never would have even considered (which is why he’s the PhD economist and I’m not. 😉 )

          However, none of those things are wealth in and of themselves. They only become wealth when they are converted into, or used to produce or trade for, goods and services. Iron ore in the ground is not wealth. My viking pattern sword made of 5160 steel (will rust if you look at it funny, but will carve a Buick…never know when you might need to carve a Buick) is.

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  8. The hidden problems in the operations of “Replicators” hide in the energy needed for some ‘changes’, vs the energy which must be rejected for some other ‘changes ’.
    A minor example is coffee made in a Replicator, requiring energy input to water.
    The reverse example is coffee ice cream, requiring energy removed from the cream mixture.
    A complex example is a Replicator producing an 80 pound bag of prilled NH4NO3, starting from Nitrogen, Hydrogen, and Oxygen. Yes, a modern Fertilizer Plant uses Natural Gas (CH4 + traces which must be removed), hellish pressures and very high temperatures in the presence of a catalyist, then must use another process to strip the CO2 out of the process stream. This gives you NH3, and CO2, neatly separated, ready to be cooled and compressed to liquid states. Luckily both are easy to use in bootstrapped refrigeration cycles, and the two products can have their individual liquefying equipment in one shed.
    The requirements for a Replicator able to produce prilled Ammonium Nitrate would seem to be quite high for energy input, pressure handling, and cooling capacity.
    :
    Canadian examples of vehicle drivers forgetting to unplug their engine-heater cord from their extension cord, do make me wonder if more complex Replicators would require the equivalents of current Steam Engineers licensing, from student, to Class 4, up to Class 1?

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    1. One of the essential pre-conditions for anything even remotely resembling a post scarcity society is plentiful energy. Perhaps polywell fusion made practical as a household unit, or, well, there are a number of ideas. Even in cases like the “coffee ice cream” where you’re taking energy out, you need to expend energy (in most cases) because you’re working against the thermal gradient.

      The big thing is that whatever a true “post-scarcity” society might look like we are nowhere close to one. The “automation will put everyone out of work” claims remain as bogus as they were when the (probably apocryphal) Ned Ludd made them about the newfangled punch-card looms.

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