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Universal Basic Income


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#1 Chuey

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 12:08 pm

While most of us are all waiting patiently for tomorrow morning, thought I'd kick off some political discussion :)

 

Read an interesting article about a proposed system in which all adults within the economy receive a guaranteed basic income irrespective of whether they have a job or not. It is a very interesting idea supported by many government ideologies, especially amongst socialists and libertarians.

 

In October 2013 a referendum was triggered in Switzerland (by a petition with 126,000 signatures) on whether to introduce a guaranteed £1,750 per month unconditional income for all adult citizens.

It has been trialed in North America and Namibia

 

Pros

  • Loss of jobs/reduction in workforce due to technological advances is all well and good for the companies profit margins, but if people don't have the income to afford their products due to not having jobs, at what point does workforce automation become counter productive?
  • Wealth redistribution. People on lower incomes spend a greater percentage of their wealth on consumer items.
  • The only checks would be whether the recipient is a citizen of the state, and whether they are classified as an adult, which would massively reduce the bureaucratic cost overheads of the welfare system. It would eliminate almost all means tested benefits and associated bureaucracies.
  • It would effectively eliminate absolute poverty, therefore reducing criminal behavior such as theft (see the Namibia link above)
  • Workers would no longer be compelled to work in order to meet their basic human needs, so employers would have to offer high wages and good terms and conditions in order to attract workers. Exploitative employment practices would be curtailed and the worker would have greater freedom to pursue the employment that they choose, rather than doing awful jobs for crap wages in order to stave off absolute destitution.
  • The establishment of new businesses would be significantly more attractive and carry significantly less risk.
  • The resulting boom in small businesses would improve capitalism by increasing diversity and competition, leading to a more robust economy.
  • If the basic human needs of all citizens are met automatically, then the requirement on charity and state administered welfare is dramatically reduced.

 

Cons

  • Opponents argue that the incentive to work would be destroyed, and that capitalism would grind to a halt without the fear of destitution driving workers to continue working.
  • If a guarantee that the individual's basic human needs are met is given, then the individual will be inclined towards idleness (staying at home all day to play MMOs!!!).
  • Why should people get something for nothing? Some argue this kind of attitude lies behind the irrational British obsession with welfare spending. It is estimated that the UK economy loses £120 billion a year to tax-dodging, yet the cost of welfare fraud is only £1.2 billion. Us Brits are easily riled with the sense of injustice that they must work hard, whilst others have a roof over their head and food in their belly despite not having a job.
  • The guaranteed income is basically unconditional, and that means that there is no conditionality that the recipient must put anything back into the economy. Saying that the recipient would either spend it or save it and the only real issue would be if it was sent offshore.
  • The Universal Basic Income would result in payments to citizens that are already wealthy, and have no trouble meeting their basic human needs.
  • The threat of inflation. After the introduction of Child Tax Credits the childcare providers knew that working families were getting a payment from the government to cover the cost of childcare, so they raised the cost of childcare so much that the UK now has the most expensive childcare in the developed world.

 

Hope the Swiss give it a try, be interesting to see how it goes!


Edited by Chuey, 30 May 2014 - 12:14 pm.

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#2 Rylanor

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 12:42 pm

I'm in favour of this as I've often thought that if people are all born they should all be guaranteed a job, or something to that effect. The only downside I agree with is the thread of inflation cos £1750 per month is more than I've ever earned and it would be sad to have that reduced to peanuts due to greed on behalf of companies inflating their prices. They're pretty bad on a fair few things already (sandwiches in London, for example).


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#3 Darkademic

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 12:51 pm

Horrible, horrible, horrible.

 

It involves putting a gun to the heads of people who work, to give money to those who don't work.

 

I'm against any system which uses violence, especially one which makes it out like it's benevolence.

 

I'm all for helping people who genuinely need it - voluntarily - not through violence or the threat of violence.


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#4 Drakk

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 10:48 am

I'd rather my tax money was spent on helping people who don't have the advantages I do than £3 billion nuclear weapons programs. That's putting a gun to my head for another reason.

It's taxes. It's not your money to begin with. If people look at it like it is, no wonder there is so much rage all the time. Would life be better without them? Debatable. I am from a very low socio economic bracket. Without social support gifted by taxes, I would not have been able to dig myself out of that. Only those who come from wealth would stand a chance.

Without some kind of social support, society fractures into elite and serfs. Universal wage removes an awful lot of public spending on systems that determine welfare.

It is also not something that supports only those out of work as it would be an entitlement for all citizens contributed. Those who do not make much would benefit also.

Obviously I would rather 100% employment and more equality in wage brackets, but those are far less simple things to achieve.

The one argument I can get behind is that very little of this will be contributed by the obscenely wealthy and will mostly be picked up by those on middling incomes (who make up the vast majority of us). To be frank, I don't think this is something that can be avoided unless we hit restart on the entire world economy and put caps on earnings.

Providing greater educational support for children in families who will provide none and a reversal of the tuition fee debacle for higher education could be of more worth than universal income. Most importantly, providing free retraining (or reasonable rate loans for said retraining) for the unemployed would be an enormous fix. A lot of unemployed people are poorly skilled or their skill is now covered by computers and other machines, making them useful again would be a tremendous benefit to everyone.

But why should a human being not be entitled to guaranteed food, water and shelter in a world that can provide it? Universal income allows people to try and fail. Greater innovations can be made because risk of destitution is not there.

Then there is the human issue. I work in this field. I see first hand the desperation, fear and crippling psychological side effects of poverty. Stopping this is worth the price.

As long as we have land owners and cannot hunt or plant our own food we need government and the most important part of that is to protect the most vulnerable in society.
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#5 Darkademic

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 10:55 am

All taxes should be abolished. Taxation is theft, no matter how noble the intentions or what the money is used for. If it's okay for the government to steal people's money to help the poor, then why isn't it okay for me to go around stealing people's money to do the same?


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#6 Chuey

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 12:25 pm

Not sure where the gun is to anyones head, and there's nothing to say this has to be funded with taxes, it's just about providing everyone with the basics. Screw charity and volunteering, if the government can't provide its people with an equal opportunity at life then it's not doing its job.

 

Without getting into a debate over taxes, it's not all about stealing from the rich to give to the poor, it's about providing services, one of which is a very poorly handled benefit system.

 

Taxes are an unfortunate fact of life, the real problem is people who pay taxes have the right and ability to complain but only 65.1% of people voted in the 2010 general election, and the fact is more and more people base their vote on whats been in the Tabloids recently, too many idiots who've lost the ability to think for themselves and consider what really is important to them.

 

And if Europe was such a major issue for everyone why did 65.8% of the population NOT VOTE?. We're not being screwed by the media or politicians, we're being screwed by our own apathy. Someone should nuke the fuck out of the planet be done with it.

 

/rant

 

Back on topic, I always imagined that system to be similar to how the future looked on Earth in Star Trek (nerd moment). Everyone had their basic needs met and people chose to do more for the betterment of themselves and society.


Edited by Chuey, 02 June 2014 - 12:25 pm.

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#7 Darkademic

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 12:31 pm

The gun is implicit. If you don't pay your taxes you will get fined. If you don't pay the fine, you will go to prison. If you resist strongly enough, you will be restrained and, ultimately, killed.

 

The private sector (as in, people operating without the use of force) can provide services more efficiently than a government ever could.

 

Even if that wasn't the case, the government's job is not to provide services or to equalise people's opportunities - its job is to protect individual rights. Positive rights (e.g. the right to an education) contradict negative rights (e.g. the right to be free from force).

 


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#8 Drakk

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 01:20 pm

The private sector does use force. It controls government through wealth to create a slave class to operate at below liveable wages in the name of this so-called efficiency.

The fact is certain industries should not be private endeavours as when it is part of a country's infrastructure, they bid for monopoly, underbid and provide shoddy services with less manpower than required, harming employees and the public at large in the name of money.

The private sector is inherently exploitative. We have danced this dance many times before. The population becomes dissatisfied with life under exploitative practices, wars are fought, socialist tendencies adopted after said wars, things get better for a time, then they get worse as policies swing too far tho the left causing disruption and misery which brings about another neoliberal revolution that once again hurts all but the very top of the food chain.

The world needs balance, not extremes.

It also does not need a more free market. The market is not pure, it is corrupted by human greed and leaving nothing in place to monitor it leads to financial collapse and in severe cases the potential for en masse death as economic crash leads to starvation, homelessness and violent behaviour from those oppressed. A world with lessened government and no tax seems like hell on earth.

Having a world where people fend for themselves but where there is no tax sounds great mathematically but you cannot throw humans into the mix and expect anything but manipulation and self interest. This is missed in every neoliberal argument I have ever read.
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#9 Darkademic

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 01:43 pm

The private sector does use force. It controls government through wealth to create a slave class to operate at below liveable wages in the name of this so-called efficiency.


Government corruption is an argument for less government power. The private sector wouldn't bribe the government if the government had no power to act on those bribes.
 

The fact is certain industries should not be private endeavours as when it is part of a country's infrastructure, they bid for monopoly, underbid and provide shoddy services with less manpower than required, harming employees and the public at large in the name of money.


Government run industries are monopolies, and provide horribly inefficient and ineffective services. Does Tesco harm the public at large with its cheap and convenient products? Should we have government controlled supermarkets?
 

The private sector is inherently exploitative. We have danced this dance many times before. The population becomes dissatisfied with life under exploitative practices, wars are fought, socialist tendencies adopted after said wars, things get better for a time, then they get worse as policies swing too far tho the left causing disruption and misery which brings about another neoliberal revolution that once again hurts all but the very top of the food chain.


Am I inherently exploitative?
 

It also does not need a more free market. The market is not pure, it is corrupted by human greed and leaving nothing in place to monitor it leads to financial collapse and in severe cases the potential for en masse death as economic crash leads to starvation, homelessness and violent behaviour from those oppressed. A world with lessened government and no tax seems like hell on earth.

Having a world where people fend for themselves but where there is no tax sounds great mathematically but you cannot throw humans into the mix and expect anything but manipulation and self interest. This is missed in every neoliberal argument I have ever read.


You can't make an argument against human nature but exclude the government from that argument. If people will use manipulation and violence, then the government will also use manipulation and violence.

Saying "the market is not pure" is really saying "human beings are not pure" - so the solution to that is to give a small minority of human beings all the guns and power?

Moreover, all the evidence supports the contrary, that freer markets, less regulation and lower taxes lead to a better standard of living across the board: http://www.darkreave...of-free-markets
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#10 shoogalumps

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 01:50 pm

The real private sector does not equate to big multinationals, monopolies, cartels, conglomerates who ultimately erode the status of workers and the general public for their own profit - all anethema to a real free market.  In fact the aforementioned only exist because of government and its two-faced special interest inspired lawmaking where the road is paved for crushing competition and other ill gotten gains.  There is an inextricable tie between these entities and government - which came first? Government.  Neo-liberalism is a euphemism for corporatism which again is contrary to libertarianism which is based on individual rights and freedom from oppressive governments.  Libertarianism is the ultimate in moderation with anarchy on one side and totalitarianism on the other.

 

Let's not forget that the US has become less successful and less free the less libertarian it has become on its march to becoming a command economy run for the benefit of the elite 1% whose levels of wealth are unprecedented.

 

Like Dark said, a government should only exist to protect the rights of its citizens not babysit or oppress them.


Edited by shoogalumps, 02 June 2014 - 01:59 pm.

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#11 Drakk

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 02:02 pm

You make very solid points on most of those, but given Tesco's tendency to pack it's "value" foodstuffs full of harmful chemicals, I think a case could be made for regulation.

To be honest, I had naively not considered government corruption in terms of human fallacy - divorcing it when it clearly is incredibly relevant.

I really need to do some reading on multinational ties to government - kind of feel like I have some things arse backwards.

Edited by Drakk, 02 June 2014 - 02:06 pm.

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#12 shoogalumps

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 02:16 pm

I don't blame you.  The term Libertarianism is too often associated exactly with those entities.  The argument is that in a completley free market (a utopia, I akcnowledge) - out of the desire to preserve business, the Tescos would self regulate.  who would knowingly buy food that is so immediately harmful to them?  So competition in that sector would spring up saying don't buy that guy's food, buy mine - it won't kill you.   Also, there would be independent bodies, like charities that wouild make it their business to test foods and raise red flags and divert business from offending outfits.

 

There are analogues in this market in the shape of USPs like customer service.

 

My biggest qualm about proper anarchy is law and order where essentially private armies could be hired to protect special interests. 

 

My personal view is that there should be a sales tax (and nothing else) to fund a legal system and a public law and order body with unshakable and unreformable progressive universal principles.


Edited by shoogalumps, 02 June 2014 - 02:22 pm.

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#13 Darkademic

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 02:30 pm

You make very solid points on most of those, but given Tesco's tendency to pack it's "value" foodstuffs full of harmful chemicals, I think a case could be made for regulation.

To be honest, I had naively not considered government corruption in terms of human fallacy - divorcing it when it clearly is incredibly relevant.

I really need to do some reading on multinational ties to government - kind of feel like I have some things arse backwards.

 

The harmful chemicals thing would come under the protection of individual rights, since it's essentially a kind of fraud/force if you're harming people's health without them consenting to it.

 

The video I posted makes the "government is just people" thing pretty clear. Either people are good, in which case we don't need a government to force people to do good, or people are evil, in which case we certainly don't want to give specific people all the guns and power.

 

Sorry if I come across a bit snappy, I've been debating this subject for 10+ years now. :depressed:


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#14 dannygoz9

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 05:42 pm

sorry, but never heard anything so bloody stupid. i refrained from swearing.

 

just no.


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#15 Rob

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 05:53 pm

The harmful chemicals thing would come under the protection of individual rights, since it's essentially a kind of fraud/force if you're harming people's health without them consenting to it.

 

The video I posted makes the "government is just people" thing pretty clear. Either people are good, in which case we don't need a government to force people to do good, or people are evil, in which case we certainly don't want to give specific people all the guns and power.

 

Sorry if I come across a bit snappy, I've been debating this subject for 10+ years now. :depressed:

 

So what would you have- everybody in charge? Nobody in charge? What regulation would there be? Public services? What about those who cannot work?

 

The government is by no means efficient, but surely has to be the most feasible solution?


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#16 Darkademic

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 06:01 pm

So what would you have- everybody in charge? Nobody in charge? What regulation would there be? Public services? What about those who cannot work?

 

The government is by no means efficient, but surely has to be the most feasible solution?

 

Police, courts and military bound by a rigid constitution limiting and defining their powers, voluntarily funded. No regulation beyond the preservation of individual rights (keeping people free from force and fraud). Private charity for those who cannot work (it worked pre-welfare state).

 

Probably sounds crazy if you've never looked into libertarianism or Austrian school economics before.

 

None of the above is possible without a major cultural/philosophical shift in favour of voluntaryism though; if it was implemented overnight it'd be chaos.


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