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Andrew Yang is the most radical 2020 candidate
"Going all the way back to the Roman republic, the owners of wealth have repeatedly sought to maximize their share of the common weal at the expense of those who work for them, leading to periodic crises as the plebes rise up and demand a fairer share. We may be in another such moment. Sanders's theory of political change revolves around a political revolution — a citizenry mobilized by a champion of conviction who wins a sweeping majority to enact his transformative agenda. Warren's theory of political change is less clearly articulated, but her solutions aim to build lasting support by giving a vast array of workers and small businesspeople a stake in a more competitive and less oligopolistic economy. But both imagine a world still anchored by work, and getting workers a fair share.

If that world is passing away, then we ought to be facing the happy problem Marx described, where "society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind." But the rub has always been who that "society" actually is. If a productive interdependency is going to be replaced by an outright dependency, then even if that dependency is as benevolently administered as Yang hopes it might be, we face the prospects of a more profound social revolution than he has bargained for."
politics  californianIdeology  technopoly  andrewyang  technosolutionism  elections  policy  2019  2020  society  wealth  berniesanders  elizabethwarren  karlmarx  interdependency  dependency  universalbasicincome  revolution  radicalism  via:ayjay 
11 hours ago by robertogreco
On Bullsh*t Jobs | David Graeber | RSA Replay - YouTube
"In 2013 David Graeber, professor of anthropology at LSE, wrote an excoriating essay on modern work for Strike! magazine. “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” was read over a million times and the essay translated in seventeen different languages within weeks. Graeber visits the RSA to expand on this phenomenon, and will explore how the proliferation of meaningless jobs - more associated with the 20th-century Soviet Union than latter-day capitalism - has impacted modern society. In doing so, he looks at how we value work, and how, rather than being productive, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it."
davidgraeber  bullshitjobs  employment  jobs  work  2018  economics  neoliberalism  capitalism  latecapitalism  sovietunion  bureaucracy  productivity  finance  policy  politics  unschooling  deschooling  labor  society  purpose  schooliness  debt  poverty  inequality  rules  anticapitalism  morality  wealth  power  control  technology  progress  consumerism  suffering  morals  psychology  specialization  complexity  systemsthinking  digitization  automation  middlemanagement  academia  highered  highereducation  management  administration  adminstrativebloat  minutia  universalbasicincome  ubi  supplysideeconomics  creativity  elitism  thecultofwork  anarchism  anarchy  zero-basedaccounting  leisure  taylorism  ethics  happiness  production  care  maintenance  marxism  caregiving  serviceindustry  gender  value  values  gdp  socialvalue  education  teaching  freedom  play  feminism  mentalhealth  measurement  fulfillment  supervision  autonomy  humans  humnnature  misery  canon  agency  identity  self-image  self-worth  depression  stress  anxiety  solidarity  camaraderie  respect  community 
january 2019 by robertogreco
The Making of a Democratic Economy | Ted Howard | RSA Replay - YouTube
"While not often reported on in the press, there is a growing movement – a Community Wealth Building movement – that is taking hold, from the ground up, in towns and cities in the United States and in the United Kingdom, in particular.

Ted Howard, co-founder and president of the Democracy Collaborative, voted one of ‘25 visionaries who are changing your world’, visits the RSA to share the story of the growth of this movement, and the principles underlying it. Join us to explore innovative models of a new economy being built in cities from Cleveland, Ohio to Preston, Lancashire, and to discuss how we might dramatically expand the vision and reality of a democratic economy."
economics  tedhoward  inequality  democracy  extraction  extractiveeconomy  us  uk  2018  capitalism  privatization  finance  wealth  power  elitism  trickledowneconomics  labor  work  universalbasicincome  ubi  austerity  democraticeconomy  precarity  poverty  change  sustainability  empowerment  socialism  socialchange  regulations  socialsafetynet  collectivism  banking  employment  commongood  unemployment  grassroots  organization  greatdepression  greatrecession  alaska  california  socialsecurity  government  governance  nhs  communities  communitywealthbuilding  community  mutualaid  laborovercapital  local  absenteeownership  localownership  consumerism  activism  participation  participatory  investment  cleveland  systemicchange  policy  credit  communityfinance  development  cooperatives  creditunions  employeeownership  richmond  virginia  nyc  rochester  broadband  publicutilities  nebraska  energy  utilities  hospitals  universities  theprestonmodel  preston  lancashire 
november 2018 by robertogreco
DAVID GRAEBER / The Revolt of the Caring Classes / 2018 - YouTube
"The financialisation of major economies since the '80s has radically changed the terms for social movements everywhere. How does one organise workplaces, for example, in societies where up to 40% of the workforce believe their jobs should not exist? David Graeber makes the case that, slowly but surely, a new form of class politics is emerging, based around recognising the centrality of meaningful 'caring labour' in creating social value. He identifies a slowly emerging rebellion of the caring classes which potentially represents just as much of a threat to financial capitalism as earlier forms of proletarian struggle did to industrial capitalism.

David Graeber is Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics and previously Assistant Professor and Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale and Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His books include The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (2015) Debt: The First 5000 Years (2011) and Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (2004). His activism includes protests against the 3rd Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, and the 2002 World Economic Forum in New York City. Graeber was a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is sometimes credited with having coined the slogan, 'We are the 99 percent'.

This lecture was given at the Collège de France on the 22nd March 2018."
davidgraeber  care  caring  teaching  nursing  economics  capitalism  labor  work  employment  compensation  resentment  bullshitjobs  finance  politics  policy  us  uk  workingclass  intellectuals  intellectualism  society  manufacturing  management  jobs  liberalism  values  benefits  nobility  truth  beauty  charity  nonprofit  highered  highereducation  activism  humanrights  os  occupywallstreet  opportunity  revolution  revolt  hollywood  military  misery  productivity  creation  creativity  maintenance  gender  production  reproduction  socialsciences  proletariat  wagelabor  wage  salaries  religion  belief  discipline  maintstreamleft  hospitals  freedom  play  teachers  parenting  mothers  education  learning  unions  consumption  anarchism  spontaneity  universalbasicincome  nonprofits  ubi 
may 2018 by robertogreco
The Mindset Mindset: Passion and Grit as Emotional Labour - Long View on Education
"This overall pattern of thought, offloading socioeconomic issues onto the education system and then blaming the issues on individuals who don’t ‘stay foolish’, is known as privatizing public issues. In The Sociological Imagination (1959), C. Wright Mills makes an important distinction between troubles which “occur within the character of the individual”, and issues which concern the “institutions of an historical society as a whole.” As Mills observes, “people do not usually define the troubles they endure in terms of historical change and institutional contradiction,” and so the job of the sociological imagination is to illuminate our internal struggles in the context of history and institutions. Henry Giroux calls our growing inability to do so the ‘new illiteracy‘: tired teachers and under-performing students suffer from character defects – lack of passion or grit – rather than signal issues with the larger system of neoliberal economic and social forces. And just like that, social issues of overwork and inequality become private troubles."



"Careful, empirical studies like Mazzucato’s and Gregg’s can help us see beyond the mythology that innovation and success can be reduced to a ‘mindset’, ‘grit’, or passion. More importantly, they help us understand the effects of that mythology on our lives. If we recognize the massive public role in assuming the risk behind many innovations, we might just see a Universal Basic Income as a right, as a return on investment. If we understand the inherent structural inequalities that lurk below the surface of emotional labor, we might all hesitate before asking teachers and students to pledge their allegiance to passion and grit."
grit  emotionallabor  labor  benjamindoxtdator  2017  overwork  inequlity  universalbasicincome  henrygiroux  cwrightmills  economics  education  policy  us  politics  passion  git  robinbernstein  christineyeh  stevejobs  thomasfriedman  gertbiesta  georgecouros  marianamazzucato  ubi 
april 2017 by robertogreco
'Capitalism will always create bullshit jobs' | Owen Jones meets Rutger Bregman - YouTube
"Rutger Bregman is the author of Utopia for Realists and he advocates for more radical solutions to address inequality in society. His ideas include the introduction of a universal basic income, a 15 hour working week and, one which will be hugely popular on YouTube, open borders.

When I went to meet him, he told me politicians have failed to come up with new, radical ideas, instead sticking to an outdated, technocratic form of politics. He argues this has allowed politicians like Geert Wilders and Donald Trump to slowly shift extreme ideas into the mainstream."
rutgerbregman  bullshitjobs  consumerism  utopia  work  labor  davidgraeber  universalbasicincome  2017  inequality  purpose  emotionallabor  society  socialism  leisurearts  artleisure  boredom  stress  workweek  productivity  policy  politics  poverty  health  medicine  openborders  crime  owenjones  socialjustice  progressivism  sustainability  left  us  germany  migration  immigration  capitalism  netherlands  populism  isolationism  violence  pragmatism  realism  privatization  monopolies  ideology  borders  ubi 
march 2017 by robertogreco
These Policies Could Move America Toward a Universal Basic Income | The Nation
"As the economy continues to struggle, the debate over guaranteed basic income is back in the headlines. The idea is both simple and basic: Give people enough cash to eliminate poverty. A guaranteed check for, say, $12,000 a year per person would accomplish this. It could be arranged relatively easily through the tax code, without a large, stigmatizing welfare apparatus to go with it.

Yet this debate stalls because it directly challenges how we think about work and money. Won’t people simply sit around and play video games? Do we want to endorse the right to be lazy? A basic-income referendum was rejected overwhelmingly by Swiss voters in June, in part over such concerns. But proponents argue that a lot of labor—care work in the home, community work—is currently unpaid, and that the increasing mechanization of work might leave us with still fewer jobs. Experiments in Canada have shown that the fear that a guaranteed basic income would destroy all incentive to work is unwarranted. New experiments to further test its effects are being launched in Kenya and elsewhere.

Still, a guaranteed basic income would require a big shift in perspective among American voters. What we need is a policy (or perhaps several of them) that benefits Americans while destigmatizing the concept of giving people no-strings-attached cash. Think of it as a basic-income starter kit, which would also include things like a $12-an-hour minimum wage and generous paid leave. And there’s one policy in particular that should lead: a basic income for children.

Often called a “child allowance,” this would be a small cash payment made regularly to parents with children. We know that access to resources makes a major difference in the development of children. Yet 17 percent of children live in poverty according to the Century Foundation, with nearly 5 percent living in deep poverty (defined as just 50 percent of the poverty line). There are a lot of ways to structure such a program, but the idea is that any parents with a child would have a guaranteed level of income regardless of whether they work for wages. Unless you’re a stone-cold Randian, you probably don’t think 3-year-olds should survive only on the wages they can earn.

Since this allowance would be universal, it would avoid much of the stigma associated with the welfare system dismantled by former president Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Politically, it would counter the argument that people with basic incomes will frivolously play video games, cease contributing to society, and cause the decline of Western civilization. Practically, it would reward the essential labor that takes place within the household—work that the capitalist system relies on, but never pays for. Taking care of kids is hard work.

Such a program is clearly workable. Other countries, like Canada and England, have child allowances, and they’re very effective. Estimates from the Century Foundation argue that a $2,500-a-year child allowance would lift 5.5 million children out of poverty. That allowance would cost $100 billion a year—a hefty sum, but still less than 20 percent of the military’s budget, and about as much as it costs us to subsidize the wealthy by allowing them to pay lower taxes on capital income.

There are more programs we could add to this basic-income starter kit. Policies that encourage high wages and innovation will lead to further automation that could create the conditions for a “post-work” economy. This should be combined with the fight for fewer hours (paid at higher wages) for more people, thus avoiding conflicts and resentment between workers and nonworkers while shifting toward less work for all. President Obama’s changes to overtime regulations took a step in this direction: Rather than raising wages directly, they limited the number of hours that people work by requiring employers to pay extra for certain salaried workers after about 40 hours a week.

The arguments for a guaranteed basic income tend toward theoretical debates about the work ethic, even though the stakes are very high in practical ways. By enacting a basic-income starter kit, we can benefit from the most important elements of the concept while also making the broader case for why such policies would work in the future."
us  universalbasicincome  policy  poverty  2016  mikekonczal  canada  england  uk  switzerland  childcare  childallowance  labor  ubi 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Finnish Model | City Journal
"Career politicians have become incredibly boring. This helps to explain the appearance of rebel parties in every Western democracy. These new splinter groups include the Ciudadanos in Spain, the National Front in France, the Tea Party in the United States, and the Independentists in Catalonia and Scotland. Voters have grown tired of accepting the same old tunes, whistled from both Left and Right. Constantly recycled policies and programs offer no solutions to difficult, long-term, and often intergenerational problems, such as unemployment among the unqualified youth, or the excessive dependence of certain groups on the welfare state. The same goes for the debate over immigration. One side demonizes globalization; the other decries nationalism.

New ideas are far from lacking, however. Economists and sociologists in universities, laboratories, and foundations provide a steady stream of fresh approaches to these problems. But politicians don’t seem to read much these days, preferring the advice of a closed circle of marketing consultants and dried-up slogan manufacturers. This makes Finland’s move toward instituting a universal basic income (UBI)—often referred to by economists as a negative income tax—all the more refreshing. The negative income tax is often associated with the free-market economist Milton Friedman, who defended it with passion and flair in the 1970s.

This year, the Finnish government hopes to begin granting every adult citizen a monthly allowance of €800 (roughly $900). Whether rich or poor, each citizen will be free to use the money as he or she sees fit. The idea is that people are responsible for their actions. If someone decides to spend their €800 on vodka, that is their decision, and has nothing to do with the government. In return for the UBI, however, the public accepts the elimination of most welfare services. Currently, the Finnish government offers a variety of income-based assistance programs for everything from housing to children’s education to property insulation. Axing these programs should free up enough public resources to finance the UBI. The bureaucracy that currently governs welfare payments will disappear. There will no longer be any need to ask for government help, nor to fill out forms or wait for the competent authorities to examine each dossier to determine eligibility.

The introduction of a UBI should loosen the hold of public bureaucracy over Finnish citizens and reverse a century of top-down socialization in Finnish society. In practice, each citizen will automatically receive his monthly allowance and declare it as part of his taxable income. The poorest citizens—who do not pay income tax—will keep their entire allowance, while high-earners will repay a relative portion of their allowance in tax. As always, the devil will be in the details. It’s still not known whether this allowance will replace every welfare program, or if some—such as those that aid the physically and developmentally disabled—will be maintained.

Remarkably, every major Finnish political party has signed on. The Left is cheered by the socialistic idea of government-assistance-for-all. The Right looks forward to the unprecedented drop in bureaucratic control over citizens, an unheard-of extension of freedom of choice, and an unconditional restitution of part of citizens’ taxes.

The Finnish government is expecting the negative income tax to have a beneficial effect on employment and growth. Regardless of age, the underqualified will be more willing to accept poorly paid jobs, knowing they will continue to receive their UBI. By the same token, employers will be more willing to hire and fire, as the UBI will act as a social damper. As national wealth figures always depend on the number of citizens in the labor market, Finland is hoping for a clear growth spurt. The allowance may also limit the influx of migrants if the government decides to grant the UBI only to citizens and legal residents.

This project is so simple and apolitical that it’s natural to ask why it has never been tried before. The answer is quite simple. The political and bureaucratic classes fear innovation, and even more so the loss of their direct influence over society. Shrinking the welfare state will scale back politicians’ ability to buy votes. If the Finnish experiment works, all of Europe will follow suit. Something similar happened in the early 1980s, when American monetarism imposed itself and stemmed inflation, and the British privatization trend became globalized. Perhaps in the future we will refer to a “Finnish model” that makes ordinary politics more interesting, governments less heavy-handed, and citizens more responsible."
universalbasicincome  finland  2016  economics  welfare  ubi 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley’s Basic Income Bromance — Backchannel — Medium
"A cult of bros, brahmins and braintrusters is pushing the idea of a government-distributed living wage"



"Among the grassroots braintrust, Santens is elite.

His fascination with basic income started in his late 30s, with a Reddit thread about how quickly tech-induced unemployment was coming. He read about basic income as a possible solution, and was hooked. “When I came across this idea and read more and more into it, I’m like wow, this is something that can totally change the world for the better.” In the fall of 2013 he abandoned his career as a freelance web developer to become the movement’s most omnipresent advocate. “People passionate about basic income don’t have a very loud voice,” he says.

In person, Santens doesn’t have one either; he’s polite and thoughtful, a reed-like 6-foot-2. His microphone is Medium and The Huffington Post, the Basic Income subreddit he moderates, and his Twitter account, from which he tweets anything in the day’s news that can be summoned into a case for basic income. Santens also created a Twibbon to superimpose #basicincome on one’s Twitter or Facebook profile pic. Such is the newness of this movement in the United States that the guy who does all this wins a profile in The Atlantic, and gets invited to talk on a Brookings Institution panel.

The technologist crowd says a basic income will become a moral imperative as robots replace workers and unemployment skyrockets. Conservatives say it would replace the kraken of welfare bureaucracy, with its arbitrary income cutoffs and overlapping programs. Optimists say humanity will no longer have to work for survival, freeing us to instead work for self-actualization. (You know, start businesses. Go to school. Do unpaid care, volunteer, and parenting work that doesn’t add a cent to the GDP.) Progressives say it would level the playing field: the working classes could have a taste of the stability that’s become an upper-middle class luxury, and would have bargaining power with low-paid work.

It’s a compelling idea having an international moment: Finland’s government announced first steps toward a basic income pilot project in 2017. Details aren’t finalized, but early plans call for giving 800 to 1,000 euros a month to a large test group for two years instead of any other social benefits. (Tally it up to another socialist program from a Northern European country if you will, but Finland is trying to solve eerily familiar U.S. problems: a growing class of freelancers who were neither eligible for employment benefits nor unemployment, and Finns in the poverty trap: taking a temporary job decreases your welfare benefits.) Several Dutch cities aim to introduce similar programs next year, and the idea of a universal basic income has gotten some consideration and endorsements in Canada, where it was tried for five years in the 1970s in Manitoba.

In the United States, it only makes sense that Silicon Valley would be the natural habitat for basic income bros, brahmins, and braintrusts. The Bay Area is home to a fertile mix of early adopters, earnest change-the-worlders, the Singularity crowd, cryptocurrency hackers, progressives and libertarians — all of whom have their reasons for supporting a universal basic income. “Some of my friends [in favor] are hardcore libertarian types, and others will be left-wing even by San Francisco standards,” says Steven Grimm, an early Facebook engineer who now writes code for a cash transfer platform used by charities, the most direct way he could think of to apply his skills to advance basic income. If we’re name-dropping: Zipcar CEO Robin Chase, Singularity University’s Peter Diamandis, Jeremy Howard, Kathryn Myronuk, and Neil Jacobstein, and Y Combinator’s Sam Altman, Clinton administration labor secretary Robert Reich, Tesla principal engineer Gerald Huff, author Martin Ford, Samasource CEO Leila Janah, and Silicon Valley optimist-in-chief Marc Andreessen all support it.

So of course, while Scott Santens isn’t from here, he needs to come kiss the ring."



"Back in San Francisco at the end of his trip, Santens was mostly killing time before a 2:00 am redeye (to avoid the hotel bill, of course). We leave Patreon and head out to Market Street, and Santens snaps a photo of the Twitter headquarters plopped in the middle of the city’s tech-gentrified skid row, where the city’s polarized classes come into sharp relief.

It’s a boulevard of all the ills Santens believes basic income will solve: the shuffling homeless people — they could get cash in one fell swoop instead of extracting it from a byzantine welfare system. Lining the sidewalk are drug dealers; they could do something else, and their customers — not having to self-medicate their desperation — might dry up, too. We pass the Crazy Horse strip club. No one would have to dance or do sex work out of poverty, leaving it to the true aficionados. The high-interest payday loan shop would lose its raison d’etre.

The thought experiment of basic income serves as a Rorschach test of one’s beliefs about human nature: some people instantly worry that human enterprise would be reduced to playing PlayStation; others point to the studies of cash transfers that show people increase their working hours and production. One cash transfer program in North Carolina revealed long-term beneficial effects on Cherokee children whose parents received some $6,000 a year from a distribution of casino profits. (The kids were more likely to graduate high school on time, less likely to have psychiatric or alcohol abuse problems in adulthood.) No one debates that $1,000 a month, the amount usually discussed as a basic income in the U.S., would only be enough to cover the basics — and in expensive cities like San Francisco, not even that. Anyone wanting to live with greater creature comforts would still have the carrot of paid work.

Santens is, unsurprisingly, of the optimist group. He tells me about his baby boomer dad who moved into The Villages, the luxury retirement community in Florida (“basically Walt Disney World for senior citizens”). He says it’s a great case study in that people stay busy even when they don’t have to work: the seniors join kayak and billiards clubs, paint watercolors, and go to Zumba. “People do all sorts of things.” His dad is partial to golf.

Before he goes, I ask what he would do if he truly got a basic income, one that was not dependent on advocating basic income. “I’d do more screen-writing,” he says. “I’m a sci-fi writer at heart.”
You might be a basic income bro if, if and when basic income comes, you finally can do something else."
laurensmiley  siliconvalley  universalbasicincome  libertarianism  economics  2015  policy  government  miltonfriedman  richardnixon  edwardsnowden  martinlutherkingjr  scottsantens  arjunbanker  robinchase  peterdiamandis  jeremyhoward  kathrynmyronuk  neiljacobstein  samaltman  robertreich  geraldhuff  martinford  leilajanah  marcandreessen  rosebroome  jimpugh  finland  erikbrynjolfsson  federicopistono  singularityuniversity  automation  future  robots  bullshitjobs  efficiency  publicassistance  mlk  ubi 
december 2015 by robertogreco
analysis about cabbies & uber in toronto (with images, tweets) · pangmeli · Storify
"touching on technological progress as a natural disaster, uber as walmart in sheep's clothing, cabbies' right to economic survival, the idea of guaranteed living wages, the problem with jobs, cabbies' anti-blackness, how race complicates our relationship to this issue, protesting as "PR", and more."



"uber users who see protesting cabbies as luddites fighting an already-lost war against a superior technology are missing the point

if technological progress really is like a natural disaster — faceless, inexorable, amoral — shouldn't we protect those dispossessed by it

the point isn't to reverse progress, the point is to protect a vulnerable class of workers amid a major technological shift

yes the traditional taxi system sucked, but that doesn't absolve us of responsibility, especially when we back-burnered the warning signs

cabbies' demands for taxi reform were ignored to the point of crisis — now we patronizingly inform them that 'lack of reform' is the culprit

why are we okay with consigning our cabbies to poverty & obsolescence? because the better tech 'deserves' the win? even over human lives?

it's the canadian way — squeeze immigrants (cab drivers, international students, chinese railroad workers) & then flick them off our fingers

maybe one day we can live in a world where everything is so efficient & convenient that all humans except tech CEOs are destitute

if the tech is going to put 11,000 torontonians' livehihoods at risk, it's not that they aren't ready — it's that the tech isn't ready

@torontodan @pangmeli That's why many techies/futurists also tend to be "basic income" proponents. We know autonomous tech coming very soon

nice point from @_divyeshM — if we want to let technology loose so badly, let's demand a guaranteed living wage https://twitter.com/_DivyeshM/status/674635351001010176

…"
uber  disruption  2015  economics  universalbasicincome  toronto  labor  race  walmart  jobs  taxis  technology  dispossessed  displacement  canada  responsibility  society  capitalism  obsolescence  vulnerability  ubi 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Finland plans to pay everyone in the country $876 a month
"Imagine this: as you're worried about how to pay bills and make your rent, you get a check from the government for $876. Every month.

That's what Finland is doing. The Nordic nation is getting closer this month to finalizing a solution to poverty: paying each of its 5.4 million people $876 tax-free a month — and in return, it will do away with welfare benefits, unemployment lines, and the other bureaucracy of its extensive social safety net.

The concept, called basic income, has been a popular source of debate among academics and economists for decades, though Finland would be the first nation in the European Union — and the first major nation anywhere — to actually implement the idea on a universal basis. The basic income was popularized by the economist Milton Friedman in the 1960s as a "negative income tax."

The Finnish proposal, which is still being drafted by the country's social welfare institution, Kela, would reportedly give each Finn 550 euros a month to start.

As a result, Finland would scrap nearly all of its other benefits programs. In Finland, as in the U.S., people get welfare benefits according to their incomes.

In contrast, the universal basic income would go to every citizen regardless of how much money he or she makes — rich or poor. the universal basic income would go to every citizen regardless of how much money he or she makes — rich or poor.

In Finland, the push for a basic income comes as the country's economy is struggling. About 10% of Finland's population is unemployed as Finland tries to claw its way out of a three-year recession.

The most recent economic forecast from Finland's finance ministry, for autumn 2015, begins flatly with grim news and little hope for a better future: "The Finnish economy is in a serious situation. GDP growth is close to zero. Unemployment is rising and unemployment spells are becoming longer. Even once the recession is over, growth will be painfully slow."

As the economic picture gets darker, more Finns support the idea of a monthly check to every Finn, struggling or not. Nearly 70% of Finland's population is in favor of a basic income, according to a September poll. In April, voters elected the country's Centre party, which campaigned in favor of a basic income, to a controlling position in the government. The basic income is, however, popular among followers of nearly all the nation's parties.

But the scheme has its drawbacks. Finland is strapped for cash, with a major push for austerity — or cutting government costs — underway.

The universal basic income would require the equivalent of nearly the entirety of Finland's revenue The universal basic income would require the equivalent of nearly the entirety of Finland's revenue, and then some, which would imply higher taxes down the line for the nation's already struggling households.

Finland's 800-euro-a-month plan, distributed among every single person in the country including babies and teenagers, would cost 52 billion euros a year, and 47 billion euros if you count only adults.

Those are enormous numbers and a tough haul when the entire government's revenue for 2016 is expected to be only around 49.1 billion euros.

Finland is already highly indebted, with the country owing the equivalent of more than 58% of all the goods and services it produces in a year, and its central bank has warned that might double.

Finland's economic situation is set to get worse because of major demographic shifts. Finland's population is rapidly aging — faster than any other country in the EU. A fast-aging population is a major problem for several reasons. It means a country's workforce will shrink, as people retire from work - which in turn means the population will be less productive. Another reason: the country's revenues will fall and its economy will stagnate over time because there are fewer people working and paying income taxes, which make up the majority of a country's revenues.

Still, the idea has recently been picking up speed on a local level for years, since the big global financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent recessions and economic struggles in major countries. In Switzerland, a years-long push for basic income grew steadily in popularity until the nation's parliament rejected it in October. The Dutch city of Utrecht is in the process of a pilot project on basic income, and seven other cities in the country have announced their intention to explore the idea, which has been discussed in the Netherlands since the 1970s.

Manitoba, in Canada, tried the idea in the late 1970s, creating, briefly, "the town with no poverty." A subsequent study by Duke University researchers found that during its "MINCOME" experiment, Manitobans had lower rates of hospitalization, particularly for mental health problems and accidents.

With income inequality a growing concern for nearly all countries, many have experimented with basic incomes. A 2008 academic study found that simple cash transfers were effective and cheap, keeping down administrative costs; a government grant of $100 in Colombia, for instance, cost only 70 cents.

In theory, the concept of the basic income is politically appealing because it satisfies people who are on the left, who are concerned with strengthening social safety nets, as well as people who are conservative and opposed to large bureaucracies. A single check cut to each citizen seems to appeal to both sides.

Different countries respond differently, however. In Switzerland, the referendum for a universal basic income actually drew ire from both sides and was roundly struck down in a vote of 149-14, as conservatives feared a monthly check would increase both laziness and a wave of unsustainable immigration, while those on the left objected to wiping out the welfare system."
finland  universalbasicincome  2015  economics  socialsafetynet  poverty  mincome  manitoba  ubi 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Economists tested 7 welfare programs to see if they made people lazy. They didn't. - Vox
"All of the above evidence concerns the developing world. But it's worth being skeptical about welfare queen claims in rich countries as well. For one thing, the biggest program the US currently runs for prime-age poor adults is the earned income tax credit. There's a substantial body of evidence showing that the EITC encourages work, usually by pulling single parents into the workforce. That lets it have an anti-poverty impact beyond the actual cash that the tax credit provides to families.

But even unrestricted cash programs aren't likely to have a major effect on work in rich countries. A number of studies in the US in the 1970s examined "negative income tax" programs, where a set sample of poor households received cash grants whose size shrunk as the households earned more money through their jobs. The studies found very mild declines in work, largely due to people taking longer to find a good job while unemployed and spending longer in school. Even those estimates were exaggerated by participants underreporting the amount of work they were doing, perhaps to get bigger checks; when researchers examined administrative data, rather than survey responses, they found barely any effect on work at all.

A much better experiment in Canada, where an entire town got a guaranteed income by way of a negative income tax, found even milder reductions in work, and then only with new mothers (who spent longer at home with their newborns) and teenagers.

There's no doubt that poorly designed social programs can deter work. Aid to Families With Dependent Children, the pre–welfare reform welfare program, was found to decrease hours worked by 10 to 50 percent among recipients; that likely has something to do with the fact that AFDC benefits were taken away at a rate of 100 percent, so every dollar earned on the job was a dollar not received from AFDC. Who would work under that condition?

But most welfare programs are better than AFDC. Whether they're in the US or in developing countries, they don't tend to keep people from working."
welfare  labor  economics  2015  behavior  honduras  indonesia  mexico  morocco  philippines  nicaragua  universalbasicincome  canada  afdc  ubi 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The remarkable thing that happens to poor kids when you give their parents a little money - The Washington Post
"Twenty years ago, a group of researchers began tracking the personalities of 1,420 low income children in North Carolina. At the time, the goal was simple: to observe the mental conditions of kids living in rural America. But then a serendipitous thing happened.

Four years into The Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth, the families of roughly a quarter of the children saw a dramatic and unexpected increase in annual income. They were members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and a casino had just been built on the reservation. From that point on every tribal citizen earned a share of the profits, meaning about an extra $4,000 a year per capita.

For these families, the extra padding was a blessing, enough to boost household incomes by almost 20 percent on average. But for the fields of psychology, sociology and economics, it has been a gold mine, too. The sudden change in fortunes has offered a rare glimpse into the subtle but important ways in which money can alter a child’s life. The dataset is so rich that researchers continue to study it to this day.

"It would be almost impossible to replicate this kind of longitudinal study,” said Randall Akee, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies the impact of changes in household income. “Especially for a sample this large. This is the sort of circumstance you dream of as a researcher."

Seizing the opportunity, Akee, along with a team of other researchers, recently revisited the data to analyze each child’s personality both in the years before the casino was built and in those after.

As part of the original study, the children and parents were asked a series of questions, designed to measure, among other things, a number of personality traits. The same questions were posed every other year, for a decade. Akee's goal was to observe any changes—positive or negative—resulting from the extra household income. Their findings, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research last month, are nothing short of remarkable.

"This was hugely important to the development of the children, to their wellbeing” said Akee. "And the effect wasn’t small either—it was actually fairly large."

Not only did the extra income appear to lower the instance of behavioral and emotional disorders among the children, but, perhaps even more important, it also boosted two key personality traits that tend to go hand in hand with long-term positive life outcomes.

The first is conscientiousness. People who lack it tend to lie, break rules and have trouble paying attention. The second is agreeableness, which leads to a comfort around people and aptness for teamwork. And both are strongly correlated with various forms of later life success and happiness.

The researchers also observed a slight uptick in neuroticism, which, they explained, is a good sign. Neuroticism is generally considered to be a positive trait so long as one does not have too much of it.

"We're talking about all sorts of good, positive, long-term things," said Emilia Simeonova, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who studies the economics of health, and one of the paper's co-authors. "There are very powerful correlations between conscientiousness and agreeableness and the ability to hold a job, to maintain a steady relationship. The two allow for people to succeed socially and professionally."

Remarkably, the change was the most pronounced in the children who were the most deficient. "This actually reduces inequality with respect to personality traits," said Akee. "On average, everyone is benefiting, but in particular it's helping the people who need it the most."

Why exactly this happened with the children neither Akee nor any of his co-researchers can say with absolute certainty. Not even Jane Costello, a professor at Duke University who was part of the team that initiated the original study and co-authored the recent paper can say. But they have a few ideas, based on observable changes in the families after the casino was built and the extra money started to flow in.

They know, based on the interviews with parents, that the relationship between spouses tended to improve as a result. They also know that the relationship between the parents and their children tended to improve. And they know that parents tended to drink less alcohol.

"There is a lot of literature that shows in order to change outcomes among children you are best off treating the parents first," said Simeonova. "And these are really clear changes in the parents."

There's also the question of stress, which the extra money helps relieve—even if only a little. While the added income wasn't enough to allow parents to quit their jobs, it's a base level that helped with rent and food and other basic expenses. That, Akee said, is powerful enough itself.

"We know that the thing poor couples fight about the most is money," he said. "Off the bat, this means a more harmonious family environment."

And some of the families, given the boost, even moved to areas with slightly better census tracts in terms of both income and education. They were, in other words, able to expose their children to a different group of peers.

For the most part, scientists agree that the window for improvement in a child's cognitive abilities is short-lived. By the age of about 8, children have set themselves on a path, Akee said. What comes next happens, more or less, within the confines of the limits that were created in their early years.

One's personality, on the other hand, is malleable well into adolescence. What's more, the changes tend to be fairly permanent.

"All of the evidence points to the idea if they change in the teenage years, they will stay changed forever," said Akee. "In this case, the kids will likely maintain a different level of conscientiousness and agreeableness for life."

Experts have known about the power of intervention for some time. A lot of previous research has shown that educational interventions can have sizable impacts on personality traits and, in turn, life outcomes. But rarely, if ever before, have researchers been able to observe the impact of a change in income across such a large group.

The takeaway isn't that casinos are inherently benevolent institutions. But rather that money—even modest sums—can be a pretty powerful thing. And for reasons most would likely overlook.

"We know that low income kids are worse off in a number of ways, in terms of cognitive abilities and behavioral disorders, than their counterparts in much more affluent areas," said Simeonova. "Now we have a sense of what even just a little money can do to change these things, to change their lives.""
universalbasicincome  poverty  economics  children  money  parenting  2015  robertoferdman  education  ubi 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Why Have Property At All? | MattBruenig | Politics
"In asking these questions, I certainly know of some answers people can give. But all of these answers pose severe problems to libertarians. You can say property is good because it’s solid for human flourishing and that kind of thing, but this is precisely the argument, say, social democrats make about the welfare state and they have really good evidence to support themselves on that. You can say it’s necessary so that people may be able to get what they produce (a kind of “sweat of the brow” argument), but this naturally falls apart with complex capitalist development where huge portions of the national output flows each year to landowners (who don’t deserve it), capitalists (who arguably don’t deserve it, at least under strict labor-desert), and to people more generally from accumulated technology/knowledge that nobody alive made and therefore nobody really deserves the output from.

The strong move for libertarians here is to actually go back to the origination of the term “libertarian,” which had to do with anarchist communists. The anarchist communists so loved liberty that when they realized property infringed it, they said to do away with property. These propertarians who masquerade as lovers of liberty, however, just walk themselves into increasingly weird logical circles and corners trying to salvage an inherently anti-libertarian institution with exaggerated hand waving."
capitalism  property  universalbasicincome  libertarianism  2015  mattbruenig  mattzwolinski  anarchocommunism  anarchism  anarchy  ubi 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Transforming the Fight Against Poverty in India - The New York Times
"Transferring cash to poor families, on the condition that their kids attend school and get vaccinations, has been shown to be an effective way to reduce poverty and improve human health and well-being. Latin America is widely recognized as the pioneer of large-scale conditional transfer programs, starting with Mexico in the late 1990s and expanding across Brazil over the past decade.

Now these programs have the potential for making a serious dent in poverty in India. Under the acronym JAM — Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile — a quiet revolution of social welfare policy is unfolding. Jan Dhan is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship program to give poor people access to financial services, including bank accounts, credit and insurance. Aadhaar is the initiative to issue unique biometric identification cards to all Indians. Together with mobile money platforms, they will enable the state to transfer cash directly to those in need — without the money going through intermediaries that might take a cut.

India, the world’s largest democracy, is also the world’s largest poor country. The legitimacy of any elected government turns on its ability to provide for the poor. As such, both our federal and state governments subsidize a wide range of products and services with the expressed intention of making them affordable for the poor: rice, wheat, pulses, sugar, kerosene, cooking gas, naphtha, water, electricity, fertilizer, railways. The cost of these subsidies is about 4.2 percent of India’s gross domestic product, which is more than enough to raise the consumption level of every poor Indian household above the poverty line.

Sadly, government provision of these subsidies is associated with significant leakages. For example, as much as 41 percent of subsidized kerosene, which poor families use to light their homes, is “unaccounted for” and is probably lost to the black market. Dealers sell it on the side to middlemen who mix diesel into fuel and resell it, which is bad for both health and the environment.

Furthermore, some subsidies benefit those who do not need them. Power subsidies, for example, favor the (generally wealthier) two-thirds of India who have access to regular grid-provided electricity, and, in particular, wealthier households, which consume more power.

Why, then, do product subsidies form such a central part of the Indian government’s antipoverty policies? Subsidies are a way for states that lack implementation capacity to help the poor; it is easier to sell kerosene and food at subsidized prices than to run effective schools and public health systems.

The three elements of JAM are a potential game-changer. Consider the mind-boggling scale of each element. Nearly 118 million bank accounts have been opened through Jan Dhan. Nearly one billion citizens have a biometrically authenticated unique identity card through Aadhaar. And about half of Indians now have a cellphone (while only 3.7 percent have land lines).

Here’s one example of how these three elements can be put to work.

The Indian government subsidizes households’ purchases of cooking gas; these subsidies amounted to about $8 billion last year. Until recently, subsidies were provided by selling cylinders to beneficiaries at below-market prices. Now, prices have been deregulated, and the subsidy is delivered by depositing cash directly into beneficiaries’ bank accounts, which are linked to cellphones, so that only eligible beneficiaries — not “ghost” intermediaries — receive transfers.

Under the previous arrangement, the large gap between subsidized and unsubsidized prices created a thriving black market, where distributors diverted subsidized gas away from households to businesses for a premium. In new research with Prabhat Barnwal, an economist at Columbia University, we find that cash transfers reduced these “leakages,” resulting in estimated fiscal savings of about $2 billion.

The scope for extending these benefits is enormous. Imagine the possibility of rolling all subsidies into a single lump-sum cash transfer to households, an idea mooted decades ago by the economist Milton Friedman as the holy grail of efficient and equitable welfare policy. JAM makes this possible.

To realize the full benefits of JAM, the government needs — and has begun — to address both “first-mile” and “last-mile” challenges.

The “first-mile” challenges are identifying eligible beneficiaries and coordinating between states and government departments. To deliver means-tested benefits via cash transfers, the government will need a way of identifying the poor and linking beneficiaries to their bank accounts. Further, eligibility criteria and beneficiary rosters vary, and technology platforms, where they exist, may not be seamlessly interoperable. Hence the need for an extensive coordination exercise under the national government, which can incentivize states to come on board by potentially sharing fiscal savings with the states.

The “last-mile” challenge arises because cash transfer programs risk excluding genuine beneficiaries if they do not have bank accounts. Indeed, even if they have an account, they may live so far away from a bank — India has only 40,000 rural bank branches to serve 600,000 villages — that collecting benefits is arduous. Extending financial inclusion to reach the remotest and poorest will require nurturing banks that facilitate payments via mobile networks, which has achieved great success in countries such as Kenya. India can then leapfrog from a bank-less society to a cashless one just as it went from being phoneless to cellphone- saturated.

Over all, JAM offers substantial benefits for government, the economy and especially the poor. Government finances will be improved because of the reduced subsidy burden; at the same time, government will also be legitimized and strengthened because it can transfer resources to citizens faster and more reliably. Experimental evidence from the world’s largest workfare program — the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme — found that delivering wages via a biometrically authenticated payment system reduced corruption and enabled workers to receive salaries faster. With the poor protected, market forces can be allowed to allocate resources with enormous benefits for economywide efficiency and productivity enhancement. The chief beneficiaries will be India’s poor; cash transfers are not a panacea for eliminating their hardship, but can go a long way to improving their lives."
india  2015  economics  poverty  policy  cashtransfers  universalbasicincome  latinamerica  brazil  brasil  mexico  leakages  blackmarket  subsidies  government  ubi 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Zeitgeist in transition. | infeitehebiknietstezeggen
"On April 4th this year, I gave a talk for the Belgian Zeitgeist movement, and I started by sharing a kind of «unconvenient thruth».

The misunderstanding, surrounding the idea of Basic Income remains very large and opponents of the Basic Income idea like to keep the fog around it as thick as possible.

They try to use the fear strategy and accuse us, the supporters of Basic Income of propaganda, of spreading the idea in a dogmatically way , and they do not hesitate to accuse us that we are engaged in a kind of new religion.

When I try to reply and ask them, ok, maybe I am wrong, for I do not have the monopoly on the truth, then they close their ranks, but bring no good arguments that can contribute to the enrichment of the debate.

Of course they study the Basic Income idea and they tell me they soon will come out with the pros and cons.

And they know everything about the cons, but the cons are seldom constructive.

So I have this strange feeling they are busy reinventing hot water and the water pipes through which this water must flow should be theirs, because they are afraid of loosing the old achievements.

Or as Nicolo Machiavelli put it sharply: “It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones. ” (The Prince-chapter 6)

And yes, am not a university professor, I am not an economist and I am not a philosopher, but I am, as most of you probably, a citizen who seeks for change.

So, I am not going to tell you that Basic Income is the only solution to all our problems. However, I am convinced that most problems, like climatechange, are linked together and that we should be interested in solutions like degrowth, like a sustainable and a more frugal economy, but to do so, we need a strong and simple tool towards a complete change of the system out of the short-term consumerism.

And here I would like to quote Michel Bauwens from the P2P mouvement. The Transition will not be smooth sailing. «The underlying issue is how gradual, smooth, and thus bearable, the transition will be. And how can we support those who gain a taste for frugality and its advantages and take the plunge into a differnet way of life? »

It’s indeed a big challenge!

I told you, I am not an economist. So for those who are preparing their calculators, sorry, I am not going to answer the questions about how to finance Basic Income. I just can tell you it is possible to finance it and some people much smarter than I already did the exercise.

But, what we really need (and this I want to say in Dutch, because it is linked to our Belgian politics, our former prime minister Leterme remember…. ) what we need are : vijf minuten politieke moed (five minutes of political courage)

Our policymakers only talk about the Gross National Product, because that’s how they measure how economically rich we are and so it is linked to work-production and consumption. Gross National Product measures everything, except that which makes life worthwhile.” Health, education, self-development, having enough free time to do something else instead of only working, producing and consuming.

Yet, when you talk about transition and change towards a system that makes life worthwhile and you talk about Gross National Happiness instead of Gross National Product and you propose among others Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) or Citzen Dividend, you’ll discover soon how difficult it is: people are so afraid for the unknown and prefer to push forwards the challenges they are confronting because they are afraid of losing the old achievements.

So to me, UBI, means in the first place a change of mentality, a kind of switch towards a new sustainable system and therefore we need build Basic Income awareness."
universalbasicincome  2015  christinalambrecht  economics  ubi 
july 2015 by robertogreco
The Gig Economy – AVC
"Warning: This post touches politics. The comments will likely be incendiary and polarizing. Don’t go into the comments if you don’t want to be annoyed or irritated.

Many in the tech industry are taking these comments by Hillary Clinton yesterday as an ‘attack on Uber and the tech sector':
Meanwhile, many Americans are making extra money renting out a small room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car. This on-demand, or so-called gig economy is creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation.

But it is also raising hard questions about work-place protections and what a good job will look like in the future.

The first example is Airbnb, the second example is oDesk, the third example is Etsy, and the fourth example is Uber.

My view on these comments is that Hillary is right. These companies are creating exciting new economies and unleashing innovation. And she is also right that these companies raise questions about work place protections and what a good job will look like in the future.

We should not be afraid of this discussion. We should embrace it and have it.

Can you be a freelance worker if you don’t own the data about your work and earnings history and be able to take it with you when you leave a platform or export it to a third party for optimization? Can you be a freelance worker if you are indentured to your employer because they loaned you the money to purchase the asset you are using to earn your income? I think the answer to both is obviously no. But there are companies who argue that it is yes.

Let’s have that argument. It is important and it is also a good idea to have a President who understands where the economy is headed and the significance of the policy issues raised by all of this.

I also really liked what she had to say about women and the workforce. The entire transcript of her remarks is here."

[See also: http://continuations.com/post/124069363855/debating-the-gig-economy-going-past-industrial ]
economics  politics  fredwilson  2015  hillaryclinton  gigeconomy  universalbasicincome  socialsafetynet  work  labor  uber  airbnb  odesk  etsy  income  policy  ubi 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Continuations : Debating the Gig Economy: Going Past Industrial...
"Yesterday Hilary Clinton mentioned the “gig economy” in a speech. She said
Meanwhile, many Americans are making extra money renting out a small room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car. This on-demand, or so-called gig economy is creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation.

But it is also raising hard questions about work-place protections and what a good job will look like in the future.

This is of course a topic I have been speaking and writing about a lot. Like Fred [http://avc.com/2015/07/the-gig-economy/ ], I think that this is a discussion we need to have. I think the framing though of the question has to be quite different. We need to move past traditional concepts of work and jobs towards an era of economic freedom enabled by a universal basic income and something akin to what I have called the right to be represented by a bot.

As long as we frame the debate in terms of “work-place protections” and a “good job” we are still caught in the industrial system. The hallmark of the industrial system is what I call the job loop: most people sell their time and receive a wage in return — they then use that wage to buy products and services, which in turn are made by people selling their time. This job loop has been extraordinarily successful. In combination with relatively free markets it has given us incredible progress. But it is now breaking down due to automation and globalization.

The rise of the gig economy is a part of this break down of the job loop. Instead of trying to fix it and to imprint traditional work and labor thinking on these new platforms I propose an entirely different approach: truly and deeply empower individuals to participate on their own terms. Just imagine for a moment a world in which everyone can take care of basic needs such as housing, clothing, food, healthcare and education.

In such a world any and all participation in “gigs” will be entirely voluntary. People will have real walk away options from gigs that don’t pay enough. That also includes “jobs” at McDonalds, or Walmart or the local nail salon. In such a world there is no need to distinguish between a W2 employee and a 1099 contractor.

Such a world is now possible thanks to the productivity gains we have made over many years and the ones that are just now emerging. If you want some good numbers on the economic feasibility of a Universal Basic Income I propose reading this piece by Scott Santens. You can also listen to and read about a discussion from a few weeks back at Civic Hall which includes additional thoughts on funding.

Empowering individuals economically through a Universal Basic Income is just the start though. We also need to give individuals informational freedom. This means that if I am a driver for Uber I should have the right to access Uber through a third party app that strictly represents me. In the open web era that was the browser (not by accident referred to as a “user agent” in the http protocol). We need the equivalent for apps.

The combination of economic and informational freedom for individuals will be a far better check on the power of platforms such as Uber, Etsy, Airbnb, etc. then any attempt to have government regulate directly what these companies can and cannot do.

So this is a perfectly good time to suggest you watch my TEDxNewYork talk on basic income and the right to be represented by a bot.

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8qo7pzH_NM ]

If you prefer to read, there is a transcript [http://continuations.com/post/108912689660/big-and-bot-policy-proposals-transcript ] instead. I am also happy to report that my book (which will really be a long essay) on this topic is making good progress."
economics  universalbasicincome  2015  albertwenger  socialsafetynet  work  labor  technology  freedom  scottsantens  fredwilson  automation  gigeconomy  freelancing  hillaryclinton  uber  etsy  airnbn  policy  jobs  progress  inequality  agency  motivation  politics  ubi 
july 2015 by robertogreco
What's the Meaning of Life If Society Doesn't Need You Any Longer? - Singularity HUB
"If you have a job, odds are society benefits from your work, and theoretically, the compensation you receive is how the marketplace values your contribution. All other things being equal, the better you are at your job, the better the compensation. But the vast majority of people in the world aren't the best at what they do (think about the math for a moment). Truth is, most of us aren't rockstar anythings...we're just doing the best we can, but hey, we're still contributing as evidenced by a paycheck.

At the same time, most people aren't really satisfied with their jobs — possibly because a lot of positions aren't necessary. Most would rather do some other kind of work that more closely aligns with their passions or hobbies. But people need a certain amount of money to live, so they take work that meets their and their family's needs. It's a tradeoff, but most feel it's more ethical to sacrifice your interests for stable pay.

That's the world of today, but in the future, could both of these notions get upended?

Possibly. Some will soon find that the contributions they make to society are no longer valued compared to what artificial intelligence and robotics can achieve. Instead of just some humans being better at your job than you, low-cost technologies will be. As machines take over this work, would we really want to fight for these jobs? After all, if the contributions we're making to society aren't really what we care about anyway, why fight for jobs we can't stand, especially if a universal basic income was instated?

At a recent Executive Program hosted by Singularity University, four faculty members —Paul Saffo, Jeremy Howard, Neil Jacobstein, and Kathryn Myronuk — explored these topics during the Future of Work panel. The issue at hand: What are people going to do in the face of these disruptive changes?

Neil Jacobstein, co-chair of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, offers one possible route forward: "You have to spend some time educating people about how they can do self-development, how they can move up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs — that's part of what education should be about."

Approached from another angle, Kathryn Myronuk, who focuses on Synthesis and Convergence, suggested the parts of society that are soon to be automated will become part of the 'background infrastructure', like roads, electricity, and Internet access, that enables our lives."

[See also:

“Meaningful Lives Without Jobs?”
https://vimeo.com/130262595

“The End of Meaningless Jobs Is a Win For Us All”
http://singularityhub.com/2015/04/01/the-end-of-meaningless-jobs-is-a-win-for-us-all/ ]
via:willrichardson  2015  universalbasicincome  economics  meaning  purpose  work  labor  future  davidhill  kathrynmyronuk  paulsaffo  jeremyhoward  neiljacobstein  society  ubi 
july 2015 by robertogreco
A World Without Work - The Atlantic
"Decades from now, perhaps the 20th century will strike future historians as an aberration, with its religious devotion to overwork in a time of prosperity, its attenuations of family in service to job opportunity, its conflation of income with self-worth. The post-work society I’ve described holds a warped mirror up to today’s economy, but in many ways it reflects the forgotten norms of the mid-19th century—the artisan middle class, the primacy of local communities, and the unfamiliarity with widespread joblessness.

The three potential futures of consumption, communal creativity, and contingency are not separate paths branching out from the present. They’re likely to intertwine and even influence one another. Entertainment will surely become more immersive and exert a gravitational pull on people without much to do. But if that’s all that happens, society will have failed. The foundry in Columbus shows how the “third places” in people’s lives (communities separate from their homes and offices) could become central to growing up, learning new skills, discovering passions. And with or without such places, many people will need to embrace the resourcefulness learned over time by cities like Youngstown, which, even if they seem like museum exhibits of an old economy, might foretell the future for many more cities in the next 25 years.

On my last day in Youngstown, I met with Howard Jesko, a 60-year-old Youngstown State graduate student, at a burger joint along the main street. A few months after Black Friday in 1977, as a senior at Ohio State University, Jesko received a phone call from his father, a specialty-hose manufacturer near Youngstown. “Don’t bother coming back here for a job,” his dad said. “There aren’t going to be any left.” Years later, Jesko returned to Youngstown to work, but he recently quit his job selling products like waterproofing systems to construction companies; his customers had been devastated by the Great Recession and weren’t buying much anymore. Around the same time, a left-knee replacement due to degenerative arthritis resulted in a 10-day hospital stay, which gave him time to think about the future. Jesko decided to go back to school to become a professor. “My true calling,” he told me, “has always been to teach.”

One theory of work holds that people tend to see themselves in jobs, careers, or callings. Individuals who say their work is “just a job” emphasize that they are working for money rather than aligning themselves with any higher purpose. Those with pure careerist ambitions are focused not only on income but also on the status that comes with promotions and the growing renown of their peers. But one pursues a calling not only for pay or status, but also for the intrinsic fulfillment of the work itself.

When I think about the role that work plays in people’s self-esteem—particularly in America—the prospect of a no-work future seems hopeless. There is no universal basic income that can prevent the civic ruin of a country built on a handful of workers permanently subsidizing the idleness of tens of millions of people. But a future of less work still holds a glint of hope, because the necessity of salaried jobs now prevents so many from seeking immersive activities that they enjoy."
2015  universalbasicincome  labor  work  society  economics  automation  technology  derekthompson  us  inequality  wpa  history  future  ubi 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Continuations : Why Are We Here?
"We spend a lot of time in tech inventing and building new things. Some people are perfectly happy doing so without needing a deeper reason — some simply want success, others wealth, and many are excited about the potential to make the world a better place. Still I am struck by an undercurrent of dissatisfaction even among people who have accomplished a lot. I attribute that to the lack of a deeper purpose. Few people in tech seem to accept an easy religious answer to the question of why we are here. I have struggled with that myself but feel comfortable with what I believe now.

If you have followed my blog for a while you know that I have written about personal change in the past. Part of that exploration for me has been reading key works in Hinduism and Buddhism. One of the foundational precepts of Buddhism is that everything is ephemeral. Human pain comes from our failure to accept this impermanence. We become attached to people or things and when they inevitably disappear we suffer. I have found this to be a profound insight with powerful consequences for everyday life. Letting go of attachments is the way to overcome most if not all of our fears of the future and regrets of the past.

Yet I also believe that there is an important exception: human knowledge. I have previously argued that knowledge is the information that we as humans choose to replicate over time. It thus includes historical accounts, scientific knowledge and cultural artifacts (including literature, music, art, etc). Knowledge is unique to humans at least here on our planet. Other species don’t have externalized information that outlives them individually (I say externalized to contrast knowledge with DNA).

Human knowledge in principle has the potential to be eternal. It could exist as long as the universe does (and as far as I know we aren’t sure yet whether that will come to an end). Knowledge could even outlive humanity and still be maintained and developed further by some artificial or alien intelligence that succeeds us. Although I would prefer for the contributors to include future generations of humans.

For me the very existence and possibility of human knowledge provides the answer to the question of why we are here and what we should try to accomplish in life. We should endeavor to contribute to knowledge. Given my definition this can mean a great many things, including teaching and making music and taking care of others. Anything that either adds to or reproduces knowledge is, so far, a uniquely human activity and why we are here (“adding” includes questioning or even invalidating existing knowledge).

Once our basic needs are taken care of I believe we should devote much of our time to knowledge. We can still do things like create new products or start new companies (or invest in them). But we shouldn’t be mindless consumers of stuff or information. And we should focus on products or services that either contribute directly to knowledge or help others do so including by helping take care of basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, health, transportation, connectivity). This is also why I support the idea of a universal basic income.

Now at first blush the focus on knowledge sounds value free. What if you are inventing the nuclear bomb or worse? I have written about how values are important to guide what systems we build. I am convinced that many (and maybe all) of the values I believe in can be derived from the foundational value of knowledge, including, for example, conservation of the environment. I will write more on that in future posts.

This view of the meaning of life is what works for me personally and I am sharing it because it might work for others also. In doing so I am being consistent with the very belief I am describing. If these ideas have merit they will get replicated by others and carried forward over time and have a chance to become part of knowledge itself.

It is also likely that others have thought of this approach to the meaning of life before me. Knowledge is far vaster than what any one person can possibly know. And so as always when writing, I look forward to comments that point me to related work and people."
albertwenger  religion  purpose  meaning  via:willrichardson  2015  knowledge  buddhism  hinduism  humans  humanity  universalbasicincome  values  legacy  meaningoflife  satisfaction  ephemeral  ephemerality  attachment  everyday  suffering  presence  ubi 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Ten Types of People Who Would be Better Off with an Unconditional Basic Income
[Embedded videos:
"Whiteboard Friday. How our welfare system traps people in poverty."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IAWNiCUbBg

"How to make the tax and welfare system fairer for all Kiwis. Whiteboard Wednesday."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IiyfxLx5mQ ]
universalbasicincome  2015  newzealand  economics  welfare  ubi 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Zeynep Tufecki, David Graeber and the End of Work – Flavorwire
"We can do better than this, though. We have to. The great myth of the “free market” capitalism in which we exist today is that it’s the best of all possible worlds, that it might not be perfect but it’s the best we can do. This is a line that’s often wheeled out by right-wing demagogues with interests to promote — none other than George W. Bush pronounced “democratic capitalism” to be “the best system ever devised” in an address to the nation in September 2008. This is demonstrably untrue — for a start, pretty much every other First World country, and plenty of non-First World ones, manage to gives their citizens universal healthcare — but even if it was true, “best to date” doesn’t mean “best possible.”

The paucity of depictions of a post-work society in pop culture seems to reflect a defeatist mentality, the idea that such a world can never and will never exist. The prevalence of dystopian fiction clearly reflects a growing pessimism about the future, a sort of impotent cynicism that holds that this is the way things will always be, and there’s nothing we can do about it. And, of course, the fact that none of us have ever lived in anything but this capitalist system makes it feel somehow wrong to imagine a world where work isn’t venerated as a virtuous thing in and of itself. People tend to recoil instinctively from ideas like guaranteed minimum income, despite the distinct possibility that it’s exactly what is needed to rectify some of the structural problems of the economy as it exists today — even the idea’s proponents scurry to make it clear that it’s not a disincentive to work.

But why shouldn’t it be? Or, more importantly, why don’t we address the most significant disincentive to work: that the majority of it is a giant waste of everyone’s time on this planet? Work has value if its product is valuable. Someone digging a hole to install, say, a storm drain, is valuable labor; someone digging a hole so someone else can fill it in is a waste of both people’s time, even if it provides them both with a job.

If we’re to devote our imagination to anything, it shouldn’t be ways to outpace the machines, or what might happen when they take over completely. It should be how our economy might work in a world where consumption isn’t a sort of economic ouroboros, where all the hole digging that is required gets done and everyone else finds something better to do with their time. If economists think about such a world today, it’s with trepidation. For the rest of us, though, imagining a world where bullshit jobs are a thing of the past… that’s a challenge we should relish."
tomhaking  2015  zeyneptufekci  labor  work  davidgraeber  universalbasicincome  post-worksociety  society  economics  estherkaplan  ubi 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Wouldn’t Unconditional Basic Income Just Cause Massive Inflation? — Basic income — Medium
"The money for a basic income guarantee would be already existing money circulated through the economic system. It would not be new money, just money shifted from one location to another. This means that the value of each dollar has not changed. The dollar itself has only changed hands.

It is also important to note the observation that even when money supply is vastly expanded, the effects on prices need not be extreme. For example, the Fed’s quantitative easing added over four trillion new dollars to the U.S. money supply, and the results were not enough inflation, as defined by the Fed."



"So even though basic income would not be printing new money for everyone, even if it were, inflation would not be a guaranteed result.

With that understood, to then understand how much we should actually fear rising prices as a result of redistributing existing money from one place to another instead of printing new money requires some studying, but the short answer is that capitalism not only still exists with basic income, it is enhanced.

By enhanced, I mean there is growing evidence from where basic incomes have been actually tried that it increases entrepreneurship. We also have actual examples of partial basic incomes, that we can examine for inflationary evidence.

Aside from this evidence, we also need to understand how increased demand leading to higher prices isn’t as simple as we might think is is, and how when it comes to housing prices, in a future where everyone has basic incomes, we are likely to see some very interesting market adjustments. Meanwhile, fears involving unearned income and increased velocity require a closer examination."



"The Inflation Bogeyman

Inflation is not the unmanageable danger it is made out to be. It is a complex equation involving multiple variables, and in the context of evaluating the idea of a universal basic income guarantee, because a basic income will be set at a basic level, there is even less to fear.

Because we have actual evidence, there is less to fear.

Because capitalism will be enhanced, there is less to fear.

Because technology will continue to advance and make goods like housing cheaper, there is less to fear.

Because our economic capacity is underutilized and underconsumption is systemic, there is less to fear.

There is however one real thing to fear…

Increased Wages and Salaries

Basic income could provide an upward force on wages through increased individual bargaining power and slightly decreased labor force participation rates, and businesses as a result of new higher labor costs could raise their prices so as to keep their profits unchanged.

This would mean that if you are currently earning $20,000 per year, you’d not only get an extra $12,000 per year in basic income, but also $10,000 in higher wages. Your new yearly income would be $42,000 and groceries might end up costing you an extra 1.4 percent per month.

Would you personally have a problem with earning an extra $22,000 and paying an extra $50 on groceries? Let’s assume you would, and that you also think it’s wrong the cost of food would go up for everyone else as well, including those with only $12,000 per year basic incomes, and therefore with tighter fixed budgets. There is one last final detail to understand.

Any basic income can and should be indexed to match or beat inflation.

Indexing Basic Income

Just as the minimum wage has eroded over time because of inflation and the political fight over ever raising it, a basic income should automatically rise each year to match inflation so that it doesn’t erode in the same way.

Better yet, instead of just indexing a basic income to CPI, it could even be indexed to something like productivity, so that the gains of society continue to accrue more widely for everyone, instead of only the few.

(Because wages and salaries certainly aren’t rising with productivity and haven’t for decades.)

The result of this would be a basic income that always increases faster than inflation, so that each and every year, we would be able to buy a greater amount of goods and services than the year before.

It cannot be stressed enough that this ability is especially important to enable in advance of the decades ahead of us as software and hardware continue to decrease the need for human labor, and as a result, decreases availability of ever decreasing incomes derived from human labor."
universalbasicincome  2014  scottsantens  inflation  economics  hyperinflation  wages  income  compensation  salaries  labor  work  ubi 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Basic Income Grants Alleviate Poverty in Namibia
"The village school reported higher attendance rates and that the children were better fed and more attentive. Police statistics showed a 36.5 percent drop in crime since the introduction of the grants. Poverty rates declined from 86 percent to 68 percent (97 percent to 43 percent when controlled for migration). Unemployment dropped as well, from 60 percent to 45 percent, and there was a 29 percent increase in average earned income, excluding the basic income grant. These results indicate that basic income grants can not only alleviate poverty in purely economic terms, but may also jolt the poor out of the poverty cycle, helping them find work, start their own businesses, and attend school."

[via: https://medium.com/working-life/why-should-we-support-the-idea-of-an-unconditional-basic-income-8a2680c73dd3 ]
universalbasicincome  namibia  2010  economics  poverty  ubi 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Moral Aspects of Basic Income
"The fall of Adam and Eve is a metaphor for the demise of our hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Eden is the recollection of an oppressed peasantry of the more humane world of their happier ancestors. Before we bit the apple, we lived off the fat of the land. Hunter-gatherers lived longer, ate better, and worked less than their agriculturalist descendants. Average adult height, an excellent proxy for childhood nutrition did not return to levels seen in the Palaeolithic until a mere 150 years ago.

Archaeologists tell us the invention of farming may well have been the greatest calamity to befall our species. Kings and slaves, property and war all were by-products of agriculture. Even today, even when forced onto marginal lands, hunter-gather tribes often prefer to retain their old ways rather than till the soil. “Why work hard when god made so many mongongo nuts?” ask the !Kung of southern Africa.

The lifestyle of hunter gathers is much more easygoing than that of serfs and peasants. Subsistence agriculturalists worked from sunup to sundown. Hunter-gatherers “worked” a few hours a day. That was enough to feed and clothe and house their families. The rest of the time they could socialize, play games, tell stories. And “work” back then was hunting antelope with your mates or strolling through the savannah looking for nuts and berries. Farmers overwhelmed hunter-gatherers, not because their lives were more pleasant but because farming makes land so much more productive.

Of course, we cannot go back to those happier days. Farming can feed up to 100 times as many people from the same plot of land and soon farmers outnumbered hunter-gatherers. An expanding population locked humanity into a constant and arduous grind. Until now."



"A number of us here at Pieria have argued that a basic income guarantee (also called a negative income tax) will not only reignite the economy and overcome secular stagnation, it will be the salvation of capitalism. Yes, it provides a safety net for the most unfortunate and yes, it reduces inequality, but most important, by creating steady and dependable demand, it cures capitalism’s only weakness, over-production. By putting money in consumers’ pockets, a basic income guarantees consistent demand and so gives the private sector confidence to hire and invest.

The economics of this proposal strike me as clear and convincing. I want to focus now on its ethical implications. On the one hand, helping the poorest citizens seems the Christian (or Muslim or Jewish or   Buddhist or humane) thing to do. In a wealthy society, it is unnecessarily cruel   that anyone among us should lack shelter, warmth and food. A negative income tax takes care of our most vulnerable without creating another government bureaucracy."



"If a conservative is someone who cherishes the time-honoured ways, is a bit odd that conservatives should exalt free markets. After all, capitalism is the most revolutionary force the world has ever known. Whenever it meets a traditional society, it turns it upside down. The rise of fundamentalism, in the Islamic world, in America, in India, is a global phenomenon and so requires a global explanation. The simplest is that capitalism, by shattering age-old relationships leaves many of us lost and alienated without the ancient verities that gave logic to our lives. “All that is solid melts into air. All freed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.”

Capitalism has been magnificent in producing wealth and increasing productivity. Unfortunately, It happily serves our baser instincts. GDP goes up whether we spend on guns and Internet porn or education and opera tickets. When money is the measure of the man, when consumption is our only goal our culture becomes shallower, and perhaps so do our relationships. And it is getting worse.

Thrift was the original capitalist virtue. According to Max Weber, upright burghers would limit consumption in order to purchase productive machinery or finance transoceanic voyages. By avoiding sumptuous consumption, our frugal protocapitalist could invest his capital and so increase society’s productive capacity. That was admirable. That was then.

Today, thrift is passé. These days, we serve capitalism by buying stuff, even stuff we don’t need. Thrift no longer has much economic purpose. We have a savings glut, we have a labour glut, what we don’t have is a consumption glut. The world economy doesn’t require prudent savers, it needs us to max out our credit cards just to keep unemployment below 7%. No wonder our children are obsessed with buying the coolest football boots or the dress they saw in Vogue. It is as consumers that we best serve global capitalism. Sadly this addiction to consumption may offer a bump to GDP but it does not create happiness.

What makes us happy, as Adam Smith recognized in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (the book he thought his masterpiece) is the regard of others. What brings me joy is not a new toy but the look on my wife’s face that tells me she loves me. What makes me happy at work is not the corner office but what that symbolizes: the sense that my boss admires and respects my talent and effort. A man buys an expensive watch because he thinks it will impress his mates but sadly, no one even notices. When a middle aged man pulls up in a candy red Ferrari, he rarely makes the impression he had hoped when he put down his credit card.

What we admire in others are not their possessions but rather the same virtues we admired back in the Palaeolithic: kindness, loyalty, bravery, generosity, beauty, strength and a sense of humour. Check out the personals ads: a sense of humour trumps an expensive watch every time. Today most of us work long hours, seeing our children less than we would like while others are utterly idle, unable to find work at all. We act as though we live in a world of scarcity when actually will live in a world our ancestors would have thought abundant beyond their wildest dreams. In terms of material comfort, you and I and even the guy in the hoodie down at the council estate live better than Charlemagne or Cleopatra.

Hunter-gatherers shared. Farmers and factory workers, for the most part, did not. In many tribes, a successful hunter would give away 90% of the meat from his kill. He certainly gained respect (and perhaps female companionship) for his prowess but the families of mediocre hunters also got to eat. Anthropologists suggest this propensity for generosity served everyone’s interests. Since no one family can eat an entire buffalo and even the best hunter sometimes goes a while without a kill, sharing the proceeds of a hunt is not just generous, it is an economically sensible insurance policy. So is a basic income guarantee.

We can afford a basic income guarantee. We can give every citizen enough money to survive. It will stimulate an economy starved of demand. It will make our society more equitable. It will feed the hungry and house the homeless. It respects the individual. It provides a constant level of demand that firms can depend on and so stimulate the animal spirits of businessmen. It will strengthen workers bargaining position because they will be able to tell their employers to “take this job and shove it.” It will also reduce labour costs since firms won’t be required to provide a living wage. It will give us more free time to dance and play and love our children. I would also suggest, it might just end up making us better human beings. "
economics  politics  universalbasicincome  christianity  ethics  morality  2013  maragretthatcher  larrysummers  labor  work  history  capitalism  freemarkets  markets  tomstreithorst  adamsmith  thrift  kindness  loyalty  bravery  generosity  johngrey  neoliberalism  malthus  karlmarx  capital  hunter-gatherers  ubi 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Why Should We Support the Idea of an Unconditional Basic Income? — Working Life — Medium
[Section titles: ]

"What would you do?
Didn’t they try this in Russia?
The magic of markets
Can we really improve capitalism or is this just theory?
Larger rewards lead to poorer performance.
Capitalism 2.0 sounds great and all but can we afford it?
Okay, it’s affordable… but wouldn’t people stop working?
But still, what about those few who WOULD stop working?
Why would (insert who you dislike) ever agree to this?"
universalbasicincome  capitalism  communism  economics  markets  2014  scottsantens  namibia  poverty  danielpink  productivity  power  choice  workweek  hours  thomaspiketty  psychology  motivation  canada  seattle  denver  1970s  taxes  taxation  inequality  alaska  mincome  employment  unemployment  work  labor  freedom  empowerment  ubi 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Universal Basic Income as the Social Vaccine of the 21st Century — Basic income — Medium
"What if we had hand-waved away the costs of eradicating smallpox as too expensive with napkin math? What if we today faced that same choice we did then? What if the price of smallpox eradication now was calculated on a napkin as being $3 trillion? What would we do? What should we do?

What if the discussion about smallpox eradication never included the reality the investment would be recouped every two months? What if no one talked about the 40% annual return on investment? What if we all kept pretending eradicating smallpox would just be too darn expensive and that it’s just one of those ugly facts of life we just have to deal with until we die?

This is where the conversation about basic income needs to change.

A $3 trillion napkin-math price tag does not reflect a vaccine’s true value. The fact that it’s not even its true price tag doesn’t even really matter (Note: its true price tag is more like $1 trillion after consolidation and elimination of many existing cash-replaceable federal programs) because even at $3 trillion instead of $1 trillion, it’s still an ounce instead of a pound.

Poverty is a disease. It’s an illness that even doctors are beginning to recognize as something that requires the prescription of cash in order to successfully treat its many associated diseases:
“I was treating their bodies, but not their social situations. And especially not their income, which seemed to be the biggest barrier to their health improving. The research evidence was pretty clear on this. Income, poverty, is intimately connected to my patients’ health. In fact, poverty is more important to my low-income patients than smoking, high cholesterol, high-blood pressure, obesity, salt, or soda pop. Poverty wreaks havoc on my patients’ bodies. A 17% increased risk of heart disease; more than 100% increased risk of diabetes; 60% higher rates of depression; higher rates of lung, oral, cervical cancer; higher rates of lung disease like asthma and emphysema… It became pretty clear to me I was treating all of [my patients’] health issues except for the most important one — their poverty.” — Dr. Gary Bloch

We can do more than continually treat poverty’s many economically and physically expensive symptoms. We can eradicate it entirely with a social vaccine designed to immunize against it.
A social vaccine can be defined as, ‘actions that address social determinants and social inequities in society, which act as a precursor to the public health problem being addressed’. While the social vaccine cannot be specific to any disease or problem, it can be adapted as an intervention for any public health response. The aim of the social vaccine is to promote equity and social justice that will inoculate the society through action on social determinants of health.

Basic income is a tested social vaccine. It’s been found to increase equity and general welfare. It has been found to reduce hospitalizations by 8.5% in just a few years through reduced stress and work injuries. It’s been found to increase birth weights through increased maternal nutrition. It’s been found to decrease crime rates by 40% and reduce malnourishment by 30%. Intrinsic motivation is cultivated. Students do better in school. Bargaining positions increase. Economic activity increases. Entrepreneurs are born.

With experiment after experiment, from smaller unconditional cash transfers to full-on basic incomes, the results point in positive directions across multiple measures when incomes are unconditionally increased.

Universal basic income is a social vaccine for the disease of poverty.

We can keep spending trillions every year to treat this disease and its many symptoms, or we can choose to eradicate poverty as we did smallpox through a mass social vaccination program known as basic income.

It costs real money for us to look the other way on poverty. Unlike smallpox and other diseases we can vaccinate ourselves against, the costs of poverty can be more invisible. We don’t get bills in the mail from Poverty, Inc. telling us each month how much we owe, but we still pay these bills because they are included in our many other bills.

When we pay $10,000 in taxes instead of $7,000 because of welfare and health care, that’s in large part a $3,000 poverty bill. When we pay $500 a month instead $400 on our private health insurance premiums, that’s a $100 poverty bill. When we pay $50 on a shirt instead of $45 because of theft, that’s a $5 poverty bill. When we’re taxed a percentage of our homes to pay for prisons, that’s a poverty bill. What other examples can you think of personally? What might we all be spending on poverty every day?

These poverty bills are all around us, but we’re just not seeing them as they are. And let’s not ignore the lack of opportunity bills either.

If just one Einstein right now is working 60 hours a week in two jobs just to survive, instead of propelling the entire world forward with another General Theory of Relativity… that loss is truly incalculable. How can we measure the costs of lost innovation? Of businesses never started? Of visions never realized?

These are the full costs of not implementing universal basic income, and they will only increase as technology reduces our need for work as long as we continue requiring the little work that’s left in exchange for income.

These are the full costs of being penny-wise and pound-foolish by not socially vaccinating ourselves against poverty.

These are the full costs of continuing to opt for a pound of cure instead of an ounce of prevention.

So now, let us consider a new question.

Is the question for us to answer in the 21st century, “Can we afford basic income?”

Or is the question, “Can we not afford basic income?”"
scottsantens  universalbasicincome  2015  economics  vaccines  poverty  inequality  socialwelfare  socialsafetynet  welfare  ubi 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Basic income — Medium
"Articles discussing the concept of the unconditional basic income"
universalbasicincome  economics  policy  socialsafetynet  poverty  bureaucracy  ubi 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Breaking Down Without a Spare — Basic income — Medium
"America’s lopsided welfare system of counterproductive public assistance"



"Our current system is not productive. It is not the fully functional safety net we need, especially as technology increasingly disrupts our day to day lives. If one day we can be a driver for Uber, and the next day Uber can buy a fleet of self-driving cars and fire all of us, that’s a world where we need a real safety net that doesn’t just drop away. We need more than a safety net. We need a floor set above the poverty level, so that regardless of any amount of disruption, we are still allowed to stand on our own two feet and start climbing again.

Don’t catch us and trap us with nets. We need a solid foundation that allows all of us a space in which to build our futures.

We also need to understand that those at the bottom aren’t the only ones receiving welfare. There exists a great deal of netting underneath the feet of all of us. We just don’t see it. It is the invisible safety net, lacking in any stigma."



"But is that what the working Americans who work for them want?

Driving on Spares
It may have seemed a small detail and one possibly gone unnoticed, but it’s possibly the most important detail of all in our automotive parable.

“Unfortunately there’s no spare. We had no choice but to drive on it.”

It’s not that we made the unwise choice to go driving around without a spare tire. It’s that we could not make the wise choice, because our car had already suffered a previous blown tire and there was no money in the budget for a new one. After replacing our blown tire with our spare tire, we could only hope nothing else would happen until there was money for a new tire.

But something did happen. That’s the nature of unfortunate surprises.

It is this fact we must recognize, possibly above all. No one wants to suffer a flat tire, and no one wants to have no options but to call for help when we do get one. And we see this reflected in what we have done for decades now, as we have faithfully sought all possible avenues of increasing our incomes.

We went from one earner per household to two.

We asked for more hours and sought second, third, and even fourth jobs.

We got credit cards, took out second mortgages, and are now even tapping our own retirement funds."
universalbasicincome  economics  us  policy  taxes  safetynet  publicassistance  welfare  welfaresystem  scottsantens  2014  bureaucracy  socialsafetynet  stadiums  inequality  freedom  welfarecliffs  income  uber  labor  work  housing  ubi 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The Town Where Everyone Got Free Money | Motherboard
"The motto of Dauphin, Manitoba, a small farming town in the middle of Canada, is “everything you deserve.” What a citizen deserves, and what effects those deserts have, was a question at the heart of a 40-year-old experiment that has lately become a focal point in a debate over social welfare that's raging from Switzerland to Silicon Valley.

Between 1974 and 1979, the Canadian government tested the idea of a basic income guarantee (BIG) across an entire town, giving people enough money to survive in a way that no other place in North America has before or since. For those four years—until the project was cancelled and its findings packed away—the town's poorest residents were given monthly checks that supplemented what modest earnings they had and rewarded them for working more. And for that time, it seemed that the effects of poverty began to melt away. Doctor and hospital visits declined, mental health appeared to improve, and more teenagers completed high school.

“Do we have to behave in particular ways to justify compassion and support?” Evelyn Forget, a Canadian social scientist who unearthed ​some of the findings of the Dauphin experiment, asked me rhetorically when I reached her by phone. “Or is simply human dignity enough?”

Critics of basic income guarantees have insisted that giving the poor money would disincentivize them to work, and point to studies that show ​a drop in peoples' willingness to work under pilot programs. But in Dauphin—thought to be the largest such experiment conducted in North America—the experimenters found that the primary breadwinner in the families who received stipends were in fact not less motivated to work than before. Though there was some reduction in work effort from mothers of young children and teenagers still in high school—mothers wanted to stay at home longer with their newborns and teenagers weren’t under as much pressure to support their families—the reduction was not anywhere close to disastrous, as skeptics had predicted.

“People work hard and it’s still not enough,” Doreen Henderson, who is now 70 and was a participant in the experiment, told the ​Wi​nnipeg Free Pres​s​ in 2009. Her husband Hugh, now 73, worked as a janitor while she stayed at home with their two kids. Together they raised chickens and grew a lot of their own food. “They should have kept it,” she said of the minimum income program. “It made a real difference.”

The recovered data from “Mincome,” as the Dauphin experiment was known, has given more impetus to a growing call for some sort of guaranteed income. This year, the Swis​s Parliament will vote on whether to extend a monthly stipend to all residents, and the Indian government has already begun replacing aid programs with direct cash transfers. Former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich has called a BIG “alm​ost inevitable.” In the US, Canada, and much of Western Europe, where the conversation around radically adapting social security remains mostly hypothetical, the lessons of Dauphin might be especially relevant in helping these ideas materialize sooner rather than later."



"Advocates have argued that a single coordinated program providing a base income is more efficient than the current panoply of welfare and social security programs and the bureaucracy required to maintain them (in the U.S. there are currently 79 means-tested social welfare programs, not including Medicare or Medicaid). “Existing social assistance programs were riddled with overlaps and gaps that allowed some families to qualify under two or more programs while others fell between programs,” says Forget.

When Mincome was first conceived, in the early '70s heyday of social welfare reform, some thought the experiment in Dauphin could be the prelude to a program that could be introduced across Canada. South of the border, there was widespread support for minimum income as well. A 1969 Harris poll for Life Magazine found that 79 percent of respondents supported a federal program President Nixon had proposed called the Family Assi​stance Plan that guaranteed a family of four an annual income of $1,600, or about $10,000 today. Nixon’s FAP plan (it wasn't guaranteed income, he insisted, but it was) made it through the House before it was killed in the Senate, voted down by Democrats. Still, there remained a sense of experimentation in the air. Four minimum income trials occurred in the US between 1968 and 1975, which appeared to show that the work hours of basic income recipients fell more sharply than expected.

But these experiments were done with small sample sizes; the experiment in Dauphin was unusual in that in encompassed a whole town. Forget, now a community health professor at the University of Manitoba who studies a range of social welfare programs, saw in the Mincome data a rare chance to examine the effects of BIG on a wider scale.

An undergrad in Toronto at the time the experiment was first being conducted, she remembers hearing about it in class. “My professor would tell us about this wonderful and important experiment taking place ‘out west’ that would revolutionize the way we delivered social programs.”

Years later, when she ended up “out west” herself, she began piecing together what information she could find about Dauphin. After a five-year struggle, Forget secured access to the experiment's data—all 1,800 cubic feet of it—which had been all but lost inside a warehouse belonging to the provincial government archives in Winnipeg. Since 2005, she’s been thoroughly analyzing it, carefully comparing surveys of Dauphin residents with those collected in neighboring towns at the time.

Forget's analysis of the data reveals that providing minimum income can have a substantial positive impact on a community beyond reducing poverty alone. “Participant contacts with physicians declined, especially for mental health, and more adolescents continued into grade 12,” she concludes in her paper, “The Town with No ​Poverty,” published in Canadian Public Policy in 2011. Forget also documented an 8.5 percent reduction in the hospitalization rate for participants as well, suggesting a minimum income could save health care costs. (Her research was unable to substantiate claims from US researchers that showed increases in fertility rates, improved neonatal outcomes or increased family dissolution rates for recipients of guaranteed incomes.)"



"When Forget looks at politics and culture and the economy now, she sees forces converging to create a more hospitable climate for minimum income experiments on a grander scale than before.

“This is an interesting time,” she said. “A lot of our social services were based on the notion that there are a lot of 40 hour-per-week jobs out there, full-time jobs, and it was just a matter of connecting people to those jobs and everything will be fine. Of course, one of the things we know is that’s certainly not the case, particularly for young people who often find themselves working in precarious jobs, working in contracts for long periods of time without the benefits and long-term support that those of us who have been around longer take for granted.”

In the Canadian context, at least, she said, “I’m optimistic enough to believe that at some point we are going to end up with a guaranteed income.”"
2015  manitoba  universalbasicincome  wellbeing  poverty  economics  dauphin  1970s  labor  income  mincome  switzerland  health  healthcare  education  mentalilliness  thomaspaine  martinlutherkinkjr  miltonfriedman  libertarianism  socialwelfare  motivation  via:anne  jamesmanzi  evelynforget  canada  ubi 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Pirates Propose Guaranteed Basic Income - The Reykjavik Grapevine
"Pirates have proposed a congressional statement, directing the Welfare Minister to implement a guaranteed minimum income, what in recent years has also gone under the name of universal basic income or citizen wage.

More precisely, the proposal, made by Halldóra Mogensen, Jón Þór Ólafsson and Birgitta Jónsódttir on Monday, would instruct the Minister to form a team to “map ways to ensure an unconditional minimum income for all the country’s citizens, with the aim to support economic and social rights and eliminate poverty.”

The minimum income movement has risen and gained grounds in various countries in recent years. As cited in the exposition, Switzerland will vote on an implementation of the idea in 2016.

‘Liberty, Equality, Efficiency and Solidarity’

The proposal’s exposition states that in 2013, over 42 thousand people in Iceland, 13,7% of the population, subsisted below the low-income benchmark and/or in danger of social exclusion.

The exposition says that guaranteed minimum income differs from the conditional minimum income common in European welfare systems, by being paid to individuals rather than households, by being independent from other income and by not requiring the individual to have been employed or to be willing to take on any job available.

The authors cite guaranteed income experiments in the USA and Canada between 1968 and 1980, where such programs were found to have little effect on the job market, but ‘considerable effect’ on the physical and mental health of participants. The MINCOME program implemented in Manitoba, Canada between 1974 and 1979, for example, is said to have reduced total healthcare costs by 8.5%.

Authors referred to in support of the proposal include the 18th century English-American revolutionary philosopher Thomas Paine and the 20th century philosopher Bertrand Russell, who suggested such an arrangement as early as 1918. The authors say that fundamental underlying notions include ‘liberty, equality, efficiency and solidarity, the earth as a common good of all its inhabitants’ and more.

Facing Future Challenges

The authors of the proposal also cite the 2013 Oxford University report ‘The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to computerization?’, where 47% of all jobs in the US are said in danger of extinction at the hands of technological progress. The fields of transport, communication, office work, administration and production are all predicted to be heavily affected. “It is clear,” states the exposition, “that the current social security system will not be able to handle the costs of this immense technological progress.”

The current social security system, composed of conditional income guarantees, unemployment benefits and municipal financial support, is said to be complex, costly and incoherent, while involving massive information gathering and surveillance. An unconditional guaranteed income may, according to the proposal, thus reduce public expenditure on multiple levels."
iceland  universalbasicincome  economics  policy  pirateparty  2014  solidarity  equality  inequality  poverty  efficiency  politics  labor  ubi 
october 2014 by robertogreco
A broader tax base, it is thought, will insure... • see things differently
"A broader tax base, it is thought, will insure that wealthy suburbanites pay for essential services needed by the poor. No evidence is available to indicate that this actually happens in large cities.

Poor neighborhoods receiving ”services” which are not tailored to their needs may not be better off when increased resources are allocated to their neighborhood. In large collective consumption units, residents of poor neighborhoods may have even less voice about levels and types of services desired than they do in smaller-sized collective consumption units. Increasing the size of the smallest collective consumption unit to which citizens belong may not help solve problems of redistribution."

[PDF: http://socsci.colorado.edu/~mciverj/Ostrom-PG%26PC.PDF ]
elinorostrom  vincentostrom  economics  resources  colonization  imperialism  universalbasicincome  taxes  services  pverty  cities  urban  urbanism  development  democracy  redistribution  ubi 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Why America's favorite anarchist thinks most American workers are slaves | Making Sen$e | PBS NewsHour
"Q: So you like this idea?

A: I think it’s great. It’s an acknowledgement that nobody else has the right to tell you what you can best contribute to the world, and it’s based on a certain faith — that people want to contribute something to the world, most people do. I’m sure there are a few people who would be parasites, but most people actually want to do something; they want to feel that they have contributed something to the society around them.

The problem is that we have this gigantic apparatus that presumes to tell people who’s worthy, who’s not, what people should be doing, what they shouldn’t. They’re all about assessing value, but in fact, the whole system fell apart in 2008 because nobody really knows how to do it. We don’t really know how to assess the value of people’s work, of people’s contributions, of people themselves, and philosophically, that makes sense; there is no easy way to do it. So the best thing to do is just to say, alright, everyone go out and you decide for yourselves."



"Q: So would you get rid of government programs?

A: It depends on which. The amounts of money that they’re now talking about giving people aren’t enough to take care of things like health care and housing. But I think if you guarantee those sorts of basic needs, you could get rid of almost all the programs on top of that. In huge bureaucracies, there are so many conditionalities attached to everything they give out, there’s jobs on jobs on jobs of people who just assess people and decide whether you are being good enough to your kids to deserve this benefit, or decide whether you’re trying hard enough to get a job to get that benefit. This is a complete waste. Those people [making the decisions] don’t really contribute anything to society; we could get rid of them.

Q: So you’d get rid of, say, the food stamp bureaucracy?

A: If we had a basic income, we wouldn’t need to decide who needs food and who doesn’t."



"Q: Are you surprised that there’s right wing support for this?

A: Not at all. Because I think there are some people who can understand that the rates of inequality that we have mean that the arguments [for the market] don’t really work. There’s a tradition that these people are drawing on, which recognizes that the kind of market they really want to see is not the kind of market we see today.

Adam Smith was very honest. He said, well obviously this only works if people control their own tools, if people are self-employed. He was completely rejecting the idea of corporate capitalism.

Q: Smith rejected corporate capitalism because it became crony capitalism.

A: Well, he rejected the corporate form entirely; he was against corporations. At the time, corporations were seen as, essentially, inimical to the market. They still are. Those arguments are no less true than they ever were. If we want to have markets, we have to give everybody an equal chance to get into them, or else they don’t work as a means of social liberation; they operate as a means of enslavement.

Q: Enslavement in the sense that the people with enough power, who can get the market to work on their behalf…

A: Right — bribing politicians to set up the system so that they accumulate more, and other people end up spending all their time working for them. The difference between selling yourself into slavery and renting yourself into slavery in the ancient world was basically none at all, you know. If Aristotle were here, he’d think most people in a country like England or America were slaves.

Q: Wage slaves?

A: Yes, but they didn’t make a distinction back then. Throughout most of recorded history, the only people who actually did wage labor were slaves. It was a way of renting your slave to someone else; they got half the money, and the rest of the money went to the master. Even in the South, a lot of slaves actually worked in jobs and they just had to pay the profits to the guy who owned them. It’s only now that we think of wage labor and slavery as opposite to one another. For a lot of history, they were considered kind of variations of the same thing.

Abraham Lincoln famously said the reason why we have a democratic society in America is we don’t have a permanent class of wage laborers. He thought that wage labor was something you pass through in your 20s and 30s when you’re accumulating enough money to set up on your own; so the idea was everyone will eventually be self-employed.

Do People Like to Work? Look at Prisons"

Q: So is this idea of a guaranteed basic income utopian?

A: Well, it remains to be seen. If it’s Utopian, it’s because we can’t get the politicians to do it, not because it won’t work. It seems like people have done the numbers, and there’s no economic reason why it couldn’t work.

Q: Well, it’s very expensive.

A: It’s expensive, but so is the system we have now. And there’s a major savings that you’ll have firing all those people who are assessing who is worthy of what.

Philosophically, I think that it’s really important to bear in mind two things. One is it’ll show people that you don’t have to force people to work, to want to contribute. It’s not that people resist work. People resist meaningless work; people resist stupid work; and people resist humiliating work.

But I always talk about prisons, where people are fed, clothed, they’ve got shelter; they could just sit around all day. But actually, they use work as a way of rewarding them. You know, if you don’t behave yourself, we won’t let you work in the prison laundry. I mean, people want to work. Nobody just wants to sit around, it’s boring.

So the first misconception we have is this idea that people are just lazy, and if they’re given a certain amount of minimal income, they just won’t do anything. Probably there’s a few people like that, but for the vast majority, it will free them to do the kind of work that they think is meaningful. The question is, are most people smart enough to know what they have to contribute to the world? I think most of them are.

Q: What Is Society Missing Without a Basic Income?

A: The other point we need to stress is that we can’t tell in advance who really can contribute what. We’re always surprised when we leave people to their own devices. I think one reason why we don’t have any of the major scientific breakthroughs that we used to have for much of the 19th and 20th centuries is because we have this system where everybody has to prove they already know what they’re going to create in this incredibly bureaucratized system.

Q: Because people need to be able to prove that they’ll get a return on the investment?

A: Exactly. So they have to get the grant, and prove that this would lead to this, but in fact, almost all the major breakthroughs are unexpected. It used to be we’d get bright people and just let them do whatever they want, and then suddenly, we’ve got the light bulb. Nowadays we don’t get breakthroughs like that because everybody’s got to spend all their time filling out paperwork. It’s that kind of paperwork that we’d be effectively getting rid of, the equivalent of that.

Another example I always give is the John Lennon argument. Why are there no amazing new bands in England anymore? Ever since the ’60s, it used to be every five, 10 years, we’d see an incredible band. I asked a lot of friends of mine, well, what happened? And they all said, well they got rid of the dole. All those guys were on the dole. Actually in Cockney rhyming slang, the word for dole is rock and roll — as in, “oh yeah, he’s on the rock and roll.” All rock bands started on public relief. If you give money to working class kids, a significant number of them will form bands, and a few of those bands will be amazing, and it will benefit the country a thousand times more than all of those kids would have done had they been lifting boxes or whatever they’re making them do now as welfare conditionality.

Q: And in the United States, the entire abstract expressionist movement, whatever you think of it — Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock — was all on the WPA [Works Progress Administration], on the dole.

A: Absolutely, look at social theory. I remember thinking, why is it that Germany in the ’20s, you have Weber, Simmel, all these amazing thinkers? In France, you have this endless outpouring of brilliant people in the ’50s, Sartre… What was it about those societies that they produced so many brilliant thinkers? One person told me, well, there’s a lot of money — they just had these huge block grants given to anybody. And you know, again, 10 out of 11 of them will be people we’ve completely forgotten, but there’s always that one that’s going to turn out to be, you know Jacques Derrida, and the world changes because of some major social thinker who might otherwise have been a postman, or something like that."

[See also: http://maymay.net/blog/2014/04/20/david-graeber-on-death-by-bureaucracy-if-we-had-a-basic-income-we-wouldnt-need-to-decide-who-needs-food-and-who-doesnt/ ]
davidgraeber  2014  economics  universalbasicincome  productivity  wageslavery  labor  work  bullshitjobs  bureaucracy  switzerland  us  policy  government  creativity  art  music  anarchism  anarchy  socialism  libertarianism  libertarians  friedrichhayek  socialwelfare  namibia  democracy  markets  deirdremccloskey  donmccloskey  communitarianism  incomeinequality  inequality  motivation  ubi 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Would a citizen’s income be better than our benefits system? | Business | The Guardian
"Let’s assume for a moment that there is more informal activity going on. What should the government response be? One option would be to employ more tax inspectors and launch a crackdown on evasion. That, though, would be an uphill struggle. The number of tax inspectors is small. Low-level evasion is large.

An alternative would be to encourage those working in the informal economy to join the formal economy. The impediment to that is a tax and benefits system that is hugely complex, means-tested and discourages those working less than full-time on low earnings from working longer hours (at least officially).

One radical suggestion is for everybody to receive a citizen’s income. Under this scheme, waged and unwaged, children and adults, the working aged and pensioner, rich and poor alike would receive the same basic income financed by the phasing out of virtually every tax relief and allowance. Those on benefits would not face high marginal tax rates if they took a job, but merely pay PAYE at the current standard rate of 20% on every pound they earned. Those working 20 hours a week on the minimum wage could work 40 hours a week without losing more than 50% of their extra earnings in lost tax credits.

There would be other advantages from such a system. First, it would be universal and hence avoid the stigma attached to benefits. Secondly, people taking a job or starting a business would have the security of knowing that they would still have their citizen’s income if the venture did not work out.

Concerns that a citizen’s income would encourage the idle to sit at home all day watching daytime TV do not appear to be supported by evidence from pilot schemes in other countries. Even so, there would be cases where this did happen and they would doubtless be highlighted as an example of a something-for-nothing culture. Other drawbacks include the failure so far to construct a citizen’s income that obviates the need for housing benefit, and the political difficulty in persuading voters that a millionaire should be getting the same citizen’s income as a milkman.

So far support for a citizen’s income is limited to the Green party, although the government’s switch to a flat-rate state pension is a step in that direction. The truth is that no tax and benefit system is perfect. But the one we have is costly, bureaucratic, ineffective – and ripe for reform."
universalbasicincome  2014  larryelliott  uk  economics  government  bureaucracy  governance  income  ubi 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Google's chief economist describes life in the robot-run economy in 1 meaty quote | VentureBeat | Business | by Gregory Ferenstein
"If ‘displace more jobs’ means ‘eliminate dull, repetitive, and unpleasant work,’ the answer would be yes. How unhappy are you that your dishwasher has replaced washing dishes by hand, your washing machine has displaced washing clothes by hand, or your vacuum cleaner has replaced hand cleaning?

My guess is this ‘job displacement’ has been very welcome, as will the ‘job displacement’ that will occur over the next 10 years. The work week has fallen from 70 hours a week to about 37 hours now, and I expect that it will continue to fall. This is a good thing.

Everyone wants more jobs and less work. Robots of various forms will result in less work, but the conventional work week will decrease, so there will be the same number of jobs (adjusted for demographics, of course). This is what has been going on for the last 300 years so I see no reason that it will stop in the decade.”

There is solid evidence that many low-skilled employees are working less, but the reverse is not true for high-skilled employees. In other words, the low-paid routine jobs just aren’t paying enough, and that’s an incentive for employers to replace people with machines."



"Though inequality in itself could have major problems. One browser engineer at Mozilla argued, “I predict large societal upheavals as the gap between highly skilled (and highly paid) workers and a high proportion of partially or totally unemployed people continues to widen.”

It’s an open question about whether the robot-job apocalypse will be good or bad. Pew surveyed more than 1,000 experts. You can read the full report here."
economics  automation  inequality  labor  work  2014  halvarian  society  universalbasicincome  ubi 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Continuations : More On Basic Income (and Robots)
"This brings me once again to the idea of a guaranteed basic income. This is a potentially attractive alternative for a number of reasons:

First, it sets human creativity free to work on whatever comes to mind. For many people that could be making music or learning something new or doing research.

Second, it does not suppress the market mechanism. Innovative new products and services can continue to emerge. Much of that can be artisanal products or high touch services (not just new technology). 

Third, it will allow crowdfunding to expand massively in scale and simultaneously permit much smaller federal, state and local government (they still have a role — I am not a libertarian and believe that market failures are real and some regulation and enforcement are needed, eg sewage, police).

Fourth, it will force us to more rapidly automate dangerous and unpleasant jobs. Many of these are currently held by people who would much rather engage in one of the activities from above.

Fifth, in a world of technological deflation, a basic income could be deflationary instead of inflationary. How? Because it could increase the amount of time that is volunteered.

I will write more about how such as system could be financed. In the meantime suffice it to say that one of the (relatively few) roles of government should be the collection of taxes from companies and individuals (like myself) who have already benefited from technological change.

PS One way to think about a basic income is as follows: it removes a currently binding constraint on time optimization for many individuals allowing them to escape a local minimum — that in turn lets the economy as a whole adjust much faster (and with far less pain)."
economics  future  albertwenger  2014  universalbasicincome  creativity  ubi 
july 2014 by robertogreco
$20,000 per person:Activists push for guaranteed minimum income for Canadians - Winnipeg Free Press
"A group of academics and activists is trying to drum up interest in an ambitious plan to provide every Canadian with a guaranteed minimum level of income — whether or not they have a job.

Rob Rainer, a campaign director for the Basic Income Canada Network, envisions a country where everyone is assured a minimum of $20,000 annually to make ends meet.

"For many of us, we think the goal is no one should be living in poverty," Rainer said at a conference on the issue over the weekend at McGill University.

"That's essentially what we're striving to achieve."

More than 100 speakers and participants were on hand for the conference, which focused on the merits of a guaranteed minimum income that would either replace or exist alongside existing social programs."
canada  universalbasicincome  economics  2014  ubi 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Our Work Here Is Done: Visions of a Robot Economy [.pdf]
"The essays in this volume address a number of possibilities for how the proceeds of a robot revolution might be redistributed. Notably, Noah Smith’s piece argues for a universal basic income for everyone, paid for from the proceeds of robot–enhanced productivity.

What is clear is that if automation necessitates a big shift in how we tax, it offers an opportunity to start taxing more sensible things. Economists have long argued for taxing land, carbon emissions and other bads, rather than taxing work. If there is less work about in the future, this may be the chance to make a change.

There is also the question of how we share out the rewards of a robot economy. We may not yet be ready for a universal basic income, since at least for the time being so many people’s conception of (their own and others’) value to society is bound up in work. But it is surely worth making policies to encourage ownership of robots is widely dispersed. The simplest way to make sure everyone has a stake in robots is to encourage widespread pension ownership – so that people own shares in the companies that own the robots.

But if the riches of automation are really as abundant as some people think they are, we could go further, and learn a lesson from the few countries that have dealt well with natural resource riches, like Norway and Alaska, by establishing a national endowment to hold wealth on behalf of citizens. The proceeds of this could be used to pay an annual dividend to citizens (as in Alaska) or to invest in future productivity (as has been proposed in Norway)."
universalbasicincome  labor  robot  income  taxation  taxes  economics  2014  nesta  change  jsutice  future  competition  cooperation  ryanavent  noahsmith  francescoppola  alanwinfield  nickhawes  ertruitt  jonturney  izabellakaminska  georginavoss  machines  slavery  edwardskidelsky  frederickguy  tessreidy  steverandywaldman  machineage  power  wages  ubi 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Maximum Happy Imagination | Magical Nihilism
"His analogies run out in the 20th century when it comes to the political, social and economic implications of his maximum happy imagination.

Consumer-capitalism in-excelsis?

That system of the world was invented. It’s not really natural. To imagine that capitalism is not subject to deconstruction, reinvention or critique in maximum happy imagination seems a little silly.

If disruption is your mantra – why not go all the way?

He states right at the start that there are zero jobs in the sectors affected by his future. Writers on futures such as Toffler and Rifkin, and SF from the lofty peaks of Arthur C. Clarke to the perhaps lower, more lurid weekly plains of 2000AD have speculated for decades on ‘The Leisure Problem’.

Recently, I read “The Lights in the Tunnel” by Martin Ford which extrapolates a future similar to Andreesen’s, wherein the self-declared market-capitalist author ends up arguing for something like a welfare state…

Another world is possible, right?

I’ll hope Marc might grudgingly nod at that at least.

It’ll need brains like his to get there."
mattjones  2014  marcandreessen  economics  capitalism  disruption  leisure  martinford  welfarestate  universalbasicincome  work  labor  markets  ubi 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Are you paid to look busy?
"You had an article recently, the name of which I can’t say on television, so let’s call it “BS Jobs.” What was the point?

So, all my life, there’s people, you meet them at parties, you run into them, you ask them what they do, and they kind of look sheepish and don’t want to admit it, you know? They say, well, it’s not really very interesting. It’s like, well, I’m a human resource consultant; I work at a computer firm where I fill out forms of a certain kind to make it faster for somebody else to do this, or I’m a middle man among seven layers of middlemen in this sort of outsourcing… They’re always embarrassed; they don’t look like they do anything. All those people out there who have these jobs that you don’t think they’re really doing anything, they must be suffering, they must know that their jobs are essentially made up. Imagine going to work every day knowing you’re not really doing anything. What must that do to someone’s soul?

How could you have dignity in labor if you secretly believe your job shouldn’t exist? But, of course, you’re not going to tell your boss that. So I thought, you know, there must be enormous moral and spiritual damage done to our society. And then I thought, well, maybe that explains some other things, like why is it there’s this deep, popular resentment against people who have real jobs? They can get people so angry at auto-workers, just because they make 30 bucks an hour, which is like nowhere near what corporate lawyers make, but nobody seems to resent them. They get angry at the auto-workers; they get angry at teachers. They don’t get angry at school administrators, who actually make more money. Most of the problems people blame on teachers, and I think on some level, that’s resentment: all these people with meaningless jobs are saying, but, you guys get to teach kids, you get to make cars; that’s real work. We don’t get to do real work; you want benefits, too? That’s not reasonable.

You mean that the resentment is born of envy?

It’s envy of people who get to have meaningful jobs that actually produce something. I think that’s a major political force in America, and other places as well. It seems to operate to the benefit of the people running the society. I don’t think they set it up as a conspiracy, but they let it happen, because if you think about it, that’s exactly what’s not supposed to happen in a capitalist system. You know, we all made fun of the Soviet Union because they would just make up these meaningless jobs because well, we have full employment. So they just make up jobs, moving things from one side to another. Or there’d be three different people to buy a piece of bread — you have to get a ticket from one, you have to go over here.

But we’re doing the same thing, except instead of making up meaningless proletarian jobs, we’re making up meaningless office jobs, and these guys are basically paid to act busy all day. A lot of them may really work one or two hours, and the rest of the time they’re downloading stuff from the Internet, or playing around on Facebook or something. But, their job is to sit in an office, and basically valorize the idea that everybody should look busy all the time, that work is valuable in itself.

We used to think work was valuable because it produces something. Now we think that work is just valuable itself. If you’re not busy all the time doing something, anything — doesn’t really matter what it is — you’re a bad person, and that’s exactly the sort of logic that basic income would get rid of.

What percentage of jobs do you think of these days, very ballpark estimate, as “BS jobs”?

I’d say 20 percent. But it’s hard for me to say. The last thing I want to do is come in and say, you, your job is BS, while you, you’re okay. The whole idea is that people should decide for themselves what’s valuable. But if you talk about jobs where the people who actually are working at them secretly feel that they really don’t produce anything, or don’t do anything, I’d say about 20 percent has been my experience. But, of course, you know, we’d have to do extensive research to see if that’s really true.

After you wrote the article, what kind of response did you get?

Oh, that was what was remarkable. I mean if ever there was a hypothesis that was confirmed by the response… I wrote this in a very obscure British lefty magazine called Strike Magazine, going out on the Internet, and within three or four weeks, I think it had been translated into 14 different languages, including Catalan, Estonian, Korean. It was circulated around the world, and I got all these messages from people saying, oh, people in the financial services industry have been passing this back and forth — I got this five times in the last week sent to me from different friends — and then people would start writing these blogs, these confessionals. There was one I saw in Australia, where people were writing things like, it’s true, I’m a corporate lawyer, I contribute nothing to society, I’m miserable all the time, I just do this for my children, otherwise I’d get out. Over and over again, people saying yes, it’s true, my job does nothing."
culture  jobs  work  2014  society  davidgraeber  inefficiency  productivity  bullshitjobs  careers  capitalism  universalbasicincome  economics  labor  employment  socialsafetynet  class  ubi 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Two ways to work for nothing – GEOFF SHULLENBERGER
"In an interview about The People’s Platform, Astra Taylor notes that of late “more and more of us are encouraged to think of ourselves as artists no matter what our line of work. It’s a way of framing some of the unappealing things about our current economic condition — the lack of stability or of a social safety net—as something desirable and empowering. The ethos of the artist — someone who is willing to work with no guarantee of reward, who will sacrifice and self-exploit around the clock — is demanded of people across the board.” This tendency manifests itself in many realms: Taylor gives the example of Apple Store employees being told they should be grateful just to have the experience of working for Apple, but the rhetoric used to draw freelancers into digital sweatshops matches what she describes even more perfectly. Then we have the phenomenon I have been examining lately on this blog: the replacement of skilled workers with volunteers.

Alongside the imperative to embrace your exploitation as an artist embraces her vocation, though, proliferates the contrasting logic of what David Graeber called ”bullshit jobs” in a memorable article from last year. In a recent interview on the subject, Graeber explains that he is mainly referring to “meaningless office jobs [where workers] are basically paid to act busy all day. A lot of them may really work one or two hours, and the rest of the time they’re downloading stuff from the Internet, or playing around on Facebook or something. But, their job is to sit in an office, and basically valorize the idea that everybody should look busy all the time, that work is valuable in itself.” As Graeber notes, the expansion of this area of employment seems to be an economic paradox: “According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don’t really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.” Graeber’s solution: “The answer clearly isn’t economic: it’s moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger… And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.”

Compare this to BuzzFeed’s and Coursera’s translation strategies: they really need the translation to be done, but they have invented elaborate schemes to avoid paying translators. The value and necessity of the work of translation to their companies could not be clearer, yet in this area a logic of ruthless efficiency applies, but not when it comes to the kind of jobs Graeber is describing: much of that work does not seem to be fundamentally needed by anyone, yet paradoxically organizations are willing to pay workers for it. As long as it is something that you would do even if it were unpaid, it is increasingly becoming something you have to do for free or for very little. On the other hand, you can be paid to do the kind of jobs that no one would do if managers did not invent them.

For Graeber, bullshit jobs carry with them a moral imperative: “If you’re not busy all the time doing something, anything — doesn’t really matter what it is — you’re a bad person.” But the flipside of that logic seems to be: if you actually like doing x activity, if it is valuable, meaningful, and carries intrinsic rewards for you, it is wrong for you to expect to be paid (well) for it; you should give it freely, even (especially) if by doing so you are allowing others to profit. In other words, we’ll make a living from you doing what you love (for free), but we’ll keep you in check by making sure you have to make a living doing what you hate."
bullshitjobs  geoffshullenberger  astrataylor  labor  work  economics  art  2014  davidgraeber  busyness  inefficiency  waste  politics  morality  productivity  happiness  translation  taskrabbit  buzzfeed  coursera  employment  coercion  discipline  society  capitalism  universalbasicincome  socialsafetynet  class  ubi 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Changed Life of the Poor: Better Off, but Far Behind - NYTimes.com
"Two broad trends account for much of the change in poor families’ consumption over the past generation: federal programs and falling prices.

Since the 1960s, both Republican and Democratic administrations have expanded programs like food stamps and the earned-income tax credit. In 1967, government programs reduced one major poverty rate by about 1 percentage point. In 2012, they reduced the rate by nearly 13 percentage points.

As a result, the differences in what poor and middle-class families consume on a day-to-day basis are much smaller than the differences in what they earn.

“There’s just a whole lot more assistance per low-income person than there ever has been,” said Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “That is propping up the living standards to a considerable degree,” he said, citing a number of statistics on housing, nutrition and other categories.

Decades of economic growth, however, have been less successful in raising the incomes from work of many poor families, prompting a strong conservative critique this year that hundreds of billions of dollars in antipoverty programs have failed to make the poor less dependent on government.

“That’s the crux of the problem,” Mr. Rector added. “What sort of progress is that?”

But another form of progress has led to what some economists call the “Walmart effect”: falling prices for a huge array of manufactured goods.

Since the 1980s, for instance, the real price of a midrange color television has plummeted about tenfold, and televisions today are crisper, bigger, lighter and often Internet-connected. Similarly, the effective price of clothing, bicycles, small appliances, processed foods — virtually anything produced in a factory — has followed a downward trajectory. The result is that Americans can buy much more stuff at bargain prices.

Many crucial services, though, remain out of reach for poor families. The costs of a college education and health care have soared. Ms. Hagen-Noey, for instance, does not treat her hepatitis and other medical problems, as she does not qualify for Medicaid and cannot pay for her own insurance or care.

Child care also remains only a small sliver of the consumption of poor families because it is simply too expensive. In many cases, it depresses the earnings of women who have no choice but to give up hours working to stay at home."
poverty  inequality  economics  materialism  consumerism  2014  possessions  wealth  incomeinequality  income  universalbasicincome  socialsafetynet  ubi 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Manso: Our Generation's Greatest Challenge
"This is indeed our generation’s biggest challenge, but education and minimum income (which is an idea I love) are small potatoes compared to the moral reform this will require.

Many humans’ labor will soon be worth close to nothing. In many instances, it already is. Meanwhile, in the United States, work ethic is strongly linked to moral worthiness. I mean, we use the term work ethic – if you don’t work, you’re good for nothing.

There’s no doubt that we’ll need to invent new things for people to do, but we’ll also likely need to train ourselves to be perfectly ok with people who do nothing. Particularly if we want to implement any kind of minimum income. That’s a far cry from the moral outrage we see directed at “welfare queens” today."
jedsundwall  labor  work  ethics  morality  2014  change  economics  universalbasicincome  ubi 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Who Really Owns The Internet? - The Awl
"Can we solve the issues that you talk about without radically reorganizing the economy?

No. (Laughs) Which I think is why I’ve been so active. I’ve been thinking about this in connection with all these writers who are coming up who found each other through Occupy, and why all of us were willing to participate in that uprising despite all the problems and the occasional ridiculousness of it.

But the economy can be revolutionized or the economy can be reformed, and I don’t discount the latter option. That level of social change happens in unpredictable ways. It’s actually harder to think of a revolutionary event that has had a positive outcome, whereas there have been lots of reforms and lots of things that people have done on the edges that have had powerful consequences. Would I like to see an economic revolution? Definitely. But I think there are a lot of ways to insert a kind of friction into the system that can be beneficial.

This book is about economics, and the amazing, probably very American ability to not talk about economics—particularly with technology, which is supposed to be this magical realm, so pure and disruptive and unpredictable that it transcends economic conditions and constraints. The basic idea is that that’s not the case.

To a lot of people this is self-evident, but I was surprised at how outside the mainstream conversation that insight was. When money is brought up, there’s this incredible romanticism, like the Yochai Benkler quote about being motivated by things other than money. But we’re talking about platforms that go to Goldman Sachs to handle their IPOs. Money is here. Wake up!"



"When I defend institutions in this book, I knew I might provoke my more radical friends. The position that everything is corrupt—journalism is corrupt, educational institutions are corrupt, publishers are corrupt—sounds great. And on some level it’s true. They’ve disappointed us. But we need more and better—more robust, more accountable—institutions. So I tried to move out of the position of just criticizing those arrangements and enumerating all their flaws and all the ways they’ve failed us. What happens when we’ve burned all these institutions to the ground and it’s just us and Google?"



"Do you have advice for what people—people like me—who write or produce other work for the Internet can do about this situation?

I’m encouraged by all these little magazines that have started in the last few years. Building institutions, even if they’re small, is a very powerful thing, so that we’re less isolated. When you’re isolated, you’re forced into the logic of building our own brand. If you build something together, you’re more able to focus on endeavors that don’t immediately feed into that. That’s what an institution can buy you—the space to focus on other things.

What would help creators more than anything else in this country are things that would help other workers: Real public health care, real social provisions. Artists are people like everybody else; we need the same things as our barista.

I quote John Lennon: "You think you’re so clever and classless and free. One thing we need is an end to artist exceptionalism. When we can see our connection to other precarious people in the economy, that’s when interesting things could happen. When we justify our position with our own specialness…"
2014  astrataylor  internet  economics  occupywallstreet  ows  ip  intellectualproperty  universalbasicincome  marxism  miyatokumitsu  precarity  davidburrgerrard  interviews  small  institutions  scale  art  artists  markets  capitalism  automation  utopia  andrewblum  vancepackard  plannedobsolescence  libertarianism  edwardsnowden  freedom  socialmedia  libraries  advertising  benkunkel  publicbroadcasting  quotas  propaganda  technology  web  online  jessemyerson  utopianism  labor  work  artlabor  strickdebt  ubi 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Alive in the Sunshine | Jacobin
"There’s no way toward a sustainable future without tackling environmentalism’s old stumbling blocks: consumption and jobs. And the way to do that is through a universal basic income."



"Consumption doesn’t correspond perfectly to income — in large part because of public programs like SNAP that supplement low-income households — but the two are closely linked. The US Congressional Budget Office estimates that the carbon footprint of the top quintile is over three times that of the bottom. Even in relatively egalitarian Canada, the top income decile has a mobility footprint nine times that of the lowest, a consumer goods footprint four times greater, and an overall ecological footprint two-and-a-half times larger. Air travel is frequently pegged as one of the most rapidly growing sources of carbon emissions, but it’s not simply because budget airlines have “democratized the skies” — rather, flying has truly exploded among the hyper-mobile affluent. Thus in Western Europe, the transportation footprint of the top income earners is 250 percent of that of the poor. And global carbon emissions are particularly uneven: the top five hundred million people by income, comprising about 8 percent of global population, are responsible for 50 percent of all emissions. It’s a truly global elite, with high emitters present in all countries of the world."



"We need to think seriously and expansively about these kinds of work and value — and about the real costs that “sustainability” will impose on individuals and communities. And we need to recognize that this is a truly collective project — that individualized, atomized systems of work and reward are increasingly untenable in the face of the interdependent tangle in which we’re enmeshed.

How might we do that? To begin with, by divorcing income from conventional notions of production, and by instituting a social wage in the form of universal basic income. Basic income won’t, in and of itself, solve environmental problems; it won’t replace coal plants with solar panels or ease pressure on depleted aquifers. If instituted as a justification for cuts to other social programs, it would be disastrous both socially and environmentally; robust public services are necessary if we’re to live on less. But it marks a critical starting point in rethinking the relationship between labor, production, and consumption, without which environmental hand-wringing will go nowhere.

More pragmatically, in providing an alternative to dependence on destructive industries and removing the threat of job blackmail from communities desperate for livelihoods, it makes change a real option, giving workers and communities more power to demand protections against environmental harms. It can start to reorient social focus away from an eternal game of consumption catch-up toward the good life.

It admittedly won’t do much to curb the upper bounds of consumption, at least not right away. But it might point in that direction. Environmentalists like to point to World War II for evidence that people will accept restrictions on consumption for the sake of a shared cause, but the so-called Greatest Generation didn’t exactly accept rations with a patriotic grin. What that experience does demonstrate, however, is that while people don’t like limiting consumption under any circumstances, what they really don’t like is cutting back if everyone else isn’t doing the same. That sentiment is typically mobilized in service of anti-welfare politics: why should I have to work if someone else just gets a check? But during the war, it went the other way: over 60 percent of the population supported capping incomes at $25,000 a year, a relatively paltry $315,000 today.

Of course, the post-work future has long been over the horizon; to propose it as a solution to such time-sensitive problems may seem wildly, even irresponsibly utopian. The revolution might happen in time to avoid environmental catastrophe, but we probably shouldn’t count on it, though some African climate activists have put basic income grants, financed by wealthy nations’ payment of ecological debt, at the centerpiece of their demands."



"Even the US presents some interesting opportunities. One prominent alternative to a straight carbon tax or cap-and-trade system is a policy known as tax-and-dividend, in which the proceeds from a carbon tax would be distributed unconditionally to all citizens — similar to the oil dividend paid to every Alaskan resident. It’s defended as a compensatory mechanism for the higher energy prices that would result from a carbon tax; in more bluntly political terms, it functions as a bribe to garner support for a tax that would otherwise be unpopular. There are plenty of criticisms to be leveled against the plan as currently designed, particularly if it’s considered a stand-alone climate solution — individual dividends won’t maintain levees, support public transportation systems, or build affordable urban housing. But it’s also a potential wedge into new obligations and relationships: the first suggestion of an unconditional guaranteed income, financed mostly by a tax on the environmentally destructive consumption habits of the wealthy. It’s an assertion of public ownership of the atmosphere, and the staking of a new claim to public resources.

Viewed as a bulwark linking unconditional livelihood provision to environmental sustainability, it could be the beginning of a much larger project of ensuring decent standards of living for all regardless of productive input, while reclaiming environmental commons from the false yet persistent narrative of tragedy."



"The post-work future is often characterized as a vision of a post-scarcity society. But the dream of freedom from waged labor and self-realization beyond work suddenly looks less like utopia than necessity.

Finding ways to live luxuriously but also lightly, adequately but not ascetically, won’t always be easy. But perhaps in the post-post-scarcity society, somewhere between fears of generalized scarcity and dreams of generalized decadence, we can have the things we never managed to have in the time of supposed abundance: enough for everyone, and time for what we will."
alyssabattistoni  via:anne  economics  income  postcapitalism  capitalism  sustainability  carbonfootprint  environment  environmentalism  class  consumption  jobs  labor  work  compensation  2014  climatechange  growth  policy  universalbasicincome  ubi 
march 2014 by robertogreco
A Spectre Is Haunting Alaska—the Spectre of Communism | Demos
"In 1976, Republican Governor Jay Hammond started Alaska's sovereign wealth fund (SWF), which has come to be called the Alaska Permanent Fund. The way it works is Alaska has a big pile of money that it uses to buy up the means of production (sometimes called stocks and bonds). Those investments yield returns and revenue for the state. Right now, Alaska plows that revenue into its universal basic income (UBI) program, which is called the Permanent Fund Dividend. The way it works is the state sends a check to every single Alaskan each year. Last year, it was $900, but in better years, it has been as high as $2000. For a family of four, that's a $3,600 and $8,000 income boost respectively.

The Alaska communist story gets more interesting than that though. The way Alaska builds the principal of the fund is in line with another of Myerson's proposals: take back the land. You see, the oil wealth in Alaska happened to reside underneath public land. Instead of doing the red-blooded American thing and just giving all of that natural wealth that nobody creates away to oil companies, Alaska held on to its ownership and collects royalties from the oil. Those royalties are plowed into its SWF. So what you have in Alaska is a state that is leveraging publicly-owned natural resources to build a SWF that pays out a UBI. Or as conservatives on twitter call it: a communist hellscape.

How has communist Alaska fared you may be asking? Well, they have a 10 percent poverty rate, which is 33 percent lower than the nation as a whole. It has the second lowest level of income inequality in the country. It must be pretty cool to live there because half of the shows on TV are about it. It does not appear to be on the verge of collapse any time soon. And there are no, as far as we know, gulags or forced labor camps yet. So all in all, I'd say its adventures in communism have been pretty successful."
universalbasicincome  communism  economics  alaska  2014  jessemeyerson  mattbruenig  income  poverty  inequality  us  policy  ubi 
january 2014 by robertogreco
The Totally Doable Slate of Economic Reforms That Conservatives Are Losing Their Minds Over | Demos
[References this article: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/five-economic-reforms-millennials-should-be-fighting-for-20140103 ]

"Jesse Myerson has a piece at The Rolling Stone detailing five economic reforms he believes Millennials shoud be fighting for. His proposed reforms are a job guarantee, a universal basic income, a land value tax, a sovereign wealth fund, and state banks. I do not generally care for framing that talks about what Millennials should be fighting for because it does not really make any sense, but the five reforms he lists are basically doable and have been written about here and elsewhere before.

Nonetheless, a massive conservative backlash ensued on Twitter in response to the piece. On some level, this kind of reaction is to be expected. Conservatives prefer our institutions as they exist and the way they distribute power, income, and wealth in society. But the conservative backlash did not center around how they just prefer another system. Instead, it was almost universally premised on the idea that these reforms are fundamentally impossible. This is a popular conservative rhetorical move because declaring impossible all of the things that are so much more appealing than what they have to offer is the only real way to advocate the terrible things they support.

Nonetheless, with the exception of Myerson's call for a job guarantee, all of the other reforms he proposes—a universal basic income, a land value tax, a sovereign wealth fund, and public banks—are clearly possible because they already exist in the world.

Universal Basic Income… Land Value Tax… Sovereign Wealth Fund… Public Banks"

[See also: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/pulling-hard-on-left-end-of-rope-makes.html ]
mattbruenig  economics  policy  jessemyerson  universalbasicincome  landvaluetax  sovereignwealthfund  publicbanks  employment  work  2014  ubi 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Why we should give free money to everyone
"We tend to presume that the poor are unable to handle money. If they had any, people reason, they would probably spend it on fast food and cheap beer, not on fruit or education. This kind of reasoning nourishes the myriad of social programs, administrative jungles, armies of program coordinators and legions of supervising staff that make up the modern welfare state. Since the start of the crisis, the number of initiatives battling fraud with benefits and subsidies has surged.

People have to ‘work for their money,’ we like to think. In recent decades, social welfare has become geared toward a labor market that does not create enough jobs. The trend from 'welfare' to 'workfare' is international, with obligatory job applications, reintegration trajectories, mandatory participation in 'voluntary' work. The underlying message: Free money makes people lazy.

Except that it doesn’t."



"Studies from all over the world drive home the exact same point: free money helps. Proven correlations exist between free money and a decrease in crime, lower inequality, less malnutrition, lower infant mortality and teenage pregnancy rates, less truancy, better school completion rates, higher economic growth and emancipation rates. ‘The big reason poor people are poor is because they don’t have enough money’, economist Charles Kenny, a fellow at the Center for Global Development, dryly remarked last June. ‘It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that giving them money is a great way to reduce that problem.’

In the 2010 work Just Give Money to the Poor, researchers from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) give numerous examples of money being scattered successfully. In Namibia, malnourishment, crime and truancy fell 25 percent, 42 percent and nearly 40 percent respectively. In Malawi, school enrollment of girls and women rose 40 percent in conditional and unconditional settings. From Brazil to India and from Mexico to South Africa, free-money programs have flourished in the past decade. While the Millenium Development Goals did not even mention the programs, by now more than 110 million families in at least 45 countries benefit from them.

OECD researchers sum up the programs’ advantages: (1) households make good use of the money, (2) poverty decreases, (3) long-term benefits in income, health, and tax income are remarkable, (4) there is no negative effect on labor supply – recipients do not work less, and (5) the programs save money. Here is a presentation of their findings. Why would we send well-paid foreigners in SUVs when we could just give cash? This would also diminish risk of corrupt officials taking their share. Free money stimulates the entire economy: consumption goes up, resulting in more jobs and higher incomes.

‘Poverty is fundamentally about a lack of cash. It's not about stupidity,’ author Joseph Hanlon remarks. ‘You can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have no boots.’"



"Dangerous? Indeed, we would work a little less. But that’s a good thing, with the potential of working wonders for our personal and family lives. A small group of artists and writers (‘all those whom society despises while they are alive and honors when they are dead’ – Bertrand Russell) may actually stop doing paid work. Nevertheless, there is plenty of evidence that the great majority of people, regardless of what grants they would receive, want to work. Unemployment makes us very unhappy."



"A world where wages no longer rise still needs consumers. In the last decades, middle-class purchasing power has been maintained through loans, loans and more loans. The Calvinistic reflex that you have to work for your money has turned into a license for inequality."
universalbasicincome  mincome  povery  2014  rutgerbregman  welfarestate  via:mathpunk  income  unemployment  motivation  labor  work  inequality  economics  mattbruenig  ubi 
january 2014 by robertogreco
BruceS — Predicting 2014
"From 1964, in the New York Times: August 16, 1964, "Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014" by Isaac Asimov"

"The situation will have been made the more serious by the advances of automation. The world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders. Schools will have to be oriented in this direction. Part of the General Electric exhibit today consists of a school of the future in which such present realities as closed-circuit TV and programmed tapes aid the teaching process. It is not only the techniques of teaching that will advance, however, but also the subject matter that will change. All the high-school students will be taught the fundamentals of computer technology will become proficient in binary arithmetic and will be trained to perfection in the use of the computer languages that will have developed out of those like the contemporary “Fortran” (from “formula translation”).

Even so, mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences, and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014. The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.

Indeed, the most somber speculation I can make about A.D. 2014 is that in a society of enforced leisure, the most glorious single word in the vocabulary will have become work!"
2014  isaacasimov  leisurearts  artleisure  automation  work  labor  universalbasicincome  predictions  boredom  society  ubi 
december 2013 by robertogreco
How to Cut the Poverty Rate in Half (It's Easy) - Matt Bruenig and Elizabeth Stoker - The Atlantic
"By sending every adult and child $3,000 a year, the government could achieve historic poverty reductions. Think of it as Social Security for all, not just the elderly."

[via: http://squishynotslick.tumblr.com/post/69181346113/fishingboatproceeds-to-witness-my-fitness ]
universalbasicincome  poverty  economics  2013  mattbuenig  elizabethstoker  us  government  policy  ubi 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Rethinking the Idea of a Basic Income for All - NYTimes.com
"The recent debate was kicked off in an April 30, 2012, post, by Jessica M. Flanigan of the University of Richmond, who said all libertarians should support a universal basic income on the grounds of social justice. Professor Flanigan, a self-described anarchist, opposes a system of property rights “that causes innocent people to starve.”

She cited a paper by the philosopher Matt Zwolinski of the University of San Diego in the December 2011 issue of the journal Basic Income Studies, which also contained other papers by libertarians supporting the basic income concept. While acknowledging that most libertarians would reject explicit redistribution of income, he pointed to several libertarians, including the economists F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman, who favored the idea of a basic universal income.

Friedman’s argument appeared in his 1962 book, “Capitalism and Freedom,” based on lectures given in 1956, and was called a negative income tax. His view was that the concept of progressivity ought to work in both directions and would be based on the existing tax code. Thus if the standard deduction and personal exemption exceeded one’s gross income, one would receive a subsidy equal to what would have been paid if one had comparable positive taxable income."



the economist F.A. Hayek endorsed a universal basic income in Volume 3 of his book, “Law, Legislation and Liberty”:
The assurance of a certain minimum income for everyone, or a sort of floor below which nobody need fall even when he is unable to provide for himself, appears not only to be a wholly legitimate protection against a risk common to all, but a necessary part of the Great Society in which the individual no longer has specific claims on the members of the particular small group into which he was born.



"Most recently, Matthew Feeney of Reason, the libertarian magazine, wrote favorably about the Swiss proposal in a Nov. 26 post. As a complete replacement for the existing welfare system, he thought it had merit and might even save money. He was especially critical of the paternalism of the current welfare system and the denial of autonomy to those living in poverty.

“Instead of treating those who, often through no fault of their own, have fallen on hard times, like children who are incapable of making the right choices about the food they eat or the drugs they may or may not choose to take, why not just give them cash?” Mr. Feeney asked."
universalbasicincome  inequality  politics  2013  brucebartlett  income  policy  economics  hayek  miltonfriedman  mattzwolinski  us  switzerland  thomaspaine  davidfriedman  meganmcardle  matthewfeeney  charlesmurray  ubi 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Switzerland’s Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive - NYTimes.com
"Go to a cocktail party in Berlin, and there is always someone spouting off about the benefits of a basic income, just as you might hear someone talking up Robin Hood taxes in New York or single-payer health care in Washington. And it’s not only in vogue in wealthy Switzerland. Beleaguered and debt-wracked Cyprus is weighing the implementation of basic incomes, too. They even are whispered about in the United States, where certain wonks on the libertarian right and liberal left have come to a strange convergence around the idea — some prefer an unconditional “basic” income that would go out to everyone, no strings attached; others a means-tested “minimum” income to supplement the earnings of the poor up to a given level."
universalbasicincome  leisurearts  leisuresociety  switzerland  canada  2013  politics  policy  money  income  artleisure  ubi 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Surviving the post-employment economy - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"If you are 35 or younger - and quite often, older - the advice of the old economy does not apply to you. You live in the post-employment economy, where corporations have decided not to pay people. Profits are still high. The money is still there. But not for you. You will work without a raise, benefits, or job security. Survival is now a laudable aspiration.

Higher education is merely a symptom of a broader economic disease. As universities boast record endowments and spend millions on lavish infrastructure, administrators justify poor treatment of faculty by noting that said faculty: 1) "choose" to work for poverty wages, and 2) picked specialisations that give them limited "market value" - ignoring, of course, that almost no one is valued in this market, save those who are reaping its greatest profits.

The college major debate - in which "skill" is increasingly redefined as a specific corporate contribution - extends this inequity to the undergraduate level, defining as worthless, both the student’s field of study and the person teaching it. But when worthlessness is determined by the people handing out - or withholding - monetary worth, we have cause for reassessment.

Failure of the system

It is easy to decry a broken system. It is harder to figure out how to live in it.

What must be made clear is that this is not a crisis of individual choices. It is a systemic failure - within higher education and beyond. It is a crisis of managed expectations - expectations of what kind of job is "normal", what kind of treatment is to be tolerated, and what level of sacrifice is reasonable.

When survival is touted as an aspiration, sacrifice becomes a virtue. But a hero is not a person who suffers. A suffering person is a person who suffers.

If you suffer in the proper way - silently, or with proclaimed fealty to institutions - then you are a hard worker "paying your dues". If you suffer in a way that shows your pain, that breaks your silence, then you are a complainer - and you are said to deserve your fate.

But no worker deserves to suffer. To compound the suffering of material deprivation with rationalisations for its warrant is not only cruel to the individual, but gives exploiters moral license to prey.

Individuals internalise the economy’s failure, as a media chorus excoriates them over what they should have done differently. They jump to meet shifting goalposts; they express gratitude for their own mistreatment: their unpaid labour, their debt-backed devotion, their investment in a future that never arrives.

And when it does not arrive, and they wonder why, they are told they were stupid to expect it. They stop talking, because humiliation is not a bargaining chip. Humiliation is a price you pay in silence - and with silence.

People can always make choices. But the choices of today’s workers are increasingly limited. Survival is not only a matter of money, it is a matter of mentality - of not mistaking bad luck for bad character, of not mistaking lost opportunities for opportunities that were never really there.

You are not your job. But you are how you treat people.

So what can you do? You can work your hardest and do your best. You can organise and push for collective change. You can hustle and scrounge and play the odds.

But when you fall, know that millions are falling with you. Know that it is, to a large extent, out of your hands. And when you see someone else falling, reach out your hands to catch them."

[More from Sarah Kendzior (via Jen Lowe): http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/profile/sarah-kendzior-.html ]

[Like this one: "Zero opportunity employers" http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/09/2013923101543956539.html ]
sarahkendzior  universalbasicincome  2013  economics  employment  education  highereducation  highered  humiliation  suffering  millennials  failure  systemsthinking  labor  ubi 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Why More Vacation Doesn't Always Mean Happier Workers - Olga Khazan - The Atlantic
"The Dutch have incredibly short work schedules, and only about a quarter of women there are employed full-time, despite the government urging that they work more. Who wouldn't love a job that lets you do art projects or get coffee with friends at 2 p.m.?

And even for full-time workers, work-life balance reigns:

"The Dutch have a 9 to 5 mentality much more than other countries have. If it's 5:30, and you aren't at home with your family or on your way there, you're a freak. That means they can detach themselves from the stress more easily than elsewhere," Donnelly said."
netherlands  france  well-being  vacation  work  life  2013  balance  workday  universalbasicincome  labor  work-lifebalance  ubi 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Three trends that will create demand for an Unconditional Basic Income | Simulacrum
"The digitization of our economy will bring with it a new generation of radical economic ideologies, of which Bitcoin is arguably the first.  For those with assets, technological savvy, and a sense of adventure, the state is the enemy and a cryptographic currency is the solution.  But for those more focused on the decline of the middle classes, the collapse of the entry-level jobs market, and the rise of free culture, the state is an ally, and the solution might look something like an unconditional basic income. Before I explain why this concept is going to be creeping into the political debate across the developed world, let me spell out how a system like this would look:

• Every single adult member receives a weekly payment from the state, which is enough to live comfortably on. The only condition is citizenship and/or residency.

• You get the basic income whether or not you’re employed, any wages you earn are additional.

• The welfare bureaucracy is largely dismantled. No means testing, no signing on, no bullying young people into stacking shelves for free, no separate state pension.

• Employment law is liberalised, as workers no longer need to fear dismissal.

• People work for jobs that are available in order to increase their disposable income.

• Large swathes of the economy are replaced by volunteerism, a continuation of the current trend.

• The system would be harder to cheat when there’s only a single category of claimant, with no extraordinary allowances.

This may sound off-the-charts radical, but here’s why you’re going to be hearing a lot more about it:

1 – The Middle Classes Are In Freefall…

2 – Demand For Human Labour Is In Long Term Decline…

3 – Cultural Production Is Detaching From The Market… "
economics  employment  income  universalbasicincome  leisurearts  work  money  2013  luismyth  bitcoin  culture  culturalproduction  austerity  artleisure  ubi 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Ten Responses to the Technological Unemployment Problem | THE DECLINE OF SCARCITY
"On the internet and in the media there has been growing discussion of technological unemployment. People are increasingly concerned that automation will displace more and more workers—that in fact there might be no turning back at this point. We may be reaching the end of work as we know it.

What happens if vast numbers of people can no longer make money by selling their labor? How should society respond? What follows is a list of possible responses to technological unemployment. This list may not be complete. If I have missed anything, or misrepresented anyone’s views please say so in the comments below. Also these responses are not meant to be mutually exclusive; many of them can overlap with each other quite nicely."
futurism  politics  economics  snarkmarketseminar  2013  scarcity  abundance  universalbasicincome  technology  unemployment  employement  labor  artleisure  decentralization  capitalism  automation  socialism  incentives  motivation  wealthdistribution  wealth  wealthredistribution  policy  education  innovation  libertarianism  machines  leisurearts  ubi 
june 2013 by robertogreco
A Town Without Poverty?: Canada's only experiment in guaranteed income finally gets reckoning | The Dominion
"Canada's only experiment in guaranteed income finally gets reckoning"

"Initially, the Mincome program was conceived as a labour market experiment. The government wanted to know what would happen if everybody in town received a guaranteed income, and specifically, they wanted to know whether people would still work.

It turns out they did."
canada  economics  leisurearts  post-productiveeconomy  poverty  income  basicincomeguarantee  universalbasicincome  universallivingwage  1974  1970s  pierretrudeau  work  labor  politics  minicome  newdauphin  artleisure  ubi 
march 2013 by robertogreco
SYNDICATED COLUMN: You're Not Underemployed. You're Underpaid. | Ted Rall's Rallblog
"The solution is clear: to guarantee everyone, whether or not he or she holds a job, a minimum salary sufficient to cover housing, transportation, education, medical care and, yes, discretionary income. Unfortunately, we’re stuck in an 18th century mindset. We’re nowhere close to detaching money from work. The Right wants to get rid of the minimum wage. On the Left, advocates for a Universal Living Wage nevertheless stipulate that a decent income should go to those who work a 40-hour week.

Ford proposes a Basic Income Guarantee based on performance of non-work activities; volunteering at a soup kitchen would be considered compensable work. But even this “radical” proposal doesn’t go far enough.

Whatever comes next, revolutionary overthrow or reform of the existing system, Americans are going to have to accept a reality that will be hard for a nation of strivers to take: we’re going to have to start paying people to sit at home."
universallivingwage  gamechanging  workweek  shiftlessness  ai  tedrall  2012  automation  economics  work  via:leisurearts  leisurearts  productivity  basicincomeguarantee  labor  martinford  post-productiveeconomy  universalbasicincome  artleisure  ubi 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Economic Personalities for our Grandchildren | Jacobin
[Now paywalled, so read here: http://www.peterfrase.com/2012/11/economic-personalities-for-our-grandchildren/ ]

"Lebowitz relates…she loved to write as a young woman, but developed crippling writers’ block once she began to get paid to write…posits that she is “so resistant to authority, that I am even resistant to my own authority.”

"It’s people like this that I’m thinking of when I say that with reductions in working time & something like a generous Universal Basic Income, we would begin to discover what work people will continue to do whether or not they get paid for it. That’s not to say that all work can be taken care of this way… But we can at least start asking why we don’t make an effort to restrict wage labor to areas where it actually incentivizes something."

"I ultimately have a lot of optimism about what people are capable of, and I believe a socialist future would, among other things, bring us more music and literature from the Chris Cornells and Fran Lebowitzes than does the system we live in now."
capitalism  society  incentives  money  economiccompulsion  compulsion  idleness  creation  writing  franlebowitz  soundgarden  robertskidelsky  keynes  humans  behavior  rewards  intrinsicmotivation  trevorburrus  earnedincometaxcredit  taxes  lanekenworthy  mikekonczal  ubi  universalbasicincome  matthewyglesias  nacyfolbre  jessethorn  motivation  economics  behavioraleconomics  cv  authority  creativity  leisurearts  artlabor  labor  peterfrase  socialism  2012  chriscornell  post-productiveeconomy  artleisure 
november 2012 by robertogreco

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