Basic Income/Negative Income Tax

'Labor Unions Now Play a Particularly Boutique Role in the Economy'

The future economy is going to be self-managed, says former SEIU leader Andy Stern. Get out of its way-but give us a universal basic income.

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FRANCIS DEAN/DEAN PICTURES/Newscom

As president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) from 1996-2010, Andy Stern was called "the nation's most politically influential union president." Now Stern believes that labor unions are increasingly irrelevant. "Labor unions now play a particularly boutique role in the economy," he told The Atlantic in an interview about his new book, Raising the Floor, which advocates for a universal basic income (UBI).

A UBI-type system, in which traditional welfare programs would be abolished and each citizen would get a certain yearly handout (regardless of personal income or worth), has been supported by libertarians, liberals, and conservatives alike over the past few decades. As automation, globalization, and the information economy make many jobs obsolete, advocating for a UBI—also known as a "basic income guarantee" (BIG)—has been coming back in intellectual vogue. 

"I believe that this is not our father's or our grandfather's economy, that the 21st century will not be employer-managed," Stern said. "It's going to be self-managed, because the growth in alternative work relationships—contingent, freelance, gig, whatever you want to call it—is clearly going to increase. Although the economy can grow in terms of GDP and productivity, it no longer means there will be wage growth or job growth, as opposed to the 20th century."

Stern left traditional labor organizing because he "could not figure out anymore how a shrinking labor movement, a changing economy, a changing structure of work" could lead to economic security for Americans. "If you can't figure out where you're leading an organization, it's pretty hard to get up everyday and go to work. So I resigned," he told The Atlantic. And it wasn't just SEIU resistant to change, of course. "I would say that unions are not generally oriented towards thinking too far into the future," Stern said.

We spend most of our time chasing the future and trying to understand it rather than finding ideas that put us where the future was heading and have it come towards us. We are spending, appropriately, a large amount of energy on $15 an hour wages, getting governments to promote paid family and sick leave. In the absence of unions being able to make changes in workers' lives, people are turning to the government as a solution to do that on a broad scale.

But unions have rarely thought 10 or 20 years ahead, and universal basic income requires that kind of thinking. What I'm hopeful, somewhat from this book, is that unions can look up from the defensive crouch they're in, look into the future, and understand that so many of the things they're doing now that are enormously important could be very insufficient. And that they'll begin to think of universal basic income as they think of minimum wage, as an idea that becomes essential if we're going to end inequality, provide stability, and keep the American dream alive.

It's interesting that while mainstream liberals and Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, push plans to shoehorn new on-demand-economy work into traditional employment and labor-union structures, someone straight out of the belly of the beast is saying no, no, no, that's the exact opposite of what we should do. Read the whole Atlantic interview with Stern here. For more on basic income proposals, see: 

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  1. “Labor unions now play a particularly boutique role in the economy,”

    He spelled parasitic wrong.

    1. Goddammit. I came here to make that EXACT. SAME. JOKE.

      1. That is no joke.

  2. Democrats can’t use or don’t need labor union support anymore, I guess.

    1. Good lord, unions are they only thing holding them together.

      1. I thought Transgender politics were the new glue.

        1. How many xe/xers do you have to render to make a tube?

          Or do you just use the left-over parts?

        2. If Hillary loses in November, perhaps Team Blue will discover that the Transgender population in a given state is like 6. 6 people does not a winning coalition make.

          1. And they have no money

  3. As president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) from 1996-2010, Andy Stern was called “the nation’s most politically influential union president.” Now Stern believes that labor unions are increasingly irrelevant.

    What is it with statist shitheads and coming around to how bad the old policies are only after they’ve left a position where they can do anything about it?

    1. Well, I guess there is some level of honesty to quitting an organization with which you no longer see eye-to-eye. (I may be giving Mr. Stern too much credit here)

  4. …..and where is the money going to come from that will be required to fund this?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    1. We’re going to shutter all those inefficient, fraud-beset, wasteful welfare programs to pay for it. We’ll implement the guaranteed income immediately, and then gradually phase out the welfare programs… eventually.

      1. …but first we’ll need to bring a zillion new FTE on board to administer the new program. They will, of course, be union employees.

    2. The wealth will all be created by Star Trek replicators – which can also infinitely replicate themselves.

      Otherwise there is no such things as everyone “getting” a Universal Basic Income.

      Because “getting” is a NET calculation. You cannot not have someone pay X amount to the government and receiving a rebate of one tenth of X. He is not “getting” anything – he is paying.

      So the whole concept is an economic fiction.

      1. Everyone ‘gets’ the ‘x’ amount, they didn’t say how much you’d be paying into it beyond a certain income though did they?

        Something tells me the answer is anything above ‘x’.

        1. I wasn’t clear, but the assumption being that they are ‘taking’ everything from everyone. Then, after that, you ‘get’. At least, that would be my supposition.

          1. From each according to their ability, to each the exact same amount.

      2. Just so. What most people don’t realize is that automation will lead to a drastic, like Industrial Revolution drastic, reduction in the cost of goods and services. Universal Basic Income will not be needed as workers will be able to work far far less hours in order to enjoy a higher standard of living than we currently enjoy.

        Our biggest problem is that the political class and their moronic supporters are busy killing off businesses in job lots with their crazy ideas like trade protectionism and a $15 minimum wage.

  5. As automation, globalization, and the information economy make many jobs obsolete, advocating for a UBI?also known as a “basic income guarantee” (BIG)?has been coming back in intellectual vogue.

    Once everyone has $X per year, that will be the new zero. You know what comes after that?

    Price controls. Can’t have prices above what the guaranteed income can afford. That wouldn’t make any sense at all.

    1. Once everyone has $X per year, that will be the new zero.

      My thoughts exactly.

    2. You know what comes after that?

      Price controls. Can’t have prices above what the guaranteed income can afford.

      Yep. Then when they realize that the companies which are being price-controlled can’t remain viable in that market, they’ll nationalize the producers of those “essential goods”.

      All we need is a Bus-Driver president.

      1. All we need is a Bus-Driver president.

        Is it racist to point out that this is a pre-existing condition?

    3. Once everyone has $X per year, that will be the new zero

      Nah. What it would be is a massive disincentive for lazy people to not work at all.

      Basically, Stern is talking about stealing from productive people so he can get a large class of people removed from the workforce and dependent on government, and thus ready to vote for whichever group of politicians is most interested in growing said government.

      Which is about as unlibertarian as it gets.

      1. So, nothing will change.

    4. But everyone already DOES have $X. Only a tiny number of people in the US are living hungry on the streets. Nearly everyone is receiving the basic necessities of life?housing, food, clothing, etc., and even minimal medical care?in spite of the fact that only about half of us are actually making living through work. The way we deliver this is a catastrophically complex, degrading, intrusive and corrupt non-system of means-tested benefits, begging, and stealing. Why not replace this junk pile with a simple and efficient system?

      1. A simple and efficient thievery?

        1. Please, tell me more…?

  6. Is a Universal Basic Income universal for everyone ? Or only those who work ? Will a universal basic income then be used to justify “forcing” people to work ?

    If not, then we have a recommendation for a basic income regardless of whether one works or not. Why work in cases where a higher market wage could not otherwise be made ?

    1. If it only applied to people who work, it would just be the minimum wage.

      1. Without the minimum wage’s destructive effects on the unskilled.

        However, tying the basic income to some nebulous concept of “work” would just create an industry of not-really-work designed to get that handout and nothing more.

    2. Don’t know how this one works, but when Friedman was proposing it way back when, the idea was to have a negative income tax.

      Basically you pick some arbitrary line (say 30k) and you say that 0-30k has a -50% marginal rate. This means someone with 0 income earns the minimum 15 grand, while for every additional dollar they see a 50% total return (i.e. If I make 10 grand, I get a check for another 10k (30-10=20 20×0.5=10) meaning my overall take home is 20,000, which is 5,000 more than if I hadn’t worked at all. This would accomplish the basic charity task as well as preserving some incentive to work (although would still likely have the effect of making 15k the new 0, as people pointed out above).

      1. As long as one works “off-reporting” (no w2, no 1099, paid in-kind, sell dope, etc.) it just becomes extra income.

        And it will be racist to enforce “off-reporting” income activities.

      2. I like that idea, but the percentages obviously aren’t applied to income directly, otherwise a person making $0 would receive $0… Do you have a link to the proposal? Here’s what I would do: http://wethefederalists.com/am…..l-welfare/

    3. If there is a basic income, it should be paid daily. Recipients have to arrive at the Basic Income Office between 8 and 9 every morning to have their debit cards topped off. No show=no payment.

      At least that way the chronically unemployed would get “training” in the skills they really need: dragging your ass out of bed and showing up every day whether you feel like it or not.

  7. ” UBI-type system, in which traditional welfare programs would be abolished and each citizen would get a certain yearly handout (regardless of personal income or worth), has been supported by libertarians”

    No, it hasn’t. Anyone who supports stealing money at gunpoint and giving it to someone else is not a libertarian, regardless of the precise mechanics of distributing the stolen goods.

    1. Anyone who supports stealing money at gunpoint and giving it to someone else is not a libertarian,

      You know who else wasn’t a libertarian?

      1. I’m beginning to think there hasn’t ever been a single libertarian.

        1. Silly rabbit = anyone can be a libertarian. They just need to write articles for Reason and PRESTO its like a magical make-turds-smell-like-candy machine.

          1. It smells like candy, but the taste takes some getting used to.

      2. You know who else wasn’t a libertarian?

        Everyone but Michael Hihn. NOW WHAT DO I WIN.

          1. (laughing)

        1. No, no (laughing), there are also another 9% or so.

    2. No, it hasn’t. Anyone who supports stealing money at gunpoint and giving it to someone else is not a libertarian, regardless of the precise mechanics of distributing the stolen goods.

      Well there goes Milton Friedman and F. A. Hayek.

      1. Ever heard of Milton Friedman? F.A. Hayek? Charles Murray?

        Morons.

    3. [standard libertarian disclaimer]

      1. Unless you are an anarchist, some sort of government income means is going to be necessary.

      2. While the obvious best choice is a Single Land Tax, it probably isnt within the overton window at this point.

      3. A negative income tax with elimination of ALL transfer programs (including social security) would be an improvement over the current tax system. With a 30% flat rate and a monthly check to every US citizen, we can eliminate poverty and balance the budget*. And for a family of 3 like mine, the breakeven point where taxes is greater than rebate is somewhere in the mid 70s.

      It isnt a libertarian solution but it is a hell of a step in the right direction.

      *based on a excel spreadsheet I threw together sometime in the not to distant past. It is a back of envelope calculation, but close enough for non-government work.

    4. Who said anything about stealing at gunpoint? As long as electronic fiat money exists, it’s merely stealth theft by inflation. The entire purpose is to ensure that the purchasing power of the UBI always trails the rate of inflation. Those who want to live on a UBI get the eventual pestilence they crave.

    5. Your gubment issued the monies, the monies belong to the issuer. You just have the illusion of ownership, so it is just the illusion of theft.

  8. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. Im using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I do,

    ==========>>>>> http://Usatoday.nypost55.com

    1. USA Today and New York Post merged?

    2. This is how it’s done! Even spam bot proves we don’t need no stinking “universal income”. He made $64,000 so far this year, and he’s a full time student!

  9. Of course handing out money like candy at Halloween won’t cause any inflationary pressures, so this BIG won’t be subject to constant increases.
    Of course.

    1. Nor would it ever be an easy way for political candidates to try to appeal to voters. “Vote for me and I’ll riase the UBI by (some number much greater than zero)!”

      1. Imagine the pandering:
        ‘My opponent is a piker; he thinks you can live with only a X increase in the BIG! I promise you a 2-X increase!’

        1. Jack Johnson: I say your three cent titanium tax percent UBI increase goes too far.
          John Jackson: And I say your three cent titanium tax percent UBI increase doesn’t go too far enough!

      2. Increase the dole!

        /Roman Head Count

  10. A UBI-type system, in which traditional welfare programs would be abolished and each citizen would get a certain yearly handout (regardless of personal income or worth), has been supported by libertarians, liberals, and conservatives alike over the past few decades.

    If you advocate this, you’re a statist on this issue, however much you might consider yourself libertarian in other aspects of life.

    1. The only valid libertarian argument to support this is ‘Not as shitty as reality”.

  11. Stern left traditional labor organizing because he “could not figure out anymore how a shrinking labor movement, a changing economy, a changing structure of work” could lead to economic security for Americans

    IOW – this scam is getting old = need to find new scam

    Or is it really just the same scam with a new name? Its always, “What to do with other people’s money?”

    1. Possibly this.

      I don’t have too much of a problem with the consensual formation of trade unions, it is just the special protections that they get from the state that create the problems.

      1. I don’t have a problem with private-sector unions at all. Freedom of association FTW.

        Except when it comes to public-employees. I don’t think anybody who is paid w/ taxpayer money should have the right to unionize and then elect their own bosses.
        .

        1. I have a problem with private sector unions in that they are treated as special entities by the government.

          But otherwise, yes.

        2. Unions as we know them today exist because of a slew of government exemptions and privileges.

          Do away with those, and I wouldn’t have a problem with them. Of course, there either wouldn’t be any, or they would be very different than the crony unions we have now.

          And no, pubsec employees should not be allowed to unionize. On this, I agree with FDR.

  12. Here’s a better idea, let’s just get rid of money. Then income inequality couldn’t even be possible. People would do whatever makes them happy as long as it at least marginally supports society. Most of the real important work will be done by robots, so most people will have to perform short stints in the robot factory. We could just have something, let’s call it selective service, that would determine when each citizen is required to report to the factory. Wouldn’t that be glorious?

    1. I actually know someone who argues precisely this. Someday, in some shining utopia, mankind will have no need for money as robots will build everything and we all live in prosperity, occasionally tending to the robots.

      We’ll all just sit on our fat asses at home and everything will be delivered straight to us with no effort whatsoever. Makes perfect sense.

      1. Was his name Gene Roddenberry?

        The post-scarcity mumbo-jumbo is the worst part of ST mythology.

        1. Even in the Culture universe, with god-like AI and almost unlimited resources, they had to reinvent money.

        2. “We were a terrible people just like you are now, but we learned to give up money and violence.”

      2. Sounds like the plot for an animated movie.

      3. The future in H. G. Wells’ Time Machine presents a dystopia, not a how-to manual, ffs!

        1. That was simply a failure of Wells’s imagination.

      4. In this scenario, it sounds like we become the orphans to our libertarian robot over-lords!

        *Hail Skynet*

        [Jockeying for a position as house orphan]

    2. Here’s a better idea, let’s just get rid of money.

      There’s a tailor-made movement for that, too.

  13. There is a place for labor unions in the world, especially for those in the skilled trades. In my admittedly small and second hand experience, when Unions work like talent agencies, matching up journeyman tradesmen with a particular jobs, they work quite well. Of course the Unions do far more than that, and many of those other things are decidedly anti-competition and anti-liberty

    1. I have no problem with private sector unions. Owners of capital form corporations and hire managers to represent them in the process of combining labor and capital to produce goods, it’s completely fair that labor do the same. Additionally, it’s not the role of unions to be pro-competition or pro-liberty, but to represent the interests of their members. None of this really applies in the public sector, however, and that seems to be where unions have really taken off.

      1. No – they all stink.

        The problem is that public sector unions will only contract out work to private sector work that is also unionized, thus driving costs up for everybody.

        1. The root problem is that public sector unions represent labor in a negotiation not with managers of scarce owned capital, but with politicians with access to effectively unlimited taxpayer funds. What ensues is not a real negotiation, with concessions being made by each side, but a one-sided drubbing in which both sides of the table have aligned incentives. Everything else is just a consequence of this. Only use union labor for private sector work? Sure, why not! Unrealistic pension obligations? That’s going to be somebody else’s problem! Etc, etc, etc. Unfortunately, there’s no political reason to tell government workers that while they’re free to associate with one another, the job is take it or leave it, period.

  14. Now Stern believes that labor unions are increasingly irrelevant.

    What am I going to do with my giant, inflatable Scabby The Rat?

  15. Too many people don’t realize that if everyone in the world got one billion dollars richer tomorrow morning, we’d have exactly the same number of rich people and poor people that we do right now.

    1. Yeah, but with so many more billionaires!

    2. You would have a lot more poor people. You would erase most wealth through dilution of existing stores of wealth.

  16. But unions have rarely thought 10 or 20 years ahead, and universal basic income requires that kind of thinking.

    Something Stern is clearly still having trouble with. If he bothered to think long term he’d know all he’s doing is incentivizing people to not work, complain more about how little money they get, and he’d probably be a little more free market oriented.

  17. As automation, globalization, and the information economy make many jobs obsolete, advocating for a UBI?also known as a “basic income guarantee” (BIG)?has been coming back in intellectual vogue.

    Women hardest hit.

    1. Women hardest hit.

      By the BIG?

  18. OT, but far and away one of the best post-Brexit columns I’ve read this week.

    Telegraph writer responds to a salty 20-something who couldn’t vote Remain because he doesn’t know how to drive a car:

    Poor public transportation makes leaving impossible in a practical, everyday sense ? at least if you can’t drive.

    Learn how to drive, then. Problem solved.

    The town thwarts any ambitions that stretch beyond its borders. From what I can tell, a young person from Alresford, forced to move back in with his parents after college, will typically find himself unable to get work that is not based in Alresford.

    That whole “learning how to drive” thing can be extremely helpful.

    And it is impossible to leave Alresford, because Alresford is not just a place: It is an ideology that infects your very soul. Let’s call it “Alresfordism.” It is an ideology of smallness, of contraction, of wanting to curl up in our own personal, financially secure hole and will everything amusing or interesting or exciting in the world away.

    For the love of God, is there nobody in Britain who can teach this idiot how to operate a steering wheel and a couple of pedals?

    1. And, my favorite, the piece de resistance:

      Brexit is the result of a deep nihilism among the British public. This nihilism has not just emerged recently; I’ve lived alongside it my whole life. This is the nihilism of Alresfordism, a security-driven retraction toward death.

      It’s as though someone loaded Elizabeth Farrelly into a particle accelerator, smashed her into a teething two-year-old, and transcribed everything the resulting monstrosity said as it expired.

      Give the whole thing a read. It’s fantastic.

      1. The open borders allowed too many East Germans in Britain. Note how few layabout-British emigrated to eastern Germany.

      2. Reminds me of Chris Elliot’s book “Daddy’s Boy”. The torturous hell of being forced to wear Gold Toe socks.

    2. To fully convey the horror of Britain’s EU independence, the New York Times publishes the tortured thoughts of 27-year-old University of Essex philosophy lecturer Tom Whyman ? who isn’t even independent of his parents:

      I have to confess, I’m having a hard time getting past this.

      1. Is he the British version of Pajama Boy?

        1. Honestly, after reading the excerpts, I strongly suspect Pajama Boy would totally kick his ass in a fair fight.

      2. He’s as old as I am, but he still has to move in with his parents when school’s not in session, because he doesn’t make enough money at his university job. If I was in his position, I would starve trying to find even a menial bottom-tier job near the uni before I thought about going home.

        1. I’m not going to speculate on what’s going on, but I know a couple my age that has a late 20s daughter still living at home with her husband.

          Discussing this social curiosity with my friends, in their daughter’s case, it’s about expectations. She and her husband could live on their own, but they don’t want to rent an apartment. They want their FIRST out-of-home living experience to be in a home they own.

          I think gone are the days of young people moving into the first apartment they could afford with folding lawn chairs for furniture, a futon on the floor and a cable spool as a coffee table. Maybe parents of older generations sucked just enough to incentivise their children to want to leave home. Maybe there’s a place in evolution for sucky parenting. I’m really beginning to believe this.

          1. I’ve found it varies significantly in my generation (late 20s). I know some people who still can’t seem to figure out how to fold laundry or clean the bathroom and I know some people who are living quite nicely in their own apartments with real furniture and nice cars. Similar backgrounds and schooling, different attitudes about life.

            You aren’t going to hear about those of us living normal lives. It’s not anything worth talking about.

            1. You aren’t going to hear about those of us living normal lives. It’s not anything worth talking about

              this is absolutely true. When young people do… sorry– this is going to sound bad… but when young people do what they’re supposed to do, it definitely isn’t worth talking about. Or sadly, maybe it is.

              It’s like the Chris Rock routine on black folk bragging about doing shit they s’pposed to do.

              I think it IS worth talking about how we’ve got the largest percentage of “kids” between the ages of 18 and 34 still living at home.

              And I’m the first to admit there may be many complex factors, such as the how great Obama’s recovery is… so good that people be all like “fuck, if I leave home, I’ll get a massive sunburn from all this economic sunshine!”

              I get that.

              1. Granted, my view is extremely limited so my post was just anecdotal. It’s not surprising that the majority of people (they’re not kids for Christ’s sake, no matter how much mommy and daddy want their baby boy to stay around) between 18-34 are still living with their parents.

                It’s like a large portion of an entire generation just never got told to grow up, now that you’ve got me thinking about it.

                1. My parents have offered to put me up for a few months if I move down near them for a job, but I’ll be getting the heck out of there ASAP, because I do like them, and enjoy visiting them, but I don’t enjoy living with them. And honestly, I will probably spend a lot of weekends there anyways, if I get a better job near there, since Dad has the nice big TV for sports, and they are getting older, so if I can help Dad with projects in the early morning, then watch some sports, play some cards, and have a home cooked meal, I’m all for it.

                2. My parents have offered to put me up for a few months if I move down near them for a job, but I’ll be getting the heck out of there ASAP, because I do like them, and enjoy visiting them, but I don’t enjoy living with them. And honestly, I will probably spend a lot of weekends there anyways, if I get a better job near there, since Dad has the nice big TV for sports, and they are getting older, so if I can help Dad with projects in the early morning, then watch some sports, play some cards, and have a home cooked meal, I’m all for it.

                  1. Apparently the squirrels approve of my plan. I wonder if the Reason Server farm is where all the white squirrels went to (look it up, it’s a thing where my parents live).

    3. For the want of a driver’s licence, the EU was lost.

      Although I pushed past and came across this. The best one-liner I’ve read all week.

    4. Research interests

      Frankfurt School critical theory (especially Adorno), German Idealism, Ethical Naturalism, Wittgenstein, the early Marx.

      Of course you do.

      And why is it so unsurprising when the great fans of critical theory finish their essays by expressing a desire that all their enemies be destroyed in a cataclysm of violence? *IM SO SMART WHY DO I NOT HAVE POWER OVER EVERYONE!??**

      1. Well, if all this nature is bigger than us, then I want it be get even bigger. I want it to become so big that it will consume all of our smallnesses, invalidate them, smother them out. Not just Alresford. I want a demented, throbbing, fecund nature to overrun this whole country, to overturn the wretched consequences of the laws that we have, in our stupidity, set for ourselves.

        HHRRRRRRNGGGGHHH I HOPE YOU FILTHY STUPID COMMON RACIST BIGOTS GET WHAT YOU DESERVE AND IT KILLS US ALLLLLLLL

        1. I think we may have finally located White Indian.

            1. *narrows gaze, and sheds a single tear, ala Iron Eyes Cody*

        2. That’s the kind of vapid gobbledygook you can only get from a philosopher. I expect him to become even less coherent as he matures.

          1. Socrates was a stone mason, and then was a hoplite during the Peloponnesian War. Plato was a great wrestler in his youth and created the first institute of higher learning in the Western World. Aristotle was tutor to Alexander the Great.

            And this fucking 27 year old has the nerve to even use the term “philosophy” in his job description?

    5. I saw that. Its hilarious.

        1. I once visited a lake in Palau filled with jellyfish that had been cut off many centuries ago from their natural predators. As a result, subsequent generations of jellyfish lost their ability to sting. You can pick up three or four of those globey suckers and juggle them, if you wish. Not a single toxic barb will strike.

          Modern millennial baby people ? protected by political correctness, shielded by safe schools, guarded by the Guardian ? are much like those inert Palau jellyfish. They have lost the ability to fight back in any precise or potent way, and are therefore easy marks for their battle-hardened parents.

          They’ve replaced their ability to form a reasoned-argument with flopping on the ground and screaming “IM A VICTIM!! A VICTIM!!””, but they don’t seem to realize that this move doesn’t actually work unless they’ve imposed bureaucratic controls over the entire system in advance.

    6. Not so easy as it sounds. They drive on the wrong side of the road over there.

    1. Here’s my editorial on managed economies:

      They Don’t Work.

      1. Au contraire.

        For certain values of “work” (such as, enrich the shit out of apparatchiks), they work a charm.

  19. It’s pretty simple: we have a welfare state. It exists and it will always exist in some form because the 2% of the population that’s libertarian is never going to have its way.

    The issue therefore becomes, what’s the best way to make the welfare state less intrusive and wasteful? I would gladly trade giving every Tom, Dick and Harry a monthly supplement if it meant we abolish every Federal welfare agency.

    If people can’t live on X amount a year they deserve to begging on the street and most people would agree. It also removes the smokescreen progs use about “devastating cuts’ to welfare programs explaining lingering poverty.

    1. I would gladly trade giving every Tom, Dick and Harry a monthly supplement if it meant we abolish every Federal welfare agency.

      I suspect you may be trying to solve is/ought with a healthy application of more ought.

    2. But they will spend their money on the wrong things! People need to be coerced through careful bureaucratic management of their resources so they can be righthinking productive members of society. People are far too stupid to manage their own lives. This is what government is for.

      1. And what is government but people?

        Really lazy, stupid people.

    3. In theory, it sounds like a preferable program. In theory, communism works. In theory.

      Yeah, I do think there’s something to the UBI argument, though I’m not convinced the numbers totally work. But it’s the political reality of it that concerns me. That alone stops me from ever being a cheerleader for it. Things might be better if it was implemented, but I doubt the real-world benefits would be so great that we ought to hitch our (admittedly meager) wagon to it.

  20. With the labor participation rate at historic lows, half of us are on this program already. We’re just administering it very inefficiently. Why not distribute the dole in a simpler and more effective manner?

    1. Well, my first thought is that when we recognize that our system is irretrievably broken, the solution doesn’t involve making it more efficiently so.

      I entertain the thought that I might be wrong, though. This happens often.

      1. “you are an old man, who still thinks in terms of…” etc.

        The idea is a new system that recognizes new realities. We don’t all have to work for a living all our lives anymore. That’s great! Working at jobs just so you can survive sucks. If technology can reduce that burden, let’s take advantage of it and enjoy it. What’s so fucking great about working for a living? Imagine what can be accomplished by people freed from the fear of homelessness and hunger. They will be freed to take risks, to try something new, to apply talents that go to waste in menial jobs they cling to in order to have the basics of survival.

        1. Okay, there’s the jam and free beer. Now where’s the pill?

          Dreaming is lovely. Mankind has gotten no where, but for first having a dream. Now tell this old man the practicalities of it. Show me how it works, don’t just sing the praises of jam and free beer.

        2. You seem to be making an assumption that today’s labor participation rates are due to technology, and not shitty government meddling in the free market.

          I see little evidence of the first and gobs of evidence for the 2nd.

        3. We don’t all have to work for a living all our lives anymore.

          I know. Its awesome, that some people are wealthy enough they don’t have to work.

          How that excuses people who aren’t wealthy enough to support themselves from, well, supporting themselves, I haven’t figured out yet.

          1. Allowing for purposes of discussion that one needs such an “excuse”, I would say that the lack of opportunities to “support themselves”, resulting in large part from the lack of any need for their efforts, would excuse them.

    2. Yessir! How about this way: http://wethefederalists.com/am…..l-welfare/

  21. Explain to me how automation is going to eliminate so many jobs it necessitates UBI. People have been foretelling how automation is going to eliminate jobs for generations. Now this time it is different because “technology”?

    1. What’s different is that it’s actually happening this time. Jobs are being eliminated and not replaced. Nearly half of adults are not employed right now. Tens of millions of Americans who would be working at jobs now can’t find one. And why should they have to? If technology can reduce how much we toil at jobs, why not celebrate that and enjoy it rather than seeing it as a problem?

      1. And why should they have to?

        Because I’m sick of paying for them to sit on their asses? There is plenty of work out there that current Americans are too fucking lazy to do. And there is plenty of potential work that they aren’t training themselves to do.

        Let’s say everything we do today gets automated. There will *still* be more than enough work to go around – it will just be work that nobody has even thought of yet.

      2. I do celebrate it. Efficiency is a wonderful thing. Those tens of millions of Americans will figure out something else to do to support themselves if the rest of us weren’t forced to hold them up, even if they have to go back to fucking subsistence farming to do it (which I’m pretty sure the Progs would also love).

        1. Progs like the idea of subsistence farming, because they think it’s a bunch of people living the Shire growing organic kale and taking wheat to the mill for grinding, with fairs and festivals on the weekends, sipping a pint at the Green Dragon while somebody in the corner strums a lute.

          They don’t think about how difficult that life really is in terms of the actual work involved, the living hand-to-mouth, dying of starvation in years when the crops are bad and the significant amounts of deforestation that would have to occur if millions of people went to that lifestyle.

          1. They just label that last bit as population control.

            1. Right now, one of the methods of population control we’re using is the skyrocketing rate of suicides among middle-aged and older white men who can no longer find a way to support themselves.

          2. Not to mention the dying early because there’s no surplus to enable things like doctors and hospitals.

    2. The trains to the death camps will be automated?

  22. A UBI-type system, in which traditional welfare programs would be abolished and each citizen would get a certain yearly handout (regardless of personal income or worth)

    Something like that would certainly be preferable to the current hodge-podge of ~80 or so means tested welfare programs. Of course, the trick would be making sure those programs are actually canceled and never re-started by future politicians.

    In King Cynical Asshole’s America, there would be a UBI of 50% of “poverty level” (defined as 1 standard deviation below the mean)* that everyone would get, regardless of income or circumstances, no other welfare programs, no federally mandated minimum wage, and a 25% flat income tax. The UBI would offset the income tax and then some for anyone making less than 2X the mean income, functioning similar to a negative income tax for anyone making under 2X mean, but with the advantage of being more simple in execution. Of course, as King CA, I would also amend the Constitution so that “Congress shall not enact any means tested welfare program in the future and any elected Representative who proposes one shall be fed feet first through a woodchipper” (of course, they’ll find a way around that, they always do, but it might slow them down a little).

    1. *I’d be flexible on the exact amount, but that seems like a reasonable starting point. The trick is to set the UBI low enough that people still have an incentive to seek work, but high enough to still be remembered as a merciful King. Aw, who am I kidding, I don’t give a shit what the peasants think.

    2. Works fine until some SC justice rules that giving someone a dirty look has the penumbra of a woodchipper-related punishment, and is therefore satisfactory.

      1. Actually I’d be more worried about the SC ruling that being fed feet first through a woodchipper is cruel and unusual punishment and invalidating the whole amendment.

        1. Just think of a woodchipper as a food processor and the universal basic food requirement is covered.

    3. You’re supposed to feed the woodchipper head-first.

  23. I know of someone who just milks the system and refuses to work, relying on the Gov’t and Mommy and Daddy, and they are in their 30s. It’s like these people never had a real parent in their life.

    I’m not a parent, but I have an (almost) teenage cousin who started working and doing odd jobs for money over the summer — he likes working and is saving up so he can build a computer. You want something, you work and save for it, that’s moral. He’s 12 and wants to work, and i know people 3 times his age who are lazy f**ks and choose not to work.

    Instead these twits want to do nothing and steal from other people’s work to buy the things they want. They never grew up and their parents must be ashamed of themselves for raising such useless individuals.

    1. I know of someone who just milks the system and refuses to work, relying on the Gov’t and Mommy and Daddy, and they are in their 30s.

      You actually know Am Soc?

  24. I think UBI is probably preferable to the current system in some countries, but probably not the US.

    At the federal level, the government spends about $500 billion on means-tested non-health care social programs, plus about $900 billion on Social Security and somewhere around that for health care programs. That comes out to be between $2-2.5 trillion overall, and about $1.5 trillion on non-health care programs. (The reason I draw the distinction is that I don’t think a UBI that eliminated Medicare, Medicaid, etc. would ever have even a remote chance of passing. I don’t know if there’s any amount you could make it that it would be palatable to liberals, and if there was such an amount, it would be far too high for conservatives and libertarians).

    With over 300 million people, a $10,000 UBI would cost over $3 trillion a year. A $5,000 one would still cost over $1.5 trillion, more than all non-health care programs today. Even if you excluded children, non-citizens, etc. it’s still virtually impossible to make the math work. Especially considering that even a $10,000 UBI would never get passed (even setting aside concerns about cost and the possibility of ending health care programs) because that amount is still less than the average Social Security check. So you would need to give a higher benefit to seniors, costing even more money.

    1. To avoid the exponential costs and inadequate incentives associated with UBI, all that needs to be done is to make the program means tested and add a work requirement… Like so: http://wethefederalists.com/am…..l-welfare/

      1. I agree. I think something that worked like a combination of the EITC + negative income tax could definitely be an improvement over the status quo. Maybe even if it exempted SS and health care programs from the chopping block. But that would drastically reduce its appeal to liberals.

  25. Union = luddite. By the very formation, that is all they serve as.

    Unions members will have to be paid to stay home just so those savages won’t riot.

    UBI will not work any more than any other socialized pay/benefits for parasites. I understand it will likely have to be attempted but will not work for same reason that venzuela does not work

    Unions have always only existed as a form of extortion power over their employers. Nothing more really. All that crap about skilled labor proving their value is BS. They were simply greedy enough to fuck their bosses which was really stupid.

  26. UBI’s never going to work out in a way that makes libertarians happy, even in a “better than the alternative” sense. Like anything the left proposes, it’s a fucking scam.

    Yes, this time might be the time that automation really puts the screws to human labor, especially purely rote mechanical human labor. But I guarantee you that the people that own, maintain, and manage physical capital will still be well-compensated in such a system, which suggests that instead of laborers switching to a different form of labor (or switching to welfare and all the evils brought on by perpetual childlike dependency to a powerful state), social stability requires that they instead switch to managing capital to make their living.

    The middle class will have the resources (and, hopefully, the foresight) to make the transition to microcapitalism first (and have the best chance of hedging by continuing to perform skilled work). They can and should lend a helping hand to the less fortunate to do the same (ideally, by leasing physical capital under very generous terms with the intention of eventual sale). Mutual aid societies would be well positioned to do this, if we can get them going again and shield them from the jealousy of the Total Technocratic State.

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