Basic Income/Negative Income Tax

The Universal Basic Income: Innovative Social Welfare Reform or Satanic Plot?

An experiment in international aid hits a snag.


Kitab al-Bulhan | wikimedia

The more sour critics of the basic-income movement have occasionally called it a cult, but I didn't think any of them meant that literally. Until now.

Basic-income proposals come in several forms, but the key idea is to center social welfare policy around giving people cash, without attaching conditions that restrict how the money can be spent. GiveDirectly, a U.S.-based charity, has spent several years distributing funds in different East African communities in this anti-bureaucratic manner; one of their aims is to measure the idea's effectiveness. (So far, the results have been positive.) Last month they extended their operations to Homa Bay, a county in Kenya.

There they hit a snag. Elsewhere in Africa, only 5 or 6 percent of the people asked to participate in the program have said no. In Homa Bay County, nearly half turned them down. "As it turns out," Will Le recounts on GiveDirectly's blog, "these challenges have been common for NGOs working in the area. Other development programs focused on HIV, water and sanitation, agricultural development, education, and female empowerment have also faced community resistance."

In Homa Bay County, apparently, the locals are more likely to suspect ulterior motives when someone shows up and says he'll give them something for free. "Potential recipients find it hard to believe that a new organization like GiveDirectly would give roughly a year's salary in cash, unconditionally," Le writes. "As a result, many people have created their own narratives to explain the cash, including rumors that the money is associated with cults or devil worship."

I know virtually nothing about Homa Bay County's culture and history, so I won't speculate about why the people there are more suspicious than in the other communities GiveDirectly has helped. But I can say pretty confidently that it isn't the only place where outsiders bearing gifts won't be trusted, and that any experiments in such transfers' effects will eventually have to take those cultural differences into account. Business Insider reports that GiveDirectly is now thinking about "comparing results across villages where acceptance rates have differed." That's certainly sensible, but a bit of digging into why those rates are different would be wise as well.

(Clarification: While GiveDirectly has plans to launch a full-fledged basic income pilot program, in which members of an entire community receive a long-term income that is enough to live on, the program sparking rumors in Homa Bay County is a more modest set of conditionless cash transfers aimed at the neediest families in the area. I tend to use the phrase basic income loosely—maybe too loosely—as a catchall term that covers a range of related policy ideas; I don't want to conflate these two projects in the process.)

Bonus video: ReasonTV interviewed GiveDirectly co-founder Paul Niehaus last year:

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  1. The reasons for their skepticism may seem silly, but I really don’t blame people who are extremely suspicious of a bunch of strangers appearing from over the sea and offering a bunch of free shit, all the while assuring everyone that it’s no strings attached.

    1. You have to dumb them down to non-sentient levels first. Just put them through a US public education and the job is done.

    2. I don’t trust it when my local bar gives me a free shot of whiskey (though we all know the strings attached to that one…).

      1. Yeah but I imagine that free shot really helps wash away the aftertaste of blowing the bartender.

        1. yeah, you “imagine”…

          1. Stop being so gay you guys, what are you, some type of pony fags? I bet you have a closet full of brony costumes. NTTAWWT.

            1. Blowing the bartender because you just like sucking dick is gay. Blowing the bartender to get a free drink is just economically rational.

              1. No it is not rational. That is retarded. You cannot measure economic rationality from the outside, because you don’t know someone else’s value scale. Don’t drink the Bryan Caplan cool aid.

                1. Chipper Morning Wood’s not falling for THAT one again.

                  1. Fool him seven times, shame on you. Fool him eight or more times, shame on him.

                  2. Damn right. I should have know you have to be more specific than “oral sex” when trading with a Dupont Circle bartender lady.

    3. Free baby formula?

  2. I’m for it. But everyone gets the same amount, I don’t care if they have no income or they’re a billionaire. How do we get around this anyway? Because of our public education system, about 90% of today’s high school graduates are too dumb and lacking in motivation to even do the most basic non-skilled jobs. Pay them to stay home and eat until they are too fat to leave the house, crime rates will plummet.

    1. Our public education system has nothing to do with it. It’s actually pretty good. You just can’t educate left-side-of-bell-curve morons.

    2. so will healthcare costs. It’s the healthy active people that end up costing a fortune.

  3. Why would I give money directly to the poor and deprive all those apparatchiks of jobs? Do you want the apparatchiks to be poor too, Jesse? Do you?

  4. A former African colony suspicious of outsiders bearing gifts? Color me shocked.

    1. “You know, this didn’t go so well the last time…”

      1. Next thing you know the white devils will buy half the continent for some plastic beads and bobbles.

        1. I read that as ‘plastic bobbles and boobies’.

        2. They are masters of Tricknology.

      2. “…but what the heck! I have a good feeling about you!”

    2. Color me shocked.

      I see what you did there.

      1. Crap! And I forgot the trigger warning!

        1. Don’t you mean *igger warning?

      2. Also: Damn you!

    3. Don’t you mean “colorED.”

  5. OT: Meet Baracktrema Obamai: Experts Name New Parasite After Barack Obama

    U.S. President Barack Obama has been honored in a unique way.

    Researchers have discovered a new species of parasitic flatworms inhabiting turtles and has named it Baracktrema obamai, detailing their work in a study published in The Journal of Parasitology. Parasites are beautiful and resilient so the researchers saw naming their discovery after Obama as an act of honor.

    1. Fitting. They should start naming newly discovered molds after Hillary.

      1. does this mean his mother can abort him?

    2. “…the researchers saw naming their discovery after Obama as an act of honor.”

      Sure they did.
      They better watch out if sarcasm gets outlawed here.

  6. Won’t the market adjust to whatever the basic income is? If everybody is guaranteed to receive, say, $2000/month, won’t expenses like housing adjust upwards such that the basic income is essentially a wash and you’re left with the same number of people struggling to make ends meet?

    1. I was thinking conversely in line with what Hyperion was saying. Once you’ve effectively reduced the organisms productivity to being equivalent to slime molds, don’t you just pay for it to (e.g.) leaven bread and ferment beer?

      There are no dairy cattle not earning a living wage.

    2. Yes

    3. This is a case of more money chasing the same amount of goods, so…

      1. Wait, so a UBI would cause the housing and consumer goods markets to freeze at current levels forever? No wonder people are so opposed to it!

        1. Wait, so a UBI would cause the housing and consumer goods markets to freeze at current levels forever? No wonder people are so opposed to it!

          I guess I should have put a qualifier in there like “roughly the same amount of goods” to ward off pedantic leftist shills and useful idiots for the welfare state. One thing is certain, another welfare program is not going to increase productivity, so shifting money around to facilitate consumer spending will almost certainly lead to more money chasing basically the same pot of goods.

          1. Now, Hugh could have meant that the market wouldn’t be frozen because the supply side would be contracting.

            But he probably didn’t mean that.

            1. It couldn’t possibly be that Hugh was being intentionally obtuse again. You can tell he’s a fan of this welfare program because he defends it like all good leftists defend their favorite programs; by attacking language and hanging his hat on arguments that don’t actually deal with the issue in the slightest.

      2. It’s not more money unless it is financed through inflation. If it is financed with taxes or donations, it’s the same amount of money, just redistributed.

        And prices will not go up unless demand goes up. There is no way to predict whether this would happen for a particular good, such as housing.

        1. Prices also go up if supply goes down, which is a likely consequence of a substantial “redistribution”. And the same number of dollars chasing fewer goods/services is itself inflationary.

          Setting aside the fact that a UBI plan will never make it through Congress unmolested, proponents of UBI-qua-UBI don’t seem to understand how economics works. It’s not just “applied accounting”; money on a ledger is fungible, but money changing hands is not. I don’t work for slips of paper or bits in a computer; I work for the intangible value those things are connected to. That value is not innate, inherent, or immutable; it is tied inextricably to the reasons why money is exchanged. Effect a large enough shift in those reasons, and you will generally see a commensurate shift in the real value of money.

          Put another way, UBI has to be effectively neutered as a person’s primary source of livelihood in order to avoid the death spiral of giving people lots of money for nothing. There have to be limitations on eligibility (thus making it not UBI), limitations on how it can be spent (thus making it U-EBT), or a system of incentives (and how does the state enforce incentives?) discouraging UBI recipients from being wastrels.

          1. I never argued in favor of the silly UBI. I was just pointing out faulty economic reasoning. There is no proof that the UBI would result in a lower supply of a particular good.

            1. There is no proof that the UBI would result in ____.

              Fill in the blanks. We’re talking about economics. There is no proof, period.

        2. Ah, so everyone would save the money and not spend it? I think it’s a 99% percent likelihood that demand would go up for SOME items.

    4. “Won’t the market adjust to whatever the basic income is?”

      Thrill to the rising price of 40oz beer cans!

    5. You don’t need to tell them that. They won’t understand it anyway. Just give it to them, it will buy enough cheesy poofs and with free cable, they soon won’t leave the house. Then just use drones to keep delivering cheesy poofs. Just think of the price drops at Walmart from the money they will save on double wide huvarounds. It’s a WIN/WIN I’m telling you.

    6. Probably, because the productive class will be paying for the idle out of their pocketbooks. It would be only rational for them to increase prices to recoup

      I’ve run the numbers and the idea that this could be paid-for by eliminating all existing programs is fantasy — it would have to include Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security along with every other benefit and that still wouldn’t be enough for the level of income they talk about. And you think the gimme class is going to just shut up and not have a word to say about the fact that Bill Gates gets the same check from the government that they do?

      Nope. There will still be the politics of greed. The day after the law is passed there would be activist groups pushing for more money for the “truly needy.”

      It would be the single largest non-means-tested transfer of wealth in human history, and you can bet the productive class isn’t just going to let that money go.

      1. I’ve run the numbers and the idea that this could be paid-for by eliminating all existing programs is fantasy — it would have to include Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security along with every other benefit and that still wouldn’t be enough for the level of income they talk about.

        What’s the level of benefit they’re typically asking for? I recall running the numbers a few years back and figuring that with a 15% flat tax / 15% negative tax you could provide those over 70, unemployed, or indigent with the same amount of cash as someone working 35 hrs per week at a min wage job. $13.5k per year in straight cash is more than enough money to survive on in most of the country, doubly so if you’re willing to have roommates.

        1. $13.5k per year in straight cash is more than enough money to survive on in most of the country

          So not woke you gentrifier

        2. Search for my reply below. $12k is the number I came up with that could be funded by replacing all existing pension, healthcare, education and welfare expenses at federal, state and local levels. That means no safety net except for that $12k check.

          1. That means no safety net except for that $12k check.

            …which is the entire point of the scheme. It replaces the existing safety net.

            Yes, I’m aware that this means it will never come to be. The poverty bureaucracy will preemptively kill any attempts by Congress to implement such a system.

            1. So, we’re done discussing this, then?

              1. Nah, navel gazing is fun sometimes.

    7. Yes, it’s naturally inflationary. All welfare is. Basic income is not an alternative to welfare, it is welfare and so every argument against it is equally applicable to welfare in general. The whole point of it is to get rid of the poverty bureaucracy and to eliminate the hoops people jump through to convert their food stamps into the products they actually want to buy.

      It’s a compromise with the reality that the welfare state is too popular to ever be eliminated. The alternative then is to change the welfare system so that it allows people to behave according to their own interests and priorities instead of the Feds’.

      1. Bullshit. The only thing that is inflationary is an increase in the money supply. If I give a homeless guy $20, I have not increased the money supply.

        1. Price inflationary, which is what most people are referring to when they say “inflation.” Very few people actually understand, never mind care, about M0/M1/M2.

          1. That is a bastardization of the concept of inflation. An increase in price is not inflation per se, contrary to what Bernanke, Yellen, and the like try to convince you.

            1. An increase in price is not inflation per se

              An increase in a price? No. An increase in every price? Yes.

        2. The only thing that is inflationary is an increase in the money supply.


          Inflation is the increase in a ratio. What exactly the denominator measures is a bit difficult to define, but it is roughly “the real value of all the goods and services exchanged in that currency”.

          You can increase a ratio by increasing the numerator or by decreasing the denominator. If you have the same number of dollars but less real value backing them, then you will get inflation. Many socializing economies have seen this happen well before they start printing money. When people stay home instead of showing up for work en masse, or the government puts flunkies in charge of major industries, you’ll get inflation without increasing the money supply by a single cent. Hell, it can just be the result of a natural disaster destroying natural resources, production facilities, or the workforce.

          You giving the homeless guy $20 is like pissing in the ocean. The effect on the national economy is Everybody of means being forced to give every homeless, disadvantaged, or otherwise “poor” person several hundred or thousand dollars every month is an entirely different animal. If it effects a large enough shift in consumption patterns, it can absolutely be inflationary.

          1. I have no idea what you are talking about when you say “real value.” All values are subjective. Are you talking about some objective value concept? There is no such thing.

            1. There is no such thing as innate or immutable value. If that’s your definition of “objective”, then you’re correct. There is however such a thing as observable value, and while it varies from time to time, place to place, and even person to person, it is quite real, albeit difficult to quantify. Otherwise, all of economics falls apart and is pointless. Why do people exchange goods and services? Because they want to. You can’t talk about money like it lives in the clouds and never gets soiled with the reality of being useful to people as a medium of exchange (not to mention its other functions). If it can be exchanged in fairly consistent ways, then it must have some fairly consistent value, or at least be a proxy for value according to a fairly consistent rule.

              I elaborated on what I meant, so you have little excuse for acting like you don’t understand what I’m talking about.

            2. I interpreted “real value” in this context to be, the value of the thing minus the artificial distortions brought on by monetary policy. i.e. a dollar buys you dozen eggs as determined by the give and take between you and the grocer as opposed to what the central bank essentially tells you that dollar should be able to buy. Didn’t really have to read between the lines to glean that interpretation either.

    8. No. There is no such thing as an unforeseen consequence.

      Or market effects. Or common sense.

      Just fairness and equality and feel-goodnessism.

    9. Pretty much what happened with tuition assistance.

  7. Every time I tell a lefty that I’m for this, their eyes light up and they see me in a whole new light. Until I give them the details of why I’m for it. Then I’m a meanie with no empathy and probably a Trump supporter. You cannot agree with the left about anything based on cold logic or reason. You have to do it because feelz or it doesn’t count.

    1. If you were using cold logic, you might have surmised that any welfare program you would support will not lead to the death of any other welfare programs you don’t support because leftists always lie. If you really think the left would live up to their end of the bargain, I’ve got a six pack of bridges to sell you.

      1. They don’t get a choice. We cut the check and close down the entire bureaucracy. That’s the deal. Otherwise, there’s no deal. Look, I’m throwing in free drone delivery of cheesy poofs. What the fuck do they want?

        1. Otherwise, there’s no deal

          Then the whole concept of libertarian welfarism is a moot point. The left does not simply concede territory. Nothing short of economic and political calamity would allow their policy preferences to be rolled back and if that happens you don’t need to erect another welfare program to achieve it.

          1. Everything points to us being screwed. The left do not compromise and the GOP have never tried to make them do so. The current path is unsustainable. Where does that leave us? And again, we have to deal with the fact that we will soon have a majority of Americans who are unable or unwilling to work.

            1. Or work for federal or state government.

            2. we have to deal with the fact that we will soon have a majority of Americans who are unable or unwilling to work.

              Necessity might make people get off their ass. A suit case full of someone else’s money sure as hell won’t.

              If people really don’t want to work, that’s fine. They can starve. And with any luck they’ll die and their genes will die with them, making the human species that much better off.

        2. That’ll work. For all of a month or two. Then they’ll bring out Cletus.

          “Sure Cletus spent all of his basic income on fixing up is ’74 Camaro. Sure he shouldn’t have done that. SO WHAT?! We have to deal with the situation we have. And if we don’t give Cletus food, he’s going to starve. DO YOU WANT CLETUS TO STARVE!??! WHAT KIND OF MONSTER ARE YOU?! And what about his kids? Huh, smart guy? Have you thought about them? They need healthcare! Why should they have to suffer because their father made poor choices?!”

          1. Cletus is definitely in that basket of deplorables, so who cares, right?

            1. That’s not really the point, though. Cletus can just as easily be Tyrone or Jose.

              The point is you don’t wind up with OR. You wind up with AND. A nice system to more efficiently distribute assistance to the poor sounds great in theory. In practice, all you wind up with is an additional entitlement. People will make bad decisions. A big part of why poor people are poor is that they tend to do that. And when they do that under basic income, you’re inevitably going to wind up with the whole welfare state on top of the basic income.

    2. If you think you are any less emotional about your decisions than a lefty, Hyperion, you are just deluding yourself. There is no such thing as an emotionless decision for humans. People with brain damage to their emotional subsystems, such as amygdyla and the limbic system, have a hard time making decisions because they cannot being themselves to care about the outcome.

      1. Hey, I didn’t call you a pony fag!

  8. Comparing this grant program to a permanent universal basic income is silly. It’s akin to saying that “Once I gave ten dollars to an alcoholic and he bought food with it!” is justification for universal basic income.

    Human nature is largely predictable, and anyone familiar with human nature will realize that a permanent, guaranteed universal basic income would be a humanitarian and economic disaster applied to an entire nation.

    Simple fact: You get more of what you subsidize. Pay money for nothing, you get more nothing.

    1. The thing is, we are already doing it. Just thru a bunch of inefficient programs.

      Straight cash might be cheaper for the taxpayers in the long run (in the short run, it clearly is).

      1. I ran the numbers a while back. There’s no way current tax revenues would pay for this, even if every single penny for all current social programs was redirected.

      2. 350,000,000 U.S. citizens.

        If every one of them gets $30,000/year, that’s $10.5 trillion per year. In 2015, total U.S. Federal, State and Local spending was $6.36 trillion.

        Spending on pensions, health care, education and welfare was 4.2 trillion.

        To drop the expenditure down to that level, the UBI would have to be $12,000/year per citizen. And that would have to cover all their retirement, health care costs, housing, education — everything that the poor currrently get subsidies for. Start carving out those basic costs and that money goes quick.

        Of course, every time you have a kid, you get another $12,000, so I see there really being a boom in “UBI moms.” There will be people out there who never work a damn day in their lives getting more than most people make right now hard at work.

        1. Banker: Household income?
          Woman: $240 000.
          Banker (looks woman up and down with subtle lust): You do well, huh?
          Woman (smirks and winks): Yes I do. Yes. I. Do.

        2. Of course, every time you have a kid, you get another $12,000, so I see there really being a boom in “UBI moms.”

          Hell, that’s already happening now. My min-wage, part-time working cousin and his deadbeat wife decided to have another kid, just coincidentally after they found out he made too much money for them to receive a larger welfare payment for their current family of three.

          1. The big reveal: UBI is just welfare by another name. Nobody knows whether it would be “better” than current welfare because it’s never been tried and the real citizens of a nation are an environment so large, with so many unknown and uncontrolled variables that anyone who presents UBI as a utopian solution is blowing smoke up your ass. They can’t possibly know all the positive and negative consequences, both intended and unintended.

        3. So, you’re proposing the absolute worst way to implement such a scheme and saying, “see! It can’t work!” That’s silly.

          1. Please explain how you’d implement the system.

            1. I already alluded to it upthread. Kids eat less and don’t pay rent so providing their parents with the full compliment of welfare is just batty.

              You’re utterly focused on the word universal, but basic is the key term here. If you can feed and shelter yourself then you have enough money. You’re right that that is where most of the focus on expansion would come in, just like today, and it will be up to the future’s welfare opponents to limit that expansion.

              I would prefer payments be made as often as possible to prevent people from acting hood rich on the first of every month. Letting the value tick into an account each day should provide some intangible benefits.

              1. “Kids eat less.” Not to any significant extent after about 10 or so.
                “Don’t pay rent” No, but they still take up space, which requires a larger residence. Current Section 8 rules require each kid to have a bedroom.

                Kids also require healthcare. Since the UBI is supposed to replace all existing social programs, the kids have to be able to pay for their health/dental insurance.

                Since public education expenditures would arguably be on the block to pay for this, the kids would have to be able to pay their local school fees.

                Politically, there is no way of getting around at least a reduced UBI (and not much reduced. Giving a kid a decent life is expensive, and kids are the most optics-friendly demographic on the planet, the idea that there won’t be significant multipliers for poor families with children is just denying reality.

                “up to the future’s welfare opponents to limit that expansion.”

                Who would that be? Some 47% of the population already receives more in benefits than they pay in taxes. UBI isn’t going to change that calculus, it’s only likely to make it worse.

                1. “and kids are the most optics-friendly demographic on the planet”

                  Thank the lord they are forbidden by law from voting.

        4. It would blow up if you give incentives for having children. Instead give a 5k a year bonus for NOT having kids. The problem with our government is that they are always providing perverse incentives.

          1. So, instead you give incentives for demographic suicide. There’s absolutely no way that could come back to bite you (glances over at China’s one-child policy and the vast surplus of adult men with no marriage prospects).

            1. My fembot 3000 line will cure this fix.

          2. “Instead give a 5k a year bonus for NOT having kids. ”

            50K one off payment for a ‘mixed race’ kid and 100K if either parent is black. If it’s social engineering you’re after let’s go about it in the right way.

    2. money for nothing

      but are the chicks for free?

      1. That ain’t workin’, that’s the way to do it!

        1. I want my…
          I want my…
          I want my M-T-V…

      2. Oh, definitely not.

    3. It’s akin to saying that “Once I gave ten dollars to an alcoholic and he bought food with it!” is justification for universal basic income.

      … that is almost exactly what many proponents of UBI argue. They did studies where they gave people sums of money and tracked their progress on certain indicators. Many of those people did do “better” on some of those indicators for a little while. But when the money started to run out, most of them reverted to previous modes of living. They largely failed to save and plan for the future.

      The takeaway for “progressives” is that we should just hand out money to people who “need” it indefinitely. The problem is that they fail to account for any outcomes other than their chosen indicators. Why is it that, when I collect a paycheck, I put some of it in the bank, but when you give out “free” money to someone, they generally don’t do that? What happened to the focus on “sustainable communities” that was allegedly so important?

      Some of the answers come from so-called “progressive” policies. Why is it okay to give somebody $400 for nothing every month, but intolerable to pay them $400 for a job every month? The former is noble giving, but the latter is “exploitation” and “wage slavery”. Why is it okay to deny someone access to short-term, high-interest “payday” loans, but unforgivable to deny them access to mortgages? They provide all sorts of incentives against responsible behavior then claim the only solution is redistribution.

      1. “Why is it okay to give somebody $400 for nothing every month, but intolerable to pay them $400 for a job every month?”

        Because $400 for nothing is an infinite pay rate, and certainly above the minimum wage (even $15/hr)…

      2. “They largely failed to save and plan for the future.”

        That’s no worse than the way things are today. The whole country is up to its eyes in debt.

        “The former is noble giving, but the latter is “exploitation” and “wage slavery”.

        If you had the option of walking away from such a job an falling back on a universal dole it wouldn’t be wage slavery.

    1. I’m so stealing that. I’m using it for my basic fembot 3000 economy model that everyone can afford. Standard parts, b cup only, upgrade path not available, sorry peasants.

  9. I guess my system of handing out rice, black beans, a first aid kit, one set of clothes, and a cardboard box wasn’t well received.

    1. I’ll vote for you.

      1. Me too. You get the basics needed to sustain you for free – if you want more, work for it.

    2. Are they water resistant cardboard boxes?

      1. What the hell do you think bridges and overpasses are for?

    3. “I guess my system of handing out rice, black beans, a first aid kit, one set of clothes, and a cardboard box wasn’t well received.”

      You forgot to throw in a license to practice medicine.

  10. This should absolutely be done on a global scale and with a finite supply of cash.

    1. This being satanic Plots?

  11. Universal basic income may be a good idea in third world countries where it costs very little.

    But some idiots have proposed it in developed countries. Do the math: government can’t possibly raise enough in taxes to provide everyone an above-poverty-level existence.

    1. That’s why they wouldn’t be providing it to everyone.

      1. If they don’t provide it to everyone, it’s not universal basic income.

        1. Everyone will get checks, but most people will pay more in taxes than they get in payments. So the actual number of people getting an above-poverty-level existence solely on the goevernment’s dime on an ongoing basis will be pretty small. Certainly not much bigger than the current number of chronic welfare parasites.

        2. Right. Everyone gets it. You want more than just survival level income? You work for it. Otherwise, sit on your sofa watching reality TV and get too fat to leave the house. Society wins.

          1. Just keep popping out kids. Each kid you have gets you another UBI slice for as long as theyr’e under your roof.

            1. Nope, you get the same amount per household, no surplus for children. In fact, give a 5k bonus for not having kids.

              1. Then it’s not a universal guaranteed income. Kids are citizens, too. If their income doesn’t click in until they turn 18, then there’s going to be some serious progressive activism in the name of big-eyed starving kids. Have you seriously never met any humans?

              2. What’s a household. Sounds like a marriage penalty. Do we get X as one household or 2X as single people? Hmmm. Tough decision.

                1. 1x per adult. Nothing for kids. 5k bonus for having no kids.

            2. So limit it to people eligible to vote.

              1. The headlines for “Heartless government wages economic war on poor children” headlines are already writing themselves.

                Yeah, that rule would last until the first supreme court challenge when whatever blackmailed schlub is forced to turn out a decision that says denying any UBI to children violates equal protection or whatever convenient argument they pull out of their ass.

                1. Some people pay no income taxes — that seems to violate equal protection too.

          2. You’re so naive.

            1. Hardly. I believe that the US economy will crash under a mountain of unsustainable debt and become the world’s largest banana republic.

              I’m theorizing about what could be, not what I think will happen.

              1. Oh, well, OK then. We’re on the same page on that. So long as you know the UBI is completely unimplementable utopianism not only under current political conditions, but under human nature as it has existed for thousands of years.

                1. The base problem, I’ll state again, is we are about to enter an unknown era of human civilization where most people are unemployable. We have to find some way to deal with that. I’m not sure what the solution is, but the first thing we should do is make sure we throw out any idea that leftists might have as their ideas are a proven failure and we can’t morally let people starve.

                  1. You’re caught in a Catch-22 as the base moral justification for leftism is “we can’t morally let people starve.” All leftist solutions spring from that. Congratulations, welcome to leftism.

                    You’re probably more spot on with the “We Are Doomed” theory.

                    1. Ok, you can let people starve and you’re ok with it. Not wanting to let people starve does not make one a leftist, geez.

                    2. Tellingly, you are unable to offer any non-leftist solutions to the problem. UBI is a leftist solution with just a different accounting method than traditional welfare.

                    3. I don’t want to let people starve, but every single proposal I’ve seen has been a leftist proposal. I’m in the “We Are Doomed” camp.

                    4. The left also claim to be liberals. Who says it’s their idea?

                    5. I know it doesn’t follow emotionally from one step to the next, but you start with UBI and eventually somewhere along the line it becomes morally allowable to simply expunge parts of the deadweight society. Most commonly this takes the form of a ‘minority’ population.

                      This is history 101 folks. The moral underlining of ‘don’t let people starve’ is a lie and always has been.

                      If you’re starting from ‘most of society will be unemployable soon so they need something to live on’ I can tell you exactly where it’s going to end up. In the short term you shuffle paper around to buy their vote, but when you don’t need them anymore you just create yourself some camps or let the starvation winnow out the weak.

                      In no scenario is there a post-scarcity society, so if you’re including that somewhere in your mental calculus your abacus is broken.

                2. “but under human nature as it has existed for thousands of years.”

                  Don’t underestimate humanity’s capacity to adapt to challenging circumstances. Adapt or die.

              2. ” the world’s largest banana republic”

                Who will be America’s patron? You need someone to buy those bananas or whatever else it is that serves the purpose.

      2. Universal basic income may be a good idea in third world countries where it costs very little.

        The other (neglected) aspect of this is modernity. It’s dead simple for people in Africa to get a dump truck full of cash and think, “We need to build some farms, purify our water, and generate some electricity.” Chicago, on the other hand, could stand to stop shooting people to death and nobody has any real good ideas about how to get that to stop even if 10 dump trucks full of cash were dumped on it. Supposedly, NYC is suffering from obesity and at least one dump truck full of cash was dumped trying to ban sodas.

    2. The gov’t will borrow it. Just like now.

      1. You mean like the $2.5 billion “loan” Amtrak received from the Department of Transportation? Nah, that would never happen.

    3. What exactly do you propose we do with the millions of emotionally and mentally crippled victims of our public education system? They can’t work and you can’t let them starve, so what do we do with them?

      1. you can’t let them starve

        Says who?

        1. Seriously, most people.

          1. Well, I, the only person I can speak for (just like everyone else), am content to let them starve. I’m all out of fucks to give for the well being of those who refuse to help themselves.

    4. You forget that money is wealth. So all the government has to do is print money. That magically creates wealth. Free stuff for everyone!

  12. In Homa Bay County, apparently, the locals are more likely to suspect ulterior motives when someone shows up and says he’ll give them something for free.

    Too bad Americans lost this healthy skepticism when FDR and his Brain Trusters started shoveling truckloads of money at people. Things have gone downhill ever since.

  13. Might stifle self-development for those inclined to coast, but could help to partially untangle the mess that is welfare.

  14. Related: KDW on Medicaid fraud.

    Some perspective: We’re spending more than seven times as much on improper, illegal federal payments as we do on NASA. We’re spending nearly 20 times as much on improper, illegal federal payments as we do on the National Science Foundation. We could build 13 Ford-class aircraft carriers every year for what we are spending on improper and illegal payments driven by Obamacare. We’re spending twice as much on improper and illegal payments as it would cost to pay all the tuition costs of every American college student. (Not that having Uncle Stupid do that is a good idea.) If improper and illegal federal payments were an economy of their own, that economy would be bigger than Hungary’s and and more than twice the size of Guatemala’s.

    One benefit to scrapping the multiplicity of targeted welfare programs and instead opting for a UBI is inspiring price-consciousness in the minds of those doing the spending.

    1. I always like to point out to the “profits in medicine is evil” crowd that we spend more on fraud and waste in medicare/medicaid than medical insurance companies earn in profits.

      1. But…but…Medicare is a super-efficient system!


      2. It’s all about intentions. Government doesn’t intend for fraud to happen, while insurance companies intend to make a profit. That means fraud is OK, and profits are not.

        1. I see how this works: Cops don’t mean to shoot citizens, but bangers be out there bangin.

    2. You missed this quote:

      “And all poor white people should die!”

      Classic Williamson.

      1. You really have to read between the lines while holding them up to a mirror. It’s clear as day.

  15. Before reading the article, before reading the comments – Every redistributionist scheme ever has been sold with ‘its a lesser evil than what we have now’ and ‘It’s just this one little thing, we promise it won’t grow into the ravenous monster our detractors say. Sheeesh, *waives hand* they just want to throw grandma off of a cliff.’

    In answer to the question the question in the title: It is a Satanic plot, no doubt about it.

    1. Ok, then we just give every unproductive citizen a role in either ‘My 600 lb life’ or ‘Hoarders’ and let the advertising dollars pay for basic income.

      1. At 600 lbs there will be plenty of room for advertising. Fat people will start looking like race cars.

        1. I’m totally ok with this. Just please cover them with something large first.

    2. I would love to implement this just to see how NPR trashes the idea 5 years hence.

    3. People advocating it seem to forget that the poorest recipients of the UBI will be legion, and that they vote. Permanent majority beggar class for whichever side panders to them best.

      I give it 2-3 house election cycles after initial passage before it’s morphed from a UBI to hard marxism “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

      1. Permanent majority beggar class for whichever side panders to them best

        We can hardly create something that already exists.

        1. Then acknowledge that UBI won’t move the needle even a smidgeon in the right direction.

          1. It could depending on how it’s done. And anyway, it will mean more poets and artists. What’s not to love about that? Why do you hate poetry and art?

            1. Woah, you’re channeling Nancy Pelosi:


              House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Obamacare facilitates the type of “liberation” that the “Founders had in mind” because it allows you to quit your job and become a “photographer,” a “writer,” a “musician”–or “whatever.”

              “As you hear from these stories, this is a liberation,” Pelosi said at a Capitol Hill news conference Thursday.

              “This is what our founders had in mind–ever expanding opportunity for people.

              “You want to be a photographer or a writer or a musician, whatever — an artist, you want to be self-employed, if you want to start a business, you want to change jobs, you no longer are prohibited from doing that because you can’t have access to health care, especially because you do not want to put your family at risk,” she said.

              Enjoy your existential crisis.

            2. It could depending on how it’s done.

              Statement requires proof that has not been forthcoming.

  16. So we’ll turn the entire US into an Indian reservation?

    1. It’s already a reservation of sex perverts and druggies. Why do you need to drag the Indians into it? Do you hate curry or what, you racist bigot monster!?

      1. Oh, I forgot, and a basket of deplorables.

    2. An Indian reservation or worse, e.g. Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit….

    3. Bingo. Perfect analogy.

    4. I can’t wait to my gasoline huff on.

      1. It’s after noon. What’s stopping you?

    5. The left (and right?) really hate to look at the reservation system as the local dead end of redistributionist collectivism.

  17. I’ve done quite well with my Nigerian counterparts thank you very much.

  18. If (IF!) the government is going to redistribute wealth, I favor doing so in the form of a cash payment, instead of enlightened social engineering projects requiring vast herds of well-intentioned bureaucrats and social workers.

    1. Aw, bless your little heart if you think one single government worker would lose his job over this.

  19. What’s going to happen is that supporters will take this evidence from an NGO voluntarily giving money to others as evidence as to why people should be forced to give their income to others through government action and taxation.

  20. GI could only work if we get rid of welfare in its current form plus weed out some bad apples. In other words, start from scratch and hope the morons in power run it properly.

    Good luck with that.

    If I may offer my experience. The province here deposits the daycare tax credit directly into their accounts. Yet, I still have a couple of people a month claiming they can’t pay and when we pry them to find out why they usually say they spent the money. The skillful ones try and manipulate emotionally and say they spent it on food or clothes for school because who would dare question that, right? We do. And we remind them the money is explicitly for daycare and the government will ask for it back when you file anyway because on our books it goes down as non-payment.

    People are not always responsible with their money as we know.

  21. “Government is the great fiction where everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else.”

    -Bastiat, 1848

  22. Stupid. The key to helping people is stop trying to ‘help’ them. They’ve survived for thousands of years. They’ll be fine. Yes this is satanic – it makes them dependent and quashes incentive and fosters indolence and resentment. It creates a fragile class that is easy to abuse and exploit. Yes of course they will spend it on drugs and alcohol and blow smoke up your ass. Why not?

    1. Bingo.

    2. The Universal Basic Income, or UBI/UMI represents a kind of surrender. The elimination of the welfare state is a non-starter, so let’s try to at least eliminate the bureaucracy, treat the recipients like… well, almost like adults (They get an allowance, but we don’t tell them what they can spend it on) while filling some void of compassion in our hearts.

      1. while filling some void of compassion in our hearts.

        Maybe try a hobby, instead?

  23. The funny thing is, people don’t want stuff that they didn’t earn themselves. So if you give them free stuff they will squander it. Guaranteed.

    “The one thing I did that I’m always proud of ? the first time I got money, I worked all one summer in a service station ? I bought my mother some teeth,” he said. “If I do nothing else in my life, I got my mother some teeth.”

    – Harry Reid at DNC

  24. “Potential recipients find it hard to believe that a new organization like GiveDirectly would give roughly a year’s salary in cash, unconditionally”

    Before judging “these people,” imagine how *we* would react if some guy comes up to us and says “how would you like to make a lot of money, no strings attached?”

    Or when a spammer says it on H&R?

  25. I’m totally for UBI in theory.

    I’m 100% dead set against it in practice because the U.S. political system will rebuild the entire social safety net on top of it within 20 years even if explicitly not permitted to do so.

    1. You get it. (Except that I’m against it in theory, because any honest discussion of it in theory has to acknowlege the reality you have identified).

      1. A solid point, perhaps “under laboratory conditions” would be a better qualifier.

  26. What’s the point? So that people won’t starve in the streets? First of all, if people are starving in the streets then the problem isn’t basic income, it’s usually the government starving their own people. And the US needs to stop supporting those governments and undermining every attempt at reform, like we do with Saudi Arabia – “If you don’t let us persecute the freedom bloggers then we’ll lose control of the extremists gonna getcha!” And which China does for North Korea (out of manufactured hysterical fears of ‘refugee crisis’). Secondly, if you want to see people starve in the streets, set up a UBI and wait 20 years.

  27. It might just be the dumbest idea in history.

    If everyone gets the same amount of money, it simply raises the poverty line. Any significant amount of money given to every person in the country would massively increase the yearly budget that we already can’t afford to pay for. Hyper-inflation. And on, and on, and on.

    People who think there is a single redeeming quality to this idea should be shot in the head.

  28. A friend of mine is the second most powerful REPUBLICAN in my state, He’s pretty much accepted that this minimum payment scheme is but a few years off (as will the US declining to second world status). Completely unrelated, he has not had children (purposefully), and he and his third wife – in about a decade – will settle up all their financial affairs and be moving out of country. Pure coincidence I’m sure, which makes his political dealings – seeming to be purely shoving as much privilege to cronies as possible – an illusion on my part.

  29. RE: The Universal Basic Income: Innovative Social Welfare Reform or Satanic Plot?

    This is a wonderful idea.
    I’m sure all the wealthy socialists (and fascists) out there are more than willing to give up their money to a bunch of corrupt, stupid and criminally insane folks at the UN so everyone here in the Western world can work hard, sacrifice and go further into working class poverty so other people around the world can buy some bitchin’ new Nike Jordans, an iPhone and a new Mercedes. Yes sir! Oh, wait. That mercifully won’t happen. Our ruling elitist filth will ensure the rich and the politically connected won’t give a penny for this new form of re-distribution of wealth. They’ll just pass it on to all us little people. That way, we’ll all get poorer, the politically connected will not suffer the ravages of practicing what they preach and the third world will be finally be able to piss away our money on needless shit they don’t understand much less appreciate.
    Won’t life be wonderful?

  30. So, one of the arguments for UBI is that technology will soon make large swaths of the citizenry unable to find a job. At the same time, new technologies will greatly reduce scarcity, while vastly expanding life expectancy.
    I think there is some kernel of truth in this. Once you have self replicating nano tech, today’s 3D printing will look extremely primitive.
    So, when you only need a handful of people to build a sky scraper, and most consumer products are created in the consumer’s home, how does the average person make a living?
    If we truly are entering a new phase in the evolution of our species, the old economic models may no longer be accurate.

    1. People will find ways to make the money that they’ll need to buy the goods and services that are being made more productively. The problem is that many of those ways are illegal. And I don’t mean they’ll all go into the drug business, or start gangbanging. What I mean is that they’ll have to step outside the IRS-controlled, Department of Labor-regulated, EPA-mandated, etc. economy.

      You’re right that our “economic models may no longer be accurate”. Those models just happen to be statutes and regulations.

      1. Those models just happen to be codified as statutes and regulations.

  31. Regardless of ones views on a basic income, the underlying assumptions might soon change dramatically. The right technology can dramatically improve matching individuals with open jobs. And since human beings are still the most cost effective source of flexibility for tasks that are not high value or high volume enough to justify automation the right technology can not only search for places where people can add value but also create them. Furthermore, in the information economy where there is no physical scarcity of materials the number of jobs that can be created is infinite. Using these facts technology can actually increase the number of jobs and the certainty of getting one … to virtually guarantee a basic income without politically imposing one. Download “The Technology Gravity Well” until it’s September 15, 2016 launch date.

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