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Old 09-11-2019, 07:12 PM
Heffalump and Roo is offline
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UBI in the US (from the Andrew Yang thread in Elections)


In the Andrew Yang thread in Elections, ralfy is asking some questions that seem more suited to a debate. I'm starting a thread for anyone to discuss his questions or more generally UBI in the US or perhaps Andrew Yang's plan for UBI.

There is a thread that was started already in Great Debated for Andrew Yang's UBI a while ago which I'll link. Andrew Yang's UBI proposal

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heffalump and Roo View Post
This is not UBI. It does not resemble Andrew Yang's plan. The original article that this piece in the Washington Examiner came from had "universal basic income" in quotes. It's not universal. The study gave $1K a month for 6 months to "20 low-income black single mothers living in public housing." The criticism was that they didn't use their money wisely in the first couple months. But even in that study, in a few months, there were some positive outcomes from the original article in The Washington Post here.

Quote:
Soon, Johnson said, the women began sharing small victories. One woman used the extra money to take time off and finish community college. Some sent their children to day camp. One woman filled her gas tank to drive her children to see their grandfather in Pennsylvania. The children had never met him.

At the end of six months, none of the women reported using an emergency lender. Nearly all said they had enough money to buy school supplies, when fewer than half had said that before. They reported cooking more balanced meals, visiting the doctor and attending church more often.

“The beauty of all of this has just been how folks are light,” Nyandoro said. “They aren’t walking around with the heaviness of life that, unfortunately, so many times low-income folks have to carry.”
Paget Kagy, a Yang Gang youtuber, has a nice analysis of these articles in this video. (at minute 10:35)

If anyone is interested in more UBI studies, Yang has many listed on his Yang 2020 site in The Freedom Dividend defined. And Scott Santens has a wealth of information on his Reddit sub on the subject.
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Originally Posted by ralfy View Post
Thanks for sharing that. I shared the article because I'm not a Post subscriber.

I want to know if it's possible to establish whether the UBI will work before implementing it (which should the case for any project of such magnitude), and whether it has been implemented in other countries, and what the results were. My reading is that because what took place in Mississippi isn't really UBI, then it should be ignored, but because there were also positive outcomes, it should?

Finally, FWIW, I like the idea of UBI.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:19 PM
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The only downside I can see is that it might be inflationary.

For the rest, it's good for the economy, in stimulating the demand side.

I recall a story about a Ford exec who was showing a UAW organizer a new Ford automated plant, and he said triumphantly of the machines, "So, how are you going to organize them?" The labor leader responded, "How are you going to sell them Fords?"

UBI cuts that knot, at least to some limited extent.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:39 PM
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Last I checked, a lot of the UBI studies on Yang's site were also not UBI. At least a few were more negative income tax. A few of them were tracking pretty small amounts of money.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:46 PM
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Is there a way to find out if the UBI will work without implementing it?
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:05 AM
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The reason I like UBI is because I really think we need to stop prioritizing "jobs" and start leveraging robots to make sure that we all have our basic needs met. Yes, reading that probably sounds silly, but we actually do a lot of bad things in the name of "not losing jobs" or "creating jobs".

We eventually DO need to get to a point where robots handle a bulk of our labor without any problems - not sure I know the direct path - but at least UBI seems like it would be a stepping stone towards that.

On the other hand, I do think working is good for the human "spirit" and builds a lot of great characteristics, so it's quite a balancing act.
  #6  
Old 09-12-2019, 07:50 AM
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It would be nice if we could get a proof of concept but I think any short-term tests are flawed simply by not being run long enough. 6 months as mentioned in the OP resulted in some good short term benefits but we won't know how how it pans out in the long term. That's a problem.

From my perspective, a UBI program might (note I said might) get us over the hurdle of moving into a post-scarcity society and where automation reduces employment but people still need to be able to pay the rent. I think this could lead us into inflation. I would hope not. But if landlords/mortgage lenders and other cost-of-living sources take advantage, then we'll be in trouble.
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Old 09-12-2019, 09:16 AM
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UBI in its purest form is economic policy based on the broken windows fallacy, AKA paying people to dig holes and fill them up, except without the holes.

Government gets revenue from
  1. Taxing current taxpayers
  2. Borrowing from future taxpayers, or
  3. Inflating the currency.
Most people understand why inflating the currency is counterproductive. Taxing current taxpayers means that one group of people have money, which they spend or invest as they see fit, the government takes the money, and gives it to another group for them to spend or invest as they see fit. (Borrowing means the same thing, except the future taxpayers have to be taxed more to pay the interest, and future taxpayers are less likely to be present to object because they don't exist yet, or haven't seen the bill yet.)

You aren't adding anything - just transferring money from one set of people to another. Total spending+investment remains the same.

The idea that spending is always better than investing is wrong. (So is the idea that investing is always better than spending.) So the idea that UBI is good because it stimulates spending is misguided, because
  1. People spend their own money differently from money they are given, and
  2. spending is not always better than investing, and
  3. Implementing a program now because we want people to spend more runs into trouble when we want people to invest more.
There is approximately 0% chance that the government will stop doing UBI when the advantages of investing outweigh the advantages of spending, and cannot parse a UBI program finely enough to only apply it to situations now where people should invest rather than spend. Because the government cannot predict those situations. Nobody can - markets are emergent.

We do not live in a post-scarcity society. We will never live in a post-scarcity society - the Law of Entropy is not going to be repealed any time soon, and Star Trek is fiction.

On average, members of a society have to produce at least as much as they consume. People don't necessarily want to do that, but they have to. So, either set the UBI low enough that people have to work, on average, and that rather defeats the purpose of UBI, or high enough so that the average person doesn't produce more than he consumes, and hope the productive ones don't realize they are being played for suckers.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 09-12-2019, 09:40 AM
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Finland ran an experiment that ended in December, but as pointed out above, it was too short to get a feel of what the long term consequences might be. The final report is due next year sometime.

I've posted this before, but Kurzgesagt has posted a video on UBI which seems pretty even handed to me. They talk mostly about the "minimum" UBI -- basically the $1,000 a month Yang and AOC are advocating for -- and ask a lot of questions, admitting, "We just don't know."
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:06 AM
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The famous SIME/DIME experiment of some years ago.

People worked less, their relationships broke up more, and although they did more training, it was not typically job-related,
Quote:
Therefore, the potentially deleterious effect of the reduced work history was not compensated for by any job-related skills acquired during the subsidy program.
When you pay people for not working, they tend to work less. Go figure.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 09-12-2019, 01:04 PM
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The UBI is a cure for the lack of jobs due to automation, but at the moment there is near record low unemployment.
Shouldn't we be trying to fix actual problems and not ones that may happen someday?
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Old 09-12-2019, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
People worked less, their relationships broke up more, and although they did more training, it was not typically job-related
I would blame the short term nature of the tests. Something like this will naturally have many social effects. People might feel freer to quit jobs, start businesses, change jobs, get divorces, get married, start families, spend more time on hobbies and less on paid jobs, all kinds of things. That's why we need some guinea pigs for a long term test; something like a decade or two. It needs to be long enough for these things to happen and then for the proverbial dust to settle to see what the actual end result is.

I also have an issue with the $1000 figure being thrown around. IMO the amount has to be tied to the local cost of living. $1000/year is pocket change if you live in Manhattan, and it's a windfall if you live in Farmerville, Arkansas.
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Old 09-12-2019, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JcWoman View Post
I would blame the short term nature of the tests. Something like this will naturally have many social effects. People might feel freer to quit jobs, start businesses, change jobs, get divorces, get married, start families, spend more time on hobbies and less on paid jobs, all kinds of things. That's why we need some guinea pigs for a long term test; something like a decade or two. It needs to be long enough for these things to happen and then for the proverbial dust to settle to see what the actual end result is.
The 5,000 or so families were randomly assigned to two groups. One group was for three years, the other was for five. The effects tended to be greater for the five-year group as compared to the three-year. Which doesn't suggest that the effects would reverse if it went on for a decade, and the effect of the employment gap on subsequent employment would be greater.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 09-12-2019, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralfy View Post
Is there a way to find out if the UBI will work without implementing it?
I encourage you to read the previous thread where I argued that Mr. Yang's proposed plan will fail to achieve its objectives in both the short and long term.

If you aren't convinced by or take issue with my arguments, let me know why not and I will be happy to debate you.

~Max

Last edited by Max S.; 09-12-2019 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:19 PM
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Yeah, it runs into some of the problems of clientelism, in that recipients can easily become dependent to the point where most other policy considerations pale into insignificance.

Sooner or later, expensive social policies benefiting only the most needy will be cut away to service the average voter. The calculus of each public spending choice can now be cast in zero sum terms: either 'they' get the money or 'we' do. And since 'they' is always a minority (even if a majority of individuals are sometimes a 'they'), while 'we' are always a majority, the system will tend always toward increase of the universal payment at the expense of other programs.

This is why libertarians of the right love UBI (despite its appearance of increased government interference), and why anyone on the left who supports it needs to get their head out of the sand. It's not a means to improve welfare, it's a means to abolish it.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:34 PM
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I think some of the support for UBI on the left results from it sounding, on paper, a bit like communism-lite: freeing the workers from wage slavery, without the bother of collectivising the means of production. And it might even work for a while, if implemented in a one-party state with no elections and heavily suppressed popular sentiment.

What I don't think you can do is combine UBI, democracy, and a sustainable welfare state. It's hard enough keeping up support for the latter under current conditions, where the promise of tax-cuts presents a similar temptation to drive down spending. UBI would make things much worse. Where presently the impetus against spending comes mostly from the wealthier segment of society, under UBI you'd place a far bigger proportion of the electorate in a position where any given welfare policy clearly reduces their own income potential. Casting welfare recipients as people who already get their fair share from the universal payment, populist politicians are going to have a field day selling the benefits of smaller government.

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Old 09-12-2019, 06:35 PM
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FWIW, Andrew Yang's proposal already plans to abolish significant pieces of the current welfare program:

Quote:
How would we pay for the Freedom Dividend?

It would be easier than you might think. Andrew proposes funding the Freedom Dividend by consolidating some welfare programs and implementing a Value Added Tax of 10 percent. Current welfare and social program beneficiaries would be given a choice between their current benefits or $1,000 cash unconditionally – most would prefer cash with no restriction.

...

The means to pay for the basic income will come from four sources:

1. Current spending: We currently spend between $500 and $600 billion a year on welfare programs, food stamps, disability and the like. This reduces the cost of the Freedom Dividend because people already receiving benefits would have a choice between keeping their current benefits and the $1,000, and would not receive both.

...
https://www.yang2020.com/what-is-freedom-dividend-faq/
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralfy View Post
Is there a way to find out if the UBI will work without implementing it?
Yes -- look at how it works in other countries that try it -- or have at least seriously considered it, and publicly threshed out the pros and cons.

Here's a good place to start.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
The UBI is a cure for the lack of jobs due to automation, but at the moment there is near record low unemployment.
Shouldn't we be trying to fix actual problems and not ones that may happen someday?
Unemployment is low, but that's not the whole picture. Millions of Americans are just getting by, even if they work two or three jobs. I hope you will agree that does constitute a problem.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkrapine View Post

Yes -- look at how it works in other countries that try it -- or have at least seriously considered it, and publicly threshed out the pros and cons.

Here's a good place to start.
First off, that's a dumb answer. Obviously the way to see if it works is to look where it's been implemented but the question was how to see whether it works before you implement it.

Also, your link contains nothing about countries that have implemented it. Most likely because no country has, unless you count native American tribes.

Last edited by CarnalK; 09-12-2019 at 07:00 PM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by kirkrapine View Post
Unemployment is low, but that's not the whole picture. Millions of Americans are just getting by, even if they work two or three jobs. I hope you will agree that does constitute a problem.
About 5% of workers have multiple jobs. Why is that a problem?
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by CarnalK View Post
... no country has, unless you count native American tribes.
And based on the experience of those native American tribes, it's hard to call it anything but a dismal failure.
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Old 09-14-2019, 07:59 PM
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How is Social Security retirement not a form of UBI? You get it just by getting old and having worked or by being married to a worker at some point (with minimum time limits.) SSI covers the impoverished that never worked or married or otherwise is covered by social security payments. Except for SSI there is no means testing and your payments are based on your former standard of living (you make more, you pay in more, you get back more.) I'm speaking here in a general sense, not everyone is the same. Once you get above a certain age, wages are no longer held against you either.
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Old 09-14-2019, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by PoppaSan View Post
How is Social Security retirement not a form of UBI? You get it just by getting old and having worked or by being married to a worker at some point (with minimum time limits.) SSI covers the impoverished that never worked or married or otherwise is covered by social security payments. Except for SSI there is no means testing and your payments are based on your former standard of living (you make more, you pay in more, you get back more.) I'm speaking here in a general sense, not everyone is the same. Once you get above a certain age, wages are no longer held against you either.
The theory is, beneficiaries of social security are the deserving poor. They earned it or had something happen to them that means they can't earn it.

The reason people under the SS retirement age don't get help is the theory is, if they are able bodied (not completely disabled), they can get work. This has not actually been true during major recessions and depressions, during many times in U.S. history able bodied, competent workers were not finding work.

Nevertheless, during good times, everyone who is able bodied can usually eventually find a job of some sort. Well, except for the other bug we have in our system - if you've been unemployed a while, or you've run completely out of money and can't afford a home or ability to take a shower or wear clean clothes, it becomes nearly impossible to get a job. (one of the reasons for long term homeless)

Similarly, in today's world, if you are an unskilled or semi-skilled laborer, you're basically dogmeat and are next to worthless as far as employers are concerned. Yet just a few months of training in a trade skill would skyrocket your value to employers...but trade schools require tuition and time and if you're poor and homeless you have neither.

The USA is now wealthy enough that we could afford this. The mean income (including all the top earners who are millionaires and billionaires) is 48k a year. So the 12k a year 1000 a month would cost is clearly there in the present economic system, in a sort of Communist wealth spreading scheme. (on paper UBI could be as high as 2-3k a month but obviously this wouldn't work because all the money would be spread evenly and no one would have an incentive to work at all)

But the theory is that everyone needs to do their part, and if we have people loafing when they are abled bodied, then the goods and services they are consuming got produced by other people who are not loafing. And thus they are "stealing" for the community and we can't have that.

This has only been sorta true for about a century.

And with extreme automation, something we don't have but theorize is possible, all goods and services, save just a few things, would be produced by automated machines. So someone "loafing" on UBI is really just costing some time from a set of robots somewhere for most goods and services they consume. In turn, they are "stealing" from the IP owners and landowners of the land where the solar/wind energy was gathered to power the robotics/industrial equipment, and who own the IP*. (which, like all IP, can be copied endlessly without depriving the original)

*long term, you as a human are not consuming anything but energy. Every material you use gets thrown away and is still somewhere on earth and could in principle be recycled back into a good that someone else uses.

Last edited by SamuelA; 09-14-2019 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 09-14-2019, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
About 5% of workers have multiple jobs. Why is that a problem?
I think you need to focus on the "just getting by" part and not the percentage of people working multiple jobs.
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:11 AM
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I think you need to focus on the "just getting by" part and not the percentage of people working multiple jobs.
Poverty is largely a function of not working (either enough or at all) and having too large a household. Only 2.7% of the workforce is working full time and living in poverty. This proposed policy is focused on neither poverty in general nor the working poor. That doesn't make it a bad policy. But focusing on the working poor, and even mentioning the small subset that is (working poor) AND (multiple jobholders) falls squarely in "stop helping" territory.
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:22 AM
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I also have an issue with the $1000 figure being thrown around. IMO the amount has to be tied to the local cost of living. $1000/year is pocket change if you live in Manhattan, and it's a windfall if you live in Farmerville, Arkansas.
Very few people, if any, need to live in Manhattan. NYC is expensive largely because the demand to live there exceeds the space available. The proposed policy is not going to fix this, and adding a local CoL adjustment isn't either.

If we were going to have some sort of basic income, I'd keep it flat and allow people to make market-based decisions on where to use it.
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