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Old 09-11-2019, 08:12 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, 09:19 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, 09:39 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, 09:46 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, 06:05 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.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:50 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, 10:16 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, 10:40 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."
  #10  
Old 09-12-2019, 11:06 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, 02:04 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, 02:19 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, 02:47 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, 03:50 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 03:50 PM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:19 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, 06:34 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.

Last edited by Mrs McGinty; 09-12-2019 at 06:36 PM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:35 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, 07:47 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, 07:51 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, 07:59 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 08:00 PM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:04 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, 08:07 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, 08:59 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, 09:20 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 09:23 PM.
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Old 09-14-2019, 09:22 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, 07:11 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, 07:22 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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Old 01-30-2020, 04:59 PM
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This discussion starting here was copied from The Andrew Yang thread in elections since it's more about UBI.

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Originally Posted by DSeid View Post
My WAG is that awareness of the UBI concept is pretty flat since the first debate and that net unfavorability of it is also unchanged. His likable style has won some new supporters, but the idea that he means to promote has just been a lead balloon. Rightfully so mind you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heffalump and Roo View Post
Krystal Ball tweet from 1/26/20:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krystal Ball from The Hill
This is actually crazy. @AndrewYang has moved the needle an insane amount on this.
From the latest Emerson poll, from 1/23-26/20 favorabilty of UBI is at 53%.

Quote:
Emerson College Polling/@7News Iowa Poll:

Would you be supportive of a Universal Basic Income of $1000 a month?

53% yes
30% no
17% unsure

The majority of voters, 53%, support candidate Andrew Yang’s signature policy of Universal Basic Income of $1000 a month for all U.S. citizens over the age of 18. This contrasts to 30% who do not support the plan and 17% who are unsure. Those 18-29 years old are the most likely to support this policy, with 83% of support. A majority (61%) of those 30-49 years support UBI, while only 45% of those 50-64, and 32% of those 65 and older support the policy.
That's up from 48% favorable/52% unfavorable in a Gallup poll in 2/18. Or up from 43% in a another Gallup poll comparing other countries in June 2019. Or up from 49% favorable/ 52% unfavorable in a The Hill/HarrisX poll in September 2019. In the video, they reported an increase from February 2019 which showed a 43% favorability with the same question.

Yang says that their internal polling shows UBI favorability at 61%.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heffalump and Roo View Post
Looking back at the data, these polls are not exactly an apples to apples match to the Emerson poll. The Emerson poll included registered Democrats and Independents. The Gallup polls included Republicans. The HarrisX poll is unclear. Since I couldn't find any other UBI poll that matched the data set exactly, these are guideposts for reference.
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Originally Posted by DSeid View Post
You can go to the 2/18 Gallup poll itself to see the breakout to make a bit more apples to apples.

In that Gallup poll before Yang's campaign it was 65% favorable/35% unfavorable among Democrats and 48%/52% among Independents.

The current Emerson 53% favorable number is just likely Iowa Democratic caucus goers.

Still different varieties of apples but more consistent with a LOSS of support for the idea since Yang than an increase.

Looking at the Hill/HarrisX September poll among Democrats it was 66% favorable and Independents ran 48% Favorable - up from their 2/19 poll, less than the newest Emerson results, and on par with Gallups 2/18 numbers.

It would be a bit insane to look at the Emerson number and claim that he's moved the needle an insane amount on this.
Yes, considering that Iowa is a more conservative state even with regards to Democrats, it's difficult to make an apples to apples comparison.

Krystal Ball gave a little more explanation for why she noted that it was insane how much Yang had moved the needle on UBI. She noted [youtube timestamped] that before he started talking about UBI, it wasn't even being polled. That matches my experience of trying to find polls before 2018 on UBI. By 2018, the polls I've listed are already showing some gains Yang has made in publicizing his view.

It would have been interesting to see the internal polling for UBI that Hillary probably did when she was considering putting the UBI platform in her campaign. She was going to call it Alaska for America. Ultimately, she decided against it because she was running after Obama and didn't want to make it seem like he should have done it. Also, she was trying to get the taxes from fossil fuels which would go against the climate change message. Her other messaging though would have been very similar to Yang's messaging on the Alaska UBI and the carbon tax and financial transaction tax. She says she couldn't really find a way to get the messaging to integrate into the rest of the platform of the campaign.

Hillary Clinton on UBI [youtube]

In another video, she wonders what would have happened if she tried it. I too wonder since she had the name recognition that Yang doesn't have. But I think Yang's messaging is better because of the timing and because it integrates better into his platform.

Obama has also been speaking about UBI, and I also wonder how he could have changed the discussion about it if he had talked about it more while he was President.

Obama on AI and UBI
[youtube]

This clip is almost identical to Yang's platform.
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:37 AM
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Honestly my comment was less about UBI than whether or not Yang has succeeded in what I believe were his major goals he had in running: getting UBI to be a major part of the debate; ideally getting another candidate with a better chance of winning to take it up; and moving the public opinion needle on it.

As to your response: Iowa is a conservative state but Iowa Democratic caucus participants are more liberal than the average rest of the country's Democrats. Point though holds that these are Granny Smiths to Honey Crisps.

The polling is the data we have though and if it shows anything at all (fair enough to question if it shows anything at all), it shows decreased support for UBI among Democrats since Yang joined the game promoting it. The idea has been fairly roundly rejected or ignored by other candidates and most of the public. He wanted it to be the Big Idea of the cycle. It isn't.

FWIW I listened to the 2018 Obama clip and didn't exactly hear Yang's platform there. I heard a comment about how work is more than income, that it is dignity, and that there may need to be some fundamental re-imaginings in the future, with UBI as part of a list of stated possible things that might need to be considered in that future.

Yang was not really any significant part of the public discussion on UBI before mid to late 2019 btw. The recent years interest, including even the $12K and AI parts, more comes from Andy Stern's 2016 book "Raising the Floor".
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heffalump and Roo
She was going to call it Alaska for America. Ultimately, she decided against it because she was running after Obama and didn't want to make it seem like he should have done it.
Cite?

That seems ludicrous on its face, unless she wasn't planning on any new proposals during her presidency. It also doesn't align with her actual reasons for ditching it that are given in your links.
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Old 01-31-2020, 04:58 PM
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Cite?

That seems ludicrous on its face, unless she wasn't planning on any new proposals during her presidency. It also doesn't align with her actual reasons for ditching it that are given in your links.
Seconded. Heffalump and Roo's cite (Vox) actually quotes Hillary Clinton's memoir What Happened as saying the numbers didn't work out:
"We would call it 'Alaska for America.' Unfortunately, we couldn't make the numbers work. To provide a meaningful dividend each year to every citizen, you'd have to raise enormous sums of money, and that would either mean a lot of new taxes or cannibalizing other important programs. We decided it was exciting but not realistic, and left it on the shelf. That was the responsible decision." ~ Hillary Clinton
~Max
  #32  
Old 02-01-2020, 05:05 AM
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I guess the GD question is:
"UBI in the U.S.A.'s near future: Possible? Good idea?"

I agree with Hillary: it's a good idea in general but it won't, and shouldn't, happen anytime soon. It would be a huge expensive program and inevitably fraught with big biases and unfairnesses.

Instead, we should take smaller steps toward the same goal: Make tax codes more progressive; Fund childcare, soup kitchens, colleges; Remove the stupid reverse-incentive "cliffs" (or whatever they're called) from means-tested programs. And most importantly, provide government-funded healthcare for all Americans.
  #33  
Old 02-01-2020, 09:12 AM
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I don't think UBI (dividends that everyone, rich or poor, receives) is a good idea generally speaking; I'd rather have a minimum guaranteed level of income. Tax the wealthy, tax the middle class less, and have income benefits for those who are poorest.
  #34  
Old 02-01-2020, 09:39 AM
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Septimus #32 - Amen!
  #35  
Old 02-01-2020, 09:50 AM
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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.
That's a regressive tax. So disappointing.
  #36  
Old 02-01-2020, 11:38 PM
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Apart from the obvious problems of UBI, what happens when someone takes their $1k/month and drinks it, shoots it or gambles it away at the casino and they still have a need for social welfare programs? Are they just out of luck? Do we let them die in the streets?

If not (and I'm not saying that we should) won't people get the idea that this is just free money, piss it away, and then still rely on the present welfare programs? What would UBI accomplish other than enriching local drug dealers?

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure that there are many people who would use the money responsibly, but I know from my own experience that a large majority of people using these programs are not simply responsible people who have fallen on hard times. There is an unfortunate underclass in this country who have never been taught the value of hard work, money management, planning for the future, etc.

What happens to them under UBI?
  #37  
Old 02-02-2020, 03:29 PM
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FWIW I listened to the 2018 Obama clip and didn't exactly hear Yang's platform there. I heard a comment about how work is more than income, that it is dignity, and that there may need to be some fundamental re-imaginings in the future, with UBI as part of a list of stated possible things that might need to be considered in that future.
That's my understanding of Yang's platform. Yang talks about the importance and value of work here in this Ben Shapiro interview [timestamped]. Yang is pro-work. He sees the value in work. He feels that the freedom dividend would give more people the ability to choose their work without worrying about starving. He believes that giving people more money would create more work in local communities and provide more opportunities for people. Some of the fundamental re-imagining about the future of work is with the definition of work. Instead of defining work as whatever increases GDP, it could also be about whatever adds to the increased functioning of society. For instance, increasing life expectancy or nurturing and caring for other people which are sometimes not valued in GDP at the moment could not be considered work when people are given at least some money for doing it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DSeid View Post
Yang was not really any significant part of the public discussion on UBI before mid to late 2019 btw. The recent years interest, including even the $12K and AI parts, more comes from Andy Stern's 2016 book "Raising the Floor".
This was the book that was the impetus for Yang to decide to run for President. He went to Andy Stern and asked if anyone was running on this platform. Stern said there wasn't. The night that Yang met with Stern was the night Yang's campaign started.

In October 2019, at the UBI march that started as a NYC event and turned into a worldwide event, Andy Stern tweeted this about Andrew Yang:

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyStern_DC
And Andrew-your courage to run for President, and make the Freedom Dividend your central policy has put basic income front and center in AMERICAN politics. Not Left Not Right. Basic income is our fight!!! Forward! @AndrewYang @scottsantens @IncomeMarch
  #38  
Old 02-02-2020, 04:00 PM
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Cite?

That seems ludicrous on its face, unless she wasn't planning on any new proposals during her presidency. It also doesn't align with her actual reasons for ditching it that are given in your links.
I'm pleasantly surprised to see that someone is clicking the links. The part of my post you quoted came from the same interview, but the longer version of it here. The UBI part starts at the beginning. The pertinent part starts around minute 4. I linked the shorter version, thinking that people were more likely to listen to a shorter version.

Ezra asked Hillary whether she had regrets after seeing Bernie's and Trump's platforms that were successful with some big galvanizing issues that she didn't regret doing the same.

Some pertinent parts:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hillary Clinton
I was running to succeed a two-term President from my own party, who I happen to believe did a really good job on some very difficult issues.
. . .
I knew how hard it was to get to where we got. And I worried that if I said, well, let's go all the way with this [UBI] and we'll leave the details until later, the natural question would be, why didn't this happen before. And I knew that would be my burden to bear because I would have the responsibility, having been in the administration, to be able to answer that question.
  #39  
Old 02-02-2020, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by septimus View Post
I guess the GD question is:
"UBI in the U.S.A.'s near future: Possible? Good idea?"

I agree with Hillary: it's a good idea in general but it won't, and shouldn't, happen anytime soon. It would be a huge expensive program and inevitably fraught with big biases and unfairnesses.
Could you explain a bit more about what biases and unfairnesses you see? One of the features of UBI is that it's universal. Everyone gets it, so there are no hoops to jump through or favorites who get it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
Instead, we should take smaller steps toward the same goal: Make tax codes more progressive; Fund childcare, soup kitchens, colleges; Remove the stupid reverse-incentive "cliffs" (or whatever they're called) from means-tested programs. And most importantly, provide government-funded healthcare for all Americans.
I'm guessing when you say to make the tax codes more progressive, you mean to increase the marginal tax rate at the top? That hasn't generated a lot more tax revenue in the past. Rich people don't have salaries to tax.

What if you don't have a child, don't live near a soup kitchen or are not going to college? The beauty of the freedom dividend is that you can benefit no matter what your circumstance is.

How would you take away the reverse-incentive from means tested programs? You could taper them, but there would still be some point at which, if you make too much money, you'll lose money. At that point, it's a disincentive to do more unless you can make a lot of money that would more than compensate for the loss. If that happens, you'll probably lose the whole benefit, and for a while, you'll be working more and staying in the same financial place as each dollar you make loses you a dollar in benefits. With the freedom dividend, you keep it all regardless of how much you make or don't.

Most of the democratic candidates have a policy for government funded healthcare, so that's not an issue.
  #40  
Old 02-02-2020, 07:05 PM
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That's a regressive tax. So disappointing.
No need to be disappointed. In the words of Greg Mankiw, Harvard economics professor, so what? A progressive tax with a means tested program can have the same economic effect as a VAT with UBI, so it doesn't really matter that the VAT portion is regressive. The UBI portion makes the whole thing progressive. To separate the tax portion from the transfer portion is, in his words, misleading to the point of deceptive.

Greg Mankiw on Yang's UBI at The Peterson Institute for International Economics
Greg Mankiw on Yang's UBI in interview with Bill Kristol

A blog post by William G. Gale [The Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Federal Economic Policy
Senior Fellow - Economic Studies
Director - Retirement Security Project
Co-Director - Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center] at the Brookings Institute website says much the same. A VAT coupled with a UBI can be progressive.

How a VAT could tax the rich and pay for universal basic income


Quote:
One solution that I’ve laid out in a new Hamilton Project paper, “Raising Revenue with a Progressive Value-Added Tax,” is a 10 percent Value-Added Tax (VAT) combined with a universal basic income (UBI)—effectively a cash payment to every US household.

The plan would raise substantial net revenue, be very progressive, and be as conducive to economic growth as any other new tax.
. . .
Finally, the UBI payment would eliminate the burden of the VAT and give additional resources to low- and moderate-income households. My version would set the UBI at the federal poverty line times the VAT rate (10 percent) times two. For example, a family of four would receive about $5,200 per year. My UBI proposal is similar to, but smaller than, the version proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
. . .
One hundred sixty-eight countries have a VAT. But would Congress ever pass one? It may not be so far-fetched. In recent years, such a tax (under other names) has been proposed by leading Republicans such as senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, former House Speaker Paul Ryan, and others.

Many years ago, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers quipped that a VAT has little political support because liberals think it is regressive and conservatives think it is a money machine. He was right.

But liberals should realize that the VAT can be progressive, especially when combined with the UBI. It would be even more progressive if the revenues financed, say, health care or childcare.

There are benefits for conservatives as well.
bold added

Yang's VAT would exempt basic staples and increase for luxury goods, making his VAT less regressive than a flat tax. As noted in the post, Yang's UBI would be larger than in this plan.
  #41  
Old 02-02-2020, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Heffalump and Roo View Post
Could you explain a bit more about what biases and unfairnesses you see? One of the features of UBI is that it's universal. Everyone gets it, so there are no hoops to jump through or favorites who get it.
I am NOT advocating that UBI be means-tested. HOWEVER, since money is finite, it is a simple fact that giving money to people who don't need it reduces funds available to those who do need it. If it seems that those two sentences contradict each other, let me try some examples.

The UBI is for adults. A high-income childless couple gets $2000, while a single mother trying to support 3 kids gets $1000. Does that sound right?

How does Yang's plan deal with programs like food stamps and housing vouchers currently targeted at the needy? Even if these programs wouldn't be scrapped immediately there would be political pressure to reduce them "because UBI." Thus the neediest Americans might actually suffer under UBI. Especially needy Americans with children.

People on SSDI would have their SSI income subtracted from the $1000 under Yang's plan. But people on Veteran's Disability would keep the full $1000. Is this fair? (Change these details however you like, and someone will find it unfair.) If you scoff at my other examples, focus on this one please.

Young adults can use the $1000 to help train for a better job, to broaden their experience, or to have a kid. Retirees don't need retraining and already getting SocSec and pensions; they just don't need the money as much.

Without free healthcare, some people will need to spend the entire $1000 (and more) on healthcare. First fix healthcare; Then talk about UBI.

These are just off the top of my head. I think more objections exist.

I DO support UBI in principle, and realize the details can be fiddled. But the sums of money are huge, so unfairnesses will be huge.

So far I've avoided some of the usual cultural arguments. (City dwellers have high expenses, while hillbillies will just spend the extra money on meth!) But these arguments may not be completely unfounded.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heffalump and Roo View Post
I'm guessing when you say to make the tax codes more progressive, you mean to increase the marginal tax rate at the top? That hasn't generated a lot more tax revenue in the past. Rich people don't have salaries to tax.
Increasing the income tax on dividends, capital gains and corporate profits would go far toward progressivism. Are you suggesting these reforms are off-the-table while the revolutionary UBI is on-table? (BTW, we'll need a cite to believe that top rates don't yield much revenue.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heffalump and Roo View Post
What if you don't have a child, don't live near a soup kitchen or are not going to college? The beauty of the freedom dividend is that you can benefit no matter what your circumstance is.
People with kids need more money than the childless. People that don't want to eat at soup kitchens probably need the money less than those who do.

You implicitly treat $1000 spent on college education as no more valuable than $1000 spent on hookers and blow. Label me a Stalinist if you wish, but I'm willing to pass judgement on spending.

You speak of the "beauty" of the "freedom dividend." Again, the economy is finite. It would be "beautiful" to give every child a pony, but it's impracticable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heffalump and Roo View Post
How would you take away the reverse-incentive from means tested programs? You could taper them, but there would still be some point at which, if you make too much money, you'll lose money.
Wrong.

Suppose a present-day program is structured
(Plan A) You get $1000 per month unless you earn more than $1500; then you get zero.
I restructure this to be
(Plan B) You get $1000 per month minus 20% of your earnings. (The subtrahend not to exceed the benefit. Change 20% to 15% if you prefer.)
The benefits, when your earnings are 0, 500, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000 are
1000, 1000, 1000, 0, 0, 0, 0
with Plan A, and
1000, 900, 800, 700, 600, 500, 400
with Plan B
  #42  
Old 02-03-2020, 08:25 AM
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You don't have to monkey with UBI payments wrt means testing if you just make the tax schedules correct.

I saw a comment about the "average" earner earlier. What happens if only a small percentage of income earners exceeds a level of productivity greater than their consumption while large percentages of us are unable to because of automation. For the record, I think we're a long way off from this happening but I also think a society where we no longer have the need to work is a reasonable goal.
  #43  
Old 02-03-2020, 09:58 AM
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My main concern was automation taking over the vast majority of jobs, period, making it difficult for even the unlazy to survive. The last wide-spread blue collar job well into six figures -- truck driving -- is getting ever closer to getting automated. One of the biggest cost savings administration-wise is to make it universal. So Bill Gates and his wife get two-grand while the single mother of three get only one, so be it.
  #44  
Old 02-03-2020, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Apart from the obvious problems of UBI, what happens when someone takes their $1k/month and drinks it, shoots it or gambles it away at the casino and they still have a need for social welfare programs? Are they just out of luck? Do we let them die in the streets?

If not (and I'm not saying that we should) won't people get the idea that this is just free money, piss it away, and then still rely on the present welfare programs? What would UBI accomplish other than enriching local drug dealers?

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure that there are many people who would use the money responsibly, but I know from my own experience that a large majority of people using these programs are not simply responsible people who have fallen on hard times. There is an unfortunate underclass in this country who have never been taught the value of hard work, money management, planning for the future, etc.

What happens to them under UBI?
Same thing that happens to people that piss away their food stamps right now.

Soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and charities of last resort.
  #45  
Old 02-03-2020, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Heffalump and Roo View Post
Could you explain a bit more about what biases and unfairnesses you see? One of the features of UBI is that it's universal. Everyone gets it, so there are no hoops to jump through or favorites who get it.



I'm guessing when you say to make the tax codes more progressive, you mean to increase the marginal tax rate at the top? That hasn't generated a lot more tax revenue in the past. Rich people don't have salaries to tax.
You can make a system more progressive by increasing marginal rates, by increasing capital gains rates, and a hundred other ways.

Increasing marginal tax rates ABSOLUTELY has an effect on tax revenue. Anyone that tells you different is lying, stupid or trying to sell you something.

Increasing capital gains rates will absolutely have a positive revenue effect.

All taxes are always distortive but taxes are less distortive for the wealthy than for others (like corporations).

Quote:
What if you don't have a child, don't live near a soup kitchen or are not going to college? The beauty of the freedom dividend is that you can benefit no matter what your circumstance is.
TANSTAAFL That money comes from somewhere.

Quote:
How would you take away the reverse-incentive from means tested programs? You could taper them, but there would still be some point at which, if you make too much money, you'll lose money. At that point, it's a disincentive to do more unless you can make a lot of money that would more than compensate for the loss. If that happens, you'll probably lose the whole benefit, and for a while, you'll be working more and staying in the same financial place as each dollar you make loses you a dollar in benefits. With the freedom dividend, you keep it all regardless of how much you make or don't.
If the phase out is tapered enough, there is no cliff. The problem right now, is that there is a point where making an additional dollar will disqualify you from thousands of dollars of benefits. Particularly medicaid. The problem with the medicaid program is that it is all or nothing. We should have a medicaid program that requires the payment of premiums that are gradually increased as your ability to pay is increased, we could call it the public option.
  #46  
Old 02-03-2020, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Heffalump and Roo View Post
No need to be disappointed. In the words of Greg Mankiw, Harvard economics professor, so what? A progressive tax with a means tested program can have the same economic effect as a VAT with UBI, so it doesn't really matter that the VAT portion is regressive. The UBI portion makes the whole thing progressive. To separate the tax portion from the transfer portion is, in his words, misleading to the point of deceptive.
Sure in theory you would have to have 120K of VATable spending to lose out and frankly for the wealthy it is almost inconceivable that they live on anything close to 120K worth of VATable spending.

Quote:
Yang's VAT would exempt basic staples and increase for luxury goods, making his VAT less regressive than a flat tax. As noted in the post, Yang's UBI would be larger than in this plan.
The devil is in the details on this. At some point you cut out so much that you can't pay for the UBI anymore.
  #47  
Old 02-03-2020, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by septimus View Post
I am NOT advocating that UBI be means-tested. HOWEVER, since money is finite, it is a simple fact that giving money to people who don't need it reduces funds available to those who do need it. If it seems that those two sentences contradict each other, let me try some examples.

The UBI is for adults. A high-income childless couple gets $2000, while a single mother trying to support 3 kids gets $1000. Does that sound right?

How does Yang's plan deal with programs like food stamps and housing vouchers currently targeted at the needy? Even if these programs wouldn't be scrapped immediately there would be political pressure to reduce them "because UBI." Thus the neediest Americans might actually suffer under UBI. Especially needy Americans with children.

People on SSDI would have their SSI income subtracted from the $1000 under Yang's plan. But people on Veteran's Disability would keep the full $1000. Is this fair? (Change these details however you like, and someone will find it unfair.) If you scoff at my other examples, focus on this one please.

Young adults can use the $1000 to help train for a better job, to broaden their experience, or to have a kid. Retirees don't need retraining and already getting SocSec and pensions; they just don't need the money as much.

Without free healthcare, some people will need to spend the entire $1000 (and more) on healthcare. First fix healthcare; Then talk about UBI.

These are just off the top of my head. I think more objections exist.

I DO support UBI in principle, and realize the details can be fiddled. But the sums of money are huge, so unfairnesses will be huge.

So far I've avoided some of the usual cultural arguments. (City dwellers have high expenses, while hillbillies will just spend the extra money on meth!) But these arguments may not be completely unfounded.



Increasing the income tax on dividends, capital gains and corporate profits would go far toward progressivism. Are you suggesting these reforms are off-the-table while the revolutionary UBI is on-table? (BTW, we'll need a cite to believe that top rates don't yield much revenue.)



People with kids need more money than the childless. People that don't want to eat at soup kitchens probably need the money less than those who do.

You implicitly treat $1000 spent on college education as no more valuable than $1000 spent on hookers and blow. Label me a Stalinist if you wish, but I'm willing to pass judgement on spending.

You speak of the "beauty" of the "freedom dividend." Again, the economy is finite. It would be "beautiful" to give every child a pony, but it's impracticable.



Wrong.

Suppose a present-day program is structured
(Plan A) You get $1000 per month unless you earn more than $1500; then you get zero.
I restructure this to be
(Plan B) You get $1000 per month minus 20% of your earnings. (The subtrahend not to exceed the benefit. Change 20% to 15% if you prefer.)
The benefits, when your earnings are 0, 500, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000 are
1000, 1000, 1000, 0, 0, 0, 0
with Plan A, and
1000, 900, 800, 700, 600, 500, 400
with Plan B
I agree that health care is a far more pressing economic issue and it is entirely possible to phase out benefits or phase in pay-ins but the concept of a UBI is worth exploring. If Yang can't get any delegates out of Iowa, we is toast but his ideas deserve to be considered.
  #48  
Old 02-03-2020, 01:12 PM
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septimus, the universality of UBI is a feature not a bug.

I have personally soured on the entire concept of means tested benefits. Why? Because a certain political party (who shall R emain nameless) decided to claim that people who have legally benefited from these programs are not worthy of earning American citizenship. They weaponized it, so I figure we no longer deserve the luxury of separating out those who need help from those who don't.

UBI, UHC, Living Minimum Wage, Universal Tax Credits or Deductions. You can't call up a list of UBI recipients, to declare them a drain on our economy, because the list is "everyone". As an added bonus, you don't have to spend as much money to administer it.
  #49  
Old 02-03-2020, 01:59 PM
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Same thing that happens to people that piss away their food stamps right now.

Soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and charities of last resort.
You can cheat a little bit on food stamps, but not completely. You can't realistically cheat on Section 8 housing or Medicaid or WIC or a host of other things. You can cheat on cash big time.

I want to understand the proposal. Does this amount, whether is is $1k or some other amount, mean the total abolition of the above programs and any other welfare programs? You get the cash, but if you screw up, you are on your own or at the mercy of charities?
  #50  
Old 02-03-2020, 02:18 PM
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You get the cash, but if you screw up, you are on your own or at the mercy of charities?
I would hope so. At least until next month. A poster here proposed increasing the frequency of payments so that it was every two weeks or weekly so help eliminate this problem but then there are other budgeting problems.
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