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  #101  
Old 02-06-2020, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Ruken View Post
And he's exempting "staples". He specifically calls out food/clothing. I couldn't find out if that includes rent, health insurance, or anything else.
I missed this in the last thread. There's no way a 10% VAT that excludes housing, food, clothing, and healthcare can generate $800bn a year. CBO/JCT did a study where a 5% VAT on exactly the same "narrow base" would generate only $1.9tn over eight years. 1900 / 4 = 475; 475 < 800, and this is making the (faulty) assumption that you can just double the VAT without accounting for the effect that has on the economy; it also ignores the specific estimate for 2020 which would be only 130bn at 5%.

~Max
  #102  
Old 02-06-2020, 07:19 PM
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Thanks for the links. I need to read them still.
  #103  
Old 02-06-2020, 08:16 PM
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Basically everything Yang said about a VAT is bullshit. Not just those revenue projections. He presented it as a way to make big companies "pay their share" as if almost all the tax will not come down on the consumers.

Last edited by CarnalK; 02-06-2020 at 08:17 PM.
  #104  
Old 02-07-2020, 09:49 AM
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The sociocultural implications of UBI concern me more than the economic. The US working class has developed a work ethic wherein accepting the drudgery of low skilled work is a moral virtue. Hard work is a source of identity. Yang is an entrepreneurial self-starter and he’s making the mistake assuming others are as well, and that people will spend their new found free time in fulfilling creative pursuits. I think that’s unlikely, and given the well known correlation between boredom and drug use, I think a good percentage of population will take up meth and alcohol consumption as “hobbies.” I’m not against UBI, but it will require a massive cultural shift, and leaving that out of the equation will likely cost us dearly.
  #105  
Old 02-07-2020, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
... A 10% VAT would be devastating to the economy and competition with overseas corporations.
...
It seems inefficient to have several departments doing basically the same thing. Perhaps instead of UBI, we can have "Welfare Bucks" which can be used for food, housing, clothing, health care, WIC, and all of the other programs we have. Why can't one individual evaluate eligibility for all of the needs of the poor instead of separate departments?
Answering the second part first, I think you drastically mis-estimate the costs of simple redistribution programs. SocSec pays about 99% (or more?) of its outgo to recipients. A big cost in UBI would be distinguishing citizens from ineligible residents. (Green-card holders do NOT get UBI under the plan — is that correct? Is that a feature or a bug?)

As for "devastating to the economy and competition":
Normally exports are exempted from VAT; and intermediate VATs on exports are refunded. (Alternatively IIUC trading-partner countries can collect each others' VAT by treaty.)

Net prices would rise on average, so wages would also need to rise.

My objections to VAT are
(a) The book-keeping and red-tape get very complicated, especially since VATs vary for different goods. In the EU, untaxed goods and taxable goods where the VAT rate is 0% are handled quite differently!
(b) The tax may not be progressive. Europe functions with a high VAT because of many other ways in which taxes and regulations are progressive. But, as shown upthread, Yang's plan doesn't seem to achieve such progressivity.

Instead of a wide-scale VAT, I'd like to target specific types of spending: taxes on luxury goods; taxes on financial transactions; tax on advertising. Other easy-to-collect fees should be explored.

And gasoline (and carbon more generally). The French pay about $3 per gallon in gasoline tax. A carbon tax of that size in the U.S. would yield several hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

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Originally Posted by KidCharlemagne View Post
The sociocultural implications of UBI concern me more than the economic. The US working class has developed a work ethic wherein accepting the drudgery of low skilled work is a moral virtue. Hard work is a source of identity....

given the well known correlation between boredom and drug use, I think a good percentage of population will take up meth and alcohol consumption as “hobbies.” I’m not against UBI, but it will require a massive cultural shift, and leaving that out of the equation will likely cost us dearly.
Other developed countries have shorter work weeks. (This can boost productivity!) They have longer vacations, a better "safety net" and the working class is generally ... let's face it ... happier! Drug use can result from a hard job of drudgery. IIRC small-scale experiments in North America have shown that UBI is usually spent much better than you suggest.

... Though (here comes septimus' broken record), your concerns help make the case for non-cash benefits: subsidized childcare, job training, community centers, better schools, etc.
  #106  
Old 02-07-2020, 11:17 AM
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Other developed countries have shorter work weeks. (This can boost productivity!) They have longer vacations, a better "safety net" and the working class is generally ... let's face it ... happier! Drug use can result from a hard job of drudgery. IIRC small-scale experiments in North America have shown that UBI is usually spent much better than you suggest.

... Though (here comes septimus' broken record), your concerns help make the case for non-cash benefits: subsidized childcare, job training, community centers, better schools, etc.
I support all those non-cash benefits you list, and a 4-day work week is a no-brainer AFAIC. Microsoft Japan did that study, which you are likely aware of, that showed a 40% improvement in productivity with a reduced work week. It boggles the mind that our Paleolithic ancestors likely worked 4 hours a day (according to anthropologists), and 15k years later we’re working twice as long.

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  #107  
Old 02-07-2020, 11:48 AM
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Answering the second part first, I think you drastically mis-estimate the costs of simple redistribution programs. SocSec pays about 99% (or more?) of its outgo to recipients. A big cost in UBI would be distinguishing citizens from ineligible residents. (Green-card holders do NOT get UBI under the plan — is that correct? Is that a feature or a bug?)

As for "devastating to the economy and competition":
Normally exports are exempted from VAT; and intermediate VATs on exports are refunded. (Alternatively IIUC trading-partner countries can collect each others' VAT by treaty.)

Net prices would rise on average, so wages would also need to rise.

My objections to VAT are
(a) The book-keeping and red-tape get very complicated, especially since VATs vary for different goods. In the EU, untaxed goods and taxable goods where the VAT rate is 0% are handled quite differently!
(b) The tax may not be progressive. Europe functions with a high VAT because of many other ways in which taxes and regulations are progressive. But, as shown upthread, Yang's plan doesn't seem to achieve such progressivity.

Instead of a wide-scale VAT, I'd like to target specific types of spending: taxes on luxury goods; taxes on financial transactions; tax on advertising. Other easy-to-collect fees should be explored.

And gasoline (and carbon more generally). The French pay about $3 per gallon in gasoline tax. A carbon tax of that size in the U.S. would yield several hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

Other developed countries have shorter work weeks. (This can boost productivity!) They have longer vacations, a better "safety net" and the working class is generally ... let's face it ... happier! Drug use can result from a hard job of drudgery. IIRC small-scale experiments in North America have shown that UBI is usually spent much better than you suggest.

... Though (here comes septimus' broken record), your concerns help make the case for non-cash benefits: subsidized childcare, job training, community centers, better schools, etc.
A few points:

1) Social security is a poor example as there is near universal participation. With the massive amount of money coming in, this will dwarf even the costs of the most horrifically mismanaged distribution system. If I was in charge of a "give everyone in the U.S. $1 million" program I could hire a bloated staff with bloated salaries and have bowls of cocaine at office meetings and still show that my expenses were only a fraction of 1% of the benefits given out. That stat doesn't say anything about efficiency.

2) Even if we exclude the VAT on exports, we will have devastated the economy. 10% will be added to every consumer good on top of state sales taxes. That new TV doesn't look like such a good deal with 10% tacked on. To say that UBI will make up for it is sort of the circular argument made by Homer Simpson when he pockets 50 cents from bacon grease. When Bart points out that he spent $20 on the bacon, Homer explains that was Marge's money. When Bart points out that Marge gets her money from Homer, Homer claims that he gets his money from grease so it all works out in the end.

Further, just because you have given someone the 10% more to pay the 10% VAT doesn't mean that people will use it. Thinking that the TV price plus 10% is not a good deal, people will buy a used TV from the local bulletin board and not pay the VAT or decide to hang on to their old TV. Economic policy causes many unforeseen consequences.

3) Americans will never agree to a $3/gallon gasoline tax. Never, ever. This isn't France. We are a large expansive country which in many parts require gasoline as a necessity. In West Virginia, I cannot ride the subway or the high speed rail. I need gasoline so I can go to work to buy food to live. Therefore, gasoline is as much a necessity to me as food. To exempt "essentials" but not gasoline is a most regressive tax on the poor.

4) As I said earlier, respectfully, this seems like nothing new under the sun. This is packaged differently and on the surface seems to be "money for all" and not a wealth redistribution program, but when you look under the three card monte trick that is being played, it seems like the same old Dem idea: raise taxes on the rich and redistribute more of that money to the poor. We can argue about the efficacy of that in other threads, but if we are going to do it, let's be above board about it and do it without an unnecessarily complex system which may very well not work as intended.
  #108  
Old 02-07-2020, 12:59 PM
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@ UltraVires — I'm not going to refute you point-by-point except that Every.Single-Thing you write is taken from outlandish right-wing talking points. "Government is the problem." "Government employees are all jerks suckling at the public teat, hoping to keep welfare recipients in poverty so they can keep getting their pay-checks." All balderdash.

Google "Which organizations plan cocaine-filled junkets for their employees" and get back to us.

Can you cite ANYONE who doesn't understand that Yang's plan is deliberately intended to transfer income from the well-off to the less well-off? Yet you act as if this is some surprise. And implicitly accuse those who don't share your ideas of thinking like Homer Simpson.

"Devastate the economy." The guy with an extra $1000 in his pocket (in addition to wage rises likely with Yang's plan) is going to get his TV at the junkyard because he doesn't want to pay a $30 VAT. If you're trying out for a stand-up comedy gig, I think you'd better work on improving your material.

You whine about your need for gasoline. If the extra $1000 won't cover your gasoline tax, maybe you're part of the problem. A major purpose of the carbon tax is to incentivize smarter transportation because some of us want to stop destroying the Earth.

HTH.
  #109  
Old 02-07-2020, 02:17 PM
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And note that septimus isn't sold on this plan either, he just has criticisms of it that have a bit more substance behind them.
  #110  
Old 02-07-2020, 02:32 PM
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@ UltraVires — I'm not going to refute you point-by-point except that Every.Single-Thing you write is taken from outlandish right-wing talking points. "Government is the problem." "Government employees are all jerks suckling at the public teat, hoping to keep welfare recipients in poverty so they can keep getting their pay-checks." All balderdash.

Google "Which organizations plan cocaine-filled junkets for their employees" and get back to us.

Can you cite ANYONE who doesn't understand that Yang's plan is deliberately intended to transfer income from the well-off to the less well-off? Yet you act as if this is some surprise. And implicitly accuse those who don't share your ideas of thinking like Homer Simpson.

"Devastate the economy." The guy with an extra $1000 in his pocket (in addition to wage rises likely with Yang's plan) is going to get his TV at the junkyard because he doesn't want to pay a $30 VAT. If you're trying out for a stand-up comedy gig, I think you'd better work on improving your material.

You whine about your need for gasoline. If the extra $1000 won't cover your gasoline tax, maybe you're part of the problem. A major purpose of the carbon tax is to incentivize smarter transportation because some of us want to stop destroying the Earth.

HTH.
I'm not going to argue fewer taxes/less government v. more taxes/more social spending in this thread. My sole objection is that this program pretends to be "everyone gets $1k/month so why are you bitching" when once you peel back the layers, it is traditional Dem tax and spend stuff only far more expensive and of limited benefit.

But a couple of points:

1) You don't think people are price sensitive? Not at all? There are certainly people who would pay $318 for a new TV, but not $348, even if they do have $1k in savings. A 10% VAT is not as bad as a 50% VAT, but you can't get something for nothing. You are creating economic inefficiencies which will harm the marketplace. That's Econ 101.

And even if we assume that it is only 5% of people who will forego the purchase, that is 5% across every single consumer segment of the economy (except for essentials minus gasoline). Those are job losses. That is companies going out of business. And most importantly for the left, that would be a 5% shortage in the VAT estimated, causing another shortfall in the plan necessitating a larger VAT causing more layoffs, etc.

2) It's not me "whining" about gasoline anymore than I am "whining" about eating. It is essential for everyone in society, unless we take an extreme example of someone living on their own farm using nothing but hand tools and ordering nothing from the outside world.

Even if you walked to the grocery store and walk to work, that food in your refrigerator needed gasoline to get itself to the grocery store. I am all for newer and cleaner energy once it becomes technologically feasible, but until then, if you start taxing the hell out of gasoline you are taking money out of people's pockets and it has an outsized effect on the poor. It is one of the most regressive taxes out there.

And the end result of all of this is what? So that, in part, we can give Bill Gates some pocket money to buy a new pony for his stable or so the hypothetical $200k/yr Doper couple mentioned above can upgrade to first class for their European vacation?

Why not just stay with the original idea of providing for the poor and advocating for higher taxes and increased spending? I'm not attributing this motive to you, but it seems that since your side has lost at the ballot box for that basic Dem idea, that now your side proposes this UBI as a way to trick people. Hell, it almost got me.
  #111  
Old 02-07-2020, 02:38 PM
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And note that septimus isn't sold on this plan either, he just has criticisms of it that have a bit more substance behind them.
Since my criticisms lack substance, then perhaps you dispute my contention that this is regular old Dem wealth redistribution but dressed up in a prettier package?

Again, I'm not arguing in this thread against that. I am just trying to confirm what it is.

To follow up, as I guess the humor did not come across, I am not suggesting that the Social Security Administration employees enjoy cocaine during their office meetings or enjoy lavish lifestyles. I am saying that the metric used (over 99% of money coming in paid out as benefits) is meaningless when you have a tremendous amount of money coming in as no amount of waste or abuse could possibly be more than a scintilla of such a massive amount of money.
  #112  
Old 02-07-2020, 02:48 PM
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Since my criticisms lack substance, then perhaps you dispute my contention that this is regular old Dem wealth redistribution but dressed up in a prettier package?
I dispute the idea that this is something being withheld by Democrats to dupe the rubes of our country, and you alone have cracked the code of this devious plan.

The purpose of the "prettier package" is to make the whole concept work more effectively. To reduce waste, administrative cost, perverse incentives and the stigma associated with current welfare plans. Which is to say, it isn't a prettier package at all, it's a functional design improvement.
Quote:
I am saying that the metric used (over 99% of money coming in paid out as benefits) is meaningless when you have a tremendous amount of money coming in as no amount of waste or abuse could possibly be more than a scintilla of such a massive amount of money.
Have you seen our health care system?

Last edited by Cheesesteak; 02-07-2020 at 02:48 PM. Reason: typo
  #113  
Old 02-07-2020, 03:12 PM
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And the end result of all of this is what? So that, in part, we can give Bill Gates some pocket money to buy a new pony for his stable or so the hypothetical $200k/yr Doper couple mentioned above can upgrade to first class for their European vacation?
This shows a poor understanding of the proposed program. Bill Gates isn't going to have extra pocket change. He's going to be taxed out of his ass, by a lot more than the $1,000 check he gets every month.
  #114  
Old 02-07-2020, 03:21 PM
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I dispute the idea that this is something being withheld by Democrats to dupe the rubes of our country, and you alone have cracked the code of this devious plan.

The purpose of the "prettier package" is to make the whole concept work more effectively. To reduce waste, administrative cost, perverse incentives and the stigma associated with current welfare plans. Which is to say, it isn't a prettier package at all, it's a functional design improvement.
I appreciate the thoughtful reply. I agree that it would reduce the stigma, and possibly it would reduce administrative costs, but I'm not sure about waste and perverse incentives.

Let's take the stigma argument. Now, I'm going to get flamed for this and I hope rather fadingly that this will be taken in the spirit it is offered. I am not in favor of shaming people on public assistance. However, isn't that, at least in some cases, a positive motivating factor? If I am on food stamps, let's say, wouldn't that be a positive goal for me to say to myself that I am going to buckle down and take steps so that I can get off food stamps? Isn't that the goal of these programs to provide temporary relief while someone is struggling? I thought that pretty much everyone did not like the idea of these being lifetime and generational supports.

I understand that may be necessary in some circumstances, but again I thought the overall goal was to do things to remove the generational attitude which was behind it and to get people working to support themselves and remove barriers which is making that impossible now. So, IMHO, the stigma is harsh, but some of that needs to remain so that these programs can serve their purpose of temporary support while the person takes steps to get back on their feet.

Reducing administrative costs is a noble goal, but not for its own sake. If the program causes other costs to be massively increased, which it seems it will because of all the new taxes that must go with it, then we might as well just live with the high administrative costs.

Waste and perverse incentives. I tend to think of these as one in the same, but I am prepared to be corrected. When Bill Gates and our $200k Doper couple are getting paid benefits, that seems very wasteful. It further seems as if waste and perverse incentives would only increase under the UBI. Whereas now, we can at least ensure that food stamps go only to food, there is nothing preventing cash payments from going to drug dealers.

I am not suggesting that everyone, or even most people, on public assistance are drug addicts. However a lot are. And although there is a fair amount of food stamp fraud, at least we make an attempt to prosecute that. Under UBI they may freely use that money for drugs and won't be prosecuted (anymore than anyone else buying drugs would). That seems tremendously wasteful.

Plus, there is the inflation argument that people have mentioned in passing. If we gave everyone $1 million I think we could all point out how terribly awful that would be. Isn't this program simply 1/1000th as awful?
  #115  
Old 02-07-2020, 03:29 PM
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This shows a poor understanding of the proposed program. Bill Gates isn't going to have extra pocket change. He's going to be taxed out of his ass, by a lot more than the $1,000 check he gets every month.
So why give him the $1,000? Why put money in his right pocket to take more of it out of his left?

You may object that we do this all of the time. Why does a senior citizen get social security payments only to pay federal gas tax at the pump? Why not just hold back some of their social security and not charge them tax at the pump?

My response would be that we are comparing two different programs with two different goals and the administrability of it (i.e. how does a gas station know who to tax and who not to tax) makes it necessary.

But, this is part and parcel of the same program. We take a new sliding scale amount of money from the richest to the poorest but then give back equally making it an effective transfer from rich to poor. As we are starting this program from scratch, just take a little less on the sliding scale from richest to poorest and only give to the poorest.

Well, that sounds like regular old welfare, but at the end of the day, it is exactly what we are doing. Why hide it?
  #116  
Old 02-07-2020, 03:38 PM
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Again, I'm not arguing in this thread against that. I am just trying to confirm what it is.
Since it's been a couple days now, have you finally bothered to read the FAQ on the plan? Or are you still refusing because that would mean "reading Yang's entire campaign website to get a fluff answer"?

Last edited by Ruken; 02-07-2020 at 03:39 PM.
  #117  
Old 02-07-2020, 03:53 PM
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So why give him the $1,000? Why put money in his right pocket to take more of it out of his left?
One of your big confusions is this:
You complain about the "administrative costs."
What administrative costs?
Both the higher tax on Bill Gates AND the $1000 he gets back might simply be incorporated in his Form 1040 tax tables. Additional administrative cost ... Zero.
And that's ibw big reason why everybody gets the $1000. So we DON'T need to hire (drug-addled? lazy?) government workers to pass any judgement on who gets the $1000.

Write back when you understand this much, and we'll address some of your other confusions.
  #118  
Old 02-07-2020, 04:58 PM
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One of your big confusions is this:
You complain about the "administrative costs."
What administrative costs?
Both the higher tax on Bill Gates AND the $1000 he gets back might simply be incorporated in his Form 1040 tax tables. Additional administrative cost ... Zero.
And that's ibw big reason why everybody gets the $1000. So we DON'T need to hire (drug-addled? lazy?) government workers to pass any judgement on who gets the $1000.

Write back when you understand this much, and we'll address some of your other confusions.
First, I've never said anything about government employees being "lazy" or "drug-addled" so I wish you would quit taking those pot shots.

But to your other point, no, if you just give everyone money there are very little administrative costs for that, but there are the costs of giving Bill Gates and those very well off $12k/yr each. But that's not the only part of the plan. You have a new VAT. You'll need people to collect that and every.single.business in the country will now need to hire new compliance people to comply with that law. You'll need to hire federal inspectors to make sure that Mom and Pop's Convenience Store in Bumblegoo, WY, 400 miles outside of Cheyenne, is not evading this tax while the federal agency also pays the increased gasoline tax to drive out there and the VAT on the hotel room they stay in.

Plus, you don't save any money on administrative costs either as every.single.welfare plan in the country stays as people can opt in or opt out. There is no streamlining. This payment is on top of the existing administrative costs.

And the payment is staggering. If we assume 100 million Americans over age 18 (guessing) and pay them $12k/yr, that is $1.2 trillion dollars each and every year. With a T. You just doubled the deficit and where did you save (assuming everyone accepts the money)? Not social security, not Medicaid or Medicare, not Section 8 housing, not defense; no big ticket items for savings, so you have to massively increase taxes to pay for it and nobody accepts it unless it is MORE than their current government payout.

So the people receiving a lot of welfare money still get a lot of welfare money and the people who currently don't need it, from the working family all the way up to Bill Gates gets this handout.

I mean, even if you support helping the poor with government money, which everyone of every stripe supports to varying extents, this doesn't do it as by definition the only people taking it will be the ones who already don't fit the definition of poor (to qualify for welfare benefits) as defined by the government.

Other than the stigma of receiving welfare (which as I said above, I am not that concerned about) what does this fix? People on government programs would still be on government programs but paying a VAT for any consumer items they buy and paying higher gasoline taxes when they go to the grocery store. The rich pay more taxes. It not only hurts the rich, it hurts the poor.
  #119  
Old 02-07-2020, 05:05 PM
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I guess the short version is: As we are already paying many people to determine eligibility for food stamps, for Section 8 housing, for Medicaid, WIC, etc. why can't we have these same people determine who is eligible for UBI? That doesn't cost anything more and if we combine the staff for these separate things into one, we even save money. No need to pay Bill Gates $12k/yr to save money.
  #120  
Old 02-07-2020, 05:17 PM
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The sociocultural implications of UBI concern me more than the economic. The US working class has developed a work ethic wherein accepting the drudgery of low skilled work is a moral virtue. Hard work is a source of identity. Yang is an entrepreneurial self-starter and he’s making the mistake assuming others are as well, and that people will spend their new found free time in fulfilling creative pursuits. I think that’s unlikely, and given the well known correlation between boredom and drug use, I think a good percentage of population will take up meth and alcohol consumption as “hobbies.” I’m not against UBI, but it will require a massive cultural shift, and leaving that out of the equation will likely cost us dearly.
I think you're missing the point of basic income. The idea is that it doesn't matter what work you do, as a human being you're entitled to a bare minimum of groceries and a roof over your head. So we give everyone enough money to buy groceries and either a tiny efficiency apartment or a roommate's share of a larger apartment. And that's basically it. If you want more than that, you work for it, but we won't let you starve or die of exposure whether you work or not.

And honestly, who wants to hire or work alongside someone for whom the bare minimum, parent's basement lifestyle is enough? Let those guys live that way and be idle all they want. They can find a cheap video game console at Goodwill and opt out of the labor market entirely. They won't be missed.

The reason we give it to the middle class and rich is twofold: One, it's just easier that way. No army of bureaucrats deciding who is eligible for what. Just cut a check to everyone. We can have robots do that for nearly free. Two, to reiterate that every human being is entitled to food and a roof. It's a true safety net. Mr. Middleclass doesn't have to worry about going down to the welfare office, hat in hand, next time he's laid off. Those checks just keep coming. Sure, while he makes plenty of money, he's a net loser on the deal. He gets taxed more than he gets from the UBI. But when, as is statistically likely to happen to anyone at least a few times in their life, he loses his job or his ability to work, the UBI immediately becomes a boon.

Another benefit I don't think is talked about enough is putting a stop to abusive labor conditions. Which, while not discussed often, is a serious problem. Sure, it's illegal for the manager at McDonald's to fire pretty women who won't stand for his sexual harassment, but what is a poor girl who works at McDonald's going to do? Hire a lawyer with zero savings while unemployed? Same goes for withholding breaks and lunches, forcing people to work unpaid overtime, or even just underpaying the most desperate among us because they have no other options. This gives them another option. I feel like a UBI would eliminate the need for a minimum wage, for example. And for the not so desperate, imagine if you could quit the job you hate and spend a few months training for your dream job or opening a business of your own without worrying about being able to feed your kids or making rent? Yeah, not every laborer is going to become an entrepreneur, but certainly it puts the ability to start a business in a lot more people's hands, and I would imagine that's an achievement voters from both parties could agree on.

As for people saying "this is wealth redistribution" well no shit. Nobody has been hiding that fact. It's just a better way to do wealth redistribution than we're currently doing. At least in a lot of people's minds. That said, I have significant disagreements with how Yang's plan is currently laid out. But the concept of UBI in general has my support.
  #121  
Old 02-07-2020, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
I think you're missing the point of basic income. The idea is that it doesn't matter what work you do, as a human being you're entitled to a bare minimum of groceries and a roof over your head. So we give everyone enough money to buy groceries and either a tiny efficiency apartment or a roommate's share of a larger apartment. And that's basically it. If you want more than that, you work for it, but we won't let you starve or die of exposure whether you work or not.

And honestly, who wants to hire or work alongside someone for whom the bare minimum, parent's basement lifestyle is enough? Let those guys live that way and be idle all they want. They can find a cheap video game console at Goodwill and opt out of the labor market entirely. They won't be missed.

The reason we give it to the middle class and rich is twofold: One, it's just easier that way. No army of bureaucrats deciding who is eligible for what. Just cut a check to everyone. We can have robots do that for nearly free. Two, to reiterate that every human being is entitled to food and a roof. It's a true safety net. Mr. Middleclass doesn't have to worry about going down to the welfare office, hat in hand, next time he's laid off. Those checks just keep coming. Sure, while he makes plenty of money, he's a net loser on the deal. He gets taxed more than he gets from the UBI. But when, as is statistically likely to happen to anyone at least a few times in their life, he loses his job or his ability to work, the UBI immediately becomes a boon.

Another benefit I don't think is talked about enough is putting a stop to abusive labor conditions. Which, while not discussed often, is a serious problem. Sure, it's illegal for the manager at McDonald's to fire pretty women who won't stand for his sexual harassment, but what is a poor girl who works at McDonald's going to do? Hire a lawyer with zero savings while unemployed? Same goes for withholding breaks and lunches, forcing people to work unpaid overtime, or even just underpaying the most desperate among us because they have no other options. This gives them another option. I feel like a UBI would eliminate the need for a minimum wage, for example. And for the not so desperate, imagine if you could quit the job you hate and spend a few months training for your dream job or opening a business of your own without worrying about being able to feed your kids or making rent? Yeah, not every laborer is going to become an entrepreneur, but certainly it puts the ability to start a business in a lot more people's hands, and I would imagine that's an achievement voters from both parties could agree on.

As for people saying "this is wealth redistribution" well no shit. Nobody has been hiding that fact. It's just a better way to do wealth redistribution than we're currently doing. At least in a lot of people's minds. That said, I have significant disagreements with how Yang's plan is currently laid out. But the concept of UBI in general has my support.
I’m not against UBI, and I’m all for what it’s trying to achieve. You’re saying “give them the basics and have them work for the rest” is a nice idea but will likely run into difficulties when automation cuts into those jobs. My only point is that there is a lot more work to be done for UBI to work than just figuring out how much to tax whom and how much to give everyone. Our education system will have to change along with a host of other sociocultural elements in order for UBI to be viable.
  #122  
Old 02-07-2020, 07:00 PM
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I think you're missing the point of basic income. The idea is that it doesn't matter what work you do, as a human being you're entitled to a bare minimum of groceries and a roof over your head.
I guess there is part of the problem. Many people, including me, would dispute the idea that I am entitled to a portion of your earnings, taken from you by threat of imprisonment, for simply existing. You had to work for that money so it is simply unfair for me to take it and fuck around playing video games while you are working.

Full stop on that. I think that would have widespread agreement.

What most people do agree with is that there should be a social safety net. That if I am unable, despite my best efforts to care for myself, then society will take that money from you to not let me starve or sleep in the street. The underlined portion is what the overwhelming majority of people complain about when it comes to the welfare system.

To the extent that UBI enacts your statement into law instead of mine, well that another reason I'm against it. It's certainly not anything this country was founded upon, nor is it anywhere near a majority belief. It solidifies the most objectionable parts of public assistance.
  #123  
Old 02-07-2020, 09:18 PM
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I'm against money taken by force, too. Taxation is theft, the whole thing. I'm an anarchist and I don't even think the government as it currently is (an organization that enforces its decisions by force) should even exist.

That said, my imagined anarchist society would look similar to what we have now, with an overarching organization managing income voluntarily given by most people and directing its use towards various things we as a society deem worth the cost, from defense, to interstate highways, to some sort of safety net. And I believe a basic income would be a lot less invasive and less expensive and less bureaucratic than the constellation of complicated means tested welfare programs we have today.

Ultimately I'd like to see a peaceful transition to the voluntary society I envision. The existing government will certainly play a big part in that transition, and for continuity's sake I imagine a lot of its functions and programs would stay in place, but become based on a more voluntary foundation. To that end, I'm not too worried about a better system of welfare being enacted before the transition away from forceful violent government, because let's face it, that will take a while. And anyway, the difference between the onerous tax burden we experience now and the potential higher tax burden we'll have with a basic income program is merely one of degree. I don't know how someone could support spending trillions of stolen dollars to bomb third world countries but draw the line at spending a little more to keep Americans from experiencing malnutrition or living in the streets.

In the meantime, I judge proposed laws one way: will this make people more or less free? In my peculiar interpretation, which I understand people can disagree with, I believe the gain in freedom society gets by relieving the poor and not so poor of some of their deepest vulnerabilities (losing their home, food insecurity, lack of lifesaving medical care, all of which are currently entirely dependent on the good will of an uncaring employer) more than outweighs the freedom lost by rich people having a smaller treasure chest.

Eventually I'd like to see the rich voluntarily donate to this cause from the goodness of their hearts (and maybe some fear of the social unrest severe poverty can cause). This requires a culture change in which the upper classes value donating to welfare at least as much as say, chivalrous acts and protecting the church were valued by rich people in the middle ages.

Call me an idealist, but I think a society could eliminate mandatory taxes and also establish a basic income to protect its citizens from the worst financial disasters currently experienced by the unluckiest among us. These are not mutually exclusive goals.
  #124  
Old 02-07-2020, 09:44 PM
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Can I just make sure I get the gist here before I go deeper? You are an anarchist who believes in UBI -- so you just think it should be financed through voluntary donations?

Last edited by CarnalK; 02-07-2020 at 09:47 PM.
  #125  
Old 02-08-2020, 01:30 AM
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Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
I'm against money taken by force, too. Taxation is theft, the whole thing. I'm an anarchist and I don't even think the government as it currently is (an organization that enforces its decisions by force) should even exist.
... This requires a culture change in which the upper classes value donating to welfare at least as much as say, chivalrous acts and protecting the church were valued by rich people in the middle ages.
If I eat at a restaurant and then neglect to pay the bill, could/should the restaurant owners use force to take my money? Do they call the police, and if so, are the police funded by the charitable billionaires? (There's a long tradition of the wealthy buying police; is "anarchy" the technical name for that system?) And why doesn't the charitable billionaire who just donated billions for roads and bridges buy me my dinner anyway?

If, yes, I must pay for dinner in your system, do I also have to pay tolls when I use highways? Do those tolls change from "illegal theft" to benevolent when they're collected by a private profiteer rather than government?

And I must say you have a fond appreciation for the humane values of rich people in the middle ages; do you have a cite for it? Yes they supported king and church — because their own power stemmed from the powers of king and church.

Many people have charitable urges. But these are not generally the people ruthless enough to amass great wealth.

Finally, we'd all be curious which real-world example of human society comes closest to your ideal. Examples posited by other hyperlibertarians include medieval Ireland, America of the 1890's, America of the 1950's, and Somalia under the warlords. What do you go with?
  #126  
Old 02-12-2020, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
Call me an idealist, but I think a society could eliminate mandatory taxes and also establish a basic income to protect its citizens from the worst financial disasters currently experienced by the unluckiest among us. These are not mutually exclusive goals.
Yes, sorry DrCube. Your utopia of a sufficient social safety net motivated by charity instead of force is simply incompatible with my own opinion on the nature of society and human behavior.

~Max
  #127  
Old 02-12-2020, 02:18 PM
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I still owe H&R a response. Yang may be out, but I still think this is an interesting topic.
  #128  
Old 02-13-2020, 01:58 PM
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If I eat at a restaurant and then neglect to pay the bill, could/should the restaurant owners use force to take my money? Do they call the police, and if so, are the police funded by the charitable billionaires? ... And why doesn't the charitable billionaire who just donated billions for roads and bridges buy me my dinner anyway?
I'm not here to tell people how to arrange their lives or businesses. So I don't like answering these questions about what do people do in this situation and what do people do in that situation. Because I'm not those people. I don't get a say in how they live their lives. That's the entire point of my philosophy. You don't get to control other people, you can only control how you react to other people.

That said, it's clear to me that human nature loves organizing itself into large groups and pooling its resources to execute large, complicated projects, either to make the world a better place or just place their mark on the world. So by that mechanism I can easily see most of the services we enjoy in our current regime being replaced or transitioned to something very similar, just removing the part where you'll be imprisoned or killed for disobeying. Anarchists who oppose the idea of hierarchy or authority don't make sense to me. People love following leaders. I don't expect great leaders to stop being born, but I do expect the class of leaders we have will improve when their authority is based on experience, skill, knowledge and inspirational ability rather than the threat of imprisonment or violence for disobedience.

The law has very little to do with how restaurants deter dine and dashing even today. I'm sure some restaurants will continue as always, some will make changes like asking for a deposit or paying first, others will hire security teams and others will ban any dine and dashers from entering the place in the future, and make sure all the other restaurants in the area know as well. There might even be a nationwide organization of restauranteurs that tracks these things, so that anyone who tries to dine and dash will never be able to step foot in another restaurant again. At least not without paying ahead of time. In general, it's that sort of thing I envision will replace violence and imprisonment: For want of better terms, let's call it social ostracism and economic sanctions. People can voluntarily refuse to associate or do business with you today, I just expect that to get more methodical and explicit as it becomes the main tool organizations have to enforce considerate, nonviolent behavior.

Sure, professional or volunteer organizations of security personnel, private detectives and neighborhood watches might form some sort of quasi-police force. But they won't have any more rights than anyone else, so no more paid vacations for murdering people. You do realize the rich own the police forces today, right? In my anti-regime the rich will most likely still own police force analogs, but any group of people that can pool together the money can organize their own as well, leveling the scales a bit. Sure, the rich still have more power than the poor in my world, but they don't have access to a four trillion dollar machine designed over the centuries to more efficiently oppress the masses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
(There's a long tradition of the wealthy buying police; is "anarchy" the technical name for that system?)
No, when the rich and powerful control everyone else by force, that's called "government". "Anarchy" is the opposite of that.

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Originally Posted by septimus View Post
If, yes, I must pay for dinner in your system, do I also have to pay tolls when I use highways? Do those tolls change from "illegal theft" to benevolent when they're collected by a private profiteer rather than government?
I expect some arrangement will be made so that we have a very similar situation we have today. Maybe trucking companies will have a complicated system of paying each other to travel over other companies' roads, but the average person either rides for free, or pays some nominal fee into an ASCAP type system that allows them to drive anywhere. And I'm sure some toll roads will continue to exist like they do today. Or maybe we all just pay into a National Highway Organization which manages the collection of fees and the maintenance and construction of roads. This is another scenario where I don't want to make choices for other people, I'm merely suggesting the type of thing I think will work. It could go another way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
And I must say you have a fond appreciation for the humane values of rich people in the middle ages; do you have a cite for it? Yes they supported king and church — because their own power stemmed from the powers of king and church.

Many people have charitable urges. But these are not generally the people ruthless enough to amass great wealth.
The rich in the middle ages were incredibly motivated by religion. You think kings wore hair shirts for their own pleasure? You think a wealthy nobleman financed an army and took it on a Crusade for his health? Or even his personal gain? Sure, there's glory to think of, and one's legacy, and there were some political benefits as well (and war booty if you're lucky), but mostly it was a huge expense in money and lives for little gain except what they considered making the world a better place. I believe the rich of tomorrow could be motivated to make similar sacrifices if the culture and society they lived in values it, the same way the rich of the past were motivated to be highly trained fighters and officers, and to spend their fortunes on incredibly expensive armies and weapons and horses and castles. If the wealthy of tomorrow are raised in a culture where they are expected to regularly make large contributions to societal organizations that better the lives of humanity as a whole, a significant percentage of them will do it, and those that don't will be looked down upon by their upper class social circle. Especially if there are zero taxes at all and this is all asked of them on a voluntary basis. It's a win win for them. They get the power, they get the status, they get zero taxes, and they get to display their wealth to everyone in a way that makes the masses like them more, unlike, say, a three hundred foot yacht or an offshore tax haven. Look at Bill Gates. Is he not charitable enough? He plans to leave his children $10 million each and spend the rest of his $100 billion on charitable causes. With the right ad campaign, whole heaps of billionaires and multi-millionaires could follow in his footsteps, not to mention the average middle class guy like me who, with fat pockets and no tax bill, would gladly pay my fair share for many of the programs we currently enjoy, except for things like bombing third world children and operating concentration camps on the Mexican border.


Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
Finally, we'd all be curious which real-world example of human society comes closest to your ideal. Examples posited by other hyperlibertarians include medieval Ireland, America of the 1890's, America of the 1950's, and Somalia under the warlords. What do you go with?
What was the historical example of today's status quo? There wasn't one until it existed. It came into being piecemeal, mostly through cultural, economic and historical influences, not modeled off of some ideal society in the past. No, I don't think there's ever been an anarchist society that comes close to what I advocate. But there are examples of pieces of it everywhere you look. Take something like industrial and manufacturing standards. Created by industry for industry to follow, "enforced" by voluntary organizations like UL that simply withhold a sticker if the standard isn't met. Yet the standard exists and is mostly followed where applicable, for merely economic reasons (i.e., their customers demand it). You see something similar with, say, non-GMO food labeling or using government-standard signage and road markings on private roads. If you look, you'll see people everywhere following standards and obeying rules at their own expense, without any threat of violence, because they recognize the benefits for themselves and society.

If the policy you advocate cannot be explained to people in such a way that they'll voluntarily agree to fund it, you might want to rethink your policy. If you have to threaten people with violence to get them to comply, perhaps your goals are not as benevolent or beneficial as you imagined?
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