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Universal Basic Income - UBI

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Spike
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« on: April 10, 2018, 09:44:21 AM »

Thought I'd introduce this topic here: Is UBI inevitable? Will it work? What did we learn from recent experiments? Here's a short summary:  https://www.wired.com/story/the-paradox-of-universal-basic-income/?utm
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brianvds
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2018, 13:43:32 PM »

Thought I'd introduce this topic here: Is UBI inevitable? Will it work? What did we learn from recent experiments? Here's a short summary:  https://www.wired.com/story/the-paradox-of-universal-basic-income/?utm

I don't know enough about economics to have much of an opinion. As far as I can work out, the Pareto distribution (i.e. a small number of people end up with most of the income) is pretty inexorable - it happens quite automatically, in almost all societies, whatever we do. And thus it is proposed that a UBI could be a simple way to just keep on cycling some of the income back down (from where it will probably promptly move back up again).

I'd be interested to hear more views; hopefully this thread won't disappear.
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Brian
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2018, 15:28:10 PM »

UBI seems to be a new name for social grants in whatever form. My problems are:
...at whose cost? bigger(obviously the 'haves'...)
...how will the quantum be determined? (need?)
...if it's based on need, you run into a myriad of problems (family size, poverty datum lines etc. whose need is more important?)
Quoting Ayn Rand:
If a man proposes to redistribute wealth, he means explicitly and necessarily that the wealth is his to distribute. If he proposes it in the name of the government, then the wealth belongs to the government; if in the name of society, then it belongs to society. No one, to my knowledge, did or could define a difference between that proposal and the basic principle of communism.
and ...Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force.
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brianvds
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2018, 16:14:56 PM »

UBI seems to be a new name for social grants in whatever form. My problems are:
...at whose cost? bigger(obviously the 'haves'...)
...how will the quantum be determined? (need?)
...if it's based on need, you run into a myriad of problems (family size, poverty datum lines etc. whose need is more important?)
Quoting Ayn Rand:
If a man proposes to redistribute wealth, he means explicitly and necessarily that the wealth is his to distribute. If he proposes it in the name of the government, then the wealth belongs to the government; if in the name of society, then it belongs to society. No one, to my knowledge, did or could define a difference between that proposal and the basic principle of communism.
and ...Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force.


Yeah well, western Europe seems to be scraping by, despite huge social grants and welfare and public health and public transport and public everything. In fact, they seem to be doing better than any society in all of history.

Thus my personal intuition is that I don't mind socialist economic policies of the European sort, as long as they remain confined to the economic sphere. Their obsessive nanny state control over the personal lives of their citizens is quite another matter.

But as I said, I do not know enough about economics to have any passionate views on the matter. My guess is that if you tax, say, Checkers in order to pay social grants to the poor, the poor are going to use the money to buy groceries (and liquor!) - at Checkers. So the money flows straight back where it came from.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2018, 17:02:50 PM »

I saw a video recently about this and thus quickly googled this article that counters the notion of rich socialistic countries. In short: They built their riches on capitalism and then switched to socialism and have barely grown since save for when they cut back on these measures.
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brianvds
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2018, 05:18:38 AM »

I saw a video recently about this and thus quickly googled this article that counters the notion of rich socialistic countries. In short: They built their riches on capitalism and then switched to socialism and have barely grown since save for when they cut back on these measures.


Well, that is always a point: one has to bake the cake before one can divide it, and if it isn't very large, no one is going to get a very big slice.

But the article is perhaps a bit too short and simple to really address all the issues. For one thing, the Scandinavian countries aren't communist; they after all have large companies and do business etc. The reduction in growth could have many reasons besides socialist policies instituted by government, and the article does not mention any of these or try to account for them.

On the other hand, Bernie does err in bringing them up all the time, because the Scandinavian countries are both vastly more homogeneous and much smaller than America, and what works for such a country will not necessarily scale up to the size of the U.S. Also, America is not exactly a free market system - the government there is pretty much a rubber stamp for big businesses, which routinely use the power of the state to eliminate up and coming competition. So we cannot really bring up America as example of either the success or failure of the free market system. 
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2018, 10:44:54 AM »

I saw a video recently about this and thus quickly googled this article that counters the notion of rich socialistic countries. In short: They built their riches on capitalism and then switched to socialism and have barely grown since save for when they cut back on these measures.


Well, that is always a point: one has to bake the cake before one can divide it, and if it isn't very large, no one is going to get a very big slice.


Implication here is you can't bake the cake under socialism?

Quote
For one thing, the Scandinavian countries aren't communist; they after all have large companies and do business etc.


The point is those large companies were created under capitalism and stagnated under socialism. IOW: It's not that they have large companies, it's that in real terms many of them have contracted. Slowly, maybe, but it still indicates that this is not a wise long-term strategy.

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The reduction in growth could have many reasons besides socialist policies instituted by government, and the article does not mention any of these or try to account for them.


As said it was a quick google to find a reference to what I'm referring to. There are long debates to be had on youtube on the subject that have all kinds of graphs and figures etc. It's prob confirmation bias on my part but the correlations seem to affirm pretty much how I'd expect such things to go. Communism is a disaster. Communism lite is a lite-r disaster, etc.

Quote
On the other hand, Bernie does err in bringing them up all the time, because the Scandinavian countries are both vastly more homogeneous and much smaller than America, and what works for such a country will not necessarily scale up to the size of the U.S. Also, America is not exactly a free market system - the government there is pretty much a rubber stamp for big businesses, which routinely use the power of the state to eliminate up and coming competition. So we cannot really bring up America as example of either the success or failure of the free market system. 


It depends on what you mean. These terms are all fuzzy and there are many data points on a multivaried continuum with no absolutes at either end. It would be extremely difficult to properly control for all the variables. So I rather contemplate the general trends than focus in on individual data points. IMHO the general trend is: Capitalism = baking the cakes.
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brianvds
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2018, 11:53:01 AM »

Implication here is you can't bake the cake under socialism?

Maybe, maybe not. Stalin baked a humongous cake, but perhaps he would have baked an even bigger one in a free market.

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The point is those large companies were created under capitalism and stagnated under socialism. IOW: It's not that they have large companies, it's that in real terms many of them have contracted. Slowly, maybe, but it still indicates that this is not a wise long-term strategy.

But for what reason, exactly? A UBI is not all the Swedish government does, and I'm not clear how mere taxation or welfare would make companies stagnate. My suspicion is that companies stagnate because of all the other interference that Swedish governments are also guilty off, e.g. labor regulations that make it almost impossible to get rid of staff, etc.

One will need to separate the various issues; "socialism" isn't one single thing that always does exactly the same thing.

Quote
It depends on what you mean. These terms are all fuzzy and there are many data points on a multivaried continuum with no absolutes at either end. It would be extremely difficult to properly control for all the variables. So I rather contemplate the general trends than focus in on individual data points. IMHO the general trend is: Capitalism = baking the cakes.

Without a doubt. I wonder if even hardline communists would argue otherwise. America wasn't always a plutocracy, and it underwent its biggest growth, perhaps the most spectacular in history, during very unregulated times. Today it is still renowned for being business friendly, though not always for startups.

On the other hand, there is a cost to everything, and America's free market is not without its human cost. I for one would not really want to live there if I had to work for other people. Huge numbers of Americans, living in the richest country on earth, have virtually no access to healthcare and work two jobs and never get a holiday. I'm not sure that is the kind of society I would want to live in (of course, if I were a rich and famous artist or something, none of that would bother me!)
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2018, 14:05:54 PM »

Implication here is you can't bake the cake under socialism?
Maybe, maybe not. Stalin baked a humongous cake, but perhaps he would have baked an even bigger one in a free market.

I think it's fair to say he baked a cake using the bodies of millions of people as the main ingredient.

Quote
The point is those large companies were created under capitalism and stagnated under socialism. IOW: It's not that they have large companies, it's that in real terms many of them have
contracted. Slowly, maybe, but it still indicates that this is not a wise long-term strategy.

Quote
A UBI is not all the Swedish government does

This is the multivariable problem I pointed to. But, socialistic societies usually have similar tendencies: Worker protection, Minimum wage enforcement (well UBI would accomplish this by proxy), bureaucratic business regulation, extensive social programs like healthcare, social grants.... all these things chip away, chip away....

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One will need to separate the various issues; "socialism" isn't one single thing that always does exactly the same thing.

I'd say many of them are based on the same underlying philosophy and thus, in implementation, are extremely difficult to tease apart. Because a govt keen on one of them is usually keen on the others too.

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Without a doubt. I wonder if even hardline communists would argue otherwise.

I think we have plenty of examples in SA of people who totally don't get it at all. I read an article in which someone close to Zuma was describing just how clueless he is about what money is or where it comes from.

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America wasn't always a plutocracy, and it underwent its biggest growth, perhaps the most spectacular in history, during very unregulated times. Today it is still renowned for being business friendly, though not always for startups.

All true.

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On the other hand, there is a cost to everything, and America's free market is not without its human cost.

Nothing is. Capitalism is not perfect and I'd never argue it. However I've yet to see a better system.

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I for one would not really want to live there if I had to work for other people. Huge numbers of Americans, living in the richest country on earth, have virtually no access to healthcare

What is huge numbers? What is the representation of those numbers vs the population? What is the quality of that care?

The healthcare thing is maybe offtopic but, one thing is for sure the people in the USA are, to put it like a englishman: maybe a tad over-medicated. They do have access to facilities that would make most of the rest of the world blush. Yes they can complain about the expense, and the costs have been rising. I concede this easily. Market forces have driven the costs upwards.... however I'd also argue this alone says a lot about their relative levels of "poverty".

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and work two jobs and never get a holiday. I'm not sure that is the kind of society I would want to live in (of course, if I were a rich and famous artist or something, none of that would bother me!)

I've been there, lived for a while with someone who worked in their economy. What they consider low pay is how billions of people in the world would dream in their wildest fantasies to live. We don't measure ourselves by absolute wealth, we compare against those around us. If, as in the US, lots of people around you are doing absolutely great... then your own fate starts to look bad. My friend is single income w. wife and child... Not highly trained or anything of the kind. He's simply competent. In any economy that goes a long way already. I'd live there in a New York minute.

.... but not IN New York that place is a dump. Tongue
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brianvds
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2018, 17:33:11 PM »

This is the multivariable problem I pointed to. But, socialistic societies usually have similar tendencies: Worker protection, Minimum wage enforcement (well UBI would accomplish this by proxy), bureaucratic business regulation, extensive social programs like healthcare, social grants.... all these things chip away, chip away....

Well, that's the problem with a lot of socialist countries: they over-centralize and over-complicate things, and seem almost inevitably to move towards ever more stringent authoritarianism, in which the state does not merely provide for the poor, but takes full control of everyone's personal life. Of course, politicians in general tend in that direction: a politician is by definition someone whop wants to tell you what to do.

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I've been there, lived for a while with someone who worked in their economy. What they consider low pay is how billions of people in the world would dream in their wildest fantasies to live.

True enough - their idea of poverty is when you can only afford a single car. :-)

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.... but not IN New York that place is a dump. Tongue

Based on films and photos, it's a lovely city. I would love to go paint bits and pieces of it. :-)
« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 09:58:58 AM by brianvds » Logged
BoogieMonster
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2018, 09:48:45 AM »

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.... but not IN New York that place is a dump. Tongue
Based on films and photos, it's a lovely city. I would love to go paint bits and pieces of it. :-)

Never go there. To quote agent Smith from the matrix: "It's the smell". It's a filthy, crazy, hectic place.
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brianvds
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2018, 10:02:32 AM »

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.... but not IN New York that place is a dump. Tongue
Based on films and photos, it's a lovely city. I would love to go paint bits and pieces of it. :-)

Never go there. To quote agent Smith from the matrix: "It's the smell".

If there is such a thing.

Quote
It's a filthy, crazy, hectic place.

I lived for many years in Sunnyside in Pretoria. Had the time of my life - if I have to live in a city, I want to live near the pulse of it rather than in the boring suburbs. That's where all the character is. Of course, Sunnyside eventually got a bit too much character, and the inevitable happened: I was attacked ans stabbed by would-be robbers.

That's one of South Africa's many problems: it is way too dangerous to live in the really nice places in the city.
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Brian
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2018, 12:07:24 PM »

to get back to the topic (I loved Manhattan NY BTW). I think the last almost pure capitalist country was Hong Kong prior to incorporation: I spent some time there as well as in Singapore...what a difference! Hong Kong was dirty, vibrant, pulsing and I had probably the best food ever in one of their housing complexes: Singapore was/is ruled by a fascist/capitalist government but it's clean functional almost sterile: both seem to thrive on capitalism. Scandinavian countries and especially Norway (same population as Durban) is very dependent on its oil: the economy is almost pure socialist but profit oriented businesses flourish. The wage differential between a CEO and a factory labourer  is tiny (When I last examined it, CEO's were earning about $1.2m pa while lowest pay was about $250 000): education is free, you retire at about 55 and have a pension for life, medical is free, vocational streaming takes place to ensure that the economy is suitably equipped. When oil reserves are depleted they are in for some trouble unless they differentiate and diversify quite quickly. Sweden funds its socialist policies through some of the highest taxes in the world and again capitalist business are in evidence (Volvo eg). In essence the socialist economies are great provided the source of revenue is able to provide. In SA UBI is a pipe dream unless our communists know something I don't: our tax base is tiny in population terms vs needs massive. Social grants that encourage babies, support AIDS victims etc are not sustainable: add to that 'free education', free medical etc ....these guys are dreaming. 
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brianvds
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2018, 13:38:51 PM »

When oil reserves are depleted they are in for some trouble unless they differentiate and diversify quite quickly.

Perhaps they'll send raiding parties to England and France. :-)

Well, right wingish economists have been predicting for decades now that Sweden is on the brink of collapse. I guess we'll see soon enough.
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