UBI: Unemployed funding the 1%

in politics •  9 months ago

Although not currently possible everywhere and only a stopgap measure for increasing unemployment due to automation and AI, I am interested in exploring a Universal Basic Income (UBI). I don't know about your countries specifically, so I will look at it from a more Finnish-model perspective. I have many things to go into so I am not going to make monster posts on this, just look at various aspects as they arise in my thinking.

Ever thought how the unemployed feed the top end? Many of the top earners complain about having to pay for the unemployed but, is this really an issue as everyone has to pay but, not everyone benefits. At least as I see it.

Lets say a regular, single unemployed person gets 1000€ a month (this figure is high but possible in Finland) and then decides what to do with it. What is possible?

Rent - 500€
Food - 300€
Utilities - 150€
Extras - 50€

And, gone.

Ok, now where does that money actually go? Is it going to small, locally owned businesses? Well, the rent money (can't get a loan to own on unemployment benefits) goes to someone who is able to afford an investment property to lease out, they are unlikely to be working at the local supermarket packing shelves are they?

Talking of the supermarket, the 300 on food is going to be used there but, that is a conglomerate (in Finland it is essentially a duopoly) with shareholders who for the most part are also unlikely to be the workers at the supermarket. The utilities will also go to publicly listed companies and the extras are unlikely to go to small locals either.

At what point does that 1000€ touch the middle class considering they are the major providers of the funds? Don't you find that interesting?

Now this is where I think a UBI will be helpful as instead of distributing 350 million every month to the (in Finland ~8%) 300,000 unemployed of the community, it distributes a couple of billion every month to 3.5 million instead.

Now, that doesn't seem cheaper does it? But, consider that in doing so it wipes away all bureaucracy and red tape associated with it and all of those government workers who seem disinterested for the most part in actually doing their job. I read a story the other day of someone who went in to the unemployment office looking for a job and the person behind the counter Googled 'Jobs in Finland' and turned the screen to face him.

Ok, but how does spending more tax money help? Well, distribution. Where the unemployed are only able to subsist on the benefits, they are now able to work freely without losing them. This means that they can get part-time work and earn more than they were on unemployment before but, that is not where the major benefits lay.

The benefits lay in the massive mid-section where (lets assume a UBI of 600€) they do not necessarily need it but, it is definitely welcome.

Firstly, there will be a whole group of people who currently can't quite afford to buy who will then be able to have a chance if they want rather than keep renting. Some who are currently struggling may reduce their mortgages faster. This means that in the future as unemployment likely continues to rise, there will be more home owners who will be able to live more easily off less income as they don't need to cover rent.

Next comes the people who wanted to do a few more things but just couldn't afford it. Perhaps join a gym, take art classes or guitar lessons. Maybe they will take their family out to dinner more often. Not only will this be beneficial for mind and body experience, it will also touch the small business operators much more heavily.

The dance teacher, the gym instructor, the local wood-worker that crafts coffee tables. This creates additional spread and revenue streams among the average middle. And, provides additional revenue streams for the previously unemployed as they do not have to worry about losing their benefits. It also allows them to try to do what they enjoy doing for money and with more disposable income spread across a diverse network, the customer base needed for some success is larger too.

Remember that all of these events are taxable events and there are many more of them than previously. The price keeps coming down on the cost of the UBI the more the distribution spreads. This is the interesting thing and the thing that will 'lessen' the willingness of the large corporations to support it as more local businesses supported, the less large business gets supported as it starts to distribute wealth to the working classes.

The ones at the top who don't really need it at all? They are more likely to just invest it again as they would with their current surplus. What would be interesting perhaps is to invest it into some of the startup small business operators and give them a grant to boost their potential to grow early. That might be an interesting side business too where more people can be angel investors.

So, who suffers? Well, no one really as it gives a chance for a lot more people to benefit by doing something they enjoy however, with more distribution and more competition, the chances of very large benefits by any one individual or organisation is considerably lessened. So if there is a harm, it is in the massively high peaks a people slowly find local alternatives and develop their own additional revenue trickles.

Of course, there are many other sides to this too but I am going to try to section it into smaller things to consider, not all are positive. It isn't really a hard sell to try though as the current system is obviously not working and no amount of tweaking it over the years has had a significant effect.

For the most part, the changes in unemployment is often due to shifting employment from one country to another. Essentially, countries are competing against each other and offer the conglomerates incentives to set up shop in their country. That generally means tax breaks or support to hire the unemployed. That is all cost too that should be added to the unemployment burden, the cost of employment.

What the UBI does is distribute wealth and creates a larger pool of disposable income to spread. If recipients change their buying behaviours to a more localised base, it will encourage much more hobby businesses and additional revenue streams and wil likely allow people more opportunity to get paid for stuff they actually like doing on the side.

As automation shifts into the workplaces, it is possible that people at least for the time being will still be able to live and work off their hobby and if smart, decrease their future costs of living significantly in the process. At least for me, it is a few things more to think about for ways to approach a more stable, enjoyable and supportive future.

What I do find interesting is the similarity to the Steemit platform and its ability to support a diverse range of users. It all comes down to distribution.

Taraz
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Talking of the supermarket, the 300 on food is going to be used there but, that is a conglomerate (in Finland it is essentially a duopoly) with shareholders who for the most part are also unlikely to be the workers at the supermarket.

Just a sidenote: those two conglomerates are co-operatives (S and K groups). If you take part in their loyalty programs, then you are like a shareholder.

But yes, I wholeheartedly agree that UBI is the way to go. Unemployment benefits and every other type of benefit alternative to them such as minimum pensions should be replaced by universal basic income equal to them. Other, means-tested benefits should remain only to the extent they exceed UBI. As you write, we could get rid of a lot of red tape and save money. Also, it would be easier for many unemployed to improve their lives by taking a part time job or starting a business without having to fear losing benefits abruptly and unpredictably.

You make some eye opening points at the beginning. I never really thought of how that distribution of wealth cycles straight back to the wealthy.

The concept of UBI makes complete sense. What I don't trust is the government to not use it to impose other control agendas.

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The entire point of UBI is to reduce government control. The current system is much potential for Kafkaesque scenarios. You could do away with income transfers altogether but that would be the worst of all worlds.

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I wish a lot more people had experience applying for government benefits. It is the right of citizens to access these supports - we have paid for them to be available! When more people see how the needful are treated by the system, support for this idea would increase dramatically.

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We have recently had our first experience applying for benefits since leaving school over two decades ago. They don't like to make it straight forward. The idea that anyone on welfare is just lazy and bludging the system is laughable. Anyone bludging the system can't be lazy and would have to be quite talented, because it's not any easy task.

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Unfortunately I don't think government wants reduced control, which is why I wouldn't trust UBI implemented by them. The way the economy works at the moment has money and power flowing in one direction. I don't think the people benefiting would want to relinquish that. If they implemented a UBI I'm sure they would find a way to do it which gives the biggest benefit to them.

You've taught me a new word today. Kafkaesque. I'd not heard of Franz Kafka before. Not entirely sure I want to read his work after looking him up! Have you read any of it?

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Unfortunately I don't think government wants reduced control, which is why I wouldn't trust UBI implemented by them. The way the economy works at the moment has money and power flowing in one direction. I don't think the people benefiting would want to relinquish that. If they implemented a UBI I'm sure they would find a way to do it which gives the biggest benefit to them.

UBI is far superior to any alternative in terms of empowering the recipient of benefits. If you do away with income transfers altogether, you'll end up empowering the powerful even more.

You've taught me a new word today. Kafkaesque. I'd not heard of Franz Kafka before. Not entirely sure I want to read his work after looking him up! Have you read any of it?

Yes. The Trial by Kafka was an anxiety-inducing read. Metamorphosis was no picnic either.

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First of all, in Finland it is possible that the person at the local super market packing shelves owns an investment flat. It just takes years of saving, like it does for pretty much anyone. And well the harsh truth is that most people packing shelves just don't know that they also could build wealth if they wanted to.

Secondly, I really like the idea of universal basic income, but I think that in a bigger scale it would translate into the increased speed of inflation. Which in return would mean that either we would need to keep pumping more and more money into the system or inequality would get out of hand. More money doesn't translate into better use of money, it translates into more spent money. And the wealthy know not to spend money, making them more wealthy.

On a personal level I wouldn't mind an extra 1000€, but I'm concerned for those that would need to live on it.

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And well the harsh truth is that most people packing shelves just don't know that they also could build wealth if they wanted to.

I agree with this.

lol.. bbl. baby.

For a long time now capitalistic systems have worked well for progress and creating wealth but not spreading it around. For that we relied on government. However governments tend to be bureaucratic, inefficient and even corrupt especially when they are really controlled by corporations not people. What we have now is this illusion that capitalism is a panacea. It will solve all our problems when everyone becomes an independent business owner.

Here in the U.S. the push for everyone to have their own 401k retirement plans and medical insurance has been a big part of the problem in my view. The company you worked for used to take care of that so you could work with some peace of mind. The burden of all that has been shifted to the individual who usually has no time or expertise to navigate all the complexities of investing and insurance all the while benefiting corporations.

What we really have is a system that pools money at the top and it is expected to “trickle-down” wealth to everyone else through the magic of benevolence and job creation. Unchecked capitalism can be as bad as any other tyranny if its only purpose is to create wealth. There needs to be some mechanism to redistribute wealth fairly and equitability and UBI may be the answer.

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I am Australian but live in Finland and both countries are essentially well ahead of the American social systems (from my understanding). Finland is likely well ahead in many ways considering largely free healthcare, education systems and social support systems. Every place has their problems though.

Capitalism eventually consumes itself and has to be reset. In the past, the resets have been catastrophic losses of human life through war and the like. You'd think that we could do better with all of the technology and knowledge we have yet, observation of behavior tells different.

I look at the UBI in a different way.
While the tests they are running now seem promising (as not everyone is getting it yet), I cannot see it working once rolled out to the entire populous.

The reason for this is, if everyone now has more money, prices will simply rise because people can afford to pay more. I think this is even taught in economics classes although its been a long time since I did any of that.

What does this mean? Simply that corporations ultimately benefit as more profit is made and we are back at square one, but with everything more expensive. We are then totally beholden to the government who can 'switch it off' at any time to those who won't conform .

Also, forget about living 'off the grid' because you would have to accept the UBI mark or pay much more for everything as its all gone up in price.

The other possible issue is all countries having to maintain a similar level of UBI. If one country is seen to have a better ratio, people might want to move there instead. This will therefore pave the way for a universal money system (banking system) and a 'new world order'.

Maybe this is all my conspiratorial hat speaking, but I feel a 'long con' being played here. You don't get something from government for nothing.

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No you don't get something for nothing. I have written an article about 8 months ago called 'A somewhat dystopian view of UBI' but search isn't finding it. You might enjoy that one more ;)

Great post and a fascinating topic. I am really interested in UBI and how it could really change our approach to work as well care giving, and volunteering. I agree with you that UBI would greatly streamline government administration and this would create huge cost savings on administration of social services. I do also think that certain stages of life are more expensive than others and it would actually make sense to create a UBI program that is responsive to that rather than just a flat pay out. The one uncertainty in the narrative is where does the money come from? If UBI is a response to mass unemployment or more part time employment then it seems plausible that Governments will experience a marked decline in the revenues they collect and if revenues decline how can they afford this pay out without dramatically raising corporate tax rates and tax rates on the wealthy? I'm not opposed ideologically to either of those solutions but figure this will just lead to corporations moving out of countries with UBIs to find locations with lower tax rates. I wonder if, as Bill Gates suggests, taxing AI and AI driven devices could help shore up revenue?

https://qz.com/911968/bill-gates-the-robot-that-takes-your-job-should-pay-taxes/

Look forward to continuing the discussion on this!

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i tihnk that the tax on AI or something of an equivalent nature will be necessary. In an ideal world the AI and robots would just work in the background and give us all the space and support to flourish as humans. Unlikely with the greed of this world though.

Giving everyone whether rich or poor the same amount periodically. Not sure how it's gonna create equality in capital

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Tax percentages at different levels of income could be adjusted so as to reduce the effect of UBI gradually to zero above a certain level of income.

So, who suffers? Well, no one really

You suffer because you are selling your commitment to the most basic principle that underlies any system of ethics: you ignore the principle of not harming peaceful people.

I know it is tempting to get free money and tell yourself that nobody is harmed... but I don't think you are attempting to answer the question of "who suffers" seriously. For example, if somebody rapes a girl and then says that there really wasn't any harm because he wore a condom, that is self-deception.

One way to see if there is harm is to communicate with the intended victim BEFORE you do something against that person's will to see if the person voluntarily engages in some kind of deal with you!!!!

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I have no idea what you are talking about as it is so far unrelated from the topic, at least the way you have presented it.

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Maybe my analogy was a distraction.

I was addressing your claim that nobody suffers from implementing a universal basic income. If everybody volunteers to pay into the system, that is fine, but every UBI plan that I know of is based on a tax.

  • Taxes are involuntary.
  • To see if somebody is harmed by a tax, you could ask them.
  • If they volunteer to put money into the system to pay the UBI of 20 people, then GREAT!
  • If the person does not volunteer, then you would be harming the person by forcibly taking the money in the form of a tax.

I know that you don't see taking money from "rich people" as harm... my point was to see if you believe in a couple ideas:

  1. Ethical people avoid initiating harm against peaceful people.
  2. The person who gets to define the harm is the intended victim (in this case, the 1% who are going to be forced to pay for the income of the other 99%... or some variation of that math).

Do you agree with my two, numbered statements above? Y/N?

thx

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So what you are saying is the rich should stay rich and the poor should get poorer until they are so poor thru are homeless, and all because you believe it harms the rich to pay more taxes

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So what you are saying is the rich should stay rich and the poor should get poorer until they are so poor thru are homeless, and all because you believe it harms the rich to pay more taxes

Those are related questions... questions that I had also... but I wanted to know if you oppose or endorse the idea of using force against peaceful people and I'd like to know if you let the victim define what harm means.

I'll try to address your question: I can look at times and places and see where I would probably have acted out. Example: Ho Chi Minh tried to address great inequality that originally stemmed from colonialism and foreign invasions in which perhaps a million people starved while paying tax in the form of rice to either foreigners or suck-ups catering to foreigners. That sounds mighty bad to me. I am not unsympathetic to you concerns.

I live in USA, and the situation for me (and for you) does not compare to the situation of the Vietnamese people from 1940s-1960s. Right now, in my context, I would prefer for people to engage in voluntary interactions. If you don't like your wages, find a new job, work more hours, spend less, get a roommate to split bills, learn some skills, start your own small business. I have done all the above rather than using force against others to take their money.

Do you agree:

  1. Ethical people avoid initiating harm against peaceful people.
  2. The person who gets to define the harm is the intended victim (in this case, the 1% who are going to be forced to pay for the income of the other 99%... or some variation of that math).
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They will be happiest when all earnings are taken as tax, then distributed in a "fair & just" manner. Who will decide what is fair though?
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This will only affect the so called 1% though, not the middle class, lol. Probably take away the right to own property too. So that we can return to true feudalism.

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The analogy was inappropriate considering the context of the article.

  • My first question is, why do you make so many assumptions?
  • Next, do you expect voluntarism to just be a switch in society with an overnight shift in personal and cultural philosophies?
  • Do you make the assumption that the current 1% have managed to amass their wealth without doing any harm?
  • Does 'no harm' mean as long as they didn't break any laws?
  • The laws made by the same people who force an obligatory tax?

There are many ways to do harm in this world yet most only think something is harmful when it affects their group. Many corporations do harm all over the world as they crush supply chains and ptimise their workforces in order to squeeze a little more profit out. As long as it is in another country it is okay? Voluntarism only works when those who benefit from the community put into the community and the 1% have definitely benefited from the community, tax systems and the legal systems define by the state, no matter how one looks at it.

It is good that you edited your first comment considering on your profile you have claimed 'non-aggressive communication with statists'. Perhaps I am not a statist though.

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Who puts a gun to the poor man's head and forces him to remain lazy and ignorant? Who forces him to take on debts? I'm not saying you are that man, but many are. My father earned, through hard work, every penny he earned. That accumulated to wealth. Did he steal it? No. Did he defraud people? No.

I loan people money through peer to peer lending sites like lendingclub.com. Am I a horrible person for doing it? That wealth, the money they pay to borrow money, is somehow bad? I'm evil for collecting it? When someone puts their capital at risk, they don't deserve a profit for putting it at risk? Perhaps I should not offer my wealth to the poor in the form of loans. Maybe they would be better off that way, ehh?

I fairly earned every penny I have as well. Who's going to try and steal it? Let them try. My life, the time I spent studying hard, working, and bettering myself, was all done on purpose to better the lives of my children. Anyone trying to take that away from them should tread carefully. I will kill them. Are you starting to figure it out?

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Taxes are involuntary

Is that a bad thing?

If the person does not volunteer, then you would be harming the person by forcibly taking the money in the form of a tax

Depends on what you mean by "harm". Forcing someone to do something doesn't necessarily harm them. When my daughter was a baby, I had to force her to take her medicine when she was sick.

Ethical people avoid initiating harm against peaceful people.

Sure, I can believe this idea. But again, it depends on what you mean by "ethical people" and "peaceful people". By my definition, there aren't that many ethical people in the world. Or at least not enough of them to pay enough taxes voluntarily.

The person who gets to define the harm is the intended victim

I disagree. I'd say only ethical people should be allowed to define harm. Otherwise, "harm" is too subjective and it can be whatever.

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Hi adigitallife,

Forcing someone to do something doesn't necessarily harm them

only ethical people should be allowed to define harm.

Your example was of a baby. I usually confine my discussions to sane adults, then if we have agreement there, we can try to talk about kids. The two quotes here pertain to a philosophical concept that is important to discuss if there is to be any chance of having constructive dialog among political parties... so I would say that our discussion here has implications far beyond this post.

Behind the two quotes seems to be a belief that some people are morally superior to others in this regard: (a) the superior people actually know and understand the "correct" ethics, morality, or utilitarian calculus, and (b) it is appropriate/morally acceptable/justified for morally superior people to force other people to do (certain kinds of...) things against their will. Please modify my wording if you have something more accurate to describe your position.

I oppose the idea that one person (or group of people) can be morally superior to another in a way that allows one group to control another group against their will (I am talking exclusively about sane adults). My argument is a scientific one in which we start with a null hypothesis (meaning that there is no difference between two groups of people) and then we see if there is objective evidence that allows us to reject the null hypothesis and determine that we have high confidence that there is a moral distinction between two people (or groups of people) that allows one to dominate the other legitimately.

There is a lack of evidence to suggest that there is such a difference between groups. I say this because there is a lack of evidence to suggest that moral perceptions can be quantified objectively on a scale that mixes unlike things (such as measuring some kind of moral good against loss of liberty). Without an objective measurement scale, there can not be an objective way to measure the moral superiority of one group over another... we would be left with the null hypothesis that all sane adults are on the same moral plane.

Keep in mind, I spent years developing a measure of moral perception, but it is objective only in the sense that it measures one construct along a very specific scale that I defined. I can not objectively "weigh" the moral value of that type of things versus a dissimilar moral construct.

That's a lot of words, but can you tell me in your own words how you might determine who the "ethical people" are or what kind of things they can or can not (justifiably) do to the unwilling masses?

thx

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buenos dias primero que nada, interesante tu post, me gusta como vez las cosas y como lo redactaste, aunque fue largo de leer comprendo tu punto de vista, espero seguir viendo mas post asi y que tomes en cuenta mi humilde comentario un saludo desde venezuela