Universal Basic Income

Author: secularmerlin ,

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  • secularmerlin
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    The argument goes (or one of them anyway) that rights are well and good but largely meaningless if you don't have the ability to exercise them. Like you can't exercise your right to life if you are dead and you can't exercise your right to liberty if your life is being threatened (explicitly or implicitly) they are not substantive. 

    So if your life and wellbeing is being (implicitly) threatened by impending eviction from ones home and subsequent starvation if one does not "make a living" then one may be forced into taking whatever job is available no matter how dirty, difficult, dangerous, unfulfilling, no matter how tedious and no matter what end of life security (if any) it offers. 

    That means that you might have a group of working poor who are paid so little and forced to work such long hours and is so busy maintaining their paycheck to paycheck survival that they simply do not have time for liberty or the pursuit of happiness. 

    One suggested solution to this is a universal basic income. This is the idea that either everyone would receive an amount of money sufficient to maintain their lives and wellbeing (home, food, medicine etc) or that these considerations would simply be supplied directly. 

    This has the advantage of being a solution that does not require that we demonetize (do away with exchange mediums) and therefore one requiring less change to existing infrastructure than a purely and perfectly socialist system (in as much as such a thing is feasible).

    Now this discussion is not about the relative benefits or disadvantages of socialism but only about the effects (benefits or disadvantages) of instituting some form of U.B.I. as a part of our free market system (just to put an emphasis on free) and what such a system might potentially look like/operate.
  • Sum1hugme
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    --> @secularmerlin
      My primary concerns with UBI are

    1) That it would cause inflation, as businesses pass the increased labor costs onto the consumers through price hikes. 
    2) That it would increase unemployment, as businesses cut employees to offset the increased labor costs
    3) That it would strip many unskilled workers of their ability to compete with their labor.
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @Sum1hugme
    My primary concerns with UBI are

    1) That it would cause inflation, as businesses pass the increased labor costs onto the consumers through price hikes. 
    Well if our basic needs were seen too then only luxury products could see any effective price hike and frankly speaking that isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as basic necessities are not something anyone needs to worry about. 
    2) That it would increase unemployment, as businesses cut employees to offset the increased labor costs
    This is a non issue if people do not need to be employed to live.
    3) That it would strip many unskilled workers of their ability to compete with their labor.
    The need for unskilled labor would not go away but it would give unskilled laborers better leverage in negotiating for their labor if they did not strictly speaking need to work at all.
  • Sum1hugme
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    --> @secularmerlin
      I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "if our basic needs were seen to[o]." Do you mean like if water and food remain cheap, but Iphones prices skyrocket? Or are you suggesting that Food and Water (and shelter?) be subsidized?

      Also, how would people not need employment to live? As things stand, it's pretty important to those of us that work to pay our bills.

      There is always a place for unskilled labor at the various fast food and grocery institutions. If a business is forced to pay a minimum wage, then the worker necessarily cannot compete below that threshold against other laborers for a job.
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @Sum1hugme
    I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "if our basic needs were seen to[o]." Do you mean like if water and food remain cheap, but Iphones prices skyrocket? Or are you suggesting that Food and Water (and shelter?) be subsidized?
    I mean provided either in the form of a stipend or just provided directly.
      Also, how would people not need employment to live? As things stand, it's pretty important to those of us that work to pay our bills.
    Well they would not have to pay bills unless they want little extras like streaming services, unhealthy food, video games, recreational drugs like alchohol or cigarettes etc etc etc.
      There is always a place for unskilled labor at the various fast food and grocery institutions. If a business is forced to pay a minimum wage, then the worker necessarily cannot compete below that threshold against other laborers for a job.
    I am not talking about the minimum wage. That is a separate issue. In fact if no one had to work I do not believe we would need to enforce a minimum wage since the entire reason we have such a thing is to give a living wage and especially this is a bit self defeating for the reasons of inflation as you outlined.
  • Sum1hugme
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    Maybe I don't know the difference between a UBI and a minimum wage? Could you elaborate on what this is and where it would come from?
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @Sum1hugme
    Well I can explain the difference at least so let's start there.

    A minimum wage is the lowest amount an employer is allowed to pay. A UBI would provide for everyone's basic needs without asking for anything in return. 
  • secularmerlin
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    secularmerlin

    Perhaps this will be some help in understanding what earning a living can lead to.
  • Sum1hugme
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    Like, an income provided by the government?
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @Sum1hugme
    Like basic needs being met because people have the right to them even if they refuse to work dangerous jobs for too little pay. Like for example you would no longer see single mothers working sixty hours a week for only a fraction more than they spend on child care and living out of a car.
  • Sum1hugme
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    Is it an income provided by the government? 
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @Sum1hugme
    Is it an income provided by the government? 
    I suppose it could be but it doesn't have to be. In fact I'm open to ideas concerning exactly how we might achieve such a system. 

    Anyway it is only worthwhile to consider if you value human rights and if it makes those rights more substantive. 
  • Sum1hugme
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      Would it be provided to all families, individuals, or only qualifying applicants?

    And how much income are you proposing? Just assuming the USA.  
  • secularmerlin
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    Would it be provided to all families, individuals, or only qualifying applicants?
    It would be provided only to those whose rights should be promoted/protected
    And how much income are you proposing? Just assuming the USA.  
    I am not necessarily suggesting any income. Just your basic needs and no one needs money if their needs are being met without it. This doesn't mean that most wouldn't still want money and be willing to work for it. 

    All basic needs and no play makes Jacky a dull boy.

    For example if you did not have to pay for food or shelter or medicine would you still like to sometimes buy a beer? Would you like to own a car? Like going to the movies or watching disney plus? Go earn that stuff.
  • Sum1hugme
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    How would this system determine who should get these needs? 

    And if there was something providing housing and food, is that like a charity? Or the government? What institution do you propose to distribute these resources?
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @Sum1hugme
    How would this system determine who should get these needs? 
    Well.... how do you determine who should be afforded human rights?
    And if there was something providing housing and food, is that like a charity? Or the government? What institution do you propose to distribute these resources?
    I  am not proposing any specific model I am initiating conversation. 

    Anyway different needs might be met in different ways. For example being a landlord doesn't actually create anything so strictly speaking removing them as a factor doesn't really remove value from the system.
  • Sum1hugme
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    --> @secularmerlin
      I think humans have an innate dignity that should be respected. 

      What do you mean by "removing landlords as a factor?"

  • secularmerlin
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      I think humans have an innate dignity that should be respected. 
    Ok. What does that mean in practical terms. How can we derive actionable data from this dignity and what for should this respect take?
      What do you mean by "removing landlords as a factor?"
    I mean stop charging people rent and forgive all mortgages and discontinue all property taxes. Stop profiting from peoples need for shelter.
  • Sum1hugme
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      At a societal level, it should be structured to treat people as ends in themselves rather than instruments to the satisfaction of ends. Mutual means and contracts don't violate this. 

      While I love the idea of people not having to pay rent, you haven't really put forth a practical way of making that happen. I mean, banks aren't going to just give up their capital holdings in the name of charity.
  • secularmerlin
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    you haven't really put forth a practical way of making that happen
    Nope sure haven't. Every human enterprise starts with imagining possibilities.
    At a societal level, it should be structured to treat people as ends in themselves rather than instruments to the satisfaction of ends. Mutual means and contracts don't violate this. 
    Does that mean that you value such concepts as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? 
  • Sum1hugme
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    Yes, we can use those as the human rights. 

    Nope sure haven't. Every human enterprise starts with imagining possibilities
      That's why I've been asking you for practical ways of making this happen. So what do you propose? Far as I can see, charity and government are the best options. 
  • secularmerlin
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    Far as I can see, charity and government are the best options. 

    Charity cannot be compulsory. Government should only be asked to help in as much and to such a degree as the goal of the government is to provide for, protect or assure human rights.

    Does that mean that you value such concepts as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? 
    Yes, we can use those as the human rights. 

    If we support the right to life and liberty should we limit people's liberty by requiring them to work for the basic necessities of life?
  • Sum1hugme
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      I think that the natural state is where you have to work for the basic necessities. As it stands, it's never been easier to work for your necessities, while still being able to enjoy the privledges of modern society, like tv and air conditioning. 

      We aren't imposing on people's freedom because they have to work for a living, labor is a natural, and integral, part of society. If nobody labors, then society won't function at such a high level. 

      For example, in 1900, 40% of americans lived on farms. Now it's less than 1%. That's a product of innovation through labor, and now most of us don't have to work on farms for our food.  

  • secularmerlin
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    --> @Sum1hugme
    I don't see any of that as a reason not to strive for improvement. Also what if it is imposing on freedom for them to have to work rather than to be allowed to? I don't know the topic of UBI and substantive freedom has just been interesting me lately. 
  • Sum1hugme
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      Well the point I'm making is that they are more free than ever in both the choice of their labor and how they enjoy it's fruits. That's a product of innovation through labor.  

      Like I said, the idea of people's needs being provided for is a nice one, but I just don't see a practical way of doing that, rather than allowing them to choose their professions and how they use the fruits of their labor, as much as their situation allows. A single mother is of course going to have less freedom than a single non-mother in this regard, but when you look back, the weight of her responsibilities are actually much lighter than ever  given the products of modern innovation.