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Mats Kaarbø

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Why Basic Income should become a Human Right

The U.S. Basic Income Network define Basic Income as, "...an unconditional, government-insured guarantee that all citizens will have enough income to meet their basic needs." http://basicincome.org/bien/aboutbasicincome.html

This program could eliminate poverty resulting in a more predictable and stable society as crime and violence would decay.

It could also move innovation beyond traditional employment as everyone would have access to the necessities of life by a basic income thus economic flexibility.

It could, in addition to deliberate automation, diminish the work hours for full-time employers, giving people more time to friends and family and activities that enrich their lives thus increasing quality of life.

It would in fact save significant costs by liquidating cumbersome and bureaucratic government agencies, to a much simpler program that could be automated.

Furthermore, since there is no means test; the richest as well as the poorest citizens would receive it which could manifest a positive psychological effect in people to spend less and appreciate leisure, which is ultimately good for the environment.

An example of a 'mini-basic income' is the Permanent Fund Dividend which in an annual individual payout to Alaskans. Though the payout is relatively small and only annually distributed, it still goes to show that this kind of program is being used today: http://pfd.alaska.gov

Research from Namibia revealed that the introduction of a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) led to an increase in economic activity which contradicts critics' claims that the BIG will lead to laziness and dependency. Learn more about it here: http://bignam.org

Namibia had amazing results in a number of other things as well, namely poverty reduction, which is a pivotal point in and of itself, and a reduction in crime rate by 40%. Now, imagine what a global basic income guarantee could do.

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  • Oct 20 2012: Too many people here are shooting down the basic income idea because it's not perfect. I feel that we should not require it to be perfect, just less worse than the current system.

    In other words, we have to weigh a small minority of the population abusing a basic income by never working (although a social draft could partially solve this problem) against an undeserving financial elite usurping much of society's resources and taking irresponsible risks with other people's resources, veterans eating out of dumpsters and people who work 40 hours per week not being able to afford health care and education for their kids.
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      Oct 20 2012: Couldn't have said it any better. Could you expand on what you mean by a social draft though?
      • Oct 20 2012: It's a draft where you have to spend some time of your life serving society. Like the traditional draft you can do this in the military, but you can also work in a nursing home or waste disposal, even administrative positions if you've got the skills, in fact there's no reason you can't serve it working as a brain surgeon. The only restrictions are that it can't be in the private sector, that you have to perform it before you reach a certain age and that you only get a basic living income for the duration of your service. The social draft may not even prove necessary, but if it does its duration can be set based on the needs of society.

        @John Moonstroller

        Since it would be mandatory for everyone, before a certain age, I do not think it would be necessary to use voting rights as an incentive. I don't think the social draft will contribute more to society if everyone completed their service at an early age to get voting rights. The mandatory nature of the draft ensures that everyone will serve eventually, so you can provide voting rights to people who have not served yet and choose to pursue an education first.
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          Oct 20 2012: It's a good idea John. I would expand it to: you don't have a right to vote unless you did your tour of duty and became a full Citizen. By full Citizen, I mean everyone has the full rights afforded by the constitution but to vote in any election, you must have that service to community validation.
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          Oct 23 2012: I feel that this issue could be solved by how we raise and teach our children. Parents should be trained to be more careful and aware of how their values and values in general might influence their children and schools should be more about collaboration and sharing. I think a combination of these things would make our children apt to voluntarily want to participate in society and their environment.

          The children will eventually realize that the only way a society can take care of them is if they care of the society thus participating in it.
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    Oct 17 2012: Strongly disagree. This attitude fosters the sense of entitlement and kills the sense of gratitude and the desire to do good things to others in return for the good things they do to us.

    Nobody owes us a living (including God). When charity comes from heart, and not from government mandate, it is much more abundant. Forced redistribution of wealth is just legalized robbery. It fills the "givers" with bitterness and resentment and deprives "recipients" of gratitude. When we feel that society "owes" to us, we are never satisfied, no matter how much we receive.

    We are not entitled to "happiness", but to "pursuit of happiness".

    I believe, such program will have just the opposite effect on society than what you describe. As another utopic idea, I would advocate abandoning all mandatory entitlement programs altogether and handing them off to charities. Private individuals are far better and more efficient in taking care of each other than the government.
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      Oct 17 2012: Sadly, I can only say the same thing back to you and find your worldview quite dystopian in fact. Tell me. Why aren't we entitled to happiness? Why shouldn't everybody have the same access to goods and services for a good life? Why should only a few selected ones have the fruits of life and others not? Is the current economic system really the only thing worth striving for? Is this all we can do? Let's keep having poverty, war and human suffering in the sake of pursuing happiness at the expense of others? I find that utterly disgusting and not acceptable.

      By the way, do you have ANY statistics that shows 'private individuals are far better and more efficient in taking care of each other than the government'?
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        Oct 17 2012: Re: "Why aren't we entitled to happiness?"

        We are. We need to realize it, stretch our hand and take it. Happiness cannot be "given" or "mandated". It's an internal state, mostly, independent of material conditions of our existence. It's like faith. You either have it or not. No amount of material evidence will suffice. It's a Zen concept. Read about the "National Grouch Day". http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/National_Grouch_Day It's a joke, but each joke has a share of truth.

        Re: "Why shouldn't everybody have the same access to goods and services for a good life?"

        They do. They just have to stretch their hand. "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find." If one sits there and feels like a victim, while others are pursuing their happiness, who is to blame? I don't say that disabled people have to go and earn the living. We must help each other. But it must come from the heart. Mandated charity does no good. People often do not realize their own potential and refuse to act simply because they do not believe in their own abilities and consider other people greedy, evil, etc. I do not like to blame "the 1%" for exploiting "the 99%". This division of people into "good" and "bad" buckets only causes strife. Of course, immoral and unfair practices must be punished, but most billionaires did not steal their wealth and give a lot to charity.

        Who and how will determine what "basic income" means? Is having a vacation in Hawaii a basic necessity? Some think, it is...

        As for the efficiency of the private sector in helping people in emergency vs. FEMA, here are a few links. I don't think, reliable statistics on private help can be found.

        http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/perspective/perspective-hurricane-katrina-government-versus-the-private-sector/

        http://www.akdart.com/katrina2.html

        http://www.justice.gov/criminal/katrina/docs/09-04-07AG2ndyrprogrpt.pdf

        http://www.justice.gov/criminal/katrina/docs/09-04-07AG2ndyrprogrpt.pdf
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          Oct 18 2012: So, what you're essentially saying is that you would rather risk your life pursuing happiness instead of creating a safe and stable environment that is both predictable and at your best interest?

          Look. Basic Income Guarantee is more than just being humane and giving a hand. This program would essentially eliminate poverty thus most human suffering. From a strictly pragmatic point of view, it is about decreasing crime and violence, which is the number one by-product of poverty, thus destruction. Second of all, it is about increasing quality of life for everyone, by granting anybody, who are willing and capable, access to participate in society and their environment. This is a far better and efficient way to do it, than restricting people's participation to their purchasing power.
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        Oct 18 2012: Mats, this has been done before. Read about the history of the Soviet Union and other communist countries. Same basic ideas. You propose to create a wealth redistribution system - "rob the rich, give money to the poor" - Robin Hood style or "Expropriate the expropriators" - Lenin style
        http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Expropriation+of+the+Expropriators
        Another entitlement program - search internet on the problems of the Social Security system in the U.S. and entitlement programs in Europe. Or the history of French Revolution.

        These systems go bankrupt and corrupt within less than 100 years. I share your enthusiasm for ending the poverty and suffering, but let's check the reality. How is your proposal different from the Soviet system? Who will pay the bill to guarantee this "basic income"? Unless most of the people VOLUNTEER to do that, laws, taxes, and government mandates won't work.

        Read this book to get a different perspective.
        http://mises.org/books/thelaw.pdf

        In reality, getting rid of all entitlement programs would be another extreme. Some balance must be maintained as in everything else.
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          Oct 18 2012: "Mats, this has been done before. Read about the history of the Soviet Union and other communist countries."

          The reason why communism failed was because it wasn't implemented globally and constant pressures from the free-market capitalist countries made it difficult for these systems to take root and give people from the outside world any chance to see the system in effect - coupled with the obvious propaganda the free-market capitalist countries had taken into effect to ensure that people would stay ignorant to such systems.

          "How is your proposal different from the Soviet system?"

          Again, a Basic Income Guarantee becoming a human right would be implemented globally and not nationally.

          "These systems go bankrupt and corrupt within less than 100 years."

          That is assuming that we will have and want a monetary system forever. With technological advances the need for monetary exchange is being more and more irrelevant. This is because of the abundance technology creates. Read the book "The Best That Money Can't Buy" by Jacque Fresco to see how we can live without money.

          "Who will pay the bill to guarantee this "basic income"? Unless most of the people VOLUNTEER to do that, laws, taxes, and government mandates won't work."

          Hopefully, people will see the necessity and benefits by implementing such a program.
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        Oct 18 2012: Mats, the Soviet system collapsed not because of the pressure from the free market states, but because people were alienated from the means of production and the fruits of their labor. The system created a huge apathy, lack of motivation and lack of personal responsibility. All property was considered "communal" i.e., nobody's in particular and was up for grabs for anyone who had access to it. Government positions responsible for distribution of the goods were coveted and held by corrupt cronies of other corrupt officials. Do you think, North Korea and Cuba are in economic dumpster because of the pressure of the free market? Read about conditions in China before they implemented the reforms. Corruption and work conditions are still a problem there.

        People's mentality needs to change globally and naturally, without force. Love for the neighbor cannot be forced.

        I can take a look at the book you quote. However, I do not think the world is ready to abandon money. Perhaps, it will some time, but it must happen naturally. Mandating such changes through legal system has never worked.
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          Oct 19 2012: Yes.
          “People's mentality needs to change globally and naturally, without force. Love for the neighbor cannot be forced.”

          It is a process of changing our souls.
          Soul contains instinct data and acquired data.

          Changing these data in our brain is a very slow process of cell-growing, which needs long, long time polypettion.
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          Nov 3 2012: "Mats, the Soviet system collapsed not because of the pressure from the free market states, but because people were alienated from the means of production and the fruits of their labor. The system created a huge apathy, lack of motivation and lack of personal responsibility."

          How was people alienated from the means of production and the fruits of their labor? Could you elaborate on this? I thought communism was all about the working people. And why do you think this creates a huge apathy, lack of motivation and lack of personal responsibility?

          "Do you think, North Korea and Cuba are in economic dumpster because of the pressure of the free market?"

          You do realize that Cuba has a total embargo from importing anything from Unites States, right? Now, if that isn't a direct pressure from a free market state, I don't know what is.

          "People's mentality needs to change globally and naturally, without force. Love for the neighbor cannot be forced."

          I wholeheartedly agree, and this is why people has to be educated about the benefits of a Basic Income Guarantee that would serve society as a whole and ultimately themselves.
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        Nov 4 2012: Re: "How was people alienated from the means of production and the fruits of their labor? Could you elaborate on this? I thought communism was all about the working people. And why do you think this creates a huge apathy, lack of motivation and lack of personal responsibility?"

        Mats, in the Soviet Union, private property of farmland or means of industrial production was illegal. All means of production belonged to the state. The idea was that such ownership would inevitably create exploitation. The food produced in collective farms and products produced in the factories also belonged to the state and were distributed administratively. The idea of central distribution and planned economy was to avoid ups and downs of capitalist economy. Private enterpreneurship was also illegal and officially frowned upon as desire to enrich oneself at the expense of others. Most people made living being employees of the state. No matter how hard one worked, the salary remained the same. Productivity was rewarded by celebrating high producers in the newspapers or company meetings. In a sense, the system was about working people. A factory worker sometimes had larger salary than a university professor, a doctor, or an engineer. Is it just? Administrative positions responsible for distribution were coveted and corruption was (and still is) rampant. I don't "think" that the system creates apathy and lack of responsibility. I saw it. I grew up in Soviet Ukraine.

        Read about collective farms in Russia created forcefully by Stalin. Voluntary kibbutzim in Israel were more successful, but they seem to be in decline as well. Here are a few links to give you the idea. In Russia, collective farming was screwed up from the beginning. The article about kibbutzim has a good review of various problematic aspects.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QaLReKDtko
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcumJNNX0qc
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_farming
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kibbutz
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          Nov 4 2012: First of all, thank you for clearing that up. However, comparing Basic Income to communism is not fair, because a Basic Income doesn't work in any shape or form like the Soviet did. A Basic Income would merely be a policy or human right in this case, that would be agreed upon through a global referendum or what have you, that says that all humans are entitled to an unconditional income for their necessities of life. Unlike communism, a Basic Income would move innovation and work in general beyond traditional employment (both private and state) making it far more decentralized, but at the same time ideal for sharing ideas and collaborating. It would also liberate people to pursue the things that really matters to them or what the free market capitalists talks about, the pursuit of happiness. If that isn't economic freedom, I don't know what is. It would also open the door for more automation of boring, repetitious and dangerous jobs and labor, both private and state, because work and labor is now being redefined as a result of a Basic Income. Who wouldn't want that? It is also unsustainable for the environment to have a 100% work force and a Basic Income would, like I said, move work beyond traditional employment easing the stress on the environment.
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        Nov 5 2012: Re: "However, comparing Basic Income to communism is not fair, because a Basic Income doesn't work in any shape or form like the Soviet did." -- I must be missing something. Aren't you proposing a system of administrative redistribution of wealth?

        Re: "A Basic Income would merely be a policy or human right in this case,..." -- First, "basic income" is a fuzzy concept. Does it include an annual family vacation? (I already asked this question) Second, we may declare that every human has a right to live in a palace. Unless we provide funds to guarantee this right, such declaration would be irresponsible. Third, such declaration would foster irresponsibility, because everyone will demand a palace regardless of their contribution.

        Re: "... that would be agreed upon through a global referendum or what have you, that says that all humans are entitled to an unconditional income for their necessities of life." -- Have you read this book? http://mises.org/books/thelaw.pdf. When you propose a measure that would benefit 95% of the people at the expense of the other 5%, I have little doubt that it will pass. The remaining 5% will then be exterminated physically or financially or will hide their assets, and the system will go bankrupt. You propose to create a huge public liability, worse than those that drag down European economy right now.
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          Nov 5 2012: "I must be missing something. Aren't you proposing a system of administrative redistribution of wealth?"

          Yes, but Soviet never really did that, did they? Sure, they nationalized most of the means of production, but how much of that can you really expect go back to the citizens if there is no system that regulates the surplus of exports? Of course there will be corruption in such environments with little to no regulation. In this sense, communism is equally as bad as free market. Furthermore, I am against forcing anybody into labor they don't wish to partake, I am pointing out the fact that a Basic Income would LIBERATE people from traditional notions of work. A Basic Income would _guarantee_ that people got their share of their cake. Be it by financing it through publicly owned energy production or taxation reforms.

          Look this is more than just economics, its about principles. It should be a human right to have free access to necessities of life regardless of your situation. Something less is a thing of the past. We have the technology to liberate people to do things that really matter and to also enjoy leisure and spark innovation to new heights. It should be considered a privilege to partake in society in the quest to improve yourself and the rest of humanity, not self-interest on the expense of others.

          Basic Income is neither fuzzy or hard to understand, its only the lack of information or the lack of willingness to learn new concepts that hinders you from realizing the benefits. Partly because of your seemingly indoctrination in age old economics of the past that serves no relevance to our surroundings and partly because of the emotional attachment you have to these same ideas. Therefore it is almost impossible for me to persuade you or make you realize the benefits in these small spaces on TED if you don't do any research yourself. So I urge to read more about it, before making anymore claims or assumptions about it.
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          Nov 5 2012: "When you propose a measure that would benefit 95% of the people at the expense of the other 5%, I have little doubt that it will pass. The remaining 5% will then be exterminated physically or financially or will hide their assets, and the system will go bankrupt. You propose to create a huge public liability, worse than those that drag down European economy right now."

          Did you really say at the _expense_ of the other 5% and justified it? Holy shit. If 95% of the population benefited from it it should be celebrated, not looked upon as a threat to the remaining 5%.
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        Nov 5 2012: Re: "It would also liberate people to pursue the things that really matters to them or what the free market capitalists talks about, the pursuit of happiness."

        Once people get a taste of comfortable living without work, they get addicted. You would think, they will use the opportunity for education and personal devevlopment. I doubt. Why bother? I know a person who has 4 children. His small salary allowed him to qualify for a government program that paid his rent. When he received a job offer with a double salary, he rejected it, because he would lose his benefits. I know children from well-to-do educated families who quit colleges for low-income jobs and drinking with buddies. I know quite a few young people who miss opportunities they have because they lack motivation or self-esteem. Read how people use their lottery winnings.
        http://www.smartmoney.com/invest/stocks/why-lottery-winners-go-bankrupt-1301002181742/

        Re: "It would also open the door for more automation of boring, repetitious and dangerous jobs and labor, both private and state, because work and labor is now being redefined as a result of a Basic Income."

        There is a reverse side of the medal. Automation removes low-skilled labor from the market and raises the education requirements for entry-level jobs, thus creating fewer opportunities for young people.

        Mats, the idea may sound great, but, in my opinion, it fails basic reality checks. I believe, feeling of entitlement CREATES poverty. People who see themselves as producers and contributors never lack basic income.
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          Nov 5 2012: "There is a reverse side of the medal. Automation removes low-skilled labor from the market and raises the education requirements for entry-level jobs, thus creating fewer opportunities for young people."

          Thus a Basic Income to compensate for all the 'lost jobs', that in reality will not be missed. Do you really think people strive for low-skilled labor? Of course not. So, people can now spend their time on either reeducation (if they choose to) or simply begin innovating and exploring more creative sides of themselves, which in and of it self creates positive societal values and an increase in cultural diversity. They could also enjoy leisure, a seemingly foreign concept to most free market capitalists...
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        Nov 5 2012: Re: "Basic Income would LIBERATE people from traditional notions of work. A Basic Income would _guarantee_ that people got their share of their cake."

        Mats, when people are "liberated" from work, there is no cake to share. One needs to work to get the cake. Cakes don't fall from the sky or grow from a tree. Even if they did, one would need to pick them up and put in their mouth.

        Your idea is EXACTLY Marx's idea of communist society. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." -- Marx
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_each_according_to_his_ability,_to_each_according_to_his_need

        Here is a quote from Wikipedia: "Marx delineated the specific conditions under which such a creed would be applicable—a society where technology and social organization had substantially eliminated the need for physical labor in the production of things, where "labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want".[9] Marx explained his belief that, in such a society, each person would be motivated to work for the good of society despite the absence of a social mechanism compelling them to work, because work would have become a pleasurable and creative activity. Marx intended the initial part of his slogan, "from each according to his ability" to suggest not merely that each person should work as hard as they can, but that each person should best develop their particular talents."
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          Nov 5 2012: "Mats, when people are "liberated" from work, there is no cake to share. One needs to work to get the cake. Cakes don't fall from the sky or grow from a tree. Even if they did, one would need to pick them up and put in their mouth."

          Liberated from traditional NOTIONS of work, not work itself. People would still need and WANT to work, but with a Basic Income and more automation, people would at the same time redefine work as a concept and evolve it to something beyond the traditional occupations we have today, like low-skilled labor and even medium-skilled labor, which would be automated, so that people could focus on important and enjoyable stuff that enrich their lives. That has always been the premise for technology since the beginning. To make life easier and liberating.

          Frankly, I don't want people to waste their talent and human ingenuity on useless jobs that could be done by a machine way more accurate and efficient than humans. That is highly unproductive in both a social and economical sense.

          "Your idea is EXACTLY Marx's idea of communist society."

          Keep my principals/philosophies separated from a Basic Income. They are not the same. Sure, many of my _principals_ may be similar to Marx's ideas, but that doesn't automatically mean that a Basic Income is affiliated with communism. If you still feel this way however, please pin point me where Marx talk about the concept of Basic Income, meaning an unconditional income.
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        Nov 5 2012: Mats, here is a verbatim quote from Marx:

        "In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly -- only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!"

        http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/gotha/ch01.htm

        Isn't this what you are talking about? Perhaps, Marx did not use the exact term "basic income", but this seems to be exactly what is meant by the phrase "to each according to his needs", isn't it?

        Perhaps, Marx's ideas are prophetic. It is very possible that society will reach this happy time. I'm just not sure which will come first - communism in Marx's understanding or the kingdom of heaven. They seem like the same thing to me.
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        Nov 5 2012: Re: "Did you really say at the _expense_ of the other 5% and justified it? Holy shit. If 95% of the population benefited from it it should be celebrated, not looked upon as a threat to the remaining 5%."

        Mats, when 5% of the population is robbed and exterminated for the "benefit" of the 95%, there is nothing to celebrate. Perhaps, you have heard about Gulag and Auschwitz.
        • Nov 5 2012: "Mats, when 5% of the population is robbed and exterminated for the "benefit" of the 95%, there is nothing to celebrate. Perhaps, you have heard about Gulag and Auschwitz."

          They're not getting exterminated, in fact they'll get a guaranteed basic income as well! .They're also not being robbed, they're just asked to return stolen goods to the rightful owners, the people who actually produced all the goods instead of moving their trustfund money around, calling that an investment and claiming that was the single most important step in the production process (if resources weren't concentrated in the hands of a few to begin with there would be no need for rich investors either, it's just a scam where a few people rig the system to ensure demand for what they're selling).

          It also has nothing to do with communism, communism sought 100% employment, not a basic income, it also did not allow for private entrepeneurship, while private entrepeneurship can exist in a basic income society. There is also no reason to assume a basic income society cannot be a democracy. Such strong comparisons to the Soviet Union show a lack of imagination, as if it is a law of nature that any system that is not capitalist must be communist.
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        Nov 5 2012: To: John Smith Re: "They're also not being robbed, they're just asked to return stolen goods to the rightful owners, the people who actually produced all the goods"

        I guess, "robbed" and "stolen" comes down to the definition of ownership. Let's say, you come up with an idea of a product, invest your resources into product development, take risks to borrow money to finance your business idea, hire workers to implement YOUR idea and YOUR plan, sell the product and make profit (or, which is equally or, even, more probable, fail and go bankrupt). Do you say that the hired workers who get their salary regardless of the success of the whole enterprise, are the rightful owners of the product? If they want to be, they should assume the same risks as the enterpreneur and, perhaps, forsake their guaranteed basic income to share the potential pay-offs of the success, and, inevitably, the losses associated with the failure.

        Should people who take unjustified risks be guaranteed a "basic income"? That painfully reminds the recent bail-outs of the failed banks in the U.S.

        Anyway, I don't say, it has to be like the Soviet Union, I don't say that it's impossible or that society will never reach such stage. I just say that it doesn't seem plausible in the current social, economical, and moral conditions. I may be missing something, but this idea doesn't seem to fit what I know about humans and economy.
    • Oct 18 2012: Arkady.

      "We are not entitled to "happiness", but to "pursuit of happiness".

      Of course you are entitled to happiness. What a foolish thought to believe or think you or anyone else is not.
      So limiting thinking that way.

      Cheers
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        Oct 18 2012: If you read my note below, I explain my thought (I hope). We are entitled and we can get it any time - just need to claim it. If we don't nobody will "give" it to us. Same applies to human rights or freedom. We have no rights until we claim them. This is how it worked during American revolution, in times of MLK, and this is how it works with Miranda rights also. And this is why it does not work in Iraq.
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      Oct 19 2012: I think:
      Happiness comes from "the short-time feeling of things a-step-better for keeping our DNA alive" whether it "entitled" or "pursued".
      e.g. sun rise, raining during drought, cool breeze in hot summer, ..
  • Oct 26 2012: @ Mitch Smith, thank your for giving me a little objectivity. That argument is endless with some people and if I am not aware I can fall prey to its effects and simultaneously forget its roots lost in a pointless surface level battle.
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      Oct 28 2012: Well, let me say this. Hope it does not go too far off topic (and I'm pretty sure you will be able to keep up with this):
      I have been directed to the work of neuro scientist Liz Pinal at University of Vermont.
      She seems to concur with my observation of dyad pairs operating in the autobiographical self.
      My observation hypothesyses "quadrads" - I talk about it often in these discussions.
      So - for every person you meet, you create 2 autobiographical selves - one to represent "I" and one to represent "other". The other also does this - this results in 4 A-selves (a "quadrad"). These A-selves are initially copies of the core self - plus a delta(change set) that is an accumulated "causal" map that represents the agregation of "expectations" - one set for "self", one set for "others". The A-selves are then run through the general "world view" map which is a conglomerate of cuasal and physical maps in various states of completion. The completion component of any particular map fragment depends on the synaptic strength attachment to associated maps that have deeply long-term potentiation. This allows the perception of uncertainty. Now, if a deeply potentiated association happens to contain an erroneous assumption (e.g. "god" or "free market") then everything associated with it will inherit the same false certainty.
      Each A-self in the quadrad begins with the default model and casts a "forecast" which is then measured for error in observation. The error is applied to a specific delta refining it to closer accuracy (Bayesian learning).
      In the quadrad Me(Me,You) and You(You,Me) - lets call them a, b, c, d respectively - the Bayesian learning produces a convergence between ad and bc - if you drew it as corners of a square these convergences are diagonal.
      With on-going experience between the me and you, these diagonals can potentially converge to exactly the same place. But the resulting convergence can be different for each diagonal pair (continued)
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      Oct 28 2012: (Sorry about the double post - it takes a while, even simplified like this)

      So the diagonal convergence can come to conclusion with a/d b/c in exactly the same place (symmetrical) or in different places (asymmetrical).

      OK - now we look at another intra-personal dynamic: advantage.
      Advantage is best described as a "field". It is the subset of the field of potential agency - that has causal maps which lead to convergence in the internal milieu (represented by the proto self). Conversely, the field of disadvantage is the subset that leads to divergence in the proto self.
      Now lets look at the game dynamics win/lose and win/win (assuming that lose/lose is rejected by both).
      These options have practical value depending on the frame set by the ambient environment.
      In time of scarcity, win/lose is appropriate (competition).
      In times of abundance, win/win is appropriate (cooperation).
      However, the win/win dynamic has an emergent property - it increases abundance.
      It follows that competition will result in an asymmetrical convergence of A-selves - cooperation will result in symmetric convergence.
      Symetry/asymmetry define the absolute vector of left/right politics. Erroneous world view will exacerbate assymetry - even in the face of abundance.
      When confronted with an asymmetric convergence, one must look at the state of abundance before attempting conflict. It is clear that inappropriate competition wil damage the abundance, and that inapropriate cooperation will damage the survival of the few.
      Under this scenario, I see that the Namibian BIG program is cooperation supportive and, if appropriate, will lead to greater abundance in Namibia.
      Ambient abundance will tend to disolve erroneous world views over time. However, if competitive "latch-up" occurs due to an erroneous world-view, then artificial scarcity will arise.
      In times of abundance, there is no need for currency - the beans do not need to be counted.
      I could go on, but you get the gist?
      • Nov 2 2012: Mitch very interesting and although not completely cryptic, I'm still struggling to place my understandings into your hypothesis. I shall give it a crack: I believe what you are telling me is that when presented with interaction between the self and another if we suffer from some sort of unconscious false belief due to whatever reasoning, we superimpose and then infect our views with this deep rooted false idea. I suggest that when this is the case our "forecast" is also tainted. I also believe what your saying is that with your model we will converge on some truth in some aspect of our world view.

        What i commonly see and have noted in myself is when starting on a false premise and a certain expectation of the other individual I tend to retreat to extremity. I noticed this with my father who when entering a debate with a family member would almost always retreat to reading right wing political works. However he only did this when he was at a loss for words. The argument was not so much about politics but more so about proving himself intelligent or correct in his assumptions. I think it needs to be noted that upon entertaining surface debates we open ourselves up to the effects of competition rather than the effects of mutual understanding and acceptance. I notice you at times cite Lakoff. He puts it very well that conservatives are not irrational they have a logic system that although is based on continuing cyclical abuse, makes perfect sense to them. If you notice on my profile page I put forth an idea that is old and important. The healthy and unhealthy mind reaches its conclusions the exact same way, through a logic system confined to the pleasure principle. It is more complicated than that but I think its a fair enough statement.
        What I mean to say is that if proper debate is not formulated on a rational bedrock debating the issue has been lost from the start and all we see is a clash of primitime competitive forces wishing to assert dominance
      • Nov 2 2012: Please update me where i fumbled your meaning or completely missed your point. You would be surprised how little neuroscience I have gone over in school. Most of my learning on the topic has come from spare time watching lectures and such...
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          Nov 2 2012: Hi Brian,

          I think you've pretty much nailed it.

          But there is slightly more depth to the picture.
          The key is the appropriate application of competition/cooperation.
          One has to ask "where is the scarcity?" before undertaking competition.
          In males, one would not be surprised to find that, in most cases, the only extant scarcity happens to be one particular female. It's not so primative when it happens to every male human during puberty. I observe a similar dynamic in females .. but I cannot speak for them.

          The very idea that all critical thinking requires debate is also problematic. Debate is a form of competition. Critical thinking requires nothing more than observation. This is what I call "grounding".

          We humans are not very good at comprehending non-linear phenomena.

          The retreat to extremity is an attempt to assert self-image.

          The cyclic abuse you identify is not so much direct physical or psychological violation - it manifests in the very framework of the common world-view. e.g. adversarial law and political systems, assumptions about "human nature" etc.

          Anything that assumes a state of abundance/scarcity without direct observation is a falacious stance.
      • Nov 3 2012: " It's not so primative when it happens to every male human during puberty"

        This is true and now you have directed me down a differing rabbit hole. I must now attempt to define what I mean by "primitive". I guess I mean pre societal, mainly forces which humans have deemed to be destructive to civilization. Maybe its from reading to much Freud, but i sometimes place a bit of mysticism into the unconscious forces. After reading his books I find it difficult to not see the world the way he portrays it(in a very linear way). I notice a thread in much of your writing Mitch, you seem to be always looking in fractals and I cant say I blame you tis a beautiful lens to look through. Either way, you are right the male teenagers hormones rage and his frontal lobe has not reached full development, hence: a recipe for impulse control issues. But are these forces primitive? I guess they are only primitive in the sense that society has been trying to wrangle and control them for years. "Civilization began the first an angry person cast a word instead of a rock"- Freud

        I think you are right about debate and I have noticed this may have been the root cause of the breakup of my philosophy group which I formed. Sides were being taken and it eventually lost its muster and faded(although it has just recently reassembled with new and old members). When we had discussion and sharing of ideas we made real progress, far more progress than in any school setting.

        I think what you are getting at is that by integrating a world view or accepting a view consciously or unconsciously we can absorb its falsehoods and that the only real way to deviate from asymmetry in your model is to offer ideas that have been formed from your own experience? I think much training goes into alleviating what we already know. The idea you present is one i have been and maybe always will be fighting to keep, at least on some level.
        -Brian
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          Nov 3 2012: Interesting that the word "primative" indicates primate which infers "ape-like" when we actually are apes. I think the Latin root means "first" or "topmost" and the Pope is referred to as the primate.

          Lots of historical ambiguity in that word. I think appropriately so.

          We are an odd species, we apes. The extended gestation afforded by mammalian birth extended to 14 years presents an interesting notion of what happens first (primary, prior). Quick-maturity animals do not get such an extensive holiday from sexual competition. During that holiday, the human ape gets to develop a broader range of interactions - to discover the power of cooperation as well as competition. Then the great puberty synapse cull shreds anything that has not fully potentiated.

          One wonders if the habitually competitive simply never left puberty.
          Once mated and mature, the human ape should no longer need competition .. that the opportunity for inapropriate competition is fueled by artificial scarcities of non-essential commodities - to keep the big kids entertained and blissfully divided?

          I think Freud was wrong - to me, it is evident that civillisation started with farming, and then stopped when humans started farming each other.

          There's some bad old trauma lurking back 10,000 years .. possibly a harm that is still in the process of healing. But then, we see the same dynamic in baboons and chimps .. oddly not bonobos. The prevalence of inapropriate competitive behaviour seems to have a latch-up dynamic - as observed in Sapolski's baboon troop when all the alpha males got killed by tainted meat on a garbage-tip: how, in the absence of dominance/competition-driven social structure, the troop flourished way beyond the success rate of surrounding groups.

          I'd like to get hold of the math that read Montaigne developed for his "dyad" model of interpersonal dynamics - then plug them into my quadrad model and see what species of convergence occur.
      • Nov 3 2012: there is almost to much in your post I want to respond to but I first must start here: "There's some bad old trauma lurking back 10,000 years .. possibly a harm that is still in the process of healing." I have thought of this often and one night i was watching a special on the history of dogs and an idea hit me. It came in the form of a creation myth but expresses your exact idea. I remember it as clear as day because of the feeling associated with it. I rarely speak of this but i try to interpret it as a vision of a creation myth. The accepted theory of the evolution of dogs come from wolves being attracted to trash piles made by humans and were selected by temperament to eventually live with man. We bred them so as to work for us and now we see the vast array of breeds. Whats interesting about dogs is that they have taken on some of our diseases as well as psychological traits. We in essence gave them a superego by integrating them into the modern family unit and living amongst other members of our clan, but most importantly we brought them out of the hunter gatherer state(Jared Diamonds theory of Leisure Time equating to intelligence). Well somehow this all materialized and I thought wow is there a chance we are just like dogs. Who enslaved us and powered our frontal lobes? Who taught us agriculture and brought us out of the hunter gatherer state which inevitably lead to the growth of our species and the evolved cortex we now endure. I asked were we once enslaved like dogs were? Somehow it all seemed to click at the time and part of me knew we have been passing on this trauma since the birth of civilization.

        Ive tried to put it into an intelligible theory but it does not really add up. So I view it as a myth with which i was allowed the pleasure to see. The myth expressed your exact idea and I think its probably true.
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          Nov 4 2012: Hi Brian,

          Yes - it's fascinating!
          I normally don't entertain external agencies as part of the dynamic .. species pride I suppose ;)
          But try this one - the meeting between homo sapiens and neanderthal?
          The inference is a ring species divergence, but the evidence of interbreeding seems to imply that the divergence was not quite complete.
          So who enslaved who?

          This would have to be backed-up by some historical study, but: is there a correlation between the practice of slavery and the presence of neaderthal genes?

          I have another conjecture that might have cogence. We view speciation as a divergent branching system, however, there is no corrollary with convergent symbiosis.

          Convergence is clear in the very old evidence of evolution. My conjecture is that collaberative symbiots gradually converge. That there is a step-wise pattern with the symbiots getting closer until they eventually occupy the same skin. I point to the symbiotic relationships: man/dog, man/worm man/bacteria, man/virus.
          With man/virus actually unifying in the DNA.

          It is also tempting to give creedence to some ot the old catastrophe myths - these might also point to some ancient harm .. but, the slavery event seems a whole lot more powerful in the social dynamic.

          Many thanks for your insight!
  • Oct 22 2012: Who are all those lazy bums here who say they would stop working the second there was a basic living income and why do they expect everyone else to be as lazy as them? My countries hands out 700 euros per month (which you can live off of in the tiniest apartment and without a car), plus free healthcare, to the long term unemployed (they do have to sollicit for jobs but there are easy ways to make sure you never get hired), still my country has about the same labor participation rate as less generous nations such as the United States. Even during the current crisis only 4% of non-elderly adults in my country (and that includes disabled people) are on this welfare system. Also, most people in the developed world could cover their necessities by working part-time, or working full-time and then retiring early, yet few people choose one of those options.

    The truth is most people don't work just to cover their necessities, most don't steal for that goal either, but the ones that do cause excessive damage. No country needs a 100% labor force participation rate to function, most developed countries are doing just fine at around 60% and even that figure includes a lot of police/prison personnel and other civil servants that would be redundant when the basic living income drastically lowers crime and simplifies social programs. In addition, all kinds of entertainers, artists and athletes would stop being paid employees without ceasing to do what they were doing before. Not to mention all the laborers who can be replaced by robots and the financial thugs who can be eliminated through a more sensible economic system and all the nannies who look after the children of these people, and so on...

    The worst thing that could happen is that several percent of the labor force stopped working, that would by no means spell the end of civilization, in fact it's likely we'd barely miss them at all.
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      Oct 28 2012: It's also environmentally unsustainable to keep a 100% labor force and with the ever growing implementation of automation, which we all should celebrate, we'll likely not miss anybody.
  • Oct 22 2012: I would make it a human right in my community, to divide any wealth surplus as basic incomes, as a means to increase profit and optimize the market economy, I would think it was a superior socio-economic system for any society, even ignoring social/ethical reasons and only counting political and economic reasons, I would implement unconditional basic incomes as a superior algorithm to run the operative system of my society, and our socio-technological evolution would be faster then that of neighbor-communites stuck in unequal social operative systems. Evolutionary speaking, our genes/memes/temes would survive.

    Anyone fix a basic income in their community yet? #peerprogressive
    http://bit.ly/R9X4vz

    Join our facebook-group towards Basic Incomes in every European country, Germany putting it to election 2013? http://www.facebook.com/groups/116444231839732/
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    Oct 21 2012: Research from Namibia revealed that the introduction of a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) led to an increase in economic activity. The proportion of those who could get a job or become self-employed has increased from 44 to 55%, and there was an increase of non-citizen BIG per capita from N $ 118 to N $ 152, which indicates a nascent economic growth cycle. BIG enabled recipients to increase their work for income, profit or for their family and as self-employed. BIG enabled recipients to increase their productive income, particularly through starting their own small business, including the manufacture of bricks, baking of bread and custom operations. BIG also contributed to the creation of a local market by increasing households' purchasing power. This finding contradicts critics' claims that the BIG will lead to laziness and dependency. http://www.bignam.org

    Namibia had amazing results in a number of other things as well, namely poverty reduction, which is a pivotal point in and of itself, and a reduction in crime rate by 40%.
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      Oct 21 2012: Mats

      I applaud your looking at something besides conjecture.

      But Namibia I would guess may be on a sugar high from the government spending. Over the long haul or even not so long haul. If you look at the link below it illustrates that they improved in 09-11 but have taken a dive this year. They have high levels of corruption, high taxes, and low regard for private property. I would guess their one saving grace is that they are rich in natural resources. Otherwise they have not accommodated the 6 killer apps required to have a healthy economy.

      http://www.heritage.org/index/country/namibia

      Also this a very small country of 2 million in which money that is acquired only has to be divided by 2 million. There are 3 million people in the county I live in.
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        Oct 21 2012: "I applaud your looking at something besides conjecture."

        In actuality, I did include, when I started this conversation, a relevant TED talk in the description that is highly relevant (and which I partly use to support my claims) on why a Basic Income should become a human right. I highly recommend watching it if you haven't already. Wilkinson's brilliant talk on how equal societies usually have a lower rate of poverty, crime and mental disorders and an increase in overall happiness and the willing to share and collaborate, is based on deep and unbiased research and he also wrote a book on this issue, which I also highly recommend; "The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better".
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          Oct 21 2012: Oh yes the Wilkinson meme. I must have 60 posts on that talk, no thanks been there done that ad nausium Have you watched the 6 killer apps?
      • Oct 23 2012: "But Namibia I would guess may be on a sugar high from the government spending."

        Since the BIG was introduced in 2002 Namibia has not fallen behind South Africa in GDP growth. This means that the BIG had no adverse effect on GDP growth while it definitely raised the living standard for many people.

        "They have high levels of corruption, high taxes, and low regard for private property."

        They had a GDP/capita of less than $1500 in 2002 (four times lower than South Africa's GDP at the time), why do you expect them to become Switzerland in 10 years? South Africa has all of the same problems, probably even worse when it comes to crime. Corruption wise the two countries rank the same, even though South Africa is richer.

        "Also this a very small country of 2 million in which money that is acquired only has to be divided by 2 million. There are 3 million people in the county I live in."

        This matters how exactly?

        I advise you to look into labor force participation rate statistics for countries with extensive welfare programs (that you can actually live off, sort of) like Sweden and the Netherlands. Believe it or not but there are many, many people in the world who work even though they don't really have to and get a sh*tty pay for sh*tty or hard work, there are also people who are multi-millionaires but still show up at some office every morning. Most people are not as lazy as you think, or at least they have some other motivations besides paying for necessities (sense of pride, wanting to make more than some basic minimum, wanting to contribute, the social interactions of the work place, wanting to live up to expectations of loved ones, wanting to build a bigger business than the competition, the fun/satisfaction of the job itself, wanting to impress a love interest, etc...)
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        Oct 28 2012: Yes, I'm familiar with that talk and have never seen a more pretentious, arrogant and self-indulgent talk in my life. But personal opinions aside. His statistics of what he call the great divergence are highly irrelevant in terms of equality and quality of life, because the Western world had robber barons in the late 1800's and throughout 1900's, who possessed most of the money thus owning most of the land (very much like they do today). So, true prosperity for most people in the Western world was never the case and has never been the case in a free market.

        I would, however, agree that the Western world's scientific revolution and the advent of modern medicine did play a part on positive technological advances in terms of health and automation, but I would at the same time argue that the progress of technological advances would have increased exponentially if property rights were replaced with public ownership or at least much more regulated to benefit the people and that collaboration was cherished instead of competition.

        Furthermore, the work ethics was never incentivized, but forced. People had to work for the necessities of life, because they had no land to grow their own food. The robber barons took it all. That's what happens in a free market and that is why billions of people around the world live in poverty.
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          Oct 28 2012: how do you explain the disparity between south america and north america if not for the private land?

          I don't of any one in the U.S. who was forced to work. Can you site some proof of this?
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        Oct 28 2012: "how do you explain the disparity between south america and north america if not for the private land?"

        Sure, people in North America was given land in return for their effort, but that in and of itself doesn't automatically lead to prosperity. Furthermore, GDP doesn't show the prosperity level of most people within a nation, it only displays the value of goods and services being made within that nation. So, if you have a robber baron elite class that is owning and controlling the production and distribution of all goods and services produced within a nation and which is consuming most of the stuff because they have the purchasing power to do so, it doesn't matter how many working class people get to own land as long as the elite own the production and distribution facilities, ergo it is false reflection of the prosperity level for most people in the Western world.

        "I don't of any one in the U.S. who was forced to work. Can you site some proof of this?"

        Well, people are indirectly forced to work, if they don't have any land to begin with, in order to survive. Of course, if you don't want to submit to labor, you could always "choose" to lay down and die. But is that really a choice? No, that's called conditioning as a result of the free market.
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          Oct 28 2012: Do you have any proof of this nonsense? Your conjecture, although is proof to you, is not proof to anyone who understands anything about economics.

          Of all the significant discoveries in the last 100 years or so how many of them came from the evil free market? How many came from the noble socialist governments?
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        Oct 28 2012: "Do you have any proof of this nonsense? Your conjecture, although is proof to you, is not proof to anyone who understands anything about economics."

        What proof are you seeking?

        "Of all the significant discoveries in the last 100 years or so how many of them came from the evil free market? How many came from the noble socialist governments?"

        I do agree that the Western world's scientific revolution and the advent of modern medicine did play a part on positive technological advances in terms of health and automation, but I don't believe that technological innovations is based on what economic model you have in a region, but rather the values of that population. In other words, the Eastern world could have just as easily discovered and done the same things the Western world did, if not more, but was held back by superstition and doctrines. The scientific revolution in the West, partly, moved the Western world out of this superstition and opened up for the advent of technological innovations. But it wasn't the free market that did that, it was the scientists and researchers who discovered and invented and ultimately the values of the population that allowed for this to continue.
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          Oct 29 2012: Then why didn't the scientists in Soviet Block come up with them?
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        Oct 29 2012: You tell me. I've already said what I believe to be the factors in terms of the technological innovations in the Western world contra the Eastern world during the 18-1900's. Mostly coincidence.
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          Oct 29 2012: What do you get In the USSR if you come with a revolutionary scientific advancement?
          An extra ration of Vodka?

          In the free market you get what people will exchange with you for your product. The google guys invented a better search engine they were almost instant billionaires, same with Bill Gates, same with Stephen Jobs, same with the guy who figured out how to turn E coli into insulin, same with guy who came up with pay pal, But you know where the most millionaires are made? in real estate. All of the above is private property and that is the difference.
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        Oct 29 2012: Look. I know your position on this issue is that people must work for money, but your argument is just not valid. Look at the owners of properties, or owners of shares in companies. Do these owners work to get their money? No. And the country’s laws will make sure that renters pay rent. Thus, it is not true that everyone lives off his or her work. The very rich can live off their ownership rights. Citizens are being short-changed. They are owners of their country. Yet they get nothing from their ownership (except Alaskans). Just like the very rich who own properties and shares, citizens too own many properties and other forms of wealth in their country. Just like the very rich who receive money from being owners, citizens too should receive money from being owners of their country.
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          Oct 29 2012: Most of those owners made the money themselves, they did not inherit the money. They earned it and invested in real estate. Statistically most did not inherit it.

          A point of fact is that most of the people in the upper quin tile of income don't stay there for long. So those rich folks you refer to are a ever changing group.
        • Oct 29 2012: The question is not whether the richest people performed work in their lives at some point, the question is whether their work was sufficient to warrant the rewards these people received. Pat makes a rookie mistake when he views the amoral market as the hand of god that rewards the productive and punishes the lazy. You can make more money at a 50 hour/week job as a tobacco exec than at a 60 hour/week job feeding orphans. Of course that tobacco exec still gets paid peanuts compared to someone who deals in underage sex slaves or AK-47s. The free market is effective but amoral, that's something even the staunchest free market fundamentalist should be able to admit, otherwise they're just following a religion, not rational ideas.
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        Oct 29 2012: Could you please provide me with some sources that back up your claims?
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          Oct 29 2012: Mats, have you refined your understanding through this thread?
          Or are you trying to find a way to help the black boys escape from someone's plantation?
          Sometimes wire cutters work better than words.
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          Oct 29 2012: At 11:00 into the video there is a chart showing the proportion of land ownership between North and South America.

          Do a search on where any major invention came from. They rarely come from a country that does not have property rights.

          This is obvious for anyone to see. The only way you couldn't see this is you have your eyes closed.
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          Oct 29 2012: In reference to upper quintile thing

          "Because most people who are in the top 1 percent in a given year do not stay in that bracket over the years."

          "Only 5 percent of those in the bottom quintile in 1975 were still there in 1991, while 29 percent of them were now in the top quintile."

          http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/282503/who-s-top-1-percent-thomas-sowell?pg=2#
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          Oct 29 2012: Regarding the inheritance thing:

          How many of the 1% inherited their money, made their fortunes with a sizable trust fund, or made their money manipulating the financial system, without adding anything to the general welfare of the state?

          New York University economist Edward Wolff has done the best work I’ve seen on the contribution of inheritance to wealth inequality, and his latest paper, coauthored with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Maury Gittleman, is chock full of relevant data on the matter. In 2007, the last year Wolff and Gittleman look at, wealth transfers (mainly inheritances, but also including gifts) made up, on average, 14.7 percent of the total wealth of the 1 percent (more specifically, the top 1 percent in terms of wealth). Interestingly, inheritance’s share has declined over time. In 1992, 27 percent of the wealth of the top 1 percent came from wealth transfers.

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/research-desk-did-the-top-1-percent-inherit-its-wealth/2011/11/04/gIQA4T8kmM_blog.html
  • Oct 18 2012: @ Krisztian pinter " profit can not be earned in a free market unless you provide something people need. the profit motive alone is enough to be useful for society. again, provided that we have a free market."

    This is true, what is also true is that this thing you provide that people need can be created. In fact from my experience a large amount of our industry is based not based on things people need but things that the companies who market them want you to need. Do you need nike shoes? Of course you don't, the whole idea behind a capitalist society is to create a culture that rewards those who are wealthy, with reverence and praise, even if the nike shoes they happen to own were made by a wage slave or child labor. In america we have a culture that praises those who wear name brand clothing, drive high priced cars, and hold positions of power over others. From where I stand its all part of a large scheme to get people to do work they hate so they can buy stuff that is unnecessary and unimportant. This is the nature of capitalism, it reduces mans value to that of a dog. The dog who needs to be trained with treats to do the right thing. This of course is the reigning sentiment among those in power in the United States and has been for years. Why is it do you think corporations spend massive sums of money on marketing and pr campaigns with psychologists on staff? The goal is to coerce people into believing that there bank account and possessions is a reflection of their self worth.

    The profit motive alone is also why you see bubbles as well as the near systemic collapse in 2008. Now, you are right that this is all dependent on a free market, a market that allows companies to fail so as to bring balance to absurd risk taking. Problem is we don't have that in the United States, the saying goes "too big to fail, too big to jail".
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      Oct 19 2012: They should of had those triple A rating companies taken the fall with Lehmans, stat models don't work unless you got guys running around in the field at the bottom of the rung giving data flow back and people who are not biased otherwise we end up with 2008. "The Hope it evens out" people.
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      Oct 19 2012: I won't interfere with Krisztian hitting the cookie that you have thrown over the middle of the plate out of the park.

      But I will add that young Edward Bernays learned well from uncle Sigmund about how to manipulate which was used by none other than the highly dubious character name Woodrow Wilson, of whom the communist countries said they learned everything they know about propaganda from Wilson. Apparently this manipulation thing was not exclusive to the big evil corporations, of which very few of them still exist. But the gifts that Wilson left us are the gift that keeps on giving.
      • Oct 19 2012: Pat, great reference, Edward Bernays essentially coined the idea that in a democracy opinion must be controlled so as to serve the masters. The idea is that in a totalitarian state you can use brute violence, in a democracy you must use propaganda, after all the people might want to take part in the shaping of their society and we can't have that. As far as manipulating Freud's model so as to influence the masses, this is just a product of advancing civilization and very helpful tools can become incredibly destructive in the wrong hands. Ever read Civilization and its Discontents by Freud? Its an awesome quick read and I think you would probably enjoy it. He offers a very legitimate critique of communism, he also thought America was a disaster, from my perspective he underestimated will of the powerful to subvert democratic interests and leave the illusion intact. Freud also believed the masses to stupid to know whats best for them. Either way this model and idea that Bernays founded is still used today and probably more than ever. This model has successfully lead the people into countless undeclared wars, destroyed the constitution, and created profits beyond my wildest imagination for the few.

        Im sure the communists gained much from Bernays and Wilson after all Stalin was praised by Truman and others, they did not think the country would become outwardly aggressive or attempt to spread their style of government. Like I said in my previous post Communism was sold to their people based on the morality of taking care of everyone in a society, but used as tool for domination and control. Common theme in history; find out what the people want and use this to keep them subdued, apathetic, powerless. So long as guys like Bernays and his future minions exist the demand from the people will be to have rulers.
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          Oct 19 2012: The point is that government uses this stuff as much or more than corporations. And most of the companies that do this are no longer around, which has not be true for governments but that is about to change.

          Can you give some specific links regarding fast Eddy staring wars. Since Wilson and FDR were related I can see the connection on how both of them subjugated the constitution to their ignorant egos.

          I will add that those big evil corporations are what gives you the standard of living, a better standard of living than kings of yesteryear, that you enjoy now so don't bite too hard on the hand that has raised your standard living. And NO it is not the government that has done this.
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        Oct 21 2012: you could take it into your hands, as i did not notice that at all, thanks to the cutting edge revolutionary forum engine TED has. :(
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      Oct 21 2012: let me try to summarize your point

      1. companies can manufacture need, so people buy what they don't need. i especially like that gem: "coerce people into believing".
      2. capitalism rewards the wealthy
      3. people have jobs they don't like, as they are "slaves to the system" in which "bank account and possessions is a reflection of self worth"
      4. bubbles are created by profit motive.

      there is so much other, minor things wrong with your post, it is impossible to fit into 2000 characters, and neither it is necessary. they are all were addressed zillions of times already. in a nutshell, and focusing only on those 4:

      1. no, it is not as easy to manufacture need. if it would be so easy, why don't we just manufacture good needs? why "bad" companies get rich? maybe it has to do something with some ideas sell well, others don't. you can only "manufacture" need that people already have on their own. you can exploit stupidity and shortsightedness, but you can't create them. but even if you could, it would lead to the question: so what? who are you to judge what people want? who are you to say wanting a nike is not a valid goal in life? who are you to shepherd people?

      2. in capitalism, wealth is the reward for serving wants. if you enjoy your wealth, you enjoy the fruits of your efforts to bring satisfaction to the people.

      3. if you live in such a world, i understand your frustration. but none of my acquaintances believe that bank account is related to worth. everyone i know is perfectly clear on the concept that wealth is enjoyable, and so they want it. and it is a perfectly valid point.

      4. profit motive suddenly disappears from time to time? or how would that lead to bubbles? it is so no-brainer it boggles the mind. no surprise, nobody ever attempted to show how the free market leads to bubbles. it can't. only credit expansion can. and who is responsible for credit expansion? that's right. not the free market.
      • Oct 21 2012: 1. Coercing people into mindless consumerism has been goal for years and still is
        "We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. [...] Man's desires must overshadow his needs"-Paul Mazer Lehman Brothers 1930

        Capitalism plays on the idea that people should be as naturally selfish as possible living only to serve their own needs. This is the bag of goods capitalism jammed down the throat of the american public. How much sense does that make. it flies directly in the face of every model that explains why society began in the first place, its a fast road to hedonism and slow road to the destruction of the species. Nike is a valid goal in life? This again is another goal of capitalism to push people into seeking the superficial things in life. Who are you to support a system that seeks to exploit others and then claim your just giving the people what they want?

        2. Your efforts to serve wants are created wants they are meant to do as i stated above exploit desires such as laziness, greed, superficial pleasures.

        3.Come to the United States and you will see a culture absolutely engulfed in this idea, that wealth equates to the measure of a man. Even if it did not (which it does) it still equates to the power of an individual and subverts democratic interest.

        4. Where has the free market ever existed? Not in the United States, times of the least regulation have lead to the great depression and the recent mortgage bubble. Also the free market is not wanted by big business they need the nanny state, under reagan, thatcher, clinton, Bush, Obama there have been major state subsidies for coroporations as well reinforcements from government so as to get people to invest. Of course the idea from big business is that we need the nanny state so we can take massive risk with high reward, if it almost leads to systemic collapse, well who cares.
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          Oct 21 2012: 1. goal is not our issue here. customers has the goal to lower prices. politicians has the goal to grab power. manufacturers has the goal to raise prices and lower costs. the goals are not our concern. what our concern is how those goals play out given the rules. in the rules of capitalism, service providers has to provide what people want. if they can manufacture some wants, they can do that too. but never without the approval of people.

          2. laziness, greed and superficial pleasures might be disgusting to you, but please leave me alone with your moral. i like laziness, i think there is a healthy level of greed, and pleasure can't be too much. if you disagree, you are welcome to follow your values, let me follow mine.

          3. i don't believe you, you can't just get away with an unbacked claim by referring to the distance. i believe i know the american culture well enough to say: american people are treating wealth as what it is. means to have the stuff you want, and nothing else.

          4. the free market never existed in pure form, but it existed in a much less disturbed form. you should know, one of the purest forms of it existed in the US, during the 1800's, and to some degree, the beginning of the 1900's. but it does not really matter. we were talking about bubbles and what cause them. you can tell me no rational argument how the free market causes bubbles. i, on the contrary, can tell you arguments how fractional reserve banking caused them. and i can also make the case for how governments made the situation much worse. again, it is true that big companies want to use tax money to save themselves. but this desire is not the problem. the problem is that governments make it possible. there is no insurance against failure on the free market. but there is if you have a corrupt government.
      • Oct 21 2012: 1. Marketing and Public Relations do a damn good job of working to defeat peoples frontal lobe. That is the aim, to get people to give into impulse. How can you dismiss the goal if the goal is to deceive so as to create wealth? The peoples approval has been manipulated as well as shaped to suite corporate interest this can be demonstrated by people like Edward Bernays and the work he did for tobacco industry, Chiquita, etc.. The rules do not mean anything if we don't have an informed consumer, big business makes sure of this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmUzwRCyTSo

        2. Never said laziness, greed and superficial pleasures are disgusting. I said these qualities in spades will destroy civilization. My guess is you don't like those qualities in those who receive state welfare? Maybe I'm wrong? Never tried to police morality just stating that those qualities fly in the face of most models that explain how civilization formed. That is, civilization was formed so as to keep people safe among the herd, to survive employing principles of solidarity and community.

        3.Krisztian, your just flat out wrong, maybe its more my generation thats a possibility, but trust me when I say American culture equates worth to money as well as power, or at least wants you to embrace this ideal.

        4.Yes it did almost exist during the time of robber barons and rampant wage slavery. The free market causes bubbles because of the system of greed. You can blame it on whatever you want at the end of the day it is a result of some form of unbalanced greed. You can make the free market argument and talk about how it naturally balances itself but I'm aware of no real world model where this has been true. Government is the problem because they give big business what it is they demand? Your answer seems to be that government influence corrupts markets therefore do away with government and open up to corporate tyranny. Corporations are structurally the opposite of democracy.
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          Oct 21 2012: 1, yet again, you are missing the point. being expert on creating need won't change the fact that you can't just create need. that's why they need experts, because changing people's valuations is damned difficult. no surprise companies don't really try that. they just try to attach themselves to existing fears and feelings. that notion that companies manufacture lifestyles stems from an attempt to exonerate people from pursuing cheap goals and being shortsighted.

          2. laziness and all such things are with us since the beginning, and did not destroy us. unless you can show how they will, i'm going with they don't. all we need is a feedback mechanism. you can be lazy, if you can afford it. if you can't, soon, hunger will convince you that laziness should be limited. that is why freedom and capitalism solves such problems. and that's why states' "safety" measures make them worse.

          3. i still don't believe you, and i think you are fighting shadows or ghosts here.

          4. the fact that you use the phrase "robber baron" shows how few you know about that period, and how much of it comes from marxist sources. i'm not metaphorical. you refer to literal marxian teachings. the robber barons did not rob anyone, and they lacked any sort of legal support from the powers-that-be that real barons got. rockefeller's life was one of constant innovation. he single handedly delivered lighting to most american households. maybe he manufactured the need for lighting? maybe we should just go to sleep when the sun sets.

          finally, you got something right though. corporations are the opposite of democracy. as democracy is coercion. democracy is the opposite of freedom and personal responsibility.
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        Oct 21 2012: This has been another episode of the little league pitcher should be dismayed at how easily the major league hitter has hit the ball 400 ft. But instead will continue the banter with flailing arms about big evil business.
      • Oct 21 2012: 1. So lets say they do not manufacture lifestyles, lets say they just attempt to psychologically manipulate the consumer based on unconscious fears, aspirations, and motives. This is different? Im sorry but manipulating people into consuming is manufacturing a lifestyle, especially if they are manipulating as to inhibit the frontal lobe. Does environment play no role in behavior?

        2. Of course laziness has been with us since the dawn of man, so has rape, murder, robbery and many other impulses society has outlawed in an attempt to live together. The forming of society from a Freudian perspective states that society was built on a renunciation of instinct, among them is greed. You do not exploit your family so as to gain wealth if you do its considered criminal. In a primitive society greed, laziness, and selfishness would get you quickly exiled. The idea is community beliefs to behave in a way that helps the community, not just selfish unenlightened interest.

        3. Your arguing against my subjective experiences, your response is pointless uninformed conjecture. Ever here of reaction formation, its a good explanation of Ayn Rands lunacy.

        4. Marxist sources, which ones? The robber barons of the early 20th century did everything they could to destroy labor rights. This includes murder in some cases. Give me one example where a true free market existed and didn't collapse in on itself. The labor movements fought for rights and brought us a standard of living. Rockefeller may have brought lights to the people but his motives were not to help others, but to gain wealth if they weren't he wouldn't have stood in the way of the most basic human rights.

        Democracy is coercion, but playing on peoples fears and changing peoples valuations isn't? What is freedom to you? I must here this. What is your understanding of democracy, we cant even begin to exchange ideas if terms have no meaning.
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          Oct 21 2012: 1. again, you are losing the point. i don't care what they try. i do care in what extent they succeed. having freedom and personal responsibility around, results validate actions. if it does not benefit people to be puppets of marketing guys, they will sooner or later quit it. it can't grow over a certain limit.

          2. missed the point yet again. 11th time: it does not matter what urges are with us. what matters is what we do with them. you claimed that laziness will kill us. even rape and murder did not end mankind, and they are way worse. personal responsibility and cooperation between people keeps bad things in check. without some ph.d.-s or self proclaimed moralist telling us what to do.

          3. your subjective experiences are in contradiction with mine. bring heavier arguments. how ayn rand came here is beyond me.

          4. in a free society, there are no labor rights. workers has the same rights as anyone else: property rights, human rights, etc. labor rights is a creation of states. cite your sources for that alleged murder. let me guess, you will cite some case in which violent rioters were shot. guess what, violence is not a labor right, even in our wicked legal system. and yet again, you are talking about motivation. i could not care less. for all i care, rockefeller could be the devil himself. if a prime minister is devil's incarnate, that is a problem. but if a capitalist is evil, it poses no threat in any way. what he does, helped people. if he would not help people, he would not have became rich. that is the power of capitalism. it rewards cooperation, and punishes failure.

          you apparently don't understand "coercion". playing on people's fear is not coercion. also "coercing into believing". you somehow confuse coercion with influence. they are very different.

          democracy is this: majority can coerce the minority in any way they desire.
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          Oct 21 2012: Hey Brian,
          It's pointless to practice the "rational actor" scenario with some people.
          Arguement can become infinite whilever the predicate lies buried beyond the illusion of rationality.
          If your oponent had an abusive father, we cannot fix that by debate.
          But we can point out the dynamic and shift the discussion to root causes.

          The other tack is to keep demonstrating the flaws in social customs and value systems.
          My insight is that closed systems lead to critical concentrations - these concentrations eventally burn-out the closed system. What we call the "open market" would work brilliantly if it was open - but it is not. This is not because of restrictions imposed by governments, nor by manipualtions of businesss. Closedness is the very nature of the system itself.

          My experience in business at all levels confirms what you have said - even down to creating systems to forecast fashion and perception in the marketplace. Everyone knows the profit motive - it never even needs to be said - and the whole of corporate organisations strive for it from top to bottom. The directors of companies set the ethic of the company, some are responsible, some are not. All are ruthless. They have to be, because they carry the responsibility for the employees, the shareholders, the customers, the creditors and the entire value supply network that makes it possible.
          And, oh yes, power corrupts. I have seen good men take advantage of their power - diverting value for self-enrichment. The upper echelons of business and power are rife with this - it is almost expected, but the rule is "don't get caught".
          The dynamic of closed hierarchies dictates that the winners are the most effective at not getting caught. Man, you should see the millions being spent in the battles between these guys - just to try to catch each other out. I wouldn't mind that so much, except that it's company money being used for it.
          We don't need debate, we need nurturing parent schools.
      • Oct 22 2012: "4. profit motive suddenly disappears from time to time? or how would that lead to bubbles? it is so no-brainer it boggles the mind. no surprise, nobody ever attempted to show how the free market leads to bubbles. it can't. only credit expansion can. and who is responsible for credit expansion? that's right. not the free market."

        This is really misleading. Any market (not necessarily "free" ones) that allows for speculation can and will experience bubbles at some point. It is very much about greed because it is a glorified casino where you wager that you can sell off your "investment" before too many other people sell theirs. It has nothing to do with "credit expansion" (I can assure you no central bank existed anywhere in the world during the "Tulip bubble" of the 1630s), just human nature. Bubbles are mathematically possible in a 100% pure free market and would surely occur in it because there will always be people who want to make a quick buck without working for it and are willing to take risks for that. Gambling has always been part of human nature and always will be.

        @below

        Gold certificates were issued by individuals and organizations who were not backed or licensed by the government, so it was a free market. I think I know where you are coming from though, because without money expansion a bubble would cause deflation on all other goods and services, which would reduce the incentive to participate in a bubble, but as long as the bubble "contains" less than half the capital in the economy it is possible to make a profit on it. Since a bubble that affects half of all capital would still have a pretty devastating effect on the economy I wouldn't say getting rid of money expansion (which can't be done in a free market because some people would choose to deal in currencies that are subject to expansion) solves the problem.
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          Oct 22 2012: "Any market that allows for speculation can and will experience bubbles at some point"

          at least you claim so. but you have no arguments for that. i have arguments for my view. extensive use of the word "mathematics" does not constitute an argument.

          "(I can assure you no central bank existed"

          which does not matter, because credit expansion existed as soon as gold certificates appeared, due to the first debated, but later accepted fractional reserve. and money base expansion happened even before that, when kings diluted/clipped gold coins. and bubbles are in essence caused by money expansion, not necessarily credit expansion. but historical bubbles where nothing compared to the expansion central banks can unleash.
  • Oct 18 2012: It should become considered a human right if the responsibilities are as equally emphasized as the right.
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      Oct 18 2012: What responsibilities are you referring to?
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        Oct 19 2012: How about a responsibility not to spend the "guaranteed income" on drugs and alcohol?
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          Oct 19 2012: Why are you assuming that people would spend it on drugs and alcohol?
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        Oct 19 2012: Mats, do you think there should be limitations on how the "guaranteed income" is spent? E.g. would it be a good idea to fund someone's self-destructing drug addiction?
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          Oct 19 2012: Well, let's not forget why people become addicts in the first place. People can become addicted to their own stress hormones, which usually stem from the lack of access to the necessities of life. Of course, people can become involved with the "wrong" people and become addicts that way, but should we not help them because of that? That seems very counterproductive if we want a healthy environment. I don't think volunteers can do this alone. Although they have an important role, we need more programs that ensure that people with addicts get a chance to either grow out of their addiction by monetary mobility or through addiction programs. Keep in mind, those with addiction can have severe withdraws that can be deadly if their body doesn't get the drug their addicted to. So, it's not as black and white as you paint it.

          Gabor Maté is a physician who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction, you should read up on him and his work to get an idea of how addiction work.
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        Oct 19 2012: Re: "So, it's not as black and white as you paint it."

        To this I agree. It is very unclear if such program would solve any problems or make anyone happier. Let's just say that I'm very, very skeptical that it might work.
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        Oct 20 2012: Service to community would be a good responsibility.

        IF your not working, you have a lot of time on your hands to do other stuff. Some people, perhaps many, might find this a way of life and have no problem living that way the rest of their life. There has to be some method of prodding these people to steer clear of a free lifestyle at tax payer expense.

        The emphasis on these types of programs is always on the burden to the tax payer.
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          Oct 23 2012: I feel that this issue could be solved by how we raise and teach our children. Parents should be trained to be more careful and aware of how their values and values in general might influence their children and schools should be more about collaboration and sharing. I think a combination of these things would make our children apt to voluntarily want to participate in society and their environment.

          The children will eventually realize that the only way a society can take care of them is if they care of the society thus participating in it.
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    Oct 18 2012: You assume that the people with the power to distribute are not corrupt. Mighty Assumption.
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      Oct 18 2012: I do not assume anything. I do however see great benefits, for all, of implementing a social program like this, look at the description of the conversation. So, if these benefits are not desirable to the general public, so be it. I can't really do anything else than to share my ideas.
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    Oct 18 2012: it should be .if we want to build a much better world . basic income can prevent people from dieing of poverty .and we can also reduce the criminal ,such as rober and stealing

    accroding to masiluo"theory .when we meet the first need ,can we achieve much better thing and have more care about creating and showing .
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    Oct 17 2012: To a large extent for most people wouldn't this Basic Income be money that they payed the government in taxes and the government returned to them as the Basic Income payment. This would mean the government would have to collect more taxes to cover the cost of staff to oversee the shuffling of money from my bank account into the government account and then back into my account. Why not just leave it in my account in the first place?
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      Oct 17 2012: That is assuming that most people have enough money to buy the necessities of life.

      Reality check:

      1. Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.

      2. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day

      3. More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening.

      4. The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.

      5. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”

      Source: http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

      I don't know what numbers you fumble with when you say 'most people'.
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        Oct 18 2012: But if you're in a country where people are existing on $2.50 a day where is the government getting the money to pay the Basic Income from?
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        Oct 18 2012: My reference to most people refers to western countries which are, you must admit, the only ones with the resources to pay a Basic Income to all their citizens.
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        Oct 18 2012: This is bad. I'm all for helping these people. We all should do that. VOLUNTARILY. I am not against helping the poor, the orphans, and the widows. I'm against forcing people to do that. Forcing people to love each other is silly. It just doesn't work. It's like hating intolerant people or sending troops to a foreign country to create a free democratic society there. 8^0
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          Oct 18 2012: Well, then I have to ask you. Where are all of these volunteers you talk about that help the poor and want to eliminate poverty? What incentives do they have to help? I read somewhere that 1% of the military budget of USA would cover the expenses it would take to eliminate poverty in Africa. Let me repeat that, eliminate the poverty in Africa. So, why aren't the government or private businesses doing this incredible easy move, monetary-wise, if people are so philanthropic or voluntarily helpful?
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    Oct 17 2012: Mats, here is a thought for you if you are interested in advancing your own and anyone else's understanding of the proposal you are putting forward.

    Starting with Norway, cost out the "transfer" part of your program. That is, figure out what the income guarantee is that you think would meet needs, dealing with the potentially different needs of people of different ages.

    Then you could search for empirical evidence of people's demonstrated work response to an income guarantee. I have to believe there is work on this subject in the economic literature. The Journal of Economic Literature might be a good place to start for research published in English.

    Nothing you find will fit the situation like a glove, but a collection of evidence and measurements developed by researchers without a particular policy agenda will be more informative, and probably more convincing than your speculation or anyone elses.

    Then you can turn to the costs of the administration of your program of monetary disbursements, including any sort of verifications of eligibility and identity, continuing up-to-date assessment of "need," and so forth.

    The costs of the transfers plus the administrative costs are what you would need to finance.

    Finally, there is a large literature called Public Finance, which you might want to get into to understand the implications of different financing vehicles.

    I think anyone who wants others to take a proposal seriously would need to do this kind of homework.

    Obviously one doesn't need to do any of this to get people to chat with you about your idea, but I think you would if you ever wanted to get serious.
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      Oct 17 2012: Here's the thing though. The groundwork and mathematics behind these programs has already been laid out by those who advocate it. It's not a question of, "is it gonna work?" or "wouldn't this lead to hyperinflation?". I could obviously feed/include the conversation and post comments with countless data and cold academic peer reviews all day long, but the fact is that most people don't get turned on, for a lack of a better expression, by that. Therefore I rather try to approach these suggestions or problems in a gestural manner and hope to inspire people to think differently and critically about established systems and what's "right" and hopefully inspire them to research these topics themselves. Because frankly, if I where to include reports and studies in every conversation or comment to supports my claims, I wouldn't have time to do anything else.
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        Oct 17 2012: I think you are right that people in social discourse will not follow links to studies, particularly to studies they might expect to be biased. But putting some facts in tends to make an argument more persuasive.

        When you introduce an idea just at a very general level without anything concrete for someone to grab onto, in my experience the discussion just becomes a repetition of people's prior ideological positions. No ones mind changes and no ones position budges about the matter.

        Of course if you are happy with the effectiveness of your approach in the sense that you believe you are attracting people adequately to your idea, then by all means keep on doing just what you are doing.
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          Oct 17 2012: First of all, the idea of a Basic Income Guarantee is nothing new and is obviously nothing I invented or was a part of inventing. I just connected the dots and posted the question up for debate. I was interested in the general feel of this forum for such a proposal and if there are any counterarguments that shows that this program would in fact not work or make our lives more miserable, then great! I will more than happily reevaluate my position on it, speaking in a strictly monetary sense of course, meaning that I still believe that the necessities of life should be a human right.

          Furthermore, I did include a related TED talk in the description, which I highly recommend and which is highly relevant to what I claim in my description of this conversation. Richarch Wilkinson is a British researcher in social inequalities in health and the social determinants of health. So, while I completely agree that 'putting some facts in tends to make an argument more persuasive', I was hoping that Richards' brilliant talk in addition to the 'googlebility' of a Basic Income Guarantee would be sufficient. Perhaps a naivety from my part.

          All that aside, I do appreciate you taking the time to point out the things you find lacking and sharing your thoughts, constructively, on how I should consider approaching things. This helps me a lot in terms of communicating and conveying my own thoughts. I thank you for that.
  • Oct 17 2012: Personally I think socialism is robbery. Wether it is justified or not I do not believe we should be forcing the rich to finance every citizen(although most of the extremely wealthy are absolutely chemically dependent on their power and money) Your idea also implies a massive federal government, that in and of itself is just a terrible and dangerous idea. What needs to happen is a shift in consciousness where people voluntarily take care of the poor and provide basic human rights and needs not just out of some vain attempt for a philanthropical status, but because they recognize everyone as a human that suffers and feels the way they do. In the society I envision corporations would be run democratically so that the wage slaves become people that management must listen to not just cogs in a machine . This takes a mature society that understands cultural differences and doesn't wish to exploit those who are different or less powerful. This also takes democracy through and through in every institution. It takes weighing others opinions with values and throwing to the wind the idea that the masses are to stupid to know whats best for them. If this means a temporary loss in empty material living standards for the ultra rich so be it, wealth, power, and status in spades is corroding the United States from the inside out. What we need is a society that enriches the creative and altruistic aspects of human nature not one that says greed and exploitation are ok in the workplace, but not at home.
    • Oct 17 2012: One of the big companies I worked for was a strange kind of paradox. On the one hand, they had very strict performance metrics for their (overworked) employees and their (mismanaged) departments, firing anyone who does not meet it in an annual review. On the other hand, they actively encouraged employees contributing their time to social service. Employees were allowed to use a portion of their work time going to orphanages and teaching there, and allowed to take a few days off work to help in one or the other calamities (earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.). Of course, that company was one of the weirdest ones I have seen, all the others come somewhere in between -- neither too greedy and exploitative, nor too philanthropic.

      My point: though the entire business world may seem to be greedy and exploitative to an outsider, from the inside, things are quite multicolored.
      • Oct 18 2012: John, I do my best to never partake in black and white thinking. Im sure there are all sorts of corporations out there which may be guided by community values. I just believe that institutions based on profit alone are bound to exploit others, subvert public opinion, and eventually self destruct. The company you worked for seems to have an ambivalent attachment to it's community practicing rigid business standards yet promoting employees to give back to society. My main gripe is with these massive banking institutions and the whole idea that free market practices apply to everyone else but when it comes down to them paying the piper they need the nanny state, not only for bailout purposes , but for get out of jail purposes. Notice the federal government didn't prosecute the guys who knew what was happening with the mortgage bubble nor did they go after any of the guys from Goldman. Obama has been real tough on big business haha...He's just reciprocating after receiving absurd sums of campaign donations.

        From where I'm standing John, so long as corporations remain to be run like a tyranny with the head honchos making millions as they run the company into the ground (http://truth-out.org/news/item/12153-citigroup-ceo-walks-off-with-260-million) nothing will change. Corporations need to be run democratically if they are to ever truly serve the needs of the people as well as construct a future of prosperity.
        • Oct 18 2012: I have never worked for a finance firm though. I don't know how philanthropic they are. I have only worked for engineering firms. I agree with you about the bailouts.
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          Oct 18 2012: profit can not be earned in a free market unless you provide something people need. the profit motive alone is enough to be useful for society. again, provided that we have a free market.
  • Oct 17 2012: In this world, today,
    I think all human needs should be Human Rights.

    I still find it beyond belief, that there are those who still cannot learn how to love, cherish, protect, share and support life.
    And what's worse? They simply refuse to!

    Idiots! But, evil idiots,every last one.
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      Oct 17 2012: Yes, human needs should be human rights. I do not however think that these 'idiots' you are referring to, or any other for that matter, are naturally 'evil'. They are simply conditioned to believe and think the way they do by their environment, which gives me tremendous hope, because that means you can change them.
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    Nov 14 2012: When I was a manager in retail it was decided to ask the employees "what they needed to make them feel better about their job?" to get a better sense of what we could do to decrease turnover in the ranks.......To our surprise it was NOT more money.....Most people simply wanted to know and feel they had made a valid and appreciated contribution, that their work had value. I think for the most part, people in general simply want to contribute in some positive way and therefore increasing the minimally acceptable lowest standard of living by insuring that everyone has the basics, food, shelter, healthcare basic education and communication would not result in a vast culture of laziness but instead a more productive, more peaceful population. Tribal integrity on a global scale......Brilliant
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      Nov 14 2012: Yes, and this is why a basic income would generate mobility and flexibility for people to do something that really matters to them instead of submitting to jobs and labor that doesn't serve any value, just to make a living.
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    Nov 5 2012: Empty minds are the workstations of devil...so as guarantee to provide basic needs for free...There is nothing is free in this world and should not be...

    This right must be the qualified...qualification can be different as per the physical and social systems...for example: education, promoting in social or global cause, doing some research, research and development, old age, handicap etc.etc...

    I strongly feel the poverty as more psychological than physical curse except few exceptions...

    We remove poverty by providing opportunity to work, not by providing not to work...

    Guarantee to a working hand, really working...

    With regards
  • Nov 4 2012: Maybe not an income as money to spend in whatever you will desire, but yes in terms of quality in their life. Food, shelther, communication and health.
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    Oct 29 2012: Mitch have advanced neuropathy in feet due to fifteen month wait for anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. Surgery to keep me out of a wheelchair only. Can still dance with my thoughts hence on TED. Instinct to run back to NZ family but UK family responsibilities first as son is future. Stopped fighting for myself long ago but now son needs to see his mum taking action. Son clever mathematician and studying engineering or architecture. May or may not complete own degree, get son his degree then taking it from there. Family dynamics always interesting to me. Cousin UK scientist at Kew. Cousin Sydney social care. Cousin USA professor of genetics. Cousins UK lawyers and teachers. Cousin NZ G.P. Actually one of the youngest of this family. Sound like a big kid but body and mind much older than chronological age. Standardisation of time to do with railway timetables. Always prefer to reflect on seasonality. Premature autumn for me. Had to make camp whilst bringing up son but soon able to travel again. Love to you Mitch. Once again mixing personal with message to you. Want to talk to you about your ideas about neurology and biology and environment in an individual person. Post on other conversations about weather.
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    Oct 28 2012: Hi Mitch and everyone else. Had a waking nightmare this week and now topped by postcards from the future London on MSN. People and their right to a living wage is so important. Watching US political debate with huge interest. It has always been about the family in the US. Referencing Grossmans TED live talk earlier this year, climate change really going to impact on economy this year. Did you know whilst Einstein argued spiritual texts were childish, his colleague Bohr did great things. Did you know Karl Marx formulated his ideas after reading the i-ching and his work was used to justify communism. Want to update you about possible uses for old knowledge using Chris Lofting, Sydney, Australia March 2009 http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/Emotional IC. Want to use my own fun formula C=Ettr2=C. Do not want a 'hive' society but an egalitarian one. Lucky to grow up in NZ and travel via USA in 1970s when cultural iconongraphy so optimistic and fun. Technology now progressing so fast young people cannot keep up. Maths a very useful language but lacks richness of a multi-strand language like English. Want to refer to finds like Rosetta Stone. Original root artefact the cup of community. Not a pyramid or a flattened out middle class but a holistic community group with food and shelter and clothes and a place for everyone. US still a global teenager. Still argue for Beveridges 5 pillars against social evils. Remember the ultimate commodity is information but in restricting access to it by not educating people in how to use it is so costly ultimately. TV is the new opium of the people not religion. People need to feel included by society. Linear thinking robotics better than people robots but people always more creative as combination of wisdom and information and lived experience. Love to you all.
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      Oct 29 2012: Hi Elizabeth - hope the nightmare is passing!
      To defeat the valley of shadow, one must keep moving.

      I get a little uncomfortable when people speak about "rights".
      "rights" are ideals and, as such, infer that the current state is less than ideal.
      Seems reasonable. But if the underlying dynamic does not produce these "rights" as a matter of course, then one is left with 2 options - either one tweaks the existing system to move the outcome towards the ideal, or one re-structures the system so that tweaking is not necessary.
      The "tweaking" option is similar to "Cutting the Gordian Knot" .. but in a systemic sense, this knot is self-tying, and self-reconstructing .. hence, the cutting becomes an infinite task. Such "rights" can only be supported through continuous effort. Anything that requires chronic attention gives rise to specialist attendants. We call these specialists police, lawyers, judges and politicians - all of whom are particularly susceptible to corruption.
      So .. when you move to enforce "rights" you actually throw open the doors to corruption - by increasing the domain of the "rights" specialists and enforcers. In a way, formal "rights" has exactly the oposite affect of the intention.
      The systemic re-build is indicated whenever you see these specialist coalesce - all result in facism.

      If there is a dynamic which produces unconditional suport for individuals in teh community, then the way to get these "rights" achieved is to remove any impediment to the existing dynamic.
      It just so happens that there is such a dynamic - it is broadly called "love". I like to call it "symetrical quadrad convergence" .. so - to get your "rights" I'd suggest it is more effective to look at what factors are oposing "love" - you will find your answer there.
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        Oct 29 2012: Hi Mitch thank you for your wise words. Tower of Babel metaphor, etiology, root of story is about a huge flood. Want to refer you to M.C. Escher picture Sky and Water. Dual citizenship U.K./N.Z. Went to NZ. High Commission this week London. In this country 40 years next year. Was a waking nightmare. Unlike your brother no supportive family here for me hence TED in the middle of the night when scared and lonely. Have advocacy from 5 different sources, hopefully seeing M.P. this week. Huge energy bill and possibly disconnected. May be able to access TED through local library computers if filters don't block me. i-ching just informing idea that water joins water to flow forward. Also like poems of Emily Dickinson, tell all the truth but tell it slant doesn't work. Our minds half monkey half lizard. English language sometimes too slippery. Maybe typo, in the beginning was the world. Another M.C. Escher picture Puddle looks to me like outline of person run over by truck. Enough of my personal stuff. Very interested in supporting your neurological investigations. Family history of essential tremor (4 cousins). Huge sensitivity to meds. Hence pursuing career in talking therapies as part of holistic package. Whole libraries of philosophers etc debating human condition hence fun formula C=Ettr2=C. Creativity comes from feeling wanted and feeling supported and opportunities to play. Very active volunteer in my local community. Short-sighted politcal policies going to hit children really hard from April 2012 in this country. You know as well as I do no tree grows in symmetrical quadrad convergence style unless a cultivar (fruit tree or vine) trained that way. Lots of ideas about neurology as a global wiring system in the body plus ideas about role of fluids in the body. Androids amazing, humans more amazing. Love to you again. See also Big White Wall Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. Loving this conversation.
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          Oct 29 2012: Moving is doing.
          The thing to do is always right in your sight.
          Talking is stopping. Good place to visit, but not stay.
          We get lost in our extrinsic networks - all our forcasts are wrong, and wronger as they go further into the non-existent future. They only achieve rightness as they enter the senses - now.
          Being found is feet on the ground moving - litteraly.
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    Oct 23 2012: I am confused, John, as to what you mean by "we" but hope all is well.

    This was supposed to be a response to John, but for some reason I can't delete and put it in the right place. Sorry, Mats.
  • Comment deleted

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    Oct 22 2012: Hi Mats,

    It sounds pretty good, but you have to go down the hole with any proposal and see how it works in the minute detail.

    Firstly, you might need to state the purpose of the proposed system clearly.
    For many, there is no need to change anything - they are doing fine, and will not be interested in change - and will oppose it. So, your purpose has to be compelling enough to overcome that resistance.
    Then, if it seems desirable, the method will be examined.

    The major opposition to granted income is the concept that income constitutes the entirety of motivation. This dicates that no one will work if they are rewarded without working. This is very easy to demonstrate and becomes a total show-stopper for anyone seeking change.
    However, the demonstrations of monetary reward apply only to reciprocity.
    Humans have capacity for more modes of interaction - we also have dominance, leadership and communality - each of which operate on a different motivation.
    It is also demonstrated that monetary reward does not work well for inovation or creative work. It has a definite motivation up to the point of needs after which it actually supresses motivation.
    Then you must consider the impact of supplying endless money into a community - it would probably create hyper-inflation. The reason it does this is because money does not decay while real value does decay - and requires continual renewal.
    So, any such community benevolence flow would need to be reduced to match real value. One way to do that is to tax accounts on a daily basis - the taxed money is not used by the government - it is simply deleted. The level of money-decay would be adjusted to reflect real current value. Not sure how you would do that .. seems do-able with computers. An affect of reducing currency in accounts is that it would induce circulation - you would want to spend it before it gets taxed to nothing. This would have a deflationary affect while still stimulating trade.
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      Oct 22 2012: "It sounds pretty good, but you have to go down the hole with any proposal and see how it works in the minute detail.

      Firstly, you might need to state the purpose of the proposed system clearly.
      For many, there is no need to change anything - they are doing fine, and will not be interested in change - and will oppose it. So, your purpose has to be compelling enough to overcome that resistance.
      Then, if it seems desirable, the method will be examined."

      Thanks, Mitch. I appreciate any constructive feedback and it really helps me in terms of communicating. I've now, hopefully, made it simpler and more compelling to read and have included some references.
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        Oct 23 2012: Hi Mats,
        Many thanks!
        Are there any corresponding inflation figures for the Namibian experiment?
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          Oct 27 2012: I'll reiterate what John Smith said in a comment below: "Since the BIG was introduced in 2002 Namibia has not fallen behind South Africa in GDP growth. This means that the BIG had no adverse effect on GDP growth while it definitely raised the living standard for many people."

          Hope this helps.
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    Oct 19 2012: why? we print money
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      Oct 19 2012: What do you mean?
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        Oct 19 2012: Its fake, we print it why do we need money? There is no difference in the game board monopoly money and the dollar bills you have in your pocket. One is just sanctioned by the fed
        • Oct 20 2012: It's an income, whether it's in dollar bills, food stamps or energy credits isn't the point. The point is that you are allotted the means to access basic necessities.
  • Oct 18 2012: What are 'human rights'? Can anything be considered a human right, or are there limits?

    I submit that human rights are somewhat misnamed. The human rights in the USA Constitution do not give humans anything, rather they are restrictions on the government from acting in ways that would interfere with our individual freedoms.

    I once read (I can't find the author) that we should all have the right to starve. If someone else is feeding you, you are his slave. The founders of the USA thought death was preferable to slavery, and so do I.
    • Oct 18 2012: Im not so sure the founding fathers thought death was preferable to slavery.....
      • Oct 19 2012: From the Declaration of Independence:

        "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

        I am sure.
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          Oct 19 2012: Hooraw, exactly!
        • Oct 19 2012: Actions speak louder than words, the idea was that we would accept death before slavery. While in reality many of the founding fathers owned slaves just as they wrote out our constitution. Madison knew that democracy could be problematic and had dealt with the same problem going back to aristotle, if we give the masses power wouldn't they just loot the rich and divide up the land amongst themselves? Madison knew this was a possibility and designed our constitution to protect the wealthy minority from the rage of the herd.

          " In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of the landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be jsut, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority."

          Seems as though Madison believed in freedom for himself and his friends not so much for everyone....
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          Gail . 50+

          • +1
          Oct 20 2012: Thank you for the quote from the Declaration. We all hear the "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" part so much. I wonder why we have forgotten this part. I guess the wealthy don't like that part. Profound.
      • Oct 25 2012: Brian, I agree with you that some of the founding fathers were hypocrites. They were very courageous hypocrites. The Declaration of Independence was sent to the king of England with those bold signatures. Every signer understood that the king intended to hang him at the earliest opportunity. This risk was undertaken to secure freedom from that king. The situation is simple and leads straight to the conclusion that these men preferred death to a life of slavery under the king.

        As for the freedom of others, that was an issue of great dispute among the founders. One of the reasons that slaves were held in such contempt is that they were perceived as valuing life more than freedom.

        At that time, the notion of equality was very different from today. Complete equality of all men was literally inconceivable to most men, and this includes most of the founders. If you judge the founders by today's standards you find them all to be unethical hypocrites. If you put yourself in their situation, in their culture, you will see men of basic good will struggling to invent a completely new concept of how men relate to each other, a new foundation of government, and a new method of governing. Judging by the results, I think this bunch of selfish hypocrites did rather well.

        And, amazingly, they did all this with very little help from women. Including women was inconceivable.
        • Oct 25 2012: Barry, I here this argument quite often and theres probably some truth in it. I have no doubt in my mind that these men probably had very little fear of being murdered by the King most were very wealthy and vast resources available to them. Who knows if they preferred death to slavery under the king, I know that they certainly were willing to fight, and rightfully so.

          " One of the reasons that slaves were held in such contempt is that they were perceived as valuing life more than freedom." I have never heard of this, not saying it isn't true but that seems like an insanely arrogant and ridiculous notion. Especially if you look at the penalties that they were subject to and the levels of control put in place so as to ensure there was not a rebellion.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slave_codes

          The founding fathers did some great things they also did some terrible things...they certainly did not care for the average man and as far as I'm concerned knew some of the things they were doing would be anything but beneficial for most. they all had a very legitimate understanding of history and knew about the struggle of slavery. I believe they knew that they were creating an illusion of control for the public and designed the constitution to function this way. Im also not sure if we can chalk up our nations prosperity to what the founding fathers did. We went from being oppressed to the oppressors rather quickly as our former countrymen slaughtered the natives and planted their flag. They founded some great things like freedom of speech and separation of church and state, checks and balances, civil liberties. It still remains that the constitution allows for those with economic power to subvert the interests of others.
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      Oct 18 2012: There is a difference between human rights and civil rights. Civil rights are granted by the government and human rights are more global These are rights of individual persons. Sometimes the distinction is between natural rights or legal rights.

      So when we see the term "human rights violation" it typically means things like imprisonment without cause, genocide, torture, withholding of resources vital to life such as food or water and typically it is a government or group of people causing the violation. These are rights of people.

      However, there are times when people give up their human rights. There are also times when individual persons give up their human rights.

      Basic income would have to be a civil distribution so individual persons can pursue their human rights. It could be done but the possibility of abuse is huge.
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        Oct 19 2012: " It could be done but the possibility of abuse is huge."

        What kind of abuse do you potentially see?
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          Oct 19 2012: Well, the money would have to be distributed. Who would be in charge of that? Where I come from, sometimes gangs require payment to not harass a business. So I could see where some of the distributors would require kickbacks to equitably distribute the funds. But there would be so much more possible especially if it were linked electronically. Just like the distribution of welfare in the US. There are many many people who have figured out the system and know how to make millions. Some are caught, and some are not.
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        Oct 19 2012: This is true in any type of monetary distribution, physical or electronic, and doesn't hold as an argument against it. Also, I feel that a Basic Income Guarantee would generate an exponential lower rate of crimes like stealing and abusing the system in general, because there would be a diminished incentive to do those things when people get the necessities of life.
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          Oct 19 2012: I doubt it. It has to do with this little human phenomena called greed.
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        Oct 23 2012: What evidence do you have that human beings are naturally greedy?
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    Oct 18 2012: For anyone interested in evidence, here is a quick read summarizing what researchers found about work disincentive effects and administrative complications during a test of what was originally called the "negative Income tax."
    There is a significant reduction in hours people chose to work, not theoretical but actual in these trial runs. http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc1/NegativeIncomeTax.html

    Here is another article showing the measured reduction in hours of work for various demographic categories with this sort of guaranteed income: The reduction was slightly different in different experiments. The other interesting finding was that couples participating were more likely to divorce or separate than the control group.
    http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1981/04/art3full.pdf
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      Oct 19 2012: These studies are not valid as a complete counterargument though. When I talk about people's increased incentives and motivations to participate in society, I am not talking about the people who already have access to the necessities of life, but the people who don't. Of course people who already have access to the necessities of life would want to work less and spend quality time on family, friends and things they're passionate about instead of just working. But, that's OK, because this would balance out when the people who don't already participate, start participating. And the people who don't have access to the necessities of life usually wants to participate, but are restricted by their purchasing power which is needed to be monetary mobile.
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        Oct 19 2012: There are many reasons these studies do not offer a complete counterargument, including that these studies were done at a particular time and place. I did not put them forward with that intention.

        I wanted only to bring the idea of collecting some evidence from unbiased sources into the debate.

        One can speculate on the basis of ones own logic or experience about how people will behave, but one can also try to gather concrete evidence from actual behaviors.

        These studies showed less of a work adjustment response than the designers of the program expected.
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          Oct 19 2012: "I wanted only to bring the idea of collecting some evidence from unbiased sources into the debate."

          That is great, but in order to fully understand this issue one needs to look at it in a holistic point of view. Therefore I invite you to check out Richard Wilkinson's talk, based on deep and unbiased studies, about how economic inequality affects people thus society: http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_wilkinson.html

          Wilkinson also wrote a book on this issue that I highly recommend called: The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better
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    Oct 18 2012: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    —United States Declaration of Independence, 1776

    If we define this jesture as a RIGHT then it must be a right for all men. How can I say that everyone is entitled to icecream .... only if your name is Bob.

    In the conversation last week of almost the same subject ... I rejected the idea and that it kills dignity and the work incentive. If you give me everything why should I work. It will inspire a generation of non-workers. This has occured in the US with welfare assistance. Generations of families have become dependent.

    Arkady Grudzinsky below made a valid argument. Pat made a valid argument. You dismiss any argument that would preclude your idea from implementation. This would be socialism at its worst.

    I disagree with this program and have stated my case before and briefly here. To be honest I find your argument emotional and not based on facts other than poor people exist. Yes ... There is always a top and a bottom ... a ying and a yang .... and this will continue even if this type of plan is implemented. It will not solve anything and has the more real possibality of being harmful to people and nation states.

    I wish you well.
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      Oct 18 2012: "If we define this jesture as a RIGHT then it must be a right for all men. How can I say that everyone is entitled to icecream .... only if your name is Bob."

      A 'human right' usually denotes the right of all men or have I missed something?

      "In the conversation last week of almost the same subject ... I rejected the idea and that it kills dignity and the work incentive. If you give me everything why should I work. It will inspire a generation of non-workers. This has occured in the US with welfare assistance. Generations of families have become dependent."

      I argue the opposite. Did you read the description of this conversation? But, let me reiterate a little bit. Basic Income Guarantee is more than just being humane and giving a hand. This program would essentially eliminate poverty thus most human suffering. From a strictly pragmatic point of view, it is about decreasing crime and violence, which is the number one by-product of poverty, thus destruction. Second of all, it is about increasing quality of life for everyone, by granting anybody, who are willing and capable, access to participate in society and their environment. This is a far better and efficient way to do it, than restricting people's participation to their purchasing power.

      "Arkady Grudzinsky below made a valid argument. Pat made a valid argument. You dismiss any argument that would preclude your idea from implementation."

      I absolutely do not. On the contrary, I welcome any researched studies or reports that shows that a Basic Income Guarantee would cause more harm and I would more than happily reevaluate my position on it. But this would not mean that I wouldn't still believe that the necessities of life is a human right, just to make that clear. In terms of Arkady and Pat, they seem to have made up their mind about what they want and seem to lack the ability to phantom an idea beyond free-market capitalism, which is emotionally triggered and which doesn't really contribute to the conversation.
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        Oct 18 2012: What I have seen in welfare and charty programs are people who become dependent and abuse the system.

        We are far apart and as you have expressed are dedicated to this idea.

        I wish you luck. Bob.
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          Oct 18 2012: "What I have seen in welfare and charty programs are people who become dependent and abuse the system."

          That doesn't mean that everybody become dependent or abuse it and speaking from personal experience isn't a valid counterargument.
  • Oct 17 2012: @Pat Gilbert "The market is the only true indicator of public interest."

    This implies that the consumers are informed. If this were true wouldn't commercials and the marketing industry be more interested in actually informing potential consumers, rather than hiring psychologists to use shrewd and deceitful marketing practices. If gillette wants to inform me about why their product is better than the other guys is, wouldn't it be better to tell me why vs showing me that Tom Brady uses their product. My point is that marketing seeks to keep potential consumers uninformed and wishes to play to unconscious associations, like if you buy Bud Light you too will have models falling all over you. Companies invest massive sums of money into PR campaigns as well as marketing to keep the public uniformed as to why an individual should buy their product. The market is hardly a teller of of public interest it to is manufactured and manipulated.
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      Oct 18 2012: I will guarantee you that they are more informed about their needs or perceived needs than anyone else to assume otherwise is asinine I mean government.

      Yes I know marketing companies are all insidious preying on the hapless customer...

      Marketing speaks to the person's emotions but the point is that the need was there in the first place.

      I will admit that the average person is not aware and as you have stated that life is demanding so who could really blame them for being preoccupied? And you bet they use these points.

      So what is the alternative to the market determining what is needed? they tried that in the Soviet Union here is a quote from Yeltsin

      " Boris Yeltsin reacted somewhat differently to a Houston supermarket in 1989. He expressed astonishment at the abundance and variety of the products he saw, but in his autobiography Against the Grain he describes the experience as "shattering": "When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons, and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people. That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it."

      http://bcm.bc.edu/issues/winter_2004/ll_ussr.html

      Which method would you prefer? Which one is more accurate at determining what is wanted?
      • Oct 18 2012: Pat I don't think government needs to step in and tell the people what it is they need. I was just pointing out these high powered marketing campaigns that corporations spend oodles of money on are used to subvert interest. I think in an ideal situation capitalism yields creation as well as prosperity, but in reality thats not totally happening. The market is manipulated and its becoming extreme here in the united states. Communism is not the answer, although its hard to even define what communism is. Originally it was coined because socialism had been given such a negative connotation.

        Im not so sure how i feel about the article you cite, i'm sure this happened and played a role in the destruction of the Soviet Union, but I am also sure that it did not help that it faced outside forces that wished to destroy the idea of challenging the power of capitalist states, most notably the United States. I am also sure that the viscousness that ensued under Stalin didn't help. From my perspective the United States used soviet totalitarianism to deem Communism as such and i am also sure the soviet Union called it communism out of an appeal to the morality of providing a floor for poverty. After all the US has supported vicious dictators as well as countries that wish to allow wage slavery. So its relatively difficult to even know what it is the American capitalism/government stands for or against.

        The alternative I would suggest is to actually inform consumers tell them why their product is better than the others and tell them why it would be helpful to them and the world. Then the consumer could actually be informed vs deluded.
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          Oct 19 2012: Brian

          The thing about the market place is that when one company "manipulates the customers" another competitor comes along and takes market share. This happened in the 60s when auto companies would build in obsolescence by making the parts wear out at x number miles this lasted until the 80's when the Japanese came along with higher and higher quality products taking market share to the point of coming out with the Lexus at a higher quality for less money than the German cars.

          Your second paragraph has too much crap going through it to get a bead on your point.

          Your 3r paragraph ignores how competitive the market place is as I indicated with the Yeltsin story. Companies have to compete for attention from the customer. The best way to do this is through a technique called positioning where by a lot of information is communicated quickly. Educating people is a long slow laborious task. Once again though you underestimate people's intelligence in my experience most people are pretty damn smart when comes to buying things. I wish they were that smart about politics/economics.
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    Oct 17 2012: Many modern constiutions and the "people's law" f many indigenous cultures affrm that every person deserves dignity and freedom from want, affirms in effect that a measure of the hallmark of the culture is its commitment to these values for all members. They also all require and affirm the obligation of each member to contribute according to their abilityy and even for the most impaired, there are always tasks that contribute to the well being of all. These cultures are "conviviocracies"..they are inclusive and uphold a commitment to every member thriving.

    The original democracy in greece, Democracy as re invented by the United States, democracy as replicated throughout the world ( except fr these new modern constitutions) did not affirm and institute these values. We created and replicate a version of democracy and freedom that is virtually syonymous with capitalism and with the idea that each individual is born with equal opportunity ( ot at all true) and is responsible for his/her on destiny.

    What we have created as "free societies", democratic nations do not emrbace the idea that every single person should have a guranteed minimum income and even the assistance that is given in unemployment befits, health benefits, welfare payments and housing assistance are resented by more than half of all Americans judging by the.far right control of our legislature who want to end all these things.

    Perhaps oe way to begin to thik about everyonne having some sort of basic stake is to reconsider who owns a nation's natural resources and how much of a nations income from natural resources rights and extractions should be distributed equally to all the people ( as for example in Alaska's Permanent Fund) instead of going into general treasury. Shouldn't the subsidies the government creates to facilitate extraction of resources be recouped in a "peoples share " of earnings and be distributed to the people each getting an equal share?
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      Oct 17 2012: Do you believe in the establishment of private property being a fundamental driver of our current standard of living?

      What effect do think the tyranny of democracy has on countries?
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        Oct 17 2012: Pat,

        I don't think the idea of "private property" is inconsistent with the idea of "the commons"..a common ownership of natural resources including public lands .and a per capita distribution of public income derived from it.

        Property rights are a cornerstone of America's tea party movement and obviously a fundamental aspect of most modern democracies. On my island where billionaires have descended onto a tiny fishing village of working poor where island folk work 2 or 3 jobs just be among the working poor owning property the effects of property ownership on standard of living results largely in a drain on the working poor who have owned their land for generations. Most can't afford to keep the land they inherit.

        So in a system that tolerates and perpetuates income inequality and has no foundation value that all people should be free of want, property rights also are not equal., the benefits of of property ownership are not equal..

        Not sure what you mean about the "tyranny of democracy" but suspect you are pointing to the same thing I am..

        What we need to build into our foundation is a desire to be a "conviviocracy"

        Being a democracy, at least in the way the U.S. and other nations who have copied us are, is not enough in terms of our stewardship for humanity..
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          Oct 17 2012: That is quite an anomaly you have your island,. but it is an anomaly that may not be to the liking of everyone, perhaps they could sell their property for a bigger profit and move to a place that is not as expensive. Here in Calif that is often what people do.

          As far as the idea of the commons goes why would the oil company take the risk if there is no profit? as it is the government makes more money off of oil than the oil companies do especially in Europe.
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        Oct 17 2012: Pat,

        I don't agree that folk should have to sell their land to acomodate gentrifiers..that's a whole other discussion and off topic for this one..

        To your point on oil profits..the problem with the subsidy system for il, natural gas, etc. is that we ahre the risks through subsidy but at the other end we don't recoup that public investment and we could and should. There's no reason why allpublic income ( ege licensing fees) to do with mining and natural resources on public land should not be shared with the public equally.

        Even resource extraction on private land involves a shared public risk..eg cyanide heap leach processing to extract gold.

        Resources in the commons..waterways lakes, waters where fish breed and grow, wetlands that are breeding grounds for the worlds oceans, the air we all breathe are all put at risk in these endeavors. These are commons . Beyond the fees for oversight and application approval and ongoing public monitoring , could we consider whether activities that put the commons at risk to derive profit shouldn't involve some ongoing fees that benefit each and every owner of these commons ( in addition to the total public cost of protecting these commons) .

        The system we have now shells out subsidy from we the people" to encourage certain endeavors deemed to have an inherent general public benefit..but we don;t earn that investment back at the other end when these endeavors start paying huge profits. The Sovereign Wealth funds are a model on how to capture some of that and the Alaska one a model of how redistribute that back..
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          Oct 17 2012: Lindsay

          The people who own property in the affected areas will realize a greater profit on their real estate if they have to move they can rent to someone as well. No meddling necessary.

          I understand that some regulation is needed, whether that has to be by the government is debatable.

          Cyanide leaching sound bad but it is safe. Who ever created that advancement should profit from it, if not for the innovation the mining would no occur and the world would be paying that much more for gold.

          As far as the inherent public interest subsidies go just get rid of them. The market is the only true indicator of public interest.

          Everyone pays that much more for oil because of what dividends are paid out to the residents of Alaska. Or more greatly because of the regulations on refineries.

          There is too much conjecture on this subject.
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      Oct 17 2012: "Perhaps oe way to begin to thik about everyonne having some sort of basic stake is to reconsider who owns a nation's natural resources and how much of a nations income from natural resources rights and extractions should be distributed equally to all the people ( as for example in Alaska's Permanent Fund) instead of going into general treasury. Shouldn't the subsidies the government creates to facilitate extraction of resources be recouped in a "peoples share " of earnings and be distributed to the people each getting an equal share?"

      Correct me if I am wrong, but you seem touch upon something really interesting here, where equal distribution of wealth goes beyond the usual taxation to sustain a social program, and where the carrying capacity of the nations natural resources is measured to understand how much resources there is available on a local and national level and that this alone should be the determining factor of how much resources people can access, based on their need, in correlation with the finite resources within that nation. Am I way off?
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        Oct 17 2012: Thanks for your engagement on this idea Mats.

        Of course ay nation ( or fr that matter in the U.S., any state) can decide who owns public lands and how any income from public lands should be managed. One way, in addition to and side by side with any other systems of taxation and benefit t that are in place is to set up a "sovereign wealth fund" like Alaskas, where a specific portion of income is redistributed back per capita and also offsets taxes. Alaska is basically tax free ( no income taxes) and in addition every person gets a disiiribution every year from natural resources .

        Alaska is one of the few Sovereign wealth funds to have this feature of distribution back to the people.

        I like that it is per capita ..that every one gets the same amount. It's simple. It;s fair. Its consistent wiht the idea of civic equality that is fundamental to all democracy

        (see my earlier TED conversation on this for more information and discussion) .

        The equal sharing of income from a country's or a State's "commons" most likely would not be enough to meet basic needs for food, housing, medical care etc. .Even fr a very wealthy state like Alaska, the per capita distribution is only about $3,000..

        It is a way though to take a step towards everyone having a basic economic stake.

        In general, don't you agree, any society should build in stewardship for one another, stewardship for future generations. The idea of each of us giving back , being stewards is certainly core to the most successful societies. So in our modern capitalistic corporatocracies we could think about "monetizing" these contributions.

        Already we have a credit card program called snap for food benefits. A holder of the card has a "credit limit" that is the benefit they are entitled to. They present it like any debit card for eligible food purchases .

        Something like the snap card could monetize stewardship? .

        I certainly don't think a free lunch society would be very worthwhile.