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What's your opinion on Unconditional Basic Income? (This is not Communism)

The Basic Income movement is one that is quickly gaining ground around the world. Both prominent right and left wing persons have given their support for this idea.

What's your thoughts on Basic Income, do you think it's a good idea?


EDIT: I forgot to mention (in case you haven't heard) that what sprout the movement was Switzerland's proposal for basic income ($2800 monthly). http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/04/us-swiss-pay-idUSBRE9930O620131004

EDIT 2: This is NOT meant as a universal cure for all the problems of the world, things like education, politics, corruption and deceases are separate issues (even though Basic Income might help with them) if you wish to solve those issues please join or start a conversation about those. However discussing them with respect of BI is very fine and encouraged.

Please try to NOT sway too far from the topic, which is "What's your opinion on Unconditional Basic Income?". Comments to others opinions are of course free to go far from the topic, but preferably not too far.

And please try to be constructive and mature in your comments to others on this conversation.

Also please read AT LEAST the provided Wikipedia article on Basic income as it will answer many questions posted here.

Thank you for reading this explanation...(?)

Topics: basic income

Closing Statement from Jimmy Strobl

Wow, thank you ALL for your contributions to this conversation!

There's no way that I'm going to be able to summarize what was said here.
But I do feel that people might be ready for this transition or at least they are able to be convinced that it is feasible.

Anyway, thank you all for your participation and sorry for the lack of response the last few days.

  • Jan 2 2014: Most of the world-wide problems we have today can be attributed to the level of consumerism we have, and UBI is a decent start for making a transition away from it.

    A currency-free society is of course utopic, but I sincerley hope that we arrive there during my lifetime.
  • Dec 24 2013: A Basic Income is not only desperately needed, it's shortly going to be required. It's only a question of how long it takes people to figure out how important it is and vote for it.

    The driving force that makes it a necessity is technology -- all forms of it, from hammers and hoes, to tractors and telephones, all the way to our current robots and AI. All these technologies, when mixed with capitalism, drives inequality in society higher and higher.

    Without technology, capitalism can create a fairly equal society, because human labor, is the keystone to the production of all value. No single human, can produce all that more wealth with his hands, than another. But the more technology we add to the mix, the wider the gap between the most productive and the least grows. And the wider that gap, the greater inequality grows. Technology causes our economy to shift from creating wealth with our hands, to creating wealth by what technology we own control of.

    The shift has been very slow for the past 100's of years, and we have coped by adding growing amounts of socialism to out society in the form of making the rich pay for services for the poor, from roads, to schools, to the military that protects the poor, to all the direct welfare programs. But technology is growing too fast now, to allow us to offset the effects of inequality with more social programs. We need to stop shifting wealth form the rich to the poor, in the form of free government services, and start doing it as a direct cash transfer to offset excess inequality.

    A Basic Income is the solution to the growing levels of inequality created by technology. We should have started it 100 years ago, as a small payment, but people weren't ready to even think about it. We need it badly today, and if we had had it in place, we likely would have avoided this last big recession. But most still don't understand it, or accept it.

    But soon enough, they will catch on, and vote for it.
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      • Dec 25 2013: This kind of response is particularly frustrating. What, specifically, was incorrect, bad, wrong or what have you, about the Soviet Socialist policy of guaranteed housing etc? You cannot attribute this policy to the collapse of the Soviet Union (when the same policy survives elsewhere in Europe), and when the Soviet Union was at war with an ideologically opposed West hell bent on destroying it. It was clearly not the economic policies of the West that 'won' this war, as the recent financial crisis makes abundantly plain.
      • Dec 26 2013: Mike We agree!
        Throw in the Paulson & Co, Goldman Sachs CDO insider rigging as a contributor to the collapse. That alone resulted in billions of lost revenue, and given the monkey see monkey do mentality of the markets, you have a recession.

        The unregulated cronies you speak of.

        Sorry my mistake, it is not lost revenue, it is wealth redistribution to John Paulson&Co.
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    Jeff z

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    Jan 6 2014: This movement is actually very important at this current time. Im glad to see it brought up. The basic income can be the way that benefits should work in society. For example, we have many government agencies aimed at providing benefits like food stamps and unemployment benefits. However the mere cost of running these organizations is not worth the cost to society. The money as a Reverse income Tax, or a basic minimum income would be much more efficiently used to help those in need. Of course, people will abuse and free ride the system but the efficiency of doing this is much better than current programs.
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    Dec 24 2013: Why settle for a "Basic" income? Why not "give" out basic education covering such material of the importance of savings, work ethics, money management, living within your means, etc, etc....with this knowledge more folks would escape government funded poverty than just live within a "basic" wage.
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      Dec 26 2013: I'm not settling for anything, this is just one aspect of societal issues with a possible solution.

      But when talking about BI and education. In the pilots that have been made and are ongoing in different places of the world education levels have greatly increased.

      Oh and here we already have free education in Sweden... It did not solve our issues.
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      Dec 29 2013: Oh that sounds splendid! Because all poor people didn't graduate high school, so cant add or subtract to calculate savings, have no work ethics, waste their money instead of managing it, and live far beyond their means. After all, there's no reason that a nuclear family with one person working minimum wage, a disabled husband and a screaming kid at home shouldn't be able to wrap their mind around a little simple arithmetic to save up for retirement!

      If every single person in the country had a phd, who would deliver my pizza? It's not gonna deliver itself!

      And the ceo of the company still wouldn't pay me more than as little as he could get away with.
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        Dec 29 2013: You're argument is based on emotion, not any fact. Though you believe my money, and everybody else's money should be taken by any government and "spent" with those whom have less of it.

        One key element you overlook, is if you took everything away from me and others like me....I would EARN it, and buy it back. I would not just say, "well dag nab it! I guess now I must wait on my monthly allowance from the government."

        So grasp your mind around the fact what I know and the majority of others know about PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, is far more valuable than my money, which can be spent in a day, but the TRUTH about personal responsibility can last a lifetime and learned to carry forward for generations to come.

        Delivering your pizza is a starter job, supplemental job. These jobs are for people just getting into the job market while they find what it is they really want to pursue....and if this is where your at, you shouldn't be thinking about adding debt, having children, or being a burden to yourself, your family, or your community. You should be thinking about your next step in an ever evolving PRODUCTFUL life.
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          Dec 29 2013: My argument is absolutely based on emotion. I find it incredibly insulting that the personal attributes of a poor person are being referred to with no basis on reality. the reasons for being poor can be many, most especially the economic system we have currently where employers will pay as little as they can get away with.

          My maid is poor. not lazy, not irresponsible, not stupid and excellent work ethic. She married her rapist. She did not choose to create a life or be saddled with a deadbeat husband, and it was not her, but society that said she cant have an education.

          I pay what I can, but until I get paid more or she finds a richer boss, this is what I can do. She is not alone. A single example.

          Do you think that every one of the billion people earning less than $1.25 a day is lazy?

          I never delivered Pizzas but I did work at Mcdonald's when I was 16, right next a 45 yr old woman. I don't know her story and it doesn't matter. She was none of the above things except for not being educated. Life is not absolute. The economic system we have does not guarantee particular increments for education or hard work. It's a cop out to ignore the mentally ill, the people who put their trust in the wrong person, or the myriad reasons people end up where they are. Then to tell them.. take personal responsibility...what an inhumane , ridiculous, elitist, uncompassionate thing to say.
  • Dec 24 2013: I have collected a lot of links on Basic Income for the last few years.

  • Dec 23 2013: Mike, I couldn't reply below, i've done it here.

    Mike - "So, a youngster, feeling lost, lonely and unloved is a ticking time bomb. I, for one, have no idea on how to defuse it."

    We are seeing more and more, time bombs, we've seen school shootings - many which now don't get reported unless there is a large number involved. We see angry young men who have murdered people in schools, cinemas, we have seen the youngest and most innocent of children be slain. Only for time and again for the perpetrator to take their own seemingly valueless life as well, and end it all in a desperate final act of rage.

    We've seen the lost of family, where people just don't have time for each other, as people have to work either multiple jobs, or oppressively long hours - just to make ends meet. We are seeing the second generation of divorce, where everyone eating a meal at the same table is only a long forgotten memory occasionally show in a tv commercial.

    Where young people are more plugged in than every before, and yet simultaneously more disconnected. More and more removed from the reality of life, it's the same reason people now more than ever take drugs. And no one wants to ask the core question what is it about society that makes people feel they have to do this, why do they need to 'check out'?

    It's not too hard, if people want to look on forums, boards else where just how isolated youngsters feel today, just how depressed they are, just how many are either thinking of and are committing suicide, and in the song below, in which he asks 'are we to blind to see", "do we simply turn our heads and look the other way", i think that over the past 40 years since it was recorded, we've done just that.

    If people can't see that Unconditional Basic Income, just may, have the ability to change that by giving people that very helping hand, then god help us all.


    And when you watch that video - know every day 40,000 children die... In the Ghetto
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      • Dec 23 2013: Hi Mike

        I can't help but see the "Re-distribution" of wealth framing in so many replies. Which side is the concern on, No one can doubt the redistrubiton from the masses to the few.

        Is this the concern you speak of? I have yet to see the direction reverse?

        Also we have to remember that money is purely a man-made structure.
        The arguements claiming insufficient funds are debating angels on the head of a needle.
      • Dec 23 2013: Mike I attach an infographic that for the USA shows where current money goes.

        Now some might not believe there is enough money, well it's all too clear where, if we change our priorities, exactly where that money can come from.

        I hope this educates people as to what and where the money that they pay actually goes.

        And I ask every individual to look into their hearts this Christmas to ask themselves honestly if where this money is currently going serves, not only the USA in the long term, but for the best interests of mankind as a whole.


        I'd disagree with the ipad comment Mike, if only it has brought a lot of income to the US as well as jobs, at a company level (apple) and at an individual software developer level. Things not often seen, and not often said. As well as the new infrastructure built, just as the legacy of FDR did albeit in roads, trains, bridges, but this time the infrastructure is one of higher data transmission, roads of the future. Something that America was falling behind with until the release of the iphone and ipad.

        If your looking for a culprit that corrupts children Mike, then I would say look at the media. The culture of celebrity, where the youth see them as role models, when the media spend more time on them and the minutia of their lives than the real issues of today.

        They are the distraction that has stopped people from seeing what's happening in the USA and the world, or to know or care. Given that, is no wonder we have seen the rise of reality shows, who's sole aim is to distract with mind numbing banality, and in some cases create envy, or worst still create in the youth's mind a path to follow to be reveled in. Where the people are just famous not for any achievement, but just for being on tv. Where the goal is not to create, but consume. And why many a sex tape, or soul, has be sold to get on that kind of tv, regardless of the consequences.
      • Dec 24 2013: There is plenty of money to fund a Basic Income. It's total nonsense to suggest otherwise. We can do it world wide, or country by country. The point of a Basic Income is to redistribute wealth so as to lower inequality. You take some form the rich, and give to the poor. The only way there would not be "enough" money to implement a Basic Income, is if there was no inequality in the world. There is massive inequality in the world so to implement a Basic Income is trivial. It's only a matter of will.

        In the US for example, we have talked about a BI on the level of about $12K a year, or $1K a month for every adult being reasonable. That's about 20% of GDP. That's a lot of money. But it could be implemented with a 20% income tax and a 20% corporate profit tax. Someone with zero income, would pay no taxes, and get $12K a year. Someone with $60K of income, will pay $12K of taxes, and get $12K of BI making it wash. Someone with $60 million of income, will pay $12 million in taxes, and get $12K of BI making them a huge contributor.

        Every home, with less than $60K per adult (aka $120K for two adults) will come out ahead after the BI tax. Everyone with more than that, will pay greater taxes under this structure of a BI.

        There is NO ECONOMIC PROBLEM to implement this. It's only a matter of making people vote for it.

        Much of these taxes would be paid for, by reducing most our current social programs. So we won't all get a 20% tax rise, but a 10% rise would be needed for this size BI.

        But the way to start, is with a smaller BI, and smaller taxes. Maybe as low as $200 a month, then raise the BI over time, as we cut out our current welfare programs.
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      • Dec 24 2013: Mike, "We should ROB Peter to pay Paul"?

        Actually you wouldn't be, because it was Peter's money in the first place.

        Too often people forget the money the government has is NOT it's own, it's yours. You get to decide if you want it spent on weapons of war, or on humanity, it's called - Democracy.

        Ask yourself why do you pay taxes on goods that the government, didn't make, didn't invent, didn't work on, and don't sell? Because someone came along and said "I'll tell you what to do, how to do it, what you can and cant do and for that, you'll have to pay me". And people fell for it.

        I end this on a laugh, but in laughing see that even 40 years on, there is "truth in humor"...

      • Dec 24 2013: Mike, you are totally correct that this is not "free" money. No matter how it's implemented, it will redistribute from the rich, to the poor. People need to understand this.

        However, it is very much morally valid to do this, and that's what is so hard for people to grasp. There's a huge misunderstanding in society that people think they "earn" their wealth. That's just not true in a large society where we all trade with each other for the things we need day by day. We don't create the wealth individual. We create it as a team working together.

        I can't write enough to make this clear in this post. It deserves an entire book be written about this misconception. But what's happening, is that technology is allowing those that own the best tech, to steal opportunity away from others trying to "earn" their money. It's the strong, pushing the weak around, using technology to do it. As our technology advances, the ability for a few, to steal the wealth of the entire world, away from everyone else advances with it. They "steal' our opportunity to earn a living, and we have the moral right, to steal some of the wealth back (aka share the wealth) when they do that.

        Mark Zuckerberg created great tech with Facebook. He's worth Billions today because of it. This 10 years of work, has paid off to the tune of 5 million dollars a day for him. That gives him a right, to a large slice of our country's total GDP. His 10 years of programming, and running a small company, has now entitled him the right, to 19 billion dollars of our GDP. The average family income is around $55K a year. His money, now gives him the right, to have 8,500 people that earn $55k, spend their entire 40 year working life, doing anything Mark wants them to do. So Mark donates 10 years of his live to society, and gets 340,000 years of labor in return from society.

        Mark's sucess, in effect, has prevented all those other people, from working for anyone else.
      • Dec 24 2013: Yeah, Mike, I fully understand why you and many others are against wealth redistribution. But times are changing, and you have to learn to change too. Without wealth redistribution, our society will collapse and fail. When one person invents robots that are 10 times more intelligent than any human, and they choose to make as much money off the invention as they can, instead of sharing it, they will take over the entire world economy. The only other people that will have money is other very rich members of society, who own resources like oil wells, and land, and coal mines, iron ore mines and the like. The guy that invents the robots, will sell his tech to all the other rich, and all the rest of the humans, will be left with no one to employ them. They won't have money to buy any consumer goods, so all the rich will stop trying to sell the poor stuff, like food, and just sell high end goods and services to the few rich that have all the money and natural assets of society. We will have 6.9 billion poor on the planet and 100 million super rich that own all the land and natural resources and robots. The rich, will use their robots to herd the poor into death camps and reservations in the Sahara desert and let them starve to death. This time, the rich won't need the poor, to tend the fields, or build the castles for them. This transformation in society is already well under way in society today, and people are blind to it, because, like you, they think "humans" do all the work and deserve to keep the "money" they "make". Humans don't do much of the work at all anymore. Machines do it all. Mark Z. is rich, not becuase of what the humans that work for him do, but becuase of what his machines do for his 1 billion users.

        I fully understand why this doesn't make sense to you. But in time, you will understand what I'm saying as you see your friends and family being replaced by machines. The more that happens, the more we need to share wealth.
      • Dec 25 2013: Mike

        You are correct money is trade for goods and services. The text you are reading says money is to be used for power and control.

        My Econ 101 take away is far different from yours, I see money as a means for equal opportunity and growth. Not a means to control and even allow death to those without.
      • Dec 25 2013: "If you understand, how could you sustain your argument for wealth distribution?" Because I understand what you are failing to grasp. You think machines won't replace humans, but you are dead wrong and in time, you will grasp your error.

        "And your contention the the rich are some sort of maniacal group bent on mass annihilation of the poor can not be farther from the truth"

        Not my contention at all. Again, you fail to understand. I don't blame the rich and the fact that you think I do, shows again how clueless you are. I blame the system for creating inequality. I don't blame the rich for being rich like some liberals do, and I don't blame the poor for being poor, like some conservatives do. I blame the technology of capitalism, mixed with advanced machine, for creating the inequality. If you play the game of Monopoly by the rules, the game rules are what creates inequality not the players. One person gets rich, everyone else loses. It's not the fault of the winner for wining, or the losers for losing. It's the way the game is rigged by how the rules work. Our society is rigged by the rules we play by as well.

        We can change the rules of the board game of monopoly and create a very different result. If every time someone wins money in the game, they have to take half of their winnings, and share it with all the other players, the game becomes every different. No one ever goes bankrupt. Everyone gets to keep playing. One person will be richest at one point, a bit later, someone else will be the richest.

        Technology is transforming our free trade economy into a real life game of monopoly where there will only be one winner. Technology is driving inequality higher, and higher, and it will end with billions of people in poverty, and a few lucky people owning the world. We can add a Basic Income to change the rules of society, just as in my example above, I added a basic income sharing to the board game.
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          Dec 29 2013: I like your analogy to monopoly, only, in the game you go bankrupt, but in real life, you sell your house, work for whatever you can get or become homeless or both, and in countries without even public aid, you become a slave or die of starvation.
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          Dec 30 2013: An interesting and very relevant fact: Did you know that monopoly was constructed to show the intrinsic faults of the capitalistic system?

      • Dec 25 2013: Mike says: "Man will never be replaced by machines... if man makes machines that can replace us... we are all doomed. I read science fiction too!"

        Machines will be our slaves. We will only build the type of machines, that we can control. Humans are survival machines. We are built to keep ourselves alive and to reproduce. We could build machines with the same motivations, but then they would kill us, in order to take control away from us to increase their odds of surviving. But we can make intelligent machines, that have different motivations than humans. Instead of building smart machines that have an innate goal of self preservation, we will built smart machines with innate goals of serving humans. These will be highly intelligent machines, but won't use their intelligence to keep themselves alive. They will use it to do the best job possible of making humans happy.

        Just imagine a human slave, that doesn't have any motivation for self preservation that all humans have. Imagine a human slave, that only wants to make it's masters happy and would gladly, in a second, sacrifice it's own life, or cut off it's own arm, if that was the best way to help a human. Imaging a human slave, that would like you take a hammer, and bash it's hand into bits, and not think twice about you doing it because if that's what a human wants to do, it will gladly let the human do it. That's the type of robots that will build. Very intelligent, but with very different drives and motivations than humans

        These "slaves" will do all our work for us. They will do it better than any human ever could do the work for us. McDonald's and Wal-mart will replace all it's store workers with machines like this. Factories in China will replace it's millions of $10 a day workers, with robots like these. UPS, Fedex, USPS, Amazon, and all trucking, will replace all their workers with robots like these. All taxi companies will replace their drivers, with robots like these.
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      Dec 24 2013: Steven there will always be those who can not see beyond the money, perhaps because that is what is most important to them. However, the UBI is imminently possible for those who can see beyond such a narrow view and who know the first step in any transition is the desire to change the way things are and to not get bogged down by those who desperately cling to the status quo, even if that quo is to their disadvantage.

      As I have said many times, if we can put human beings on the moon and then bring them back safely, then in comparison to that real world event, it is small potatoes indeed to remedy the inequities of an economic system that exists primarily in our minds and has only as much substance as we allow it.

      The personal freedom and greater control over one's own life that a UBI represents is surely some timely thinking in this 21st century.
      • Dec 24 2013: William your right, there will always be those who can not see beyond the money. And it's astute to realize that it to them has value.

        Again your right about the moon, but I see beyond that, I see that all it takes is the will, and when we have that determination, things will change. And there is nothing that cant.

        It also makes me think that's why the statement is true "The people get the Government they deserve". If only because we 'assume' there is nothing we can do, and so we devolve our self of responsibility, as a way out of having to do anything, and then just blame the people we gave our responsibility to. Then vote once every 4 years and claim it doesn't matter, so for many why bother to do even that.

        The Ancient Greeks knew what we have forgot, "Democracy is a day-to-day business". Same for Rome, until a Cesar snatched power, and never let it return to the people, rather like a presidential executive order, no? After all where do people think the knowledge of architecture for capitol hill came from, or the ideology of a senate, a congress, and even Democracy itself. And even the phrase a "Government by the people, for the people".

        But we live in times like Rome, regarding UBI, just as Cesar knew, just keep the mass's distracted by throwing people to the lions and send armies of to conquer, and all will stay as was.

        Question is, do we want to sit by and carry on seeing people being "thrown to the lions", that is - until they come for us. Or do we accept that, in this 21st century, with "personal freedom" comes "responsibility", they are and always have been - a package deal.
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          Dec 24 2013: absolutely, this too easily corrupted representative system is at the heart of so many of the world's problems and has little to do with real democracy. In fact, I call it a sham democracy and it is no accident that there is no educational curriculum that informs its young people what democracy really means, the various forms it can take and that its foundation is supposed to be consensus based not authoritarian based.
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    Dec 14 2013: I see a UBI as the harbinger of real, personal freedom of choice, especially freedom from that tired old jobs/career mantra as the defining -albeit very limited - point of a person's life. Conversely, as far as capitalism seems to be concerned. without wealth, or a job, or a career, what value does a person really have?

    But a UBI opens the door to true, personal freedom of choice. The freedom to choose how we will spend the limited time our lives offer us. Both the Arts and amateur sports community would explode with expression and talent. Families would have both the time and the resources to spend with their children, to care full time for the infirm and elderly, as well as the time to mourn the loss of a loved one for however long that process might take. Volunteerism would also explode and countless studies over the ages have shown that volunteerism creates a wealth of social capital for the community and personal worth for the volunteer that far exceeds the wages any job ever could. The freedom to pursue whatever educational endeavours one might seek, whenever one might desire. The freedom to choose the focus and direction of our own lives on a daily basis without the nagging coerciveness of jobs and careers, as well as the freedom to also explore whatever jobs and careers one might be attracted to if so inclined.

    Freedom of employers from having to keep employees on when markets are down and to offer incentives other than, or companion to, wages such as vehicles, condo and, the company's products if that is what it takes. The freedom to locate to whatever community best suits the business without all the animosity and disappointment we witness today when a company packs up and moves on. And, especially, the freedom to automate and replace human beings in their operations if possible.

    I hope others will take the time to expand upon what such freedom would mean to them as well.
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      Dec 15 2013: William,

      I feel that you can speak for me on this conversation, I have nothing to add.
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        Dec 16 2013: Jimmy, thanks a ton for posting the talk. As you see I have a lot of passion for the concept ever since I attended the 2008 Dublin BIEN conference and presented a paper representing my earliest thoughts on a BI and the personal freedom it represents.
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          Dec 16 2013: Do you have some papers you could share, I'd like to read them.

          And I didn't realize that you've been doing this for so long, great work!
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        Dec 17 2013: The Dublin conference is all online http://www.cori.ie/Justice/Basic_Income/541-bien-world-congress-on-basic-income-
        my paper is in section 4e economic security in Canada. But any of the annual Bien conferences will provide you with similar information online. You might want to attend the next conference next June in Montreal Quebec.
    • Dec 15 2013: William,

      I would say you are giving the freedom to try and not be afraid of dire consequences of failure.
  • Jan 7 2014: I think that in ANY society there will always be those who make a lot of money and those who barely get by and those who do not even get by. I think it is a social responsibility to be sure that EVERY citizen has at least the means to pay for housing, food, utilities, the means to get and keep a job, and if no jobs are avaialable, the means to survive in a decent fashion, provided by the government (the taxpayers).

    I also think it is important that we all realize that the idea that those who must rely on public assistance of some kind are lazy, shiftless parasites. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    and I think we need, as a society, to stop being so mean to each other, that we begrudge another human being the money it takes to live decently. It that means we need some sort of unconditional basic income, then I am all for it! It is NOT communism, or even charity, It is the answer to WWJD!
  • Jan 6 2014: Since our society is morphing into 3 or 4 castes;1. The under class without much hope of employment(this will get much worse); 2. A middle class who are employed but without much savings/capital; and 3. the upper class with capital that produces their living and without even wanting a job. They have the luxury of doing whatever they wish; 4. then there are the retired, somewhat a combination. The great danger, is without an income floor, the lower caste will not be able to tell this from another great depression. This will lead to violence in the form of (un)civil war and terrorism.

    It is in every ones best interest to ensure universal minimum income!
    • Jan 7 2014: Morphing into? You've described the industrial world as it has operated since the middle 18th century.
      • Jan 7 2014: And how is it working today? Fine for the upper class, but the middle class is being squeezed and the "lower class" is in serious trouble. Perhaps not as much as in the late 19th Century, but expectations have been raised.
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    Jan 6 2014: People think that if you give people what they need they wont want to work, then all those who do work carry a bunch of non-contributors through life. I think they are looking at it wrong; a person who is content with some standard allocation may not need to work but they do not consume, not on the level that people with money to spare do, it actually makes things more sustainable.

    People who do work no doubt will get their compensation for doing so, and with that can acquire their rewards, rewards that one who does not work will not have access to. So if you are happy with a standard allocation then fine, if not then work and earn more, but don't complain about those who are content with the standard.

    But what is a persons potential? Is it being all they want to be or is it being all society wants them to be? Or perhaps some balance of the two? At what point is a line drawn in self-determination and social obligation? Is it self-sufficiency (relative to a persons membership to a society)? I think it is societies duty to prepare each person with the abilities necessary to strive for their own potential, however they define it personally, if they prove a contributor or not is beside the point, a contributor will be rewarded while someone who is merely embracing their own potential will be satisfied. And best if you can do both.

    When you think about Capitalism, it is founded on the principle that when a person strives for themselves, the rest of society inadvertently benefits, but the true meaning of this philosophy is lost on modern Capitalism, my point here is the real incarnation of the sentiment.
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    Jan 5 2014: Well, Jimmy; that didn't take long. I've become a member of Avaaz, signed the petition to stop, or at least to curtail the TPP, and added the Avaaz website to my 'Favourites' links. Thank you, again.
  • Jan 5 2014: I think in order to make this work there should be a new kind of global union that works as an efficient economy; and all countries that join this kind of union would run on the same kind of currency (i.e. a dollar system), this could eliminate the WTO and European Union. Every country could join this potential union. Allow ‘basic income’, and enforce ethical business practices with MNCs? Just an idea though. Hope you find my collaboration helpful.
    • Jan 5 2014: Sorry I don't have a bit longer, for this reply at the moment; however off the top of my head, and I don't want to go off at a tangent; but the Global Union that you speak of;

      Instead of the "Old Boy/Establishment/Corporate - Government Party" facilitated.... Common - Wealth and Tax Payer funded or owned Utilities; "Privatizing"; "Networks/Unions" of Business and Commerce (Big Brother) which have been in control for centuries.

      Is "Universal Democracy"; which would operate according to its fundamental principles of "True Democracy" as originally defined; rather than the self serving interests of "Political Party Agendas"; which go into the form, of both the skeleton and the body/corpus;

      Of all of the current corrupt and fake democracies; that both dishonestly, and hypocritically claim to be public servants, serving the will of the people; who they consistently continue to lie to, and "defraud', in order to gain power over, and rule, rather than serve.

      E.g. Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction (Between one and a half and two million protested on the streets of London; and yet Blood on his Hands Blair, still continued to lie and overruled the Will of the People) is a prime example.

      And as such;

      I would no more trust a "Party Politician" to tell the truth; than I would trust any "Party Politician" with the truth.

      Cheers Carl
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        Jan 9 2014: Hi Carl,

        Let's get rid of political parties and go straight to direct democracy!
        • Jan 9 2014: And introduce a universal right, for all children of both genders and all races to receive a state/ tax payer funded education, from nursery school - kindergarden (3-5) to University. Because it should be remembered that those who make the greatest profits, from education are the Big Brother Corporations who demand educational qualifications; and take advantage of those who are educationally qualified, to expand their businesses/profiteering; but pay nothing in, towards the system that they are taking advantage of.
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      Jan 6 2014: Hi Derrick,

      I envision something similar as well. We have several multilateral agencies currently that could be expanded to fill the role.

      I think the main obstacle is corruption and human rights in a lot of countries. For example, one of the countries involved in either the rwandan genocide or the second congo war, was given lots of foreign aid, and 4 BILLION dollars promptly disapeared.

      The EU has criteria that applicant countries have to fulfill before joining and I can easily see the EU expand globally. So, if UBI was implemented in the EU, then expanded that would be a very good thing.

      I know politics can be nasty, but if certain policies were put into place, it could work out. For one, if there was a policy of distributing UBI equally, school funds by population, law enforcement funds by population, etc. The problem I think comes from individual projects being allocated funds, so it becomes a territorial issue.

      Just think, if the whole world were under one government, then there's nobody to fight with. No need for armies, just law enforcement.
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    Jan 5 2014: I think it could be both. I can make lots of money competing (BUT BEING HONEST) and I can choose ways to be compassionate with my resources. If I have more, then more is expected of me is my belief.
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    Jan 4 2014: Here's an article that Manishka shared some days ago that many may not have read.

    It brings up many examples of programs and research on what happens when you just give money away. Google was for instance so impressed by the research that they donated $2.5 million to GiveDirectly.

    You should all read it!

    • Jan 4 2014: I just did; and only wish in regard to its content, that it could be (become) universally read.by all.

      However I also believe, that the international imposition and the iniquity of differing monetary values; and money exchanging profiteering, by the "parasitic" progeny, and disciples of those who were driven from the temple; needs to be eradicated first.

      Will either add to this reply later, or add another comment to the general conversation later

      Cheers carl
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    Dec 31 2013: My opinion of basic income is that it could sincerely alleviate many problems for the lowest income earners. However, like so many good intentioned remedies it could have some unforeseen consequences. I recently took part in a discussion on Hubski about basic income: http://hubski.com/pub?id=123039 and someone there had this to say which I found appropriate:

    "I see it as an inevitability. The US is inefficiently subsidizing vast populations of workers that work full time at less than a living wage. i.e. you work 40+ hours per week at Walmart, then get subsidized housing, healthcare, and possibly food assistance. This is federal subsidization of an otherwise unsustainable corporate strategy.
    We have constantly gained productivity over the last century, but that hasn't translated into less necessary work to provide for the essentials of living. At some point, we have to ask whether or not this is how we intend to spend all gains in productivity, and if work is how we fulfill the public contract of sympathetic coexistence.
    $15k is in the neighborhood. It would have to be pinned to inflation." -hubski user "mk"

    I do wonder how a basic income in the US would effect illegal immigration too?

    Jimmy, I see that you are Swedish and as such likely have a far better grasp on what's happening over in Switzerland etc. What's the consensus in Sweden about basic income?
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      Dec 31 2013: Now that is a very fine threading system compared to this one here at TED...

      ...I'm sorry I'm writing my thoughts down.

      Hi Michael!

      Yes, it could have unintended consequences but no one has still been able to present me with a (according to me) plausible one...

      What's your general thoughts on how it could affect illegal immigration to the US? I don't think that it will matter much as BI would be given to citizens.

      Hmm, I didn't even reflect that I might have a better idea because of where I live... I mainly live on the internet so I think we all have equal opportunity to get at that information. And Swedish media basically hasn't covered it at all yet, people here are generally very unaware of the concept of BI and what's happening in the world with this.

      But there is however a rapidly forming grassroots movement here, just in the last month groups have been formed in at least 12 of the bigger cities. And I think that we'll have it much easier than the US will to implement something like this. The general Scandinavian mentality is still to take pride in taking care of each other through social structures. And there's an election in 9 months so big things might happen but it's not mentioned by anyone yet. And we basically only have one party (that I think will get about 5-10% of the votes) that could even dream of proposing this in our political climate...

      But who knows what's going to happen, we've been suffering greatly from our right-wing elected government for the last 8 years and there's great consensus that they are not going to win the next election.
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        Dec 31 2013: >I mainly live on the internet so I think we all have equal opportunity to get at that information.

        That's true enough and I too share your habitat. Isn't it true that the line between IRL and online is nearly extinguished? Still, I asked the question because when you are from a specific local you tend to spend more time (even on the Internet) with people of that local. I've had a number of conversations of late about BI but none with anyone from Switzerland and being that you are European, perhaps you have more insight in to the practical implications Sweden is undergoing? -It was a stretch, no doubt.

        >The general Scandinavian mentality is still to take pride in taking care of each other through social structures

        What an amazing thing to have ingrained in your culture. Unfortunately, while this exists in the US to a lesser degree, we have always been governed with a [manifest destiny](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifest_destiny) that suggests that we ought to be able to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps without govt help.

        >What's your general thoughts on how it could affect illegal immigration to the US? I don't think that it will matter much as BI would be given to citizens.

        When you have a child in the US, even if you are not a US citizen then that child will be a US citizen. Therefore, some people suggest that immigrants will cross the border to give birth and thus their child will be given the amenities that come with citizenship. I'm not sure if these thoughts are founded or not.

        Thanks for the reply and happy new year!
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          Jan 1 2014: Hi Michael,

          Your quote of the other member is very apt indeed!

          You know those times when you spend a great deal of time and energy trying to do enough justice to a thought, then someone else comes along and says it more perfectly. Concise.

          "This is federal subsidization of an otherwise unsustainable corporate strategy." a much more diplomatic way of putting it!

          How can this affect illegal immigration? We've already got it, and already dealing with it. The US actually benefits from this since it's a destination country for brain drain.

          If UBI is done in increments, and if it's implemented worldwide, It could balance things out well.
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    Dec 29 2013: @Jonny Mac.....You are right...there are many inconsistencies that need to be looked at. If everyones' basic needs are satisfied, we would probably have maybe a little less crime. As for the wealthy who would try to not pay for value received, which according to present law is legal but not moral, then there has to be a restraint against such behavior. At present in my country, crime cloaks itself in legality and creates opportunities for people to step on the backs of others. A justice system would have to be set up to remove such from free society. Peace
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      Dec 31 2013: I agree with you...A functional justice system that support a "just wage" or an Unconditional Basic income would require lots of cooperation and some crafty engineering politically. I think it can be done if you look at Ricardo Semler's success with participative management...perhaps positive ideas can grow with the right state of mind.

      Thanks for the response. :)
  • Dec 29 2013: The most attractive part of the unconditional basic income, is that people will always choose to work under fair conditions because their basic rights and supplies are guaranteed, applying this politics will put an end to modern day slavery, human traffic, sexual trafficking, robbery and many other social issues, which exist as a consequence of survivalist behaviour.
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      Dec 29 2013: Yes, this is a very good argument, no boss would ever be able to treat you like shit because you would just walk away. This would widely increase happiness among all and improve every aspect of working conditions.
      • Dec 29 2013: In terms of subjective happiness or well being, the long term effects of UBI are not so clear...since most individuals compare their own situations in relation to that of their peers....so, it may well be the the case that none of us see UBI as a good thing, because everybody has one....follow me?
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          Dec 29 2013: I do completely follow you, haven't thought of that aspect before.

          But there are also a lot of other aspects that that govern happiness. like health, education, crime rates and mobility to mention a few.

          And UBI is not communism, this is not the grand revolt where we take everything from the rich and become them ourselves in time. The factory owner will still own his factory in a UBI, Bill gates will still have his money in the bank.
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      Dec 30 2013: I'd add to it not just working conditions, but moral objections as well.

      I love the term you used in this context "survivalist". It's very aptly descriptive of the majority of the world.

      Having the choice, I do believe people won't work for companies that require them to lie or cheat. Can you imagine people voluntarily being telemarketers?
  • Dec 28 2013: Unconditional Basic Income?
    I will try here to explain while I complain.
    I Received a new computer for Christmas. It has a new black keyboard.
    My fingers won't stop making mistakes.

    We all are Taxed-Payers in one way or another.
    We need a Unconditional Basic Income. Pure Water, Adequate Food, Effective Waste
    Management, Shoes, Clothing, Housing, Healthcare (not health insurance), and Utilities.

    In the last 100 years in America, Taxed-Payers have paid enough to the IRS to easily
    accomplish these needs.

    Our Governments collect our Taxes, in one way of another.
    They spend our needs on;
    Protecting us all with never ending Wars that kill and maim innocent men, women,
    and wee babes, including our sons and daughters, Providing us with Justice to keep
    Prisons overflowing, Allowing the Banking Cartels to dip their beaks and rape our treasuries
    causing Depressions and unemployment.

    I could go on, as it sickens me, but TED readers are well versed,
    and my fingers do not cooperate today.
  • Dec 28 2013: After reading the bulk of comments/ideas listed below, I have come to a very simple conclusion. It is apparent that those that have the most are willing to contribute the least when it comes to improving the lives of ALL our people. If those that had the least found it easier to take care of themselves and their families, crime rates, immorality, and even murders may wane. Productivity would rise.and success might be seen by more than just those that have much. By stimulating the ability of ALL people to have access to basic needs, life couldn't be about just survival and this world would be a better place to live in.
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      Dec 28 2013: I believe that you've come to the correct conclusion. There was a TED Talk on Thursday that showed just this.

      And in combination with some other dozens of TED Talks touching this topic you begin to see a very clear picture.
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      Dec 28 2013: I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but in the United States, the top quintile pays 69% of all federal tax (CBO report), the top two quintiles pay 85%. The lowest two combined only pay 5%, and they are the only group over the last twenty years whose percentage has decreased.
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        Dec 28 2013: Um, that has very clear reasons.

        The top 1% make more then 40% of the total wealth.

        I could go on but I'd rather you read this Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_inequality_in_the_United_States

        Or watch this Youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

        The rich pay less than they should in regards to what they make... The poor pay way more than they're capable of. The reason the poor pay less is because they have way less every year then they had to the year prior.

        I also noticed that you're one of those somewhat rich folks that probably live a good life and still have a lot of money...

        I know, you worked for it, you weren't lazy like those scumbags that refuse to contribute...
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          Dec 29 2013: The figures from the Congressional Budget Office are on income Jimmy, not wealth or capital. I also don't care for the use of the term "scumbag".
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        Dec 29 2013: Income is a very flawed statistic as it does not account for things like profit, which is where most money goes.

        I'm sorry about the term scumbag, that was uncalled for. I should have replaced it with "Lazy people".
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          Dec 31 2013: Jimmy,

          I here you frustration, but consider the generalization of "lazy people". It's easy for people who have a job to be busy, and see people who do not have a job as lazy. I think most people want to work, but can't for all sorts of reasons. I would say that the people who want to work make up the majority. The "lazy" people which are a small group in this context, do not speak for everyone else. Ironically, human being will point to the one "dude" that is last and state that " That's the one who is causing all the problems".

          I would advocate to express more sensitivity in your frustration, but keep in mind you are not alone, there is a lot of frustration with work/life/pay from all levels of the economic structure. This contention alone I believe serves to undermine the idea of Unconditional wages. :)

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      Dec 29 2013: Hey Chris,
      I think you might have hit the nail on the head. I think the haves have lost touch with reality.

      It is the head honchos that decide the price we pay for food at the grocery store. They charge as much as they can to maximise profits. The have nots pay what they have to to keep from starving. as long they keep paying, what does the CEO care if the price they charged doesn't get the customer 3 square meals on the minimum wage at part time salary they pay their employees.

      The haves charge because hey, they're not forcing the customer to buy, it is after all capitalism. The consumer has choices. The competitor charges because the prices are based on the competition, not on the consumer's ability to pay for that one item. The consumer pays because getting one meal is better than excercising the power of their one dollar by boycotting and starving, and one meal is better than no meals.

      First comes a few deranged individuals, and they will be dealt with. Life goes back to normal. Then comes a culture of depression, dissatisfaction and violence. At some point, they will notice the general dissatisfaction of the common man and they will say "where is law enforcement?' the next step is "let them eat cake" Then comes the Bastille.

      What does it take to recognize the signs? What does it take to recognise that we no longer live in a world where each country's issues don't affect the neighboring nation?

      This perhaps?
      or this?
      maybe this?
      or maybe it's been there all along
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    Dec 28 2013: Joe, I’m not fighting against anyone, I compete at work, and the company I work for competes against other businesses, but it is not fighting. A competition has civil rules, and improves all that participate. I’m also not sure what you definition of wealth/luxury might be, the strictest would be anything above basic food, water, and shelter. Supply and demand regulates prices and wages, not a monetary or economic policy.
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      Dec 29 2013: Competition does not have civil rules, the only thing that is (sometimes) hindering competition from just blowing the other part off the face of the earth are laws.

      Not to mention that capitalism in its purer form definitely favors psychopathic behavior. As long as you get away with it you've succeeded. It's a gain/risk calculation.
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        Dec 29 2013: Things must be a lot meaner in Sweden than in the United States. Do they really use explosives to solve business rivalries in Sweden? And the only thing that governs behavior is law enforcement? There is no morality or ethics at all? Are all of the successful people over there psychopaths? Is this a clinical diagnosis or just a popular consensus?
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        Dec 29 2013: I've never worked in Sweden, but over 30 years in the states and have never met a "corporate psychopath". Companies are made up of people, so they show the same traits, but most of the people I have worked with, and all of the business owners, are hard working decent people. The idea that success equals greed equals evil is bullshit, just like the idea that all poor people are lazy or honorable.
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          Dec 29 2013: Hi, Brad. As you are a newer participant here, I think, you may not yet have noticed that many people draw conclusions about the US - conclusions in which they have great confidence - without actually having visited. much less having the experience you have! There is to many a Mad Max sort of image of everyone really cut-throat and all for himself, often based on favorite cherry-picked stories or media images.

          Prejudices people hold tend to be hard to dislodge, with confirmation bias and all that.. These images probably hold a psychological purpose. Experience with a situation, the insight such experience provides, can dilute prejudice in someone who wants to consider fresh information, but in this area I think people need the actual experience themselves. Words won't dislodge entrenched beliefs, in my opinion.
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          Dec 29 2013: Brad,

          I'm sure that you haven't noticed any psychopathic behavior, you'd need training to do that.
          There are TED Talks on this, was it not you that I linked them to?

          "The idea that success equals greed equals evil is bullshit, just like the idea that all poor people are lazy or honorable."
          PLEASE watch the TED Talk from just a few days ago and you'll see that you are wrong in this.

          Paul Piff: Does money make you mean? http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_piff_does_money_make_you_mean.html

          I base my opinions on the collective knowledge of many TED Talks (and a lot of outside research) when speaking on this matter, you seem to base it on personal observations which you would have to agree is not a good way to get to the real truth about things.


          I also advice you to go and watch at least a few hundred TED Talks and do some real research about this. Not just watch the street and family dinners and draw conclusions based on personal opinion.
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    Dec 26 2013: It seems to me that your caveat not to [stray] too far from the topic of UBI in offering one's opinion is restrictive and renders the question moot. The act of handing out money to individuals with no discernible quid pro guo, and especially the act of receiving such monies, may profoundly alter an individual's moral and ethical sense of self; while it may 'correct' economic inequalities to some degree, it may also seriously undermine an individuals' basic sense of place as a responsible, contributing member of their society.

    Equity, without self-worth, is not fulfilling.
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      Dec 26 2013: Well, that's an encouragement, you are free to follow it if you wish (as I think you did). And perhaps you are right in it becoming moot... I just saw too many posts trying to point the finger somewhere else, posts that wanted to solve other issues.

      You write "may" a lot, so lets not assume that it's bad and actually try it then... Then we can evaluate.

      I don't think that people would loose their self worth because of BI, I rather envision the opposite.
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        Dec 27 2013: It's true that the proof would be in the sampling of a UBI pudding. As you have noted, I'm not certain that the UBI system would lead to one's loss of self-regard, but that is my initial knee-jerk reaction to the proposition; this point of view may be due to my quasi-Protestant upbringing. Also, not having a sufficient grasp on the niceties of national or global economics (does anyone?) I am unable to envision a positive outcome for a UBI system, beyond the realm of an individual family or small business.
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          Dec 29 2013: If Everyone gets the same basic income, then why would I feel less about my contributions? The ceo of my company would also receive the same stipend monthly... Meanwhile, I can be confident that after a car accident, the stress of not being able to work to pay for food and home bills and medial bills would be taken away, leaving my mind to be stress free and able to recover from just the accident instead of having to recoup personal and financial devastation.
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          Dec 29 2013: Don,

          I see that you are actually one of the few that have the initial reaction against this but is prepared to be convinced otherwise, this is rare and welcomed.

          I advice you to read through some of the comment threads here as most are well argued about the questions you might have and aspects that you maybe haven't thought about.

          I also think that you point to a very valid point considering your point of view, the "quasi-Protestant upbringing" where you are basically taught that you get what you deserve, and if you don't work you are undeserving.

          There are many here that I consider to have a good grasp on economics and it is also something that I have studied a lot. So if you wish to debate/question about the economic aspects of this there is competence for that here.
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        Dec 29 2013: Jimmy, one of my stumbling blocks in endorsing the UBI plan, is the issue of where the money comes from; the money which is to be distributed to each individual. Is it simply printed by the government, based on production profits, or from taxes collected? This issue, as far as I can see, hasn't been dealt with here, or in the suggested web-links. Also, is the basic income given to adults and children, or to adults only, regardless of how many children they are supporting?
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          Dec 30 2013: Don,

          There are multiple suggestions to this problem, some that most can accept and some that others refuse to.

          The top suggestion is simply taxing the rich on their income and profits. Admittedly this would lead to them not being able to buy just as many luxury cars, yachts and mansions and not having quite as many millions or billions in the bank. But I think it's worth it to fulfill the needs of the many. Now this does not generally cling well with American mentality since they generally seem to think that tax is a bad thing.

          Another suggestion that I read from William Clegg was that we tax the sales of more luxury goods, meaning that people pay when they indulge themselves in vanity and wasteful behavior.

          Another suggestion that I read about was a "Death Tax", effectively limiting inheritance to a set sum of perhaps $10 million or something, the rest would go to the state. This way those born rich would be somewhat limited and also perhaps encouraged to actually do something in life.

          Well, I bet there are more ways. But a combination of these systems would more then well pay for UBI in any country.

          I do however not think that more is needed then higher income and profits tax for the rich.

          There are also tremendous savings in this, things that would improve and institutions that we could get rid of.

          Things like welfare (which is a huge machinery) could almost completely be done with. And pilot programs have shown that education levels spike and health problems, both mental and physical are greatly reduced, this would lead to great economic gain.

          About who gets it, that would be up to each nation to decide. The proposal from Switzerland says that only citizens above the age of 18 will get it. I was thinking that maybe also giving people above 15 1/4 of the countries UBI would be good.
          I do not however think that you should give it to children as it would give incentive to make more kids, further increasing the pressure of overpopulation.
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        Dec 29 2013: Manishka, your point that everyone would receive the same basic payment would mitigate my quasi-Protestant guilt about receiving money out of hand. Also, I am sympathetic about peoples' financial devastation following lengthy and expensive medical procedures and the ensuing stress which certainly impedes their recoveries. Fortunately for me and most of my family, we live in Ontario ,Canada and, through our significantly higher taxes (than in the USA), our medical expenses are covered and this financial stress is not an issue.
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          Dec 29 2013: I really like the fact that Canada has medical covered, and I think the US should implement something like this.

          As a mom, not being able to work not only means the stress of higher medical bills, but also being able to feed my family and keeping my mortgage. As I say, personal devastation.

          This is only a side issue. To me, it's more about redistributing wealth without becoming a communist state. People do need personal incentive to contribute to society, but their greed needs to be checked. So why not make it 50%? Out of every dollar in profits a company makes, 50 cents is redistributed for the good of all, and all will continue to be able to buy your goods.

          As you may know, employers won't pay more than they absolutely have to to keep the talent they need to keep the business going and profits rolling in. That's what minimum wage is all about... "If I could pay you less I would, but it's illegal." and for the companies that outsource, "Oh wait! I can pay less! Ding!"

          I am absolutely not against outsourcing, as long as they pay enough for the employee to live. , and basic human rights should apply to all humans. I used to work as a buyer for a large merchandising firm. They did lots of merchandising, but my particular concern was tshirts. I had companies in south africa, india, indonesia and china competing to quote me less than a $1 per tshirt (my lowest bid for an unprinted tshirt was $0.63, and lowest for 4 color screenprinted logo was $0.88) which was then sold in the US and UK for $20 each.

          The lowest paid worker earned $32 per month, the supervisor made $64 per month. OH! forgot to mention, that's for 12 hour days and 6 days per week, no health, no unemployment, no time to train for anything better.
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        Dec 31 2013: Jimmy, thank you for the reply regarding the UBI fund sources. I certainly have no problem with the issue of higher taxes for the rich who, after all, rely on the rest of us to produce and consume the goods responsible for their wealth. I likewise endorse higher taxes on luxury goods, but am dubious about setting a specific dollar-amount cap on inheritances, in view of the increases in tax which we would already have collected from the wealthy.

        I also believe that great savings on medical expenses would be automatic from the decreased stress levels of the citizenry and, hopefully, a general improvement in our diets due to our access to healthier foods and to leisure activities.

        The point about affecting a tremendous reduction in welfare expense seems particularly pertinent, and also ties in with the reduction in stress-related physical and mental expenses.

        All in all, my inclination now is to endorse a UBI proposition, tailored, as you have suggested, to each nation, and I thank you for the opportunity to have participated in this provocative and insightful discussion.
  • Dec 26 2013: There is a very strong argument for a UBI… Public Roads, no one can argue against the positive impact that this socialist infrastructure has had on society.

    Meet a basic requirement, and you are up and running, free to pursue whatever you desire. You don’t even need a car, use a bike.

    If a UBI is thought of in the microeconomic sense, the amount of innovation it would inspire is breathtaking.
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      Dec 26 2013: Public roads are constructed using taxes collected from the net producers of a society for the good of all. An unconditional income subsidy would be collected from that same group, but given to a single or limited group, for only their benefit. The first case is for infrastructure, the second is social welfare. This entire discussion is sidestepping the real issues: are income disparities bad, and if so, should they be remedied by subtracting from the high achievers and giving to the underperformers, or by encouraging the underperformers to produce more?
      • Dec 27 2013: Good point , Brad.
        Income disparities are reasonable, considering our economic system.
        But for the people who weren't lucky enough to take advantage of this system because of the various unfortunate circumstances, we should find a way to level the playing field.
        As long as the UBI doesn't seriously "demotivate" the high achievers, and the amount of money given to the poor is reasonable, then I think we shouldn't object.
        It could be the basis of encouraging them. If we want them to start from scratches, we should at least put some "scratches[UBI]" in their pockets, right?
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          Dec 28 2013: ...if it itches, scratch it.
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        Dec 29 2013: Brad,

        "An unconditional income subsidy would be collected from that same group, but given to a single or limited group, for only their benefit."

        No, BI would be given to EVERYONE, that includes yourself and Bill Gates.
  • Dec 22 2013: The earth has not enough money to provide Unconditial Basic Income.

    Just look at the number of people worldwide, it is more than 7 000 000 000 and growing.

    World GDP is approx 10 000 USD per capita. Thousands are in hands of governments now (in Europe, governments very often regulate more than 50 % of GDP).

    To give 5000 USD (which is only ~ 420 USD per month per person) we would need to establish communism and 100% regulation.

    But! 100% regulation means that people who are motivated by money would A) stop trying or B) move their business to black markets. You can choose A) or B) in both cases official World GDP would be lower which means less money for basic income, less money for normal income, less money for companies which leads to even less GDP.

    Unconditial Basic Income may be fine idea for some other world with 10 times higher GDP (at the same prices and same amount of people) and without corruption and inefficient governments. Sorry but I don't believe world can have Basic Income in (at least) next 100 years.
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        Dec 29 2013: Mike,

        We have technology now that can help implement this. you no longer have to deliver bags of cash and hope the next person in the chain is honest and divides it properly...

        Biometrics. The government can create an account for every eligible person and register their retinal scan and transfer equal money to all the accounts that the person can just go to the store and spend by retinal scan or by scanning it into their bank account.

        Implementation is still tough because politicians are corrupt, but that's why we have smart people in the private sector checking up. Anyway, implementing a different percentage of taxes will be no harder than what's already being done.

        It may even reduce the cost and manpower needed because you wouldnt need to have public aid workers calculating whether you qualify or not since all adult citizens would qualify.
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      Dec 24 2013: I love pointing out that the research has been done time and time again over the ages. The only thing really lacking has been the political will and that is because so much of the tired, old out dated ideologies of the Industrial era that still pollute the halls of governance. the answers to your concerns are but a google away.
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        Dec 30 2013: I find it troubling that so few actually care to try to fact check their opinion. Like "do I have data to support my claims?"...

        "Does the idea that there might be knowledge frighten you?
        Does the idea that one afternoon on Wiki-fucking-pedia might enlighten you frighten you?
        Does the notion that there may not be a supernatural so blow your hippy noodle that you'd rather just stand in the fog of your inability to Google?" - Tim Minchin - Storm

    • Matt K

      • +1
      Dec 27 2013: agree, for the reason (overppopulation). however, u missing out the point that an UBI can be introduced at a low level and then can incrementally increase over (100) years time?!

      E.g. in Germany everyone gets today an UBI of $520 plus flat. So I think that will work at least in the U.S. and you should rethink your calculation.
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      Dec 29 2013: Jiří Knesl, I do think it can be done on a worldwide scale, but to start out with, if each country implemented its own system, it would still work. forget the dollar amounts.... there is enough money because you would take taxes on a percentage and redistribute it on an absolute amount.

      The United States' nominal GDP was estimated to be $16.6 trillion in June 2013.
      GDP per capita $51,704 (2012)
      Population 2013 estimate 317,354,000
      10% of GDP = $1,660,000,000,000
      per person = $5230.00
      per month = $435.90 (This is for the entire population cuz i'm too lazy to figure up adults only)

      Just for fun, let's say that the US takes 10% for domestic and then takes another 10% for every person on earth. (Estimated to 7.5 billion) not subtracting the us population that already got paid with the first 10%, so this is additional.
      = $221.33/year
      Since the global EXTREME poverty rate is $1.25/day, just a single country can cut that in half without having to find who is eligible, deserving, cheating, whatever.
  • Dec 20 2013: For a well-researched article on this subject, I recommend Rutger Bregman's piece on 'De Correspondent' (in English):
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      Dec 23 2013: thank you for this link, yet another that points to the very successful Canadian project. .
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      Dec 29 2013: Very nice article with the evidence needed for just about every argument in the thread
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    Dec 20 2013: I think we need to consider a few things.

    First, let's take a look at the proposed benefits of unconditional income. Obviously, establishing an unconditional income would allow households to maintain a higher standard of living. In theory, this would also enable households to become more productive.

    However, the first counter to this theory is a question about whether or not the money would be used in productive ways. Unless the use of unconditional income was restricted, there is no way to ensure the resources were used to boost productivity.

    Second, what are the long-term sociological impacts of unconditional income? Would people become lazy? Would they be motivated to work at all? Would this impact people's motivation to start new businesses or work harder to improve their standard of living? In the long-run, what are the impacts on society in general?

    Personally, I don't think this is the right way to go. We need to provide opportunities for people to succeed. This requires government to take steps toward boosting the country's economy and build infrastructure that works. This seems like a very sloppy way to manage a country's finances.

    I don't think this is a sustainable way to provide for people. In the end, I believe this will cause severe problems.
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      Dec 20 2013: It seems that corruption will always play a part. What's to keep it in balance? Morals, ethics? The state?
      I think people just need to agree to do the right thing, naïve as it seems. I prefer not to live in fear, you got to take risks and lead to get people to trust. It's tough being the leader everyone is watching. I guess it just comes back to ethics and morals.
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      Dec 20 2013: What do you really mean by "productivity"? Think of the vast variety of well-paid jobs that add absolutely nothing in terms of productivity.
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        Dec 23 2013: arbitrage being at the top of that list and only introduces more cost to everything.
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      Dec 23 2013: The research has been done and done again in a number of countries and various forms of GI 's have been in existence for ages now with pensions of all kinds leading the parade. The information is but a google away and some very good links can be found in this thread.
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    Dec 12 2013: A UBI is the best way to ensure a smooth transition from the tired, old labour based employment ideology. There is no way there can ever be full employment of any nation's population, never mind the world's. Science and technology are replacing the human component in the labour force every day and at an ever increasing rate, jobs are no longer a viable means of economic support. .

    Those with the intelligence to understand what is happening to the workforce will welcome it. Those who are tied to out-dated ideas and small-mindedness will rail against the concept, but it is an inevitable transition whose time has come.

    As Bart Hsi points out, there are a few more advanced societies which have understood this for decades and today, provide insightful and mature societal support systems. Unfortunately, there are more than a few nation's like the U.S. which have large segments of their populations that scorn social supports and those who require them favouring, instead, to abandon such citizens as useless and irrelevant. Sadly Canada has been saddled with a right-wing government that wants to emulate the U.S. in this regard.
  • Dec 11 2013: You're using the wrong conversion factor. The currency exchange rate is always a lie when it comes to cost of living. SFr 2500 converts to roughly USD 2800 by exchange, but it is not an accurate reflection of the real effect. Using the OECD's comparative price levels, SFr 2500 converts to USD 1700, which would still be more than $10/hour full time wage. That's almost 30% higher than the US minimum wage. Driving up wages at the low end more than that much (to entice people to continue working) would mean that basic goods bought by low-income people would rise by more than 30%, perhaps as high as 50%. I'm reminded of the foolish laborers in Mark Twain's "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court", who were so pleased that they were paid twice as much as laborers in a neighboring kingdom, even though everything cost three times as much.
  • Jan 7 2014: The industrial world/revolution started roughly in the middle 19th century by most historians. The automation revolution in the mid 20th century. The real problem is that this society can produce all of our needs without the work of all of those that are willing and able to work. We are/have become that efficient. The productivity of our workers has risen due mostly to the investment in automation by industry and industry isn't willing to pick up any slack. This trend will continue to accelerate!
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    Jan 7 2014: I think it is an interesting idea. It would be particularly interesting if it could be used as a means of making sure that people had a minimum amount of income available to live above the poverty level. There would have to be some determination that this is the minimum required to have a decent home, adequate food and clothing. While it might not be that full amount, the amount could help to fill the gap.

    From a political standpoint, if everyone gets the benefit, there should be less concern about some people getting something that others are not getting. And I wonder whether the money that now goes into administering the needs based programs could be used to support the program.

    It would have the benefit of simplifying things. An interesting idea for discussion-- thanks for bringing it forward.
  • Jan 6 2014: I am a newcomer to TED discussions, so please excuse me if I repeat previous arguments.

    UBI in a single country, such as the US, seems to be feasible in principle; how it would work in a multinational setting such as the EU is another story.

    Funding for the UBI would come from taxes, for sure, but such taxes would not necessarily be new. UBI would replace many existing welfare programs, and eliminate the bureaucracies associated with such programs. That would produce significant financial savings.

    Social workers could be redirected to work on real social problems, and not simply serve as monitors to restrict the lifestyles of welfare recipients. The social stigma attached to welfare recipients might well disappear, since everyone would be receiving the same basic income. This would be especially important for the children in the welfare system.

    None of these points are new, of course, and many of them have been noted by conservative advocates (notably Milton Friedman) of versions of the UBI.

    There are many details, and the devil is in the details, but I believe the time is ripe for some form of UBI in the USA, and probably in many other segments of the industrialized world.
    • Jan 7 2014: Raise taxes, money flees.
      • Jan 7 2014: AS I said, the taxes might not be new. In any case, where will the money flee to?