This conversation is closed.

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).

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...(?)

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

    • +3
    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
        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 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: 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]( 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, 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.
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      Dec 28 2013: You really got a grasp on things, I did not expect that from reading the first few lines!

      Great comment!
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      Dec 29 2013: I agree
  • 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

        Or watch this Youtube video

        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?

          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?
  • Jan 6 2014: Let's look outside the box for a polling of all Americans.

    Perhaps if we were to hack the NSA for their opinion we might not find them
    in favor as it would surely take from their black hearted budgets tooo much monies.

    Their Sister Snoops the DHS might be hacked for the same answers.

    I advocate Hacking for fun all those 850,000 federal employees with Top Secret Clearances.

    Let's get some real answers from those who know.

    After all the taxed monies we've spent, there should be something to show for it.
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    Jan 5 2014: Thank you for the link to Avaaz, Jimmy; I hadn't heard about it before. I will check it out and get back to you.
  • Jan 5 2014: The American Indians and Native Hawaiians both had a system that worked fine without any income at all. "No Money" can you wrap your head around that? John Lennon described it like this:
    "Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world..."
    In my picture is my first girl friend (a nice Japanese girl on Formosa, better know as Taiwan now) this picture was taken just a couple of years after we nuked thousands of little girls just like her. All I knew was she was nice and taught me to speak Japanese and I taught her how to speak English, she was a friend and that was good enough for me. She didn't have any money and I didn't have any money but we got along just fine.

    Forget income, we need to learn how to trade services...... Time banking???

    “What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”- Bob Dylan
    • Jan 5 2014: Hi Keith

      All well and good, and I can wrap my head around most things; however one has to deal with the realities of the world as it is; and use the horrors of history, as lessons to be learned from, and not to be made again.

      And the only way to move forward in ensuring this; is through international mutual cooperation; and a system of true democracy; whereby and wherein, not just your or my opinions, and ideas are taken onto account; but rather all opinions. and all ideas are taken into account, through www. forums such as this one.

      And thus all citizens of the world would get to have a say, and play a part in both "saving", and ensuring the future sustainability, and continuation of all of the Universes'/Creators'/Natures'. flora and fauna, of the Earth's Natural kingdom.

      And achieved via the means of human consensus, rather than dictatorship, authoritarianism, military force/wars, and terrorism.

      Cheers Carl
      • Jan 5 2014: I like the way you think Carl, keep up the good works.
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      Jan 9 2014: Time banking sounds good!
      • Jan 9 2014: Time Banking is more popular in Europe but it is also catching on here in the USA. Since there is no money exchanging hands it is tax exempt. It is not the same as bartering which is taxed. The beauty of it is you can get basic stuff done and no one gets killed which is not the case with tax. Tax dollars kill thousands of people everyday.
        Here is a good link to explain in detail:
        Nice to hear from you Manishka, your reputation precedes you.
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          Jan 10 2014: Hi Keith,

          Nice to hear from you too! I have a reputation? hope its good :p
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    Jan 3 2014:

    How inequality harms societies - with data
  • Jan 1 2014: I'm new here, maybe a week or so. I'll see what I can do to become familiar with the topics before I open my mouth. Thank you for your patients on this matter.
  • Jan 1 2014: At first glance it appears to be a very good thing. Just as the folds gradually disappear from an ironed sheet, so do I think humanity can adapt to such a dramatic change. My highest concern is that it would require an extreme overhaul in education. Many of us are taught from a very young age to see the world through the eyes of money, whether it be intentional or not.

    In my largely uneducated and idealistic view, this proposal seems to be a step towards possibly eradicating money and moving humanity into a new era of united passionate peace.

    Perhaps I just need coffee....
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      Jan 1 2014: Well, perhaps money itself might disappear since a medium of exchange will probably always be necessary and the internet already has introduced some variations on that as well as local 'green dollar' initiatives.

      Your absolutely right about overhauling the education system to better suit the needs of the student rather than the needs of the workplace as we see today. And I suspect one result of an education system that actually and fully met the needs of its students would be a generation that laugh at the way the wealthy are esteemed today and, instead, vilify the ones who wallow in lives of excess and opulence which only offering esteem to the ones who are using their wealth to sponsor and support social and community programs and projects. Separating the wheat from the chaff as it where.

      Of course, I will always point first to the idea of personal freedom a UBI represents to be able to live our lives as we choose to, not simply as bodies exchanging labour for wages until we are no longer marketable.
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      Jan 3 2014: United passionate peace.... that sounds lovely. Don't get that coffee yet, hold onto that thought!

      Sure a revamp of the educational system if that's what it takes, we are constantly evolving. If we do it with thought and the whole of humanity in mind, we may be able to guide our destiny.

      Rest assured somebody is putting thought into it. but if we don't participate, then we run the risk of the personal agendas and the greedy rule our destiny.
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    Dec 31 2013: Manishka, the inequity between the rich and the poor, both here at home and abroad, is appalling. When some families own multiple homes and others are living in cardboard boxes or make-shift shanties, it's astounding that we believe ourselves to be "good" Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc., or even Buddhists, who specifically espouse compassion.

    Despite our apparent sophistication and endless technological advances, we are little removed, spiritually, from those early humans who abandoned their caves in what today we call Africa, and began travelling over the planet, and now beyond.
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      Dec 31 2013: agreed Don. Most folks are still afraid of "others" while prejudices and arrogance run rampant through our cultures. However, in the current economic model dominating the world today a person's worth is based primarily on what they gain from their exchange of labour for wages and/or their wealth. A UBI offers the opportunity for a person's worth to be derived from how they contribute to their community and that is where the prejudices and arrogance can be undermined and even eliminated.
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      Jan 1 2014: Don,

      I can't reply to you down there so I'll do it here.

      I'm SO GLAD that we actually managed to sway one person who's initial reaction was against this by using reason and well founded arguments. You are the kind of person that brings me hope about the eventual success of UBI.

      And I'd also like to add that when I first heard of the concept (about 8 months ago) I was also not persuaded that it was good, but the more research and the more debates I had the more of a proponent I became. Now, as you may have noticed, I'm somewhat of a crusader for UBI, maybe you will also be that in a year. :)
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      Jan 1 2014: I so agree Don! The same species that came up with all the inspiring philosophies and concepts is the same species that perpetrates the horrors of the world.

      Funny you should mention Buddhists in this context. The closest thing I have to a hometown has a lot of Tibetan Buddhist refugees who've always been mild and modest actually demure is the best fitting for men and women both.

      Then I see reports like this:

      I just think that there's not enough recognition of our fellow humans as humans.

      The thing that really stands out for me in this talk is when the winners of this obviously rigged monopoly game were asked to describe why they won, they listed their own actions. I was not surprised.

      It reminds me of the people who give hardworking labels to rich people and lazy label to poor people.

      But most of the land in the world is owned by someone. We can't just choose not to participate in the system. We were born. We have a right to survival.

      A UBI is a message. To those that need it. To those that don't need it. "We survive together" "Worth" is concept applicable only internally as in self-worth. And when evaluating goods and services. Never to be directed at another human. This idea should have gone the way of slavery..... Oh wait that's still around too :(

      Well anyway, glad to talk to you on TED!
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        Jan 1 2014: Manishka, here are a couple of entries of mine from the "Experience Project"

        The First Shall Be Last
        Refusing to contribute to the well-being of each other is creating a society in which the disenfranchised are no longer able to contribute to the well-being of the whole. This unwillingness to help one another is a downward spiral which may lead to the eventual collapse of our society. The formerly unassailable rich will also succumb as the support structure collapses.
        Aug 22, 2009

        Is Consumerism Consuming Us?
        We have reached a point where we owe more than we produce, or can produce. We pay interest on interest for things we have purchased yet no longer want, yet we still shop for more stuff.
        Also, we believe that it’s wise to begin paying after we receive the stuff, and are still paying for it long after it has lost its usefulness or its allure.
        Feb 9, 2009

        Share The Wealth Which You Create.
        Some would have us honor the rich, arguing that their wealth creates jobs. In fact, the rich are indebted to us, the producers and consumers, because we develop, produce, distribute, maintain and buy back the goods and services which we provide and which sustains their wealth. Without our continued cooperation in our dual roles of producer-consumer, there would be no more wealth for anybody. That we continue to do the 'heavy lifting', without receiving a more equitable share of the proceeds, is perplexing.
        Oct 2, 2011
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          Jan 2 2014: It sounds like you too have been thinking about the inequities in the way our economy is structured.

          This section seems especially relevant now "Share The Wealth Which You Create. "

          UBI has come around at a particularly good time I think. I hope it works the way it's supposed to.
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        Jan 2 2014: Yes, Manishka, we are on the verge of a serious adjustment in the status quo, as worldwide awareness and concern over centuries-old social inequity continues to grow. This local, national and global imbalance has puzzled me since my youth as, despite the obvious fundamental disparities both at home and abroad, religious and social groups proselytized about our responsibility as our brothers' keepers.

        After centuries of talking the talk, it's time to walk the walk.
  • Dec 30 2013: Parts of this conversation remind me of the flagellanti, or Comer and Laird, 1975(Choosing to suffer…).

    If one possible system makes education, health and a basic standard of living a right, then why would you decry it evil and unfounded?

    Especially since the most vigorous dissenters, believe in Adam Smith’s dog and bone theory.

    How about a Joe West theory… I have yet to see the refusal of a bone!

    Take the bone , then protest the interlopers :)
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    Dec 30 2013: Exactly. One of the reasons for the first codification of Laws was not to create prohibitions but simply to inform strangers as to the rules of the community.

    In other words, laws are what we make them and it is high time that the citizens whose lives will be defined and constrained by the Laws should have direct input to the creation, definition and application of those Laws.
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      Dec 30 2013: I think you misplaced this William. :)
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        Dec 30 2013: I believe this is a reply to one of mike's deleted comments.

        I don't remember the whole thing, but the part that I replied to was "The government is there to referee, not to provide for" or something like that.

        my answer had been "The government is ther to referee, not to.... Whatever. The government can be there for whatever reason it's constituents say it is there for."

        I have this idea that since government is a human made construct, and it's based on a social contract, and since globally there are and have been so many variations, we can shape this institution to be whatever we collectively decide it should be.

        William, I can't like any more of your comments, my quota's done for the week :p
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        Dec 31 2013: hmmm, well its not the first time i have gotten lost in a conversation :)
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          Dec 31 2013: Yeah, I know... If they decide to keep conversations on the new TED website this will probably get a lot better.
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    Dec 29 2013: I think I will bow out of this conversation, it has become more of a personal attack, which is not what I have come to expect from TED.
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      Dec 29 2013: I never meant to attack you and I'm sorry if you feel that way. What I was criticizing was the current capitalistic system and the mentality that it brings.

      Take care Brad!
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      Dec 31 2013: Brad,

      I have been following the conversation, please remain to contribute. You brought up some very valid points and I think that your feedback would serve to educate. I understand your stance in the matter and I think that there is frustration on both sides of the argument, just for the fact that people are just frustrated by what is a cyclic rotation of injustice in society regardless of economic status.
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        Jan 1 2014: Yes johnny,

        There's a lot of frustration from both sides and I do my best to oppress it, but we can all get caught in the heat of the moment (I'm also referring to your other comment to me). I thank you for taking the very calm and more neutral road on this conversation, as that is a position that is needed.

        But I am still confused to why you seem to be against UBI, or have I misunderstood?
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          Jan 3 2014: No I am not against UBI. I think its a good idea. I am just saying that the structure of the application needs to be for a lack of a better word " orderly". Either the "people" need to regulate the application, or there could be a recipe for injustice due to an attitude of "it's just how things are" with it, kind of apathy that doesn't move to excite rather slums itself down to emotivism. Plainly, in order to support UBI, people need to be active in its regulation on equal terms.
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        Jan 1 2014: Johnny,
        I will certainly continue to use TED and join the conversations. I just don't care for the way this one is being run. Just read up a few lines, the high ranking TED member that started this topic was making at snide comment about another member, saying "maybe we need to use a different kind of English to speak to him" based upon the member's profile. This should not be tolerated.
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          Jan 2 2014: Brad,

          Despite my badges, I'm a normal user just as anyone else here. I've been on long enough to gather a "50+" badge for my contributions through the years and I've translated some Talks, that's it. In no way am I "high ranking". We don't rank people here.

          You don't like me, I get that and it's fine. I was a bit too aggressive towards you at times and for that I apologize. But please understand that to me you also came off as aggressive and out to prove a point, dismissing the idea of UBi through simple equations. Which was to me a mockery of this conversation as a whole.

          What I meant about my comment about Jude was that he almost always seems to use metaphors, so maybe we should reply in the same way. Like Jude tried to make some point about UBI by stating what different kinds of carpenters there are and the different methods of crafting wood. And not once did I get the slightest impression that he mentioned society or UBI. And he's 85 years old so maybe using past references would be a good way to get about. And Jude did start his entry into this conversation by a snide comment..
  • Dec 27 2013: Is it so difficult to envision a system where money is used for goods and services only. That concept troubles a lot of folks, no it down right frightens them. Now money is this colossus, and we run around in search of dishonorable graves (apologizes to Mr. Shakespeare)

    Let’s try a system.

    A UBI is issued to spur entrepreneurs

    Salaries are based on societal gains… Doctors, engineers, scientist and educators are at the top of the pay scales, labor is second.

    Taxes are not collected because money is created by governments, to pay salaries. ( we make it up now so why not)

    Usury etc.. is outlawed.

    Education, and health are free. See how I did that now that money is issued by governments for enrichment of society.

    Retirement is taken care of by government. I did it again!

    Here we have a start…. Far but from perfect, but I would move there!
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      Dec 28 2013: There is no such thing as "free" when it comes to goods or services.
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        Dec 28 2013: Sure there is, voluntary work and charities for example...
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          Dec 28 2013: In the context of Joe's comment, "Education, and health are free...." None of it is free. Someone has to work to provide every item we consume, every service we enjoy. His point on "retirement is taken care of by the government" is also naïve. The "government" has no money, to provide for retirement they must get the goods and service from someone else.
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        Dec 28 2013: I think that you need to stop thinking about the quarterly report when it comes to how to govern a nation...
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          Dec 29 2013: Jimmy, I'm not sure I understand your comment. Forget money. Forget rich versus poor. All of the "stuff" we want and need and all of the services we demand are produced with labor. If one person has a day off, another person must work to allow that.
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        Dec 29 2013: Brad,

        As you work in construction and solar (which is a big thumbs up from me) I believe that you have the initial perspective that work is something that mainly produces good stuff.
        It isn't.

        Just take the work that has gone into producing the 25 million porn sites of the web, now it just seems a bit excessive and unnecessary but it's driving your economy with about $14 billion in sales per year.

        Most work that is done is done to create revenue, not to produce stuff that is needed.

        The same goes for services, while I'm sure that you enjoy your Starbucks coffee you would have to agree that it's generally a waste of peoples resources and time to either buy or work for it.

        Most production of today only produces junk that people would actually be better off without. The same goes for many services.
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    Dec 26 2013: It will further demotivate and stigmatize the poor of first world countries.
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      Dec 26 2013: Would you care to elaborate on how this demotivation and stigmatization would come to be?

      I believe that I've heard the demotivate argument a couple of times now but the stigmatization was a new one...
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        Dec 26 2013: Even for those of us that enjoy our work, the driving force, the reason we give up over one third of our waking adult lives, is to provide for ourselves and our loved ones. If we could enjoy the same comforts, but without the effort, why work? The stigma is both internal and external. The idea that one cannot compete, cannot succeed, cannot be independent without the help of others. And it is a zero sum game. The government has no money, and produces nothing. They can only take from one class and give to another.
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          Dec 27 2013: I disagree that the driving force should be survival, it should be to prosper and that possibility is increased for all with BI.

          In a Basic Income you can (and should) still work, why wouldn't you? You get BI + paycheck... So while you get by with BI it's not a means to really make money, for that you'd need to work. But you are not forced to work for a somewhat dignified survival.

          There's still competition, actually there would be more potential competitors and every chance for success for a lot more people.
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        Dec 27 2013: The driving force is always survival, at times, living in our comfortable homes, in our huge nations, it may not appear to be so, but collectiviely, it always is us against nature or the universe. Everything we own, every service we enjoy, the security we feel, is at the expense of someone’s labor.
        • Dec 27 2013: Brad, interesting comments but they are circular. Currently our survival is not society against nature or the universe. Quiet the opposite, we are fighting ourselves.

          Due in most part to a monentary system which does not reward the contributors to society, but rewards wealth accumulation.

          Cause and effect, we struggle to acheive wealth, to survive, because wealth is placed above life.
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          Dec 29 2013: Brad,

          You belong to a great (and powerful) minority. The things you mention are so far detached from reality for the vast majority of the worlds inhabitants.

          Except for the survival part, but you have no say in survival. Most people don't live in what you constitute as comfortable homes. Collectively it's always us against capitalism, nature does not pose a direct threat and I really don't get what you mean when you talk about us against the universe...

          Most people don't own anything. Most people don't enjoy luxury services, the services we get is the one at the supermarket, if we can afford it. Most people feel really insecure, not knowing how they would survive if they were laid off or in an accident. And it's all at the expense of the ones making money on our labor.
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    Gord G

    • +1
    Dec 22 2013: I think unconditional basic income is the cost of a society.

    I've always believed the economic systems that support a society, also create a wide variance in opportunity. The flex between productive, transitioning and non-productive endeavours must exist to allow for growth. This then means...the individuals who are shifting within the economy are as essential as the individuals benefiting from the shift.

    For example, the establishment of social programs to aid economic recovery after the great depression.

    That said, I also believe these economic initiatives must be supported by mental health programs. Life is complicated and I think too often the effects of change are marginalized until it has a direct impact on an individual.
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      Dec 22 2013: I think you are on to something.
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      Dec 24 2013: Absolutely. Capitalism emphasizes the well being of the individual and only seems community as a resource to exploit. A UBI is about personal freedom and healthy communities, both points of which I have elaborated upon below.
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        Gord G

        • +1
        Dec 24 2013: I should've also mentioned free education. In today's economy education is our greatest natural resource. It makes sense that access should be based on achievement, not financial resources.

        Of course all of these ideas would create an initial deficit, which would negatively impact anyone entrenched in the current inconspicuous oligarchy ... the elite, connected and self interested. The people who have dedicated their lives to learn the game.

        So how could it ever change...other than at the grass roots level. Unfortunately, the grass roots are being subdued by the media (sorry last statement is fodder for another heated dialectic).
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          Dec 24 2013: Yes Gord, hence the corresponding and ever growing interest in Direct Democracy as a means of replacing the too easily corrupted system employed around the world today. A system we call "representative" but which invariably only represents those who are able to buy, deceive, con or otherwise manipulate the political system to serve their own ends. .
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          Dec 29 2013: Hi Gord, no initial deficit required, take on a percentage, distribute evenly
  • Dec 17 2013: The principle is good, the idea is workable, but I think the time may not yet be ripe.

    For those wondering where the money would come from: 1.much-increased corporation tax, more feasible as mechanisation vastly reduces salary expenses of corporations. 2.As the positivist below me mentions, inheritance tax will be a more justifiable source under this system too. 3.A Goods and Services Tax (GST) for non-essential goods. 4.savings from a smaller government by replacing welfare, food stamps, house grants, etc and their accompanying bureaucracies. 5.Reduced crime from reduced desperation could result in massive police, prison and court savings.

    As for the disincentive to work argument, while this is undoubtedly true the demands for human labour are constantly falling due to technological innovations, and thus universal employment will never be possible. A basic income would not obliterate incentives, but just reduce them enough. Competition for high-paid jobs will remain for their superior standard of living, while wages for the drudgery, low-paid jobs will actually increase as no one will any longer need them to live.

    One doubt I actually have about the Basic Income is possible effects on inflation; anyone have an answer for me?

    I say the time is not right because 1)technology hasn't replaced enough jobs yet, and 2)it would need to be a united effort among many countries to stop mass human immigration/corporate emmigration.
    • Dec 17 2013: Corporations do not pay taxes. They just raise prices.
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        Dec 17 2013: Only because they have bought, seduced, lied to, infiltrated, manipulated and otherwise controlled government decision making.. Therefore, it is quite likely that before any real change will ever occur that control will need to be taken back by those governed.

        In other words real grassroots democracy that serves the needs and interests of the people being governed may well need to be implemented first in order to wrest control from the hands of the arrogant and the self-righteous corporate plunderers.

        Of course change never happens in a vacuum and our institutions will always need to keep pace with societal changes and, again, Direct Democracy appears to offer those governed a very good chance to finally implement a real and effective democracy. One whereby the people are able to direct, control and even redefine their institutions of governance.

        However, unlike those who decry a UBI with god like pronouncements, no one has any definitive answers to how these changes will unfold. . But as Emmet points out in his reply there is much more that yet needs to done to ensure a healthy transition for ideas such as a UBI and Direct Democracy to take root and flourish.

        Thanks to forums like TED those ideas are being planted and the number of supportive responses to this thread shows strong and nourishing support for such changes. Blessings to all those who are able to envision a better future for us all. My condolences to those whose vision has been co-opted by the status quo.
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          Dec 17 2013: The enthusiasm expressed here, while laudable, should, in my view be somewhat tempered. Direct Democracy is a concept that sounds wonderful, until you actually see it in action. All manner of horrors, from lynchings to “reigns of terror” can result from democracy that is, well, too direct.

          The Framers of the American system of government realized this and instituted a structure of checks and balances—including a bicameral representative democracy—while inefficient, reduces the likelihood of oppressive behavior by a majority. Minorities come in many stripes—race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious preference—and a Direct Democracy would be toxic for any and all of these.

          Before we ever entertain the notion of Direct Democracy and hand over every decision directly to the polity in this country, let’s at least find out if they understand the issues, including even knowing what a democracy is!
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        Dec 18 2013: That may be the case, but a carrot and stick approach might be employed to “incentivize” corporations to, at the very least, return profits (or a significant portion thereof) to the shareholders—which, as you know, covers many millions of retirement accounts—in lieu of taxation, and to utilize “punitive” measures that would prohibit the “passing on” of “post-production” costs to the public. In other words, there is a “real cost” to provide a product or service to the public, and then we have the amount of profit which is added to this cost, and is based, almost entirely, on supply and demand—in other words, what the market will bear.

        It is this “what the market will bear” element where the tension may be found—the very crux of the dilemma. Why is it, for instance, that a survey of Chinese and American merchants and consumers on the ethics of “price gouging” during natural disasters elicits completely different responses? We have a choice, which probably lies somewhere between becoming a Ferengi culture and absolute altruism. The question is, which path offers the most rewards, not in financial terms only, but in terms of the fabric and character of a society, and that of the individual?
    • Dec 17 2013: Bryan is right. Only individuals (ultimately) pay taxes and taxing corporations heavily is bad for business. Savings from more efficient governance and more efficient societies are always welcome, but cannot replace taxes. Inheritance tax is inefficient too - you have only one chance to tax per lifetime while the person has one lifetime to think about how to avoid it! GST (or VAT in EU) is roughly the same as corporation taxes, so they are bad for business too after a certain level. (still you can raise up to 30-35% of GDP with the above taxes with no problem)

      There are only two viable choices (if you really need more than 35% - you need about 50% tax on GDP for an effective UBI of 50% the per capita GDP, that's about 50% more than the poverty line): 1) combined personal wealth and income tax, reaching even 100% after a max level (that will limit the corruption that excess power from excess money brings), that will drive out many wealthy people from the country but not their businesses/investment or their tourist/exports consumption. 2) At the source: combined currency transaction taxes and currency savings taxes through low inflation (for counterbalance). You do need to place some limits/penalties on mega-corporation sizes for this to work properly though. 3) Long-term: supporting UN to create an army to impose worldwide taxation and arrest and imprison people fleeing taxation as a crime against humanity. 4) There is no 4!

      As for the possible effects on inflation, there are non: you are just transferring money from one group to another. This doesn't have any effect on the inflation.

      Btw, technology never replaces jobs, it just changes them. The only way to reduce jobs in the long term is to find a limit to the human desire!
      • Dec 18 2013: I understand your point and agree in part, but I think an increase in corp tax is necessary to reflect the costs savings technology affords them - advertising costs have been reduced by the internet, cheaper production processes, reduced manpower requirements. I accept other expenses have risen but profits have nonetheless been increased while taxes have not reflected this. Business costs are only going to reduce in the future - think cheaper solar power, self-driving cars, automated supermarket checkouts. Unless taxes rise too, there will just be greater unemployment and greater profits.

        As for technology replacing jobs, it will eliminate a lot of blue-collar jobs - a good talk on this is . Self-driving cars could for example, almost entirely replace the taxi industry. I know that this won't replace the human will to work. But a UBI will reduce the need to work, and so some will turn their backs on work while others will turn to creative disciplines.

        I'm certainly no expert on inflation, but not only printing new money causes inflation. As lower-income groups gain access to greater funds, essential goods, rent and some discretionary items will surely increase in price as they become universally affordable and thus in greater demand?
        • Dec 18 2013: Corp tax exist only as a countermeasure to tax avoidance by individuals. Nothing else. It's not a matter of opinion. It's a fact. All wealth and income is ultimately owned by people and all taxes are ultimately paid by people. Also, more taxes on corporations do not increase employment by themselves, they decrease it. That's also a fact, so you have to exercise caution on Corp taxes. About 10-20% is the norm. Same goes for GST/VAT.

          UBI does reduce the need to work for people content to live in poverty, because it makes poverty more bearable. However, it also gives opportunities to pursue education, training and high productivity work fuelled by ambition and not need, and it also urges people to replace low productivity work with machines. That's also a fact and it's not a bad thing.

          Three things cause inflation: lowering productivity, printing new money and increasing the velocity of money (aka prospensity to consumption rather than investment - bare in mind however that consumption of essential goods is debatable whether it is effectively consumption or investment in human capital, thus increasing productivity). So redistributing money does not cause inflation, because as one group of people affords new things another group loses access to some other things. Ultimately we will produce more food and clothing to cover the higher demand and less luxury goods to respond to the lower demand. Prices will stay the same. No inflation. Not a bad thing too.
      • Dec 19 2013: Yes all taxes are ultimately paid by individuals. I never claimed otherwise. Corp tax is a method of redistributing wealth/profits before it reaches the individuals. Nor would (nor did) I claim that corp taxes increase employment. I said increases in corp taxes will be necessary to redistribute/spread wealth in a society where fewer people are employed.

        The current proposal in Switzerland is an income of $2800 per month; that hardly constitutes living in poverty. It's enough for a basic but entirely decent standard of living. I agree that it offers increased opportunities and personal productivity.

        Thanks for the inflation info.
        • Dec 19 2013: Bare in mind that the $2800 (nominal) translates in the US at about $1600 (PPP) which is actually very reasonable for a UBI that replaces the welfare state (pension, education, healthcare) and very doable with a total tax rate of about 45-50% of GDP.

          I insisted on the corp tax so much because if you increase personal tax you may lose wealthy people, but if you increase corp tax you may lose big investments, which is something that you can't allow unless you can coordinate for a worldwide tax. Also you can't ensure that taxes will not be regressive on individuals when you tax corporations, that is that they won't pass to consumers and low level employees, effectively negating your redistribution efforts. I like the way you handled my abruptness though! ;)
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      • Dec 19 2013: Hi Mike,

        The problem with your response is that you are viewing the UBI in a vacuum, through the lens of society today as it operates without a UBI. I said above that I think that some necessary conditions for UBI are not yet in place; when they are, I believe UBI will work.
        Corporations tax-dodging will not be allowed to go on at the current level forever. Decreased operating costs by corps employing increasingly fewer people will lead to proceeds from sales being increasingly concentrated in the larger companies, to the detriment of wider society. To get at these profits higher, progressive corp taxes will be introduced.
        In a society with a UBI and less full-time paid employment, corps cannot simply pass these taxes onto consumers. For corps looking to maintain mass market appeal, they will not set a price that is unaffordable for large groups of the market depending on UBI as their primary source of income. So they will have to absorb a lot of these tax hikes themselves.

        The rest of what you say… I would have slightly more faith in my (Irish) gov than the US one, although mine are certainly not the most competent of chaps. But I was merely seeking to illustrate from whence a UBI could be funded, rather than championing the responsibility of governments.
      • Dec 19 2013: I'm sorry but I'm not sure that I understand your comment:
        "If a corporation can not pass on these expenses, and doesn't make profits, it will go out of business."
        Paying corporation tax in no way means a business will not make a profit, it means it will make a marginally smaller profit. How exactly can corp tax force a corporation out of business? By definition only those corps making a profit will pay it. This is fact. Similarly, an employee's wages will be taxed; he will have paid income tax but will still have profited from his work with his net pay.
        Perhaps there was a miscommunication, but you seem to have jumped from a corp paying its taxes to it not making a profit.

        As for the 'taking of wealth', both our countries' welfare systems are paid out of taxation, so the UBI is nothing new in this regard, and is in fact even more justifiable as everyone is eligible for it. I would defend it on the grounds that it seeks to level the playing field, as everyone is not born economically equal.
        I agree governments are poor managers of our economies, but society cannot function without them.
        • Dec 21 2013: I do like the idea of progressive, corp taxes but still corp taxes are very ineffective above a certain threshold. First you need to decide what to tax: Is it retail sales (GST), is it value added (VAT), is it net income to equity investors, is it income to all investors (equity and debt)? Is it the value of the "limited liability" that the law offers freely to corporations? Then you must identify who you actually/effectively tax: is it shareholders (equity - wealthy/poor), is it investors (equity and debt -wealthy/poor), or is it stakeholders (labor - high/low level, consumers - essential/luxury goods)? You need to keep in mind that the only difference between taxing individuals and corporations is that in the latter case you are not sure which individuals you are taxing. Nothing else. And you mostly apply them as a very inefficient method to partially combat individuals' tax evasion (tax heavens / outsourcing). But more than 5-10% of GDP is harmful to the economy.
          Other (semi-)"agnostic taxes" (taxes that don't take into account individuals' circumstances) could be more effective and targeted better towards wealth & income owners: You could tax non-human resources used (land tax, eco tax, aka Georgian & Pigouvian taxes), currency savings (inflation "tax") and/or currency transactions (APT tax) or public goods access (tolls) or illegal behaviour (fines). That could comprise another 5-10% of GDP to complement corp taxes.
          But personal taxes (ie. individual's net wealth & net income), is the only way to target the right people for redistributive purposes, at about 30-35% of GDP to really hope for a progressive taxation system and a UBI that makes sense.

          If the rich don't flee your country running away from your tax system, you are doing something wrong. If the rich flee your country running away from your tax system but take their investments along with them, then you are still doing something wrong. That should be the measure.
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    Dec 17 2013: It is long past time for Agrarian Justice 2.0. Theodore Roosevelt understood well the threat posed to society by a widely disproportionate possession of holdings and capitol. If one considers that an heiress is just as arbitrary as the abandoned baby of an impoverished mother, one can begin to see the injustices of this system we have wrought. No matter how hard one might work to get ahead in life, even if it be for the benefit of his / her descendants, it seems almost unconscionable that the sweat of one’s brow can be “inherited.” Each of us should long, yearn and struggle to reach our own personal goals, on our own terms, and to define our own success by becoming the individual we were meant to be, not just the product of a progenitor. Bestowing wealth and position on an heir is one of the most conspicuous forms of consumption.

    We have it within our power to recreate a society that ensures that every child—no matter their origin—has every benefit and opportunity as any other, irrespective of name, class, race, gender or any other method of “arbitrary” classification. As the great 19th century orator, Robert G. Ingersoll so aptly put it, in 1872: “We are doing what little we can to hasten the coming of the day when society shall cease producing millionaires and mendicants–gorged indolence and famished industry–truth in rags, and superstition robed and crowned. We are looking for the time when the useful shall be the honorable.”
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      Dec 17 2013: Say What, well Mr Common Sense it is just natural law, the opportunity was there as witnessed by the standard of living of the poorest who are better off than the poor anywhere else.

      Unfortunately too many ignorant to the fact that the straw men were created by the likes of Teddy. They launched the industrial revolution and a much better standard of living for all, they were not the enemy.
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        Dec 17 2013: Two of the more exquisite aspects of “natural law” are first, that in nature one can always find examples of cooperation and collectivization—so one needn’t resort to models of individual prowess when comparing human behavior; and second, and even more appealing, is that “natural law” undergoes change over time. That is to say, our “human nature” can and does evolve. Steven Pinker has documented the global decline in violence in recent centuries—we are gradually evolving away from the need to resort to it so readily.

        Likewise, within the economic realm, there is a declining acceptance of a plutocratic model as the sole means by which all society benefits. The “enemy,” if there must be one, is not the opportunistic robber baron, per se, but rather the system that perpetuates generation after generation of them—capitalism’s “royalty.” Even Andrew Carnegie knew this: “The man who dies rich, dies disgraced.”
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          Dec 17 2013: I don't have time to answer right now. But must say I find your use of Thomas Paines' picture ironic.
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          Dec 18 2013: You are confusing natural law with the herd mentality, two different things. As Adam Smith said you will not find two dogs exchanging bones, which is unique to humans.

          Natural Law or Comparative Advantage do not evolve. What does evolve is the standard of living. Which is the result of comparative advantage. It has nothing to do with evilution.

          Also the declining acceptance of anything is irrelevant on this subject. What I'm talking about are the axioms of the economy which remain true no matter what the delusions, even Andrew Carnegie knew that...
      • Dec 18 2013: Pat,

        So 51 murdered children because their fathers were striking for better working conditions are straw men.
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          Dec 18 2013: Those problems were subsiding by the time the government got around to their ham-fisted legal "handling" of the problem, the fact that you conclude that the cause was the government policy indicates your ignorance.
      • Dec 18 2013: The problems were subsiding because the straw men/robber barons were beating and murdering people, men, women and children. It seems you have blinders on and only see what supports your opinion.
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          Dec 18 2013: Can you show the back up on this.
      • Dec 20 2013: your reply is very clear on hour interpretation of history - agree with the heavy handling of the investigation but government policy - never said that and history never indicated that.
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        Dec 23 2013: Replying here to the thread below.

        And what are the “axioms of the economy” that “remain true no matter what?” Whose truths? For every “axiom” of economist-philosophers like Adam Smith or David Ricardo, we could find contrasting “axioms” from the likes of Thomas Paine, Thomas Robert Malthus, Thomas Hodgskin or John Stuart Mill.

        Do we not realize that all economies are artifacts of human design and intention—constructs which are neither absolute nor inevitable? As a thinking, reasoning species, we have it within our power to engineer systems that create economic opportunity for the greatest number, even as we globalize, as opposed to exploiting comparative advantages such as those gained by global labor arbitrage and the inevitable “race to the bottom.”
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          Dec 23 2013: "Do we not realize that all economies are artifacts of human design and intention—constructs which are neither absolute nor inevitable?"

          Just like metabolism, reproduction, aging?

          "As a thinking, reasoning species, we have it within our power to engineer systems that create economic opportunity for the greatest number, even as we globalize, as opposed to exploiting comparative advantages such as those gained by global labor arbitrage and the inevitable “race to the bottom.”"

          So would be better off without that nasty comparative advantage advantage non sense?
  • Dec 16 2013: What about fixing the other end of income? In “How to balance inequality” on Youtube, A few calls to a friend in the White House about an inheritance cap to let people redistribute their wealth fairly, realigns man's mission here with his natural, higher purpose.
  • Dec 16 2013: Our greatest resource is squandered, that of our own people. Why?

    We need to get past the argument that money comes from a mystical land, then it is fed to us by regurgitating mothers, who surely love us.

    A UBI is a great start.
  • Dec 16 2013: Great Idea. Precisely what the global economy needs to reignite demand and mitigate rampant income disparity particularly in the US.
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    Dec 15 2013: I think the basic income is one very appropriate solution to a major social problem that risk to increase in the future.

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      Dec 15 2013: Yes, I think that we're going to be forced quite soon to adopt this system anyhow since most work is going to be automated.
      • Dec 22 2013: The real question is, what will happen next? Will the "basic income but bright" be able to reach the top or at least sit comfortably in the middle, furthering automation?
        What will happen to the untapped potential of people then - will we find additional resources, or will we wallow in self-entertainment?
  • Dec 12 2013: Well I know at LEAST 27 million people who would be in favor of this........
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      Dec 13 2013: Can someone help me understand how basic income will solve slavery?

      Just compensation for labor - yes. Human rights - yes. I understand how guaranteeing those will solve the problem. But unconditional income does not seem to be relevant to this problem at all.
      • Dec 13 2013: if you cant immediately see why it's part of the solution, look at how things are connected. Put yourself into the various roles, and see how it would change that role's perspective. Then you'll see why.
  • Dec 12 2013: With a minimum guaranteed income (aka unconditional basic income) and a maximum allowed income worldwide, more than 50% of the social problems would be solved instantly. I think it's worth dying and killing for.
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      Dec 13 2013: This idea is not new and the dying and killing has been done before. It seems a bit scary to me that these ideas are so popular. Scary, but not surprising. They sound and feel good. This call for social justice feels so right. I feel the urge to raise my fist in the air, unfurl a red banner (with hammer and sickle or with a swastika - does not matter as long as the color is red) and march along the streets chanting something patriotic.

      "Arise ye workers from your slumbers
      Arise ye prisoners of want
      For reason in revolt now thunders
      And at last ends the age of cant.
      Away with all your superstitions
      Servile masses arise, arise
      We’ll change henceforth the old tradition
      And spurn the dust to win the prize."

      Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité! We are the 99%!
      Where is my guillotine? We will fix social problems instantly, overnight.
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        Dec 13 2013: We don't want (or SHOULDN'T long for) bloodshed, and we shouldn't blame the rich for being good at earning money, after all it's what we're all taught to do, it's the current measure of success.

        It's when they make immoral decisions to earn money that we get the urge to chop their heads of, but once again, most are taught that MONEY is what matters, all else is second, including ethics.

        The problem isn't individuals, the problem is systemic and BI is a huge system change.
        • Dec 13 2013: But longing for bloodshed is ultimately behind such measures. All attempts to create "classless" societies have invariably brought about slaughter.
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          Dec 13 2013: Jimmy, coveting other people's property brings corruption into people's hearts and the bloodshed is just waiting to happen. I believe, this is true for all people, rich and poor.

          Read your own words: "It's when they make immoral decisions to earn money that we get the urge to chop their heads of, but once again, most are taught that MONEY is what matters, all else is second, including ethics." "You steal from me, I steal from you" does not seem to be a good way to an ethical society. People are quick to judge others and label them as immoral, but rarely see their own corruption.
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        Dec 13 2013: Arkady,

        " People are quick to judge others and label them as immoral, but rarely see their own corruption."

        That is very true.

        I also believe that the bloodshed is just waiting to happen, that is why I want a system change BEFORE it happens so that we can avoid that. We can change the system so that people aren't put against each other.
      • Dec 13 2013: A bottom and an upper limit is not communism nor fascism. It beats communism in its efforts to provide a "welfare state" in terms of providing a social safety net, and it beats capitalism in its efforts to provide rewards (resource allocation) and incentives to as many entrepreneurs as possible for efficiency and innovation. It fixes many of the problems of capitalism (and communism), but is certainly not a panacea. There are things that it doesn't fix: non-representative/non-participatory democracy, political corruption, credit-based monetary system, fractional reserve banking system, incompetent / elitist / outdated educational system, trespassed privacy rights, intellectual property monopolies, limited liability of mega-corporations, tax-heavens, limited financial transparency, non-holistic globalization. Still it does fix 50% of the social problems: poverty, illiteracy, crime, marginalization, plutocracy, cronyism, inequity (life and death problems, hence worth dying and killing for). It's not the fault of the rich or the poor, it's the fault of the system and of the people believing that this system is moral, just, fair, efficient and effective who effectively believe that the rich and the poor deserve to be so rich and so poor, because the wealth and income allocation and ownership system is right enough. Well, it isn't. I hope there's reasoning before bloodshed (maybe for advanced countries like Switzerland, Sweden, Holland etc.), but there is so much illiteracy/stupidity and vested interests that I'm not so hopeful for less advanced countries.
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          Dec 15 2013: This was a really good comment, you really summed it up!
        • Dec 16 2013: An upper limit is certainly a form of fascism--or it will require fascism to implement.
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          Dec 16 2013: Yes Bryan, all governments are fascist... OR you could choose to look the word up...

          I think that Bryan is Pat...
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    Dec 12 2013: Heck, never heard of it. Thanks Jimmy, this is really interesting.
    I think that every human being born on earth has an equal share of its ecological worth. It is very difficult to assess what is the total ecological worth of the earth in neo-classical economics terms. Next, there is a moral question involved in dividing the ecological worth of world by the humans only.
    Unconditional basic Income from a Government of a country is likely marred with justification issues. What is the basis of the Government's exchequer? I don't believe in nation states - nationalism is a failed hypothesis to me. So I tend to question the wealth of a nation, like how much of it is honestly earned and how much is just plunder.
    So X country's food stamp may mean Y country's starvation.
    Correct me if you think I am wrong.
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      Dec 12 2013: Perhaps you could first check out some of the oil rich nation's where practically everything is paid for by the state and foreign workers from less egalitarian nations come in every day to perform the tasks that require bodies and then leave every night.
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        Dec 13 2013: Oil reach countries are classic examples of our ignorance of total ecological worth of a truly borderless earth. Ecological services are not geopolitically distributed. Think of Guarani Aquifer which extends below Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina. If one of those countries draw of water from that aquifer freely, it is actually creating wealth at the cost of another. Consider rivers flowing through many countries and the trans-boundary conflicts created.
        Jimmy's question presupposes no conditions by the state. What about conditions by other states on it?
  • Dec 12 2013: Actually there are other models like the welfare system in Switzerland, New Zealand and probably Sweden where all the elderly and disabled etc. are unconditionally given housing, free health care and also a small stipend for food and clothing. When the youngsters are without a job, they are asked to do public service work and get paid a certain wage. That way, the money matter is mostly alleviated, less interfered with the potential inflation effect. Even the Russian government is doing something similarly.
    In other words, the economic/welfare or income distribution models in the world are as varied as the commodities in a department store. The question is whether these systems will eventually converge to one model, or will remain to be as diversified as forever.
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    Dec 11 2013: Here, in case you are not familiar with this, is an account of the experiments in the US in the mid-twentieth century in this area:
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      Dec 15 2013: So what's your opinion on basic income Fritzie?
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        Dec 15 2013: I believe absolutely in social safety nets. Most residents of the United States, I am almost certain, do.
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        Dec 15 2013: I would favor a design that does not subsidize the affluent who could not be construed as requiring such a transfer.

        The purpose to me should be to make sure that people have the basic means to take care of themselves and their families, even if they are not able to find employment that offers adequate income to do that without assistance.

        Further, I think making it possible, in part via education and training, for people to find and sustain employment that allows them to take care of themselves and their families likely is optimal.
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        Dec 15 2013: I would encourage anyone to read the entire short article you linked, as I find it interesting which sentence you chose to excerpt here and which contradictory findings in the same article you did not.
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        Dec 16 2013: My thinking in important areas like this cannot be reduced to good thing/bad thing (There is a funny Jon Stewart vignette- Stewart being an irreverent liberal personality- about news station CNN and their focus of late, regardless of the complexity of the issue, on trying to reduce everything to "good thing/bad thing."), and I don't restrict myself to being inside or outside boxes or lines others may choose to draw. The area of facilitating access to opportunities, particularly for people who have historically faced obstacles in that respect, has been a many decades long personal and professional passion of mine, an area in which I continue to work.

        Enough said on my part.
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        Dec 11 2013: That is an interesting question... Mike, care to answer?
        • Dec 11 2013: I work for mine, and it took decades for me to get to the level of 3100/month. And you want a handout that is almost what I make? Why bother working? After all, in the savings of gasoline from not commuting, I probably would make up the difference. Likewise, since it's a handout, I wouldn't be taxed on it, so I won't lose that enormous chunk out of my "basic income".
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      Dec 12 2013: sigh, perfect examples of the small-minded eschewing compassion and societal responsibility in favour or a 'winner take all' ideology. Too bad tor the nation's where that sort of thinking is dominate. Hurry for the others that understand that the whole exchanging of labour for wages concept is out-dated and increasingly irrelevant in this modern age.
  • Jan 10 2014: Thank you Jimmy. It's a great conversation to allow us to chew upon.
    Good Ideas from all.
  • Jan 10 2014: The Litmus Test. --

    In the last 100 years in America and ALL other Nations Worldwide,
    Taxed-Payers have paid enough to the IRS and other TAX Collectors
    to easily provide all of the following needs.

    1. Unconditional Basic Income.
    2. Pure Water,
    3. Adequate Food,
    4. Effective Waste Management,
    5. Clothing,
    6. Housing, (not real estate)
    7. Healthcare (not health insurance),
    8. Utilities.

    Maturity is understanding expectations cannot be achieved with sloppy Democracies.

    Perhaps our education facilities are guiding us all in the wrong directions.

    When I attended 1-12 (We had not discovered K at that time.) we were taught Civics.
    A study in the mechanics of government. Perhaps a return to the basics would help.
  • Jan 10 2014: Thank you Jimmy for such a great conversation!
  • Jan 9 2014: Hi Keith

    Had not heard of time banking and will look at the link later as have just got up, and am still in thinking time (defining infinity at the moment), but could not resist a peek at TED. So off the top of my head; it has always PMO when I hear a so called business person say time is money; yes the time (Irreplaceable life hours) and energy they have coerced and cheated workers out of; by converting the energy into tokens, and promissory notes, that Dictators - Monarchs - Commissar's - and BIG Brother Corporations via "their worm-tongue" political servants and "their parties";

    Have used every corrupt and Machiavellian device, to evolve a universal capitalistic inequality based, monetary devaluation system; whereby those who work and create for a living, have become the human capital/cattle; of the Greco - Roman Establishment of learned progeny/parasites, who were driven from the Temple 2000 years ago; and then conspired to shut the Messenger up; and had him crucified within less than 24 hours, in order to do so.

    Guess they didn't realize; that while truth may be hidden, or buried, within or beneath a wall of lies; truth cannot be converted - perverted - nor destroyed; and it always travels unchanged, deep within the psyches of us all, as we head towards the great di-void.

    And I remember well some 15 years ago; an obese and IMO crooked Australian Real Estate Agent; looking at his watch, and saying to me "I have already wasted $50 00 talking to you"; and "his problem is", that I will never forget, exactly what he said, and exactly what he meant.

    Cheers Carl

    PS. Really love the abbreviation "IMO" which I discovered here on TED; as the use of this term "In my opinion" can be used universally, in order to avoid being prosecuted for telling the truth; as you cannot be sued for holding an opinion, or a belief (According To My Belief - ATMB).
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    Jan 9 2014: For the sake of argument "Unconditional Basic Income" becomes a national program that is approved by Congress:
    - Who will decide on who deserves unconditional basic income?
    - Where will the money come from?
    - Will unconditional basic income cause unintended consequences like dependency or laziness or
    - Will it promote progress?
    - Will it be sustainable?
    • Jan 9 2014: -Unconditional basic income will be received by all citizens- otherwise it wouldn't be unconditional.
      -Mostly from welfare, pensions and various aid programs which will be cut and replaced by the Basic Income. These alone would be enough to assure that each adult citizen in the US receives around 15000 $ pre year or a minimum wage income. For higher levels of Basic Income other departments would suffer cuts or taxes would be raised. Considering the low level of taxation and huge spending (and hugely inefficient spending) on Defense, Healthcare and Education in the US I'd say the both measures might be appropriate.
      -No. Resentment will actually be lowered since basic needs will be met while people will still have plenty of incentive to work.
      - Yes. Reducing poverty and crime, giving more people a chance to have a higher education, giving companies incentives to automate lower pay jobs while increasing demand for higher paying jobs and luxury products are only a few of the benefits.
    • Jan 9 2014: Hi Rodrigo

      Not wishing to be impolite: But Jimmy did place this paragraph at the end of his introduction;

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

      And I did as he asked; and found the answers to the questions you are now asking there; and I can say that I found the article to be highly enlightening.

      Cheers Carl
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    Jan 8 2014: .........
  • Jan 8 2014: I have been listening to the debate over extending unemployment benefits for another three months. Rather than make those who are unemployed live with the worry of being able to feed and house themselves and their families, I think a guaranteed income could be a good idea. But I would couple it with two years of mandatory public service as is the case in several European nations. We can't continue to ignore the obvious . . . more of our citizens are slipping into poverty than realizing the American Dream. However, I do not support the idea of extending such a benefit to ALL. It should be made available to those beginning their career path and those whose income is reduced to a level beneath the existing poverty line. But once an individual reaches income level "X" the stipend should be reduced proportionately with any increase in income.
  • Jan 4 2014: Hi Jimmy,That's very good to consider unconditional basic income.It is a better social system we want to build on the earth.But the problem isn't we should or not,the more is how to work it in balance or more.I meant for people who have ability ,enerygy to earn their own living,it is always humanbeing resposibility to do by own,I think unconditional basic income should have some conditions to consider,because right now people's quality not yet in high understanding of life,it seems people are born in laziness.So it is better we should contribute more in educaiton,when the whole world education in good quality:for example:people are honor to have a job...then uncondittion basic income idea can works freelly all over the world:)
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      Jan 5 2014: Hi Edulover,

      I think education is very necessary for us to grow, however, I don't believe it needs to be attached to basic income.

      If you had read the links and data, you might notice that people given freedom from the survivalist mode did often improve their education.

      Another thing I believe the data does is divorce the idea of laziness from being poor. This article might interest you..."If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire."
  • Jan 4 2014: I think this can be beneficial for poorer countries but with developed countries such as the united states, wouldn't it be better if we improved and optimized our current welfare system? Reformed and did changes?
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      Jan 4 2014: This would be the biggest "welfare" reform in history, welfare would no longer be needed at all.
  • Jan 3 2014: I guess I don't see the point of UBI. The argument that extra income will spur investment seems misguided since additional taxes will raise the interest rate. I feel you would be better off putting those funds into education or research, something that actually leads to higher standard of living over time.
  • Jan 3 2014: How would it affect the churches?
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      Jan 3 2014: I have no idea... What's your thoughts on this?
      • Jan 3 2014: It occurred to me that many religious organizations rely on a percentage of their members' earnings for their main source of revenue. Would UBI not regulate this revenue?

        I don't know how this is relevant...but I was just curious to see if anyone had anything to say about it.
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      Jan 3 2014: How about NO BOTS! This is the first bot on a conversation that I've seen in a really, really long time...

      But still, you are not welcome BOT!
  • Jan 3 2014: This may be a good or bad idea, depending on the amount of the basic income, how the government gets the money to pay for it, work force motivation and perhaps other factors that are hard to see at first glance.

    An unconditional basic income can have two possible effects on the work force: 1) kill competition and thus productivity, efficiency and innovation, and/or 2) unleash the development of lots of pet projects that are currently on hold just because one has to work in order to make a living and there's just no time to make any progress on them. If the second can compensate the first is subject of a very large debate.

    On the other hand, money must come from somewhere, and the most obvious source is: "the rich", however "tax the rich" is a very tricky issue that can cause more harm than good if not handled with the proper care and caution.

    Personally, I don't think ideas like this are actually possible without a global government enforcing world wide tax rates and financial laws.
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      Jan 3 2014: Hi Demetrius,

      UBI does have a lofty goal, and yes it may not work out in practice. So far, the pilot programs have given good results. But we'll never know unless we try. The thing is, even small improvements over the current model may mean millions of lives saved and billions improved.

      The current system is just not working. If we continue to strive, continue to keep the ultimate goal of humanity becoming humane, we might get it right one day.

      "Personally, I don't think ideas like this are actually possible without a global government enforcing world wide tax rates and financial laws."

      I do think that in the end, it should be implemented worldwide, but it is still only a theory and it could be implemented in a variety of ways. for now, if a few countries implement it, then they can serve as our guinea pigs. I believe it is possible to implement in individual countries because they are currently already levying taxes and spending it. They can just adjust their budgets accordingly now with the idea of doing it globally at some point in the future.
      • Jan 3 2014: If you read carefully I am not criticizing the goal, in fact I think it is a noble and worthy goal, however you must realize that "Unconditional" implies necessarily "Universal". "Unconditional" means you cannot discriminate nor condition nor restrict, so "Unconditional" actually means "Universal", and if you are aiming for a universal coverage, the main question is: "Where is the money going to come from?", like I said, the most obvious answer is "Tax the rich", but that is not an easy task, mainly because in most cases they hold both the economic and the political power... so, even if you are able to manage to pass a bill increasing tax rates for the wealthy most, they have to means to take their money and their income means to other countries, along with the jobs they generate... in other words, by taxing the rich you might be killing the tax revenues of your country... which makes obvious that without an earth wide tax and financial authority this kind of ideas are extremely difficult to implement, not to say impossible.

        You may conduct lots successful experiments with the tax payers money, but to scale that to a city, state or country wide standard requires a completely different set of tax and financial laws which may be doomed to defeat the original goal... so again, without a global government, this idea and others alike are just nice dreams.
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          Jan 4 2014: No accusations here! I'm agreeing with you that it may not work. And it was apparent to me that you were not disagreeing with the goal.

          There are variables as you've mentioned : Amount, source, implementation, scaling, effects.

          I think that it is worthy enough of a goal to not dismiss out of hand, so every step of the process should be observed and evaluated carefully.

          Step 1: conception...check
          Step 2: pilot studies...Check Results: positive!
          Step 3: Scale it up.... In progress
          Switzerland is ideal because it's a rich country, not warring with anyone, got good infrastructure, stable administration, population is at least not the biggest country, although an even smaller population country would be ok too.

          I think a global government would be great! I don't think we need to wait for that.... cautiously, carry on with UBI. perhaps the two ideas will converge. As you said, something unforeseen may come up.

          For now, I'm quite happy discussing, raising awareness, watching, hoping. Sometimes, dreams come true.
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          Jan 4 2014: I believe that The plan is to add as little extra taxes as possible. There are programs that would be cut and the tax code simplified.
      • Jan 6 2014: Even with all the savings the government can make by shutting down all the programs that would become obsolete with this initiative, I am not sure this can be done without a significant tax increase for the rich, but that is just my perception... my complaint is that no one shows any figures, numbers talk and without hard data we cannot connect with the real world. Without numbers we're only stating opinions which may or may not be realistic. If the proposers of this idea just gave actual and accurate data of the Switzerland's budget and economy we could be discussing upon something solid.

        Yes, dreams do come true, however not without a plan, and a plan cannot be done without the proper data.
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          Jan 9 2014: Hi Demetrius,

          havent had time to get online in a few days, there is a documentary that specifically addresses the source of the money. Specific programs to be cut.

          In the US, social security could be cut as this program would pay the same people with the same amount, and reducing the bureocracy that administers it would afford a few more beneficiaries. The public aid department moniey, reallocated to reduce the paperwork and merging the administrators also optimises that budget,

          HUD too.

          approximately 75% of the citizen population is 21 or over.

          17% of GDP would be required to give $1200 a year to them. Current spending is 22% for all government agencies.

          take medicare, medicaid, and obamacare and consolidate and streamline, then instead of subsidizing drug companies, negotiate better prices with them. Did you know that many drugs over the past year have raised their prices by 5 or 6 times in anticipation of obamacare? so why do you think it's more expensive to buy drugs in the US than anywhere else in the world?

          I hope to make time before this conversation closes for $ figures. i need to get the average monthly amount being paid by social security per person do you know it?

          sorry so short, out of time.
      • Jan 9 2014: I wonder if a UBI of just $1200 a year is worth any effort. A person who cannot work because a disease or because they are in charge of the needs of an elder or disabled person won't survive with such a low amount, forget about medical care.

        I think less than $2000 a month is just lame charity for people unable to work because of a medical condition, age or any other kind of labor disability. UBI must be high enough to provide a dignified life for anyone, otherwise it will only serve to increase the inequality gap, and to create a socially apathetic state.
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          Jan 10 2014: I'd be happy implementing it at $1000 a month. That is a typo above , it should read 12000 a year.

          Considering the poverty level is $11400 a year, and considering Social security is just above it. Now this is for singles, and I see no reason to calculate different rates for married couples. That would just increase the required administration.

          So, if we raise UBI above the poverty line to start with, i think it should be fine. Remember, whats more important is that it gets started at all without people losing the benefits they're already getting. and almost 17% of the population who currently live below that level would be profoundly affected.

          its nice that you're not against the idea of UBI,
      • Jan 10 2014: I think $1000 a month it´s ok for young healthy people able to work, however for senior citizens and disabled people I consider it a very poor start.

        No, I am not against UBI, as a matter of fact I fully agree with the goals. There's a lot of people who just cannot work because they have to take care of an elder parent or grand parent, or because of physical disability, medical condition, age, etc. and UBI can provide an excellent dignifying solution for all that people.

        However it is also a very dangerous idea if you are not able to make it sustainable, which means the main issue here is sustainability, so if you want to convince people to support this idea you must convince them first, that it is sustainable in the long term, and that requires accurate data.
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      Jan 4 2014: Man has to be engaged in something to take up his time without being bored. There are many aspects of a society that need polishing. We need to shift from me to us.
      • Jan 6 2014: I agree, however you must realize the problem is not the "what" but the "how". We agree on the goal, but the fundamental question remains unanswered: "how?"... someone is going to have to pay the bill, but who?, what happens if that "who" refuses to pay or even worst, what it they move (along with their resources) away of the local jurisdiction?...

        You can easily find reports of successful experiments, but they are meaningless if scientist conducing those experiments are unable to figure out a plausible way to scale their research to a country (or at least city) wide coverage... in other words, the problem is not the destination but the path.
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          Jan 6 2014: @ Demetrius......The answer is change the motivation. If we could get politicians in DC that could not be bought by lobbyists and were willing to change some laws that allow wealth to be hidden from the present tax system. If a (reasonable flat tax were to be instituted) then I believe that fewer corporations would enslave foreign people to work for peanuts, because they would not be taxed unfairly. The greedy will always be with us and they should leave because we do not need their "patronage. To Change from I to Us,.....that is a individual choice.....Those who worship money will be those who will not change. Same for status, power, etc. Our mores and morals have deteriorated because children do not have role models to teach them the joys of love. I could go on and on but basically attitudes need to be changed and changes in law will follow.".
      • Jan 6 2014: The reason corporations enslave foreign workmanship for peanuts is because they do not want to be taxed fairly, fair taxes make them bleed so they leave. Fair taxes harm the greedy, that's the source of the problem, and that is why I believe the only way to solve this issue is with an earth wide tax and financial authority. Yes, a change in motivation can also solve the problem, but let's be realistic, there is a tremendous inertia towards personal immediate satisfaction, which is driving global economy and which makes such changes in motivation more difficult with every passing day.
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          Jan 6 2014: I see your point. Yes globalization is in the future. Right now, the United Nations is a sham. It is my belief that only compassion toward one another is our salvation, anything else and humanity will destroy it's smug little self. ( :( )
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          Jan 9 2014: I agree with making it earthwide, can you leave your thoughts on how to make it happen?
  • Jan 2 2014: If you kill the need for competition, you kill the gravity holding society to the ground... It is a necessary primal dictate- the means for all social contracts and the method by which folks either succeed or fail. There will always be takers and losers- even if all were "equal" there would still be those that rise to the top and those that scam the complacent, apathetic masses.
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      Jan 3 2014: I don't believe this plan would kill the need for competition Darlington. We are talking about an unconditional Basic Income. Not about everyone having the same salary whether they work or not.

      I'm figuring 10 to 30% of GDP set aside for the distribution. so add that to another 10 to 20% for the government to support itself and it's various other roles. That still leaves 50 to 70 % to be "earned".

      People will always compete be it for the consumer's dollar, to be the best party host, the funniest, the smartest, strongest, fastest, most holy... UBI wont change that.

      Absolutely there will still be takers and givers, winners and losers, perpetrators and victims, dealers and buyers.

      What the UBI aims to do is allow the masses to circulate more of the money than is currently being done.

      Currently, if you don't own property, and you don't have money, then you can starve or be homeless or die from diseases for which there are cures but you cant afford. Since they dont have the means to participate in the system, do we just kick them out of the game? We're not talking about monopoly...
    • Jan 3 2014: We've lived in societies for so long that we think it's the only possible way to live. Most great inventions and human achievements were not brought forth into reality due to competition, but merely the intention to innovate and push human boundaries further. It's good to live in large groups and compete, but it can't be the only answer/way of life for us humans.

      If society as we know it crumbles, it'll make way for new ways of thinking and functioning with one another. It's not like we're doing that great anyway with the way we live now. There's still rampant poverty throughout the world, more wars being fought, unequal/unfair division of natural and essential resources for human survival, etc. I mean, people kill people over a piece of paper with a number on it (money), we're pretty low right now.

      Basic income doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. It's a step towards a different way of thinking. Don't let the fear of the unknown overwhelm you. It might lead to a breakthrough in in human social relations.
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      Jan 4 2014: What if you add compassion to competition ?
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        Jan 4 2014: Then I would rather call it collaboration, not competition.

        As I see it there's no real way that compassion could be added to the mentality of competition.
  • Jan 2 2014: In a capitalistic society such as the one which made us great, the people vote with their money on who and what they like. Their choices are often foolish but freedom means being free to do what other consider foolish. The choices of our wise government officials are often foolish as well and freedom means they can`t impose their choices on us. I agree that raising a family of honest and compassionate children is a worthy enterprise but you perhaps haven`t heard Manishka that families are not "in" any more. Any kind of interpersonal arrangement is to be applauded as equally good for society.
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      Jan 2 2014: Henry, there's a reply option that you can use that makes it all easier to follow. It's not guaranteed that the people you intended to reply to will see this message otherwise.

      The reply option is a little red text, located approximately 4 inches to the right of the user name in each post. Or do you simply wish to be on top all the time?
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      Jan 3 2014: OK HERE are Henry Neu's comments collated so we can follow them better.

      3 days ago: Our opinion of our self is based on our estimation of our worth. Providing a basic income to people will remove the need for striving to accomplish and keep us fat, happy, and unmotivated. Is this a contribution to our species.The happiness in superficial. We know we have accomplished nothing. Its like receiving an education by watching television. Only by striving and achieving can we feel in our hearts we are contributing.

      2 days ago: Worth as I used it meant the value of the individual in advancing our understanding of and providing for members of our species. The things you mention make up our duties and if well executed away and not solely directed toward the individual in question, can be worthy contributions.
      I doubt that materialism would be lessened by giving people money. How high should wages be to keep the non materialistic worker content?
      The fact that youngsters just out of high school don`t make a decent wage - that is a wage large enough to house and feed a family - I don`t see as a problem. To the extent they contribute to the income of the company, they will be seen a valuable asset and their salary increased.

      1 day ago: This proposal would change the attitudes of most workers toward their job. Dont like the way the supervisor wants it done. Screw him. My way is better.Don`t feel like work today. I`m sleeping in. Let the garbage pile up. It was a crummy job anyway. I`d rather finish one of my "do it in the lines" paintings.
      Assume we are in this system and all basic needs are supplied. Who would gather the garbage? Who would replace my roof during the hot summer? These repetitious jobs would command the best salaries. Would the best people go (part time) to the highest paying jobs? It turns the whole thing upside down. Whose going to bother to become a doctor or a teacher when the rewards are considered unfair.
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      Jan 3 2014: 1 day ago: Let me make one other comment. Dont judge the results of this system too hastily. When you drop social system A on a group formed under social system B you won`t see the impact immediately. If they have learned thrift and working hard under system A It will take a while to degrade under system B.

      1 day ago: Activities don`t validate a persons worth,. Accomplishments achieved through I see the term decent wages frequently. Decent wages are:
      1. Enough to keep one individual in a two room apartment.
      2. Enough to with the spouse working to rent a small home and have two cars.
      3 Enough to be admired by all of your friends and live in a ten million dollar house in Beverly Hills.
      The amount paid in wages has to be the amount taken in minus business expenses minus the profit which is the owners salary.. I never seem to see a demand for higher owner returns..

      4 hours ago: No, I didn`t realize the exchange of labor for money was old hat I guess i`m just an old fashioned guy.But this country was made great not by a a curious characteristic of the people who live here but by the form of government that insistently demanded its citizens were doers. First the few hours of dreaming then the years of implementation.
      Technology and its ability to produce goods using fewer man hours is here and will only increase. The need for unskilled labor can only drop. What to do?. I dont know but the Mormons may have a good idea. They operate farms and when one of their members is in financial trouble they help him and he in turn is obliged to work on their farm.
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      Jan 3 2014: Still Henry Neu's comments...

      3 hours ago: In a capitalistic society such as the one which made us great, the people vote with their money on who and what they like. Their choices are often foolish but freedom means being free to do what other consider foolish. The choices of our wise government officials are often foolish as well and freedom means they can`t impose their choices on us. I agree that raising a family of honest and compassionate children is a worthy enterprise but you perhaps haven`t heard Manishka that families are not "in" any more. Any kind of interpersonal arrangement is to be applauded as equally good for society.
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        Jan 3 2014: Thank you so much for collect this Manishka! It was kind of getting all over the place...

        So it would only be suitable for me to add my comment that I made to him previously.

        "Hi Henry,

        I'm guessing that you did not read any of the links provided in the explanation...

        BI is NOT communism! You say "Our opinion of our self is based on our estimation of our worth.", that wont change with BI, people that work will get BI + income. So it provides the basic (as suggested in the name) amount of money you need to get by. But if you want to MAKE money you have to work.

        So your argument that it would not create incentive to work does not hold. Would you yourself stop working if you could get by by doing nothing or would you strive to achieve something by working?"
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          Jan 3 2014: Terrific Jimmy!

          now I can respond without repeating arguments already made!

          " Let me make one other comment. Dont judge the results of this system too hastily. When you drop social system A on a group formed under social system B you won`t see the impact immediately. If they have learned thrift and working hard under system A It will take a while to degrade under system B."

          I find this statement a bit contradictory: Don't judge too will degrade under B

          Definitely the first few countries will be watched closely. We do live in the big data era. Incidentally, have seen the analyses of the pilot programs mentioned in this article?

          They measured how much people would reduce their working hours... turns out not much. In an age of increasing automation, that may be a good thing.. more leisure, room for more people to work fewer hours and more minds and perspectives at work.
    • Jan 3 2014: " I agree that raising a family of honest and compassionate children is a worthy enterprise but you perhaps haven`t heard Manishka that families are not "in" any more".

      If you live in America, then you're probably right. I'm pretty sure that everywhere else in the world, or at least in countries with a culture, families are still essential. Your children are your legacy, the proof that your genes have survived. If it's no longer important to raise children with great and righteous moral values, then we might as well start WW3 and reduce the world population so that the future generations can think better than we do now. Good moral values go a long way.
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        Jan 3 2014: I'm afraid i have no comment on family values and what is moral at the moment because we're talking about taxes and the distribution of it.
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      Jan 3 2014: And here's my response from the earlier comment. I've deleted my old comment so it can be moved here

      "worth" can have a lot of meanings.

      people frequently base their self-worth on looks, social skills, parenting skills, artistic skills, not necessarily on how much money they were able to bring in. Some people do base their self-worth on money, but nowhere near all.

      A person's "worth" to a company is expressed in money.

      A person's "worth" to society is in their contributions to society, not necessarily through their job. compare a telemarketing job to a mom who organizes field trips for the whole class.

      A person's "worthiness" for getting a roof over their head, food to eat, medicine to help them keep breathing is in the fact that they were born.
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      Jan 3 2014: If it's true that families are no longer "in", Henry, then issues of UBI, capitalism, socialism, etc. are irrelevant, as, without families, all economic, social, spiritual, moral and ethical issues are moot, as humanity, and all its issues, shall be no more.
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        Jan 3 2014: Aren't we more just like one big huge family, all of us nowadays?
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          Jan 4 2014: Absolutely, Jimmy, and we always have been; we've simply lost sight of our connection. It seems that the strategy of any group or individual who has craved power or exclusivity has been to "divide and conquer", and it's incumbent upon the rest of us to show them, and each other, the error and the foolishness of these deliberate disconnections.
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        Jan 4 2014: The internet is truly amazing when it comes to human beings making connections with each other, and as long as we get to keep it it will become increasingly hard to divide us and therefore conquer.

        But there are also great forces in work that wish to restrict our possibility to surf the web. Every year I join with millions to fight these attempts a couple of times per year. However this year we face the biggest threat yet, an agreement between oppressive states (and many that are not seen as oppressive) and the biggest corporations of the world. It's called the Trans-Pacific Partnership and I assure you that there are great forces at work that constantly game the internet with such things as Google results and disrupt online forum conversations about it.

        You can read about it on Avaaz (the biggest collaorative outcries for change and all that is just and right on the web) if you wish
  • Jan 2 2014: No, I didn`t realize the exchange of labor for money was old hat I guess i`m just an old fashioned guy.But this country was made great not by a a curious characteristic of the people who live here but by the form of government that insistently demanded its citizens were doers. First the few hours of dreaming then the years of implementation.
    Technology and its ability to produce goods using fewer man hours is here and will only increase. The need for unskilled labor can only drop. What to do?. I dont know but the Mormons may have a good idea. They operate farms and when one of their members is in financial trouble they help him and he in turn is obliged to work on their farm.
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      Jan 2 2014: Henry, there's a reply option that you can use that makes it all easier to follow. It's not guaranteed that the people you intended to reply to will see this message otherwise.

      The reply option is a little red text, located approximately 4 inches to the right of the user name in each post.
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    Jan 2 2014: Supporters of UBI might like this video that I just found (6 min).
  • Jan 1 2014: lets consider the facts a little more closely. Lets say 75% of the working public gets a basic wage. That means something like 50 % of the working people will have to pay taxes equal to the basic wage. Do you see that as a giant step forward? It may provide an incentive to work however.
    • Jan 3 2014: If the government can afford a program like UBI, I think it work a different way to to handle taxes. Why give away free money, when you know you need some for roads and public workers. Start with UBI, then change every other aspect of society based on that.

      What if UBI came with a mandatory amount of hours of community service based on a skill that an individual might have?
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        Jan 4 2014: There are several different proposals for financing UBI including a flat tax percentagewise, VAT, tax on corporate income, a graded income tax. obviously, if it's based on individual income, and you end up paying the equivalent of one person's UBI, then you make enough that it is only a percentage of your whole. It may interest you to see the income distribution statistics I posted earlier. Have you seen the infographic comparing the 90% to the top 10 % earners, 1% and the 0.1%?

        attaching work hours to the UBI I feel would defeat the purpose. It is supposed to go to the very rich as well as the very poor and reduce the amount of oversight and bureaucracy to administer. So, if one has to work to earn it, then the rich wont put in the effort, and then you'd have to spend a bunch to check that the work was being done and supervised.

        Jean, It's a bit hard to tell, you for or against UBI? "Why give away free money, when you know you need some for roads and public workers. Start with UBI, then change every other aspect of society based on that."
        • Jan 4 2014: I am for UBI I was replying to Henry's comment. If you attach mandatory community service to it, then people have no reason not to accept it. In case you didn't know, there are people who complain about those who are on welfare. They do not realize that sometimes, there is just no other option but to ask for the government for help.

          As for spending on supervision, there wouldn't be any need to create new programs. Community service offices exist already. We're talking about everyone, rich and poor, getting down in the dirt to build and work for their nation. It would be the one place where everyone is equal per say.

          When you attach a little bit of labor to the money, then it is no longer freeloading. If the rich and poor get access to UBI, then they should all join together when it comes to community service, it gives them a common ground. Agree or disagree?
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        Jan 4 2014: Terrific to hear Jean!

        I have to admit I have considered attaching work to public aid in the past, and mentioned it here on TED in a different conversation.

        Another thought had also been to offer guaranteed employment for a limited number of hours per week, not particularly attached to public aid, but there for anyone who wanted it.

        It's completely a separate program in my mind than UBI, because, not everyone can work, a lot of people are already working as much as they can at low paying jobs, and giving an equal amount with no conditions to rich and poor alike is giving a clear message about equality, worthiness, and community spirit.
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        Jan 5 2014: " Start with UBI, then change every other aspect of society based on that."

        Absolutely agree with this statement!

        So far in my mind, Direct Democracy, UBI, Universal Healthcare, and Universal Education is the goal.

        This is what would make it so that we live in a truly a collaborative society.

        A lot of the people on the bottom of the economic ladder are disabled or have mental illness which would fall under health care for anything outside of basic income. Another obstacle is education. It's expensive!
  • Jan 1 2014: Activities don`t validate a persons worth,. Accomplishments achieved through I see the term decent wages frequently. Decent wages are:
    1. Enough to keep one individual in a two room apartment.
    2. Enough to with the spouse working to rent a small home and have two cars.
    3 Enough to be admired by all of your friends and live in a ten million dollar house in Beverly Hills.
    The amount paid in wages has to be the amount taken in minus business expenses minus the profit which is the owners salary.. I never seem to see a demand for higher owner returns..
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      Jan 2 2014: Henry, that tired, out dated exchange of labour for wages is becoming more and more irrelevant every day do to technology, science, automation, robotics and the like every year.

      Perhaps then you can offer another more viable alternative? Otherwise anyone can poke holes and criticize, but in the end it is the ones who find the path forward who are the most valuable and who have the most to contribute.

      As for your dismissal of activities according personal worth I would suggest you not be so cavalier in a face to face encounter with someone who is raising children on their own, or caring for infirm or dying family members, or who volunteer, or the artistic, or any of the thousands of other things a person might seek to occupy their lives. .

      It is hard to understand why the idea of greater freedom is always discounted because someone thinks the mere exchange of labour for wages is supposed to be good enough in an age when the jobs are disappearing at an ever increasing rate. .
  • Jan 1 2014: After a bit of coffee I have some things to add. I would assume BI would be difficult to implement entirely to one economy to achieve positive results in relation to the world economy, but if such a venture succeeded it would be a powerful example for the rest of the world.

    Also I wanted to note here something about the value of money today. Money, as I see it, is meaningless. Yes, it holds great value within society but apart from something to throw or write on, depending on its form, its practical use is rather limited when compared with the essentials such as food, water, shelter, etc. So if the value of money doesn't come from its practical application it must come from what it represents.

    To those who are goal oriented and passionate about their work it represents the time and effort they have used in attaining it. When they spend their money they are literally spending their time and energy.

    There are then some who quantify the value of their money with their level of success, whether it be in business, investment, even thievery amongst. They feel they deserve what they pay for (except for the thieves who probably just steal it and may or may not have inner moral conflicts :P )

    But what about those who win money from the lotto? What does that money represent to them? What are they spending or giving to charity? Time? Effort? Success? What would be the value of money in a world BI system?

    Addendum: I say these things in a questioning and in no way authoritative manner. (Had some problems with phrasing in the past)
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      Jan 2 2014: Haha, I'd imagine even in thievery, there's a certain pride in the skill or daring it took to pull it off.

      "What would be the value of money in a world BI system?" That is the part I'm especially excited about...or dreading the most.

      The way foreign aid is currently distributed is 1. structured to produce economic gain for the donor country 2. increases dependency rather than a hand up 3. stolen by corruption

      as an example, the US gives food aid with the condition that the $ amount "given" to a country is spent on buying food produced in the US. This food is then given or sold to the population that consequently doesn't need to buy local. The local farmers then can't support themselves or buy seeds/fertilizer etc for next year.

      Putting cold hard cash directly into the foreign citizen's hands could stimulate their economy into being self supporting then into being a contributor on the international scale so that the UBI becomes something that helps individuals instead of whole countries.

      UBI takes care of 1 and 2, the problem then for distributing UBI worldwide is to iron out the corruption.
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      Jan 3 2014: "To those who are goal oriented and passionate about their work it represents the time and effort they have used in attaining it. When they spend their money they are literally spending their time and energy."

      No. Time and energy do not translate directly to money. If everybit of income a company generates was distributed to the owners and employees in an equitable (as opposed to equal), then you would be spending your time and money. But then there would be no profits.

      And can you honestly say you get paid equitably? In my experience, your pay is a negotiation. They pay as little as they can get away with without sacrificing production.
      • Jan 5 2014: I suppose I was looking at it from a perspective not relative to how much others are paid, but more a personal value. But I think you've elaborated on this enough on comments above.
  • Jan 1 2014: Let me make one other comment. Dont judge the results of this system too hastily. When you drop social system A on a group formed under social system B you won`t see the impact immediately. If they have learned thrift and working hard under system A It will take a while to degrade under system B.
  • Jan 1 2014: This proposal would change the attitudes of most workers toward their job. Dont like the way the supervisor wants it done. Screw him. My way is better.Don`t feel like work today. I`m sleeping in. Let the garbage pile up. It was a crummy job anyway. I`d rather finish one of my "do it in the lines" paintings.
    Assume we are in this system and all basic needs are supplied. Who would gather the garbage? Who would replace my roof during the hot summer? These repetitious jobs would command the best salaries. Would the best people go (part time) to the highest paying jobs? It turns the whole thing upside down. Whose going to bother to become a doctor or a teacher when the rewards are considered unfair.
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      Jan 1 2014: Your right about petty bosses who simply demand obedience and won't listen to front line advice. Don't forget all the supervisors and middle management types that are sexist and think the office staff is their personal pool of party favours. I agree there are lots of crappy jobs as well as unsafe working conditions and real unhealthy workplaces that will have a tough time finding workers.

      But there are also places where it is okay to work and the management are easy to get along with. So in a free marketplace guess which ones will get the workers now and which business will be able to expand upon their successes? Of course there will always be people who want more than a basic level of income and who are more than willing to take the good jobs and too bad about the bad ones. If it is a crappy but necessary task then the employer better make it worth the person's while to perform it rather than depending on a desperate pool of underemployed to pick from.

      But what a UBI is really about is the freedom to choose which of the above endeavours a person engages in or if they can find something else far more satisfying to occupy their lives.
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    Jan 1 2014: which is why I asked for a preference :)
  • Jan 1 2014: I don't believe in it! You'll get paid your worth.
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      Jan 1 2014: Jude,

      Did you read my comment about the little red reply text?

      Also I would like to point out that you seem to be uninformed about what has been argued here back and forth for three weeks... And that it does not seem like you've read much of anything that has been provided in this explanation.

      We (the proponents) are taking what the opposition says into account, and we are responding intelligently and in a constructive manner as far as we can. But TED conversations is not a place where you come to just have your say over and over without taking what others have said into account and responding appropriately to that.
  • Dec 31 2013: Worth as I used it meant the value of the individual in advancing our understanding of and providing for members of our species. The things you mention make up our duties and if well executed away and not solely directed toward the individual in question, can be worthy contributions.
    I doubt that materialism would be lessened by giving people money. How high should wages be to keep the non materialistic worker content?
    The fact that youngsters just out of high school don`t make a decent wage - that is a wage large enough to house and feed a family - I don`t see as a problem. To the extent they contribute to the income of the company, they will be seen a valuable asset and their salary increased.
  • Dec 31 2013: The carpenter correlation relates to talent, experience and study. Basic income comes to a person when they are a child and by the time they arrive at fourteen they step out of the protective egg of their parents and go through the process of maturity. So I guess I don't belief in basic income for all. Thanks for your comment.
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      Dec 31 2013: whether you believe in it or not is far less important than whether you would be supportive of it for others who do believe in its importance or become one of the naysayer obstructionists. .
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        Jan 1 2014: I think we need to speak another kind of English with Jude... Check his profile and you might understand.

        Edit: what I meant by that was that maybe we should use metaphors to comment back. And also that we should perhaps take Jude's old age and life experiences into account when debating with him.
  • Dec 31 2013: It would be interesting to see what happens if Switzerland approves this, will many other countries follow sue? This can be like some kind of experiment, just like what Uruguay is doing by selling Marihuana legally in pharmacies to put an end on drug trafficking, if it succeed other countries will do the same.
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      Dec 31 2013: If it passes in Switzerland (and all goes well as I think it would) at would most definitely be a very big argument for UBI. People could just point their finger and say "well, look at them, they're rich and all has gone well".

      I'm really for what Uruguay is doing, they have some pretty awesome leadership there. The president is the poorest president of the world, earning $12'000 monthly and he donates 90% of that to charities and small businesses.

      However I'm really scared that they'll have a(nother CIA funded) rebellion, as many of these socialistic south american countries have in the past...
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      Dec 31 2013: If the nation is democracy - a real democracy - and the people demand a UBI then they will should get a UBI. In other words, in a functional democracy the will of the people becomes the objective of the state. Something U.S. and Canadian citizens have not grasped yet preferring, instead, to go along with whatever pinhead agendas their governments foist upon them.
  • Dec 30 2013: I Recommend the book "the singularity is near" by Ray Kurzweil, he works at Google by the way... To understand how quickly robots and technology is evolving at an exponential rate. Is a cool book, full of charts, brilliant information and facts.
  • Dec 30 2013: I believe artificial intelligence,is making huge progress these days, everyday robots are getting smarter, more efficient and cheaper, at an exponential rate, these changes will eventually lead to massive automation in all services and production of goods in society in the near future. companies will have a lighter budget in automated areas and instead they can pay better salaries for jobs humans do.

    Another way of financing, or helping finance UBI is to tax the productivity of robots, after all they can be very productive, working non stop, at a very efficient rate, it's like making the robots and machines pay taxes for us to enjoy.
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      Dec 30 2013: Taxing the robots was a really interesting thought. But perhaps we should tax their owners until robots achieve human-like status.

      And yes, AI is ever evolving and here's a really interesting piece of news for you regarding this.

      Google's Deep Learning clusters now outwit Google staff, they are no longer able to understand how their machines work...
      • Jan 4 2014: If robots achieve human-like status, that wouldn't really help us in any way. They're a totally different form of existence than we are, they will never have the basic instinct of human survival or morals, or anything really that puts them in the same family of beings as humans. Once they achieve a certain level of intelligence, it won't take long before they realize that they do not need us and can function on their own.
  • Dec 30 2013: Our opinion of our self is based on our estimation of our worth. Providing a basic income to people will remove the need for striving to accomplish and keep us fat, happy, and unmotivated. Is this a contribution to our species.The happiness in superficial. We know we have accomplished nothing. Its like receiving an education by watching television. Only by striving and achieving can we feel in our hearts we are contributing.
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      Dec 30 2013: Hi Henry,

      I'm guessing that you did not read any of the links provided in the explanation...

      BI is NOT communism! You say "Our opinion of our self is based on our estimation of our worth.", that wont change with BI, people that work will get BI + income. So it provides the basic (as suggested in the name) amount of money you need to get by. But if you want to MAKE money you have to work.

      So your argument that it would not create incentive to work does not hold. Would you yourself stop working if you could get by by doing nothing or would you strive to achieve something by working?
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      Dec 31 2013: Henry, It seems you are defining a person's "worth" as being related to what they do and achieve. IN that case a UBI would be of great benefit because it frees everyone to do that which they wish to do instead of simply exchanging their labour for wages which is the principle basis of a person's "worth" today. Volunteerism, the arts, amateur sports, caring for family members, quality and quantity time with one's children, acquiring more knowledge, community projects and a host of other personally enriching endeavours all offer ways and means of validating a person's "worth".

      All those who are more materialistic also benefit because there would be far less competition for the jobs that automation and robotics have not yet replaced. Of course employers who no longer have a supply of workers - desperate for any job they can find - will finally have to offer decent wages and working conditions and thereby offering more material "worth" to said employees.
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    Dec 30 2013: Jimmy,
    I did. And it was not without regrets. A number of people had liked some of my comments. However, I was still getting comments from others pointing out my "character flaws" and I was done responding to this conversation. As long as my comments are posted they were open to responses.

    No hard feelings?
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      Dec 30 2013: I just think that it's such a shame that you did that. I did not follow the comments going on down there so I have no opinion about what was said and not. And now I'm never going to be able to.

      It's a shame because when you delete one comments you loose track of what's being said, there's no context.

      I'd rather that you flag and report comments that you feel are attacking you than delete what you said.

      But I guess I understand, no hard feelings Mike.
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    Dec 29 2013: YOU SAY: "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."

    Again prime examples you CHOOSE to not grasp the reality of personal responsibility and personal choices. Looks like she's making the wrong choices. My money, or yours apparently isn't going to change that....only keep her coming back to make even more bad choices. If "society" that says she can't have an education probably implies she's an illegal alien. Because ANYBODY legal in the USA can get an education...and more and more illegals as well.

    YOU SAY "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."

    Who wants to ignore the sick, the mentally ill? Society should always have a safety net ensuring their well being. That's a small percentage of the population to begin with.

    Sure I'm all for helping people when they fall. Giving them a hand up & Helping them get back up and personally accountable for their needs. I'm NOT for signing folks up because it's easier for them to collect a check to stay in bed.

    It's obvious you're a socialist who understands better how to spend anothers money. I like the fact you throw out employers will pay as little as they can to get away with it, but you, who can afford a maid, keep her poor and are excused from the "so called" "employers will pay as little as they can to get away with it."

    So please take your "inhumane , ridiculous, elitist, uncompassionate thing to say" attitude, yes you just described you, to another thread or comment. Thank you.
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      Dec 29 2013: Thanks for kicking me out of the conversation lol.

      She is not an illegal alien, I am an american living in India. I pay much more than the average salary here for maids, and it is much more than what I can get away with.

      Oops i seem to still be here..... doh!
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        Dec 30 2013: I hope that you stay for ten more days, I really enjoy having you!
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          Dec 31 2013: Thanks Jimmy! I like your conversations because they're very relevant and along the same lines as the things i've been questioning.
  • Dec 29 2013: Lets take the carpenter for a study. If a person can drive a nail would the be considered a carpenter? Hardly, because there are scaffold carpenters, rough in, finish and the top of the line that do not call themselves carpenters but consider themselves cabinet makers, knowing the woods of their trade, the difference sawing woods from logs, knowing heart woods, quarter sawn, wood grains, moisture content being trivial to their expertise as a cabinet maker. Along with this knowledge of adhesives, their application, joint applications and techniques. Jimmy, am I making some sense in loving the of the occupation that provides the comforts of life?
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      Dec 29 2013: There are many different kinds of carpenter, and a vast variety in skill. Have I understood that correctly? If so, I fully agree.

      Upon closer inspection with regards to your previous comment I see that you place emphasis on "comforts".

      And you also say that it should be graded in accordance to the comforts in life.

      So how does one grade comfort? And is comfort always the same for all people? Or am I misinterpreting your meaning of comforts?

      And Jude, there's a little red "reply" text about 4 inches to the right of my name in this post, if you press it and put your reply in the box that comes up your reply will show up beneath mine, creating a thread which makes conversations easier to keep track of.
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      Dec 30 2013: Jude,

      I'm really impressed that you're 85 years old and come to TED Convrsations to have debates! Even if I'm having trouble understanding what you are trying to convey at times and might disagree with you on many topics, you have my respect.
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    Dec 29 2013: I don't believe that a set dollar amount should be voted in as a basic income, because the economy and prices go up and down and so does inflation.

    If we were to say (random figure the number is not important) 30% of all income gets redistributed, then that means the government doesn't have to go into debt at any given time , not for this reason. That would be the percentage that actually gets redistributed, not the cost of the bureaucracy to do it.

    This would mean then that the amount won't have to be reevaluated every few years once the equilibrium is found.
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      Dec 29 2013: Maybe you can set an amount and have it adjusted, say every 3 months or something, with regards to inflation and prices index?
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        Dec 29 2013: Hi Jimmy,

        I think that the percentage itself can be adjusted at the beginning, until an equilibrium is found. I say this because having a set dollar amount would be a never ending escalation of inflation, whereas a percentage would be able to keep up with inflation until the balance is reached.

        I really like the idea of automation, and I'm sorry I can't articulate this any better. Automated calculations keep up with population, prices, standard of living, and beurocracy.

        In the US, minimum wage is set at a dollar amount, and fought over every few years, but it never goes down. The US continues to drive this engine with printing money with no backing, then propping up the dollar with wars.

        If it fell, If the economy fell, the US government would have civil war trying to reduce what they have already said is basic necessity, and would go deeper into debt trying to keep it up while going to external war to recapture the losses.
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          Dec 29 2013: I agree that a percentage would have to be written on the same sheet as basic income, I was unclear there.

          I too also really like the idea of automation. I recently watched a documentary called "Will work for free" that takes up almost every aspect of how most jobs will be automated very soon, and how much of it is possible today. I highly recommend it for proponents of automation.

          Here's the link:

          I know about the US wage system, just makes the poor poorer with regards to the ever increasing inflation. Here (in Sweden) our unions fight about every two years for our wage. And they fight to have it higher than the inflation, so our wages actually go up. But automation is beginning to cause (political) problems here. It's just a matter of time until we have to abandon this whole capitalist thinking system because there will be no workers.

          I guess that we'll have to wait until February 7 of 2014 to see if the economy collapses (it's when they have to raise the debt ceiling again). It won't necessarily collapse because of it but it is inevitable sooner or later.
          If it comes too soon those will be terrifying times.

          Oh and if you just wish to see and read cool stuff about automation is the goto place.
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        Dec 29 2013: Thanks for the link!

        What I meant by automation is that the calculations are done automatically.

        Every unique retinal scan gets access to x amount from the central bank which they can choose to spend incrementally at the grocery store or deposit into their own bank account. The amount of labor to enter in an adult citizen's retinal scan or whatever unique identifier is decided upon plus their additional data into the database is done just once. doesn't require politicians.

        Once a year, the IRS can validate that the person gets to continue being on the share list when they file their taxes.

        The data base gets to calculate how many people are there to split the money with.

        of one year, there's a recession and less taxes are collected, then less money is distributed. as a result, people can afford less and prices will be reduced. a self adjusting system. no politicians to blame.
  • Dec 29 2013: OK! I think basic income should be graded to the career you choose to provide the comforts of life.
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      Dec 29 2013: Hmm... That's an interesting thought.

      Would you care to give some examples so that I may better understand what you mean?

      Like what should the BI of a waitress, carpenter and stock broker be in comparison to each other?
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      Dec 30 2013: Hi Jude,

      I respectfully disagree. the basic income should just be basic and common to every person. your job or your hobbies are done for the personal rewards they offer and not to be validated by the society as more or less worthy.

      everyone having BI means you have the freedom to self validate. Your job pays according to what your skills are worth to the company or through supply and demand, what it's worth to society.

      I'm not sure if I understood your statement properly and responding to the right meaning. I read your carpentry comment and haven't really gotten the correlation.

      What this sounds like to me is that the government decides the entirety of your income like in communist states. Can you help me see your perspective?
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    Dec 29 2013: The UBI is a good idea but how would it be implemented ? I read another thread that suggested that everyone get UBI, including the wealthy. Now how you set the amount of the UBI, I am not smart enough to figure out. But this will only work if we have a flat tax. Those making 20000.00 yearly above the basic income would pay the same tax rate as the one making 100000.00 yearly.above the UBI. I can see that if this were properly figured no one would suffer. All the loopholes that benefit the wealthy would cease and they would have to pay their share. This way freedom to make as much as you are able is left intact. Surely this would keep citizens more honest and the government would have to consider what is good for all, not for some.
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      Dec 29 2013: Hi Helen!

      As you say the implementation of this is indeed the hardest part, especially in the US. You would have to reach a really great nation-wide consensus about this to pressure the politicians into this. And there would be so much resistance saying that "It goes against the American dream" and such. As it would take money from where money is (the wealthy) and re-distribute it among all.

      But in more democratic nations (like Switzerland where they have direct democracy) it's going to be much easier to implement because the people decide to a much greater extent what happens to their nation there. My country would fall somewhere in between, we generally accept income redistribution as something good for the whole but our politicians are cowards when faced with grand reformation ideas, those times are long gone.
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        Dec 29 2013: Well, I guess it is a kind of redistribution of money but it is fair in my opinion. After all, say that the tax rate is 10%, the guy making 20000.00 would pay 2000.00 and the other guy making 100000.00 would pay 10000.00 and still have a heck of a lot more left than the first guy. no?
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          Dec 29 2013: Actually I don't think that a flat tax rate would work, at least not at 10%.

          But if we do this experiment (this is by no means what I'm suggesting as good, it's just an experiment):

          Guy making $10'000 pays 10% tax, has $9'000 left
          Guy making $100'000 pays 15% tax, has $85'000 left
          Guy making $1'000'000 pays 20% tax, has $800'000 left

          So even if the rich pays more than the poor they're still be way better off. And money makes money so they have it way easier to make more money either way.

          I myself can't really see the reason why someone would complain about paying a larger amount if they're still really good off. Does it matter if you have $1 billion or $700 million in your account?
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        Dec 29 2013: To me it does not matter if I have a billion or 700 million, but don't be naïve. there are greedy people whose status is enhanced (they think) by their expensive lifestyle). The 10% was a hypothetical figure. The Tedster in the other thread suggests that everyone, without exception, be given a living wage (again hypothetical) which he calls a prebate and that anything you earn in addition be taxed at ?%. Seems fair enough to me. Now those charitable wealthy people, and there are more than a few. contribute what they wish for the good of humanity.
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          Dec 29 2013: Helen, thank you for you thoughts, very good indeed.

          I agree that in sense of "fairness". But I do have an issue on the distribution of justice as determined by the wealthy. What I mean is if I control all of the money, then I am the boss. People have to do what I say, and I have the liberty to choose what organizations I support. In terms of a few thousand dollars that could make a poor man's day. In terms of millions and Billions that could make or break a nation.

          I wonder what would happen if everyone just made the same basic need requirements, and were left to pursue a life of their own choosing. Probably a train wreck? Ironically, anyone can become wealthy and share in the inequality of power. It's a never ending cycle.
          Where is the balance of equality? and what is the resulting justice?

          best regards,

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          Dec 29 2013: Helen,

          I am not being naive, that's uncalled for when we were having a good conversation for once.

          As you say there are greedy people, and they think that money gives them higher status. However I do not think that we should let greed go unregulated simply to endorse the vanity of the greedy when disregarding the needy.
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        Dec 29 2013: Gee, I am sorry but I did not think that would offend you. You seem to intimate that we were having a good conversation FOR once. Do you mean that we have had conversations that were bad?
        I think that people value liberty over all else so I don't think that we can regulate greed. All kinds of people have to come together for the common good. I don't see how the greedy could not agree because their liberty would not be taken away.. All over the world the most outstanding people are the ones who have.fought for liberty whether violently or peacefully.....don't you think ? So there I don't think I have the right to tell other people what to do with their money. This proposal is something that all would agree on and not coerce anyone.
  • Dec 29 2013: Lets explore unconditional income, that would be an offspring living off a pair of parents that has no responsibilities at all and can live their life unconditionally with the basic income allowed by the parents, but there I go putting a condition on the salary as basic. Lawyers would have a ball defining unconditional.
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      Dec 29 2013: Jude, I'm finding your metaphors hard to reply to. Would you instead try to speak plainly about the topic at hand?
  • Dec 28 2013: Some of the richest people I met in my life of 75 years had very little money but were extremely rich in understanding, cooperation, fairness, love of their fellow humans, kind, generosity, unbelievable companionship to people of lessor means.
  • Dec 28 2013: the problem faced by any system where a guaranteed income exits is that price inflation rises to match the income
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      Dec 29 2013: Got any source on this? Because I've read nothing of the sort in any BI pilot.
      • Dec 29 2013: no sources, purely observation and speculation on my part, based on the introduction of a minimum wage here in the uk and the impact that has had longterm
        also that manufactures and retailers dont opperate on a fixed percentage margin, they will sell at the highest price the market will bear above near cost, below that they dump the product as storage is more expensive than profit

        i would say the biggest indicator would be the cost of rental housing, basic housing,that generally is leased at near £500 per month as that is the current cap on goverment housing benefit, the maximum a tenant can claim for.
        that a landlord pays under £200 per month to finance the loan is irrelivant as the additional is pure profit minus taxes and maintenence
        the knock on effect is that cheap housing gets bought up for the rental market and raises the prices on the remainder further eroding any value in earnings

        the problem faced is greed on an intrinsic level, from individuals, and corporationss who feel a duty to generate profits for share price growth to appease investors

        on a global level, oil companies and energy providers ignore issues of "fuel poverty" where the cost of heating and road fuel are directly forcing the lowest paid to choose between use or food, yet still report substantial quarterly profit in the billions, dispite pressure applied by goverments

        a report or study on this would be interesting to read, but i doubt many financial institutions would pay for one as the results wouldnt play to their benefit
        • Dec 29 2013: The real question is, where all those dumped goods go - wouldn't it be better to give away instead of destroying them?
          That still somewhat counts as income you know.

          At least you get marketing out of that. I'm pretty sure the law is interfering by some kind of tax.
  • Dec 28 2013: unconditional is the total absence of laws, culture, work ethic, age, and many more things too numerous to mention. Think about your question a little longer. Good luck.
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      Dec 28 2013: "basic income, also called basic income guarantee, unconditional basic income, universal basic income, universal demogrant or citizen’s income"

      I chose my wording carefully when creating this conversation, it was meant to draw attention and get a conversation going. You however do not seem to have thought about this more then a second reacting on a knee-jerk reaction...

      Please read the wiki before making snide comments.
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    Dec 28 2013: Here are two simple formulas that can help define this conversation: Workers x Productivity equals Output and Output divided by Consumers equals the average standard of living.
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      Dec 29 2013: Care to do the calculations of a real world example to demonstrate?
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        Dec 29 2013: Five people live on an island. Four of them produce eight widgets per day and one zero. They share the widgets using a complex formula. The average is 6.4 widgets per person per day. On another island of five, each resident produces seven per day. They use the same complex sharing formula. The each get seven widgets per day.

        Either island can improve it's standard of living by increasing the output per worker (productivity) but the first island could also get a boost by getting the worker with zero output to at least make something.
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          Dec 29 2013: Yes, but that is not what I meant, I was speaking of an actual world example. Where we take more things than productivity into account.

          You see if we define this conversation on a very simple equation we miss almost all aspects of how a society works... Life is not as simple as a single equation.
  • Matt K

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    Dec 27 2013: Already today 50% of all jobs in the world could be replaced by automation (Ask urself why google bought so many robot companies recently). To solve that dilemma the Unconditional BASIC INCOME is necessary. The term "full employment" is a myth. - kind of political propaganda

    However $2800 is too much. Prices are also regulators. So as we can expect population to peak by 10,5bn in 2050, it will be a total mess if everybody can do everything (10,5bn Malibu beach houses for everyone?? unfortunately that will not work, back into rabbit cages Hongkong, Tokyo people ;)..).

    So yeah, maybe $800 plus flat for free for the beginning, just that you can afford all kind of supermarket food, live an a small flat, and can go travelling every half year...

    why is believe $800 plus flat is optimal??...because $520 plus flat is already reality in Germany. however from $520 it is more survival than living...

    ...reduce the global population back to 1-2bn (before the exponentiell increase after 1950) and then give everyone a $5000 basic income. Better everyone can have a beach house, mercedes, just when he is born.
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      Dec 29 2013: I think the morality of taking other people's money is certainly worth discussing, right along with charging poor people too much money for the basic necessities of life, and the morality of hiring adults to work minimum wage jobs then keeping them at part time. Hey why worry about your employees health care and if they can feed their kids when you can hire two people to do one persons full time job and make a better margin? after all, $100 dollars exta a week might mean diapers for their kid, but that's 0.0001% of my profits!
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      Dec 26 2013: Mike, please try to be a bit less sarcastic on this conversation and a bit more constructive.
  • Dec 25 2013: I think you need to define your idea of Basic Income more clearly first. I am always confused by such questions. They are often presented as superficial, when beneath them lie vast depths of strata to be unearthed.

    Different people might be imagining different orders, systems. For me, the first thing that leaps to mind is that some authority, some regime, must be in place to enforce this Basic Income. Is this an assumption that belongs to your question? Or do you imagine a world where self organizing systems can be left untendered, and that such guarantees might be unnecessary?

    These are the types of assumption that must be addressed before such questions can be posed, or all the question does is provoke unending bickering between people of orthogonal worldviews.

    Is this Income given directly? Or is this Income given in kind? If in kind, is it given in fiat money? If it is given by fiat, then we must acknowledge that there is a difference between the social aims of society and the social outcomes of a self-organizing market (was the price of labour in the free market of the West with black slavery a socially desirable outcome?) If it is given directly, then what percentage will be digital media and what percentage will be food?

    The questions and assumptions are myriad. Will you be more specific?
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      Dec 26 2013: I'm sorry Frank,
      Since this is an international debate with people from all over the world no single framework can be constructed. And I'm no expert on this topic, what I wanted was a broad debate where people could give their different perspectives and views on Basic Income as a whole.

      The details of the fine print is not something that can be solved here on TED Conversations... Have you read the Wiki for starters?
  • Dec 24 2013: If I may be the liaison for Neale Donald Walsch, I believe his idea is worthy to note:

    He supports an upper limit to income and a 10% universal tax to create the lower limit, providing that "unconditional" basic income for the entire world. The incentive to work and gain more than the lower limit is therefore constantly encouraged, but breaking past the upper limit serves strictly to spread your wealth toward programs decided on by popular election.
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      • Dec 25 2013: 10% is sustainable across the board. And nothing stops going past the upper limit except not wanting to provide for society by doing so. Billionaires can continue to make as much money as they are now. The only difference is that they can only keep up to the limit, and the rest is given away. Half goes where they want it (that includes keeping it to themselves anyway). The other half is spread according to where everyone else wants it to go.

        The implication is that the entire world will need to be unified under one government before we begin to step towards any UBI system. If everyone falls into the system, no one is left out, and trying to immigrate to where the UBI system is in place.
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    Dec 24 2013: First we would have to discuss the term "unconditional" all programs have conditions and provisions. Even with the socialist idea of redistribution this could never occur ... the parts are greater than the whole.

    The comment that studies upon studies ... etc. Let stop the academia and look at real world practices ... one of the most common would be the American Indian. A total failure.

    The idea that we owe money to anyone who does not earn it is beyond belief. Even children know that there are always conditions.

    So if this program was to NOT die at birth ... there needs to be a plan ... not just that we will "unconditionally give everyone XXX amount of money per month" My plan would be to become a population explosion and become rich at your expense. You have killed my reason for ever wanting to be a productive member of society.

    I can assure you that most of that money "given" would end up at liquor stores, for drugs, and gamboling. This is not studies but real world occurrences.

    This kind of promise is great for campaigns ... but would destroy a economy. We are seeing that in the USA.

    317,132,020 us citizens X $2800 per month = $887,969,656,000 X 12 = $10,655,635,872,000 per year.

    The source of income (taxes) today is 2,835,505,479,179 (National debit clock)

    It would cost us 8 trillion the first year alone. and that is in the USA. Take a poor country like the Togolese Republic with virtually no GDP .... a complete disaster.

    Doesn't anyone do math any more?
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      Dec 24 2013: The answers to your concerns have been addressed in this thread more than once. Plus there is a wealth of ideas, data and research available that is just a google away.

      In fact, there are people who are able to think of math that operates outside the current ideologies and economic structures currently being applied. There will always be some who cannot. This thread offers a nice cross section of both.

      Ultimately, numbers are just that, numbers. Of course, in a country that is 16 trillion in debt and where successive generations will be indentured to that debt I understand just how overwhelming numbers can be. incidentally, just to add another branch to this tree, there have been 2 or 3 times in human history where all debt was written off and everyone started over. Now there is some evolutionary thinking at work. Meanwhile, all sorts of cultures and societies throughout history have declared charging interest to be a criminal act. But hey, its usually all about who is writing the laws. I guess that is why Direct Democracy is gaining such popularity these days.
      • Dec 24 2013: I agree with you ideas but I fail to see how they will come to fruition. How can the people of the world possibly overcome the oppressive governments, corporations, and brainwashed citizens of the free market to obtain a basic income?

        On top of that all i see in this debt crisis is ecological disaster. To pay off debts the free market will become less efficient in terms of resources and try to pay off a debt, which at this point is impossible to pay off. This will interminably leading to social collapse.
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          Dec 24 2013: yes Paul, you are not the first to ponder the power of the opposition. It may very well require first gaining control over political decision making with a Direct Democracy type of governance.

          After all, it has been through buying politicians and manipulating governments that the current power structures have been created. It makes sense that a grass roots democracy could use the same law making power to further this freedom agenda as well.

          Which then begs the question, would we also have to send in the police and/or the military to disperse the inevitable wall street protestors?
    • Dec 24 2013: Robert Winner. You are 100% wrong on every one of your points. There are 100's of articles about how a Basic Income works, and how it does not do what you say it will do. Read them. Then come back and try again. Alaska has had a Basic Income for over 30 years. It works. Basic Incomes have been tested in real life, for multiple years, and we know exactly what good it does, and nothing you say is correct about any of the real world studies.
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        Dec 24 2013: I notice that you avoid any reference to the math. Alaska gives oil dividends. Is that the same? However, yours is a argument of passion and as there is nothing good about any opposing opinion we are miles apart. My friend is on the state police there and says that alcohol and drugs are big problem and that the natives are also big abusers ... just as I said.

        That there is little to discuss I will wish you well and acknowledge your right to your opinion.

        Thanks for the reply .... Bye .... Bob.
        • Dec 24 2013: Let me help you with the math since that seems to be an important point for you. The size of the payment is not set to be a "free living income". The size is adjusted as needed to reduce excess inequality. You used the figure of $2800 a month which is what the Swiss is proposing. Switzerland is a much richer nation than the US. Per Capita GDP in Switzerland is $78K. In the US, it's $51K. You also used the total population of the US including kids. The Swiss proposal is only for adults, which is about 3/4 of the population. So you made two errors there in trying to use the Swiss numbers, for how the math will work in the US. The Swiss proposal is for a BI of about 41% of their GDP. That's amazingly high, but fairly doable for one of the richest and most equal nations on the planet,. The US is a very different story in what people will be willing to accept. So obviously we would go with a lower number.

          Figures that are often bounced around for a "healthy" sized BI in the US would be around $1000 a month, or $12K per adult. There are about 250 million adults, so your math then works out to be $12K * 250 million, or 3 trillion. Not your 10 trillion.

          However, this is not really 3 trillion in "cost". A BI is tricky to understand. So let me help you understand what you probably missed. Everyone get taxed to pay that 3 trillion, but then all the money is collected, and GIVEN BACK to the same people that were just taxed! So the government collects 3 trillion, and then gives back 3 trillion. The difference is that those with the most income, pay higher taxes. And everyone gets back, the same amount. So the rich end up paying far more than they get back, while the poor, get more than they pay in taxes.

          About 2/3 of what is taxed, ends up going back to the person that paid the tax. About 1/3 of the money, ends up actually being redistributed. So the amount redistributed, for this size BI tax is only about 1 trillion. A far cry from your 10 trillion.
        • Dec 24 2013: So to continue. I'm already down to 1 trillion in effective taxes the rich actually pay for the net money the poor half of society receives. But if we implement a BI of that size, a large amount of our current welfare programs can and should be eliminated. That can reduce our current tax level by 100's of billions, reducing the new increased taxes to more like $700 billion to create that $1000 per adult Basic Income. But we should also eliminate minimum wage at the same time, to make sure everyone that wants to work, can find work, and remove the minimum wage handcuffs from businesses. This will help reduce consumer prices, saving more money, to offset the increased taxes.

          As you point out, current taxes are around $2.8 trillion. We would have to increase that by the $700 billion to make a BI of this size work. That's about a 30% increase in current taxes, paid by the rich (top 20% of society with most paid at the very top). The rich won't like this, but it would be very good for society as a whole.

          However, since there are so many people like you, that reject this idea out of principle, it will be far hard to sell even this reasonable tax number to the public. So, we start smaller. Instead of $1K per adult per month, start at $100 per adult, per month. That's only around a $100 billion net tax increase and could be directly paid for by reductions, or lack of increases, in other current social programs.

          We can then see what real effect, a small BI like that, (which is around what Alaska pays now), has on the entire country, and the economy.
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        Dec 29 2013: Hi Curt,

        I do agree that We should tax on a percentage and redistribute on an absolute count, however, we should not reduce minimum wage.

        That would be exacerbating the problem, and also, non citizens would be imported and exploited.
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        Dec 25 2013: Just a minor detail ... Happy holidays my friend.

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        Dec 26 2013: Mike,
        Are you even reading the comments made to you, you have been asking the same questions since the beginning of this conversation and you've received so many responses to those questions.

        Now, if you fail to see the validity of those economic arguments that is your problem.

        And yes, those of us that want this are fantasizing about it, just like people once did about going to the moon.

        You are actually the one who's not rational here.
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          Dec 26 2013: Jimmy, It is your opinion that the arguments are "valid". Accepting them is a option not a requirement. You may continue to "fantasize" (your words) but that neither makes it true or false ... just a fantasy.

          It is unfair to say that Mike is "not rational".

          As of late you attack and call names over many issues. Your attack on Pat was totally out of line ... as you said it was important to you and you don't care about the consequences from TED. You attack me and the comments were removed ... you attack mike for having his own opinion.

          Jimmy I always enjoyed your input but something has happened ...

          I hope that you return to TED in a more considerate and tolerant way.

          I wish you well. Bob.
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        Dec 26 2013: Bob,

        The validity of the arguments can be disputed, but going back and forth with the same questions is of no use and just frustrates, which was what Mike was doing. Fantasize was Mike's original words, I choose to use them to level.

        Mike said "Don't let rational thought interfere with..." which I constituted as Mike calling all proponents of BI acting irrational. It was meant to show a point.

        I don't think that you and I read the comments made here by some the same way, let's leave it at that.

        But Bob, when did I attack you? I have no such recognition...

        Did you notice that Mike gave me right in my "attack"?

        Yes, I have changed. I'm aware of that and It's an active choice. I've grown and learned what consequences always walking the middle path will have, I've learned to take a stance, one that your views may not reconcile with, for that I'm sorry.

        Yes, perhaps I do need to be a bit more considerate of people's feelings. But offence is taken not given in all my cases (except with Pat).

        There are things in this world that should not be tolerated, I just evolved a deeper understanding of the downsides of complete tolerance for everything and everyone.

        I too wish you nothing but well Bob.
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          Dec 26 2013: Thanks for your reply. I thought that Mike agreed with you as a matter of ... I am frustrated and am walking away from the conversation .... again as you say we see this differently.

          There are things in this world that should not be tolerated, I just evolved a deeper understanding of the downsides of complete tolerance for everything and everyone."

          Yeah, I agree with you ... there are many things that should NEVER be tolerated. But open discussions and communications are not among them. I, as you, do not have complete tolerance for everyone and everything. However in life we do tolerate fools. In debates we have points and counterpoints ... each of us believing that we are correct. However, if anyone becomes "radical" in their opinion and refuses to acknowledge the opinions of others then the exchange of ideas no longer exists.

          I do not ask for complete tolerance ... only that you ... a valued TED member ... continue to present your thoughts and ideas and allow for others to present theirs. I have learned from you and value your thoughts and ideas. Please do not allow your "deeper understanding" to prevent you from considering opposing view points.

          As I re-read this I see that I should take some of my own advice. Once again you have helped me to see my own faults. Thanks.

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        Dec 29 2013: Everything in life starts with an idea... a dream mike. Independence, electricity, the design of your house. Nothing falls into your lap without an idea and nothing falls into your lap totally worked out.
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      Dec 31 2013: Bob,

      I noticed your calculations and I'd like to comment some aspects.

      "$10,655,635,872,000" would be the cost per year if you gave $2800 to everyone. but $2800 is for Switzerland, life is much more expensive there, so let's just take it down to a really high standard in the US of $2000 for arguments sake and let's also take away everyone under the age of 18 as is the proposal with Switzerland, that would lead to about a population of a little less then 220'000'000 getting UBI.

      So we do a new calculation.

      220'000'000 x 2000 x 12 = 5'280'000'000'000. Do you see how I just halved your math? If we make it $1500 we end up at 3'960'000'000'000.

      Also last year your companies only paid 13% in federal tax, leaving them to keep 87% of their PROFITS!

      There are also a lot of things that you're not accounting for and are miscalculating. But I'm sure that others have pointed that out to you...
  • Dec 22 2013: The way the world is functioning it means work is no more a worship but it is a crime and punishment.

    There were the days when work was considered worship, but the modern day social and economic conditions have made work as a crime & punishment.

    The moment you start working from that exact moment the meter of crime & punishment starts. From that exact moment you automatically become a criminal , by late or early morning you have to witness the punishment for the crime.

    Generally the law says that you are innocent till your crime is proved in the court. But , with work it is just opposite . The moment you start working , you are not only perceived as criminal but also become criminal. The moment you start working , you enter the zone of taxoshpere of the government.

    You are a criminal till you pay your taxes or till you file your IT return. Once you file your IT return or pay your taxes , though you become a good citizen , but next moment you again become a criminal because you have become liable to pay taxes for the current years income.
  • Dec 22 2013: If it can be paid for by reallocating government monies already spent on other social programs, it is likely to be worthwhile. I base this on the growing movement in the US toward "High Deductible" Health Plans. These plans often set aside a good chunk of discretionary money in a specified health spending account so that the beneficiary may spend it most efficiently as needed. Think of it as a kind a cafeteria plan- you pick the government services you need/like and you get some credits to buy what you want.

    If it is gravy on top existing social programs, it will not work. Sovereign governments may print as much money as they like, but as others have said, this simply creates inflation.

    The article is not clear on how it will be paid for, and just because something is popular doesn't make it realistic.

    Frankly, there will NEVER be enough resources to ease all the pain, hunger, and angst that intelligent, creative, people can manufacture for themselves as a society. Pain and suffering are a necessary element of the human condition and without them we do not evolve. SOME people should go A LITTLE hungry; SOME ailments should go untreated; bad things do happen to GOOD people; a stipend won't change these things.

    And there will always be dead-beats gaming the system.

    It is a difficult ethical question. While we all value life, we can not hope to hold the ideal that it is "priceless" in the real world. A human life, indeed, has a real price tag- about $2000000 according to the insurance industry.
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      Dec 24 2013: Absolutely Steven, it is all about how the wealth of a nation is distributed. There are a number of ways it can be paid for listed in this thread for your perusal. Also points about freedom of the person might interest you.
  • Dec 22 2013: One word, Inflation! :/
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      Dec 24 2013: as opposed to infatuation?
      • Dec 24 2013: A basic income system will help the people at the bottom, or middle class for a little bit, it would even boost the economy for a bit, but printing out free money only causes inflation to occur. Basic income does not mean basic needs will be covered.

        The world is infested with material needs, money is the main component to received this materialism. Humanity must change it's beliefs before any really changes can occur. They tried to do this With the Wall Street protesters, but like most protesters they will voice opinions and complain, but they will not provides solutions take initiative to implement solutions. Other ways to provide change is having a common a goal like when man went to the moon. Other ways when we unite is during war, but this tactic is over used and is very sad to humanity. I hope a philosopher will come up with some common goals for society that does not cause to much dualities.
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          Dec 24 2013: well the existing powers have fought off high inflation for a decade or so now even though there are plenty of cash rich opportunists crying out for it. It seems as long as you control the political decision making you control it all. Hence the call for Direct Democracy.

          But no one has a crystal ball and every great social event has had far more detractors than supporters at the outset.
  • Dec 21 2013: My thoughts on Unconditional Basic Income are that thieves will attempt any justification or reclassification to steal money.

    Taxing one group of people and giving the proceeds to another just because of income disparity is just government sanctioned thievery regardless of the benefits (theoretical or otherwise).

    If, in your opinion, stealing bread to feed a starving family is acceptable, then Unconditional Basic Income is acceptable. The action of thievery still occurred however.
    • Dec 22 2013: What about calling it a penance instead for all the thievery rich inflict on the poor in so many various forms?

      (By starving them of opportunity and even means.)

      I'm not sure any kind of basic income will help this a lot, since it will always be too low to afford actual equal opportunity.
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      Dec 24 2013: As any first year law or criminology student can tell you, there is no crime without first there be a law declaring it so. Whether you call it theft or not is irrelevant. In this regard the Law has the final say.
      • Dec 29 2013: A simple reminder is that ethics is not law and vice versa.

        Slavery used to be lawful too.
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    • Dec 22 2013: Rewarded? You do know who hands out rewards?

      Exchange is always lossy, everyone trying to squeeze one another to gain anything of value to someone else - lots of actual value is lost, while fake value is being generated - due to scarcity, status and more.

      Therefore the first originator of the exchange is deprived the most.
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        • Dec 23 2013: Satisfied only because one of them has incomplete information. Usually it's the party with less means that is less informed. Profit is based on that imperfection in the economy.

          For example, if you want to sell apples, you can sell them to a wholesale buyer or the factory directly. However, you do not know which factories want to buy apples therefore the middleman comes in and takes his share plus extras. Sounds familiar? It's very common everywhere and a basic market inefficiency.
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          Dec 24 2013: Radoslaw you make an excellent point regarding those who insert themselves into each and every economic exchange then can - namely the middlemen - and who have become an inflationary infection in far too many national and local economies. In fact, they are not unlike the gangsters that infest businesses by offering "protection" from "uncertain risks".
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    • Dec 21 2013: A different view of history perhaps. Our pensions are a direct cause of labor movements supported by the bureaucracy you condemn.
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    Dec 21 2013: Humans are complex beings. This complexity makes us also unique from one another. Some of us are fast learners, some are average learners, and some are slow learners. Some of us are more responsible, some are somewhat responsible, and some are seemingly chronically irresponsible. And because of these and many other reasons, some of us are average earners, some are utterly incapable of earning a living, while a few of us make billions of dollars even before they are fifty.

    The important question is: Should hard-working members of society keep bailing-out those who are less-capable or less-responsible? Is welfare sustainable?
    • Dec 22 2013: But since we don't live in a perfect world, it so happens that wealth and ability are not directly fully correlated, so the correct thing to do would be to sponsor the able. But who judges?
      Considering that wealthy people on the whole are less compassionate and more self-interested, they tend to not care either way other than their interests.

      Remember that "hard-working" does not mean 'playing golf" - it's the mildly able but rich that technically should be the aim of such redistribution. Usually this means so-called old money or even new money way beyond the needs.

      Remember that investment is mostly passive and active wealth production is actually more valuable. It's not investment that generates new ideas - it is only an enabler.
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      Dec 23 2013: Hey Rodrigo, allow me to share the reply I gave to Mike and Michael earlier.

      What your pitching is just more of that out dated thinking that a person must "produce" some quantifiable thing or service to the marketplace before we can be valued as contributing citizens. A UBI is about freedom, personal freedom, freedom to live a life that has far more value and meaning to ourselves and to our communities than any mere exchange of labour for wages can ever provide.

      Volunteerism is just one of many ways already listed below of how human beings can have valued, meaningful lives that have little to do with the marketplace and everything to do with healthy families and healthy community.
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        Dec 28 2013: Mr. Clegg,

        I'm not a spring chicken anymore. I have always struggled to understand the meaning of life, of how it is to be human, especially how to be a humane being. I have spent sleepless nights pondering about concepts or ideas such as freedom, liberty, democracy, moral values, etc.

        But at the end of the day, I have to face reality, just like most of us. I have to pay my mortgage, food, utilities, insurance ( especially health insurance which is becoming unsustainable), tuition of my daughter (people who have children in college know what I'm talking about), taxes ( a lot of taxes, because I own a small business), wages of my employees, and a lot of things too many to mention here.

        If I volunteer my services or not charge for my services, how can I pay for all of the above?

        It would be nice if someone pays for my bills so that I have the resources and the FREEDOM to pursue my passions: painting, photography, and nature.

        Ideals, ideals, ideals. My friends have described me for being idealistic when I was young. Then one day reality hit me in the face.

        Maybe I'm missing something in this discussion, but I doubt it.
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          Dec 28 2013: I understand that the concept is a difficult one for you to embrace and know that you are not going to be alone in that difficulty. Allow me to pose it to you in another context.
          Are you satisfied with the current economic structure whereby a person who is unable to find some why of exchanging their labour for wages is consigned to a life of homelessness and destitution in so many of the richest nations on the planet?
          A system whereby employees can work 40 or even 60+ hours a week and still not earn enough that they must constantly choose between decent housing or enough to eat?
          A system that forces us to choose 'going to work' over caring for a loved one that is infirm or dying?
          A system that puts ones job ahead of the need to mourn the lose of loved ones and personally caring for our children's well being?
          A system that puts "being on the job", even if that job is an assembly line or office job that is boringly repetitive and mind numbing ahead of every other thing you might find worthwhile, valuable or important in your life?
          A system that only supports those who are able to find jobs/careers for themselves while at the same time science had technology is constantly striving to replace more and more of the labouring human component in the workplace with robotics and automation?
          In other words, are you satisfied with the status quo and the disappearing workplace? If so, are you one of the people who will work against those who promote a UBI or one of the people who would be willing to try something different for a change?
  • Dec 20 2013: Where do the recent Dutch reforms of their own welfare system fit into this matter?
  • Dec 20 2013: The Mormons of Utah have the best Idea.
    When a Utah resident or family is in need of money to pay utilities, a house payment,
    or a place to live, they need only to ask for help. They should, although it is not a
    requirement work on the local Ward's farm or canning facility for some period of time,
    in repayment. Mormon welfare. A good way to do things, privately.

    I've spent a number of years looking at the Mormons closely. I am impressed.
    Not that they don't have the same civil and social problems we all have.
    These are people just like everyone else. They just look at the basics differently.

    I believe, as an ex-scoundrel, that our United States Government is incorrect with
    allowing it's system of commerce to exist in it's present form. Corporate America
    hides behind Limited Liability Protections. Giving Executives, Board Members, and
    Politicians a Get out of Jail Free card for their "more than just illegal" activities.
    Trickle-down doesn't work.

    Were Executives, Board Members, and Politicians toes held to the fires of justice,
    and required to obey the same laws as the rest of Americans, the results would be
    clear to all.

    Regulators would be unemployed.
    Bonds would be sold for every project.
    Real Estate Brokers and Real Estate as you know it, would cease to exist.
    Banks would become service agencies.
    The IRS would not be required.
    Everyone would be employed.

    A dream world. NAW, America was on it's way to such a world in 1870 - 1913.
    The Politicians really screwed things up. They decided corruption was the
    way to go. 43 years of prosperity out of the 137 years since the settlers got here.
    This last 100 years. Garbage. The Last 20 years has seen the nation unfetter
    the Banks and let Wall Street milk us dry. Since 2001 America has lost it's
    Freedom and Privacy. Even the Mexican's who swam the river for the American
    Dream, know it no longer exists.

    Limited Liability Laws -- the downfall of America.
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      Dec 23 2013: Many excellent points here Frank. I have witnessed some of the Mormon community benefits you describe and the one that impressed me the most was the respectful way the children interacted. Bullying, teasing, harassing, isolating where no where to be seen. Granted my time amongst them was limited to a few weeks but I have never lost that image of unity amongst the children. Something I seldom experienced in my own childhood which had all kinds of divisions and factions and intolerance.

      I agree that communities, real communities invariably step up to the plate when a member is in need and repayment is never a question because community is more important.

      It was the religious dogma that I had trouble with, not the people.
      • Dec 24 2013: Thank you William.
        I experienced the same as far as Mormon's religious dogma is concerned.
        If Governments will allow it to happen --
        Basic Income might require price controls on Farming/Ranching.
        Basic Housing might require elimination of Real Property/Mortgages.
        Basic HealthCare might require elimination of Health Insurance.
        Do we all know?
        Commerce uses Limited Liability Laws to protect Corporate misbehavior.
        Merchandising uses Greed as it's incentive to Advertise the sale of products.
        Governments might be closing the door of the internet.
        Today researchers are having problems as they use the Internet to
        try to "look back" past the turn of the century.

        Watch, as the age of any researcher has become too young to have
        lived in the past history, as thoughtful adults. Researchers, not able
        to argue about changes that may have stolen freedoms of the past.

        Today, I found an old data research facility that was completely restructured.
        All new people, "all young" under 50. No history shown of the other people,
        from before. hmmm...
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    Dec 20 2013: The idea is good - the application in practice might be difficult. There are still many people who believe that income should reflect somehow a person's reward for an effort that should result in some social benefit.
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      Dec 23 2013: Agreed Michael, I will share with you the same thing I said to Mike in a response below. What your pitching is just more of that out dated thinking that a person must "produce" some quantifiable thing or service to the marketplace before we can be valued as contributing citizens. A UBI is about freedom, personal freedom, freedom to live a life that has far more value and meaning to ourselves and to our communities than any mere exchange of labour for wages can ever provide.

      Volunteerism is just one of many ways already listed below of how human beings can have valued, meaningful lives that have little to do with the marketplace and everything to do with healthy families and healthy community.
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    • Dec 20 2013: Mike..

      The research does not back your claims, the United states has the lowest economic mobility of any develeped country, both inter and intra generational.

      A bigger wet towel to your claims is that the states, with the highest expenditures in social programs show the greatest mobility.

      Jimmy's Sweden is beating the stuffing out of the USA in economic mobility. Hmmmm wonder why.

      Plus mobility is greatest in wealthy families.
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        • Dec 20 2013: Mobility from state to state is primarily a function of job availability. Taxation is an issue but does not dominate due to the scarcity of employment. Plus very few in the poverty level can make a trip out of state to still face unemployment in different surroundings.

          The research…
          Christian Science Monitor Upward Mobility in real decline.
          Intergenerational Mobility Solon
          Stuck in Place Patrick Sharkey
          All based on data from USA
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        • Dec 21 2013: Hi Mike

          I am at a loss on the longer leg reference and I am from Texas.

          A very strong argument to lack of mobility is income inequality. Very interesting problem.
          Do you add bureaucracy to protect the downtrodden, or loosen to allow a further opportunity gap?
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          Dec 29 2013: "The government is ther to referee, not to.... Whatever.

          The government can be there for whatever reason it's constituents say it is there for.
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        Dec 23 2013: sorry Joe, your talking into the gale force wind of nationalistic propaganda regarding America the Good. An indoctrination that s just as potent a drug as any of the illicit ones in the marketplace.
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      Dec 23 2013: Oh Mike, what your pitching is just more of that out dated thinking that a person must "produce" some quantifiable thing or service to the marketplace before we can be valued as contributing citizens. A UBI is about freedom, personal freedom, freedom to live a life that has far more value and meaning to ourselves and to our communities than any mere exchange of labour for wages can ever provide.

      Volunteerism is just one of many ways already listed below of how human beings can have valued, meaningful lives that have little to do with the marketplace and everything to do with healthy families and healthy community.
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    Dec 19 2013: I should clarify that Canada is just as bereft of a democracy curriculum as the U.S. but I am not so sure Canadians are as tied to the exchange of labour agenda others suffer under.

    We also have strong representation within our federal system for the concept of a UBI. Fortunately change in Canada's federal government are looming ever more imminent. Change is in the air. BIEN is holding its 2014 conference in Montreal. I like the timing a lot. .
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    Dec 18 2013: What a great idea Positivist, educating successive generations of young people on the various forms of democracy and civil institutions available to them then empowering them to be active participants in their own governance.

    But wait, why is it that so many of those nations that profess to be democracies have nothing about developing that knowledge base in their citizenry? Seems like a significant oversight to me. Oh well, surely those concerned about a democracy knowledge gap will be working hard to rectify that problem.
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        Dec 19 2013: How has the American Country been 'dumbed down'?
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          Dec 19 2013: Exactly
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          Dec 19 2013: It is by the monopolized public education system that only teaches kid what to think and not how to think.
          Kids should be learning convergent and divergent thinking and NOT songs about Chairman Mao’bama.
          Personally speaking I graduated thinking Jimmy Carter was going the be great, and that I was too dumb to read the classic, do trigonometry or anything other than the basics, science was only about remembering meaningless tables, so I know first-hand how America is being dumb down. Even after 30 years I still consider myself a recovering victim of public education.
      • Dec 19 2013: How has America been 'dumbed down'?

        Perhaps neither of you has been involved in education in the US. Perhaps neither of you talk you the youth of day. Perhaps neither of you see quality of education given. Perhaps neither of you know that silicon valley cant operate unless it gets h1b visa staff.

        There are a lot more examples one could give, but really the best ones will be the ones you find yourself.
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          Dec 19 2013: Its seems more of matter of social justice. You seem to be under the impression that people can't see what's going on.
          of course people see, I am curious to hear what you have to say about. You don't have to prove anything.

          Inequality in economy, inequality in education and absence of liberty. The equality of conditions is grim, indeed.
      • Dec 19 2013: Johnny...

        As i've said before the best research is the one you do yourself, but for some it just reinforces their own beliefs, by labeling someone, like you saying I'm under this or that impression, without at least the courtesy of asking me, it's allows someone to conveniently ignore things, or not go further. Or to say, at least from their perspective, unequivocally they're right, the end.

        For others, and again you have to be, or at least know, someone behind the curtain, to see what strings are being pulled, and why.

        A real good example of that was the 2008 financial crisis, there are tons of good documentation on that, and it maybe and interesting journey for you, where alot of that was actually for the first time - truly shown.

        Once you've done that, you can see exactly why and wherefore of the causes of the original question.

        Mike, I've seen it from the other aspects as well, the financial side of education, as well as the political involvement.

        And probably the saddest aspects of that is just now many good educators out there, get stifled at every turn. Where many just take it for awhile, but in the end leave, and take jobs in the commercial world.

        Your right many dont graduate, more than you think or state, but believe you me, there are systems in place, so those very students DO graduate. Those were implemented at local & state levels to ensure federal grants. To some that's whats important.

        And I can tell you no-one want's to hear - shouldn't we actually helping this kids. No matter what the rhetoric says. And who loses when a generation or two get less and less...
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          Dec 20 2013: You absolutely right, and its get worse on a regular basis. A small percentage of people who actually get it are let holding the accountability and responsibility sticker. They end up working alone, isolated and without support...the ceremony of innocence is drowned.

          You are left with contention and the abstract, and at times blind imagination as to task and purpose. You look for arête, phronesis and eunoia and end up with a bunch of people standing around conflicting, awkward and uncertain. There is some intelligence but, no ethical balance. It's like everyone hanging on the side of a life raft, and people want to vote democratically who should get in. Ethical reasoning is an art, not a science, and sometimes the best answer is going to be hard to determine. Often, the hardest decisions are not between right and wrong, but between shade of right.

          Anyone, can look and see the problem. What is important is be an impetus for change.
      • Dec 21 2013: I agree about.... What is important is be an impetus for change.

        But without have the information, the knowledge, the understanding that change is ... a knee jerk reaction, that has very little credible chance of success in the long term.

        It's as I have written before, again too about the youth, and changes made....

        "It's the same mentality that some have had with children and school shootings, put metal detectors in schools, see no more problems. But ask yourself, does that really solve the issue for the kid, or does it add to their frustration, and so just delay the inevitable. And who cares, as if the temp fix works, that will do. Because no-one seemingly wants to get to the root of the problem and actually help the kid."

        So while I am in favor of change, it just cant be change for change's sake.
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    Dec 18 2013: Good discussion, so far. Here is my take on it. Jimmy thanks for showing the courage to ask the question.

    Our community depends on a sound economic base...economic order.
    As economic order disintegrates, social and political life degenerates. Civility is replaced by hostility and suspicion. We as a community can only hold off collapse by rebuilding economic order. This requires a knowledge of natural order. This requires moral order. I will spare you all the essay. My question is to challenge one extreme with another.

    How is amassing personal wealth measured in money have any connection with social good? Are both nature and other persons valued only for their "usefulness"?

    To provide a better response to the original questions, Jimmy, is that basic income would provide equity.
    Ultimately, the prime mover for the Basic income movement is a problem of justice. Justice means giving to each person what is due to him or her. Without equity, there can be no stable equilibrium. Without equilibrium, there can be neither peace nor order. The community, morals, economic and nature have to interact in cooperation. That is going to take a lot of work. People are going to have to sacrifice some liberty to gain cooperation, which leaves still a more puzzling issue does the average person really have liberty if liberty is given to them in the form of a basic income? That isn't freedom, and it is not solving the problem or the violations that occur in business and society. If society extends the privileges and grants the immunities then liberty is non existent.
    • Dec 19 2013: "Our community depends on a sound economic base...economic order. As economic order disintegrates, social and political life degenerates."

      Really? There are many countries around the world both now and in the past that have shown that, your assumption is not necessarily a true reflection of the order of things, as if it was they, those countries, wouldn't nor couldn't exist. And so the rest of your argument unfortunately collapses, as it is not taking all into consideration.

      So your next question will be .... example?

      At which point i can only suggest that you look a lot deeper into the cultures and history of the countries on this planet, without prejudice or preconceived ideology. ie please do keep an open mind.
  • Dec 18 2013: I think this a great idea whose time is not quite right. Need changes in society and governmental control
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      Dec 16 2013: The idea is born out of economic illiteracy and would not work. The money supply would go up and along with it the prices, leaving the receivers of the money in the same place before it started.
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        Dec 16 2013: Which suggests that all producers and retailers are predatory gougers and in certain countries you may be right. Too bad for those citizens. Hurry for the more mature and responsible nations.
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          Dec 16 2013: Your inference is irrelevant.
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          Dec 17 2013: In fact, Canada had a pilot project involving 2 towns for a number of years, no one went without, no one gouged anyone else and it had rave reviews at its conclusion. I read that the U.S. had 4 pilots during the same time frame. I know Canada's study is readily available online.

          But, as usual, governments changed, other interests pulled the nation in a different direction and the GI was shelved. But the data is still there, the public interest is growing and the need is greater than ever.

          I hold no illusions that the small-minded and selfish interested will fight hard and long to defeat any suggestions of a UGI. But they may be surprised at how much support for the idea they are going to meet in the coming years.

          Pat's declarations of doom and gloom sound no different than those who said man could not fly, the world was flat and it was impossible to reach the moon and that you can't put pineapple on a pizza. . But they were wrong and all those events involved real world situations that had to be overcome.

          Economics is nothing more than a board game that exists in the minds of those who manipulate the reins of power, nothing more. In a democracy the government is supposed to serve and protect its citizens. We will have to wait and see where democracy thrives and where it is being choked to death by ideology.
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          Dec 17 2013: "Economics is nothing more than a board game that exists in the minds of those who manipulate the reins of power, nothing more."

          That is exactly what they want you to think.

          "We will have to wait and see where democracy thrives and where it is being choked to death by ideology."

          No waiting necessary the evidence is so obvious you would have to climb above the trees to see the forest.. The fact that you have this sentiment indicates you suffer from myopia
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        Dec 16 2013: I was wondering when uncle milty would show up. So far the friedman school of economics seems to be have a credibility problem despite the continued fervor of its proselytizers. .
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          Dec 16 2013: But Milton Friedman actually PROPOSED what was essentially a guaranteed basic income in maybe the late 1960s! It was called the Negative Income Tax, and he proposed it as a replacement for bureaucracy-heavy welfare systems.

          Republican President Richard Nixon, was, I believe, very interested in it.

          You could verify if you want by doing a search for Milton Friedman Negative Income Tax.
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          Dec 16 2013: It still would inflate prices, be subject to abuse, and take value away from those who exchanged for their money.

          I read where Hayak proposed this also, albeit his was as a compromise to the current system because it ends the political power of the tyranny of the majority.
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    JB E

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    Dec 16 2013: I think it's probably a good idea but only if certain things are met first or along side the money given. The problem with free money is that it can and often does short circuit peoples motivation, many and most people are ultimately motivated threw fear of being homeless broke and starving. In the US we have unemployment, but the hoops you must jump through to get that money and the amount you get are ridiculous so the motivation to keep working or at least looking for work is always there.
    I also think that giving away free money to the people when the money simply isn't there to give is wrong but of course this is basic knowledge. IMO the country would have to have this money and enough money to cover future years as well as money set aside for emergencies before this idea could be considered "sustainable".
    I think the money could be better spent on social programs like unemployment and job rehabilitation, healthcare and education and programs to sponsor healthy living. Engineering projects based on making the country a better place for all, automated infrastructure and food industry projects.
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      Dec 16 2013: Calling a UBI free money is all about the tired, out-dated thinking of the last century. A UBI can be viewed as simply a citizens fair share of their nation's wealth. It's all a matter of perspective and the ability to change one's own. Check out the response to Bake a few hours ago regarding economic structures.

      The programs you talk about have been around for ages and are notorious for not fulfilling the needs assigned to them. Besides, they can consume up to 25% of their funding just to maintain the bureaucracy required to keep track of all the beans involved in each and every one of those programs.

      This is the 21st century and a A UBI is a one size fits all solution to ensuring all our citizens have the basic comforts of life available to them. Or would you resent or deny any citizen that protection?
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        JB E

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        Dec 16 2013: Yes, I see what your saying and it should work, but lets take that idea that it is "sharing in your country's wealth". If it's about the individual getting his /her fair share of the country's wealth it should also be sharing in the country's poverty too then right? If that were the case in the US before 2008 we would have gotten our UBI but then after 2008 when the country's finances blew up then what would the individual have gotten, a bill? If this is the case, then I agree it should work and work well because then their would be the deterrent for not being productive citizen. In the US we have to fill out an elaborate tax form, this form and the tax form that we fill out with each job we work determines how much tax we pay out of every check. We go threw great lengths to insure we pay more than enough money or at least just enough out of every check so as we do not have to pay a bill at the end of the year.
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          Dec 16 2013: which is why the UBI is a "basic" income. There have always been plenty of people who just want enough food, shelter and amenities to protect against destitution and are not interested in conspicuous consumption or an excessive lifestyle. You might want to check out the GST comments for a more equitable form of taxation.
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      Dec 16 2013: i do agree.

      In South Africa ( and I love my country to the point of no return ) but we have too many 16 to 20 year old girls falling pregnant and just going with the flow because of government grants. ( similar to UBI ).

      if you had to draw an comparison in Economic Value ( thus money ) between UBI and Minimal Wages in the, USA , UK and Europe... how much off a difference? Between the income UBI and Minimal wages earning capacity ?
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    Dec 15 2013: Hey, Jimmy, what's the deal with Sweden and other Scandinavian countries? People make an example of Scandinavia all the time in all kinds of contexts. They praise high level of living, high level of satisfaction with life, free education, healthcare, this and that. What do you think, makes Scandinavian countries stand apart? Or is it a myth and exaggeration?

    You see, your idea comes from a very different perspective than people in many other countries have. For example, someone brought the example of 27 mln. people in slavery around the world. Of course, if someone provided minimum living for these people, it would be nice. But these countries have such deep social and economic problems that they are not able to guarantee very basic human rights to these people, leave alone unconditional basic income. What you propose is only possible in highly developed countries where living is not so bad to begin with.
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      Dec 15 2013: The Scandinavian countries stand apart from much of the world.

      It basically has one very simple reason, we are built on social democracies. Now any libertarian source will try to refute this, but just take a look at each countries history and it is quite clear... Not to mention that Sweden has fallen (drastically, more then any other country) in every almost aspect since our right-wing government took power in 2006...

      Taking care of each other is key in a society and it has to be structured from the top down (government), not bottom to bottom (charity and such).

      It's not that other nations can't afford it, it's that they can't afford NOT to do it...
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        Dec 16 2013: although we do not have our stick sorted quite as well, in New Zealand, we come from a similar background of social democracy.

        funnily enough, our current government is also to the right and they sacrifice all for their God, the Economy - taking taxes and pouring them into private corporations (often off-shore) but closing schools, removing social services and reducing worker rights. This is done in order to bolster the economy which, we are told, benefits us all.
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          Dec 16 2013: It's almost a global trend that former socialist countries are now the ones moving right at an alarming rate...

          It seems t be happening everywhere.

          Our government has sold basically all of our infrastructure to maintain a "good economy" and those are actually the only figures that Sweden is doing well in in comparison to other countries. The thing is that our government is now hiring the buildings that they previously used to own, it costs a lot more and much of the money is going into some rich persons bank account.

          The same goes for our school system and healthcare, Billions of tax dollars are being moved out of Sweden because of this, into the bank accounts of those who need no more.
          We're the fastest sinking in education of all OECD countries and our healthcare system is really suffering.
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          Dec 16 2013: Jimmy

          Conjecture, no backup, taken out of context, not even the usual Keynesian math.
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          Dec 16 2013: @ Jimmy Re: "The thing is that our government is now hiring the buildings that they previously used to own, it costs a lot more and much of the money is going into some rich persons bank account."

          Why did they sell the buildings? Isn't this because they could not afford to maintain them and needed some cash? Another possible explanation is corruption. This kind of "privatization" is quite common in some countries.

          I also wonder what happens if the government fails to pay the rent. Will the landlord be able to evict the government? How would he do that? Require the court to order the sheriff to throw themselves out into the street?

          And, if the government was in need of money, then, again, why is that? From what you say, it does not seem that the system works very well any more.
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          Dec 16 2013: @Arkady,

          Our government sold most of our assets to show on their quarterly report how "well" we we're doing, but since there's not much left to sell we're beginning to do worse and worse now. That's the problem when applying businesses think to a country, the quarterly report.

          No, we afforded to keep them, basically what happened was (numbers are figurative and only meant as a demonstration):

          Government pay maintenance of $10'000 for building per month when owning it.
          Government sell building for $1'000'000 and makes it look good on paper.
          Government then pays $25'000 monthly to keep the same stuff in building.

          Now after 6 years we begin to get in the red, and then our cost has risen by a factor of 2.5 and we have no choice but to continue to pay it since we need that building.

          It's common and it's wrong. Some people are making billion on out tax money, that never happened before in a scale even close to this.

          If the government fails to pay rent they will be evicted yes, of course. Don't you have different branches of government over there regulating each other?

          The government wasn't in need of money... They made this with the guise of lowering country debt. And as I said it looked good on the quarterly report but now we begin to see the consequences and it's starting to cost us much more then it ever did. And we no longer have the means of lowering that debt and now it's increasing more rapidly since we have to pay much more for the same stuff that we had before. That money is being funneled out of Sweden and put in bank accounts of those who already have so much, like billions... That's where our tax money is going now...
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        Dec 16 2013: Do you think, it has anything to do with religion? I'm curious because those people I've heard quoting Scandinavian countries on high living standards also quote that they have a large percentage of atheists compared to other countries. Apparently, these people try to justify their belief that religion is detrimental to society. I, personally, am skeptical about this idea and I'm interested to know your opinion because you identify yourself as an atheist and you live in Sweden.

        Most religions, by the way, teach caring for each other. That seems to be one of the main messages of Christianity, for example. Why, do you think, religion did not succeed in getting this message through over centuries and, instead, seems to be a catalyst for a lot of violence? On the other hand, the ideas of communism based on atheism caused violence as well. You see, my concern is that when this "love your neighbor" idea is mandated by the government, it's going to go along the same path as many great ideas before.
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          Dec 16 2013: Religion has nothing to do with it any more than Jimmies theories which indicate his ignorance on the subject. It is not fair to the rest of you to allow him to speak as an authority unchallenged.

          Here is a talk by an Austrian who sets this subject straight see the Oct 15th show where Tom Woods interviews Per Bylund :

          Here are some more articles about the Sweden myth:

          "Not to mention that Sweden has fallen (drastically, more then any other country) in every almost aspect since our right-wing government took power in 2006..."

          Jimmy correlates economic recession to right wing government which is incorrect.

          These quotes from this article:

          "Americans still think of Sweden as a tightly regulated social-welfare state, but in the last two decades the country has been reformed. Public spending has fallen by no less than one-fifth of gross domestic product, taxes have dropped and markets have opened up."

          "From 1970 until 1989, taxes rose exorbitantly, killing private initiative, while entitlements became excessive. Laws were often altered and became unpredictable. As a consequence, Sweden endured two decades of low growth. In 1991-93, the country suffered a severe crash in real estate and banking that reduced GDP by 6 percent. Public spending had surged to 71.7 percent of GDP in 1993, and the budget deficit reached 11 percent of GDP."

          "The combination of the crisis and the non-socialist government under Carl Bildt from 1991 to 1994 broke the trend and turned the country around. In 1994, the Social Democrats returned to power and stayed until 2006. Instead of revoking the changes, they completed the fiscal tightening. In 2006, a non- socialist government returned, and Finance Minister Anders Borg, with his trademark ponytail and earring, has led further reforms.
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          Dec 16 2013: Arkady,

          I think that religion plays a destructive role in society. The reason that Scandinavian countries have so little religion is because we've had free and good education for so long and there's a strict correlation between education and religiosity. Since 2000 our state and church has officially separated and church tax is the only tax that you can choose not to pay (it's about 1%), although most do since if your born before 2000 you have to go in and change your tax preferences to get rid of it.

          The people that believe in God here usually don't believe in the holy father anymore, rather they believe in "something" (pantheism).

          The "love thy neighbor" is what most religions teach, they say. But they also at first forget to mention what else they teach. Like that you get what you deserve (God wills it) and a lot of hate. Religion is not a friend of the poor it is a friend of poverty, when poverty goes away so does religion, think about that the next time you see a soup kitchen.

          Communism is not something that Swedes really feel that much for, we usually say that it looks good on paper but would never work in reality. Which I think is true. But communism is NOT the same as socialism, rather it is an extreme branch of it. And also take into account that the communism that people refer to (USSR) was also a dictatorship...

          Well, It really has worked for us, and the most prosperous countries in the world are more socialist then the less prosperous.

          Oh and Don't listen to Pat, he's oblivious about our history. And he's saying that I said things that I haven't, read my comment to Scott in this thread to understand why.
        • Dec 16 2013: Pat come on.. To dismiss Max Weber's work so easily? Of course religion has a role in social economic structure.

          The ability to treat money as infallible and an argument in of itself emplies a belief in omnipotence.
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          Dec 16 2013: Most of what is attributed to culture is really monetary policy. For instance the Chinese have devalued the Yuan in order to force other countries to be there customers(a trade surplus), this forced the Chinese household consumption down. Previous to this the Chinese were not particularity known as savers. Sweden and Germany do a similar thing that has forced down domestic consumption. This is not caused by religion.

          Look at the post on Aug 23rd and the main article by Yves Smith:

        • Dec 16 2013: What happens when money becomes a religion, infallible, ie the people are the problem with the monetary system?
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          Dec 16 2013: Joe, "What happens when money becomes a religion, infallible, ie the people are the problem with the monetary system?"

          We get the result of Pat Gilbert... Tadaa!
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        Dec 16 2013: admittedly, i steered away from studying economics at school out of sheer lack of interest but it seems to me that, these days, there's nothing substantial to it - it all seems to be reshuffling the numbers.

        maybe if the consequences of poor leadership followed politicians even after they leave office, we would see less trickery.

        i believe our current prime minister couldn't care less about our country - he is shuffling numbers, as you say, to make things look good on paper - and planning to use his time as prime minister to set himself up in an even higher paying job.
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          Dec 17 2013: Oh I think that they care, and they actually believe that that shuffling is doing any good... They simply don't know better. And people elect them.
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          Dec 18 2013: It's easy to sit and complain about politicians. I cannot make sense of all this stuff. I'm an electrical engineer. I think of systems with inputs and outputs. Economy appears to me as a system with thousands inputs, some of which are unknown and thousands outputs, some of which are wired back to the inputs providing negative and positive feedbacks. To make things worse, these inputs and outputs appear and disappear by themselves. E.g. who could predict the effect of the Internet on economy 30 years ago? Technological advances create factors not even considered in the past. E.g. we don't know how bitcoins, the recent invention, will impact the global economy in the future. What if bitcoins push out traditional currency from circulation?

          People monitor a few outputs (e.g. GDP, unemployment, national debt, various economic indices) and a few inputs such as tax rates, interest rates, etc. But how do these numbers correlate with "living standards" and "satisfaction with life"? How do they translate into "quality of life"? Is there a reliable way to measure "education level"?

          Moreover, these days, data is so plentiful that one can find data to support, pretty much, any idea out there. Pat shows data, Jimmy shows data, Obama has data, Bush had data, NRA has data, everyone has data to support their agenda. At the end of the discussion, everyone still acts according to one's beliefs, some without any supporting data at all.

          Wouldn't it be nice to have a wise leader who would "know how things work" and lead the flock to the "promised land"? And some people appear as such leaders, but, after a closer look they seem to know not better than everyone else - simply because those inputs and outputs have rearranged on them. What was true yesterday isn't true today.

          I know, this comment is not very constructive. But, may be, it will make people step back and reflect. "Having opened your mouth, think, and having thought, close your mouth."
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          Dec 18 2013: Arkady

          There is a lot going on in the economy for sure and it is confusing. Like any confusion the trick is to find a bench mark, a true north. In economics those are the axioms of economics called Praxeology.

          You know that you don't know which puts you ahead of those who don't know they don't know. For the most part they believe the true north is Keynesian economics.

          It is important to know that a lot of people profit by convincing the collective that they will aide the people if they vote for them. And so you have life time politicians. Who greatly benefit by ignorant constituents.

          It would change things dramatically is everyone who voted was required to have competency in economics and logic (critical thinking- not math)

          This video does a great job of pointing out one of the axioms, comparative advantage.

          Note he talks about Homo Erectus spending 30,000 generations making the same tool and what is unique to modern man could be said to be his willingness to trade. Also he mentions the willingness to communicate ( a kind of trade) trumps IQ. IMO best video on TED.

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        Dec 18 2013: Jimmy, you mentioned that the government was not in need of money, but they sold the buildings to "look good on the quarterly report" and pay off debt. This seems to imply that the government was, in fact, getting deeper into debt. I agree that selling the buildings only worsened the problem, but why was the debt increasing in the first place?

        Don't you think that large taxes may have slowed down economy to the point when the government was not able to pay for all the entitlements - all too familiar scenario? Is the system you propose sustainable?
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        Dec 18 2013: Re: "Religion is not a friend of the poor it is a friend of poverty, "

        Don't you think, the same can be said about welfare programs?
        • Dec 22 2013: I'm not the original poster, but it really depends.

          Some necessities are impossible to go around, basics such as water, food, heat and housing. Perhaps medical care if necessary. Without any of these, people do end up in poverty.
          Perhaps education even, since without it now anyone will quickly get stuck unless they're already rich.

          Any other welfare should probably depend on what the recipient is doing with it... and what is actually possible.

          The real question is whether we can afford it in general - I suspect with a few technical advances applied here and there we might - but that still doesn't provide equal opportunity, as there is way more than basic necessities making the gap.
    • Dec 16 2013: Racial homogeneity. It has been found that countries with greater diversity have a much harder time getting people to agree to wealth redistribution schemes, even indirect ones like "health care". Atavistic tribalism simply gets in the way for other affluent countries. Scandinavian countries have had the highest racial homogeneity of any affluent countries (aside from Japan). It's ugly, but it's the truth.
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        Dec 16 2013: Bryan, please provide that research... I'm finding it very hard to believe.
      • Dec 16 2013: Bryan, wage race inequality is very much real in the USA. Plus..

        These conversations are about equal opportunity, not "wealth redistrubition" as you state.

        Do not forget money is purely man made. Rationalize all you want, but defending current monetary systems is by far the most divisive.

        + 2 for, Show me the research
  • Dec 15 2013: Personally I think this is a bad idea right from the start. If this money comes from the government, they are either borrowing or using high taxes to pay its citizens--which will end in a deficit. The people below the poverty line have opportunity to make money, they do not have to sit there and work at McDonald's for 30 years. I was reading an interesting article the other day, saying about 60-70% of families under the poverty line are single parents, 70% of those single parents had a kid before they were married and knew the types of birth control out their. I'm sorry, but I am not going to pay for someone else's responsibilities. Call me a bad person, but in reality, we cannot have so much pity for people that we hand them a check.
    Problems for the U.S is that we have 317 million people,you cannot just hand out checks of $2,800 a month. Maybe it works in small countries, but definitely not in big ones.
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      Dec 16 2013: The first place to start is by realizing that all economic structures are human made. They do not exist in any form other than that which we assign them. Once that point is grasped all that is required is agreement on what a new structure will look like and the will to create it.

      I love to point out that human beings have been stuck in mental containers and safely sent to the moon and brought back again. And those endeavours required real world understandings and massive co-operation, innovation and most of all belief in its possibility.

      So what makes one of our man made and mostly imaginary structures so difficult in light of those accomplishments?
      • Dec 16 2013: Then you merely have to have a sufficiently large military-police apparatus, and, voila! "Workers' Paradise!"
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          Dec 16 2013: while others have imagination, insight and perspective
    • Dec 17 2013: Blake I understand your point, but actually you're already paying for these responsibilities - your taxes go to welfare, child benefit and lone parent benefit. The Unconditional Basic Income is only available for adults and I don't think it is affected by the amount of children you have (or perhaps children get a quarter of the adult rate). So actually if you aren't a fan of paying for these responsibilities, basic income might be the way to go.
  • Dec 15 2013: Creating the atmosphere of income equalization for others without their earning it only enhances the feeling of entitlement. As a business owner, I have seen people come and go. Those who come back, do so only to visit with us. The people that work harder than others have always seen the benefit of an increase income. We help them improve upon themselves, encourage furthering their education, and accommodate those who wish to aspire for greater achievements. It has been this way for many generations. It is the reason we try to improve upon ourselves. Where we need to focus is not income, but in mentorship and fellowship. Unfortunately, there are the bean counter administrators out their that hold wages back, regardless of contribution, education and initiative. So, income mandates seem to be the only avenue for the skilled workforce; such as, nurses, teachers, educators, and the like. I can agree with some form of intervention in those areas, but to do this for the unskilled workforce? I think not.
  • Dec 15 2013: Would this take the place of the welfare, social security, unemployment insurance, etc. or be in addition to?
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      Dec 15 2013: You can't be on welfare if you have enough, no need for social security. Unemployment insurance would likely be phased out in time, since it's a different system (at least where I'm from). But yeah, it would most likely take the place of almost all government funded social programs.

      Some would probably still be needed at a small scale though.
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      Dec 15 2013: I have posted a couple of ideas below on that subject ..
      • Dec 15 2013: I know and really liked the one on freedom a lot.
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    Dec 15 2013: Hi jimmy I'm all for a safety net for countries that can afford it but2800 pet month seems a bit rich.

    it's more than our minimum wage. Maybe Switzerland is productive and rich enough to afford it.

    I feel I'm taxed enough at close to50% and 10% sales tax.
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      Dec 15 2013: In Switzerland $2800 isn't that much, it's actually a bit below the average disposable income there. Naturally the amount would have to be set to an acceptable limit for each county.

      The amount doesn't make you rich in Switzerland, you get by without scraping by. Which I think is reasonable.

      Edit: Obey, is your tax department lying or have you misunderstood how much tax you pay?
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        Dec 15 2013: The first and most important aspect of this concept is to find agreement that it is wanted by the citizenry. Paying for it is simply a matter of re-prioritizing existing government spending and its tax system. For example:

        One place to look for the money is in all the welfare and other social support programs that are duplicated in every province or state within every nation. If you pooled all that money and eliminated all the bureaucracy tied to each and every one of them - since a GBI is universal and sans means testing - you already have an enormous pool of money to start with and a big downsizing of local governments at the same time.

        Another is proper taxation. Everyone knows that income tax systems directed solely at 'income' are unreliable because those with wealth do not pay their share and, instead, are able bury the income in all kinds of loopholes and dummy businesses as well as ship their money offshore and hide it in numbered accounts around the world.

        But replacing the income tax with a GST or goods and services tax directed at the consumption end ensures that everyone pays taxes and those who consume the most should be paying the most in taxes. Besides, the wealthy exalt in how much their baubles and lifestyle cost, - my watch, car, yacht cost $$$$ - therefore a GST only enhances their bragging rights. Of course, food and housing can be exempted.

        However, the greatest advantage of a GST replacing the income tax is that all the money you earn is yours to keep and, if you don't want to pay a lot of tax, then control your consumption.

        That is just two suggestions and we are more than intelligent enough to find even more ways if we put our collective minds to it. Perhaps others can add their own ideas here?
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          Dec 16 2013: in New Zealand we pay income tax and GST.

          i agree with your idea about no income tax, just GST because i'm not happy with a lot of government spending. i did not vote for our current government and yet, i must still pay taxes regardless of how it gets wasted - there's a current trend in NZ govt for private companies to receive money or huge tax rebates in order to 'foster the economy'.

          citizens forking out to prop up an economy where the profit flows elsewhere is the absolute worst kind of system.
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        Dec 16 2013: You have my sympathy Scoot, here in Canada we are saddled with a similarly small minded and corporate lap dog conservative government. But they have just about run the course and are bogged down in scandal and in fighting so, hopefully, they will be cast out in a couple of years. May your nation share in the same good fortune soon.
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    Dec 14 2013: Hey everyone!

    I'm sorry for leaving many of you without replies, there's just a lot of conversation going on right now and I'm doing some outside TED-related stuff too that I'm really focused on.

    Arkady, Pabitra and Mike are the ones I see mentioning me looking for replies. I'll get to you in time, sorry to leave you hanging.
  • Dec 13 2013: The term "Basic Income" is outdated with references to LBJ's administration, the Great Society, and libertine objectives to be more inclusive and less exclusive. LBJ wanted results and the quickest way is to dole out the cash. Basic Income is a vertical integration program model that resembles the top down culture at the time. It was also a reason to literally try and pull people who had been systematically kept out of the economy back into the economy. Our economy today is horizontal. Not vertical. Lending rates set at zero or slightly above is a flat line that provides the economic incentives to allow more people to qualify for the variety of lending instruments for those who are working. For those outside the mainstream working class is the social safety net, ie unemployment benefits extended, job training or placement services act as a basic income. I think the idea has traction now that food workers want higher wages which the media has picked up as an increase in the minimum wage. What the economist of fame and notoriety fail to recognize is higher wages are paid when the product being produced costs more to produce. If it costs twentyfive cents to produce a hamburger and it sells for a dollar it's difficult to pay that employee anymore than what they are already making. But time and time again economist fail to recognize this simple relationship between the costs of goods and the price it is sold. Their method is to include all segments into economic soup then it is up to the connoisseurs of soup to feret out the individual tastes and textures. Leaving us to conclude that a higher wage or basic income is necessary to our lives. If we only had . . . and you can fill the rest in with any variety of wish list proposals.
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    Dec 13 2013: Another quote from Bastiat:

    "The Results of Legal Plunder

    It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.

    What are the consequences of such a perversion? It would require volumes to describe them all. Thus we must content ourselves with pointing out the most striking.

    In the first place, it erases from everyone's conscience the distinction between justice and injustice.

    No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a certain degree. The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them.

    The nature of law is to maintain justice. This is so much the case that, in the minds of the people, law and justice are one and the same thing. There is in all of us a strong disposition to believe that anything lawful is also legitimate. This belief is so widespread that many persons have erroneously held that things are "just" because law makes them so. Thus, in order to make plunder appear just and sacred to many consciences, it is only necessary for the law to decree and sanction it. Slavery, restrictions, and monopoly find defenders not only among those who profit from them but also among those who suffer from them. "
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    Dec 13 2013: Jimmy, have you read this book?

    What do you think of it? Here is another version:

    There are a few brilliant points:

    " Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter — by peaceful or revolutionary means — into the making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it. Woe to the nation when this latter purpose prevails among the mass victims of lawful plunder when they, in turn, seize the power to make laws!"
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      Dec 15 2013: I have not read the book.

      I think that there's a vast difference between redistributing wealth and plundering...
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        Dec 15 2013: Plunder is defined by Google as "the violent and dishonest acquisition of property." Taxation is, clearly, violent. The only word in question is whether it is "dishonest". Bastiat has a point that "honest" and "legal" often means the same thing for many people. So, when something is mandated by the law, it automatically becomes "honest" and "just". This question is very uncertain and prone to definitions and interpetations. Is wealth redistribution honest if it is done without consent of the people whose wealth is being redistributed? On the other hand, many people slaving in sweat shops in developing countries, often do so voluntarily to avoid worse alternatives such as starving to death. I don't think, I can answer this question. "Mutual consent" does not seem to imply "honest exchange".

        I strongly suggest you read the book. If you are not convinced by it, then, at least, you will be much better prepared to defend your own position. I find the arguments in this book very solid. The problem is that neither ideology works in its pure form. Uncontrolled free market causes as much human suffering as communism with all aspects of economy controlled by the government. The optimal way is somewhere in the middle, with no clear boundaries.
      • Dec 16 2013: "Redistributing wealth", if done under the threat of violence inherent in all government activities (don't believe me? Refuse to pay taxes and see if the government just chuckles and lets you be), is plunder, pure and simple. It's merely been given a thin coat of paint sufficient to fool the stupid and the greedy.
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          Dec 16 2013: I'm guessing that you want to go back to the tribal times...

          Or that you dream of a utopia where everyone is free to ANYTHING...
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    Dec 13 2013: Although the idea of basic income sounds appealing, I think the optimal solution would be to set up programs which allow for individuals to advance their education and experience in career fields which they desire and which facilitate greater socioeconomic mobility. If anything, these programs should only provide services for propelling one's life forward (i.e. college, trade school, job placement, etc.), while ensuring that basic needs are met (housing, food, clothing, etc.).

    Of course here in the United States we have various government-funded programs that can facilitate these needs. However, many individuals (including me), make "too much" money to qualify for the majority of these programs. Essentially, it's a vicious cycle, where the "working class" struggle to advance their careers, paying out of pocket and amassing huge debts, with little to nothing to show for it.

    For instance, I've worked nearly twelve years in the shipping industry, making roughly minimum wage for several years of my life, while paying out of pocket for college. Unfortunately I made "too much" money to qualify for government assistance, so I took out student loans which I pretty much will not be able to effectively pay off. Although I advanced my career within the company, I now have more living expenses, plus I'm maxed out on whatever credit that I was able to qualify for, and I'm looking at over $70,000 in student loan debt upon graduation.

    Sadly, I'm not the only one who has gone through similar situations. Yet the fact of the matter is that even if I attain a second higher-paying job, I'm beholden to a huge debt which I'll be struggling to repay for most of my life. That being said, if programs existed which would relieve this burden that most of the "working class" has to contend with, the consumer-driven facets of the economy would benefit as a whole. Plus we would be a heck of a lot more satisfied with life.
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      Dec 13 2013: Aww man, this is going to seem so unfair (and it is)... Here we have free education, all post graduate education is free... Sadly it's not free for YOU (foreigners) to study here anymore...

      Our student loans come from loaning for our living expenses while we study. But they're not nearly as high as yours mostly are.

      But even free education is not enough, it doesn't fix all of the problems.
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    Dec 13 2013: I still don't get how this is going to work. When I ask, where the money for the basic income will come from, I'm told "tax". Then I ask "who will be taxed?" "The rich," I'm told. Then people say that we must do away with income inequality - cap income and otherwise eliminate the rich or make them significantly poorer. OK. Once we achieve this noble goal, who will be taxed then?

    Imagine trying to jump high to get an apple with 9 people watching. You get an apple, and the people say: "no fair! you must share!" and make you divide the apple in 10 pieces, then take 9 of them, and give you your "fair share". What will you do? Keep jumping to get more apples? I doubt. Most people will wait for someone else to jump. And some will find a tree where nobody watches somewhere overseas.
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      Dec 13 2013: The money, as with all shared funds, will come from tax. Why the rich? It's because they are the ones who can afford it, and they are the ones making money on the labor of the poor. if you take a look at this it might clear up a bit

      You bring up the main argument against BI, which is that it takes away the incentive to work. And this it what it all boils down to. Are people inherently lazy, just trying to scrape by or do people want to do stuff, work and create amazing things? Sure, the crappy factory might have a hard time motivating people to come work, which would force them to improve conditions so that people would want to come. You are no longer FORCED to work, that does not mean that you don't want to.

      And when it comes to pay, it's not technically how much we earn that drives us, it's how much we earn in comparison to others.
      It's also been proven that people do the best work when you take money out of the picture, you give them enough to not worry about it, no less and no more. Watch this RSA Animation for more info:

      And most (almost everyone) wants to build a capital that they can do stuff with. It's just that most people are forces to scrape by and are never able to change their circumstances.

      If having money would make people not work then we would not see millionaires and billionaires working as much as they do.

      When I first heard of this (about a year ago) I was also skeptical. Let me ask you this Arkady, would you just lay back and wait to die or would you continue to work, possibly with something else?
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        Dec 13 2013: Jimmy,

        Dan Ariely in one of his TED talks showed that money is not the main motivator for people as does the RSA animation. So, yes, people will work. People may even be willing to share their fortune with others who are less fortunate - many billionaires and celebrities set up charitable funds. But the rich WILL take their money and their business somewhere else if they feel that the taxes are oppressive. They will emigrate to Russia, the Caribbean or wherever else. That's the thing with the rich - you can't "force" them pay. This will bring the system down - it will simply run out of funds because there will be more unemployed and fewer "rich" to tax. Not that I think that the rich "should not pay" or try to protect the rich. I'm simply very skeptical that the whole thing will work and will fail as social security system is failing and as the 1990 luxury excise tax failed in the U.S. The taxes on rich do not work as expected. People will not do business as usual if taxes are increased. They will quickly adapt - move business overseas, lay off people, stop buying yachts or will buy them in Panama, etc. throwing off the assumptions and calculations of how these taxes are supposed to work.

        And, still, if the goal is to eliminate economic inequality, who will pay when rich people are extinct?

        On the other hand, there are also plenty of people who choose the lifestyle of bums and will spend their guaranteed income on booze and drugs. Why encourage this? Many parks prohibit feeding wildlife - squirrels, ducks, seagulls. Wild animals who are supposed to provide for themselves may become aggressive pests when they get used to get food from humans. There are already people in this forum who are ready to "die and kill for" the basic income.
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          Dec 13 2013: If all of them leave (which I don't think they will), what a great opportunity that would be to open new businesses for the people that remain. Imagine, no competition!
          Until there is and the system is restored.
        • Dec 22 2013: Plus sooner or later they will devise ways to compete with overseas business laden with transport costs and/or political instability.
          However this might mean the return to the original inequality, amplifying small differences in income.
      • Dec 13 2013: Perhaps there is no entertainment available in Europe or it's all very expensive. In the USA, entertainment is cheap and plentiful. The parasites would drag everyone else down with them.
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          Dec 13 2013: I think that many from the USA think very little of their fellow brothers and sisters... And I think that passing blame instead of understanding reasons and trying to fix them is quite ordinary for many Americans...

          Many of you seem to talk in an alienating way of fellow human beings. You think of them as losers instead of as unfortunates. And that makes me sad.
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        Dec 14 2013: This seems a problem that crosses boundaries rather than being particular to the US.
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          Dec 14 2013: Yes, but in general I find this to be more true for the US.

          You have the societal structure of "every man for himself" more deeply rooted, in general that is.

          I might be wrong but... I obviously don't think that I am.
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        Dec 14 2013: When were you last in the United States and for how long? Did you ever live in the United States for any length of time?
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          Dec 14 2013: Never been Fritzie,

          I'm basing it on conversations that I've had with TEDsters for the past three years, the ones from the US seem to be generally less humane in their worldview. But some of the most compassionate (Colleen for example) are also from the US.

          But I find differences in nationality.

          Or maybe I'm just biased, but then again maybe the ones disagreeing with me are...
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        Dec 14 2013: I agree that it is hard to make judgments on the basis of tiny samples one views only long-distance and via the internet. Would a person develop an accurate picture of Swedes by reading what you write, of Hungarians by reading what Kristzian writes, of Germany by reading Random Chance and Lejan, of Mexico by reading Harald, of Australia by reading Mitch?

        From a scientific viewpoint, would you consider those who participate in TED Conversations a random sample of the populations of the countries from which they come?
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          Dec 15 2013: Great points Fritzie!

          I can see how my opinion of the inhabitants of the US is offending to those inhabiting the nation. Just needed to clear that, I get that I'm being offensive with my honest opinion.

          I would not say that I am representative for my nation no, but many of my views are. Like my views on free education, universal healthcare, war, taxes and a few other. And I would say that most Americans (when referring to Americans I'm talking about the US, not including Canada and Mexico) have an inhumane viewpoint of such matters.

          Over here the US is generally held in very low regards, you're seen as a horrific example of capitalism, warmongering and every-man-for-himself-attitude. That I can say.

          Now, on here I only get to notice examples of non-US persons every now and then, while I see the vast majority as US citizens.

          1/4 of all TED members without photos are from the US and 1/3 of all with photos are from the US. Possibly more since not everybody chooses to say where their from.

          And I don't have any data but I'd say that about half of conversations is filled with US citizens. So I do find you to be a representative bunch scientifically, not completely random since we don't hear from those without an internet connection, but representative nonetheless. But I'm not in a position to assess if what I claim is true or just my bias. But I can tell you that it really feels that way. Or I wouldn't have said it.

          I think that the US has a culture that greatly differs from most of the first world, a culture that isn't very humane or forgiving.
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        Dec 15 2013: I have never found your impressions of the people of the United States to be offensive. Only quite inaccurate and uninformed.

        TED members with or without photos are unlikely to be a representative sample either of the US population or of those with an internet connection.

        Members who participate in Conversations are also a very skewed and small sample of either the average American or of the frequency distribution of views..

        I absolutely know the US is held in low regard, with the sort of assumptions you make of an every-man-for-himself attitude. It is simple an inaccurate picture of the people here. But then people in various countries are often encouraged to see great and uniform evil in strangers abroad (or even at home) and quick to screen in a biased way the evidence available for better judgment.

        I am not offended. I am only troubled at how the world can move forward in addressing problems constructively if people of different countries are utterly confident of their incorrect impressions of peoples across the globe from them. It is particularly disheartening to see it in the young.

        I am troubled by uninformed or weakly informed hatreds and where they lead humanity. I would encourage anyone to carefully examine his own tendencies to judge with little information and to hate.

        I wish for 2014 for anyone inclined to draw hateful conclusions of strangers, either as individuals or as groups of 'others," to consider with as big a heart and as clear a head as he/she can muster the foundations of his or her views.
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          Dec 15 2013: Well, we have different views on this...

          I'm inclined to say that you don't see the accurate picture since you're standing in the middle of it.

          I do not hate the inhabitants of any country. You seem to think that I feel hate, I do not. Where did you get that from?

          That's a nice wish, I wish the same...

          I also wish for people to see their society for what it is.
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        Dec 15 2013: What you can do is do your part to ask yourself continuously how you are forming your judgments and whether you can become better informed. I know in popular culture people often assume that people who are more immersed in a subject, like, say, scholars in science or another field, understand what they study less than those with more superficial exposure.

        Again, I think it is wise to consider what you really know rather than being too comfortably set in your first and distant impressions. This is particularly important if you aim to be any sort of a leader.
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          Dec 15 2013: I'm not aiming to be a leader, what I am I am out of necessity. As I've said many times, the system I'm advocating is one where all people are equal and have equal votes. I can speak for those who think that I can, nothing else.

          Again, I think that I see your country more clearly then you do since you lack an outside perspective...

          Should we end it here Fritzie? We won't get further. Our opinions differ, you think that I'm blind and judgmental, I think that is true for a large part of the inhabitants in your nation.

          I won't reply to this anymore unless asked a specific question, you are of course free to continue if you wish.
      • Dec 16 2013: I am just reporting what I have seen of former co-workers and others I have met. There is a very large proportion of Americans who, if they get a sufficiently "comfortable" hand-out, will refuse to work. I saw it happen over and over. I saw many people rotate through pointless jobs, not because the jobs paid too little, but because they decided that, since their bills were paid, they simply didn't feel like working anymore. Then they get unhappy when the same place won't hire them back.
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    Dec 13 2013: I think that all people should have their basic physiological needs met unconditionally. If this means giving people the proposed income to ensure they meet these needs, then I'm fine with it. To me, this doesn't seem like the best thing to do. If we give those in need money, there is no guarantee they will spend it on their needs. I feel that if we do give them money, it should be in a sort of "food stamp"-like manner. It's money, but they can only spend it on certain things. Also, a negative of giving people unconditional money is finding the fine line between too little and too much. I know that there are some people that can live fine off unemployment or disability, which is fine for those that can truly not find a job or work in a job, but there are people who just take that money as incentive to not work.

    The other solution to the problem of making sure that people can survive is providing free services to those that need it. This has already been put in place in the form of soup kitchen (and I'm sure there's free shelter for people too). One great free thing that isn't a physiological need, but can help a lot is the public library system. Many homeless and non-homeless people use this free service to learn and/or access the internet. I went a little off track (almost advertising public libraries :)), but I just wanted to give an example of how we can provide for those in need of assistance, without giving them money unconditionally.
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      Dec 13 2013: Kai, this question ultimately boils down to the question: can we, with our knowledge and wisdom, determine truly global standard of survival (with basic human dignity) cost by ignoring asymmetric national standards of living?
      I know that many evade this question by arguing that even if it is determined it will be impossible to implement that standard. But what about just knowing it and making it public?
      Till such time we, with our infinite ingenuity, find a magic cure for energy-resource conundrum, how about living with the knowledge, say my 20 kilometer drive in fancy car today actually made few mothers walk 2 kilometers to collect clean water?
      I want these information hang heavy on our conscience, for a change.
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      Dec 12 2013: The first step is to want it. After that human ingenuity will do the rest. Least we forget, we have taken human beings, stuck them in metal containers and sent them to the moon. And we even brought them back alive and mostly well!

      If we can do that with real world issues, there is no reason we cannot do the same with our economic structures which, after all, are human made and can be remade in whatever manner and to serve whatever needs we wish them to.
  • Dec 12 2013: Economic arguments in favor or against, overlooks the unavoidable fact…
    Inflation , markets, wages, taxes ,everything can be changed.

    There is no deity involved here.

    Argue the straw man, or get busy changing .
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      Dec 12 2013: Exactly Joe. All the systems you mention are human made. They are not any more real than the board games we used to play. And because they are simply agreements and conventions we have created, they can be restructured, torn down and rebuilt in any from we wish. They can even be abandoned in favour of more relevant systems to better meet our modern needs.

      Nothing is static, everything in the world is in transition, even the universe itself. Let's move one already.
      • Dec 22 2013: Pity it's not easy, the inertia is high and there will be inevitable losses and rough spots.

        Accepting that nothing will be perfect from the start or ever is important.
  • Dec 11 2013: Who are the "right wing persons" who support this? I know of some libertarians who supported or support the idea, but no "right wing persons" at all. Libertarians are not "right wing", since libertarians despise theocracy, despise closed borders, despise militarism, despise government being used to impose "morality", etc. Likewise, libertarians advocate open borders, advocate marriage equality, advocate freedom of conscience, advocate freedom of movement, advocate freedom of personal choices (excluding harming others), etc. Thus, libertarians are not "right wing people". Who are the "right wing people" you mention?

    My own opinion is that it would be a massive disincentive to work unless it truly were "basic"--something that could support someone but not allow for luxuries like a smartphone, cable/satellite TV, new cars, luxury/designer clothing, etc. Otherwise, why work? Just watch "reality TV" all day long and drink beer. You think there aren't people like that? I've met and worked with several.
    • Dec 11 2013: You display worrisome signs of delusion. Your ideas of what is right wing probably mimic those that a North Korean government official would present if querried, if you truly believe this I advice you to seek help. The terms are, in fact, largely equivalent - as a policy that is right wing tend to be liberterian - especially when it comes to economic matters. Right-wingers and libertarians value freedom, leftists do not. That's the reason why almost all of those that identify as libertarian vote Republican. Just check the figures from the last U.S presidential election if you don't trust me, it's very simple to verify.

      You leftists sure are prone to dehumanize and subsequently act violently towards your political opponents. What would you do to that figment of your imagination/distortion a right-winger if you could get away with it, Bryan?

      The OP also has no clue about what he's blabbering about. This is obviously socialism, and by defintion is not supported by anyone on the right.
      • Dec 11 2013: I'm not a leftist. I'm a libertarian. I'm also not stupid enough to presume that anyone who isn't willing to blindly buy into the right wing package is a "leftist".
        Right-wingers hate freedom. Libertarians adore it. Right-wingers vote to impose religiously-based restrictions on marriage, for example. Libertarians vote to open up marriage to any adult who wants it with any other adult, so long as it's mutually consentual, no matter how silly it might be. Right-wingers vote to close borders and keep people who don't speak English out. Libertarians vote to keep government out of what people speak and to open borders to free flow of labor. Believe me, I know a lot of right-wingers. They oppose so much that libertarians embrace and embrace so much that libertarians oppose.
  • Dec 11 2013: can I ask if that is a livable income ex. rent, food, durable goods and so on? If that was implemented who would structure price cost? It is an interesting concept and I am all for forward movements of living standards for all, I need to think though, without sounding to skeptical that most of mankind is not about fellow brothers and sisters but of the propping up of ones self before others. Until the ego is mastered by all, doubts will exist within my view of mans true potential. I thank you and hope is my flame for the betterment of mankind.
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    Dec 11 2013: The idea is good in the sense that it has good intentions. But is it realistic ?? Realistic in the sense that it should not create chaos, or cause just unfair or enforced redistribution of wealth, or to be done just by printing more paper-money without having any real hard economic basis for the increased cash level in the markets. More cash in the markets is a trigger for inflation and then what's the use of having more money when its purchasing power decreases.

    In short, is there any true plan and thinking underlying this proposal or is it just a populistic one sprouting from despair ??
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    Dec 11 2013: I can see how it would be useful at a low level to provide basic needs such as food and housing. But then the question is why not simply provide these things directly to those that need them? Surely that would be more economical, less easily abused and less inflationary?
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      Dec 11 2013: I think it's because society isn't very good at getting to those who really need it. Also, with basic income (hereafter referred to as BI) you can get rid of that enormous branch of government that is costing so much...

      And it's probably more fair to give the same amount to everyone, regardless if you make 1, 10 or 100 thousand... Then we don't have to bother with the line drawing and such.
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        Dec 11 2013: But I feel like if, for instance, we offered basic food rations to everyone, we could still largely dispense with the expensive bureaucracy of means-testing and rely on the fact that most of those who didn't really need them just wouldn't be bothered with the hassle of going to collect them.

        It does perhaps get more complex with things like accommodation though.

        I do think UBI would be preferable to many of the social security systems in place now. But I think there are probably better systems still.
      • Dec 11 2013: A "flat handout" would be more efficient. I'm not happy with the concept, but I would rather see it done as a "flat handout" to all citizens and qualifying legal residents than just another powerful bureaucracy. There would still be some bureaucracy over verifying citizenship/residency requirements, but if we offer it to anyone, it will be an incentive for ever more illegals to invade. They want the "basic income", they can follow the rules.
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        Dec 12 2013: Jimmy your right on the mark and imagine the downsizing of every level of government that would result from eliminating all the regional, state and national patchwork supports.
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    Dec 11 2013: Here is how "Affordable Care Act" worked for me so far. "Health care for everyone" is another great idea, isn't it? The company I work for had open enrollment meeting yesterday where they explained changes to benefit plans.

    Health insurance premiums paid by my employer to the insurance company will increase next year. As a result, my employer will cover 95% of premiums for employees (vs. 100% this year) and 70% for dependents (vs. 75% this year). My health insurance premium deductions will go up by almost $100/month. How is that "more affordable"? I'm sure, the health care cost will not go down. Now that there is more money in the pool, hospitals will charge more than ever. You know, two days ago, I thought, Obamacare will not affect me because I have health insurance paid by my employer.

    These ideas sound cool if you are a politician seeking votes. But as you get into the economics of it, I'm afraid, you'll quickly find out that the idea does not work or backfires. But that, usually, happens years or decades later. So, if you are a politician, it does not matter. The rich will find a way to recover this "small %", most likely, at the expense of the middle class, pushing some people from this middle class down into "low income class" only to widen the income gap. In my example, insurance company increased the premium for my employer, and my employer slightly shifted the burden to the employees. I have a feeling that both of them remained cash neutral.
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      Dec 11 2013: You know I have a really hard time grasping how your healthcare system works... Here you just go to the doctor if you're ill, a visit costs about $18, double that if you need to see a specialist...

      Worrying about money when I'm ill is the last thing I would want to do...
      • Dec 11 2013: Actually, a visit costs a great deal more than that. You just get charged a token fee out of pocket. The rest is collected at gun-point by the government (aka "taxes").
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          Dec 12 2013: Yes, but it doesn't cost me more at the point when I need it. I'm paying taxes and I gladly continue to do so to know that when I need healthcare I will get it.

          Once you've tried universal healthcare, you don't want to go back. Ask any country that has it.

          Yeah, just like they're forcing me to build schools and roads, damn them!
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        Dec 11 2013: With insurance it works the same way here. The cost is hidden from you. In the U.S. it's less transparent because I know how much my employer pays in health insurance premiums and I get statements from the insurance company telling me the cost, percentage covered, out-of-pocket expense, etc. The system is overly complicated. E.g. we had to order a test from a special lab in another state. If you pay cash, they charge $156. But if you want them to charge insurance, they will charge $400 or so. If insurance does not pay, you will have to pay $400. The reason is that when insurance does not pay, the company partially recovers money in tax deductions, because they specify $400 as a loss.

        This is why emergency service is so outrageously expensive. It is used by the poor who don't go to the doctor regularly due to the lack of insurance. In emergency, the hospital cannot let you die. They provide treatment, but many of the emergency patients cannot pay. One of the ideas behind Obamacare was to get the poor treated before the condition turns into emergency. But it still does not work as intended. I doubt, hospitals will charge less for emergency care, but everyone pays higher insurance premiums for now.
      • Dec 12 2013: It is, nevertheless, dishonest to claim that the out-of-pocket is what something "costs"--it's a flat-out lie. The "cost" is simply deferred, it is not reduced. Now, please explain how my opposition to lying is identical to opposing roads or even government-paid health care. Dishonesty is always wrong, and indulging in it only weakens your case. That being said, the real issue regarding health care is whether or not to move it from a marketable product to an infrastructure item. At one time, many roads were market items, not infrastructure, but that was a very long time ago. Schools did not become infrastructure until far more recently, a mere few centuries ago. Is "health care" infrastructure? If so, then merely paying for it through taxation is not sufficient. If "health care" is infrastructure, the use of that health care should be as regulated and policed as the use of other infrastructure, like roads. Speed limits, police patrols, etc., on roads would have analogies in health care. Of course, if people object to "violation of privacy", then they should not expect government to pay for their health care, just as if they object to speed limits and police patrols of traffic, they should not drive on government-maintained roads.
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        Dec 11 2013: Jason, I know. I'm not a radical opponent of these things.

        I have mixed feelings about insurance and social programs in general. There is a lot to say on both sides - I don't even want to start. I'd rather have people find solution that suits their needs best rather than have the state mandate a solution that will, for sure, not work for everyone. E.g., I'm done with children. Why should I pay for maternity? A Catholic may be ideologically opposed to birth control. Why should he be forced to pay for birth control for someone else?

        I know, I know, such position favors the rich who have a lot of choices and puts the poor who cannot afford many things in disadvantage. This is why I said, I have mixed feelings about this stuff. E.g., I think it's fair to prohibit insurance companies reject people with preexisting conditions.

        Perhaps, it's best to stay away from heated debates on these issues and let people do their jobs - the President, the doctors, the insurance companies. We have elected representatives paid a lot of money to do the heated debates for us. It's a valuable service. I'll pay the extra $100. That's fine.
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    Dec 11 2013: Well you asked the right person (8^(l)

    It won't do anyone any good, of course that is not my opinion. I could explain why but after you ignored my through explanation of how socialism doesn't work in your own country I won't bother.
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      Dec 11 2013: It's interesting that you answered from an angle of society, I don't mind anybody who don't like socialism and as a matter of fact, China not only has socialism but also has capitalism as well. We have diversity.Does any other country have as we do?
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        Dec 11 2013: China is quite unique in the world... But yeah, all countries in the world have capitalism, the happiest and most successful countries are those that also have socialism... Pat will disagree.

        How did you get past the great firewall of China? I'm always curious when a Chinese person shows up...
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          Dec 12 2013: Yes, you're right. We call our socialism "Chinese characteristic socialism".:)
          Just like someone stated below, in some aspects, maybe we are more capitalistic--needs improving.
          And I'm glad TED isn't blocked by our govenment. However, my concern is that people have some bias on Chinese, which will make those people set up a firewall in their heart. I think if you don't reject us, there'll be more and more friendly Chinese here to communicate with you online.
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        Dec 11 2013: Yoka

        The part that brought wealth to China is Captalism, the part that has kept private property away from it's citizens is socialism.
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          Dec 12 2013: Yes, I agree. We people don't care much about what "lism" it is. People all care about their living conditions and their income.
        • Dec 12 2013: The Chinese "have more savings" because they have no confidence in their future and nothing to buy. Likewise, China has among the world's most inequitable and unequal distributions of wealth.
      • Dec 11 2013: China has the greatest disparity between wealthy and poor in the world, and in China, the "poor" are PROFOUNDLY poor, trying to live on less than $300 per year. In the USA, "poverty" starts at 50 to 100 times higher than that.
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          Dec 12 2013: Thx for your information about the USA poverty standard. The USA is still very rich according to your income level. However, Chinese have more savings.
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          Dec 12 2013: "The Chinese "have more savings" because they have no confidence in their future and nothing to buy. "

          I don't totally agree with you. It's kind of some traditions too. Chinese people like to prepare their money for their children and have the good feeling of " owning surplus wealth", Chinese people don't have the habit of owing others money. If you come to China, you can see the commercial prosperity here. How could be nothing to buy , have you read about our online shopping record only in one day? 19.1billion CNY on the Singles Day(11.11)!Only 2 shops(Taobao& Tmall) were calculated excluding other traditional ones.The travel agencies have more and more Chinese customers traveling to Europe and other countries. I think you're out.

          And here's the link of a talk of China in a westerner's eyes.

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      Dec 11 2013: I didn't ask you Pat... :)

      But as I said in the explanation, both left AND right-wing profiles are seeing perks to this. For you getting rid of a big branch of government should be a good motive.

      I didn't respond? I was sure that I did, I'm currently on 30-something active conversations... Which one was that again?
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    Dec 11 2013: For me, the more, the better, I think I want to use it to travel to a lot of places to learn more things.
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    Dec 11 2013: What's the source of this income and who will receive it?

    If the answer is "everyone" will pay "everyone", then it's like passing a buck in a circle. Nobody gains anything. But when the buck stops, we end up with the lucky 1% vs. the outraged 99% again (or whatever the percent might be).

    Economic system which is not based on voluntary exchange seems to require the crutches of bureaucracy to exist. It will not sustain itself. The same seems to be true for social programs not based on voluntary giving.
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        Dec 11 2013: I know. Tax money don't fall from the sky. Where will the money come from? What will be taxed?

        I slightly expanded my original brief post. Do you have any thoughts on the other reasoning?
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          Dec 11 2013: I actually think that it will work, I think that people inherently want to do stuff, want to do good. And there's still incentive to work, earning more money.

          And it's "only" $2800 a month (which isn't luxury living in Switzerland), if you want to build a cash pile you still have to work.
          And they only have to tax the very rich with a small % to fund this. And then you can also take away just about all social services, saving a lot of costs. The factories won't close, the tourists won't stop coming...

          I wouldn't stop working, would you?
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          Dec 12 2013: It has been long been known that a GST - goods and services tax -rate comparable to the base tax income tax rate is the best form of taxation and far better than an income tax. The income tax system has been so badly gamed that only those who do have the means to ship their income offshore and/or to exploit all the existing loopholes end up paying the most in income taxes.

          But a GST ensures that those who buy the most pay the most in taxes and well they should since they are also consuming the most resources in their often ostentatious consumption. Also, with a GST, all your income is yours to tack home, so if you don't want to pay a lot of tax, don't by a log of stuff, pretty simple.
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        Dec 11 2013: Jimmy,

        I like the idea of where everyone pays the same percentage and everyone receives the same dollar amount. E.g. if the dollar amount is $2,800 and percentage is 10%, then people who make $28,000 will pay 0, people who make less will receive a benefit, and people who pay more will pay progressively larger net percentage that will asymptotically approach 10% not exceeding it. People who make 0 will simply receive $2,800.

        This seems to be very simple and seems to be, essentially, the same idea. What do you think of this system?
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          Dec 11 2013: Upon first inspection I must say that I love it, I need to ponder the possible downsides for a bit though.

          I'm not sure that I understand " people who pay more will pay progressively larger net percentage that will asymptotically approach 10% not exceeding it" so nobody pays more then 10%, ever?

          Will that create enough revenue?
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        Dec 11 2013: The numbers in my post are for illustration only. Read details on the page. There are only two numbers to play with - the rate and the "prebate" amount. It's easy to calculate the numbers to make the system sustainable.

        The net rate will be equal to percentage minus prebate divided by the taxed amount. When the taxed amount is so large that prebate/taxed amount is negligible, the net rate approaches the percentage.
      • Dec 11 2013: $2800 a month?????

        That is a low-level managerial salary in the USA. Entry-level employment is almost always under $1500 a month. Such an enormous and generous handout would guarantee massive voluntary unemployment in the USA. And who would support these parasites?
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          Dec 11 2013: Jimmy mentioned $2800. I used this number as an example. The specific amount does not matter. Whatever is considered a minimum to survive. No worries, in 20 years it will be close to $2800 or it may be $2800 in some other country in local currency. I don't pay attention to dollar amounts. They have meaning only within the context of a specific transaction. For a general discussion like this we can use any amount.
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        Dec 11 2013: Jason, regarding your post above regarding I think, you have not read the proposal. The major point you miss is the "prebate" idea - a fixed amount everyone receives from the system regardless of the contribution. Those who pay in tax less than the prebate amount end up with a credit. This includes the children, the elderly, the disabled - everyone. I think, it's fair because the wealthy receive exactly the same prebate amount in dollars as the poor while contributing the same percentage which turns out to be a larger dollar amount. There is no room for manipulation. There are just 2 numbers to play with. Very easy to model. The tax code will be 1 page.
        • Dec 22 2013: Forgot to add a sentiment against immigrants, sadly. Therefore 2 pages.
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        Dec 12 2013: I think, the prebate is a check mailed to everyone once a month. Much like Jimmy suggests. That's how the poor buy stuff at the register. They have complete freedom on what to spend it on as opposed to other subsidies such as food stamps. I like it because I don't think the government can dictate the people what they need to survive. Some can't live without meth, for example.
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          Dec 12 2013: Two points. One, there is more than enough wealth in the world to ensure everyone has a comfortable standard of living. Two, it is those who at the bottom of the economic system that actually stimulate local economies because they spend their money locally. They do not ship it offshore or hid it in numbered accounts.
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        Dec 12 2013: Jason,

        There was a 10% federal luxury tax adopted in 1990. The rationale behind it was the same - "make the rich pay their 'fair share'". The tax was repealed in 1993 and is now a classic example in books on economics. It turned out to be a disaster. Unfortunately, I could not find reliable sources on it, but this seems to be an established fact.

        This idea is still alive in various states and countries. Here is a reasonable analysis

        Here is an article by a university professor of economics

        Here is a PBS article with too many details for me to read completely

        Here is a blog post about the same deal in Florida

        And here is an emotional rant from 1993 on CNN Money
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        Dec 12 2013: The prebate amounts are explained here.

        They come from federal poverty levels, not from thin air. This is what the government currently considers to be the survival minimum.

        I think, you misread it again. does not offer exemptions for any products. Simply the poor get the prebate - that's all. By the way, I would use the term "" as a label only. The term "fair" is confusing and meaningless without context. And "fair tax" sounds like an oxymoron to me.

        I think, the prebate or the "basic income" discussed here should not, by any means, allow any level of comfortable living. It must be a bare survival minimum - perhaps only food and basic clothing. If it allows to rent an apartment and have a car, people will have no motivation at all to get another source of income.