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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Topics: basic income

Closing Statement from Jimmy Strobl

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

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

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

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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...

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