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Government The Almighty Buck Politics

The Campaign To Get Every American Free Money, Every Year 1291

merbs writes: Supporters of a basic income have finally organized a proper political movement. Basic Income Action is, according to co-founder Dan O'Sullivan, "the first national organization educating and organizing the public to support a basic income. "He tells me that "Our goal is to educate and organize people to take action to win a basic income here in the U.S." This 2013 Economist article does a good job of summarizing the pro and con viewpoints on the (ahem) basic idea.
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The Campaign To Get Every American Free Money, Every Year

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  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @12:40PM (#50541507)

    in the form of SS (old age, disability, survivor benefits), food stamps, etc, etc?

    • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @12:42PM (#50541527) Homepage
      Only if you qualify. Otherwise, tough luck.
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @12:45PM (#50541573)

      The idea behind a basic guaranteed income is that it replaces all that, and is universal. EVERYBODY, regardless of age, disability, location, job, or dead relatives is guaranteed the basic income. It replaces government pensions, welfare, food stamps, even the minimum wage, and all of the redundant bureaucratic apparatus (and chances to cheat) that are associated with those programs.

      • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @12:49PM (#50541615) Journal

        It replaces government pensions, welfare, food stamps, even the minimum wage, and all of the redundant bureaucratic apparatus (and chances to cheat) that are associated with those programs.

        And by simplifying and removing that bureaucracy, you can theoretically save money overall.

      • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:50PM (#50542377)

        replaces government pensions, welfare, food stamps,

          To me this is the basic flaw of basic income. By handing out free money, you are still going to have all the social ills those programs are at least mitigating, but now you have fewer people in your society who are working profitably (or at least I will assume so). Further, the flaw with currency has always been that its value is not fixed by any hard force, but rather floats based on a complicated set of functions that surely will not favor the poor. The outcome I see is that you give that currency out, and prices of things will go up, and people are still having a hard time scraping by (and bad decisions with that money will further conflate the issue).

        I would rather see "Basic Services" instead of basic income. Every person can get X amount of food, show up and be treated for medical concerns, have day care, be provided with A place to live suitable for themselves alone, with heat and enough electricity for a single person. Do not give out money, give out basic and enabling services people in hard times can use. None of this would be posh, but it would provide basic living needs. You could do nothing at all and exist for as long as you live. This would have less inflationary impact, and would allow companies to hire/fire at will (which they arguably need to do), and allow citizens to retrain themselves as technology renders disciplines obsolete, and ultimately provide the safety net I think a civilized country should have, but leaving the best parts of capitalism. There will be considerable incentive incentive to get out of and an impetus to return the individual to productivity, which is actually the primary force for economic health in a country anyway. Some never will... and the success or failure of this program will be determined by how many such people exist.

        But if you want to run a socialist experiment, this is how I'd start it, not by handing out a check.

    • Don't we (the US) already have that in the form of SS (old age, disability, survivor benefits), food stamps, etc, etc?

      No we don't. Those are programs for people that meet specific criteria. Big portions of the population don't qualify for those programs for one reason or another. Even when you do qualify, sometimes they take a while to kick in. I know first hand that the process of SS disability can take quite a while.

      I'd need a lot of evidence to make me think that something like this is not a stupid idea. I think the notion that this would lift people out of poverty would be quickly swamped by inflation. Prices are

    • Actually, my Citizen's Dividend is essentially an expansion of Social Security.

      The Basic Income movement is inherently political, which I've had the unfortunate pleasure of learning about since I worked out how to make a *correct* Citizen's Dividend.

      Basic Incomes are extremely expensive and have enormous economic impacts; to implement one without damaging the economy, you need to replace existing welfare. To gain a benefit, you need a stable finance source--stable relative to the distribution per perso

  • by Nkwe ( 604125 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @12:44PM (#50541555)
    The money has to come from somewhere and that somewhere is the taxpayers. Redistribution of wealth may be a good or bad thing depending on your political opinion, but giving out money has to be a cost to someone, somewhere - it is not free.
    • by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @12:59PM (#50541723)

      Agreed. Not a huge fan of welfare in general, but this system is much preferred to the current system. Here's how you pay for it (remember this includes outlays AND overhead - overhead can be quite huge in some cases)

      1. Eliminate all low-income welfare programs - there are a TON of these
      2. Eliminate social security
      3. You can probably eliminate most forms of medicare and medicaid
      4. Eliminate most low-income student support programs (school lunches, etc...)
      5. Eliminate most V.A. support programs, which is basically welfare as well
      6. Government pensioners can probably have their pension payments removed from the minimum income (IE you don't get a pension AND basic income)
              - This won't necessarily save money but can ease pressure in the pension system
      7. Eliminate make-work/stimulus programs

      That's just the tip of the iceberg. You can probably eliminate unemployment insurance, minimum wage, heck almost all labor regulations as the philosophy behind them is that low-income workers are exploited as they are being "forced" to work to survive.

    • by marciot ( 598356 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:23PM (#50541997)

      The money comes from automation and productivity increases due to technology. If a factory installs hundreds of robots and now no longer needs to hire people, there needs to be a way to redistribute some of those savings otherwise those who own the machines will gain all the advantages. In an ideal techno utopia, machines would be doing the majority of the work, most would live off a basic income out of that productivity surplus, and the few who enjoyed building machines would continue to do so (either for the prestige or for a larger share of that productivity surplus).

      • The money comes from automation and productivity increases due to technology.
        And who owns the equipment that provided automation and productivity increases? How much did they invest to get those production gains? Why are the gains from that smart investment being given to someone else who didn't make the investment and has zero to do with it?
  • Ben Franklin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @12:44PM (#50541561) Homepage Journal

    I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

    and

    There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them [Great Britain]. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful? And do they use their best endeavors to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burden? On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty.

    • Re:Ben Franklin (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @12:54PM (#50541681) Journal
      Extrapolating from that, the best sort of welfare program would be to have a "work center," where anyone can go to earn money. Maybe they will clean up the litter on the highways, or maybe they will dig ditches and re-fill them afterwards, but they should be doing work. And then pay them a reasonable wage in return.
  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @12:46PM (#50541587)

    I think the work cycle is just about done evolving. For example:
    - Hunter-gatherers organized into agrarian societies
    - Mechanization and industrialization led to many farm workers transitioning to factory work
    - Societal pressures on education, etc. led to many factory workers transitioning to office and service work
    - Offshoring of all manufacturing from first world countries shifted smart people to office work, less-than-smart people to crappy service jobs
    - Offshoring of office work including IT shifted a bunch of the smart people to crappy service jobs or the "gig economy"
    - Automation or offshoring of the rest of the office work will lead to....chaos? Revolution? A country of people being paid to rate cat videos on YouTube?

    Whatever it leads to, there isn't any work left for most people to move to. Smart people are still relatively OK, but there are A LOT of not-smart people holding down random corporate jobs and the few factory jobs that are left. When there's nowhere to go, and society still uses money to value things, basic income is a good idea. It also formally recognizes that there are people who just can't contribute to society at the same levels as others and provides a humane existence for them.

    • by eulernet ( 1132389 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:16PM (#50541907)

      This !

      By their replies, I see here a lot of people slave to their job, as it was the sole meaning of their life.
      My job, my money, my family, my car, my house. WTF ?

      What ? You don't have a job ? Go die, scum ! I don't want to help you, but if I'm in the same situation as you, I'll cry for help.

      And you see that it works, when poor people feel miserable because they don't have a job.

      Giving a minimal amount of money to allow people to live decently (food + housing) would make the society fairer.
      Of course, there will be abuses, from both sides.

      "Poor" people will say: I have not enough money to feed my big dogs or pay for my car.
      "Rich" people will say: I won't pay slackers, because I work my ass off. I don't need anybody's help.

      This will also help "normal" people to stop despising others because they cannot get a job.
      There are life accidents, for example, when people are disabled, should they have twice the pain: disabled and jobless ?

      What is the minimal amount of money you would need to live decently ?

    • by willworkforbeer ( 924558 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:27PM (#50542037)
      Another perspective: Where are the mass graves of the tens of thousands of workers replaced with farm tractors? The ones who curled up and died when they were no longer needed to plow and plant and such?

      We are more resourceful that skeptics believe, and change has always made people fearful. Fear sells, and it is easy to exclusively take council of that fear.

      With respect, I would not ridicule a fearful pessimist, apprehension and fear are natural but not inevitable. I believe there's much more to be optimistic about ahead -- Challenges make us grow overall as a species.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by m00sh ( 2538182 )

      I think the work cycle is just about done evolving. For example: - Hunter-gatherers organized into agrarian societies - Mechanization and industrialization led to many farm workers transitioning to factory work - Societal pressures on education, etc. led to many factory workers transitioning to office and service work - Offshoring of all manufacturing from first world countries shifted smart people to office work, less-than-smart people to crappy service jobs - Offshoring of office work including IT shifted a bunch of the smart people to crappy service jobs or the "gig economy" - Automation or offshoring of the rest of the office work will lead to....chaos? Revolution? A country of people being paid to rate cat videos on YouTube?

      Whatever it leads to, there isn't any work left for most people to move to. Smart people are still relatively OK, but there are A LOT of not-smart people holding down random corporate jobs and the few factory jobs that are left. When there's nowhere to go, and society still uses money to value things, basic income is a good idea. It also formally recognizes that there are people who just can't contribute to society at the same levels as others and provides a humane existence for them.

      Except that billionaires like JK Rowling were once on the dole.

      Guaranteed income allows people to take risks. Instead of being stuck on a dead end job treadmill to keep the apartment or health insurance, they can do risky things that could reap huge rewards.

      One of the reasons that children of successful parents are more successful is because of that safety net. Even if they fail, its not so bad. The cost of failure for a regular person would be loss of home and enormous difficulty just to make ends meet

  • uh no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:03PM (#50541773)
    If you have a criminal history, neck tattoos, didn't work a single day during high school or summer, didn't go to college, got horrible grades or didn't graduate, didn't learn any interview skills, don't have a license because of multiple DUIs, and you're broke as can be because of child support payments all because you're an irresponsible, lazy, idiot then I don't think you "deserve" free money as they put it. The government isn't here to babysit you and give you a participation trophy just for almost trying at life. You screw up your life, there's consequences. People don't even realize how hard I worked to get where I am right now I make about $30,000 a year and live in a studio apartment. In life if you don't try and you make mistakes, you DON'T WIN and you DON'T GET FREE STUFF!
    • Re:uh no (Score:5, Informative)

      by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:18PM (#50541933)
      What do you propose? The death penalty for neck tattoos?

      No matter how you cut it we will ALWAYS pay for those who won't work. Either we will pay as crime victims, or as supporters of their children who are in foster care/receive nutrition programs, need section 8 housing, etc etc. Or we will pay to dispose of their dead body when they die of neglect. Somehow those who will not work will cost you money no matter how you vote.

      I, for one, would love to prevent desperation, crime, and abuse by paying losers to sit at home playing xbox and smoking weed staying out of my way and off of the streets..

      desperate people do desperate things.
      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        How much? And why won't they demand more than that?

        Do you think there's an upper limit to what society can pay these people for not working before there are net negative consequences? What keeps the amount below that number?

    • You screw up your life, there's consequences.

      What you fail to understand is that there are consequences for everyone. So, the entire middle class has to pay for a sluggish middle class because we want to teach a lesson to a flawed human? If a poor person gets $20K a year, almost all of that ends up in the economy (much of it in the local economy). If a rich personal gets $20K extra a year, that's most likely just going to buy more Phillip Morris or Comcast stock. You'd cut off your nose to spite your face!

  • by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:06PM (#50541801) Homepage

    Why do people think are entitled to other people's money?

    We've already seen what numerous entitlement programs have done to the USA. Our labor participation rate is the lowest it's been in my lifetime and I was born in the 70s. This is what happens when you over regulate an economy, over legislate entitlement programs, and don't require people to be productive in order to live.

    Are there people that are truly down and out through no fault of their own? Absolutely! Is it really half of the US population? (47% don't pay federal income tax) Hell no. Maybe 5%. Let's scale back all of the unnecessary entitlements and get people being productive and working again.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:48PM (#50542335) Journal

      numerous entitlement programs have done to the USA. Our labor participation rate is the lowest it's been in my lifetime

      Bull! It went down largely because factories drifted overseas, and nothing equivalent is replacing it on the same scale. Smarter machines and dirt-cheap overseas labor by desperate near-slaves are clearly biting into career options for high-school-level workers. Almost everything predictable and repetitious is drying up before our eyes.

      Even wages among the educated have been stagnant of late. Education only delays the inevitable. The current economy hugely favors the 1%: it's a winner-take-all economy.

      If you get in the 1% club you have the power to protect your turf. If you are outside the club, you have to grovel with the masses for the shrinking pie.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Why do people think are entitled to other people's money?

      We've already seen what numerous entitlement programs have done to the USA. Our labor participation rate is the lowest it's been in my lifetime and I was born in the 70s. This is what happens when you over regulate an economy, over legislate entitlement programs, and don't require people to be productive in order to live.

      Are there people that are truly down and out through no fault of their own? Absolutely! Is it really half of the US population? (47%

  • by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:11PM (#50541857)

    Multiply 300 million people by a very modest ten thousand dollars a year. Now tell me where that's going to come from, comparing with current US tax revenues, then tell me how you intend to avoid rampant inflation if you somehow manage to come up with it.

    • Re:Simple math (Score:5, Informative)

      by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:31PM (#50542105)

      GPD of USA last years was 18.14 Trillion

      300 Million times $10,000 is 3 trillion. So we need to capture 16% of the GDP in taxation to pay for this.

      $869 Million of social security payments would be replaced by this. As would $949 Million of welfare payments. So the majority of this would be covered by the costs of the programs it would replace, and there are many smaller programs this would replace that I am not going to take the time to chase down and add up.

      Has social security caused rampant inflation? How about child tax credits? Have welfare payments caused our currently explosive 1% inflation?

      The simple math does not sound too bad.

      • Re:Simple math (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:46PM (#50542297)

        That just highlights even more problems, for example the $869 billion is divided between 59 million Americans, so most of those - the neediest - are going to be taking a substantial hit. Retired workers average at about $1300 a month, dropped under your vision to $800 a month. Disabled workers would lose about a third of their income. Over half of the $949 billion goes on medical care, and I'm willing to wager that's likewise divided up between a relatively small number of people.

        As appealing as UI sounds on the face of it, it's a really ignorant idea at this point in our economic development.

  • by Prune ( 557140 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:14PM (#50541885)
    There is no good reason to choose basic income (income guarantee) over a job guarantee [wikipedia.org] where the government is the employer of last resort. This is still a form of Keneysian intervention, but a very direct one. Decreasing unemployment raises aggregate demand and brings on recovery from the recession. Inflation doesn't occur until you approach full employment. But at the same time as the recession is over, and since such work offered by the public sector is at or just below minimum wage, most would move back to private sector jobs. "Free money" is not given to those who are able to work and are simply failing to find employment, and is reserved for the severely disabled and so on — unlike the current situation.
  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:23PM (#50542001)
    It doesn't take 7 billion people to feed, clothe, shelter, and even communicate with 7 billion people.

    So what do we do? We are TOO efficient for everyone to earn a living. So do we just murder the people who are not "needed?" Do we let them starve? Do we have massive unnecessary works to employ the unemployable? I am all for suggestions, but when society doesn't really need as many workers as it has, you have to either change the idea of work, or kill off some of the workers.
  • I approve, sorta (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:48PM (#50542343)

    My leanings are very much in the libertarian direction. I support property rights, free markets, etc, etc, etc.

    With that in mind, if we, as a society, are going to have wealth redistribution, this method is the least offensive to me.

    Inflation is an extraordinarily evil and offensive thing, but if we are going to create money out of thin air, the place where it can do the least harm is in the bank accounts of the people.

    Government should stop debasing our money and stop encouraging idleness, but if they are going to do it anyway, this seems to be the least offensive option.

    The catch is that it needs to coupled with responsibility. It needs to replace our other systems, to a large extent. It cannot simply be added to them, or the people will waste their free money, and come back looking for more.

  • Relevant (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Faust6 ( 4161211 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:49PM (#50542359)
    Relevant topic - http://strikemag.org/bullshit-... [strikemag.org] Keynes predicted a 15 h work week and, in effect, given the level of time spent doing inessential or paper-pushing non-sense, we have just that. The closer we are to full-automation, the more a concept like basic income is attractive as we have to saturate the market with products and services no one really needs nor, at a certain point, will they want, which places increasing pressure on employment rates as more of the population comes to rely on these jobs. Or in the case of upper middle classes, put asses in seats where they won't do much of anything. Powers that be still demand 40, or suggest even longer hours for people to make ends meet. There's absolutely no need for it. Every year in the West we seem to lose capacity for productivity. Mind you I would go for an alternative to BI like a negative-tax of sorts which would still be very streamlined and cheap but would omit needlessly sending out cheques to those that don't need it.
  • We need this. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chalnoth ( 1334923 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @01:51PM (#50542387)

    Getting unconditional basic income would be a huge boon for workers. If leaving work becomes a viable option for nearly everybody, then employers will no longer be able to abuse their employees. They'll actually have to offer decent working conditions, or the workers will just walk away. This should end bullshit practices like firing people for not working on holidays, or getting pregnant, or complaining about sexual harassment.

    It wouldn't happen immediately, but a UBI would dramatically improve the employment marketplace for employees.

  • by Pfhorrest ( 545131 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @02:00PM (#50542515) Homepage Journal

    If we do this by giving everyone half of (the average income minus their own income), then we basically guarantee that nobody makes less than half of average, we cost average people nothing to pay for it, and the burden on the rich who do pay for it scales with the inequality of income distribution automatically. In a market where income distribution was close to uniform already, this kind of distribution would automatically scale back to almost nothing. If a tiny handful of people get almost all the money and most people get almost none, then that tiny handful will be paying a lot to a lot of people. It creates a spring-like centerward pressure on everyone; people near average are barely affected at all, the further from average you get the harded it pulls you back toward average.

  • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) * on Thursday September 17, 2015 @02:54PM (#50543253) Homepage Journal

    Libertarians need to think more deeply here.

    The state of nature is one in which a natural person has de facto rights to fight for his survival — which includes not just his own personal survival but the right to sire and raise children to equally viable adulthood. When I use the word “fight” I mean it: Animals will fight for territorial access for the lives of themselves and their progeny. The Austrian and Lockean schools fail to recognize the situation which arises in nature when an animal is without the means of intergenerational sustenance, and the necessity of aggression in some of those situations. Civilization attempts to ignore this by proclaiming “property rights” as “natural” against “aggression”. This foolishness at the heart of these schools of thought renders them forever vulnerable to collectivists. The way out is trivially obvious: Follow Lysander Spooner’s definition of legitimate government as a mutual insurance company into which men voluntarily invest their natural rights in exchange for shares in and dividends from the company. The premiums paid for property rights take the place of taxes. The dividends take the place of social welfare. The violation of this simple and obvious paleolibertarian construct sacrifices the bedrock principle of liberty upon which civilization is founded for the high purpose of becoming politically impotent against collectivists.

    As for socialists, all they need to do is find out who is responsible for ignoring Martin Luther King Jr’s final advice which was quite congruent with this paleolibertarian notion of natural rights investment being compensated by a dividend.

    They need to find out who is responsible for ignoring MLK’s advice and do whatever it takes to neutralize their power — and I mean whatever it takes.

    I’d start with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  • by samantha ( 68231 ) * on Thursday September 17, 2015 @08:04PM (#50545615) Homepage

    There is no such thing as "free money". There is money that was taken from someone else by politicians with people with guns backing their play that they may give some of to you after taking their cut and paying all those needed to take that money. And you pay for all those middlemen. You pay again for the reduced productivity of those that produce more value than they consume.

    Or the government just prints more and more money and gives you that. That is "free" right. Ask Zimbabwe what happens when the money printing press runs free. You get hit with all money being worth less and less. You get hit again with higher prices over time. And again if you happen to have any savings or fixed payments incoming that are now effectively reduced.

    I have never seen one Guaranteed Income scheme that bothered to count its full costs, or talk honesty about who footed the bill how both directly and indirectly.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.

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