Universal Basic Income?

I’d suggest that the typical State apparatus exists mostly to provide a UBI for those who are fundamentally unemployable.

Another interesting one on the list: the Roman Empire. At various stages, taxes were incredibly high, partly to fund (a) various forms of make-work and (b) the “bread and circuses” of legend, that kept the plebs docile and compliant. Bread was often given away (or heavily subsidized) as a form of UBI.

The biggest conservatives in economics support it.
the two main reasons are 1. that welfare programs area simply more expensive. UBI helped people get a stable life, house, transportation, etc so they can get a job and keep it.
2. minimum wage is a big government intervention into society. it’s much more intrusive. set the UBI and remove minimum wage. people will and do work when given the choice to accept the minimum or work to get more

I haven’t read enough about it, but it seems like an episode of My 600 Pound Life, the one where the woman gets the surgery and then 2 years later has put all the weight back on bc what she needed was attention not wish fulfillment. Am I close?

All you need to do is tax Amazon and Apple for any of their profits in the past…10+ years and you could fund UBI without blinking.

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Jobs that don’t let people take breaks and make them compete with machines? That pay ~$15/hour and no sick pay when the CEO is making $millions/hour on his untaxed wealth? Did you know Jeff Bozo could give every single Amazon employee a $120,000 bonus and he would STILL have more money today than he did in January? Is he though? No, he’s paying wages that barely support the cost of living and acting like a union-busting factory mob boss of the 1930’s. While sitting on way more wealth than any 1930’s mob boss. Cuz tax cuts.


Or buckyball elevators to the moon.

I think Bezos has so much money cuz business acumen. Period. Despite taxes going up and down throughout the years.

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Manitobans may not talk about it anymore, but whenever people elsewhere in Canada talk about “UBI” for whatever reason, Mincome gets at least a brief mention. (Btw Wikiland tells us it was mid to late 70’s.)

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Saudi Arabia – are you sure you’re not thinking of the program that supports the royal family? They’re a big family, but they’re still just a fraction of the population.

Nauru – I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that one. (I mean yes to the place, no to the program.)

Do keep in mind that “universal” needs to mean something, or else… well, or else it means nothing. :cactus:

I thought it was reasonably clear that I wasn’t saying that (despite my staunch defense of alpaca socks).

Another non-example, as it was (1) not universal (not even within the capital) and (2) not basic i.e. not enough to live on without additional income.

Saudi Arabia: most of the population are kept “employed” by a massive make-work programme. They are theoretically employed by the government but in practice do very little. For the rest, there’s the Citizen’s Account Program (=free money). All funded by oil revenues, of course. Non-citizens (=people who work) are excluded, so in that sense it’s not universal.

Nauru: a population of hunter-gatherers were granted (a) independence and (b) a thriving birdshit industry (ie., phosphate deposits). They promptly squandered all their wealth on an honest-to-goodness UBI programme, and the natives became the fattest and laziest people on the planet. IIRC they also got some “compensation” from colonial powers, and blew all of that on who-knows-what.

Depends what period you’re talking about, and what you consider “basic”. In those days it was considered adequate to have a roof over your head and something to eat. Squatting was rampant and bread was available either cheaply or for free to the workless or workshy. Occasionally other stuff was given away. Successive administrations found it hard to remove this support, so the natural tendency was for it to persist or to increase until the Empire imploded.

I may be wrong, but AFAIK it actually was universal, at least under those administrations who didn’t inherit or create a financial crisis, in the sense that grain products were subsidized (as it is today, of course) and a certain amount of bread was available for free. It’s just that those who could afford to buy their own bread would not have bothered with the handouts.

These days, of course, your average British pleb would protest: “400 quid a month? How the fuck am I supposed to pay my Sky Sports subscription on that? And what about the babby’s new trainers, eh? It’s a fuckin disgrace, that’s what it is.”

And thereby is illustrated one of the main problems with UBI: The definition of “basic”, like the universe, is ever-expanding until it collapses in on itself.

In any case, it’s surely worth pointing out that UBI, for anyone who works, is simply a tax reduction with an administration fee stacked on top; for those who do not work, it’s Social Security. An actual large tax reduction might well make employment more attractive. But governments must tax and spend. It’s what they do.

If there is one day where almost every job is automated to the point that few paid works are available, then something has to happen:

The demand for products becomes so low because few can afford them, and they’ll have to basically give it away for free to even have any reason for producing them…

Some UBI makes it so those automated products are being bought by someone.

The demand becomes so low for products since people can’t afford them, and factories shut down.

So either way, there has to be a form of UBI or automated products have to be given away for free or at extremely low costs. Or there are mass starvation due to mass unemployment and products not being used at all because most can’t afford it.

Besides I would say housing cost is probably the number one expense that people have. Either paying rent or mortgage. If there are few jobs out there, then someone either has to subsidize the rent payment, or rent has to be free.

But fact is concentrated power is always bad. Whether in the hands of a few mega billionaires or corporations, or government. If automation results in an oligarchy, then governments need to step in and regulate it.

So Amazon had net income of $11.59 billion in 2019.

If we taxed Amazon at 100% and distributed that to each US citizen. They’d each have $36 for the whole year. Not much of a UBI.

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Brazil is trying to implement basic income policies.

When the government offered emergency relief to Brazil’s poorest citizens in April it discovered that millions of the country’s neediest were not registered in official data for employment or benefits. About 13.5m Brazilians (6.5% of the population) live on less than $2 a day, which is classified as extreme poverty. Millions more live above that but still in precarious circumstances.

The basic income program is aimed to reach 57 million, with average benefit of R$232 a month (about US$41.5). A concrete proposal still need to be presented, but it is already estimated that the annual cost of the program could reach R$52bn (about US$9.3bn).
The crucial question, however, is how the government intends to pay for it, which is still not clear.

The UBI put forth by Andrew Yang was not meant to be an end all solution to paying one’s bills. If you thought it was, read his book.

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Although I’m arguing against UBI here, I do think it’d be a good idea to make sure it’s impossible for anybody to starve. People will do desperate things if they can’t afford to eat.

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Easy there…yer humanity is showing through. :wink:


I know yyy in particular likes to paint me as a curmudgeonly old misanthrope with a well-worn copy of Atlas Shrugged on my nightstand. And … um, I actually am a curmudgeonly old misanthrope (I’ve never read Atlas Shrugged and don’t intend to). But I argue against these grand clever wheezes because I don’t want to see mass suffering, which grand clever wheezes inevitably (and predictably) lead to.

Providing food to anybody who wants or needs it would be pathetically simple in this day and age. It’s mainly a question of information management and logistics. Money would barely even enter into the equation. It could probably be done using some sort of social currency, thus decoupling it from the mainstream economy and taxation.


I never thought you thought otherwise. For me, it’s energy. Give poor countries coal fired power plants. Let them build their economies and educate their kids. Switch to Nat gas or oil…then nuclear and let’s all be comfortably middle class with a few hundred thousand billionaire geneyasses.

I’ve never thought anything about it because I’ve never paid that much attention to him. As for Rome, the case I was talking about…


Subsidized =/= free. And squatting is rampant today, in some places, but that doesn’t make it legal (or safe), and while it may be “basic” in one sense, it’s not in the sense I’m talking about.

In other words, not UBI. :cactus:


so after decades of universal-within-the-royal-family-and-not-high-for-the-lower-ranking-members-but-still-livable income, a few years ago they made some two thirds of citizens (or at least two thirds of adult male citizens) eligible for what sounds like nothing more than their version of Canada’s GST/HST credit, aka free (means tested) peanuts as a reward for filing a tax return.

In other words, not UBI. :cactus:

(As for an allegedly bloated public sector, that’s a common and boring refrain. As someone familiar with the concept from both inside and outside, I’m skeptical that it’s nearly as bad as you say. Keep in mind they have already gone on a privatization binge this century.)

Hunter-gatherers thrust suddenly into modernity have other issues facing them than just figuring out why the gods are crazy (so to speak). As for your claim that Nauru had an “honest-to-goodness UBI programme”, surely someone somewhere has written something about it. :thinking:

In anticipation of the exhaustion of its phosphate deposits, substantial amounts of the income from phosphates were invested in trust funds aimed to help cushion the transition and provide for Nauru’s economic future. However, because of heavy spending from the trust funds, including some wasteful foreign investment activities, the government is now facing virtual bankruptcy.

Yada yada. Elsewhere on the interwebs there are vague descriptions of the country’s welfare system, and so what? Most countries have welfare in one form or another. Some even have free universal healthcare, as Nauru apparently does (for citizens).

Still not UBI. :cactus:

Geez, man, I don’t put you in the same category as Rowland! :eek:

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Supply & demand again. Like I said in another thread, when self-driving cars are common and reliable, some people will still hire human drivers because (1) they can, (2) they want to, and (3) humans are willing to do it in exchange for cash or whatever. Licensing standards will be higher (because how could you justify letting humans drive when robots are safer?), so there will be fewer qualified candidates.

“I’m rich and classy. I don’t want one of those cheap, boring robot cars. I like to get around in style.” :sunglasses:

You seem to be describing something like a cross between THX-1138 (the scene early on where he buys something useless and disposes of it as soon as he gets home – explained in the director’s commentary) and Brave New World. Huxley has the system control itself through brainwashing: the oligarchs decided money/resources should be spent on certain projects/products to maintain the status quo, so education was revised to make everyone agree on it.