Tag Archives: Universal basic income

How Universal Basic Income Solves Widespread Insecurity and Radical Inequality

By Daniel Nettle – Today should be the best time ever to be alive. Thanks to many decades of increasing productive efficiency, the real resources available to enable us to do the things we value—the avocados, the bicycles, the musical instruments, the bricks and glass—are more abundant and of better quality than ever. Thus, at least in the industrialized world, we should be living in the Age of Aquarius, the age where the most urgent problem is self-actualization, not mere subsistence: not ‘How can we live?’, but ‘How shall we live?’.

Why then, does it not feel like the best time ever?

Contrary to the predictions of mid-twentieth-century economists, the age of universal wellbeing has not really materialized. Working hours are as high as they were for our parents, if not higher, and the quality of work is no better for most people. Many people work several jobs they do not enjoy, just to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, and the lights on. In fact, many people are unable to satisfy these basic wants despite being in work.

Big problems require big ideas.

Our current generation of politicians don’t really have ideas big enough to deal with the problems of widespread insecurity and marked inequality. Big ideas come along every few decades. The last one was about forty years ago: neoliberalism, the idea that market competition between private-sector corporations would deliver the social outcomes we all wanted, as long as government got out of the way as far as possible.

Our current politicians propose to deal with symptoms piecemeal—a minimum-wage increase here, a price cap there, rent-control in the other place; tax credits for those people; financial aid to buy a house for those others. At best we are dealing with one symptom at a time. Each piecemeal intervention increases the complexity of the state; divides citizens down into finer and finer ad hoc groups each eligible for different transactions; requires more bureaucratic monitoring; and often has unintended and perverse knock-on effects.

A Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a regular financial payment made to all eligible adults, whether they work or not, regardless of their other means, and without any conditionality whatever. Receiving it is a fundamental entitlement that comes with being a member of society: people can know that it will always be there, now and in the future. more>

The Finnish Basic Income Experiment – Correcting The Narrative

By Jurgen De Wispelaere, Antti Halmetoja and Ville-Veikko Pulkka – The Finnish government’s refusal to extend or expand the experiment may not come as much of a surprise once the budgetary implications are taken into account but it nevertheless amounts to one more disappointment amongst those closely watching how the experiment is progressing. And disappointments have been plentiful with this project.

After a promising start, the first blow came when the Sipilä government ignored most of the suggestions and recommendations of the research consortium led by Kela (the Social Insurance Institution of Finland) and charged with preparing the experimental design — incidentally, appointed by the very same Juha Sipilä.

The design now being rolled out is much more limited than many had hoped for. Repeated requests for additional budget or postponing the starting date were ignored. Much-needed coordination between the different ministries involved was not forthcoming. The government also delayed appointing the team charged with evaluating the result until the experiment was well into its second year – with detrimental effects for any attempt to gain a more comprehensive insight into the experiment’s wellbeing effects. more>

Free Money: The Surprising Effects of a Basic Income Supplied by Government

By Issie Lapowsky – A legislated basic income is in the realm of fantasy at the moment. Even among its proponents there is almost no agreement about the fundamentals, starting with how much money would be an optimal basic income.

Ioana Marinescu, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice, who researches basic income, says that research on the Alaska fund is enlightening, but not dispositive. “We know $2,000 a year makes a real difference to many people,” Marinescu says. “But would something lower still make a difference? We don’t know.”

As with any program, there are infinite opportunities for abuse and bad decisionmaking.

One illuminating New York Times article illustrated how the men and women who scrub toilets and do other low-skilled work for companies like Apple are hired from contracting companies which set the terms of their employment. Those workers are cut off from the benefits and upward mobility that the company’s engineers and marketers enjoy. Because the workers are contractors, the big tech companies feel no pressure to raise their wages, and aren’t responsible for offering health-care coverage.

Looked at in this light, the tech-led efforts to push a basic income can appear hypocritical. more>

If Robots and AI Steal Our Jobs, a Universal Basic Income Could Help

By Peter Diamandis – Some fear that robots and AI will steal our jobs.

They probably will (in the near-term, at least half of them).

If that happens, what will we do for a living? How will we earn money?

In 2013, Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey of the Oxford Martin School estimated that 47 percent of jobs in the US are “at risk” of being automated in the next 20 years.

The concept is called technological unemployment, and most careers, from factory workers and farmers to doctors and lawyers, are likely to be impacted. The impact will likely be even more severe in the developing world.

The expected implications of technological unemployment vary widely.

Can governments react quickly enough, given the pace of innovation and automation in tech? Is it actually a solution to technological unemployment? Or will we still have to go through a turbulent, violent period as we redistribute our labor in a world of robots and AI? more> https://goo.gl/hzsrqE

Why Silicon Valley is embracing universal basic income

By Jathan Sadowski – Silicon Valley has, paradoxically, become one of the most vocal proponents of universal basic income (UBI).

UBI is one of those rare social programs that has a radical flair, while also finding support across the political spectrum from libertarians to socialists. Silicon Valley’s flavor is, of course, thoroughly technological, embracing tech advances to achieve abundance in a manner that bears some resemblance to “fully automated luxury communism.”

So how does UBI fit into this Valleyian vision of the future? UBI can, in some ways, be seen as welfare for capitalists.

Thinking of UBI as a financial innovation represents the “businessification” of government; now we talk about the “return on investment” of social policy, rather than outcomes in terms of public good. When social policy is evaluated using economic standards you get starkly different policies, different expectations, and different beneficiaries. more> https://goo.gl/1zaSgu