Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

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Xan
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Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

Post by Xan » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:17 pm

Universal Basic Income has been thought of positively by many on this board. Here's a critique of it I hadn't heard before.

Douglas Rushkoff, long-time open source advocate (and currently a professor of Digital Economics at the City University of New York, Queens College), is calling Universal Basic Incomes "no gift to the masses, but a tool for our further enslavement."
Uber's business plan, like that of so many other digital unicorns, is based on extracting all the value from the markets it enters. This ultimately means squeezing employees, customers, and suppliers alike in the name of continued growth. When people eventually become too poor to continue working as drivers or paying for rides, UBI supplies the required cash infusion for the business to keep operating. When it's looked at the way a software developer would, it's clear that UBI is really little more than a patch to a program that's fundamentally flawed. The real purpose of digital capitalism is to extract value from the economy and deliver it to those at the top. If consumers find a way to retain some of that value for themselves, the thinking goes, you're doing something wrong or "leaving money on the table."

Walmart perfected the softer version of this model in the 20th century. Move into a town, undercut the local merchants by selling items below cost, and put everyone else out of business. Then, as sole retailer and sole employer, set the prices and wages you want. So what if your workers have to go on welfare and food stamps. Now, digital companies are accomplishing the same thing, only faster and more completely.... Soon, consumers simply can't consume enough to keep the revenues flowing in. Even the prospect of stockpiling everyone's data, like Facebook or Google do, begins to lose its allure if none of the people behind the data have any money to spend. To the rescue comes UBI.

The policy was once thought of as a way of taking extreme poverty off the table. In this new incarnation, however, it merely serves as a way to keep the wealthiest people (and their loyal vassals, the software developers) entrenched at the very top of the economic operating system. Because of course, the cash doled out to citizens by the government will inevitably flow to them.... Under the guise of compassion, UBI really just turns us from stakeholders or even citizens to mere consumers. Once the ability to create or exchange value is stripped from us, all we can do with every consumptive act is deliver more power to people who can finally, without any exaggeration, be called our corporate overlords... if Silicon Valley's UBI fans really wanted to repair the economic operating system, they should be looking not to universal basic income but universal basic assets, first proposed by Institute for the Future's Marina Gorbis... As appealing as it may sound, UBI is nothing more than a way for corporations to increase their power over us, all under the pretense of putting us on the payroll. It's the candy that a creep offers a kid to get into the car or the raise a sleazy employer gives a staff member who they've sexually harassed. It's hush money.
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Re: Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

Post by technovelist » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:35 pm

Anyone who hates capitalism should move to Venezuela so he won't be oppressed by it.
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Re: Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

Post by boglerdude » Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:45 pm

No UBI. because drugs, gambling, prostitution. Eliminate the minimum wage so its easy to start working, and work your way up. Or not work your way up, but at least you're kept busy. I hope Im healthy enough to scrub toilets when I'm 90, for $5 an hour.

Gov should provide unemployment ins so its easy to fire people who start slowing down the team. Free food, public transit, education (internet) healthcare, and housing (out at the end of the train lines) for those who income qualify.

Gradual phase outs to incentivize work ie An extra $40 in income only reduces benefits by $5

Collecting taxes is hard tho, so maybe minimum wage is a necessary method of redistribution. I dunno.

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Re: Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

Post by sophie » Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:52 am

On the other hand, having UBI means that workers won't have to drive for Uber or scrub toilets to survive. Meaning that if the job is sufficiently low-paying or annoying, it will be relatively easier to quit. So I figured that UBI could actually force these companies to pay employees/contractors better, and treat them better in general.

The problem with UBI that I foresee is that because of the birthright citizenship deal, incoming international flights will be packed with 8.5 months pregnant women from Third World countries coming for a "visit", then returning home a couple weeks later with a child and a shiny new lifetime income courtesy of US taxpayers. No need even to be an illegal immigrant to achieve the same goal!
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Re: Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

Post by dualstow » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:06 am

sophie wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:52 am
On the other hand, having UBI means that workers won't have to drive for Uber or scrub toilets to survive. Meaning that if the job is sufficiently low-paying or annoying, it will be relatively easier to quit. So I figured that UBI could actually force these companies to pay employees/contractors better, and treat them better in general.
...
I thought that last line was going to be,
So no one is going to scrub toilets in the future.
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Re: Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

Post by Xan » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:23 am

dualstow wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:06 am
sophie wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:52 am
On the other hand, having UBI means that workers won't have to drive for Uber or scrub toilets to survive. Meaning that if the job is sufficiently low-paying or annoying, it will be relatively easier to quit. So I figured that UBI could actually force these companies to pay employees/contractors better, and treat them better in general.
...
I thought that last line was going to be,
So no one is going to scrub toilets in the future.
It sounds like a prerequisite for UBI is the invention of a toilet-scrubbing robot.
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Re: Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

Post by Kriegsspiel » Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:30 pm

I think we need to be at the point where robots are doing pretty much everything before we start UBI.
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Re: Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

Post by boglerdude » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:55 pm

If everyone gets 1000/mo, rents go up 1000/mo

Add to my list above, subsidized child care and moving expenses

Next question is, when should the gov do a job itself vs outsourcing to private sector
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Re: Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

Post by D1984 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:08 am

Kriegsspiel wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:30 pm
I think we need to be at the point where robots are doing pretty much everything before we start UBI.
Only true if by "UBI" you mean we just take the per capita GDP and divide it equally amongst every citizen; that's so elatively far in the future (and so utopian) I don't think it's even worth considering for the moment....we're talking about some crazy Star Trek FALSC-level stuff right there.

A modest UBI, at $1,000 or $1,100 a month for adults and $350 or $400 per minor under 18, is quite possible right now. Scott Santens did a piece on showing which programs we could cancel/cut and what taxes would be needed to finance it; I'll see if I can find it and post the link to it here.
Xan wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:23 am
dualstow wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:06 am
sophie wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:52 am
On the other hand, having UBI means that workers won't have to drive for Uber or scrub toilets to survive. Meaning that if the job is sufficiently low-paying or annoying, it will be relatively easier to quit. So I figured that UBI could actually force these companies to pay employees/contractors better, and treat them better in general.
...
I thought that last line was going to be,
So no one is going to scrub toilets in the future.
It sounds like a prerequisite for UBI is the invention of a toilet-scrubbing robot.
Well, given that machine vision fully equivalent to basic human vision is estimated to take 10 to 12 petaflops of processing power, autonomous "dumb" AI is estimated as needing around 288 to 300 petaflops, and AI capable of doing most adult level tasks (i.e. equal to an adult human brain) is thought to take around 1.0 or 1.1 exaflops we should be there in twenty years or so (maybe less); I expect an exaflop level supercomputer in the 2020 to 2022 time frame; considering that what upper-end smartphones have today in terms of processing power is what supercomputers had 20 or 21 years ago; I'd expect toilet scrubbing robots around that time, give or take five years either way (the actual robotic "bodies" are pretty close to ready already....see Boston Dynamics)

In any event, toilet-scrubbing robots are not really immediately necessary. What would likely happen instead would be that no one would take jobs like scrubbing toilets unless said jobs either offered much better pay (like $15 to $18 an hour, at least) and better hours; prices would have to rise a little (and/or profits/high-end salaries/capital income would have to fall a little) to make up for this, but things would adjust OK. Actually, the fact that these "bad" jobs now required higher pay might not be such an awful thing from a necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention perspective; the more costly a job is in terms of wages/benefits, the more incentive there is to research, develop, and deploy technology to replace it, and such "replace labor with technology/replace labor with capital" is how productivity growth happens...so we would get those toilet-scrubbing robots even quicker than we would get them would if low-end labor was (relatively speaking) cheaper like it is now!
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Re: Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

Post by pugchief » Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:03 am

boglerdude wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:55 pm
If everyone gets 1000/mo, rents go up 1000/mo
And if you don't believe this, see what government subsidies of college tuition have done in that arena.
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Re: Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

Post by Xan » Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:54 am

pugchief wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:03 am
boglerdude wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:55 pm
If everyone gets 1000/mo, rents go up 1000/mo
And if you don't believe this, see what government subsidies of college tuition have done in that arena.
You're entirely right about tuition, but this would be much broader. "Here's $1000/month to use for anything" is very different from saying "sign here and we'll give this institution $100,000".
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Re: Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Assets

Post by dualstow » Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:21 am

D1984 wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:08 am
Kriegsspiel wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:30 pm
I think we need to be at the point where robots are doing pretty much everything before we start UBI.
Only true if by "UBI" you mean we just take the per capita GDP and divide it equally amongst every citizen; that's so elatively far in the future (and so utopian) I don't think it's even worth considering for the moment....we're talking about some crazy Star Trek FALSC-level stuff right there.


...
What is FALSC? I did an honest search, then filtered out "false", but only found German language results.
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