Basic Income

Discussion in 'Politics & Law' started by ExpectantlyIronic, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    Both liberals and conservatives have tossed around the idea of a basic income for a long time now, with nothing much coming of it. The idea being that the government would pay everyone in a nation enough money to survive on, whether or not they needed it. Conservatives often support this measure, because they see it as an alternative to targeted welfare programs and the expensive bureaucracy needed for them. Liberals often support the measure as a matter of social justice.

    The main drawbacks to such a measure are its running contrary to the conservative notion of justice, and also the disincentive it would provide people to work. There is no question a basic income would constitute wealth redistribution, thus making those who oppose such things on principle unable to support it. Since Alaska is the only place with even a partial basic income in place, it is difficult to tell just how much a full basic income would discourage people from working and hurt the economy.

    For my part, I think a basic income will have to be provided eventually, as improving technology and business methods make it so goods and services can be provided more-and-more efficiently, and thus make it more valuable to society that people have more free time, than it would be to simply produce more-and-more junk for people to buy in order to justify employing everyone. I am not so convinced it would be a good thing to implement now, though.

    What do you think?

  2. AnitaKnapp

    AnitaKnapp It's not me, it's you. V.I.P. Lifetime

    This is the first time I'm hearing anything on this. I oppose it. Where is the government going to get the money to pay every single person a base income?
  3. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    Not surprising. It hasn't quite made the jump from an academic "what-if" to something a popular politician or party is going to make a part of their public agenda, despite governments running various experiments to test its viability, and the United States Congress once voting on (but against) a bill that would institute a basic income.

    It would render enough welfare programs redundant in major nations that the price tag on it would be less than you might think. That said, the money would come from taxes and/or spending cuts elsewhere, of course.

    Edit: I should also point out that the world currently has the production capabilities to provide everyone with enough to live on and then some. Nobody needs to die of hunger.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2008
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  4. MenInTights

    MenInTights not a plastic bag

    I've heard this discussed in relation to nanotechnology. The idea is that we're close to a nano-tech revolution where production will skyrocket and the excess benefits from production will be split. Say it takes 1000 people to build a car from mining the iron to rolling it off the line. The promise of nano-tech is that number will be reduced to say 50. Instead of a car costing $20,000 to produce and selling for $30,000 it now cost $5,000 and sells for $15,000. The extra $10,000 would be a production tax that would be dispersed to citizens. Great idea, but it remains to be seen if nano-tech is really going to do everything that its supposed to. I suspect people had similar discussions in the early 1900's with Industrial Revolution.

    As far as using the Alaska model, I see no reason why it couldn't be done on a national scale. Of course that would require being a net exporter of energy instead of importing $500B-$700B. There's plenty of energy on federal lands: ng, oil, coal, shale, that funny ocean rock, etc. that the US could be a net exporter but as a nation we choose not to.
  5. AnitaKnapp

    AnitaKnapp It's not me, it's you. V.I.P. Lifetime

    I think that something like this is only going to encourage people not to work hard and succeed in life, but that's just an opinion. I'm not going to lie...if I had everything I needed I wouldn't work either.
  6. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    One thing I forgot to mention is that a basic income would eliminate the "welfare trap", where some people avoid work simply because it would lead to a reduction in government assistance (and thus result in no benefit or no significant benefit for them).

    I understand what you mean, even though I would still work, since I can't be completely happy or comfortable with just the base necessities for survival (and also because I just feel like a douche when not working). That said, I see your point, and it's the main reason I'm skeptical about the measure.
    Then again, I do find it queer to talk of "succeeding in life" as if it were a matter of material gain over personal happiness.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2008
  7. AnitaKnapp

    AnitaKnapp It's not me, it's you. V.I.P. Lifetime

    I mean, I would have to work for all the extra things I wanted...but for a lot of people, that would be short term. Depending on what the base income would be, I might be working all the time anyway to live at a certain level.
  8. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    Thinking about it, the measure could lead to an improvement in working conditions and pay for a lot of folks, since they wouldn't have to take a lot of shit just to survive. It would also let more people who really wanted a job get one, since they wouldn't have to compete with folks just working out of pure necessity. The big issue for me is how much a basic income would effect production (which is heavily dependent on labor participation), and also (kinda by extension) how much it would harm people financially invested in economic growth. As long as a person working is still doing better than someone who isn't, I see no reason to complain that the person who isn't can afford food and shelter (or whatever else, really).
  9. AnitaKnapp

    AnitaKnapp It's not me, it's you. V.I.P. Lifetime

    It may not be such a bad idea. I'll keep an open mind on it. A lot of parents would probably want to work more so that they could save up for their children's college educations, others will want to work so that they can have extras, etc. And who knows, maybe it would have a positive affect and raise pay grade if jobs are in abundance?

    It's all hypothetical of course, it could massively fail, but it's definitely interesting.
  10. Stab-o-Matic5000

    Stab-o-Matic5000 Cutting Edge in Murder

    I'm going to agree with EI, here. I lived on government assistance for about 2 years. That got cut off, and I started working. I much prefer working, something about earning your money just makes you feel better. I've heard that trust fund kids generally have chronic depressions, since they haven't earned anything they have so they don't feel fulfilled in life.

    Also, "bare necessities" is a lot less than you'd think. (unless you're living in Chicago or some other large city)

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