Milton Friedman makes the case for a basic income

As the Politics of Crazy swallows the federal government, the appeal of libertarian policy ideas grows. How do we solve basic public policy problems inside a steadily less competent central authority? One innovation that stands out for its ability to function without high quality oversight is a basic income.

Fifty years later, this explanation of the case for a basic income laid out by Milton Friedman is more relevant than ever. Friedman was describing his plan for a negative income tax, a plan actually introduced and promoted by Nixon, but the skeleton of that case applies to just about any system of universal needs-based support. Also interesting in this clip is the quality of the interaction. Can you imagine any major conservative media figure of William Buckley’s profile engaging in such a smart, thoughtful interaction on a complex subject today?

111 Comments

    1. The article is pretty content-free, but correct nonetheless. There are people who will do well with a basic income, or who will not be able to take a job even if guaranteed, due to health, other commitments, whatever. So we need a BI scheme. But there is still a large group of people for whom work is incredibly important. An economic system that doesn’t satisfy that need isn’t doing what it needs to do.

      1. I’ve been thinking about that. I loved working…maybe because I did something I enjoyed and was successful..but I understand gratification from work. Possibly there could be tiers in which special grants sort of like BI Pell Grants could help people who wanted/needed more/different training could apply for in addition to their BI. It would be helpful to know how much money we’re talking about to fund an adequate BI relative to how much we’re spending on other types of aid…and which programs could be merged and which needed to stand alone. The author stated that he didn’t think Medicaid funding could be folded in because of its complexity….makes me wonder if he is aware that the Republicans are planning to block grant Medicaid (-;

        I thought it was interesting because it was offered by a Millennial. It was not a scholarly piece as noted, but another POV to add to the collection. I’m in my “positive” mode here so I’ll just say that a BI makes sense to me but not sure it will to the Repubs!

    2. There appears to be more and more conversation about a Basic Income from a broad range of places/people. That’s positive. It is also an indicator of the fact that the current system is not working for too many people. Wealth divide is a global problem and sadly, unchecked capitalism is failing to be able to reward those who think of themselves as wealth creators while enabling people to move up into self-sufficiency. There is no trickle down and there is no moving up. That means capitalism is failing. Momentum is building for an alternative economic model.

      https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/08/universal-basic-income-glasgow-welfare-revolution?

      1. From Evonomics, a look at how people get rich and stay rich…which, as the article points out, is becoming a problem. The rich are benefiting inordinately compared with the great majority of people. Having wealth to invest, compounding capital gains and dividends into equity appreciation that is plowed back into more investments rather than circulated or shared (outside the family), creates a cycle of wealth creation that the average person will never achieve from asset appreciation of their homes or savings. The children of the wealthy then benefit from inherited assets/wealth distributed tax-preferred.

        Is it any wonder there is a wealth divide and active discussion of a BI to put a floor beneath working people?

        “How Americans get and stay rich: holding gains are only one way that they get rich. But they may be the primary way that households, families, and dynasties stay rich. Because the wealthier a household is, the more it’s compensated for simply…being wealthy — for owning things, “holding” assets.”

        http://evonomics.com/americans-get-rich-stay-rich/

  1. How to make a lot of money over the next four years:

    Step 1: Save ~$2000.
    Step 2: Watch @realDonaldTrump Twitter account.
    Step 3: when he flails about some company or the other, buy stocks as they’re sold on discount.
    Step 4: when they invariably rebound to their previous price, being that his statements don’t change the value of a company, sell them; or hold them, if you evaluate the stock is still a good investment at that price.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/business/trump-toyota-mexico-twitter-threat.html?_r=0

    The key here is that Toyota is neither an American company, nor does this plant offshore American jobs, nor does it have any relevance to American jobs. This shows that Trump is more concerned with preventing Mexicans from having jobs than he is with Americans having jobs.

    1. Or, Aaron, simply flexing his arrogant power….Bullies do this. They don’t need a “reason” that makes sense, they do it “because they can”. Will Americans allow Trump to get away with his bullying?

      Personally, I think Trump will tire of this whole president thing and won’t seek a second term, but I have a wild idea. I think it is possible is that he will position Ivanka to run. She’s moving to DC and will probably run everything Trump isn’t interested in (which is a lot) and he would have the best of both worlds – being kingmaker behind the scenes and controlling POTUS – Ivanka…the first female president. Take that HRC!

      I know. Crazy.

  2. I think that the average american’s head would explode if someone started listing all the similarities between 1959 Cuba, 1978 Iran, 1788 France, 1765 Thirteen Colonies , 1917 Russia, and any number of capitalist countries in the world today. Bottom line, when people can’t feed their families, or see their lives overall being degraded compared to the elite rich, eventually, blood runs in the street.

    It is inevitable. Now, globalization has helped southeast Asia and Mexico’s populations, just to name the obvious. But automation helps no one but the people that own the capital. That is the basic model of capitalism.

    Unfettered capitalism simply does not work when the spread between the rich minority and the very poor majority reaches a breaking point. And we are fast approaching that point in the western industrialized world. All the revolutions I listed at the beginning may not have had a capitalist model as the base system, but they all had a huge disparity between the rich and poor.

    Pence, his acolytes, and his puppet trump are charging full steam ahead to increase that disparity, and the social results will be inevitable. Might take 10 years, might take 20, but the impact and reaction clear.

    1. This: “automation helps no one but the people that own the capital. That is the basic model of capitalism.”

      That’s the key. It doesn’t work that way earlier in the process. Automation introduces price declines which are enormously helpful to lower income workers (yes, they have been). However, over time incomes available from work face similar declines. Unless you have access to capital, living standards eventually erode.

      There’s a hint of this apparent in the big payout available to tech workers. College graduates starting in tech companies are regularly earning 150K or more, but look at how much of their compensation is stock-based. At certain stages of a company’ development, comp plans can be half-stock. Ownership of capital is absolutely essential in an economy like this.

      Again, this is why a basic income becomes so important.

      1. Evolution marches on. Capitalism has been fantastic for human beings. It has, as successful evolutionary developments will do, remade the landscape in which we operate, giving rise to new challenges for which it isn’t suited. More specifically, we are evolving past labor as an economic good. As such, we are evolving past the entire marxist vs. capitalist paradigm in which politics and economics has played out for almost 200 years.

        This is good, but only if we adapt. We are moving into a new environment in which people no longer earn a living from labor. Capital is the main source of financial gain. There will be earthquakes as a consequence. Those earthquakes are entirely unnecessary. We have all the tools we need to adapt to this new landscape. But leveraging those tools will require a vary painful adaptation on a social level. The losers from that adaptation will fight very hard to block it. The potential beneficiaries are poorly organized. It will take time.

      2. The “tool” of intelligence informed by social awareness and kindness does not appear in the GOP agenda which is grounded in capitalism. Even as a personal beneficiary of this economic model, its flaws are overwhelming the good it offers. It will be interesting to see what the new model will be because, like Dinsdale, I cannot see capitalism continuing as it is functioning. I’ll go further – I don’t want it to continue. Too few are benefiting at the expense of the rest. What takes its place? What do we call it? How will it work in this interconnected world?

      3. “The losers from that adaptation will fight very hard to block it.” Probably clearer to say that the winners from the old paradigm will fight very hard to block necessary change.

        I really like this quote from Ian Welsh: “A civilization ends when it can’t handle problems that are totally obvious, because its ideology won’t allow it to deal with them. In our case, the ideology is economics and capitalism, which insists that decisions must be made based on what maximizes profit.”

      4. Profile photo of DS DS

        I think it’s worth pushing back against the idea that automation has only economic benefits. The tasks we automate first tend to be dangerous and/or repetitive; the US military, for instance, has removed people from the process of munitions disposal as much as possible. Some folks are out of a job, but everyone is safer for it.

        The automation of more complex tasks can also be socially beneficial. From driving to surgery, we can access better outcomes by removing people from the process. That’s a hard truth, but an important one. The adoption of automation is not a purely economic process. Failing to recognize that risks opening ourselves to the attacks of luddites who would sacrifice huge social benefits in an effort to save the dignity of work.

    2. The inequality that Dinsdale and others see is not caused just by automation and outsourcing. I believe it is also necessary to understand the role of debt in pushing money towards the top of the economic pyramid.

      Rich people save a large chunk of their income and lend it to other people, creating debt. They earn interest income on that debt. They spend some of that interest on consumption, but since they are rich they invest a large chunk of the earned interest into creating more loans/debt. This creates an exponential growth of debt.

      In the real world, exponential growth is never sustainable.

      1. The only problem with that logic, Antimule, is that those enjoying the exponential growth seem to benefit, real time….

        Overpopulation wouldn’t be a concern if women were able to make their own decisions about their own bodies….Women “get it”.

    3. I don’t think it will take ten years, but I am not certain who will be protesting. When you have the PEOTUS reaching down to influence a state GOP election as a pay back to a man who opposed his nomination, why would we think that this example and this mindset would not replicate itself over his rabid base?

  3. In another riveting episode of “well, that happened…”, Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges, personally supported and endorsed by Gov. Kasich, has been ousted by Trump-backed candidate, Jane Timken. Trump himself personally intervened, calling a dozen central committee member to force their votes.

    With Gov. Kasich term-limited out, a prominent Senate race coming up and the Chairmanship in Trump-selected hands, you don’t have to have a degree in quantum physics to figure where this is going.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/jane-timken-beats-matt-borges-ohio-233289

    1. Never let it be said that Trump isn’t a mean SOB, but that the GOP would allow this to happen is pretty amazing. As you project, Kasich is being put out to pasture. A man who isn’t interested in committing time to listen to Intelligence agencies for Daily Briefings and doesn’t believe what they tell him, has time to make personal phone calls in a blatant pay-back move.

      Trump is not only unfit, he is small, as most bullies are in their core. Guess even POTUS can primary a fellow Republican. I feel for Kasich but I hope he fights back. This may not be over yet.

    1. “Nixon’s FAP (retained) the current welfare system and graft(ed) on to it a low-level income-maintenance benefit for the working poor… pleased neither academics nor welfare advocates. Nor did it please the big-city mayors and governors, who looked at welfare reform as primarily a way to reduce their share of the system’s cost.”

      I was surprised to see how many presidents have looked at the concept of an NIT but none have been able to make it happen…

      http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc1/NegativeIncomeTax.html

    2. He did push the thing. Democrats killed it in the Senate.

      Twice Nixon tried to push through a basic income (Family Assistance Plan). Twice it passed the House. And both times Democrats in the Senate spiked it.

      Conservative opposition is predictable enough, but they composed about 20% of the House and Senate in the Nixon years. It’s the opposition from the left that teaches such a valuable lesson about politics and progress.

      Every significant change in a political system, no matter how much apparent overall benefit it brings, will make losers out of some constituency who were previously winners. Those potential losers will fight.

      The welfare system as constructed by Johnson created some unintended (or perhaps only semi-intended) consequences. Access to the system in big cities and many minority communities was mediated by non-governmental organizations, often publicly funded who “helped” people get on welfare. Those groups quickly developed enormous electoral power, especially at the local level. They would have been absolutely gutted by a reform that simplified the process to this extent.

      It took some time for them to wake up to the risk, but when they did they went to war. Their argument was that a basic income would destroy the welfare system without putting in place an adequate replacement. In other words, the bill should be defeated because the subsidy wasn’t large enough. The subsidy they demanded was absurd (translating to about 35K a year today). They picked a target that would kill the bill, not just because no one would agree to it, but because throwing those kind of numbers around would create fears about where a basic income could lead.

      Combined with predictable opposition from the right, they were able to kill the bill in the Senate each time.

      Even a bad system has institutional supporters with a powerful investment in its continuation.

  4. I had a great discussion about UBI in my facebook Resistance group. One objection a friend of mine had has not been talked about on this thread so far. What do you think?:

    “I personally think UBI is a temporary stop-gap at best, one problem we still need to get past is automation helps centralize wealth and quite frankly no tax policy ever fixes that for the simple reason that every country is motivated to race to the bottom in terms of tax policy.?

      1. If a trust fund is created, it must provide for adjustments for inflation. This is one of the weaknesses of Medicare which was addressed in how the Prescription Plan D was set up. Absolutely, unlike we have done with Social Security, the trust fund must be dedicated and inviolate to transfers to meet other needs.

      1. Barro’s take on the UBI is an exceptionally pessimistic one that overlooks several of its key strengths. For example:

        1.) Barro, like so many, is still caught up in the modern iteration of what we refer to as “work”, in that it’s a job that provides a sense of “purpose and security” in society while providing money for one to live on. Thus in his mind, a UBI would be a central threat to this even as automation takes over more and more of our jobs.

        Of course, one of the UBI’s greatest strengths is that it utterly redefines what we commonly think of as work in society. Proponents argue that ALL manner of effort undertaken, whether it’s a mother taking care of her children at home, students studying to pursue their dreams or even someone taking care of an ailing parent; all of these things are worthy of that distinction and should be rewarded.

        2.) Barro then goes on to argue that a UBI is effectively free money that does nothing to make people feel as though they earned it, which largely ties in with the first point. However, he then goes on to make the assertion that a UBI would both de-incentivize work a (a false assertion that shows his lack of study on the issue) and says, and I quote: “De-emphasis of work will only make this atomization worse. The robots have not taken our jobs yet. It is not time to surrender to a social change that is likely to further destabilize a world that is already troubled.

        So he both says that yes, we have troubles and yes we’re heading towards a post-work future, but we shouldn’t “surrender” to these changes because, well… we can still put it off for a while longer, I suppose. How very quaint.

        3.) His third and final point is to “fix work”, he says. Effectively, he’s just arguing that people want to work and that’s what resonates with them (see Trump’s unprobable victory via his “jobs, jobs, jobs” message), so that’s the way we’ve gotta go because… well, that’s what people want, or at least think that’s what they want, so there.

      2. Thanks (-; I can attest to the “work” from raising children, raising children while working, caring for a partner with a chronic disease….if nothing else about these examples resonates, it takes time and effort to do them well, and it matters on a very human level. Work can be defined in many ways but fundamentally it is dedication of time – sometimes without pay, or with it.

      3. Mary, would you still have performed that work even if you had been given a basic income stipend? I suspect that the answer is yes.

        The idea is not to replace work, or encourage people not to perform work. The idea is to give people room to choose what work they perform.

      4. Sorry, Chris. Missed this – but, yes, I would do the things I did even with a stipend. To be clear, our situation afforded me the luxury of being a stay at home mom, even though I was interested in working outside our home…which I did later for a number of years with much satisfaction. Many women/men have the same desire but lack the ability (sans basic income) to do what I felt was best for our family when our children were young. Now that I am “older” (-; I am in a similar caring position but sandwiched in between were some great employment experiences. You are correct – it is wonderful to be able to do the thing you feel is most important without fear of financial disaster. This has always been available to those with means, not so for those without. A basic income would at least offer the choice.

      5. Honestly, I think we should drop the whole idea of using the word “work” when discussing a UBI. It gives far too much into convention of how people view that word and just makes it a headache to try and explain the difference.

        It’s not work if you’re doing something you love, that’s the point. A UBI is meant to give you a means away from work and into a career.

    1. Profile photo of DS DS

      I’m sorry, but that piece is extraordinarily unconvincing. Friedman makes it clear that negative income tax (or a UBI, for that matter) will be substantially less rewarding than work. I get that we’re not quite to a post work society, but we’re rapidly approaching one. Other than simply asserting that working people will resent it, Barro presents no alternatives, and no counterargument.

      1. I completely disagree. The counterargument is right there. Make “work work again “.

        “I get that we’re not quite to a post work society, but we’re rapidly approaching one.”

        Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves why we are doing that to ourselves? The human body and the human mind requires work. Why do we accept that a post-work society is approaching? Why aren’t we pushing back and saying enough is enough?

        Oh and resentment works. Ask Donald Trump.

      2. Profile photo of DS DS

        The ‘why’ is quite simple: machines are simply better, or soon will be, than humans at most forms of work. People have to be paid, need time off for illness or psychological reasons, and have inconvenient opinions. Machines present none of those issues. Capitalism dictates that it’s only a matter of time before the benefits of human employees are outweighed by their costs. Self-driving vehicles are the immediate example: I expect that within ten years, they’ll deliver goods and people more safely and more efficiently than any person could. That’s ten million jobs obliterated over the course of one to two decades.

        And what do you do with those folks? Tell them to build trails in national parks? Barro’s arguments are premised on the notion that globalization is responsible for the decline of the working class, but that’s broadly not the case. Technology is replacing human workers nearly everywhere we look. All of the measures Barro proposes in his linked article are stopgap at best. Increasing the standard deduction only matters when there are jobs to be had, and cajoling employers ultimately further incentivizes automation.

        The level of technology we are approaching makes labor expendable. We need to have a serious conversation about the distributional consequences of that

      3. Absolutely, Michael! The idea that “the market” is forcing automation and outsourcing rather than specific identifiable people consciously doing it for specific identifiable reasons (greater profit) is something that needs to be shown for the self-serving lie that it is.

        I happen to believe that there is no end to useful things people can do for each other and for the planet. If we can’t find a way to make those things pay a living wage, then capitalism itself will have to be abandoned.

      4. There is no stopping the increase of technology in our personal lives and in the workplace. It’s efficient, cost-effective, and fast. It makes life easier. I agree there are still jobs/activities outside the reach of technology but I also believe many of these will diminish over time. That eventuality is what we need to be talking about now. It could be that the greatest value of the Basic Income is to serve as a bridge between the current age and a technology-dominated world…or, conversely, as Chris envisions it, as the bedrock of a civil, just society in cooperative balance on this planet. People whose basic needs are assured are less likely to war because food, shelter, health care are accessible. “How” we meet these needs is the question du jour. Essentially, we may need to redefine “work” and we will need to accept the reality of population control, both of which present interesting policy and budgeting decisions that will impact our institutional structure.

        On CNBC this morning, there was a conversation between Rick Santelli and a representative of the CBO about how many people are unemployed in America and how political changes (tax reform, revamp of health care, reduction of entitlements) will impact the economy. (Notably absent was any discussion about how people’s lives will be affected by changes that are happening.) There were the usual lamentations about how many people are “on the dole” and the “REAL” solution being jobs (evidently 4.9% unemployment is just not “good enough”), growth, and productivity…..In other words, the bottom line, as defined by financial forces. Work is so fundamental to conservatives that the concept of a Basic Income that would “distribute” revenue without a guaranteed, productivity-based outcome that accrues to profit is simply unacceptable. The speakers see the safety net (even the current ones) as problems, as dis-incentives that encourage and reward people for not working……their definition of work, of course, is purely market-driven. How would we expect people like this react to the Basic Income concept?

        The current political power structure appears unlikely to understand the holistic Basic Income Chris envisions. They might accept streamlining delivery of existing entitlements/benefits through bundling if the goal is purely cost savings and smaller government (which are absolutely valid points), but not purely as a means for assuring basic needs, absent a “work” requirement. As long as cost-containment and productivity are defined by leaders whose goal is always profit-based, any proposal that pays people for not working (or working at jobs they don’t consider “work”) is unlikely to find support.

        My interest in the basic income concept is that it would free people from a fundamental worry about basic shelter, food, and health needs – that opportunities would expand for people to do the kind of “work” they find most satisfying. A basic income that is not accompanied by universal health care will fail just as its lack under capitalism is failing the majority of people. Tax reform, repeal of the ACA, de-funding Planned Parenthood, reducing entitlements, eliminating regulations necessary to safe, humane work places, ignoring climate change, while failing to protect equality and peoples’ basic needs are all focused to benefit the same people who always benefit. They are all driven by profit with workers being the expendable element. We better realize this and try to deal with it or change the people who are decision makers.

      5. >] Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves why we are doing that to ourselves? The human body and the human mind requires work. Why do we accept that a post-work society is approaching? Why aren’t we pushing back and saying enough is enough?

        Michael, you’re absolutely correct when you say that humans need work to do. We’d go bonkers without something to do, but what kinds of “work” are we talking about, specifically? A UBI is perhaps the single greatest advancement in the ideal of work that’s ever been conceived.

        People hate dead-end jobs. They hate having to work for assholes who boss them around, abuse them and take them for a ride while they barely make ends meat, sometimes not even that. So let’s end that detestable practice once and for all and make real the ideal of a world where “work” can truly be something where people pursue their passions, in many cases being their own bosses and taking home pay that can sustain a satisfying way of life.

        A UBI is the gateway that lets that happen. It says that we’ll set a floor so that no one will ever have to fall into poverty and that if you’re a person who wishes to take yourself as far as your efforts and talent will go, you’ll have the opportunity to make that happen. You’ll still have to work hard and there won’t be any easy answers or results, but the door will always be there for you to walk through if you want to. That is the guarantee we should give to all our people.

      6. Michael-
        A UBI can be set at any level. To begin with, I imagine we’d set it low enough that all it does is replace our other welfare schemes (e.g. food stamps, public housing, etc.; everything except medicaid) to provide a minimal safety net. The benefit here is eliminating huge amounts of government bureaucracy dedicated to directly providing these services, allowing poor people to individually decide how they wish to allocate their money to best optimize their situation (e.g. how much for rent vs. food), and also remove the stigma of current welfare programs (not to mention the social engineering embedded in govt programs like mandatory drug testing, or the segregation of public housing projects). At this level, a UBI doesn’t eliminate incentives to work (at least, no more than the current safety net does). It’s more of an efficiency move.

        As productivity and automation allows more production with less human work, an increasing UBI is a form of sharing in those gains, to prevent 100% of it from going strictly to the owners of the robots (i.e. capital). IOW, it’s just another piece of the battle between capital and labor to decide how productivity gains are shared, and in that respect, is no different than prior battles to move to a 5-day workweek or an 8-hour workday.

      1. Profile photo of DS DS

        My take is that a UBI simply represents a minimum. Chris has, in the past, argued for a phase-out of benefits at certain levels. I’m not convinced that it would be dramatically more inflationary than NIT.

      2. A UBI wouldn’t be the cause of runaway inflation, not at all. That’s an assertion based on the false premise that the creation of money can exceed the demand for products and/or services in a given economy. And while there are exceptions to this (see the ’08 crash via deceptive loan practices), a UBI would be administered in a way that redistributes money from all of the welfare programs we currently have and taxed in a way that recovers a good deal of the grant. It’s a perfectly sound policy.

      3. DS, the inflationary impact is due to the additional spending power injected into the economy, competing for the same goods and services (assuming UBI doesn’t change output in the short run). If everyone got an additional $10,000 in spending power, that would have a greater effect on prices than if only some people got additional spending power.

        Longer term, you could argue that automation and other productivity improvements are deflationary, which would offset some of the effect.

      4. Profile photo of DS DS

        Creigh,

        I understand how inflation works. I’m just not convinced that bringing up everyone under say, $20,000 a year to that level is significantly more inflationary than tapering up to say, $60,000. At the end of the day, you’re talking about folks that represent 20-30% of wealth in the US. The inflationary effects will likely be marginal. I’m interested in the following comment:

        “Absolutely, Michael! The idea that “the market” is forcing automation and outsourcing rather than specific identifiable people consciously doing it for specific identifiable reasons (greater profit) is something that needs to be shown for the self-serving lie that it is”

        What, precisely, do you think markets do, besides incentivizing people through profit motive? I expect people and organizations to respond to the incentive to eliminate human labor by doing exactly that; thus, the market will be firmly dominated by capital in the absence of significant redistribution through politics.

      5. >] DS, the inflationary impact is due to the additional spending power injected into the economy, competing for the same goods and services (assuming UBI doesn’t change output in the short run). If everyone got an additional $10,000 in spending power, that would have a greater effect on prices than if only some people got additional spending power.

        But only some people are actually getting the additional spending power, particularly those who are poor and what Americans commonly see as “middle-class” people. Once one hits the $25,000 threshold, taxes and a surcharge would begin to recover part of the UBI, avoiding those nasty work disincentives that Josh Barro feels so strongly about. That’s not enough to live what many would call a wholesome life, but it IS enough to keep your head above water and see that you can feed and provide for yourself at a basic level.

        Furthermore, as the knowledge economy advances and automation serves to take over more and more of our jobs, education will become a necessity more than ever before and so it’s fair to assume that a significant portion of the UBI will go into that whereas the rest will simply serve to bring what should be our actual spending power more into parity. As things stand, we’re actually under performing that level since too many people are struggling and don’t have the means to inject much money into the broader economy.

        Ideally, we should see a modest bump in employment, a far healthier and steadier economy as more people have more money to spend and the security that comes with it, and little to no relative impact on inflation.

      6. Profile photo of DS DS

        Ryan,

        The presumed increase in inflation comes from the presumably higher marginal propensity to consume from lower income people. We’re taking money that would have been saved by higher income individuals and putting it in the hands of lower income people who are more likely to spend it out of need.

        I agree that UBI is inflationary. My disagreement with Creigh is a question of extent rather than principle. Current distribution of wealth in the US is about 80/20. I doubt that extending a degree of benefit up to the median household income in the US is substantially more inflationary than bringing everyone up to a low, specific number.

        I’ve noted elsewhere in this thread that I doubt that UBI, by itself, is sufficient. Education/training should be a separate item, as should relocation assistance and health insurance. I agree that the additional spending power for low income families will stabilize the economy, but it is still likely to be inflationary.

      7. And where do you get this idea that we’re “taking money that would’ve been saved by higher income individuals and putting it in the hands of lower income people”?

        A UBI would be financed by ending all of our current welfare programs, instituting a modest income tax increase in addition to a tax surcharge. True, higher income people will have to pay more, but so will everyone else. That’s a tad misleading on your part, wouldn’t you say?

        >] I’ve noted elsewhere in this thread that I doubt that UBI, by itself, is sufficient. Education/training should be a separate item, as should relocation assistance and health insurance. I agree that the additional spending power for low income families will stabilize the economy, but it is still likely to be inflationary.

        I don’t disagree that there won’t be some inflation, my only point has been is that it’s going to be comparatively insignificant. It’s certainly not going to be runaway and cause some massive spike in prices, not like a trade war under Dear Leader would be.

        Secondly, I’m in total agreement with you on education and training. A UBI is a terribly important first step, but it’s only a first step. Much, much more needs to be done afterwards.

      8. Just a general response to everyone who responded to my thread (and thanks for that!):

        1. There is some discussion in the thread about universality vs need based as well as discussions of means testing. In short, Medicare and Social Security are popular for two reasons: (a) they are tied to work and (ii) (provided you work), it is universal. Start basing it on need and means testing it and those who are cut out of those programs as a result (think the wealthiest Americans) will deem it “welfare” and push to have it eliminated. Folks like Paul Ryan know this and he uses his “Better Way” argument on Medicare as a Trojan Horse to obtain his dream of returning to the 19th century.

        2. Ryan (above) argues that UBI is a gateway to better jobs. Correct me if I am wrong, but the UBI benefits I have seen thrown around are $10,000 a year per person (of working age). Please explain to me how my family of four (two young children) does not have to still accept me working at a dead-end job or having a shitty boss on $20,000 a year. How do I pay my mortgage, eat, cover utilities, save for college, buy clothes, and enjoy an occasional vacation on $1667 a month without STILL going to work at the shitty dead end job with the shitty boss?

        3. Every UBI plan I have seen is supposed to replace SS and Medicare. What happens to what I paid in to the system so far? Do retirees lose their SS and Medicare and get UBI (likely lower payout) instead? One should assume retirees would insist on no changes to SS and Medicare and would kill the politicians for enacting this plan, so why should they get to keep SS and Medicare payments just because they are older than me but I should continue to make payroll tax payments to cover them yet lose SS and Medicare at the same time for UBI?

        No one has ever thought this through. They just insist that UBI is the wave of the future because automation is coming. I think they don’t know what will hit them if they try to implement UBI.

      9. Profile photo of DS DS

        Ryan,

        Apologies if I’ve been condescending/unclear,. Had a bit to drink tonight. In any case, I think you and I agree more than we disagree. That said, assuming that labor continues to suffer while capital benefits, even modest income tax increases will have to fall increasingly on higher income individuals and organizations to support a basic income. I don’t think that observation is disingenuous at all. The burden of UBI will fall on higher income people simply because the current capitalist regime ensures that a greater proportion of income will accrue to them. The tax base will shrink as automation eliminates the jobs that would have otherwise provided a wider tax base to support UBI.

        Ultimately, the effect is inflationary against a theoretical baseline, but I agree that it’s unlikely to be runaway.

      10. >] 2. Ryan (above) argues that UBI is a gateway to better jobs. Correct me if I am wrong, but the UBI benefits I have seen thrown around are $10,000 a year per person (of working age). Please explain to me how my family of four (two young children) does not have to still accept me working at a dead-end job or having a shitty boss on $20,000 a year. How do I pay my mortgage, eat, cover utilities, save for college, buy clothes, and enjoy an occasional vacation on $1667 a month without STILL going to work at the shitty dead end job with the shitty boss?

        Michael, the point of a UBI is to set a floor for people under which they will never fall. It’s not meant as a means for people to live what you might call an indulgent existence, but at the same time we don’t want them to live in poverty.

        For a family of four, yes, of course there would still be the need to work. That would be the case for anyone under a UBI, hence why taxing away part of the grant at the first $25,000 of income ensures those work incentives. The point is to see that that floor they’ve been given allows them to invest in their education, businesses and other investments that will eventually lead them to better, more satisfying jobs and a higher quality way of life.

        >] Every UBI plan I have seen is supposed to replace SS and Medicare. What happens to what I paid in to the system so far? Do retirees lose their SS and Medicare and get UBI (likely lower payout) instead? One should assume retirees would insist on no changes to SS and Medicare and would kill the politicians for enacting this plan, so why should they get to keep SS and Medicare payments just because they are older than me but I should continue to make payroll tax payments to cover them yet lose SS and Medicare at the same time for UBI?

        In order for a UBI to work, a true universal healthcare plan is an absolute necessity, otherwise the payments would just go into subsidizing healthcare and would take away the whole point of the plan. That’s an unavoidable wall that has to be climbed.

        Secondly, as far as Medicare and SS are concerned, since we’re going to tackle healthcare anyway, Medicare would be obsolete and could be abolished. SS will likely go one of two routes, either taking it away and paying out to beneficiaries so as not be unfair. If not that, then in order to keep it, we’d have to make a further increase in the income tax in order to keep it around, but that’s an argument worth having regardless. Perhaps it’s even worth looking into making it an opt-in program.

        >] “No one has ever thought this through. They just insist that UBI is the wave of the future because automation is coming. I think they don’t know what will hit them if they try to implement UBI.

        Plenty of people have given this thought. That’s not to say we have all the answers yet, but we’re getting there: https://goplifer.com/2013/11/17/how-to-end-the-welfare-state/

      11. Profile photo of DS DS

        Michael,

        As automation begins to eliminate more and more jobs, the votes of the wealthy will become less relevant. Capitalism eliminates work; for the past century, a pleasant side effect has been the creation of well paying jobs for those with the appropriate skills. Unfortunately, as technology improves, the bar for appropriate skills is increasing rapidly. It is no longer possible to exit high school and expect a well paying job. Soon, it will become difficult to expect a well paying job with a mere bachelors degree.

        We’re experiencing a situation in which there are fewer jobs demanding higher skills. That trend is going to continue until very few people possess the requisite skills to be successful in a modern economy. In a capitalist system, that inevitably leads to the concentration of wealth in a very few hands. That’s a problem that, in a democracy, gets solved in one of two ways: politics or pitchforks. I know which I prefer.

        The UBI benefits currently under discussion are starting points, a way to provide a minimum level of security in a changing world. Given the way our economy is evolving, more aggressive redistribution may become necessary. There will always be inequality if we want to incentivize innovation, but the appropriate level is a fundamentally political question.

        With respect to SS and Medicare, it’s important to note that the idea that you are contributing to your future retirement is an illusion. SS is a pay as you go scheme, and the value of Medicare depends on your ability to purchase the appropriate supplementary plans. Puncturing these illusions will be politically painful, but should ultimately build support for UBI. UBI, as advocated on this blog, has always been contingent on some kind of universal coverage scheme, so there should be little reason for Medicare recipients to object.

      12. As a current Medicare recipient, I can affirm that a supplemental policy (to cover the remaining 20% Medicare “currently” covers) is critical, especially for those who have high cost procedures….surgery, dialysis, etc. I don’t personally care what it is called, but I do think it works IF it is properly funded. The report I read on the HHS Trust Funds explained that Medicare was set up with a fixed contribution which doesn’t have the flexibility to increase costs sufficiently to manage services. The CBO stated it would require $3.8 Trillion dollars to make medicare fiscally sound for the duration and a tweaking of the funding formula could achieve that…meaning, taxes. Personally, in return for universal health care for all Americans, I would be willing to pay more in taxes as long as the taxes are protected in a trust fund without borrowing privileges or IOUs.

        As for the wealthy and upper middle class screaming about paying more taxes, they scream now. What’s new? The Basic Income is a good idea that needs a great deal of thought and planning. If the price for eliminating most poverty is some inflation, so be it. I am not a proponent of a balanced budget for America for a lot of reasons, not the least of which I don’t think it’s possible to do and meet the needs of the majority.

        It will take pitchforks to get rid of the gang we presently have running our country into the ground.

        A final point about education. Absolutely critical (along with universal health care). I am a proponent of specialized trades and the opportunity for new positions using technology that pay very well. We’ll see more of this in medical care and other services become ever more sophisticated, and they do not require a standard 4 year or more degree (unless one wants to get into admin.)

        In speaking with a technician yesterday who works in Doppler imaging, she had a two year course for certification and earns in the $50K+ range/annually with 17 years of experience. Now that may not be enough $$ for many people but it is a decent living and she has no college debt. We cannot envision the promise of technology in medicine but new advances will create new positions at the same time as they may retire old ones…I see it as a healthy, evolutionary cycle.

      13. Ryan:

        I appreciate your thoughtful reply. Please see below in response:

        1. “Michael, the point of a UBI is to set a floor for people under which they will never fall. It’s not meant as a means for people to live what you might call an indulgent existence, but at the same time we don’t want them to live in poverty.”

        RESPONSE: I do understand the purpose of UBI though I hardly believe what I suggested (housing, food, clothing, saving with the occasional vacation) is not an indulgent existence. I just think UBI is moving the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic as it relates to poverty. It’s a different approach, for sure, but the cost will lead to resentment by the middle class and wealthy and we will ultimately be in the same place.

        2. “The point is to see that that floor they’ve been given allows them to invest in their education, businesses and other investments that will eventually lead them to better, more satisfying jobs and a higher quality way of life.”

        RESPONSE; Perhaps, but I don’t think many people get this – college is not for everyone. Many people do not have the aptitude or just hate being in school or prefer working with their hands rather than their minds. Trade schools are an option for some of these folks, but if all those who are not college materials go to trade schools to better themselves, we would have a saturation of plumbers, carpenters, etc. The same is also true for businesses. Not every one has the risk taking “gene” to be an entrepreneur (I don’t) and run a business and even if they do, they often do not have the “right” idea to succeed. If they did have the gene and idea, they would have already started the business and UBI would be unnecessary.

        3. In order for a UBI to work, a true universal healthcare plan is an absolute necessity, otherwise the payments would just go into subsidizing healthcare and would take away the whole point of the plan. That’s an unavoidable wall that has to be climbed.

        RESPONSE: I am a liberal and based on your responses it sounds like you are also. However, I think liberals live in a fantasy land as it relates to healthcare. Short of WWIII where the US is a smoking pile of rubble like Germany was after WWII requiring a total rebuild of everything, there are too many forces that will prevent universal healthcare in our lifetimes. Too much profit for hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and pharma under the current system. They are not giving that up for UBI. Further, the cost for universal healthcare is staggering. I have family in Toronto and they pay in excess of 50% of their income in taxes. This is a tax averse country. It will never happen.

        4. “Secondly, as far as Medicare and SS are concerned, since we’re going to tackle healthcare anyway, Medicare would be obsolete and could be abolished. SS will likely go one of two routes, either taking it away and paying out to beneficiaries so as not be unfair. If not that, then in order to keep it, we’d have to make a further increase in the income tax in order to keep it around, but that’s an argument worth having regardless. Perhaps it’s even worth looking into making it an opt-in program.”

        RESPONSE: Ever seen the Tea-Party protester with the sign “Get your government hands off my Medicare”? Good luck with that!

        5. Off-topic (but very relevant): All of the political issues of the day will never be solved because the country is too divided. But it’s not a recent development. No matter what your political leanings are I cannot recommend enough the following two books: (a) American Nations by Colin Woodard and (b) American Character by Colin Woodard. You must read American Nations first. These are two of the best books on politics I have ever read and you walk away from both recognizing that our divisions in this country were seeded by the REAL “Founding Fathers” – the settlers of this country in the 1500s and 1600s.

      14. Mary, if I’m not mistaken, not much. An earned income tax credit (EITC) gives you credit for having paid income tax (that you didn’t actually pay), so the refund you qualify for could be more than what was actually withheld from your wages. So in a sense it’s a negative tax. The one difference is that you have to have earned income to qualify for the EITC, but not for a true negative tax.

      15. What do markets do? Thought provoking question. Here’s a shot:

        Markets don’t do anything, they enable people do do things. And what do people do in these markets? That depends on how the markets are structured. They don’t structure themselves, they are structured by people’s needs and desires, and by society’s needs and desires, and by societal norms and by laws and regulations. The way they are now is not inevitable or immutable.

      16. Profile photo of DS DS

        I suppose we agree on those things. I guess the crux of what I’m getting at is how you would structure markets to alleviate the push towards automation? Also, is it wise to do that given the benefits of automation not related to profit?

      17. >] “RESPONSE: I do understand the purpose of UBI though I hardly believe what I suggested (housing, food, clothing, saving with the occasional vacation) is not an indulgent existence. I just think UBI is moving the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic as it relates to poverty. It’s a different approach, for sure, but the cost will lead to resentment by the middle class and wealthy and we will ultimately be in the same place.

        Moving deck chairs around on the Titanic, is it? I wonder how a homeless veteran having to wander around begging for scraps would feel about that metaphor. What about the innumerable numbers of children whose parents can barely afford to put food on the table, sometimes not even that?

        A UBI can put a stake in the heart of poverty as it’s been known in this country once and for all. It’s a worthy cause and know we should wholeheartedly embrace.

        That aside, resentment by the middle and upper-classes? Every great piece of social legislation has had its naysayers. People decried Social Security back during the 1930s, did the same with Medicare and so on and so on. Now these are the two most popular programs in our country and politicians quiver in fear at the thought of doing anything that would have people see them as against them.

        More than anything, people want solutions and a pathway to a good, sustainable and satisfying way of life and a UBI is the first important step towards making that happen in a new world. Some people will resent it? Who gives a shit? That’s the way it’s always been. Dare to dream big, keep talking to people and arguing ceaselessly because you know what you’re talking about is the way things should and will be.

        >] RESPONSE; Perhaps, but I don’t think many people get this – college is not for everyone. Many people do not have the aptitude or just hate being in school or prefer working with their hands rather than their minds. Trade schools are an option for some of these folks, but if all those who are not college materials go to trade schools to better themselves, we would have a saturation of plumbers, carpenters, etc. The same is also true for businesses. Not every one has the risk taking “gene” to be an entrepreneur (I don’t) and run a business and even if they do, they often do not have the “right” idea to succeed. If they did have the gene and idea, they would have already started the business and UBI would be unnecessary.

        While I agree college isn’t for everyone, further education is an absolute necessity for all our people and they need the resources in order to sustain themselves while they make that effort. The knowledge economy has advanced in such a way, and has been for a long time, that even four years of college isn’t enough anymore. You have to be resolved to constantly reeducate yourself over the course of a lifetime or you’re going to be left behind at some point. That’s true for any number of fields (programming, business, voice acting, artistry, repair work, etc.) in our world.

        That aside, we’re not investing anywhere near enough for those many people who DO want to start a business and often find themselves financially strapped, even if their ideas are good. A UBI would be a means to help them support their ideas and even if they fail, they’ll never be at a loss to invest more again until they eventually succeed.

        >] RESPONSE: I am a liberal and based on your responses it sounds like you are also. However, I think liberals live in a fantasy land as it relates to healthcare. Short of WWIII where the US is a smoking pile of rubble like Germany was after WWII requiring a total rebuild of everything, there are too many forces that will prevent universal healthcare in our lifetimes. Too much profit for hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and pharma under the current system. They are not giving that up for UBI. Further, the cost for universal healthcare is staggering. I have family in Toronto and they pay in excess of 50% of their income in taxes. This is a tax averse country. It will never happen.

        I’m not interested in labels. Whether ideology would call me a “liberal”, “conservative” or whatever else, I couldn’t care less. All I care about is progress and the thrill of getting stuff done. To that end, I’m for the best ideas that are out there, no matter who they come from.

        That aside, a naysayer attitude like that virtually ensures we won’t get it done. There’s always a solution, no matter how difficult things may seem or how long it may take. Make a plan and work towards it, ceaselessly.

        >] “RESPONSE: Ever seen the Tea-Party protester with the sign “Get your government hands off my Medicare”? Good luck with that!

        People want to protect their Medicare because they know it works for them. Come up with a plan with equal or greater success and start a pilot program for those who are on Medicare to see that there are other options. Start a national conversation that doesn’t allow for asshole politicians to come out and say that you’re just trying to destroy Medicare and hurt seniors and you can start a new dialogue that will lead to progress. Don’t give into defeatism.

      18. How to restructure markets, another good question. I guess I’d say that markets aren’t a good mechanism for meeting all of society’s needs, so we have to get past the religious ideology that free markets solve all problems, even all economic problems. I think some combination of a basic income, structured as a negative tax which seems to be most politically plausible, and a public job guarantee would be where I would look.

      19. Profile photo of DS DS

        I’m pretty sure we don’t disagree on much. I wouldn’t claim that BI or JG are market based, though they will undoubtedly have significant impacts on the structure of the job market. I think the only point I was trying to make is that, as currently structured, markets incentivize people to automate, and I don’t see a way to structure markets to avoid that. In one sense, people are choosing to automate, but choosing not to is effectively economic suicide. Not much of a choice.

        I think our only major point of difference is on JG. I’m not convinced it’s useful in the context of a society in which we’ve implemented BI. At the end of the day, there’s only so much socially useful work to be done. If you’re hiring above that level, you’re essentially giving people busywork.

      20. A heavy tax on automation would incentivize people differently, not that I recommend that. But I certainly disagree that there’s only so much socially useful work to be done. Child care, as Mary has pointed out, care of the elder and infirm, as she is doing now. But also infrastructure development, community services, environmental remediation, on and on. Tearing down abandoned houses in Detroit, for example.

      21. Profile photo of DS DS

        I guess I’m probably thinking of this in the wrong terms. Essentially, if I’m now on the same page as you, you’re proposing that the government engage in enough socially useful projects to employ everyone who wants to be employed in, say, a given year. In essence, you think that there will always be sufficient work for this program to be feasible. My objections have been based around the idea that the government should be engaging in this work regardless of the employment implications, and that should obviate the need for JG, but you’re essentially suggesting a minimum threshold. I can get behind that as a supplement for BI, but probably not as a replacement.

      22. Now I am confused. I thought the whole idea being discussed by Chris was a Basic Income that didn’t have to be tied to work….It could, but was not compulsory. As Creigh noted, there are jobs which may now fall in the unpaid category that certainly constitute “work” but historically have not been labeled as such. Child care, caring for an elderly or sick person, Hospice work, volunteer services….It’s not that I think most people don’t want to work, just that people’s idea of what constitutes valued work needs contemplation and agreement. IOW, work itself will be redefined but encouraged because people’s basic shelter, food, health needs will be assured.

        What am I not understanding in this conversation?

      23. Mary, we’re all perhaps being a bit unclear because these are theoretical ideas lacking any detail. Basic Income could not be tied to work, in part because many people are either unable to participate or are already engaged in things like child care or elder care. A basic income would satisfy many people, perhaps an increasing number with time, who were able to deal with creating their own direction in life. I think there still are and for some time will be a significant number of people who would want more of a structured job, and that a well-organized society would give those people an opportunity to have that.

  5. A rule change allowing Congress to cut funds to departments or even wages to specific groups of civil servants:

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/01/05/johnson/4qcY2vVW2cpAcfVnxzhrKN/story.html

    “It’s called the Holman Rule, which was first used in 1876 and last used by Congress in 1983. It allows members on either side of the aisle to offer amendments to appropriations bills — which are often hundreds of pages long — in order to reduce the amount of money an agency receives, the number of employees an agency has, or the amount of money an individual federal employee can be paid.”

    1. One of the comments referred to a BI experiment in Canada in the 70s ..”Canada experimented with a basic income guarantee in the town of Dauphin, Manitoba back in the 1970s. The idea was to eliminate all other government payouts other than old age security at the time. The pilot project worked quite well with some recipients going back to school while others found jobs and paid taxes on income over and above the basic supplement. Some who were nearing retirement age did volunteer work. What it did do was eliminate poverty in the town completely. Only a change in government ended the project.”

      Anyone know anything about this?

  6. Chris-
    I agree with you on the advantages of UBI vs. the current hodgepodge of welfare programs. But in several posts, you’ve made the very astute point that the cost of civil rights and the loss of white privilege was borne by working class whites, and that Democrats lost them because the only compensation they offered in return was the opportunity to go on welfare just like black people.

    How is this different? If working class white people just want a job, the same job that now goes to minorities and women thanks to civil rights, the same jobs disappearing thanks to free trade, why do you think they’ll accept this as something different than welfare?

    I agree that a UBI will be less stigmatized than public aid because everyone will get it. But it won’t be as popular as SS/Medicare because FDR / LBJ very cleverly convinced people they “earned” that welfare by “paying into” the system all their working life (this is blatently false economics but was brilliant politics). So do you think working class whites who supported Trump could be brought back into the fold (of either the Dems or a new centrist / conservative / rational Republican party) by a UBI?

    1. Profile photo of DS DS

      I would argue that UBI or negative income tax is inherently more dignified than welfare, and thus more likely to be accepted than welfare. No requirements, no visits from social workers, no suggestion that you’re doing it wrong; all of those represent important social improvements that simply can’t be provided through welfare.

      Of course, how you sell it matters, and I’m not convinced you can eliminate every welfare program through UBI. Chris has, in the past, indicated that some kind of universal healthcare program has to be baked in. I would argue that job retraining and relocation assistance have to be additional to UBI.

      If the argument is couched in the terms you’ve used (jobs lost to free trade), no amount of persuasion will overcome the racism inherent in much of Trump’s support. Low income, unskilled workers will simply demand we keep the brown people out, and they will support Trump like figures until the end of time. The vast majority of the jobs we’re talking about are not being lost to free trade; they’re being lost to technology, and that’s how this has to be couched:

      “You have to adapt to a changing world. We can’t do it for you, but we can help. If you’re willing to train, and to move, here’s all the ways we can make that possible…”

      1. I agree it is more dignified but I don’t think that is the point at issue. People still need to work and they need to feel they are being productive every day. If UBI is used as a system to help people get BETTER jobs and BETTER careers, I am all in.

        But it’s not. It’s being used as a replacement source for income for those who will be unemployed to automation. Further, we live in a country where people love when they benefit by government programs but resent when others do. How do we pay for a meaningful UBI? Taxing the hell out of the wealthy and upper middle class. Even if they get a UBI back, they have to receive bigger UBI benefits than their tax increases to support it. How do we do that in a world where people are having less children than before and living longer deep into retirement (and therefore the population pyramid of working people is decreasing) all while we have one party that now opposes all immigration?

        I again raise the question – Why are we doing what we are doing to ourselves as it relates to automation and the impact of work? Wouldn’t it just be easier to say to the corporations that the insistence on ever increasing profits at the expense of society has reached a point where the only response is we have had enough?

      2. Profile photo of DS DS

        Michael,

        The assumption that every person *needs* to work for their psychological health is, I think, incorrect. Everyone has different needs, and achieves dignity in different ways. There will be some non-trivial proportion of the population that chooses to do nothing. UBI gives them that choice. It also gives people other choices, as Chris notes below. Want some kind of meaningful employment? UBI gives you a degree of support so that you can pursue the training/education/experiences you need to further that goal. Fundamentally, UBI increases the degree of freedom available to everyone in a meaningful way.

        Automation will continue because it has benefits that go beyond simple profit. I mentioned autonomous vehicles eliminating jobs earlier; at the same time they eliminate those jobs, some estimates put the reduction in traffic fatalities at up to 90%. Last year, a robot performed surgery on a rat unassisted for the first time in history. It has a long way to go, but when surgeons are replaced, you’ll see fewer mistakes and infections.

        We human beings think pretty highly of ourselves, but the reality is we’re not that good at most of the things we consider to be ’employment.’ That has consequences beyond reduced profits. Those consequences apply to workers as well. How much dignity is there, really, in tightening a nut on 1,000 widgets a day for thirty years? Are you going to retire feeling like you’ve really accomplished something? More likely, you’ll walk away with a repetitive motion injury and a sense of bitterness about all the things you missed out on in the time you spent on the factory floor.

    2. Profile photo of DS DS

      I would add to the above that we probably also have to address the fairness questions encapsulated in Chris Arnade’s work. Too much of his recent stuff comes across as racist apologia, but he has a point when he talks about the way Wall Street was treated versus the way lower class citizens are treated when they do wrong. Judicial punishment should reflect the degree of social harm caused by the crime. That has to mean jail time for executives of corporations that engage in damaging practices. Big fines just look like elites taking money from other elites.

    3. How is this different from Welfare?

      First, like Medicare and SS, it carries a touch of universality that is absent in welfare. Almost every American will earn SS payments and Medicare coverage if they live long enough. No stigma.

      By the same token, almost every American would be on a basic income at some point in their lives. It would be practically universal for high school graduates and college graduates while they land their first paid work. Every musician or artist would be on it at some point, perhaps for long periods. Every full time home-maker would earn a basic income.

      In an environment in which people go through four or five complete careers, not to mention multiple jobs, over a lifetime, there would be thousands or hundreds of thousands of college educated people who had previously earned a lot of money getting by on a basic at any given time. It would be a frictional experience for everyone.

      And unlike welfare, it would not carry the imprimatur of neediness. Every affluent stay at home mom or dad on the fancy side of town would be getting a basic income check right along with the guy who lost his job at Carrier.

  7. Lest you think Friedman is talking insignificant amounts, in 1968, which is the time period of this video, a new Chevy or Ford cost 3000 dollars. A new VW beetle was 1700. The average house price was 14 – 17 thousand. So he is proposing a generous amount of money.

  8. This is time-sensitive so had to post off topic. Apologies, Chris. From Daily Kos:

    Paul Ryan’s office is conducting a phone poll, hoping to hear overwhelming opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Here’s how you can participate:
    Call (202) 225-0600….
    Press 2 to weigh in on the issue. You’ll hear a recording about the bill to repeal it, then Press 1 to support continuing the Affordable Healthcare Act. It takes less than 2 minutes!

    Note- lots of calls may have to try several times…redial, redial…

      1. For people at work, this may be too heavy a lift. I’ve not been able to get through either…that could be a good or a bad, but will continue to try….

        Thanks for your efforts….This is what it is going to be like from here on, I’m afraid…

      2. Or, they could be playing us…..I did confirm number is legitimate…checked Ryan’s site. Note an alternative number is listed on his website: 202.225.3031. It won’t have the recorded ACA spiel, but call it anyway, I did.

        30 seconds is about all you are allowed so state simply:

        ” (name, location)….i.e. Joe blow, houston tx) – I support continuing the Affordable CAre ACt. Press one to end.

        Screw this. Two can play at this game.

      3. Well, consider this: his mailbox can’t take any of his consitutuent’s messages, either! I like the alternative idea of calling one’s senator/representative or even Pence or Price and telling them where you stand and that you are calling them because you couldn’t get through to Ryan.

        We’re gonna have to aggravate them. This was all for show, as we all know it wouldn’t make any difference to their plans. But we can make so many calls that we can shut down the switchboard. That has happened in the past. At least they will know we’re alive.

      1. For the record, when the ACA passed, I laughed. There it was, conservatives upset with a deal that solidified private sector control of an industry, and liberals praising a form of corporate welfare, all because a liberal passed it. In any coherently ideology, conservatives would be ecstatic and liberals pissed.

        But that’s why ideology has nothing to do with rationality and reason, and is entirely based around identity politics. This is why I don’t bother to waste my time trying to figure out if I’m ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ enough for people. Who cares?

        I’m for the ACA only because it makes my own healthcare affordable, full stop. It’s an entirely self-interested decision. But if we’re going to be talking repeal and replace, then the onus is on you, my friend, to explain what ‘replace’ is.

        Here is a breakdown of what the ACA actually does: https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/vb8vs/eli5_what_exactly_is_obamacare_and_what_did_it/c530lfx/

        By all means, go down this list and tell us what’s monstrous about this, and what should replace it to make it more monstrous.

        And I’m serious, because I have no commitment to this law: if you have a better idea for replacement, I have a committee of people waiting to call the various Republicans in Congress with that idea.

        🙂

      2. “they proposed it and that passed, because the American people are too stupid to understand the difference.” Jonathan Gruber

        http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/12/politics/gruber-obamacare-third-video/index.html

        Dow, perhaps some of you are okay with being called stupid by one of the architects of Obamacare. The ACA was meant to eventually fail and be replaced. To pass the ACA, the Obama administration had to lie to the American people, and according to Gruber, we are too stupid to understand.

  9. At least in the realm of journalism and media, ’17 is quickly proving to be no slouch. First we find that Megyn Kelly (whom, whatever you think of her work, is tough as a boot) will be moving over to NBC and now Greta vsn Susteren, of all people, has officially announced that she’ll be making the move to MSNBC to take over the 5pm slot, formerly held by “With All Due Respect”.

    http://info.msnbc.com/_news/2017/01/05/36576960-greta-van-susteren-joins-msnbc

    Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what to make of all this quite yet. On the one hand, with whatever credible talent Fox News had being snatched up at a truly breakneck pace, the transition to Trump TV is becoming disturbingly apparent. On the other, kudos to NBC and MSNBC for their open-mindedness and courage in these decisions; credit where credit is due. As was likely the mindset when they made these hires, it’s obvious they want to transcend any partisan label and become more and more mainstream.

    In any case, I’ll be there to see Ms. Van Susteren and Kelly’s opening debuts. Take away from the lean of FNC, let’s see what they’ve got.

    1. The leftists amongst my friends group would describe that ‘open-mindedness and courage’ as ‘further right wing takeover of the media.’

      Myself, I’m interested in seeing where they go with different editorial processes. As much as the people of FOX News followed certain creeds, the editorial slant had a lot of influence as well.

  10. Having a guarantee basic income would shift barter power back to the worker who is after all producing the wealth in the first place. He or she would have the power to say no. If you cannot do that you have no barter power. This would not stop all abuse of power but would curtail it. The basic income would remove a lot of bureaucracy and arguments of fairness used against present welfare schemes. It is very promising but would be fought against by the economic elite as they would pay most of the cost and give up significant power. But is fair as the present system gives them their wealth and power which they have mainly over time fashion for their benefit at the expense of the majority of us.

    1. I understand the advantages of putting a floor beneath people to give them security and more independence; however, that does not pre-empt the need for a competent, adequately sized and funded central government. Further, given this Republican majority, the only way they would support something like a basic income is to ravage other safety net programs that may offer greater benefits to those needing them. The details of this will be critical because if the purpose is to help people, and politics takes control, it will be a means to the end of cutting more assistance for the poor, disabled and elderly. Just watch. That is already being proposed in the Medicaid block grant proposals which will cut the overall allocation presently going for Medicaid services resulting in fewer people being able to be served, dollars spread over a larger group, or states having to tax its populace in order to cover the shortfall. Snakes.

      1. The question of what Nixon’s ides included gets muddier, because the proposal went through iterations as it worked its way through the sausage machine. Originally yes, the proposal was to include everyone, partly just for the simplicity of the thing.

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