Universal Basic Income (UBI)

I just found this article in the news today:

Free money? South Africa floats universal basic income for all

South Africa is highly likely to implement a form of universal basic income in the next few years, with the ruling ANC party committing to finalize a policy within two years of taking power. While details are still being debated, the goal is to provide a monthly grant sufficient for all citizens to live above the poverty line and meet basic needs.

A universal basic income providing a sufficient standard of living for all of South Africa’s nearly 60 million citizens could reduce rampant crime levels - which reached over 1.6 million reported cases in 2022 - to just a fraction of current numbers, as people’s basic needs are met and they are empowered to adapt their ways towards securing higher cultural interests defined by a society free from deprivation.

A prospect of an actual obliteration of crime, in :south_africa: Africa.

L.A. County’s Breathe universal basic income program gives participants $1,000 monthly for three years

Guaranteed income programs’ popularity remains strong at the local and state level. In the last two years, there have been 200 guaranteed income pilot programs launched in the U.S. In California, more than 12,000 people received money through several dozen similar pilots in recent years.

A European YouGov poll shows majority support for UBI in Germany, Spain, and Italy. The Covid-19 pandemic has reignited the UBI debate, leading Spain to lay the foundation for a universal income program, while Germany has implemented its own UBI scheme.

Additionally, there are calls for EU-wide minimum living income and the promotion of UBI through initiatives such as the European Citizens’ Initiative for Unconditional Basic Income.

Switzerland has proposed a UBI of 2,500 CHF ($3,000 USD) per month, unconditionally, plus $800 USD per child. According to a 2018 poll from Splendid Research, Germans found 1,137 euros ($1,300 USD) a month to be an appropriate amount on average.

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Belgium has a history of active groups promoting basic income, such as the movement Vivant and the philosopher Philippe Van Parijs, who is founder of the Basic Income European Network (BIEN).

More than 2.1 million people in Germany recently applied to be part of Germany’s first long-term universal basic income project, sparking discussions about its potential as a future model for the country.

  • A Finnish basic income experiment found that UBI had a positive impact on well-being and attitudes, such as increased trust in institutions. A society with higher levels of well-being and trust in the system could potentially foster a cultural shift towards more positive and law-abiding behaviors.
  • The idea that providing a universal basic income (UBI) could lead to an “obliteration of crime through culturally enforced behavioral and mental evolution” is an ambitious claim, but one that can be substantiated to some degree by examining the potential power of culture and societal expectations to shape human behavior.
  • When deprivation and financial insecurity are addressed through a guaranteed income floor, individuals may no longer have the same economic motivations or excuses for engaging in criminal activities. This removal of a significant barrier could create an opportunity for cultural forces to exert a stronger influence on shaping individual behavior and societal norms.

In summary: UBI sets people on a path of philosophy.

What do you think of Universal Basic Income (UBI), and for example the idea that it might enable to obliterate crime and promote a society that through culture aligns people with higher (philosophical) interests?

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Daniel Hart, an independent scholar and historian based in Australia who studies and publishes online collections of key texts from the “Great Books” of Western philosophy and political thought through his project Online Library of Liberty (OLL), is walking across Australia to promote Universal Basic Income (UBI).

http://davidmhart.com/

He recently was swept away in a river and needed to be rescued.

The goal of Mr Hart’s walk is to encourage people to consider a basic income for all Australians.

He described it as regular, unconditional weekly payments to cover an individual’s basic needs.

It is something he believes could be possible by “taxing corporations correctly”.

“Right now, they’re taxed legally, but not ethically, in my opinion,” he said.

He says he hopes by hearing his story, people will seek out more information, find out what it is, and make up their own minds about it.

This is going to be as effective as raising the minimum wage. They will in response hike prices and taxes until it’s almost like you have nothing, as at the beginning.

As long as they are unwilling to hold greedy rich as accountable as surviving poor (for violating self=other in the taking of what another either THINKS they own, or is ACTUALLY owed to them), no solution coming from the state is going to solve anything.

Don’t you think that Big Governments will be going after AI and robotics where the majority surplus of the future is to be found? Or do you think that Governments will give up on people when jobs are obsolete and when people are fundamentally not needed anymore for the advancement of industry?

I like UBI, but two points I don’t see enough of:

  1. Basic income doesn’t need to be a living wage to have an effect. $3000/year UBI would effectively be a 10% raise for the median family in the US, which is life changing. But unlike a raise, it isn’t tied to work. People can reduce their hours and make the same pay, or get started in a new career at a lower rate, or quit and let the UBI tide them over while they look for better work. All of that gives workers significant bargaining power, forcing employers to pay reasonable rates, to treat them well, to entice them to say. Those effects make real a difference, even when the total payout is much lower than I usually see proposed.

  2. UBI is a small-government policy. When the government spends money, it takes money as taxes (or borrows against future tax revenue), and decides how the money should be spent. With a UBI, the taxes are taken, but the spending decisions are made by everyone individually. The choice of what makes a person’s life better is left to the individual, and not to their representatives (and the lobbyists who tell them what to think).

This analogy doesn’t quite work. If taxes are progressive and UBI is truly universal, the net effect is a redistribution of wealth. Even if prices increase in response, the effect on distribution matters.

Another big difference from minimum wage is that UBI is unconditional. When the minimum wage is increased, a certain amount of human labor becomes uneconomical – if a business can only get $10 of value out of every hour of my labor, they aren’t going to pay me $15 for it. Businesses just won’t hire those people, and everyone that isn’t hired earns less as a result.

UBI pays, no matter what.

I’d rather see an LVT, but your proposal is probably more politically viable.

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The US appears to be planning a major ‘control’ initiative in a few years, in light of AI’s potential to grow out of control. The EU is lacking behind in control initiatives, according to some articles, but I noticed that people in Europe may be warry about a robot and AI revolution.

Philosophy professor Seth Lazar wrote the following article about it:

The US is racing ahead in its bid to control artificial intelligence – why is the EU so far behind?

AI ‘godfather’ says universal basic income will be needed

The idea of a reduction of hours isn’t feasible when considering that the prospect of jobs is to falter completely by AI and robotics.

What is at stake is securing peoples livelyhood, to live healthy and to raise children. It wouldn’t be an option to leave that responsibility to the very few that may still have a job for some time.

What do you think of the proposal in Switzerland for an UBI of $3,000 USD per month + $800 USD per month per child? In Germany, a neighbour, people are to receive about $1,500 USD per month.

What would happen when countries globally are to introduce such significant different incomes for people?

Can you please explain your vision?

When jobs and human labor are completely obsolete in the next decade, it implies that the need for healthy humans and a stable society from the perspective of the interests of industry, could fall away.

I am not intending to argue that human values are stand to lose, but from a financial system perspective, it appears that Governments have been setup as a sort of ‘service agent’ for the source of the surplus of value in industry, the foundation of growth.

When AI / robotics would replace the source of the surplus value in industry, would Governments transition into a service agent for AI? Or will Governments continue to serve the people and ‘enslave’ the AI for their benefits?

Some philosophers who argue(d) for UBI:

  • Philippe Van Parijs, a Belgian philosopher, has been a leading advocate for unconditional basic income (UBI) and has worked to promote it through philosophical arguments and activism. Van Parijs founded the Basic Income Earth Network in 1986.
  • Hillel Steiner, political philosopher who has argued that a global UBI funded by a land value tax would be distributively just. He sees UBI as a way to compensate people for the loss of their equal liberty to use unowned land sites.
  • Thomas Paine, an eighteenth century philosopher and Founding Father of the United States, Paine advocated for a stakeholder grant at maturity plus a citizens pension, which is nearly a UBI.
  • Thomas Spence, an eighteenth century English philosopher, Spence was apparently the first to fully lay out what is now called a universal basic income.
  • Joseph Charlier, a nineteenth century Belgian utopian philosopher, Charlier reinvented the idea of UBI in 1848, suggesting the socialization of rent with the proceeds redistributed as a UBI.

Some projects:

Unconditional Basic Income Europe (UBIE)

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…because the AI-hype ain’t real for All… no-one even speaks about it or discusses it here.

I guess -like covid- the AI industry is being used as a[nother] ‘transfer of wealth’, from All, to the American top few percent… and yet with all those funds being generated/stolen, still no UBI for the American population.
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I see no philanthropy over there, but just vested-interests of hobbies and foreign aid.

That is indeed interesting. I’ve noticed this myself on another forum.

Why do you think that the hype isn’t real? Evidently, the job cuts are real, and the prospect of further enhancing AI and robotics replacing almost any human job in the very near future appears to be real?

Perhaps you are right, but this time the situation might change profoundly. Humans are becoming obsolete from the perspective of the exploiters of labour. Through AI and robotics, humans might become fundamentally unneeded for industry.

Education: for what purpose? No industrial exploiters who care for human development. AI can do it better anyway. This might be something that is already relevant today.

Why do you think that AI receives almost no attention on this forum?

The US is usually slower at adopting new policies like, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the EU ends up getting there first. GDPR is a prime example, the US was talking about privacy regulation from the early 70s, and we still don’t have federal data privacy laws.

The US is also much more vulnerable to AI, because worker protections/bargaining power are weaker here, and the safety net is less generous. AI will lead to much more unemployment in the US, and that unemployment will cause much greater hardship here.

(This goes to @MagsJ’s points as well: People are more worried here, and for good reason.)

LVT is “Land Value Tax”. The idea is to tax the value of land (not including improvements to the land like real estate.

This is the basic framework Georgism, a libertarian progressive economic framework: tax common goods like land and natural resources, and pay it out mostly as a universal, unconditional basic income. It removes so called ‘land rents’, the amount people earn from exercising a monopoly on a piece of land, and instead incentivizes using land and other natural resources to add value. The idea being that the value of common goods will fluctuate to find an equilibrium, but supply is fixed so taxes can’t distort production, they can only encourage the most valuable use. But since everyone needs land and other natural resources, taxes effectively ‘flow through’, so that people’s felt taxation is proportion to consumption and unproductive wealth. It also naturally checks inflation, since the UBI is tied to the value of the resources.

You’re not wrong, but that’s still a ways off. And a low UBI requires all the infrastructure of a high UBI, so a low UBI can be raised as AI replaces human labor. Getting the infrastructure in place (i.e. having a way to reliably give everyone their UBI) is a huge hurdle, but once its done it opens up a lot of possibilities.

I think that’s fine to start. It isn’t clear what the best level of UBI is, and each country that does it differently is effectively an experiment that will give us more information about how to reform going forward.

Long term, in an ideal world as I see it, the UBI would be global. Countries would compete for immigrants by offering a different mix of laws and services, because immigrants would bring their UBI and thus each additional citizen would be an increase in national wealth.

That’s all a pipe dream from here, so let nations experiment and see what happens. If Germany has a UBI, I don’t think an EU UBI is far behind.