How To Solve The Piracy Problem: Give Everyone A Basic Income For Doing Nothing

from the welcome-to-the-Star-Trek-economy dept

Here on Techdirt we often discuss economics in the absence of scarcity -- how the ability to make any number of digital copies for vanishingly small cost creates new business opportunities for creators. But could a kind of abundance exist in the physical world too? That's the question raised in a fascinating post on Salon about a vote that will take place in Switzerland:

By gathering over 100,000 signatures -- which they delivered last Friday along with 8 million 5-cent coins representing the country's population -- activists have secured a vote by Switzerland's parliament on an audacious proposal: providing a basic monthly income of about $2,800 U.S. dollars to each adult in the country.
As the article explains, that $2,800 is unconditional:
If you're rich you get it, if you're poor you get. If you're a good person you get it, if you're a bad person you get it. And it does not depend on you doing anything other than making whatever effort is involved to collect the money.
The rest of the post is a great discussion with John Schmitt, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who explores this idea from various angles. The whole thing is well-worth reading, but I think one section in particular will be of interest to Techdirt readers:
So if we were a very rich world, which I think we are to a certain degree, [universal basic income of the kind being discussed in Switzerland] would be a remarkable way to make sure that people could maximize their ability to express themselves but also maximize their ability to participate in the communities that they live in in a full way. Stay home and take care of kids if that's what you want to do. Take care of your parents when they're old and sick.
This feeds into discussions about how creators could live and thrive in a world where it was legal to share copies of their work. A society that provided them -- and everyone -- with a basic wage would not need to rehearse today's sterile arguments about piracy. Artists would have the option of living on the basic wage while they created, or of making more money by building on the fact that their work is freely available, as Techdirt has advocated. Some might dismiss this as a utopian dream, but as Schmitt points out, it's not:
People sometimes refer to this as a kind of "Star Trek" economy -- you just said, "Replicator, make me a ham sandwich." There wasn't any social conflict around production and consumption. And that, I think, is that kind of ideal in which this kind of a thing could play out. We are probably there in terms of the economics. We are very, very wealthy -- we could afford to do this. But we are not there in terms of the politics.
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    'we could afford to do this. But we are not there in terms of the politics'

    how very true. however, we are not 'there' in terms of greed! that is a much bigger problem. those that poor, usually want enough to have 'a life'. those who already have wealth, want more because 'enough is never enough' to those people! and it's exactly the same with power!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:17am

      Re:

      politics, greed... What's the difference? Especially with our political system of legal bribery.

       

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      The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:44am

      Re:

      There is no 'afford to do this'. The only thing that would happen if this were done is instant and insane inflation. The poor would still be poor, the rich would still be rich, and the middle class would slowly erode into poverty.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:51am

        Re: Re:

        Not if you freeze all prices.

         

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          The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:53am

          Re: Re: Re:

          And you only have to look at how well that worked for the U.S.S.R. to see how that would play out.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 10:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Russia was not alone in attempting this, lets not forget the wage and price freeze of the seventies in the us. It was pathetic. Employers were ecstatic about freezing wages and grudgingly sort of held prices, with package sizes shrinking and quality deteriorating. Yet some laud it as though it were a resounding success.

             

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          ChrisB (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 12:29pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's like saying if you hold the speedometer, you can't speed. Price isn't determined by government, it is determined by supply and demand.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 12:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Except when it's not.

            Many things are, by design, not subject to supply and demand. Government granted monopolies covering utilities do not adhere to the concept, they are supposedly regulated. There are several instances where demand went down and therefore the utility had to raise rates.

            Other cases exist in artificial markets, diamonds for example.

             

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            trollificus (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 7:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It's like saying "We'll solve speeding problems by only allowing speedometer displays that only go up to 75 mph.

            I also really like the "solutions" to other problems presented by this utopian proposal...

            Problem: "People who make more money will leave."
            Solution: "We'll make it worldwide!"

            Problem: "People will just charge more for goods and services"
            Solution: "We'll control all the prices!"

            Problem: "People won't be as productive without the incentive of attaining wealth."
            Solution: "We'll make them."

            Note that every "solution" to the objections raised requires that greater and greater power be given to...government? All the members of which organization will be content to settle for the same "adequate" wage received by people who have NO power?? RLY? This altruistic behavior is not intuitive, based on, oh...every bit of human history ever. Sorry.

            Maybe we could look into giving everyone a unicorn that shits money instead.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 7:36am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Problem: "People who make more money will leave."
              Solution: "We'll make it worldwide!""

              nothing wrong with giving everyone globally money without conditions.

              "Problem: "People will just charge more for goods and services"
              Solution: "We'll control all the prices!""

              never heard that problem raised about a tax financed unconditional basic income, nor do I know any weighted source that proposes such a solution.

              "Problem: "People won't be as productive without the incentive of attaining wealth."
              Solution: "We'll make them.""

              No weighted source said you cant keep 50% or more of the income you earn. because some fool proposes to tax all earnings above 250k$ at 100% doesn't make it a part of the proposal.
              It's a strawman, like all of your suggested problems and solutions.
              And despite all of these points being matter of future discussion between you, me and all of society that seriously considers such a proposal, at least on those points the supporters are rather clearly of different position.

              Hence I say "strawman arguments", no offense.

               

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        weneedhelp (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 10:05am

        Re: Re:

        Oh, you mean like whats happening in the US?... without the 2800 dollars. Since its happening anyway... ill take the 2800. [Puts on old guy hat] In my day sonny, you could get a loaf of bread for a nickel, a car for 500, a gallon of gas for 75 cents,a pack of cigarettes for 75 cents and a Hershey's chocolate bar for 25 cents... not one of the current day anorexic candy bars either. [shakes cane in the air]Damn kids. ends old guy rant.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 10:24am

        Re: Re:

        It has been computed that the "basic income tax" would be equivalent to the actual VAT slightly increased. To put it in perspective, the VAT in Switzerland is currently at 8%, and the lower one in the whole EU is at 15% (Cyprus and Luxembourg).

        So technically, it would be possible to replace entirely the VAT by the "basic income tax" and pay for pretty much everything, while at the same time removing or privatizing (and at least much reducing) institutions such as social security or scholarship grants.

        So NO, inflation is not a sure consequence of the basic income, and at worst a small increase in prices will happen, that will be compensated by the income itself.

        On the other hand, the benefices might be huge: Increasing the lower salaries (people will be able to truly negotiate salaries without fearing of having nothing at the end), it will allow poor student to study without the need of a side-job, it will decrease unemployment literally to an astonishing 0% (you read right: Z-E-R-O) by making unemployment obsolete by design (same for retirement pension), thus reducing taxes towards social security institutions and simplifying the bureaucracy (thus cutting costs), it will allow everyone to create small businesses with very low risks (allowing artists to live by their art being a side effect), and so on... The list is pretty huge.

        Even if nothing changes fundamentally in the daily live of people, the small redistribution of wealth among every citizens has at least the benefit of democratizing how people can spend their time.

        The two main problems for that initiative right now are:
        1. The ill need of Swiss people to work ever harder (they refused to extend the minimum holidays not so long ago)
        2. The sad mentality summarized by: "I don't want lazy people to benefit from my hard work."

         

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          The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 10:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Replacing all the pet subsidies that taxes currently pay for with the basic income you mean? It could never happen. The kind of people who would vote in a basic income subsidy would be the same ones who would scream loudest if their other subsidies were taken away. In short, they would want both the current subsidies and the basic income subsidy. At the very least they would not stand for reduction in current subsidies.

          As for democratizing how much spare time they have... I'll take freedom over democracy every single time. The entire reason pure democracy does not exist on this earth is that everyone with half a brain knows it would result instantly and without fail in tyranny of the masses. All minorities of any sort would be oppressed under it. Even proper fascism would be preferable.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 11:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Obviously you don't have studied how all the minorities composing Switzerland are working together, and how well it had worked out so far =)
            Btw I'm swiss and from the biggest "minority": Welsch people. And I don't say that it always work for the best, but that in the long term it does. Finally, by "democratizing" I meant "enabling/empowering people to do stuff" instead of "everyone decide everything". There is a nuance in French that is maybe not there in English.

            I concede that swapping everything instantaneously won't be possible. However, some things can: Financial aid for students (even at best, they currently receive less from the state than the basic income would provide) and the minimum social wage, which is currently around 15$ a day I think. The unemployment wage is based on the last salary, and cannot be replaced as is. But in the long term it can be privatized as most other insurances.
            Some insurances, such as health care, probably won't be replaced, but people will pay it with their basic income.

            So far, any "social subsidies" (including students aid) are so filled with bureaucracy that I think that reducing the complexity of the system will allow to cut enough costs to compensate for the possible increase of those subsidies. But even so, and even if Swiss citizens can vote, there is currently a tendency to reduce those subsidies, so I don't think that it would be such a huge problem to reduce them a bit if actually needed.

             

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              The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 11:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Personally, I think I'd prefer an good "we're going to take money from them and give it to you" system rather than dressing it up as social programs. It's at least more honest about what's being done. I just don't see anything coming from it but bad results though.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:01pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Them being who?

                What do you want?

                If you don't give it to them(between 50 to 80 million Americans right now who can't live without money from the US government) eventually they will just take it, they have the numbers and they have the true power, the only thing that keep people in check is the fantasy that they have something to lose, if they believe they have nothing well you can see what happened in Egypt, Syria and other places.

                They need places to stay, they need food, clothes, how is that going to happen in a downturn?

                Those are not hypothetical thingies, right now in SF people are throwing bricks at Google's and Apple's employee bus transports to stop the "gentrification" process which is raising their rents and cost of living.

                The Verge: Protesters block Silicon Valley shuttles, smash Google bus window

                Sure is nothing like Syria, but there is a tension beneath raging.

                What is your proposal to rectify those problems?

                My is simple, create spaces where people can go, learn how to produce things they need our of any "free" resources available so they can have a comfortable life, not luxurious just comfortable enough that they have something to lose and on the plus side they can learn new skills and continue the process of learning to produce more things to eventually join up the paid classes when the opportunities arise, think of it as a grain storage but for people you protect the grain from mold, insects until you have a need for it, the same way the capitalistic model needs a grain storage(yes I know is weird comparing people to grains), there are not enough jobs and there will never be.

                The other option is do nothing and let it all go to hell, which it will, those people if allowed to live will need a place to stay if you can't provide eventually they will find a way to get it, one way or another, this has nothing to do with compassion, just practicality, we will not kill vast quantities of "useless" people, we can't export those people either can we?

                So what to do?

                 

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                Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:06pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Precisely. The beauty of the basic income is that it is not social programs. It is a social system, in which money is taken from everyone, and given to everyone. Everyone contribute to it, and everyone benefit from it.

                Social programs, in contrast, is everyone contribute to them, and some selected people benefit from them. If there is a selection, cheating is possible. So we put in place bureaucracy to prevent cheating and to improve the selection process.

                But with basic income, there is no selection, thus no cheating. The drawback is then essentially that people (i.e. rich people) that don't need the basic income also benefit from it. But in my opinion, it is more beneficial than detrimental as it precisely prevents cheating, and allows even rich people to be able to risk everything without losing everything, still in the end the society do not give them more than anyone else. Rich people will still be able to become richer (the 100% tax after an income threshold is out of the question here) but what is interesting is that not-so-rich people will also be able to risk everything without losing everything (entrepreneurs, artists, etc.)
                It makes in my opinion a strong social pact.
                Furthermore, it does not take away freedom, and will even give freedom to some people that don't have it right now. It does not presume anything such as what people should do with the "extra" money, where social aids have those presumptions, and even sometimes it is not only presumption but requirements to be able to receive them.

                Honesty? Where do you see honesty when in my student subsidies the fine prints reads "if we find out that you don't use you subside for studies purpose you will have to reimburse them all" and I go watch a movie with that money? I am a student, and if I don't go watch a movie once in a while, I will become crazy. But still, according to the terms I am cheating the system. Basic income is the most honest system, as it says "we give you something, do whatever you want with it". You can add "don't come ask for more" and "if you want more, you'll have to pull yourself together and work hard like your father and his father did".

                 

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            Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 9:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The entire reason pure democracy does not exist on this earth is that everyone with half a brain knows it would result instantly and without fail in tyranny of the masses.

            Which is the same argument used by the aristocracy when they were trying to justify their continued rule against popular opposition to their tyrannical rule,

             

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        Paul, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 12:30pm

        Re: Re:

        There's no reason it would lead to inflation unless the money supply were increased.

         

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        Sunhawk (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 3:26am

        Re: Mighty Buzzard

        I suppose that's the question. I mean, if someone can make a solid argument that I can follow that it'll not result in that kind of outcome, then I'd be all for it.

        Most preferred would be a nice variety of demonstrations; I'm always wary of theoretical economics...

         

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        Aklyon, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 9:27am

        Re: Re:

        I remember the Havenites doing this in the honor harrington series of books. They needed to take over more planets constantly to support both the corruption and the Basic Living Stipend at the same time, otherwise everything would be unsustainable to the least negative possible degree.

         

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      Dishevel, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:03pm

      Re:

      Sure other people can work and I can play PS4 all day.
      This I am sure will work out well.
      Politically this is not as much of a problem as it is socially.
      Socially too many fucking lazy bastards around.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2013 @ 11:48pm

      Re:

      "greed! that is a much bigger problem."

      But that shouldn't be an excuse to forget about the poor, the artists, the housewives or -men, the old, the young, etc.

      By the way, there is a similar movement in the European Union:

      http://basicincome2013.eu/

      For all EU citizens, sign and share this now as it will only run until 14. Jan 2014!

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 3:54am

        Re: Re:

        Greed has it uses, is the one factor that overrides race, religion and other factors that could stop development and commerce from happening, so while it is bad, it has its good too, but how to use it wisely?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 11:11am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Greed ... the one factor that overrides race, religion and other factors ..."

          I doubt it. Any credible resource that substantiates this claim?

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:20am

    The 'sterile arguments about piracy' are just excuses the super wealthy and powerful use to exert power and control to skew the system to their advantage.

    If it weren't for all these conglomerated consolidated media corporations who control the means of production and distribution, there would be a much different landscape on how artists relate to the public.

    Sure some of those media companies also foster and support said artists, but it is solely to protect their outdated and inefficient revenue streams, for without the artists creating works for them, they would have nothing.

    Thankfully we have seen many artists take matters into their own hands and produce and distribute their work without the middlemen of old.

    Unfortunately those middlemen who operate as an organized crime syndicate, still block such 'rebels' and 'upstarts' from the prime markets they control.

     

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    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:20am

    And in following news...

    Swedish collection societies have applied for a $2,900 "you must be a pirate tax" on this income as it is obviously targeted to file sharers who are stealing the artists work.

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 5:37pm

      Re: And in following news...

      On the one hand, that should be funny, yet on the other hand... yeah, I can totally see them doing something like that.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 3:17am

      Re: And in following news...

      SWEDISH?
      Good luck collecting from the Swiss :) though I am sure they would be happy to try!

       

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    Jay (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:32am

    Canada did it too

    It's not like mincome projects are anything new. Canada had a mincome project in the late 70s which has gotten more popular recently. Manitoba did this and was successful.

    Paying for this isn't hard either. You just have to tax income and ensure a maximum income of over $250,000 is taxed at 100%. That means any amount over that is given to the government to redistribute for social services. I doubt highly that people would actually be against such a system so long as it helped everyone.

     

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      The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:49am

      Re: Canada did it too

      I would and I make nowhere near $250k/year.

      How this plays out:
      • Govt announces this program.
      • Everyone making over $250k/year leaves for somewhere that won't ass rape them.
      • Nation falls into poverty that makes the great depression look like insane prosperity.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:53am

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        Make it worldwide and there is nowhere to go.

         

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          The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:59am

          Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

          Even attempt this worldwide and there will be war like this world has never seen it before. It's a socialist, utopian pipe dream and will never be anything but.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 10:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

            It'd work fine in any world that did not have the US in it.
            But if any country in this world did it, they would almost immediately be attacked by the US who would consider utopia a threat to their way of life.

             

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            Jay (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 8:48pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

            When taxes were raised in California, millionaires didn't leave.

            When France did a 15% tax on stocks and bonds, they didn't leave.

            But you know who did leave a state when given subsidies?

            Detroit, Cleveland, etc.

            The car companies are now Chinese companies and left those cities in destitution.

            Oh, and if you really want to look at history, check out FDR's four terms and the terms of Eisenhower.

            High taxes didn't force people to leave before, so why do you believe it'll happen now?

            It just forces CEOs to dedicate more to their business.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2013 @ 4:49pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

              "High taxes didn't force people to leave before, so why do you believe it'll happen now?"

              Because Fox News says so. This is sad due to their lack of credibility.

               

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                Jay (profile), Dec 29th, 2013 @ 7:49pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

                Because Fox News says so. This is sad due to their lack of credibility.

                Wait, what?

                France has a tax rate of 75%.

                The US has a tax rate of 38%. That's federal tax rate.

                Where the hell are you getting the Fox News crap from?

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 4:00am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

                  To be more acurate the tax rate that every individual is exposed to in the US is probably around 50%, it is a cascade of taxes that increases the prices and consumers pay it all, then comes the federal taxes on income, some are visible some are somewhat hidden, when you pay your utility bills you are paying a lot of taxes there that you can't see, then there are the state tax and the federal taxes that all adds up to more than just 38%.

                  The tax system is mind boggling literally.

                   

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                  Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 4:57am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

                  from the sarcasm generator

                   

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        The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:55am

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        Hrm. appears that LI tags need to be filtered out. Something in the comment scripting treats them as new posts and loses its shat.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 7:50am

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        "Everyone making over $250k/year leaves ... Nation falls into poverty"

        1) Their money has already left
        2) What percentage of people living in poverty is required in order to say the nation is in poverty? Because we are close if not already there.

         

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        Nop (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 8:46am

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        Dunno about the USA, but Australia would be a much nicer place if every whiny asshole 'earning' over $250K left. We got rid of Murdoch that way, for example. Too bad Gina Rhinehart hasn't followed his lead.

         

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      Christopher Best (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 10:24am

      Re: Canada did it too

      The US also experimented with it, and saw a dramatic (10-15%) reduction in the workforce. This reduction was primarily in housewives and high-school aged children, however, so it's arguable whether or not it was a bad thing.

      It's a seductive solution to a complicated problem. I really don't think we can just wave a magic wand and say "Everyone gets money!" and expect it to just work out, though. That's not to say it won't ever work, just that it won't be easy, quick, or pain-free. And it's a non-starter when you start advocating a "modest proposal" like seizing all income over $250k or fixing prices.

       

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        Jay (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 8:45pm

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        The US also experimented with it, and saw a dramatic (10-15%) reduction in the workforce. This reduction was primarily in housewives and high-school aged children, however, so it's arguable whether or not it was a bad thing.

        Source?

        Manitoba had the exact same thing occur so they went out of the workforce to raise children. That freed up jobs for teenagers and others. How is having everyone working a good thing when you have no time for family?


        It's a seductive solution to a complicated problem.


        Seems eerily like people are making the problem more complicated than it has to be. Precedents set seem to be to raise taxes instead of borrowing the money and get the money to help out the poorest and richest with a new way to structure society.

        I really don't think we can just wave a magic wand and say "Everyone gets money!" and expect it to just work out, though.

        Good thing no one's saying that. And we have history that shows the results.

        And it's a non-starter when you start advocating a "modest proposal" like seizing all income over $250k or fixing prices.

        Right... Because taxing stocks and bonds, anything over $250,000 so that there's a maximum income, and helping people to find jobs and money to alleviate poverty is a bad idea...

         

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        anonymouse, Dec 29th, 2013 @ 10:05am

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        It has been said over and over again that for every dollar that the government gives to the poor it makes the government over a dollar back in new businesses created and new taxes. So giving everyone a reasonable amount will result in more shops needed, more jobs created and probably in the long run more people working as they would want to benefit more than just having the flat income, the problem i foresee is the demand for housing rising to such an extent that people cannot afford them but then again it would create a huge environment where people could work.

        If this was done in a sensible way where every aspect was covered i think it would be great, people were not meant to work 40 hours a week, we were meant to go to sleep when the sun set and to go out hunting once a week for food.

        I hate those that say this is not a good way to do things as people will refuse to work, so what if they dont want to work let them relax and live life to the fullest they can. Money would not be a major issue as people would be spending a lot on entertainment and not just downloading movies but going to parks or camping or whatever...

        I know there will be a lot of people that would be against this system as there are a lot of people that dont like seeing anyone being successful and dont like to see people living good lives, they believe working 100 hours a week is a must and that nobody gets help from anyone, those are the type of people that will stop this happening in the US.

         

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        akp (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 10:18am

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        Considering we're at a very high unemployment right now, I don't see the problem.

        Unemployment is going to get worse and worse while we start automating many jobs that used to go to lower income people.

        We, as a society, are going to have to do something about all the people who are jobless because of advances in technology. This is not a bad thing.

        I firmly believe that if we had a basic income for all, that we'd see a new Renaissance. An explosion of art like the world has never seen.

        Will there be a portion of the population that just do "nothing," and accept the basic income forever? Of course! But how is that any different than now, when we're supporting those people already (but not as well as we could be)?

         

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 11:10am

      Re: Canada did it too

      Paying for this isn't hard either. You just have to tax income and ensure a maximum income of over $250,000 is taxed at 100%. That means any amount over that is given to the government to redistribute for social services. I doubt highly that people would actually be against such a system so long as it helped everyone.

      Jay, you forgot the /sarc tag….. or you are out of your fucking mind. So I should work my ass off so everything I earn above $250k can be redistributed to the deserving, undeserving, lay-abouts, addicts, gang-bangers, wannabe writers, bums, ambitionless grocery clerks and losers whiling away their lives playing video games in Mom's basement?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 11:50am

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        ...ever been to Switzerland? I have, and it's an incredible place.

         

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        TheLoot (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 6:59pm

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        "So I should work my ass off so everything I earn above $250k"

        At the point a single person is making 250k a year, they aren't the ones working their asses off. The only thing their asses are doing is sitting in an office chair while their employees actually work their asses off for much less.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 7:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

          Here's a thought for you numb nuts: You don't get to keep your $250,000/year job unless you work really hard and are very good at what you do. In cities like San Francisco, LA, NY and Washington; $250,000 is not rich, it's middle class.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 7:53am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

            Yeah, name calling really adds to your credibility. I'm quite certain there are examples of rich folk who do nothing but collect dividends - tough work if you can find it.

             

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              Christopher Best (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 8:19pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

              And dividends aren't subject to income tax, meaning they won't care if you seize "income" over $250k.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2013 @ 9:35am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

                "dividends aren't subject to income tax"

                There is a difference in the rate of taxation between ordinary income and long term capital gains, however they are both subject to taxation unless you are into the Double Irish With A Dutch Sandwich thing.

                 

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        Jay (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 8:40pm

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        ... Are there enough ad-homs there for people making below the poverty line or do you actually believe you're going to make millions of dollars by working a wage job?

         

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      allengarvin (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 11:10am

      Re: Canada did it too

      "over $250,000 is taxed at 100%"

      And, 15 seconds after such a bill, no company in the world would be paying any US employee more than $250,000. Any married couple whose joint income is in excess will immediately start filing separately. Other people whose income exceeds 250k will probably donate the entire excess to tax-deductible non-profits, something where they at least get social prestige, rather than passing it all to the government.

      Long-term (just a very few years out), the collections from such a tax will be effectively 0. That might fix inequality issues, but the government is still stuck with supplying (using the swiss figure above) $2800 a month to 240 million adults. Eight trillion dollars a year. 20% more than the current entire revenues of the whole federal government right now, which will surely be less in the future because there will no longer be any taxes from high-income or high capital gains, plus, marginal workers have a lot less incentive to work if they can get by on a guaranteed income.

       

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        Math is Hard, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 4:25pm

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        > $2800 a month to 240 million adults.
        > Eight trillion dollars a year.

        240000000*2800 = 672,000,000,000

        That's 672 billion, which is less than 1 trillion, and less than annual federal revenue: http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com/

         

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          Christopher Best (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 5:09pm

          Yes, Math is Hard

          Maybe showing the units would help?

          240000000(persons)*2800(dollars/person/month)*12(months) = 8064000000000(dollars)

          That's over 8 trillion dollars a year.

           

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            xenomancer (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 7:21pm

            Re: Yes, Math is Hard

            Hmm... I'll just leave this here: (relevant)
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdUD-jcr104

             

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            DNY (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 7:06am

            Re: Yes, Math is Hard

            And good public policy seems to be even harder. (As does getting good mathematical models for such policy, since just ham-handed looking at the amount of money the suggested program would hand out is not a good model of its cost.)

            The cost of living in Switzerland is much higher than in the U.S., so suppose we try instead giving every adult citizen in the U.S. a basic income of $1200/month (just over the Federal Poverty rate for Alaska for a household of one). This is taxable income, so everyone is paying back the share of it equal to their top marginal rate, and the political cost of implementing this is abolishing the whole existing Federal (and state) poverty-alleviation industry: no more bureaucrats being paid to determine eligibility for SNAP or WIC, no more money spent on those programs at all, shrink the IRS since no one has to monitor compliance with EIC requirements,...

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 10:44pm

            Re: Yes, Math is Hard

            There is something wrong with those numbers.
            According to wikipedia Switzerland has 8 million people

            8 000 000 * 2 800 = 22 400 000 000 * 12 = 268 800 000 000

            Now even with 24 million people the total would be 806 400 000 000

            That is beeeelion not trillion.

            Guess you are right math is hard.

             

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        Nop (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 8:48am

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        Other people whose income exceeds 250k will probably donate the entire excess to tax-deductible non-profits, something where they at least get social prestige, rather than passing it all to the government.

        You say this like it'd be a bad thing. Sounds more like a bonus to me.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

      Re: Canada did it too

      really? you doubt anyone making over 250,000 would be against having any additional income taken from them and "redistributed"

       

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        silverscarcat (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 2:08pm

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        Actually a good chunk of Billionaires DO rally around the idea of being taxed a LOT more.

        Warren Buffet flat out discredited anyone who says "super high taxes on the rich will make them want to leave".

        "I never would have gotten rich in any other country like the USA and just because I'm being taxed doesn't mean I'll leave. If I can make money, I'll make it, regardless of how high the taxes are."

         

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          Christopher Best (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 3:04pm

          Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

          Warren Buffet does not represent the average "rich" individual. The super-rich don't pay income taxes, they don't have income. Any effort to punitively tax them is doomed to failure, as it'll always be cheaper to spend money on accounting tricks than pay a punitive tax. Just look at what just happened in France when they tried a "millionaire tax". People hopped across the border.

          Meanwhile, a successful small business owner gets absolutely walloped in such a situation, as they actually have income, and they can't just move or use legal handwaving to make it disappear.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 3:23pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

            "Warren Buffet does not represent the average "rich" individual"

            Whether he does or not is hardly the point.



            "The super-rich don't pay income taxes"

            Then why do they bitch about it so much? There are claims they pay the majority of all income taxation.


            "punitive tax"

            Punishment for destroying the world economy?



            "a successful small business owner gets absolutely walloped in such a situation"

            250K per year taxable income is probably not small business.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 4:07pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

              The super rich are likely moving money around through "charities", companies in low tax countries and transfer pricing, bonuses, stocks, bonds, company payed expenses, options, commodities etc. etc.
              If they truely want to get around taxation they have so many options to move the income to the cheapest column in the spread sheet.
              There are good taxpayers among the medium-level companies and some of the more successful smaller companies you would hit far harder since they do not have access to the Wall Street tricks or abroad companies.

               

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              Christopher Best (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 6:15pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

              Whether he does or not is hardly the point.


              It's completely the point. You can't say: "Warren Buffet flat out discredited anyone who says "super high taxes on the rich will make them want to leave". and then say that him not being representative is hardly the point.

              Then why do they bitch about it so much? There are claims they pay the majority of all income taxation.


              What super rich person do you see bitching about income taxes? People who are actually wealthy pay no tax. They have no income, therefore they have no problem with income tax going up, as it doesn't affect them, they've already made their money!

              Punishment for destroying the world economy?


              You're certainly not punishing the people responsible, as they don't pay income taxes!

              250K per year taxable income is probably not small business.


              Based on what? Your gut feeling? $250k year is well within the range of a successful small business. Heck, a $250k salary is upper middle-class in some ridiculously high cost of living areas of the US, like Silicon Valley. Have you never heard the phrase "six-digit poverty"? It's a real thing.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 3:00pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

              250K per year is a micro business, small business are in the up to 100$ million dollars income, after that is the medium size companies and then the big ones.

              You never been in accounting have you?
              You should look it up.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 11:19am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

                post1: "a successful small business owner gets absolutely walloped in such a situation"

                reply1: "250K per year taxable income is probably not small business."

                It is implied that the 250K is the annual taxable income of the business owner, not the entire business. But please, do continue with your outrage - I find it amusing.

                 

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          Christopher Best (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 3:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

          Oh, also, if Warren Buffet really believed he should pay more taxes, I'm sure the Federal Government would accept a check.

           

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            xenomancer (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 7:30pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

            This is exactly why I think Warren Buffet, as any person who would preach his stupidity from such a position of wealth, is a duplicitous jackass. The whole conflation of personal holdings with the rate of income in the political debate over taxation as a solution to "income inequality" only seems to serve those who want to feel good about getting nothing accomplished.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 3:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

              Suppose you had the power, what would you do?

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 4:23pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

              So, anyone of wealth who supports an increase in capital gains tax is a duplicitous jackass? I'll bet there are some who disagree.

              Capital gains taxation over the years has been like a yoyo, and carried interest is simply a loophole for rich folk.

               

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                xenomancer (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 6:39am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

                I agree in that capital gains should be treated no differently than any other income source. Regarding my ire for Warren Buffet, the IRS will happily accept a check. Actions speak louder than words and so far that is all that is proffered: useless rhetoric.

                 

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            silverscarcat (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 6:24pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

            Even if Warren Buffet (not just him, but others like Bill Gates) gave more money to the government, it's not nearly enough.

            BTW, the best growth seen in the U.S. was in the 1950s, when the top tax rates was hovering around 90%.

             

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              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 2:56pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Canada did it too

              "Even if Warren Buffet (not just him, but others like Bill Gates) gave more money to the government, it's not nearly enough."

              Agreed, it is not enough to cover the unfunded wars, but it would be enough to cover extending things that have been cut for the sake of "austerity" - like unemployment, food stamps, FEMA, education, ...

               

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      identicon
      STJ, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 4:26am

      Re: Canada did it too

      Wouldn't that mean that people would stop making over $250,000? Or they find another way to get extra money without being taxed. That is how benefits came into play, the government limited how much people could get paid, so companies started giving extra things to their employees.

       

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        Jay (profile), Dec 29th, 2013 @ 7:10am

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        Wouldn't that mean that people would stop making over $250,000?

        Yes, that means a maximum income of $250,000. It would help alleviate some of the income inequality if the rich didn't get disparately richer.

        Or they find another way to get extra money without being taxed.

        Borrow the money from the rich? That screws you over twice. Investors already have a lot of perks. Now you want them to have more money from the government? The banks already have a lot of that going on. That doesn't make sense.

         

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        John Fenderson (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 9:25am

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        Wouldn't that mean that people would stop making over $250,000? Or they find another way to get extra money without being taxed.


        Back when the US had a high-end marginal tax rate of over 90%, that's exactly what happened. And it was incredibly good for the US.

        The way that the very wealthy found to get extra money without being taxed was largely to reinvest it into their, or other, businesses. Since that tax rate has been reduced, we've seen a reduction in that sort of activity, a ridiculous and growing amount of economic disparity, and growing overall poverty.

         

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 5:11am

      Re: Canada did it too

      you're fucking high, if I can make the same $250k providing jobs and running a business as I can firing all my employees and only doing enough to make the $249k that won't be confiscated, why would I do extra?

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 3:03pm

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        Stupid greed?
        Believing you can game the game.
        The reasons go on and on and on, but the end result is the same, people will try to get more.

         

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        John Fenderson (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 10:57am

        Re: Re: Canada did it too

        Even if everyone shared your thought process (and they don't) it would be an improvement. Our nation would be far better off with an abundance of small businesses rather than a handful of large ones.

         

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      anonymouse, Dec 29th, 2013 @ 9:55am

      Re: Canada did it too

      tax those earning over a specific amount but make sure it is worth while for them to work. Also businesses could be taxed on their profits up to 80% and anyone having savings pays a large percentage of their interest made on savings into the system. Where every business and every income is taxed even America could do this with their population.

      One problem would be people looking to move to these countries for the benefits of having a stable income every year, how do you deal with that without a flood of people or and not stopping those that want to legally move there.

       

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      tracker1 (profile), Dec 29th, 2013 @ 11:54am

      Re: Canada did it too

      Why start at $250k? Why not just tax everyone at 50% and everyone gets the minimum income check... far less bureaucracy, and absolutely no tax deductions/incentives period.

      I, personally feel that no matter how much a person makes, they shouldn't lose over half their income to the government.

       

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    identicon
    Jackie D, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:44am

    You're trolling us, right?

    I've never seen Techdirt come out in support of something so ridiculous.

     

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      MrWilson, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 10:52am

      Re: You're trolling us, right?

      Yeah, usually it's the trolls that support ridiculous things, such as corporate sovereignty, piracy taxes, protectionism, IP maximalism, and unlimited government surveillance.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

      Re: You're trolling us, right?

      You haven't seen it now either.

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 2:53am

      Re: You're trolling us, right?

      I generally agree with what's posted here but this article made me facepalm so hard I'm lucky I didn't break something.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 10:10am

    It's a little early for April Fool's.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 10:36am

    While I believe that most people are industrious and would find something beneficial to do if they didn't have to "work", seems like you would end up with a country that only does the work that's enjoyable to do instead of what is necessary.

    Who will unclog your toilet? Who will remove your trash? Who will clean dishes? The only way to get people to do this work will be to pay them an extraordinary amount - so basic services become very expensive and it defeats the whole idea. At least with manufacturing jobs most goods would be imported, so you don't have to wonder who would make your toilet paper.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 10:53am

      Re:

      > Who will unclog your toilet? Who will remove your trash? Who will clean dishes?

      If my house is too dirty, I will clean it, because I do not want to live in a dirty house.

      The same will happen in a larger scale. If you look at it, the whole world is my house. I do not want to live in a dirty house.

       

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        nasch (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 2:00pm

        Re: Re:

        If my house is too dirty, I will clean it, because I do not want to live in a dirty house.

        The same will happen in a larger scale. If you look at it, the whole world is my house. I do not want to live in a dirty house.


        Yes, you'll clean your house. But who will wash dishes at the restaurant, and clean the hotel rooms, and pick the lettuce, and fix your plumbing (if you don't have plumbing skills), and collect garbage, and all the million other things that nobody really enjoys doing?

        The only reason people do them now is because they have to do something to earn money. Take that away, and like jupiter said you then have to pay a LOT of money to get people to do those things. Or maybe pay other people a lot of money to design and build robots to do them?

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 3:54pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The cool thing with an unconditional basic income is that it is a basic income. It should be enough for all of our basic necessities, and to have a comfortable life. But humans are restless. We always yearn for more.

          Suppose a dish washer is still paid at the same hourly rate as today. There will still be people washing dishes to get an extra income, so they can for instance buy a fancier fruit-themed computer. Sure, they might not want to work the full day; they could work only half the day, leaving the other half to another person, and thus receive only half of the payment. That might be enough for them.

          There would be more desirable work than dish-washing, but as with today, not every person is qualified for the more desirable tasks.

          And that's without considering the deep changes in society which a working unconditional basic income would bring. I don't pretend to be able to predict what will actually happen, so what follows is only a glimpse at a few of the possible scenarios.

          In your restaurant and hotel examples, it is easy: they work because they want the business to succeed. But why would they want that? Because they own part of it, as in some sort of cooperative. As people would be freed from being forced to work to survive, I believe this sort of organization would become more common, instead of the traditional "boss owns everything and pays a salary" approach.

          A similar thing could be imagined in your plumbing example. A group of people can pool their talents together: you fix my plumbing, I fix your computer, my neighbor does the wiring for us both, and so on.

          And yes, automation would become even more common than it already is.

           

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          btrussell (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 3:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Yes, you'll clean your house. But who will wash dishes at the restaurant, and clean the hotel rooms, and pick the lettuce, and fix your plumbing (if you don't have plumbing skills), and collect garbage, and all the million other things that nobody really enjoys doing."

          Maybe then we can see just how important each and every job really is. If the CEO of the hotel chain is making millions/year, he shouldn't mind unclogging a toilet, right?

           

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            nasch (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 8:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:


            Maybe then we can see just how important each and every job really is. If the CEO of the hotel chain is making millions/year, he shouldn't mind unclogging a toilet, right?


            There might be people willing to pay to see that... new revenue stream?

             

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      out_of_the_blue, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 12:25pm

      Who will unclog your toilet? Who will remove your trash? Who will clean dishes?


      um. me?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 6:48pm

      Re:

      Robots, of course.

       

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      PT (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 12:26pm

      Re:

      When I need a man to unclog my sink or toilet, I already have to pay him an extraordinary amount.

       

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      Greevar (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 11:20pm

      Re:

      If everyone getting this wage doesn't have to work to live, don't you think people would have the time to set aside and do these things for themselves instead of being helpless? Without these jobs we rely on to exchange our labor for the currency we need to make a living, we have the time to learn and do things for ourselves rather than pay other people to do things we previously didn't have the time to learn and do.

      Honestly, if every neighborhood took the time to help their community collect and deliver their waste, it would be a trivial effort spread among many people. It just asks of people to do a tiny bit more to reduce the overhead of the system that does the work that many people could do in a couple minutes a day. This all assumes that menial tasks won't fundamentally change into something wholly different that completely negates the infrastructure and labor applied to dealing with it. We may not even have need of "trash" collection anymore. Technology changes everything to the point that all menial physical tasks could become fully automated. Anything that requires rudimentary cognitive effort would be the realm of human minds and we would do that without an economic incentive because all physical needs would be addressed without trading symbolic units of value for labor. Our only currency would be social interaction that is inherent in what we do on a daily basis.

      So I don't think society will fail to function because nobody is taking out the trash. For every hour you're not tied to a job, you're free to invest that time into doing the things you would have previously paid another person to do.

       

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      tracker1 (profile), Dec 29th, 2013 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      The service industry would become more expensive, and trades like plumbing etc would still continue. Even if you tax everyone at 50% and everyone gets the base wage + 50% of what they earn, anyone who wants more will work. I make a pretty good salary at my day job, and still do side work. People like toys, and new shiny things. I like my 65" TV, and computer, and nice car etc.

      People will still work, it's just the people doing the jobs are likely to be those that *want* the extra income.. not those that *need* any income. Meaning the quality of service you receive will likely be better.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 11:27am

    But why should creators be able to live and thrive if their work creates nothing of value?

    Harsh, I know. But what is with the (particularly Progressive) obsession with the idea that someone should be able to be a terrible photographer, musician, or writer and still somehow be able to enjoy a comfortable living? How about expecting these people to earn a living doing something that creates value for others? Why are these apparently worthless, easy and unproductive professions always singled out as somehow deserving of subsidies from the rest of us? What about the guy working as a janitor and paying taxes to support these buffoons? Why should we burden him to help the loser who wants to make a living complaining about food on his blog instead of getting a real job?

    I believe that one of the great secrets Capitalism has been whispering in our ear is that in a truly free market the vast, vast majority of content is simply worthless and thus we see the existing system in which content creation is propped up by massive, corrupt regulatory regimes that ensure the creative industries are protected from market forces. People have a soft spot in their hearts for art and want to see artists succeed, but come on, if most of it disappeared tomorrow who would even notice? I would much prefer to see artists compete on a level playing field with everyone else.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:17pm

      Re:

      "why should creators be able to live and thrive if their work creates nothing of value"

      Are you referring to Congress?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 10:16am

        Re: Re:

        I'm no fan but in their case the apply for the job every two or four years and are hired by the American electorate.

        I think it would be nice if more Americans would take responsibility for making the government what it is, but most prefer to vote on party lines and then pretend like they are powerless and have a shitty government forcibly inflicted on them.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 10:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Two or six years, not four. Two for representatives, six for senators.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 11:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "most prefer to vote on party lines"


          Actually, most do not vote.

          And then the person who gets the most votes declares they have received a mandate - which results in a face palm from anyone aware of the turnout numbers.

           

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      akp (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 10:30am

      Re:

      Why are these apparently worthless, easy and unproductive professions always singled out as somehow deserving of subsidies from the rest of us?


      Maybe they aren't, but with the freedom from being a wage slave those people may have the time now to actually get better, and then create something you'll value.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 12:40pm

    A good experiment to watch.

    And my questions about it.

    What is the problem that this address? Inequality? lack of jobs? education? healthcare?

    Without knowing that is difficult to see how to address the issues, still it could work depending on how it is implemented.

    The way I see it, the economy is based on money, money is very useful but it doesn't address the large number of people who will undoubtedly have nothing to do no matter how hard people try to make "the economy better" and this type of thing only works if there is money, but what happens where there is no money?

    What system would work in a place that there is no money but has vast amounts of raw resources?

    Every 7 to 10 years economies everywhere go down is a phenomenon inherently of the economic models we have, people have dealt with that with "entitlement programs", industrialized countries hide these by giving money away and trying to weather out the down cycle, but it is not enough.

    mercurynews: Four homeless people dead of exposure, Santa Clara County officials say

    People die when things get bad, those people shouldn't die? I recognize that some of them are lazy and would never hold a job, and my educated guess is that they make up a one digit percentage of the total population, the rest would do something about it if they could, how many people do we know that just give up and die?

    Is not that there are not ways to keep it warm, ever since men learned to make fire, today we have more knowledge and raw materials are everywhere including the cities, so why are those people dying of exposure of all things? is city ordinances? is law enforcement stopping them from trying? because it is not for lack of materials, maybe lack of knowledge? they didn't know how to make a rocket stove and channel that heat underneath like the Romans did to heat their floors?

    That is not of course the only way the current system kills, lack of medical attention, lack food and more, now how can we keep those people from dying or suffering severe deprivation?

    I remember the old saying "give a man a fish today and he will be hungry tomorrow, teach him how to catch the fish and he never be hungry again" and that kept me thinking, I can't feed everyone, I can't make shelter for everyone, I can't collect resources for everyone, what I can do is teach others how to make things and hope they find their own ways.

    There are people who are doing it, why some can and others can't?

    In the current system when the downturn comes people lose everything, they don't know what to do and they can't even improve themselves, that seems like a waste, is like throwing out everything, including knowledge, but what if we could build a kind of reserve where we store those people in a comfortable place where they have to work hard but not to hard that they don't have time to take on hobbies? hobbies is of course the mechanism for learning a new skill that could evolve into a business.

    But how do you do it?

    Switzerland is trying by giving a minimum income, that is all well and good and maybe it works as said before, but what one will do when there is no money, and the percentage of people without jobs are reaching more than a half the population, but you still got lots of resources available?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:41pm

      Re:

      This addresses many things, such as the growth of mechanized labor (not really a problem yet in Switzerland, but look at China...)
      There are also problems with basic income, such as how you get the money in the first place, before you redistribute it.

      But if you zoom out, it is not much a way to address problems than a shift in the social pact, a way to define how society (Swiss people) keep working as a whole.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:57pm

        Re: Re:

        This seems to me like cosmetic change, it doesn't address the real issues, it just hide them.

        How to make people work for themselves and be able to produce or acquire the things they need?

        Give them money?
        What did they learn? what do you learn from buying anything?
        Would it help you if you didn't had the money to buy the stuff?

        Don't take me wrong, I love capitalism, and even with all the reservations money is still a good tool, but is not a reliable tool, it will not always be there, so what will?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 2:47pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Currently, the proposal is to have a mechanism similar to the VAT to collect money for the basic income. It is therefore based on the idea that the more people spend, the better the system is funded, which is a good idea if you consider that people need to spend in order to get their basic need covered.

          I am however not that pleased with the fact that the proposal does not much to encourage people to work if it is needed by the inner economy: If we can import everything, then nothing need to be produced by the inner economy, but people still spend money, thus receive basic income.
          A better system would be to modulate the basic income by the productivity of the inner economy (but that is immensely more complicated to compute.)
          With that other system, the basic income can would drop if the inner economy is not able to produce what is needed, and people will need to work in order to make the inner economy become productive again and raise the basic income.

          To actually answer your question, I don't think that the basic income has anything to do with learning, and everything to do with surviving at the individual level and how we should support individuals in surviving as a society.

          It has been shown that with the basic income, around 1% of people stop working, and 99% work less or work the same.
          With those numbers, even if we assume that the question of whether people will learn anything is relevant (which I don't think it is), we see that most people will still work (because they like their job or because they want to earn more than the basic income), so the question is not that relevant at the end.

          Furthermore, where basic income has been tested the economy has exploded (in the sense that it has improved), because people were able to massively become entrepreneurs. So if we really want to consider the learning factor, we should say that in facts, it HELPS people learn. Maybe not in the sense of "giving or not giving a man a fish?" (there's still 1% that won't work at all) but in the sense of "if we give a man the opportunity, will he seize it?" The benefit to society as a whole is so big that we should not stop to look at the freeloaders that leech the system (and if you think of it, are there no freeloaders currently?)

           

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          Prisoner 201, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 3:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Bureaucracy is expensive, and has a tendency to just become more complicated and more expensive over time. And we have a lot of bureaucracy in most EU countries.

          This flat unconditional payout eliminates a lot of application forms, clerks, call centers, arbitration boards, reviewers and so on ad nauseum.

          No need to apply for student benefits, and send in your results each semester to continue getting it. No need for clerks to process applications, archive them, review them, etc.

          No need to apply for various social security payouts, with processing, reviews to catch cheaters, appeals, arbitration etc. (and all the associated paperwork on each step).

          And so on.

           

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      akp (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 10:33am

      Re:

      I'm just happy that the world is starting to finally ask these questions.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    I think there is a spelling error in the title (it's understandable as the keys are close on English keyboards):

    It should read "How To Solve The Piracy Problem: Give Everyone A Basic Income For Doing What The Fuck They Want"

     

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    Andrew D. Todd, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:10pm

    The Swiss Labor Market is Different.

    Obviously, this proposal only applies to Swiss citizens. Switzerland is a geographically small country. Nearly all of it is within practicable commuting distance from the border. Switzerland has a considered long-term policy of making its guest-workers live in France or Germany or Italy, so that they do not put down roots inside Switzerland. Businesses such as fast-food restaurants are not going to try to recruit Swiss labor-- they are going to do their recruiting at the border.

    Switzerland does have some curiosities. For example, I understand that in rural districts, they have self-service convenience stores, run on the honor system, so that they don't have to pay full-time help. In general, Europeans do things with vending machines which we don't do, because their minimum labor costs are higher.

    What Switzerland does represent is a prototype for is e-immigration. Someone doing customer service in Bangalore does not acquire American citizenship by small increments, the way an illegal Mexican immigrant does. The customer service representative in Bangalore does not accumulate American Social Security credits, or anything like that. At certain key points, the United States decided that it did not want to become a slaveholder society as a byproduct of illegal immigration, and issued amnesties for the more settled illegal immigrants, not to mention maintaining the principle of birthright citizenship. At any rate, the Swiss have been confronting the idea that nearly any kind of work can be done from outside, at wages which reflect only a small fraction of the national standard of living.

    Take the fast-food strikers. They are easily replaced, but their strength lies in the fact that a lot of customers won't cross a picket line, at least, not to get a hamburger (*). In the same situation, e-employees would simply be unplugged, and replaced within a few minutes from a central e-labor repository, and there would be nothing much they could do about it.

    (*) Wal-Mart customers fall into a different category, obviously.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:18pm

    Two additional facts

    To add two additional facts to the discussions:

    - Cost of living in Switzerland is quite high compared to other countries, so $2,800 per month isn't actually a lot of money to live from. And keep in mind that with a "Basic Income" system you would actually need to earn more than $2,800 worth before you start to see an increases salary (meaning there is no difference in income between not working and working a few hours a week)

    - Several economists have raised concerns about the feasibility of getting the basic income up to $2,800. Based on alternative calculations the number might be as low as $1,000.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:49pm

      Re: Two additional facts

      And keep in mind that with a "Basic Income" system you would actually need to earn more than $2,800 worth before you start to see an increases salary (meaning there is no difference in income between not working and working a few hours a week)


      This is untrue. The Basic Income is Unconditional. It means that any work you do gets taxed at x percent. You get to keep the 100-x. It prevents thet income-gap you describe.


      For EU-citizens who like the idea of a basic income.
      There is a Citizen Initiative on EU-level as well.

      http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/initiatives/ongoing/details/2013/000001

      And: http://www.basicincomeinitiative.eu/

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 2:12am

        Re: Re: Two additional facts

        From what I understand from other sources, that is not correct. As soon as you start making money, your employer will have to pay the up to 2800 back to the state.

        The structure of the BI on EU-level may be different, but that idea has a snowballs chance in hell... Imagine UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and to some extend Germany getting forced on this area (for starters it would take a treaty change). Not to mention that several countries cannot afford it.

        The initiative you mention is only about research on the topic to make it more visible. It is not going to be attainable any time soon.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 4:42am

          Re: Re: Re: Two additional facts

          Actually the employer doesn't have to pay the state, I'm not aware of just a single source that puts such a constraint on the employers.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 10:22am

        Re: Re: Two additional facts

        - If I earn $5000 today, I would still get $5000 with "Basic Income" ($2200 from the employer, $2800 from the government)
        - If I earn $1000 today, I would get $2800 (all from the government)
        - If I earn $1000 today decide to work twice as much, I'll earn $2000. With Basic Income, I would still earn $2800, so no incentive at all to work more.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 6:52pm

          Re: Re: Re: Two additional facts

          Your second and third scenarios do not make much sense. Forgive me if I am missing something, but:

          On the second scenario, you are working for free (you will always get the 2800 whether you work or not, so your extra income from work is zero). That is not necessarily a bad thing; some people already work for free even without UBI (it's usually called "volunteering").

          On the third scenario, if you are already working for free, of course you will not get anything extra for working twice as much. But if all your incentives are monetary, you would not be working for free, you would be working for something more (you'd be receiving 2800+x). So if you work twice as much, I'd expect you would receive at least twice the something more (you'd be receiving at least 2800+2x).

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 2:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Two additional facts

            At least in the model the proponents are discussing here in Switzerland, the $2800 is deducted from whatever you earn today the moment the UBI would be implemented (meaning that the employer pays you $2800 less salary). This basically leads to a minimal wage of $2800, irregardless of whether you work in a job or not. So yes, any work which earns you less than that is practically worthless afterwards.

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 8:05am

          Re: Re: Re: Two additional facts

          Actually what Milton Friedman suggested, and is suggested in swiss in a bit different taxation model, is:

          Per $ that you earn, you can keep at the very least 50% of it. the lower the tax rate, the more you keep.

          It means that until you earn so much, that your taxes wash in as much money as you get from the government, you're technically recipient of benefits, up till you earn at least twice as much as poverty line income; Assuming 50% tax rate.

          Now for example a 33% tax rate would mean you still get exactly 1$ from the state if you earn 3 dollars less than 3 times poverty line.

          But if you earned 3$ more than 3 times poverty line at a 33% tax rate, you'd be paying exactly 1$ in taxes if you factor in the state benefit.

          I'd expect to see the tax rate needed to finance such a basic income (and the rest of the state services) anywhere between 20% and 50% personally (depending on what the state wants to provide aside from it). But to get weighted numbers on this, we need to put it on the political agenda and into economic think-tanks.

          It is a radical change from the tax credit patchwork and needs to be looked at from a macro perspective, as is used to work on the tax credit system, rather than the micro perspective most economics students are taking. (german has a nice clear distinction between company economics/business (BWL) and country wide economy (VWL), not sure about english)

          Anyway, whether you earn less or more with an unconditional basic income with flat tax, depends on what your employer wants to pay YOU. And YOU want to take home in addition to the unconditional basic income from the state.

          It'd be a bit like a free market, but YOUR LABOR is what's traded, it'd be what you want to sell on the market.

          You'd be your own 1 man business that provides labor. The quality of the labor, e.g. whether you want to spend time on education or other studies, the price you want to provide your labor for, heck, even who and what you work for; all your responsibility.
          Cause you wouldn't have the excuses, "I need to work to live" "this is minimum wage so it's ok" etc.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:54pm

      Re: Two additional facts

      The goal of the initiative is to provide the lowest possible income needed to live in Switzerland (survive would be a better word).

      Even if a bunch of economists say that it won't be possible to put in place a system where everyone gets $2800 for "doing nothing", the fact is that you can't possibly live in Switzerland with only $1000.
      With $2800 you could live in a collocation with pasta every day and cheese on them on Sundays, accounting for other living costs such as insurances, telephone bill, clothes, and so on.

      With respect to the salary, the basic income is perceived whatever your salary. So the lowest salary will maybe decrease, but even that is not so sure. If you currently pay $3000 a month for someone to clean your building, will he accept $500 a month for the same job because he already gets $2800 with the basic income? I don't think so, and that's exactly where people with the lowest income will benefit from the basic income: Shortage in people willing to be underpaid will prevent lowest salaries to drop too much, and still provide people with those salaries a globally higher income (salary + basic income).

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 10:29am

        Re: Re: Two additional facts

        You may be able to live (somehow) for $2800 a month, but the concern is that there is no way to finance these $2800 for each and everybody without raising taxes by whatever means (income, financial transaction tax, VAT etc.).

        And to take your example: The $2800 will be deducted from the salary, so the cleaner will still get $3000 (but $2800 will get paid for by the government and only $200 by myself). At least that's how the at least somehow more realistic calculation models describe the effect...

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    The amount of "not getting it" in the comments is painful.

    10,000 years ago societies could produce more physical goods than they needed; that was without modern technology. Every time we increase the labour potential of industry we reduce the amount of human investment required to maintain it; we are at the point, now, where self maintaining, self fabricating, and fully automated foundries could pump out every necessity (and most luxuries) with a social cost of ZERO and distribute them without even bothering with money at all.

     

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      JP Jones (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 2:49pm

      Re:

      10,000 years ago societies could produce more physical goods than they needed; that was without modern technology. Every time we increase the labour potential of industry we reduce the amount of human investment required to maintain it; we are at the point, now, where self maintaining, self fabricating, and fully automated foundries could pump out every necessity (and most luxuries) with a social cost of ZERO and distribute them without even bothering with money at all.

      This is pretty much it. I higly recommend a book called Drive by Daniel H. Pink. It discusses intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation and how they affect human behavior. The fact is that, even if someone didn't have to worry about money at all, they would still find work to do. Humans are not motivated purely by the pursuit of wealth; in fact, it's a fairly minor drive.

      There are a couple technologies that are going to really clash with the status quo of the industrial era being developed right now. Individually they are of minor importance, but together they could possibly revolutionize modern society.

      The first is 3D printing. While right now 3D printing is pretty limited and very expensive, much like 1980s era computers, the applications of these devices over the next 20 years are going to explode dramatically. The entire industrial era economy is based on manufacturing and distribution; it's only once computers put a twist in the "distrubution" model of the industrial era that we've seen a big disruption. More recently even manufacturing is becoming a point of conflict as the line between "content creator" and "consumer" continues to blur.

      Now throw a device into the mix that literally negates the need for manufacturing and distribution. As long as you have the raw materials (which are fairly universal and can be aquired easily via our existing distribution systems) you can simply print out almost anything you need. Want new shoes? Print them. Need a nail? A hammer? Print them. Want a hamburger? A fancy meal? Print it. Need more materials? Have a drone deliver them to your house.

      The next change is power. People are moving towards "clean" energy for all the wrong reasons (the environment) but discovering its biggest advantage in the process (economics). Right now most renewable energy sources are expensive investments with limited viability. Ten years from now? I expect most new vehicles will be hybrid or hybrid with purely electrical capability, and fuel cells will be looked at closely again (primarily due to 3D printing...when you can print at the molecular level you can dramatically reduce fuel cell costs).

      This has a HUGE worldwide impact, and it's one many companies and governments are desperate to avoid. Why? Because these technologies practically make the global economy obsolete. Why buy cheap manufactured goods from China when we can just print them in our own house? Why import billions of gallons of oil when we can produce our own energy?

      And what about scarcity? As a race we've long since negated food as a scarce resource; the U.S. alone could manufacture enough food to feed most of the world. We don't because we actually pay farmers to produce less food so we don't drive food prices down too low. Water isn't even a factor; with even moderate improvements to renewable energy and infrastructure we could generate more fresh water than we could possibly need. Fuel isn't an issue in a society that generates it's own unlimited fuel.

      In 20 years many mundane tasks will become automated. We already have devices that can vacuum your house, clean up after and feed your pets, wash your dishes, clean your laundry...there's no reason these things can't be further automated. Computers have effectively replaced many mid-level white collar jobs; accountants, pay companies, tax professionals, and many others are facing obsolencence in the face of Excel and tax programs. In 20 years programming will be taught along science and math as a basic skill, and computers will be able to program most simple tasks themselves.

      And this is all based on stuff we know exists today. In 20 years we could have a second computer revolution depending on theoretical technologies, such as quantum computers, fusion power, commercial and personal space travel, cloning, 3D printed organs, virtual reality...the list goes on and on.

      We're on the brink of a new world. There's going to be a lot of resistance, that's for sure. But humans are both pragmatic and idealistic, and eventually our curiousity and drive will move us farther than anyone today can imagine. I for one look forward to it.

       

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        ChrisB (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 1:27pm

        Re: Re:

        You are right on almost everything except energy. Energy will always be scarce. An when energy isn't scarce, storage is. Liquid fuels are so useful because they are an incredible storage of energy. You would not believe how precarious the electrical grid is balanced. Supply must equal demand, always. We had a chance to be energy independent with nuclear, but the hippies set that back a few decades. The other renewables are just not scalable at this time, and won't be for decades.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 4:30pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yeah - I'm sure it was the hippies.

           

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            John Fenderson (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 3:03pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It was! It was the hippies who caused the massive corruption and graft that ruled the nuclear industry in its heyday. It was the hippies who made nuclear waste so long-lived and dangerous that storage is problematic. Damned hippies.

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 5:14pm

      Re:

      Yeah man ... those were the days.

       

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    Jake, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 1:52pm

    Least Worst Option?

    Given that full employment is seemingly going the way of bell-bottoms and AM radio, we might well end up having to do this sooner or later simply because there aren't enough jobs to go around. Unless you'd rather give Miguel Alcubierre a blank cheque and hope he's onto something, or have anyone unemployed for more than 18 months turned into dogfood.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 3:38pm

    And in a related story, inflation went up by $2,800 per person in Switzerland...

    I'm afraid economics isn't that easy.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 4:07pm

      Re:

      Economics is merely the study of how to explain why the problem or success that occurred unexpectedly, occurred, as a predictive tool it has repeatedly been demonstrated to be useless.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 8:58pm

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, those silly economists telling us stuff like the US economy is over 50% consumer driven, the majority of consumers are middle class and that when the middle class has no disposable income the economy will suffer.

        And they expect us to believe that tall tale - oh my -

         

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      Paul, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 4:19pm

      Re:

      That might be the case if the payments are funded by printing money, but not if they are funded by taxation.

       

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    Frost (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 4:51pm

    UBI isn't a solution

    UBI would, first of all, probably replace all social programs, not augment them. That would make it possible for some people to mismanage their UBI to the point where they could no longer get the social services they need.

    Furthermore, of course, ignoring the rules of a competition-based social system by trying to retrofit a cooperation-based approach on top of it is idiocy. The solution is to abolish the competition-based social system entirely and move to a proper cooperation basis that doesn't even use things like trade or money. This is going to be necessary since the vast majority of all jobs will be automated away, and this is colliding head on with a population hike to 10 billion people in 2050.

    The sensible approach is to make everything free and instead just provide the social services we need with the resources they need as a matter of course. Good places to read up on that would be http://www.freeworldcharter.org or places like the Venus Project.

     

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    jakerome (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 6:45pm

    It's about the math

    Subtraction: 314 million people. Less 74 million children. That's 240 million adults.

    Multiplication: 12 months a year. $2800/month. That's $33,600/year.

    Multiplication: 240 million adults. $33,600/adult/year. That's a mere $8.064 trillion/ year.

    Addition: $8.064 trillion in new benefits. $3.539 trillion in the 2012 budget. The new budget is now $11.603 trillion.

    Division: $11.603 trillion divided by $3.539 trillion. The new budget is 3.28x the old budget.

    Division: The US Gross Domestic Product is about $17 trillion. Glyn's simple plan to curb piracy would merely result in the US budget consuming just 68% of the US gross national product.

    Final answer: this is one of the more absurd proposals ever to appear in Techdirt. Hopefully I'm simply missing the Swiftian subtlety & this is not actually a call for the US to more or less impose full-fledged socialism in order to solve what is, by most accounts on Techdirt & elsewhere, a mosquito of a problem. Tactical nukes seem a bit of overkill, don't they?

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Dec 27th, 2013 @ 11:03pm

      Re: It's about the math

      Your math is WAY off. Why? Because you completely mis-read the article and assumed that this is talking about taking place in the US.
      It is not. This is an article about SWITZERLAND.

       

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        jakerome (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 1:52am

        Re: Re: It's about the math

        No shit Sherlock. Sorry I neglected to explain the obvious.

         

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          Niall (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 4:03am

          Re: Re: Re: It's about the math

          You didn't. You specifically mentioned the US as if you thought it was being applied there instead of Switzerland.

          Your maths is also way off in assuming that this would be a simple $8T addition to the existing budget. It's a lot more likely that a) it would replace a large chunk of that $3T; b) that you would make massive savings through simplification and removal of application of benefits; and c) some would be regained by larger taxes on earnings, as the state is 'guaranteeing' a minimum earning.

          So it should both make neocon libertarians happy and sad at once!

          There would also be the benefit to the economy of more money being available to stimulate the economy. Plus, if you skip a couple of illegal wars and trim back the military-industrial complex there would be no problems affording this. Or is it only handouts when it's the poor, and deserved largesse when it's Goldman Sachs or Lockheed-Martin?

           

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    Tangaroa, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 7:24pm

    The best way to implement a guaranteed national income is to use an alternative currency. The capitalists can continue doing business in US dollars. In addition, everyone will be paid a guaranteed national income of $3,000 monthly in the new currency which we can call "Zim Dollars". All advocates for a guaranteed national income will be required to accept Zim Dollars as payment for a US dollar debt on a 1-to-1 basis. Everyone else can demand US dollars only.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2013 @ 9:01pm

    Here's a thought, in the US why not not simply extend unemployment benefits?

     

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      JBDragon, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 11:13am

      Re:

      They've been extended now for over 2 years! At that point it's no longer Unemployment, it's Welfare!!! You've gotten far more money from the system then you eve put into the system. It can't go on forever. GET A JOB!!! I know I sure wouldn't hire someone after being on Unemployment for 2+ years for a number of reasons.

      If you want a job, you can get a job! Funny how once the free money stops flowing to the person, they somehow find a job!!!

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 12:40pm

        Re: Re:

        "They've been extended now for over 2 years! At that point it's no longer Unemployment, it's Welfare!!!"

        They, I assume, refers to Congress. Congress has also not done a damn thing for six years now. The economy has not recovered, regardless of claims made by those who blow smoke. A large percentage of those who remain unemployed and under employed are in this condition because of the economy. You hear news about all the new jobs, but they hardly replace those lost and they are paying much less. This has a detrimental affect upon the economy, it is systemic and is not going away anytime soon if all Congress does is sit on their thumbs.



        "You've gotten far more money from the system then you eve put into the system. It can't go on forever. GET A JOB!!!"

        This is incorrect but I'm not surprised at the ridiculous assumption. I am presently employed, but thanks for your concern.



        "I know I sure wouldn't hire someone after being on Unemployment for 2+ years for a number of reasons."

        A majority of those who started receiving unemployment benefits years ago have since found employment, although at a much less salary/benefit level. It is not typically the same folk needed the assistance although there are probably some, idk.



        "Funny how once the free money stops flowing to the person, they somehow find a job!!!"

        You're quite the character to have all these ill conceived stereotypes.

         

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    Nick Taylor, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 1:28am

    I thought Switzerland was in Idaho?

    That aside - UBI is kindof a bread circuses. Gives people what they need - but making them utterly dependent on "the state", and (so doing) leaving them with even less power than they already had.

    If we're going to re-engineer economics so we're not all slaves (and we should), then what it's about is creating 'environments'... 'ecosystems' that will empower us, rather than giving people money.

    And I've seen how to do that - get rid of rent. Get rid of debt. All these parasitic overheads. There's not a whole lot of point in giving people a basic income if a landlord is going to take 75% of it.

    So I'd say rather than a UBI:

    1) cancel all student debt.
    2) cancel all mortgages
    3) replace income/sales tax with a land-tax
    4) create "islands" of free housing... that creative/entrepreneurial people can live in

    or to put it another way, break up the banks, and de-shackle ourselves from the "housing market".

    and while I'm at it:

    5) de-incorporate any corporation that makes more than a billion a year - split it. If projects require more resources than that, then corporations can come together temporarily... and deliver JUST that project, then be cancelled afterwards. This was how things were done in the US in the 1800s.

    6) publicly funded election campaigns. CEOs of corporations attempting to influence policy go to prison.

    7) CEOs are criminally responsible for any crime committed by their corporation.

    Src:

    http://www.genomicon.com/2011/04/a-few-modest-suggestions-revisited/

     

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      ChrisB (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

      Re:

      This is just ridiculous. Get rid of rent? What the hell are you talking about? If I own a building, and you need somewhere to live, why can't two FREE adults come to an agreement? You pay me and get a roof over your head. What, so in your world, the government owns everything and a committee determines rent? A committee determines the price of bread? That was tried. It failed.

      Government is a big part of the problem. Let's get rid of the federal reserve, which is basically a private company that sells currency to the government. Let's have a true free market for all things, including money. The 2000 and 2008 crashes were caused by the fed printing, which caused the dot com bubble and the housing bubble. Look at the stock market. Just another bubble created by this "quantitative easing" bullsh!t.

      Your opinions are corporations are just nonsense. Do you want a flower shop to be criminally responsible if someone gets pricked on a rose? Ridiculous.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 4:32pm

        Re: Re:

        "The 2000 and 2008 crashes were caused by the fed printing"

        Wow - hadn't heard this one before. That's quite a doozy you've got there.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 8:19am

        Re: Re:

        Wouldn't you like it if all people who lived in the country where your house stands get 1000$ a month from the state so they can pay rent, even if they go unemployed?
        Where the state is restricted to collecting a simple flat tax on all additonal income of 50% or less?

        Yeah sure, the rent income you don't spend on maintenance and investment into more housing would receive that tax rate as well, but wouldn't that be worth the saved time trying to figure out who you owe what money in taxes because the state wants to incentivise building houses in the most awkward roundabout way?

        Clearly giving people money to spend as they want, say to pay rent amongs other things, is gonna get to the people providing housing. Unless people suddenly want to live under a bridge.

        Of course, this will put a lot of money into people's pokets who provide such essential services, but isn't that a good idea?

        If we the state give customers money to spend, and people like you and me provide for em so well that they consistently come back to us, maybe we are doing something right and deserve more money that we might invest to make the service better, or spend as we see fit (only if it's spending income it'll see taxation of course)
        Sure, the money comes from the top earners, but if they want to stay on top they'll have to work for it.

        Biggest problem of course is when companies invest all money in snowball schemes on the exchange market, etc. oh well. but giving people money to pay their basic needs at least gives every party involved in such ponzi schemes to pull the trigger and rest on their basic income.

        Enabling responsibility for society to stand above responsibility for ones own well being (as in securing that big paycheck) maybe?

        Right now all I see is people making excuses to work they dont like, dont think is useful and ruins em in the long run.
        Money solves that.

         

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        John Fenderson (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 3:06pm

        Re: Re:

        Let's have a true free market for all things, including money.


        A true free market (as in the absence of regulation) will cause much more suffering for the poor and disenfranchised than they currently have. Further, it would ensure that even more people become poor and disenfranchised.

         

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    Pramod, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 4:55am

    This is an interesting discussion . To be honest , i don't see happening this very soon . Out of 100's of countries , only handful of them are very rich and their citizens have the privilege to stay at home and take rest and citizens of other countries have to work very hard to earn each penny that supports their family .

     

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    DNY, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 6:54am

    Freemarketeers for basic income schemes

    Perhaps we should recall that there are free market reasons to implement such a scheme provided it replaces all existing welfare programs and minimum wage laws: it is the only income redistribution scheme which does not produce perverse disincentives to work created by the extremely high effective tax rate which means-tested poverty alleviation programs create for the poor, and with the proviso, it actually decreases the level of state interference in the economy.

    Milton Friedman advocated a negative income tax with the same proviso (then opposed the EIC when Congress passed it without abolishing other poverty programs or the minimum wage). I think he was wrong in the sense that a negative income tax is still effectively means tested, though less sharply than other extant means-tested poverty alleviation schemes. Writing more recently and having thought about the problem of organizing the economy as the number of jobs which can be done economically, satisfactorily and satisfyingly by people of average intelligence or below shrinks, Charles Murray, has advocated a basic income scheme. Even Friedrich Hayek expected at some time in the future capitalism would produce such abundance that such a scheme would be a good idea, though he criticized implementing it in rich countries only, thinking it a good idea only when sufficient abundance existed to implement it world-wide at a common level.

    As to the cost, remember that the basic income given unconditionally to every adult citizen should replace all the existing poverty alleviation programs (which are incredibly wasteful and expensive), and would be taxable income -- each person would be paying back the proportion equal to his or her top marginal tax rate. Also the removal of the perverse disincentives for work by the poor and the abolition of the minimum wage (no more "living wage" rubbish distorting the labor market if everyone can live, albeit poor and mean, on the basic income without working) should have positive supply-side effects at the bottom end of the income distribution (!) increasing economic activity and tax receipts (though this effect is hard to quantify in advance).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 7:35am

    Well, at least we now know, for certain, that TechDirt is a socialist enterprise.

    (Granted, we knew this, but it's nice to have the proof without the usual 'you can't possibly understand the complexities of my political views' nonsense that usually accompanies nonsense like this.)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    Lazy Ass People Anyway!

    Those sleazy Lazy ass no account low lifes are gonna screw it up for the rest of us.

    People always speak of the "cushy" job.They seem to want to get to that place where they don't have to work so hard.To get to that place on "easy street" so they can live the good life and their kids will have it easier than they did.

    What is lazy? Not wanting to do something? Or wanting to get to that point of being on easy street so they can hire someone to clean their floors for them? Are the rich lazy because they can afford to hire cooks and gardeners to do their work while they swig expensive whiskey from their silver flasks?
    People say that this type of plan will only encourage people to be lazy. That they would game the system.
    Some complain that others will piggyback on all their hard work but don't seem to realize that they already do via all the social programs that our taxes pay for.
    I say SO WHAT!
    You're still getting paid for your hard work.
    This type of system in the US would do away with:

    SSI
    SS
    Welfare
    Food Stamps
    Homelessness
    Most Gangs
    Most Crimes
    Plus all the associated bureaucracies.

    What would the "lazy factor" be...1% of the population? 10%?
    People want to work and having all the lazy people stay home would unclog the freeways,reduce commute times, open up the job market and create more jobs.(less competition)(maybe even jobs that cater to the lazy)and my favorite...get rid of all the beggars on the onramps.
    Maybe if the labor force was reduced the wages would go up!
    Imagine...no more unemployment numbers or stimulus plans.

    All the poor and lazy people would become consumers and the result would be a more robust economy.
    If every one had an income then they would all have mobile devices in they're pockets and the NSA would be overcome with data and become even more ineffective. Children would go to school well rested and with a full belly and academic scores would soar.In the long run innovation and creativity would be rampant and someone would invent a way to have a private life.

    Would this create a Utopian society? Who knows.But putting 8 trillion a year into an ailing economy and curing homelessness and hunger at the same time can't be a bad thing....Can it?

     

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    Koby (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

    Carl Marx

    From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed. A century of economic history proves nothing!

     

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    rawcookie (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    Communal arrangements only work on a small scale. Read all of this if you want to find out why. http://www.hoover.org/publications/hoover-digest/article/6580

     

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      Jay (profile), Dec 29th, 2013 @ 7:59am

      Re:

      ... You realize that there have been small businesses that work with communal arrangements along with large corporations such as Valve that directly contradict you, right?

       

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    rawcookie (profile), Dec 28th, 2013 @ 2:38pm

    Good news! There is a utopia, it is called childhood and you had your turn. Now grow up and act like an adult. http://www.wimp.com/handicappeddrummer/

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2013 @ 4:37pm

      Re:

      It would be nice if more people acted like human beings rather than animals, but that just is wishful thinking.

       

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    The Real Michael, Dec 29th, 2013 @ 5:32am

    This article is advocating for a socialist system, a system built to fail. The government would eventually run out of (other people's) money to spend. Then once the entitlement brats lose their source of income, there would be war, be it civil, racial or revolution. The end result: communism. After all, a communist is nothing more than a socialist with a gun. The government would eventually swallow up all private property and control everything, a total monopoly of power and force.

     

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      Play Nicely, Dec 29th, 2013 @ 7:25am

      Response to: The Real Michael on Dec 29th, 2013 @ 5:32am

      Good. Let's just mindlessly throw around terms like socialism and communism. That way we don't have to actually examine the idea and can still feel good about ourselves.

       

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        The Real Michael, Dec 29th, 2013 @ 2:30pm

        Re: Response to: The Real Michael on Dec 29th, 2013 @ 5:32am

        What is there to examine? The idea is to leech off the system, for people to depend upon government to do everything for them. Socialism goes hand-in-hand with Communism; it wasn't a coincidence that (communist) USSR was a socialist republic.

         

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          Jay (profile), Dec 29th, 2013 @ 3:02pm

          Re: Re: Response to: The Real Michael on Dec 29th, 2013 @ 5:32am

          You have no idea what socialism is...

          And if you're talking about people that leech off a system for people to depend upon government to do everything for them, how is that not the top 1% of people who own over 47% of the wealth?

          Inheritances, stocks and bonds untaxed... You're telling me that they deserve to live off the works of others while doing nothing to work themselves?

          I guess when you believe in corporate welfare, you'll smear anything that stands against it...

           

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            The Real Michael, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 6:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Response to: The Real Michael on Dec 29th, 2013 @ 5:32am

            The top 1% hoarding most of the wealth isn't socialism -- it's an oligarchy. I certainly do not advocate for such disproportionate wealth or class warfare. You can thank the government, Wall Street, tax loopholes, deregulation, et al. for this, as well as shady backroom deals such as TPP which essentially institute fascism. On the other hand, socialism is dependent upon social ownership and distribution, as grounded in a philosophical view which in practice never works. America is a Constitutional republic, built on capitalism (not to be confused with the crony capitalism being engaged in).

            The socialist model being presented here is ridiculous on its face. What do you think, money grows on trees? If government was working the way it's supposed to, the top 1% would be taxed at least 70%, they'd clamp down on outsourcing, bringing jobs back to our shores where they belong, and corporations wouldn't receive huge tax breaks (e.g. GM) and write-offs (e.g. major record labels). But no, that's asking too much. They've gotta keep lining their coffers' pockets to ensure their golden cushions remain intact.

             

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              Jay (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 3:30pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: The Real Michael on Dec 29th, 2013 @ 5:32am

              " You can thank the government, Wall Street, tax loopholes, deregulation, et al. for this, as well as shady backroom deals such as TPP which essentially institute fascism."

              Ok, but who is financing their fascism?

              " On the other hand, socialism is dependent upon social ownership and distribution, as grounded in a philosophical view which in practice never works."

              ... What? Giving workers their rights would never work?

              Have you ever run a business before?

              " America is a Constitutional republic, built on capitalism (not to be confused with the crony capitalism being engaged in)."

              Actually, Madison wanted a democratic republic and he advocated for it along with Thomas Jefferson. It was supposed to change every 20 years and it works as an experiment.

              That said, it needs some serious democratic valves to alleviate the plutocracy that has been instilled for a number of reasons. Or else it leads to the crony capitalism we see (Hint: blaming the government for everything really misses the bigger picture)

              The socialist model being presented here is ridiculous on its face.

              You still don't know what that word is...

              What do you think, money grows on trees?

              No, it's not being taxed fairly between the rich and the poor.

              If government was working the way it's supposed to, the top 1% would be taxed at least 70%, they'd clamp down on outsourcing, bringing jobs back to our shores where they belong, and corporations wouldn't receive huge tax breaks (e.g. GM) and write-offs (e.g. major record labels).

              ... Who do you think controls the politics to make more money?

              It's not rocket science...

               

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                The Real Michael, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 5:56am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: The Real Michael on Dec 29th, 2013 @ 5:32am

                You're right in that the current tax system is grossly unfair, but I still disagree about taking from the rich in order to distribute hand-outs. All that will serve to do is create a nation of lazy people feeding off the government's nipple. What do you suppose will happen when they pull the rug out from all those people?

                If our situation is ever going to improve, the government must balance the budget, the rich should pay more in taxes, close off all loopholes (and arrest anyone committing fraud, including corporate and bank CEOs), prevent outsourcing of our jobs, and so forth. As you said, it isn't rocket science. They know what's wrong, they're just choosing to look the other way.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 9:07am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: The Real Michael on Dec 29th, 2013 @ 5:32am

                  "taking from the rich in order to distribute hand-outs. All that will serve to do is create a nation of lazy people feeding off the government's nipple"

                  There is, no doubt, a certain percentage of those who are not interested in fending fro themselves - for whatever reason(s). However - due to global economic catastrophe, many previously productive people have fallen upon hard times due to no fault of their own. Are these lazy people? I doubt it. They do not like being on assistance of any kind.

                  Those that caused the global meltdown have received bonuses paid for by the taxpayers and the victims get kicked to the curb. Is this the exceptionalism I have read about?

                   

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          Niall (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 4:08am

          Re: Re: Response to: The Real Michael on Dec 29th, 2013 @ 5:32am

          And if you want to call Switzerland of all countries socialist or communist, then you are as politically clueless as all more-right-wing Americans. Germany has powerful socialist elements, and yet they do capitalism extremely well. They just do it humanely.

          And no, socialism and communism do NOT go hand in hand any more than capitalism and fascism automatically do.

           

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            Jay (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 5:19am

            Re: Re: Re: Response to: The Real Michael on Dec 29th, 2013 @ 5:32am

            I'd argue that they can't demolish unions and left wingers like in the US because of their history with right wing movements.

            Contrary to popular belief, the Nazis killed Socialists such as in the Night of the Long Knives.

            So when you make the left wing stronger, they fight for democracy compared to neoclassical ideologies such as Reagan, Bush, Obama, etc.

             

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              Niall (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 5:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: The Real Michael on Dec 29th, 2013 @ 5:32am

              I'm well aware of how Nazis treated socialists, which is a shame that more Americans don't, given the whole over-equation of Nazism with socialism or even communism, or Obama being mistakenly called a socialist or even a communist.

              But then I've seen people in the US complain that Fox and anyone-you-care-to-name on the right of the Republican party are too left-wing and 'socialist', so little surprises me any more!

              We need more true (if representative) democracy and empathic humanity in our politics, from whichever source, left or right. Where hate, fear and greed are the prime motivators then nastiness is all you get :(

               

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2013 @ 9:42am

      Re:

      Alex Jones - is that you?

       

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    Play Nicely, Dec 29th, 2013 @ 8:13am

    Not Utopia

    Everybody needs a certain income to live. Anyone who does't earn it by paid labor or capital has to make it somehow. Many people do so by various means:

    - family members (housewives, children, the poor brother-in-law one occasionally shelters and feeds, ...)
    - state subsidy (student loans, social security, ...)
    - charity (organized and private)
    - crime

    To grant a basic income guarantee is to remove the dependance on those alternative methods of getting an income. The cost of it therefore has to be weighed against the benefit of getting rid of of those (no social security bureaucracy, working family members can afford to work for a lower wage to feed their families, tax-exempt and potentially ideologically problematic charities won't be needed anymore, poverty-driven crime and the need to fight it should decrease).

    Every dollar one earns one can keep (not like some detractors claim, that up to the basic income every dollar goes to the state, which creates a very bad incentive structure), but a consumption tax (basically vat) of about 50% would pay for the basic income.

    prices need not be fixed because the amount of money in circulation doesn't change and yes, some unpleasant jobs would probably see rising wages, while other wages might decrease.

    a basic income would mean everyone's basic needs are taken care of while anything above (and most people will want to have more than that, just as they do now) is subject to an unfettered and thus more efficient labor market.

    entrepreneurship is encouraged because neither minimum wages nor statutory periods of notice for workers are needed anymore.

    it is an economically sound idea that has to be seriously investigated before it can be dismissed. Merely calling it socialism is by no means a valid critique. Just as with reform of so-called intellectual property rights the main problem is our obsession with "freeloaders", in that we'd rather put in place a much worse system rather than to allow even an insignificant amount of freeloading. as if one cheater discredited the whole idea of social security. as if one plane crash discredited the entirety of passenger air travel.

     

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    identicon
    Was going to respond to a troll but can't be bothe, Dec 29th, 2013 @ 3:34pm

    Try a half-measure first.

    Is Switzerland seriously considering doing this in one big-bang moment? Every major change has unintended consequences, and having all those side issues take full effect in one go is crazy. Better to phase it in over 5-10 years. This will give employers a chance to adapt, as some will have to raise their wages substantially, or break up full-time jobs into part-time ones.

    Also, what if the happy medium turns out to be at say, 80% of the full basic income? At that level, you still have to work to live, but if you do lose your job any savings you have will last a whole lot longer, improving your chances of finding something new before going into mortgage arrears or other money troubles. 80% should still be high enough to abolish a lot of welfare benefits and their related bureaucracy.

     

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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 11:51am

    I haven't seen anyone mention yet the fact that if this was implemented in the US there would most likely be a rampant rise in drug addiction, gambling, prostitution, alcoholism, or other vices, as well as all the social ills that go along with these issues. But at least musicians could sit in their NY loft writing music which they can freely share in between rounds of shooting heroin. Oh, and no more piracy. Bully for us.

     

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      nasch (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

      Re:

      I haven't seen anyone mention yet the fact that if this was implemented in the US there would most likely be a rampant rise in drug addiction, gambling, prostitution, alcoholism, or other vices, as well as all the social ills that go along with these issues.

      You're misusing the word "fact". Your claim rests on the assumption that the reason a lot more people don't do those things is because they don't have the money (or time) to do them, which sounds dubious.

       

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If everyone getting this wage doesn't have to work to live, don't you think people would have the time to set aside and do these things for themselves instead of being helpless? Without these jobs we rely on to exchange our labor for the currency we need to make a living, we have the time to learn and do things for ourselves rather than pay other people to do things we previously didn't have the time to learn and do.

Honestly, if every neighborhood took the time to help their community collect and deliver their waste, it would be a trivial effort spread among many people. It just asks of people to do a tiny bit more to reduce the overhead of the system that does the work that many people could do in a couple minutes a day. This all assumes that menial tasks won't fundamentally change into something wholly different that completely negates the infrastructure and labor applied to dealing with it. We may not even have need of "trash" collection anymore. Technology changes everything to the point that all menial physical tasks could become fully automated. Anything that requires rudimentary cognitive effort would be the realm of human minds and we would do that without an economic incentive because all physical needs would be addressed without trading symbolic units of value for labor. Our only currency would be social interaction that is inherent in what we do on a daily basis.

So I don't think society will fail to function because nobody is taking out the trash. For every hour you're not tied to a job, you're free to invest that time into doing the things you would have previously paid another person to do.
—Greevar

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