Tags: universal basic income*

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  1. nailing the evil ways of oligarchs hardly demolishes left-wing arguments in favor of an unconditional, universal basic income which, so far, is the only policy being mooted as a way of universally guaranteeing the most basic right of all: the right to material existence. Moreover, basic income, while not a universal panacea, is one way of strengthening vulnerable members of society in their struggle against the oligarchs.

    Then again, the respected Marxist economist Michael Roberts has a different take in his recent blog (which we’ll cite at length to cover all the points):

    But what to do, as jobs are lost to robots? Some liberal economists talk of a ‘robot tax’. But all this would do is slow down automation – hardly a progressive move in reducing toil. The idea of universal basic income (UBI) continues to gain traction among economists, both leftist and mainstream. I have discussed the merits and demerits of UBI before. UBI is advocated by many neoliberal economic strategists as a way of replacing the ‘welfare state’ of free health, education and decent pensions with a basic income. And it is being proposed to keep wages down for those in work. Any decent level of basic income would be just too costly for capitalism to afford. And even if UBI were won by workers in struggle, it would still not solve the issue of who owns the robots and the means of production in general.

    A more exciting alternative, in my view, is the idea of Universal Basic Services i.e. what are called public goods and services, free at the point of use. A super-abundant society is by definition one where our needs are met without toil and exploitation ie a socialist society. But the transition to such a society can start with devoting socially necessary labour to the production of basic social needs like education, health, housing, transport and basic foodstuffs and equipment.

    Roberts’ text provides a good starting point for getting to the nitty-gritty of some key aspects of the debate about basic income.

    1) A basic income can be financed in several different ways. The difference between left- and right-wing proposals is easily ascertained by asking who gains and who loses. A left-wing proposal would entail progressive tax reform which brings about a major redistribution from the richest citizens to the rest of society. Hence, in a financing proposal resulting from an extensive study which is detailed in the final chapter of our book Against Charity, we specify that, with our version of basic income, the richest 20% would lose and the other 80% would gain. This would mean a redistribution of income which, in Gini Index terms, would become one of the most egalitarian in the world (about 0.25).

    2) Any basic income that contemplates dismantling the welfare state is a right-wing ploy. The fact that Milton Friedman—who, in fact, rather than basic income, favored a negative income tax (NIT) which is similar to basic income in some ways but also significantly different in others—and other more recent right-wing economists are ostensibly basic income supporters has led some left-wing critics to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Friedman wanted the NIT as a sop when he was aiming to dismantle public social services in the United States but it’s pretty reductionist to conclude from this that all basic income supporters want to do away with welfare. Far from it,

    Poverty is viewed as a personal aberration. The norm is having a job and earning a respectable living, which flies in the face of today’s reality that having a job is no guarantee against poverty, as the burgeoning numbers of working poor testify.
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/04/.../universal-basic-income-left-or-right
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  2. poverty is such a burden on the brain it can actually hurt our ability to execute fundamental life skills. Researchers say the mental burden is like losing 13 IQ points or an entire night's sleep.

    And Shah believes the constant concern with finances that low-income people showed during his study is part of the "cognitive fatigue" that past research has addressed.

    "Scarcity or poverty requires you to be more locked in. It requires you to be more focused, and you can do that for a while, but eventually, you're just not going to be able to give all of the bandwidth that you need to those problems. ... It's not that poor people are somehow different; it's that they're in a different situation," Shah said.

    Shah believes these findings should force lawmakers to reconsider how they think about assistance.

    "Providing cash assistance or some other assistance, it doesn't just deal with the immediate financial problem. It also frees up some mental bandwidth, as well to say I don't have to worry as much about this," Shah said.
    https://www.newsy.com/stories/poverty...ow-being-poor-leads-to-poor-decisions
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  3. This is going to require a fight. The common story is that the robots are the threat to workers, but robots are just robots. It’s not robots that need to be bargained with, or that can be. The real obstruction will come from those, as in times past, who will find it too tempting to keep on accumulating the benefits of automated efficiency for themselves. It will take a fight to ensure those benefits are really shared — not through philanthropic handouts, but through a recognition that prosperity is a collective inheritance.

    Basic income advocate Peter Barnes, for instance, suggests deriving the funds from dividends on the use of such shared assets as clean air, the electromagnetic spectrum, and financial markets. This is like the model Alaska already uses to distribute about $1,000 from natural-resource wealth to each resident every year. The trouble is, too many industries are too used to regarding our shared assets as theirs to exploit. It is their shareholders we will be bargaining with. Sometimes, these shareholders are ourselves through pension funds or our 401k retirement plans.
    https://indypendent.org/2018/03/bargaining-with-robots
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  4. La nazionale italiana di calcio non aveva ancora vinto il Mundial di Spagna. Ma loro già prendevano la pensione. E continuano a prenderla da allora: sono 471.545 i pensionati italiani che ricevono un assegno di vecchiaia, di anzianità contributiva o ai superstiti da oltre 37 anni, ovvero con una decorrenza antecedente rispetto al 1980. Il che significa che hanno trascorso, nella loro vita, più tempo in pensione che al lavoro. Il dato emerge dagli osservatori statistici dell’Inps (2017) che calcolano invece in oltre 700 mila le persone che hanno una pensione liquidata da almeno 35 anni (dal 1982, l’anno di Pablito appunto, o negli anni precedenti). Non si includono naturalmente in questi numeri i trattamenti di invalidità e le pensioni sociali. Le pensioni private antecedenti il 1980 sono 413.157 mentre le pubbliche sono 58.388.
    http://www.corriere.it/economia/18_fe...ffa-0e49-11e8-8d80-f9c15900d75d.shtml
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  5. Kela hopes additional data that is being collected as part of the trial from healthcare records will provide useful information on whether the security of a guaranteed unconditional income, paid in advance so beneficiaries can budget for it, might have a positive impact on anxiety, prescription drug consumption or doctor’s visits.

    “One participant has said she is less anxious because she no longer has to worry over calls from the job centre offering a job she can’t accept because she is caring for her elderly parents,” Turunen said. “We may be able to see from the trial data whether it has had unintended benefits – such as reduced medical costs.”

    The trial data may also allow the government to spend less on bureaucracy by simplifying Finland’s complex social security system – currently, it offers more than 40 different means-tested benefits – which is struggling to cope with a 21st-century labour market of part timers, short-term contracts and start-ups.

    The benefit system is simply “not suited to modern working patterns”, Turunen said. “We have too many benefits. People don’t understand what they’re entitled to or how they can get it. Even experts don’t understand. For example, it’s very hard to be in the benefit system in Finland if you are self-employed – you have to prove your income time and time and time again.”
    The Inequality Project: the Guardian's in-depth look at our unequal world
    Read more

    Perhaps most significantly, the trial marks “a real breakthrough for field experiments”, according to Kanerva. Rolled out in record time and after a brief, one-line pledge in the government’s platform, it had to function alongside all existing social security laws and clear numerous legal obstacles – including Finland’s constitution, which requires all citizens to be treated equally.

    “It was a huge effort to get it over the line,” Turunen said. “The government was determined it must be based on specific legislation – most experiments are not – and that it had to launch in January last year ... It was quite a task.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/inequalit...asic-income-trial-too-good-to-be-true
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  6. not artificial if you get money for it, with which to buy things.

    The money is real, but the work is artificial. So much of what happens is bullshit make-work that's unnecessary replication of effort, which happens only so that people can get paid. But there are environmental costs to work, so bullshit m
    https://yro.slashdot.org/story/18/01/...3A+Slashdot%2Fslashdot+%28Slashdot%29
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  7. You are a supporter of a universal basic income. How would it be able to protect the workforce engaged in digital labour, as intermittent and precarious as it is?

    AC: By recognizing the data labour that goes through the platforms. This has already been argued by a report by the French Ministry of Finance in 2013, and in a report by the Rockefeller Foundation last year. The digital giants should not be taxed on the basis of how many data centers or offices they have in a country, but on the basis of the data produced by the users of the platforms. If there are 30 million Google users in Italy, it is fair to tax Google based on the profits they made from these users’ activities. In this way, one could fund a basic income, arising from the digital labour that each of us carries out on the internet or on the mobile apps we use. •
    https://socialistproject.ca/2017/12/workers-heart-algorithm
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  8. Ask Järvinen what difference money for nothing has made to his life, and you are marched over to his workshop. Inside is film-making equipment, a blackboard on which is scrawled plans for an artists’ version of Airbnb, and an entire little room where he makes shaman drums that sell for up to €900. All this while helping to bring up six children. All those free euros have driven him to work harder than ever.

    None of this would have been possible before he received UBI. Until this year, Järvinen was on dole money; the Finnish equivalent of the jobcentre was always on his case about job applications and training. Ideas flow out of Järvinen as easily as water from a tap, yet he could exercise none of his initiative for fear of arousing bureaucratic scrutiny.

    In one talked-about case last year, an unemployed Finn called Christian was caught carving and selling wooden guitar plectrums. It was more pastime than business, earning him a little more than €2,000 in a year. But the sum was not what angered the authorities, it was the thought that each plectrum had taken up time that could have been spent on official hoop-jumping.
    Iain Duncan Smith
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    ‘For Iain Duncan Smith, poverty was the rotten fruit of broken families, addiction or debt.’ Photograph: Bloomberg/via Getty Images

    That was Järvinen, too, until this year. Just as with so many Britons on social security, he was trapped in a “humiliating” system that gave him barely enough to feed himself, while refusing him even a glimmer of a hope of fulfilment.

    So what accounted for his change? Certainly not the UBI money. In Finland, €560 is less than a fifth of average private-sector income. “You have to be a magician to survive on such money,” Järvinen says. Over and over, he baldly describes himself as “poor”.

    His liberation came in the lack of conditions attached to the money.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentis...oct/31/finland-universal-basic-income
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  9. Malka shrugged, looked away. "Back to the banker thing, Sergei," she said, "since Nera did bring it up. I get why you work with money -- it still makes a lot of the world go round. You take Frankfurt's various exports and patents and Swiss bank accounts and whatever, and buy us whatever we can't make here. I get that, and I get why it would be a high-rep job; we need it, and most people would find it boring. But you told me you worked for money -- not just with money." She crossed her arms beneath her breasts, where her top shimmered electric blue. "Why?"

    Sergei smiled the long-lipped, eyebrow-cocked smile of someone who is amused in advance at the reaction they're about to get. "I like money," he said.

    "What, you mean, like, physical money?" Malka said. "Like you collect coins and bills? That's cool, I guess."

    "No," Sergei said. "I mean I like money. I like exchange. Abstracted exchange. Simplicity. You give me something, I give you something. We're quits. You don't have to decide what kind of person I am, if you like me, how distant I am from you in social space. We could be masked strangers in a privacy zone. You want something from me, you give me money. I don't care who you are. I don't care what you want it for."

    Comments were flashing in, but Nera didn't stop to read them. Queasy, she thought of the hunch of her father's shoulders in his starched white uniform and red tie, behind the florist counter at the supermarket. She recalled the burn of tear gas at the back of her throat, the sound of shattering windows.

    Jörg looked like he was the proud owner of a performing dog; Malka, like she was equally disgusted and turned on. Or maybe a little more turned on.

    "Huh," Malka said. "'Masked strangers in a privacy zone'...? You know the 'raw swingers'? They hook up with strangers for sex with their services totally turned off. No peeking at comments or reviews or social map -- so they have no idea if it's going to be a total nightmare, right? That's the point, I guess, part of the thrill. They've got this whole thing about how it's so much better when it does work, because of the risk and the authenticity and whatever. So are you saying this is like that, Sergei? You do stuff just for a marker of hoarded value... you don't even know why. You don't know what the effect of your actions are, what you're contributing towards, or what people will say..."

    Pink Floyd ~ Money

    "Pink Floyd: Money." Credit: jah~ off n on

    "All you know is you want the money," Nera said.

    Malka nodded. "Pure greed, no connections, heedless of consequences. That's it? It's a kink? Like a... sick thrill?"

    Sergei laughed. To his credit, he looked a little discomfited. "I guess you could look at it like that."

    "Oh, don't underplay it," Jörg said. "Sergei -- you've written about this. It's a philosophy." Nera glanced at him, and she recognized his expression. A year ago she would have called it an eager openness -- his fascination with the unending variety of people and ideas Frankfurt's flow brought bobbing to his door. But she'd been in his collection of flotsam. Drifter Nera, banker Sergei, autie-genius Tomas, the Finns and Peruvians grilling in the kitchen; they all ended up part of Jörg's menagerie, and by means of them all, he somehow ended up rating as a life-artist instead of a pompous, lecturing do-gooder.

    "Well," said Sergei. "Okay. I think it's more than just kinky." He glanced sidelong at Malka. "Money is... clean. It severs connections. That's not always a bad thing. You say you know what the effect of your actions are. But you don't really know -- you don't trace them all in detail. You don't have time. You just go with the consensus. With fashion."

    "Sure, sure, ratings and fashion are all we have," Malka said. "That's not a new argument or anything, and we are all concerned, I'm sure, with the plight of the low-rated. Nera has done quite a bit of visiting with at-risk lonelies, did you know that? But money seems like a weird solution to that problem, doesn't it?"

    "No," he said, and there was a little bit of a quiver in his voice that made Nera wonder what history it pointed to, "no, it doesn't. With money, poverty is empty of meaning. It's not a judgement on your life and works. It doesn't mean no one likes you, that you're obnoxious or boring. If you're poor in a money economy, you know what you need to do: make money. It's not as... wounding."

    "That's stupid," Nera said. Jörg and Malka turned to look at her, eyebrows raised -- her voice was too loud, too harsh. Her heart was beating fast. "It's dead easy to get your ratings up when they fall. Your services tell you how."

    "Your services tell you how," Sergei retorted. "You have skills, you're charming. You're rated as trustworthy. People want you to babysit their kids. Carry their packages. Cook their food. It's not that easy for everyone."
    https://www.shareable.net/blog/the-guy-who-worked-for-money
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  10. They say UBI is expensive. Paying all UK citizens the current Jobseeker's Allowance amount of £73.10 per week would cost almost £250bn per year - 13 per cent of the UK’s entire GDP.

    By contrast, widening the social safety net through more comprehensive services would cost around £42bn, which can be funded by lowering the personal income tax allowance from £11,800 to £4,300, according to the IGP’s analysis.

    The experts say an expansion of basic services to everyone is highly progressive because those who rely on them will be disproportionately the least wealthy in society.

    Almost half of the world's jobs, paying almost $16 trillion in wages, could be automated just by adapting existing technology in robotics, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, a recent report by McKinsey estimated.

    Professor Henrietta Moore, director of UCL’s Institute for Global Prosperity, said: “Without radical new ideas that challenge the status quo, we face a future where the changing shape of our society and labour market leaves more and more people struggling simply to achieve the basics – let alone having the resources and mental energy to allow themselves and their families to flourish.”
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    She said that UBS was a logical extension of the widely accepted principle that health and education should be free at the point of use to everyone.
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/bu...zens-social-housing-ucl-a7993476.html
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