Posted by at 1:50 pm  Politics
Aug 152017

Way back when I was in college, I wrote a paper for my Economics class, in which I suggested that structural unemployment would increase to the extent that after fifty years, there would be far more job seekers than there are jobs.  I said the causes would be automation and the development of third world manufacturing.  That was fifty years ago.  I also determined that it would cause economic distress, because too many unemployed people would not have the income to buy those third world and automation products.  Does this sound familiar?  I suggested that since the needed jobs don’t exit, the solution is to change the manner in which we distribute wealth.  I’ve mentioned this over the years from time to time.  Other minds have fallen into the same ditch, and people are talking about it again.


Is the idea of cash handouts for everyone, no strings attached, a breakthrough solution for unemployment and social inequality, or a road to profligacy and idleness? Attracting left, right, and center, the idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is the perfect Rorschach test in the public debate over “the future of work.” For Americans, the universal benefits just might outweigh the universal costs.

The UBI model is radically simple: a basic payment designed to cover basic expenses. After giving to each according to need, people are freer to give according to ability. UBIvangelists argue that automatically providing for basic nutritional and shelter needs liberates people to ascend the hierarchy of needs and focus on more valuable activities, like developing social relationships and civic and cultural engagement. Others hope a UBI would foster a more harmonious, cooperative post-work society simply by countering scarcity and selfishness.

The idea of free cash has inherent public appeal. Surveys by the Economic Security project show that 46 percent of respondents favored giving every individual “a base income,” especially among youth and people of color, while 35 percent were opposed…

From <The Nation>

For more, you can visit basicincome.org. And think of all the activism this could enable.

I was surprised to learn today that someone I respect has also been playing with this idea.

Wooo Hooo!  The Reich on the left is right!

There is a whole article without one single mention of you know who. Now…



  9 Responses to “UBI?”

  1. Well, I have always thought that people who worked at a paying job when they were financially secure enough not to need to were terrible selfish, for they were taking a livelihood from someone who needed it.  But I also believe that most people, freed from the necessity of working to pay necessities, would still work at something, and that something would probably be more creative than a job that was taken specifically to get money.  I was often asked while employed whether I would still knit if I became indepently wealthy, and my reply was always sure, but I would use better yarns.  Well, I am not independently wealthy, just retired – and I am not using the quality of yarn I would use if I were independently wealthy – but with more freedom and time to look around for the best deals, I am using better yarns than I used to. 

    I might note that Edward Bellamy’s novel Looking Backward, a lesser-known cousin of Thomas More’s Utopia dnd Samuel Butler’s Erewhon, has financial ideas very similar to UBI – administered through a system very much like modern debit cards. Edward was a cousin of Francis, who wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance (which should IMO have been left as he wrote it). Both were Socialists, of course.

  2. WOW! I’m impressed !! Sounds really good to me.

    Thanks, Tom for this. Passing on too.

  3. I can see both sides of the UBI issue. On the one hand, it will make sure that everyone has enough for the basics. On the other, it could discourage work and thrift. Whether it succeeds or fails could depend on where it is implemented. One society may see it as a means to prevent homelessness and hunger, while another may see it as a free ride. It should include an incentive to work if one can. Maybe those who get their moolah just from the public teat should not get certain privileges.

  4. UBI sounds good, but I do not think it will counter selfishness…would love to be wrong, though.  

  5. Since the seventies, the UBI idea surfaces in the Netherlands every time we’re on the ascending flank of economic growth – which is the right time to implement it, by the way – but has never made it to other than a plan supported by most, in theory of course. But as the Dutch, like everyone else, shifted from Social Democracy a little further to the right with each election, the enthusiasm waned, and no government ever has made it into a national priority. At this point in time I don’t expect any new (right-wing) government even to acknowledge it as an idea.

    I think it was economically very well to do Switzerland which put in to the people as a referendum during their last elections. It didn’t get the vote however, mainly because many/most Swiss thought it was a reasonable idea until they realized that a small but growing number of immigrants would also benefit from the UBI…

    While there is no will to implement it nationally in the Netherlands, two or three large cities are going through a trial period in which people who have been on benefits for a long time, but were never able to find a job or hold one for a longer period of time, are given an UBI, i.e. a basic, and I mean basic, income without strings attached. Many have started doing volunteer work or do some little paid jobs to give themselves a little luxury. Because that’s how it works: a UBI will let you live a life with simple food on the table, cheap clothes on your back, in basic accommodation and sure of healthcare and that’s enough for some. If you want more, you work to earn it, which most will do.

    Besides simple greed, envy and bigotry, there are other reason why UBI doesn’t get of the ground. One is that as long as not all drudgery, dangerous or filthy work is automated, big and small entrepreneurs will no longer be able to find anyone to do those jobs for the money they’re paid now. No one would need to, right? I don’t think many will have the mindset it takes to re-evaluate all work and have people who pick tomatoes, pick up the trash or work down the mines earn more than bank mangers.14. Another is that an UBI should be given to all people above a certain age, which would mean that women would get their own independence, whether they chose to stay at home and look after the kids or to have a career. Of course it would give men the opportunity to chose either option too, but I don’t think the GOP is partial to independent women or housemen. 14

  6. I like the idea and |I know it has been casually talked about here.  Of course during Harper’s reign, it was a “no go”.  For seniors receiving Canada Pension and/or Old Age Security, if the total income from all sources is less than a certain amount annually, the elder may then qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

    In the US, with so many Republicans in Congress and the state governments, I cannot see it happening at all.  Hell, they can’t even produce an affordable  or universal healthcare plan and UBI is much bigger.  They’d rather give it to the wealthy.


  7. Thanks all.  How I envisioned it enough of a benefit for people with no other income to get by.  Then the more one makes, the more the benefit is reduced until it no longer exists.  That way there is always and incentive to work. 22

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