Basic income would work even if 90% of people smoked weed instead of working

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by Plazma Inferno!, Apr 21, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

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    Among the main complaints people lodge at universal basic income is that it'll make them lazy.
    But, Silicon Valley enterpreneur Sam Altman disagrees. On a recent episode of the Freakonomics podcast, entitled "Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income?" he argued basic income could support huge amounts of productivity loss and still carry the economy on its shoulders.

    "Maybe 90% of people will go smoke pot and play video games, but if 10% of the people go create incredible new products and services and new wealth, that's still a huge net-win," Altman says. "And the American puritanical ideal that hard work for its own sake is valuable — period — and that you can't question that, I think that's just wrong."


    http://www.techinsider.io/sam-altman-praises-basic-income-on-freakonomics-podcast-2016-4

    What do you think? Is 10% of working force enough to back basic income concept?
     
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  3. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    Apparently less than 45% of Americans pay federal taxes. What does that mean? I'm not certain. I would think that those living on a basic income would look to better their lot by searching for more income. It's my experience that working is far more rewarding than, say, collecting unemployment.
     
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  5. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    The American workforce is about 45% of the US population. The other 55% are children, older people, infirm people, people in schools, and the wealthy elite who do not work. And I'm not sure where your number comes from, if it includes all federal taxes or just payroll taxes or income taxes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
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  7. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    There is some merit to that. That's why the US reformed its welfare system back in the 90's, People were scamming the system. Women had children in order to get more welfare money, and they provided very little care for their children. It's something I witnessed first hand working as an EMT in the ghettos. So while I do support the notion of a minimum income, one has to be careful when creating these systems. People will attempt to scam them.
     
  8. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    That would make sense then, which is why I didn't make any conclusions regarding the percentage. I retrieved the percentage from a Google search.
     
  9. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    It means that there are a lot of kids, retirees and poor who don't make enough to have to pay any significant taxes. (Note that this does not mean they don't pay any taxes, of course - they generally pay sales tax, and excise taxes, and state taxes etc.)
    Well, not if you are four years old, or retired and living on a pension. (Our four year old seems pretty happy without trying to better his lot by searching for more income.) Keep in mind that only 25% of unemployed people are receiving unemployment - which means the percentage of Americans as a whole receiving unemployment is 1.25%
     
  10. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    Okay. I accept that.

    I assumed the OP was in reference to adults.
    I wasn't knocking on those who collect unemployment. My personal experience is, and as an example of free money, it isn't all that great. Working usually pays better than what we might receive from the government. I might be wrong but I doubt a person could afford weed and videos games with what the government might offer.
     
  11. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    Surely the 10% that he thinks would "create incredible new products and services and new wealth" are mostly working already??

    Also, I quite like the notion that under a basic income system, you only get to vote if you are working.
    At the point of retirement you then need a certain amount of qualifying years of work to be able to continue voting - e.g. 20 years.
    A bit like Starship Troopers, but with work rather than military service.

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  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Well, I guess it depends on the frequency that they use those things . . .

    In general I disagree with the OP. 10% of the people working would not be a "huge net win" for the economy. Our economy is driven by labor; less labor, less movement of money and less of an economy overall.

    He does bring up an important point, though. There are only so many jobs, and as time goes on automation will reduce them. How do you keep a similar fraction employed in the face of a dropping demand for labor? You could let the market decide, by dropping wages as labor oversupply makes the market more competitive. You could let the market decide by moving more people to part-time status (which is what's happening) Neither is great. You could mandate a reduction in the work week to 32 hours or something, but that hits productivity.
     
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Maximum productivity per hour hits around 30@week, iirc.

    The 40 hour week was what the efficiency experts came up with in the 1930s and verified in the 1950s - it's the breakover, after which more hours worked get the employer nothing for his money on average.

    So from the pov of a game between someone who wants to make as much money as possible per week, and someone who wants product but only at a profit, it's the intersection point. But it's not the maximum productivity point.

    US hourly wage-dollar productivity would almost certainly rise given a 32 hour week. (As it has in other places, such as France, where work hours are limited). The US problem is that the overhead of hiring is so large - health insurance, mainly - that it buries the efficiency gains of shorter hours. Lower productivity and mandatory overtime stress etc, sitting next to the unemployed - yet another penalty for this idiotic health care system.

    I'd prefer a setup in which you were not allowed to vote unless you did ten hours of housework per week - people who work too much and never have to clean up after themselves have bad political judgment, in my experience.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  14. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    O.M.G.
    Yes, bribing 90% of the people with 10% of the peoples' money is an excellent way to get people to back any concept.

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    Doomed, I tell ya!

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  15. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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  16. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    He doesn't say it is a net win for the economy, he just says it is a "net win". If you're one of the 90% who get paid for nothing, that's definitely a net win for you!
     
  17. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    My gut tells me that that's exactly why this concept is now being promoted. The free ride was ended in the 1990s and it worked really well, so this is an attempt to get around that issue: you can't scam a system that just gives money to everyone. The scam is built-in and effort/guilt free!
     
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Not really. A freeloader on a failing economy is still worse off than someone on temporary unemployment in a booming one.
     
  19. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Well, I wouldn't call it a bribe. It's a matter of making things work within a set of existing circumstances. Societal and technological changes are coming, and we will need to adjust to them. One of those changes, and perhaps the single most important, will be an excess of human labor as human labor is replaced by AI and robotics. Whatever solution we put in place it must be consistent with human known behaviors. It shouldn't drive unwanted behaviors and should reinforce socially beneficial behaviors. Technology will require us to reevaluate everything. That's pretty damn scary, but it also opens up a whole new world to us. Moving from a labor based economy to a ownership based economy will have significant challenges. So like it or not, minimum income is coming.
     

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