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Slashdot Asks: Do We Need To Plan For a Future Without Jobs And Should We Resort To Universal Basic Income? (vox.com) 917

Andy Stern (former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which today represents close to 2 million workers in the United States and Canada) has spent his career organizing workers. He has a warning for all of us: our jobs are really, really doomed. Stern adds that one of the only way outs of this is a universal basic income. Stern has been arguing about the need for a universal basic income (UBI) for more than a year now. Stern pointed out that people with college degrees are not making anywhere near the kind of progress that their parents made, and that it's not their fault. He adds: The possibility that you can end up with job security and retirement attached to it is statistically diminishing over time. The American dream doesn't have to be dead, but it is dying. All the resources and assets are available to make it real. It's just that we have a huge distribution problem. Unions and the government used to play an important part at the top of the market, but this is less true today. The market completely distributes toward those at the top. Unions simply aren't as effective in terms of their impact on the economy, and government has been somewhat on the sidelines in recent years.Making a case for the need of universal basic income, he adds:A universal basic income is essentially giving every single working-age American a check every month, much like we do with social security for elderly people. It's an unconditional stipend, as it were. The reason it's necessary is we're now learning through lots of reputable research that technological change is accelerating, and that this process will continue to displace workers and terminate careers. A significant number of tasks now performed by humans will be performed by machines and artificial intelligence. He warned that we could very well see five million jobs eliminated by the end of the decade because of technology. He elaborates: It looks like the Hunger Games. It's more of what we're beginning to see now: an enclave of extremely successful people at the center and then everyone else on the margins. There will be fewer opportunities in a hollowed out and increasingly zero-sum economy. If capital trumps labor, the people who own will keep getting wealthier and the people who supply labor will become less necessary. And this is exactly what AI and robotics and software are now doing: substituting capital for labor.What's your thoughts on this? Do you think in the next two-three decades to come we will have significantly fewer jobs than we do now?
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Slashdot Asks: Do We Need To Plan For a Future Without Jobs And Should We Resort To Universal Basic Income?

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  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Monday October 17, 2016 @05:44PM (#53095011) Homepage Journal
    It is well known that the majority voice - both in staff and readers - at slashdot has leaned conservative for over a decade now. UBI is a deeply unpopular idea here, and the fact that it is in this article being promoted by a (former) union leader means that it will be get about as warm of a welcoming here as ebola. I expect one of the next comments in here will either contain or be followed in signature with the usual bit about two wolves and a sheep deciding dinner.

    The bigger problem with this article though is that it really doesn't belong here. This is not a technology issue, or even a science issue. This is an economics issue, and a monetary issue. The jobs aren't going away because people here are being replaced by better technology, the jobs are going away here because people are being replaced by workers in other countries who can work for less. These actions are of course being rewarded by the boards of the companies who are doing this.

    It is, of course, a fact that careers are a foreign concept to most workers now in this country. Few people who are in the labor force now will stay with one employer more than a decade at a time. Retirement is quickly becoming a passing dream for the majority of workers as well.
    • by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @05:56PM (#53095157)

      I am all for UBI if it can be implemented intelligently.

      I am an able bodied guy and will continue to work. But I understand that there are others who are not as fortunate as me. I have no problem paying for their subsistence.

      The only thing is, we have to do it well if we are going to do it right. Remove loopholes and incentivize productivity as much as possible.

      But, I fear that something this radical is a non-starter for a lot of reasons, not least of which is because it is the much feared socialism which every Mercan knows is synonymous with evil...

      • by losfromla ( 1294594 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @06:14PM (#53095341)

        Uh, Bernie was pushing Socialism hard and were it not for the entrenched and dirty DNC and the Clinton Machine, he would now be the candidate of the Democratic party. Not all Mercan's are afraid of socialism anymore, mainly because they noticed that the trickle-down policies of a demented B-Movie actor had no basis in reality.

        • by lenski ( 96498 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @06:42PM (#53095581)

          Uh, Bernie was pushing Socialism hard and were it not for the entrenched and dirty DNC and the Clinton Machine, he would now be the candidate of the Democratic party.

          As a Bernie supporter, I would like to respectfully disagree, with the following argument: When Bernie began his challenge, he was nearly unknown to the general voting population. I think that the Democratic Establishment was planning on an essentially uncontested primary season, conserving resources to prepare for what they were certain would be a ugly, expensive general election campaign. They almost certainly failed (*really* failed) to understand the power of so many people that were left out of the conversation during and after the Clinton Triangulation era. (I also Obama arrived with such a delicate economy that his hands were tied...)

          I think that if Bernie had gotten going 2 months (or better, 6 months) earlier in the run-up to the primary, the actions of the party and likely the results of the primary would have been totally different.

          Finally, while think Hillary is too centrist, she has remained standing in the face of attacks that would demotivate nearly everyone else, and to the best of my knowledge is a walking encyclopedia of policy. I am not sure Bernie really had the connections or the policy background. It seems like he has a very attractive philosophy which I had hoped would lead to greater detailed policy objectives and plans.

      • by lenski ( 96498 )

        I am all for UBI if it can be implemented intelligently.

        The money quote:

        Remove loopholes and incentivize productivity as much as possible.

        Is that possible? Philosophically, I am attracted to the concept but have a concern that the UBI would be the topic of ugly political (or worse, violent) struggle: Those on UBI want bigger UBI, those whose work (or those whose AIs work) want smaller UBI. It seems fraught with subjectivity.

        Some rational way to balance those two forces must exist or a society implementing UBI would ultimately fail.

      • Very important to watch : Humans Need Not Apply by CGP Grey : https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

        While I don't agree with everything, I like that video since it states a fact : human productivity increases and AI is a real game changer, so human needs will likely not follow.

        What I also like is that he doesn't try to draw conclusions. The conclusion "hence we need UBI" is missing a lot of details (how do we transition, how do we still keep human productive, will we be able to live without a goal or work ?

      • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @07:19PM (#53095815) Journal

        I am all for UBI if it can be implemented intelligently.

        Problem is, the math doesn't work. Lets say we pay out 100% of current federal revenue as UBI (setting aside the fact we'd still need Medicare etc). That's just over $10,000 per citizen. Is that even a subsistence wage? Will that even buy health insurance from the exchange? Heck, let's say all medical expenses are met by faerie dust. Is $10k really subsistence income in most of the US ? Even in rural areas, full time minimum wage is significantly more than that.

        And of course we can't give all the federal budget to the UBI. And we can't handwave medical costs. So it all comes down to assuming that some future tax increase will raise federal revenue in a way that no past tax system ever has (that is, bring in more than 20% of GDP). Good luck with that.

        • by lazlo ( 15906 )

          You're looking at it from an insufficiently revolutionary perspective. Sure, if we leave almost everything the same but try and implement a UBI, it'll be a colossal failure. But if we were to implement a UBI in a way that changes everything drastically, there might be a stable way to do it.

          Look at it this way: If you tell businesses that the minimum wage is now $0, and they now have a %50 tax on revenue (not profit, revenue), and that they should take into account both that new tax and the fact that all

      • But, I fear that something this radical is a non-starter for a lot of reasons, not least of which is because it is the much feared socialism which every Mercan knows is synonymous with evil...

        Much like socialized medicine (we have the VA), the US already has UBI. We have food stamps, welfare, and a couple other subsidies. Socialism isn't what made these previous incarnations horrible failures. It's was the overseers that run them, and the people receiving them. If there is even the slightest manner in which a government organization can be abused, people will abuse it on both sides of the line.

      • by lazlo ( 15906 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @08:03PM (#53096087) Homepage

        You incentivise productivity the same way you always have, by paying for it. The UBI just moves the incentive from "I have to do this or I'll die" to "I can do this and make a better life for myself and my family".

        I'm generally a pretty conservative/libertarian sort of person, and as such UBI makes me more than a little uncomfortable, but I definitely think it's worth thinking about, and disussing amongst people who won't react to it based on knee-jerk predispositions. And at some point, I think it may well become preferable to the alternatives. What kind of changes (both positive and negative) would we see if we used a UBI to completely replace welfare, SNAP, social security, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, and the minimum wage? It's hard to know, but from a basic trade-off standpoint, would the amount of people who decide that living on a UBI is enough for them and permanently slack off balance the amount of people who are afraid that if they get a job, their government checks will stop (whether or not that's a valid fear)? Would the economy find a new equilibrium where every job that Mike Rowe has showcased would suddenly become significantly higher-paying (and much more effort would go into automation for those jobs) because no one *wants* to do them, and people pre-UBI are only willing to if they have no other choices but starvation?

        And how would people abuse this system? If everyone has a guaranteed income for life, will people take advantage of the UBI-only "poor" by giving them loans that eat up their entire UBI and leave them just as broke as before? (The answer to that is yes, they will, so the real question is more like "so how do we prevent that from happening?")

        In the US, I've heard a lot of people talk about our "Puritan work ethic" that says that work is its own reward. I think a UBI would really put that to the test. If it's true (and I personally believe it is) then people will work, even for next to nothing, with a UBI to keep them afloat. Maybe we even get rid of some of the laws that were enacted to keep workers safe from abuse by their employers, because those laws presuppose that you *have* to work to survive and so if an employer is abusive you don't have the freedom to say "screw you, I quit." (Or the laws are based on the notion that work is a finite resource, so if I'm working 80 hours a week, I'm taking food out of the mouths of someone who *could* be working half of those hours)

        All in all, I think it's a fascinating subject, and one that deserves a ton of thought. Unfortunately, it touches so many nerves and goes against so many deeply held beliefs that it's hard to have a conversation about it that doesn't quickly devolve into an ugly mess (see also: this whole slashdot post) And that's a shame.

    • I disagree that this isn't a problem for the geek workforce. As an earlier posting showed, there have been massive layoffs in tech this year and the next recession is likely to come from the bursting of another tech industry bubble. So what Stern is saying has plenty of relevance here, unless of course you're drinking Trump's kool-aid. I know a number of Trumpists, and the sole concession I've ever been able to get out of any of them is along the lines of "his message is great but his delivery sucks."
    • It is well known that the majority voice - both in staff and readers - at slashdot has leaned conservative for over a decade now.

      It's not a conservative or liberal issue, it's a fringe issue. Gary Johnson is open to the idea [basicincome.org], and Milton Friedman supported something similar (he called it negative income tax). Bernie Sanders is ambivalent in his support for it [medium.com].

      In a world where we are deciding an election based on whether to invade Russia, whether reality TV qualifies you for the presidency or not, whether it's worse to grope a woman or defend a groper.........and in a world where people decide the answers to those questions based on

    • Except that it is a technology problem and that cheaper labor is a temporary substitute for eventual automation. Anything that can be off-shored can and will be automated, so especially the countries that are benefiting from offshoring will have a hard and quick fall due to automation. This is well explained in the book, "Rise of the Robots". https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Ro... [amazon.com]

    • The bigger problem with this article though is that it really doesn't belong here. This is not a technology issue, or even a science issue. This is an economics issue, and a monetary issue. The jobs aren't going away because people here are being replaced by better technology, the jobs are going away here because people are being replaced by workers in other countries who can work for less.

      To clarify the identified problem and purpose of this article being on Slashdot, TFS pretty much clearly stated that this is about the issue of technology replacing jobs, not shitty foreign policy. Yes, this and H-1B issues are related, but they certainly do not replace each other as we talk about what forces in play will ultimately reduce employment for all humans.

    • by ndogg ( 158021 )

      the jobs are going away here because people are being replaced by workers in other countries who can work for less.

      Bollocks. They're being replaced by robots too. [bbc.com]

    • The jobs aren't going away because people here are being replaced by better technology, the jobs are going away here because people are being replaced by workers in other countries who can work for less. These actions are of course being rewarded by the boards of the companies who are doing this.

      Simply not true. Improvements in automation have made it more economical to automate than to send jobs overseas. [fivethirtyeight.com]

      Also, the world doesn't have an endless supply of people willing to work for pennies. Sooner or later, people in developing countries will demand a higher standard of living. When that happens, labor costs increase dramatically. [cnn.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 17, 2016 @05:45PM (#53095023)

    How many people farmed in 1700? When everyone stopped being farmers did the world end? No we found other stuff to do.

    Did the world end when punch card operators stopped being needed?

    There's more than enough to be done that requires humans.

    • Not anymore:
      https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Ro... [amazon.com]

    • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @06:34PM (#53095521)

      How many people farmed in 1700? When everyone stopped being farmers did the world end? No we found other stuff to do.

      Did the world end when punch card operators stopped being needed?

      There's more than enough to be done that requires humans.

      The only thing we have "more than enough" of on this planet is humans to employ, which does nothing but exacerbate the issue.

      Oh, and stop painting history as if things worked out "just fine" for all those who did lose their jobs to technology decades or centuries ago. People lost their ability to work. They lost their ability to feed their families or themselves. People died because of it, so enough with the ignorance already.

      Also, we as a society had time to adjust to the employment disruptions of yesteryear, and at least offer the unemployed a path to education and another career. We will not be afforded that luxury when A/I is the disruption, because there won't even be a valid reason to educate humans for employment.

  • We can keep working instead. Just pass laws that ban progress and you are done.

    • Nah, that won't work.

      We need to repeal the last couple centuries of progress first. Drop back to, say 1800, and we'll be fine.

      Well, except for the lifespans being reduced by ~30 years, and the diseases and regular starvation.

      But that's a small price to pay to keep people working, right?

      Seriously, we're heading into a period that makes the transition through the Industrial Revolution look minor. And, yes, we may find that a UBI works.

      Note that a UBI should replace all the myriad existing government ha

    • by Jhon ( 241832 )

      "Just pass laws that ban progress and you are done."

      Close. Pass laws that allow people to work for "free". And by "free" I mean to get your UBI check. Example, why pay the cost of an restaurant's "order taking robot" and all its upkeep' when a business can get 2 or 3 "free" workers? Maybe two levels of UBI - UBI employeed (get an extra 10% or 20% over UBI unemployed).

      There's a bunch of holes in my suggestion that I can see easily -- probably a bunch I haven't considered, too. But it's at least worth b

  • Here is a useful graph to look at [wikimedia.org]. You can see the chunk of people he is talking about in the peak at the left. I'm not sure if it's fair to talk about them as two different groups (rich/non-rich), but you can see, if you were one of the people on the far left, it would seem like all the people on the right were together in the group of "those making a lot of money." It might seem impossible for you to get into that group, and it might seem unfair.

    It helps to try to see both perspectives before starting
  • by FireballX301 ( 766274 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @05:50PM (#53095083) Journal
    Entrepreneurship is at a low (especially among Millenials) because of low consumer confidence - people are afraid for their financial security because of their job insecurity and are afraid to take risks, especially when their various insurances can be jeopardized and they have ever increasing rents and bills. This sticks people into dead end jobs.

    There will be a portion of people who sit on their asses with UBI on the dole, but anyone with even a hint of drive will strike out on their own and try to hit it big with whatever business idea they've been cooking up, knowing that there's a UBI safety net under them if the business happens to fail. Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of a capitalist country and is the only way people can avoid being turned into wageslaves, and anything that encourages entrepreneurship can help keep business competition thriving. I have complete faith that the additional economic activity from people who would go for the gold will sharply outbalance the people who end up sitting on their asses, who quite frankly wouldn't have done much other than sit at their dead end job anyway.
    • Instead of allowing employers to have an entitlement mentality to perfection or desperation, why not make it harder for them to not hire citizens, especially the ones looking for work? Get rid of guest workers, make offshoring a royal PITA, and penalize anyone that overlooks the long-term unemployed/discouraged.

      Entrepreneurship doesn't provide a steady income or a good upward path (unless you like casino-level risk), and UBI would serve to reward laziness.

      • I didn't mention outsourcing in any way. What I'm saying is that a UBI that provides a steady income (enough to avoid homelessness and starvation) would encourage entrepreneurship among those who would otherwise be stuck at some dead end 9-5 office job in order to pay for childcare and make their rent. The 'casino level risk' you're talking about is inherent with being an entrepreneur, and the idea of 'try, and if you fail, get up and try again' is a core value in American capitalism. A UBI helps people who
      • I'm not really sure you can legitimately classify providing the necessities of life (which is the goal of a UBI) as a "reward".
        • "I'm not really sure you can legitimately classify providing the necessities of life (which is the goal of a UBI) as a "reward"."

          No. The goal of UBI is to provide INCOME. That is, money.

          If they wanted to provide for the necessities of life (namely education, healthcare, food and shelter) they would be proposing so.

          Except they don't. Think deeply about why.

      • That's all fine and good but what you are proposing will only stave off the inevitable for at most a year or two. Automation is coming, it is already here and covering more ground faster and faster. Read "Rise of the Robots" it is an enlightening read.
        https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Ro... [amazon.com]

        How would you propose penalizing anyone that overlooks the long-term unemployed/discouraged? Who would you propose get penalized? What would be the mechanism for detecting and punishing these despicable beings?

      • by godrik ( 1287354 )

        Note that with a UBI given to citizen and permanent resident, hiring locals now cost one UBI less than hiring a foreign worker.

        Personnally, I see a UBI as a great way to sponsor the arts and community service.

        Clearly I am not an economist so the numbers would have to be run (maybe they have been). But I think it is interesting enough to be considered.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of a capitalist country

      While I agree the US economy depends on entrepreneurship, it's not for the reason many claim.

      You don't need new ideas to create demand. Human demand is almost unlimited and there are plenty of existing products and services we want, if we had the money for it.

      The reason that US depends on entrepreneurship is because anything that becomes predictable or a commodity is offshored (if not automated), and we cannot compete with 3rd-world factory workers wi

  • Plan B get into a nice club fed. MAX COPAY $3!

  • Apologies if I'm badly behind the discussion on UBI, but I'm curious about one aspect of its viability.

    One limiting factor in human reproduction rates is our ability to afford food, housing, and healthcare. To the extent that UBI would meet those needs, I would expect human populations to grow even further, until other limiting factors imposed an equilibrium.

    At that point, prices would rise, causing an unlimited inflationary bubble with the things UBI was meant to provide for. Because no matter what money

    • Human reproduction rates are trending downwards across the developed world (i.e. anywhere a UBI would be introduced) due to cultural factors and enormous expenditures involved with raising children. There's plenty of food and plenty of space available in most of the advanced world, yet the population of Europe is shrinking and the US is only growing slightly due to immigration.
      • But are populations trending downwards because two parents need to work to afford a house now and kids come later in life or not at all?
        • That's a question that has literal libraries worth of books and papers written about it. Lots of factors - women having careers, Millenials choosing to not marry or have kids, families only having one kid because they feel like they can only afford that one kid's college education, etc etc. Your guess is as good as mine.
    • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @06:01PM (#53095209) Homepage

      One limiting factor in human reproduction rates is our ability to afford food, housing, and healthcare. To the extent that UBI would meet those needs, I would expect human populations to grow even further, until other limiting factors imposed an equilibrium.

      This is demonstrably false; developed nations have much lower reproduction rates than the undeveloped nation. Once the risk of childhood mortality is eliminated, our species preferred reproductive strategy appears to be to use additional resources to improve the quality of our offspring rather than the quantity.

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @05:53PM (#53095111)
    The point about UBI is that it provides enough to get by on.

    That is fine as a temporary measure, but run the play through for a generation and see where it leads. The first thing that happens is that you have children growing up in an environment where there is no history of earning and no expectation of it. That leads to the question: why bother with an education? Once you start questioning that and consider the costs - books, all the stuff the "other kids" have, trips, the cost of transporting your offspring to school - it all adds up. And to what end? You don't have a job, the next generation is even less likely to have one - why expend energy and time learning stuff that will be no use.

    After that we're really sunk: we have a generation who might just have picked up the basics: speech, a little counting, but who needs nothing more. Even if they are only a proportion of the population they are significant: not least because they will have a vote. But not only do they have no skills, they have no ability to pass on to their kids anything of themselves.

    Sure, there would be machine learning available - but why bother, if you will never need that information or any skills.

    • by losfromla ( 1294594 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @06:30PM (#53095487)

      Or, it could be more like Star Trek. Where we essentially have reached a post scarcity society and people work for the self-actualization aspect of a job rather than the desperate need to struggle to survive. You might then have children who are raised by parents who have devoted their lives to perfecting some art form, advanced mathematics as a hobby, cooking or woodworking for the bliss of it. Then hey-lets-go-to-Mars because we haven't been there and I would like a challenge since I am not worried about a sickness putting my family in the poor-house for the next ten generations...

  • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @05:53PM (#53095117)

    People have been spouting this prophecy for more than 300 years, and its never come true. Despite incredible technological advancement, more people are employed now than in any point in history. Some people mightl lose out in the short term, but in the long term, the number of jobs only grows.

    A basic income may or may not be a good idea - I know in Australia, that the cost of the bureaucracy attached to our welfare system means that replacing it with a basic income (or better, negative income tax) is actually cheaper for the state. I don't know if the same is true in the US, bu t I wouldn't be surprised if it is.

  • Companies will bitch and whine and complain about leaving the country, doom and gloom (even though 99% wouldn't/won't). Politicians will bark like dogs about how jobs will suffer (even though your job is already on the chopping block by doing nothing). Bill will die on the vine, because Joe Sixpack and Jane RocketScience don't care about the problem beyond their own self-interests (like we have since ever). Don't even get me started about the 'baby-factory cheats robbing us hard working citizens dry' ads wh

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @05:55PM (#53095139)

    Cut full time down to 30-32 hours to start! and then start to work on fixing the lack of salary OT or having some kind of limits.

    After some time make full time 20 hours a week.

    • by losfromla ( 1294594 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @06:38PM (#53095549)

      This is a fantastic idea as well. It might be a way to start heading toward UBI. Maybe we'll never get there but it is a good start. How about German/EU length vacations rather than the paltry two weeks we currently get?

  • Shorter hours (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @05:59PM (#53095185) Homepage

    We need to plan for a future where people work a lot less hours. Either 4 days a week, or the standard 5 days but with three month vacations. We already have examples of how this can work. There are plenty of YouTube channels of people who work for a while and then travel for a while e.g. Sailing La Vagabonde, Kombi Life, SV Delos (or at least they did before they became YouTube celebrities).

    For people in NorthAmerica both of these options will sound shocking and impossible to implement in practice, even though Europe is not far from already having those in place***

    *** This is not unlike universal healthcare, which works quite well in every developed country in the world, yet it is assumed to be utopic (or straight out communist) in the USA.

  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @06:01PM (#53095213)

    Andy Stem should be unemployed and starving with that stupid pronouncement. Like all of us are starving since computer automation has done away with our office jobs....HA!

    Just wait till we put everything on the net with the little rice-grain sized chips that are coming out, IT infrastructure will have to grow by a factor of 100.

  • Reading the titel: I know he mattered alot but Steve Jobs have been dead for half a decade by now and while it is clearly a huge lose of creativity (rounded conners and all) I do not think we need to transit to UCI over it.

  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @06:05PM (#53095241)
    At the very least, yet another utopian ideal doomed to be shredded on the jagged rocks of reality. The only way the UBI can work is if there's some magical way to get everyone to "give according to his abilities" while being satisfied with "getting according to his needs".
  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @06:05PM (#53095247)

    "What's your thoughts on this? Do you think in the next two-three decades to come we will have significantly fewer jobs than we do now?"

    I think we're asking the wrong question here, since the presented question (and answer) is rather obvious.

    It's also rather obvious who will be paying for everyone else when it is only those who "own" who are employed.

    Given that fact, the far more relevant question is quite simple; Recognizing history, what the hell makes governments think they will actually collect on the taxes they expect to get from the uber-rich in order to pay for UBI when they can't even properly collect taxes from the financially elite today?

    Yeah, you're right. There is a huge distribution problem, and it starts with correcting the tax burden distribution.

  • by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @06:09PM (#53095287) Journal

    I suppose it's impossible to stop people from feeling that this time is different, but it's never different. According to Wikipedia:

    In 1870, almost 50 percent of the US population was employed in agriculture.[16] As of 2008, less than 2 percent of the population is directly employed in agriculture.

    The unemployment rate has shrugged off that "job disappearance", somehow. Now other swathes of jobs will also disappear, and people will find other things to do. There is nothing different about this new "technical revolution".

  • Over the course of human history, technology has made many jobs obsolete. But other jobs come available. We aren't facing a future of no jobs for people this time, either. What the latest technological advances have done, however, is make it financially viable to have goods and services performed by anyone anywhere in the world. What this means is that the western lifestyle is generally unsustainable. Global trade and manufacturing tends to raise the overall lifestyle of the country importing jobs (Chi

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @06:26PM (#53095457) Homepage

    There'll be plenty of jobs. What there won't be will be employee positions. Companies will increasingly replace employees with robotics and software. Work will shift to self-employment. A contract software engineer will contract with an accountant to handle accounting, with an advertising firm to handle ad placement, with their hosting services to handle routine administration of their servers and so on. An author would contract with someone to screen calls and mail and act as a secretary/receptionist, with someone else to proofread and edit their manuscripts and so on, and would publish directly through distribution channels like Amazon's Kindle Store. A seamstress would contract for advertising services and for janitorial services for the store. Lots of work, but no employees.

    My argument in favor of basic income is that starting all of that requires a certain stability. You can't start a contract software consulting business, or start writing full-time, or start a dressmaking store, if you're scrambling to keep food on the table and a roof over your family's head. You can't get a full-time job to cover the bills because those full-time jobs won't exist. So what's the alternative to a basic income if you want people to work? If it's not there they won't be able to afford to spare the concentrated effort needed to get a successful business off the ground, it'll all be sucked up by the scramble to get enough cash this week to buy groceries. If they put in the effort, their family'll be out on the streets and starving in the time it takes for the effort to start producing results.

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @07:03PM (#53095741) Journal

    As a libertarian, many people expect I'm going to be completely against the concept of a UBI. However, that's not really the case. What I *am* against is the premature pushing of it on people in still-functional Capitalist society, which amounts to an appeal to convert to Socialism.

    The UBI makes complete sense as a way to handle the economy in a POST Capitalist world, which we're nowhere near ready to transition to. (Just because you have some fear-mongering about specific industries like trucking going away doesn't mean "all the jobs are gone".)

    From what I've observed on the hiring end of the equation? There are actually a lot of decent-paying, respectable jobs out there that go unfilled for months because the quality of the applicants is pretty terrible. My wife recently helped interview over a dozen people for a computer support job at a local college, and she showed me the "best of the bunch" of 40 or 50 resumes they received. We were laughing at how bad several were, including misspellings and people who had NO clue how to sell themselves as having any useful skills.

    When they finally did interview 4 or 5 people? One of them showed up an hour late. They agreed to reschedule him and give him another chance, only because he had an excuse about a traffic accident on the highway keeping him from making it on time. When he was due to come back, he waited until 10 minutes before the scheduled time to tell them he wasn't interested any longer. Another candidate was a woman who actually sounded like she had good credentials on paper and they were excited to possibly offer her a position, but she was so "ho hum" about the whole interview, they decided to move on. She not only made no effort to dress nicely for it, but when asked questions about what she did in her previous jobs, etc. -- she just gave really brief answers, acted like she was bored, and didn't do a thing to impress anyone.

    I see evidence of a similar mindset in other areas too, including this uproar over a $15 minimum wage.... In reality? You should really be able to eliminate the "minimum wage" completely and it would make no real difference. Why? Because first of all, there's no one number anybody can quote you that *really* makes sense as THE proper starting wage to pay people that's "fair" instead of "unfair". Depending on where you live in the country, the cost of living is radically different, for starters. A very small percentage of people in America actually work for the mandated minimum wage, and when they do? A big percentage of THOSE are people who earn tips - meaning it's almost not even fair to count them in those totals to begin with. What you wind up left with are a lot of people who don't really need a "living wage" in the first place. (For example, many of the mentally or physically handicapped people are already receiving SSI benefits, and can't earn much of their own income or they lose those. Yet they want to feel like productive members of society and get out of the house. So they'll accept very low paying jobs, doing such things as putting advertisements in envelopes. They don't really WANT a higher wage because it'd put them in a much worse situation overall than what they get without it.) But people keep pushing for this with the mindset that by boosting the minimum by another $X per hour, that translates to "across the board" increases of about the same amount. And that, in turn, means they can do some minimally skilled job of limited real value to an employer but receive the type of pay you should really only get for doing something much more valuable to society. I don't believe that really works except in the short-term, before the overall economy has time to adapt to the changes (inflation).

  • At what cost? (Score:5, Informative)

    by PhunkySchtuff ( 208108 ) <kai@automatLISPica.com.au minus language> on Monday October 17, 2016 @07:24PM (#53095829) Homepage

    The Adult Population of the USA [wolframalpha.com] is something like 194.5 Million people.
    Let's say that you can get by on $25,000 per year, tax free.
    Providing UBI for this many people will cost the economy 4.8 Trillion Dollars. Where is this going to come from?
    OK, let's scale this back a bit. We will give every adult in the USA $200 per week - $10,400 per year. We're still talking about $2.02 Trillion - this is 11% of the entire GDP of the USA.
    To put this in perspective, the USA spends $810 Billion on public education per year, $1.3 Trillion on pensions and almost $600 Billion on defence.

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