Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Subsistence Spending and the Hood Economic Multiplier

A person choosing not to work would necessarily spend every penny of UBI just to stay above the poverty line. Almost none of that would go out of the neighborhood. Even bus fare to the MegaMall is not figured into the poverty line.  Since poverty economies are generally cash economies, and the savings rate is essentially zero at the poverty line, the economic multiplier of each external dollar to the community is huge. Whether that external dollar comes from UBI, street vending, busking, or graft, that dollar supports many local businesses most of which buy locally. with cash.

A good lay explanation of the multiplier effect can be found here:

Thursday, January 5, 2017

UBI and VAST Stories

Jennifer and Kevin both of whom graduated in the middle of their class at the state college, without looking back quit their minimum wage jobs, all 4 of them, when UBI* was implemented and nostalgically bought the house Jen grew up in in the near suburb Jen's parents moved out of just before the neighborhood was redlined by the mortgage companies.  Her parents could see the transition coming and "took the money and ran" to a more desirable suburb.   Like many similar suburbs the expected influx from the Hispanic and black neighborhood never happened as the necessary infrastructure of clubs, stores, and restaurants was missing in the area and it was too far from the existing enclaves to be a desirable step up.    They had been living with Kevin's parents like most of their friends, but used the first of their UBI payments to move and unboard their new house.  Kevin's parents didn't charge them back room and board, and even loaned them the money for the down payment on the house. They were confident that they had brought the kids up right and they would find ways to supplement their UBI to pay them back. 

Jen and Kevin had chosen their neighborhood carefully: The houses were small but basically sound, an infrequent but reliable bus line ran through the area, and there was a defunct strip mall in walking distance with a large store suitable for a coop grocery/household goods store. There was some damage but Jenifer had some basic carpentry skills.  Her dad even gifted her his workshop tools which he hadn't touched since he moved to the country club suburb to indulge the passion for golf he shared with his family.  Several of their friends were artisans and aspiring restauranteurs.  Their local silo on Facebook had been hot since the UBI was announced.  As none were planning children in the near term the neighborhood school was targeted as a craft center.  

Kevin's subsistence job was a "manager" in a fast food franchise.  His chain like all the others found that the kiosks and robots could sell the loss leader dollar menu just fine, but that the profit making up-sale items were spoiling on the shelves.  Since Kevin was high functioning Down Syndrome his former boss was eager to get him back on the payroll at his former subsistence wage and working conditions but with Jen's social work degree to help with the negotiations, Kevin was able to argue that since the kiosks handled the VAST** calculations his up-sale personal skills were worth substantially more.  Sure enough, with Kevin roving the kiosks, helping as "needed" there were always long lines at his bank of kiosks, up-sales skyrocketed and the store became a notable VAST* contributor in the sea of basic meal stores.


Ashley was successful among her peers. She had a responsible job with reasonable hours that enabled her to "have it all:" after school care, a home, a paid for adequate car, and family health care from her employer. What her peers didn't know was that those frequent lunches with her boss included a dessert of rape for Mr. Grey. It was part of the job for Ashley. After school care, etc. left her no choice but to "Relax and enjoy it." A few months after making sure that the UBI would cover everything but the after school care, and banking most of her paycheck, she was able to let Mr. Grey know one Friday at quitting time that the rape was over along with her job.  Ashley had used those few months of after school care to get her resume polished, the cover letters and recommendations lined up and in envelopes that went out Saturday to the head hunters in her field.  She wasn't too worried, she had frequently thought about tightening her belt and being a stay at home mom although that wasn't her first preference, and the after school care paid for with her fuck Mr. Grey reserve gave her plenty of time for interviews.

Hat tip to Nyah Wynne Nyah Wynne from Facebook for Ashley's story concept.


Alexia aka Alex G. in the business world moved in as a rental housemate with a neighbor of Jen and Kevin and with a group of artisan friends lobbied for rights to the school.  She invested her entire savings in code compliance and renovation of the school library/stage.  She had always dreamed of becoming a promoter for her friends' bands, but neither she nor her friends had the time to develop the level of professionalism to support a local venue while working two or three jobs to support their art.  An older couple she knew who were employed at a downtown restaurant heard about her venture and asked if they could run a bistro and bar in her venue using the school kitchen for catering. They had their eye on the cafeteria as a restaurant, but the startup costs of the bistro were more in line with their resources. They had some savings that they could invest and Alex recognized the value of turning her venue into a nightclub to attract established entertainers to her little venue, using her friends as openers.  The city was happy to cooperate as nightclubs were good generators of VAST revenue.  The basic retail beverage category was a generic soda, and fancier drinks and called liquors were in a respectable VAST category. 

Mary and John adapted the kitchen to modern standards with untaxed pick, place and flip robots for the basic bistro foods. John was an excellent chef so made to order gourmet meals were added to the menu.  Each table had an electronic order pad for the basic items with a note that the servers had the day’s specials.  Servers were a relatively low cost employee as many people enjoyed the work and the basic untaxed floor was low so servers to the basic meal tables were a nominal expense.  Servers with up-sale skills shared the added value of the gourmet meals with John and both were subject to the VAST tax on services which was built into the price of the up-sale on which the VAST goods tax was paid by the consumer.  It is little wonder that communities liked nightclubs.  Mary chose not to charge for the added value to her hosting services and paid no VAST but took the added value as profit in the business.


This group of stories (A work in progress. All are invited to create stories with or without VAST in the comment section) explores a society with a *Universal Basic Income (UBI) and a **Value Added by Status Tax (VAST) The basic assumption is that the evolving world standard of a right to medical care, education through whatever level you can get admitted to, including vocational education, basic transportation infrastructure, and UBI is funded by a progressive consumption tax.

**VAST For each category of goods and services that people and businesses use a basic level of subsitence is established that is untaxed. Home meals basic unprepared food at a local store is a home category. Simple restaurant meals as in licensed and inspected food trucks or push carts, and fixed shops selling basic take-out meals with or without indoor seating. For skilled work establishments space for a person and herm tools. For an office a cube with a computer and desk. For retail, self-selection kiosks and a central check out.

A basic wage, that is a wage necessary to induce an unskilled UBI recipient to commit to a standard work week job, is untaxed. Skilled services would be taxed on the percentage of the basic wage that is needed to attract the specific skill. The wage VAT is a cost of doing business, necessary to induce the worker to accept the job.  The worker is not subject to additional taxes on income until is spent on consumption.  Robotics could also fit into the VAST framework. The cost of a dumb pick and attach robot might be assigned as basic. More sophisticated robotics would be subject to a VAST schedule.

A community would establish a basic value for each category.  Any enhancements to these basic levels would be reflected in the cost of the goods or services. A downtown restaurant with tables, service staff, concierges, and fancy decor would cost many times the basic value. Up to 2X basic, a 1% VAT based on the increment over basic would be added to the bill. At 3X basic, the VAT would go to 2%.  At 4X basic the VAT would be e.g. 4%.  At 10X basic the VAT might be 20%. At some point the VAT would reach 100% that is, half the cost of the good or service would be VAT. Levels would be adjusted according to the values of UBI, medical, and government services needed giving politicians at all levels something to argue about. Localities might for example impose a VAST to fund operation and improvements to local infrastructure. Note that wages, capital gains, and net worth of a business or estate are not taxed at all until value is withdrawn and converted to consumption. 

**UBI is a stipend paid to all citizens and legal immigrants by direct deposit that is just adequate for all basic needs: housing, food, recreation, transportation, etc. A basic assumption is that in all modern countries single payer health care, education, and basic infrastructure is in place.  The UBI is unrestricted in use, the recipient may spend it as they please, trading off housing, food etc. without restrictions except that no other support is provided by the state.  Savings is not structured into the UBI which is intended to be basic needs only.  Any employment or self-employment income is supplemental to UBI and does not affect the basic stipend.  UBI is not subject to tax, as the assumption is that in a VAST system consumption supported only by UBI must be in the basic category to make ends meet.  Nicer goods and luxuries in higher VAST categories would be supported by employment of some variety. 

If an income tax is preferred a graduated tax would be imposed on all income in excess of UBI no matter how generated.  That is any income other than UBI must be reported and taxed accordingly.     

Friday, December 23, 2016

Humanism and Cancer.

From a friend's facebook post:

I have enjoyed this medium for a long time. I love you all including the asses, but no longer want to socialize here. I'm going to stick with my kind as suggested. God help you in the future with this mess.

Build your silo and kick out the asses. It is a social media. Social groups have standards of membership or they can't survive. "They drew a circle that kept me out, Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout." (Edwin Markham) And I own that circle. They are not welcome. There are times when inclusiveness fails. I never liked the end of the complete quote, 

I am a radical humanist in that all people are initially included in the humanist circle. They can opt out if they wish by behavior incompatible with humanism. This does not mean they are not still human it just means that they may need to be controlled or eliminated humanely for the protection of humanism.

Humans and humanism are prone to cancerous growths. I did not hate the cancer that was destroying my vocal instrument. But it could not be allowed to do so. The only choice was to poison all rapidly dividing cells in my body, dangerous to be sure, and in fact nearly fatal, but it was a risk I had to take to continue to enjoy my instrument. 

The cancerous cells in humanism must be treated in the same way. Do what it takes to eliminate them even if it is dangerous. If they take over the body politic humanism will be dead anyway.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Stories and Tips about Traveling for a Living.

You know you travel too much when the receptionist at the airline club greets you at 6:30am with "I see it is Omaha this week," and hands you your boarding passes.  (Before TSA.) 

One thing I learned early on, was to stay at the same hotel chain and always ask for a right hand room.  That is the door is on the left and bed etc. on the right.  That way when you get up in the middle of the night to get rid of the used alcohol you know where the furnature is and don't run into it.  The other thing I learned was to unpack as soon as I got to the hotel, hide all the evidence that it is a hotel room, and turn it into home even if it is for one night. The familiar setup of the right hand room makes it easy to forget it is just another hotel room.

A fun NYC Blizzard memory was one I missed. I barely made a plane in Lincoln Nebraska when the gate agent asked if I wanted to spend the weekend in Lincoln or Chicago. I asked why and he said they have just shut down the entire East Coast. I called my favorite hotel at ORD and booked a room with key at Concierge Desk. They asked on Fri? Why. I told them EC shut down. Some shouting on the other end of the line. When I got to the concierge he said thanks to you we were able to keep the day shift on overtime, here is your key to the Luxury Suite as a reward. It was there I listened to Koch tell everybody to stay home and have a weekend party.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Choral Fundamentals.

Choral singing whether 2 or a thousand if done beautifully demands brain synchronization on so many levels that a chorus is truly one voice.  This is certainly a genetic remnant from tribal societies or even before.  I am convinced that a good chorus hears the same music subconsciously moments before singing their part. Where this music comes from, the conductor, the lead singer, or the "ether" direct from the composer/arranger is at this point unknowable.  There are intelligent people that think that every thought or impulse from everyone living or dead is present in some space that is tuneable by the proper receiving brain, and music lends some credence to this for me, but I still don't believe it.  The music of the composer/arranger is somehow embedded in the score that the chorus can resonate with subconsciously as a group.  The melodies, the rhythms, the harmonies and the tempos are of course simply marks on some holder.  But when performed all come together to recreate the mind of the composer/arranger. 

To a lesser extent all music requires this synchronization but vocalization is so fundamental that it involves most of the brain.  All must be in sync with the composer/arranger   (Brava, Alice Parker) even if not physically present.  

Every good chorus I have sung with, and there have been many, has been an extremely tight social group where all members have liked and respected each other.  Years later they can reunite either individually or as a group and it as if no time has passed. The few outliers don't tend to last long no matter how well they sing.   

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Not Left Wing

A decent and useful exposition of the traditional leftist positions. 


You don’t have to like me. You just have to believe I’m a human being.

The article above is an eloquent exposition of one the major tenets of humanism.  Once anyone, for any reason, becomes the enemy, the adversary, or in some sense other, and they forfeit humanity in the tribe or movement mores all hope for reconciliation is lost.  

You don't have to like herm or herm cause, but if you decide that hesh is less than human all that is left is hate.  And hate always leads to self-destructive actions.  You may oppose herm and resist as possible, or even ostracize herm if some reconciliation is impossible, but it is critical to remember that all are human, doing the best they can as they see it for humanity. 

It may be that another human or group of humans may opt out of the humanist circle by their behavior and it may be necessary to isolate them or eliminate them as humanely as possible, but they are and must remain human. 

Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes.  Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend.  If not you can kill him without hate -- and quickly.  Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love, Robert A Heinlein, 1973. 

Identity Politics.

The problem with identity politics is not class but divisiveness. If Black Lives Matter were Marginalized Lives Matter they would have a much more saleable product. As soon as any group no matter how important their grievance is, puts that grievance against the rest of the world as special for their group the rest of the world will identify a similar grievance for a group and create an us vs. them situation. 

How about Victims of Law Enforcement Discrimination Matter Anyone jailed by a corrupt judge, stopped and frisked by a cop, was a victim of civil forfeiture, women stopped and propositioned by a cop, or a bunch of other things that disproportionately affect blacks and hispanics now have a common cause. Sure the most affected will lead the way but not draw attention to their group for discrimination.

Advocacy politics has a place but only when they make common cause with all in the same situation. If the Hispanic Caucus, and the Black Caucus and the poor feminists caucus were working with Warren, Sanders and others to break the banksters that prey on them all they would have a much stronger political story to tell. One of the reasons Black Lives do not matter is that for decades they have been redlined out of the middle class by the banksters. The enemy is not the white male supremacists or even the white supremacist cops, it is the banksters who kept blacks and to a lesser extent Hispanics and single women locked in the ghetto even when it is a nicer ghetto.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Fables

Nyah Wynne As for the point in question here: yes, I know your dim memories of your 3rd grade history textbook is telling you that the first Thanksgiving was a happy union where the nasty Indians who had been capturing hapless Englishmen finally did something nice for once and helped the poor Pilgrims survive a harsh winter, but no, that didn't happen. 

The actual history is that the first Thanksgiving feast was called by John Winthrop as a celebratory feast to welcome home the soldiers that had just massacred the entire Pequot tribe, who they'd declared war on because they wanted the land, and used as an excuse the fact that the Pequot had killed a slaver.

I learned a nicer version in my youth where the Pequots were not savages but recognized the plight of the innocent, distressed Pilgrims and set a feast before them.e  Somehow Pocahantas was involved in the scene.  Not being a history buff by design especially in the third grade, the whitewash I learned remained as a nice fiction for the celebration. 

The family and friends dinner with thanksgivings common to all traditions became the focus of the holiday.  Almost as many thanksgiving fables were around the tables as there were people so the traditional ones were lost. 


Monday, November 14, 2016

The Jefferson Republic

The Unanimous Declaration of the States of the Jefferson Republic.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these communities and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the party of the President Elect of the United States of America is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have limited the voting rights of all people by gerrymanders, voter ID laws, apportioning polling places to favored populations, and outright voter intimidation.

They have suppressed peaceful demonstrations of dissent with the improper use of military and police powers.

They have encouraged armed protests sympathetic to their political ends.

They have failed in their constitutional duties to fill vacancies in necessary judicial offices.

They have imposed religious law on secular citizens.

They have encouraged assault against women and minorities.

They have discriminated against minorities in law enforcement including but not limited to stop and frisk laws, escalating minor violations through unwarranted use of deadly force and draconian sentences to private prisons for minor infractions.

We, therefore, the Representatives of Jefferson Republic as a result of a plebiscite of all residents of the individual states on January 14 and January 15, 2017 appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these States solemnly publish and declare, That these united States are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the Former United States of America and that all political connection between them and the Former United States of America, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

With Honor and respect to the Late Thomas Jefferson of the Virginia Colony.


Pursuant to this declaration all officials duly elected to State and Local offices shall continue in their duty to their constituents or resign their office.  Officials duly elected to National offices of the United States of America will transfer their allegiance to the Jefferson Republic or resign as their conscience dictates. 

An election will be scheduled in the Jefferson Republic on November 11-12, 2017
with all residents over the age of 18 years elligible to vote.  Voting will be preferential among all candidates for office.    


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Solar Roof Tile Demonstration Project

Tesla has a perfect demonstration project for their cooperation with utilities right in their back yard.  There is a fallow suburban solar farm in West San Jose, Santa Clara, and Cupertino that is waiting to be developed.  

The area was developed as single family large homes in the 1950s and most of the homes are oriented east-west with large south facing pitched roofs many of which are in need of new roofing.  All are grid connected and there are several PG&E substations that can site industrial Powerpack load management systems to deal with the solar hockey stick in the evening.  

Tesla should combine with PG&E to offer free south roof replacement using the just announced attractive solar tiles.  Each roof would generate a large excess of peak power 263 (average per year) sunny days even if the homeowner is given free power in exchange for the roof easement.  Tesla and PG&E might also consider offering a Powerwall 2 to each homeowner to provide distributed management of the hockey stick peak reducing the distribution losses.  Off peak power and weather backup would still be provided by PG&E from current wind and conventional generation.  

The whole project could be phased in as tiles become available on a worst roof first basis, with early load managed installations heavily advertised by both Tesla and PG&E to build local and remote demand.  Note that as demand builds at any time the free could become reduced cost roofing replacement.

A suburban solar farm has none of the environmental, visual, and distribution issues of a remote solar installation, and the maintenance infrastructure is already in place.  

Update:  According to the recent pricing annoucement of $25-35K with powerwall storage and energy management system for a full roof solar system the system in West San Jose would not only provide free power for the life of the system but on sunny days would produce excess power in large quantities during the peak hours when commercial AC demand is highest.  Solar city could contract with the homeowner to purchase that excess power and resell it to PG&E providing another income stream for the homeowner.  Assuming the powerwall system could be managed to feed power into the system in the evening without jeopardizing night and rainy day reserves, still another revenue stream would be available to the homeowner through Solar City.  Elon Musk could now say "Not only will your roof look better, last longer, and power your house, it will also provide a revenue stream to help with other household expenses. Why would you choose any other replacement roofing?  In West San Jose the payback might be short enough that replacing a slightly worn roof might be an attractive investment.   

Disclaimer: I am a minor stockholder in Tesla and Solar City and am not a candidate for the program as I already have solar power. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why Reading is Fundamental.

This post was stimulated by the following retweet.
Jonathan Korman
3 hrs · 

Retweeted Naval Ravikant (@naval):
Text is precise, compact, indexable, transmissible, translatable, asynchronous & quick to absorb. Intelligent, busy people prefer text.
@naval is obviously talking about SMS text, but it is even more apt for extended texts. Please note the efficiency of a good tweet.  (If I had more time I might use Twitter.)

People have always asked me why I never got into movies, YouTube (except for music), or TV especially movies and TV shows based on books I have read and liked.
The most important reason is that I learned to read before I had even heard about movies and TV which hadn't become popular yet.  I read everything I could get my hands on. I once had a race down a school library book shelf with another reader friend of mine.  I had an adult library card at 8 yo. courtesy of my activist mother who went to bat for me at the local library which I used almost exclusively as the young adult section books were off limits to my elementary card.  I frequently strayed into the adult fiction section and found that I could learn about important social issues there more efficiently than in the news or the history sections.  A good fiction author must write believable stuff in order to sell no matter what the genre.

For me the most important advantage of text is that you must supply your own emotional context to text.  Visual and even aural media are designed to manipulate the emotional state of the consumer.  Humans are story driven, and the invention of writing gave readers much more control over the emotional impact of the story.  Not completely, of course, a good writer can influence the emotional content of his words, but the reader has a chance to process that emotional content at leisure if desired.

Another advantage of text is that it clearly indicates the intelligence, education, and sophistication of the writer by asynchronous textual analysis.  A speech or video may sound plausible, but analysis of the transcript is critical to evaluating the plausibility of the actor.