Showing posts with label Social humanism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social humanism. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Collection Post for Basic Income and Living Wages

This post is a working collection of blue road thinking on UBI and LW.  It is subject to additions, editing and other annoyances.  A more readable version an be found at

Once again a guest post to start things off.  

July 19, 2015 at 4:43am

The biggest reason I support UBI (Universal Basic Income) has nothing to do with our possible automated future, as labor becomes less essential, or at least as we need much less of it, though that's a great reason to support it. It's not even about eliminating poverty or making the unemployment rate a non-issue, though those are very good reasons too.

The reason I want a UBI is to make work at least -technically- optional. I want this because so long as work is not optional, so long as it is mandatory, it is coercive. I want UBI so that every low wage worker whose boss screws them on hours, who reprimands them for taking sick days, who asks them to work too fast in unsafe conditions (see the current fast-food lawsuit), every young employee whose boss secretly grabs their ass while no one is looking, who's constantly making lewd comments, or racist comments, or any other sort of hateful bullshit... So that every employee who finds themselves trapped in the fiefdom of some petty little tyrant of a boss, which is actually The Majority Of Low End Workers, so that they can say:


So that they can really, truly, meaningfully walk the fuck away. And not have it mean they end up on the streets or their kids starve or they find themselves turning tricks to keep the water running and the lights on. Or for that matter just ending up in yet another job with a slightly different petty tyrant. And they can do this, deal with this, without having to deal with lawyers or Union Reps, who though are better than -not- having them it'd be nicer to just be able to do it ourselves. Because if -enough- of them (us) say 'NO' to this petty fucking bullshit, then firms will be forced to stop letting the petty bullshit happen (those who fail to will simply not get workers), and work in general will end up less awful for everyone.

Because the ability to say 'NO' to someone who's actively abusing you... that should be pretty high on the list of 'Liberties' worth defending. In my mind.

GDP is ultimately people buying goods and services from other people. Somebody has to flip those burgers the basic income recipients are buying. 
Since low income people spend locally and buy from people they know (not robots) the income from outside the local economy stays in the local economy and all are better off. The multiplier effect of the basic income or entry wage dollar is nearly 3 times. That is, the burger flipper who is paid somewhat more than the basic income or hesh wouldn't work, spends most of herm income on local goods and services, creating more local demand for those goods and services.   Also some basic income recipients will use their time to pursue a dream of artisan goods production, a local service like a band or restaurant or performance venue.  Some will succeed and generate more local income. 

Eliminating corporate welfare in the form of support for inadequate wages for minimum wage workers would be the first step to a more equitable distribution of the GDP.  Instead of welfare to supplement inadequate earned income each adult citizen or green card holder would be provided with one half the income necessary for housing, medical care, education,  and local transportation for a family if married, less if single.  This assumes that a two parent household is preferred for raising children.  Single mothers would be encouraged to partner up with an interested co-parent of any gender to form a family unit enabling the larger per person payment. 

Eliminating welfare with all its administrative costs would more than pay for the BI for those unable to work or have better things to do with their time than unskilled minimum wage labor. Those with better things to do will probably provide taxes and purchase goods and services which will cover their BI. Everybody wants to start a restaurant, or write a graphic novel, or sing a song. Some of them would actually succeed if they didn't have to worry about feeding the family first.

It wouldn't take much transfer of wealth from the hoarders to have a profound effect on the GDP. If the corporate welfare queens had to compete for unskilled labor with a UBI minimum wage laws would be anachronistic. Market wages and working conditions for unskilled labor in a competitive market for those willing to work at those jobs would move even unskilled laborers into the low middle class.

The economic argument for a UBI is that it is outside money to low income people who spend locally for necessities provided by mainly other low income people. The bodega proprietor, (there would be food trucks on every corner) and other neighborhood business would thrive and economic benefits would trickle UP to landlords, food truck lessors, food truck builders, etc. They might even buy a solar food truck with a Powerwall 2 from Tesla if they are really successful.

There are more houses off the market in the USA than there are homeless by a large factor. Sure they are in "undesirable areas" close in suburbs. But with UBI those areas could be quite desirable quickly. All the infrastructure is there for local living: streets; abandoned strip malls for locally run eateries and dry goods; and shuttered warehouses for local art venues, studios, and performing spaces that could be licensed to coops for code compliance by the cities. There are more houses off the market in the USA than there are homeless by a large factor. Sure they are in "undesirable areas" close in suburbs. But with UBI those areas could be quite desirable quickly. All the infrastructure is there for local living: streets; bus transit for infrequent trips out of the neighborhood; abandoned strip malls for locally run eateries and dry goods; and shuttered warehouses for local art venues, studios, and performing spaces that could be licensed to coops for code compliance by the cities.

Many of the people working those "backbreaking" jobs like truck farming, housekeeping, industrial cleaning, do them with considerable pride in their work in spite of the pay.  As noted above with UBI if these jobs need to be performed by people, they would have to be paid accordingly.  Some are now, as there are employers who want things done right, and you can't coerce a reluctant worker to insure only spot free table ware gets into the cupboard, and the out of the way corners are clean. 

One of the most important people in my sister's terminal support team was the custodian whose good nature, empathy, and respect for her family caregivers made life easier for all, as well as the fact that he kept her room spotless in spite of all the careless traffic.
If there were an UBI an income based progressive tax which would discourage wage based jobs, could provide the necessary revenues to support UBI, universal single payer Health Care and universal education. As could any of several business and financial taxes which would discourage employers and financiers.   

With UBI all taxes, business and personal could be consumption based with a progressive value added tax. 

Those wanting jobs would pay no additional taxes on income and those investing in jobs would not be taxed on business income from those created jobs.  But since both businesses and people consume goods, a VAT of some kind would be equitable.  With VAST people existing on UBI only could only consume at the basic level and pay little or no tax.  People with additional income from other sources and businesses supporting them would likely purchase goods and services above the basic level and pay a progressive tax on the difference in cost. 

The only way to prevent revolution by populist or pitchforks is to provide a way for people to opt out comfortably if not necessarily successfully. Providing basic needs for those who opt out, see Scandinavian socialism and post war unions, makes it possible for people to opt out of the zero sum game and still be human. In a modern society where mass production is essentially labor free, the consumption driver for the economy is gone. Some countries are recognizing this and providing a basic stipend that is liveable if not comfortable. Those who wish to contribute to society, and most reasonable people do, will find ways to contribute with artisanship, sale of intangibles on crowd funding sites, and innovation. None of which is possible for a person struggling to feed a family or even hermself.
A thorough analysis of the tax effects of UBI.  
Hat tip to @miniver 


J'Carlin said...
Why it is worth the daily slog through facebook.
J'Carlin said...
I learned about the TTJASI from a mentor at Pan Am. His advice: As soon as you save up enough "Fuck You Money" you can begin to do your job right. In a sense privilege, and/or another livable income in the family gives the same work freedom as FYM which is after all a relative term, but UBI puts a safety net under all who wish to "do their job right."
J'Carlin said...
Nyah Wynne Yes! Definitely. That's probably my number 2 top reason, in part because it's talked about very little. There are huge numbers of activities that people can engage in that are of real meaningful value to society that don't translate well into market value. Experimenting with art is a major one. Art sometimes pays off, sometimes doesn't, but all too often ends up either compromising itself in order to sell better or having to be fit into someone's spare time while they work some non-career, low end, dead-end job to survive. Other things include many sort of research, as finding grants can be as troublesome as trying to fund art. Care of children and the elderly sometimes pays but only if the ones being cared for can pay. In fact any sort of general service to the community tends to be deeply undervalued. The market values service to people according to their ability to pay, so serving the needs of 100 poor people is worth less than serving the whims of 1 wealthy person. There are all manner of truly valuable activities one can engage in that the market deems worthless.
J'Carlin said...
The compromises involved in selling art and research to the rich individuals and/or corporations is probably why real art and research so seldom see the light of day. On the hopeful side, the internet and crowd funding may be breaking the strangle-hold of the rich on both art and research. If you build it and post it on Facebook "The people will come."

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Is the Social Contract of Niceness Winning

So let’s talk about how beneficial game-theoretic equilibria can come to exist even in the absence of centralized enforcers. I know of two main ways: reciprocal communitarianism, and divine grace.
Reciprocal communitarianism is probably how altruism evolved. Some mammal started running TIT-FOR-TAT, the program where you cooperate with anyone whom you expect to cooperate with you. Gradually you form a successful community of cooperators. The defectors either join your community and agree to play by your rules or get outcompeted.
Tit-for-tat fails when the community hires enforcers for the tats.  Either vuvuzelas in fancy dresses in over decorated balconies who administer divine grace or community enforcers who inevitably fall victim to the Stanford Prison Experiment guard syndrome.  One would hope that the vuvuzelas would be immune to the guard syndrome, but the evidence is not hopeful. 

The most useful strategy for a community seems to be a variety of tit-for-two-tats.  Some forgiveness for transgressions but recognition of the fact that consecutive transgressions are socially dysfunctional.  This is particularly useful in social situations where communication is possible between the “players” and the first transgression can be identified as such and some sort of counselling available as to community standards.

Tit-for-two-tats is inherent in the UU First Principle of Radical respect.  The first transgression is attributed to ignorance of social standards and not malice.  The second transgression especially after the reciprocal “tit” even without counseling can be attributed to malice and appropriate action taken.    

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Michael Shermer The Moral Ark

Live Blog:  The Moral Arc

Chapter 2
Non-violence is becoming more effective is more effective in effecting social change since the violent elements in modern societies tend to eliminate themselves and fail to achieve the rather small minimum consensus to effect change.  This is not to say violence will be eliminated, we seem to be a violent species especially in small groups, but that it is becoming ineffective in creating social changes. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Criminal Justice

I tend to categorize crimes into at least three different categories. 

Victimless crimes: All of which are behavioral issues best treated as "illness."  Society may have valid reasons for prevention, but treatment in secured facilities if necessary is the only humane solution.  

Crimes against other people: Possibly behavioral issues, but society cannot afford not to have severe deterrence penalties.  Up to permanently removing the behavioral issues from the gene pool if possible, and from society if not.  

Crimes against society: Up to and including treason.  Deterrence penalties appropriate to the crime are the only possible solution.  Legislators may argue about "appropriate" but deterrence is the only solution.  Note that the deterrence is a cost benefit issue for the criminal.  Most famously "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country,"