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The Almighty Buck

Finland Considers Minimum Income To Reform Welfare System 755

jones_supa writes: The Finnish government is considering a pilot project that would see the state pay people a basic income regardless of whether they are employed or not. The details of how much the basic income might be and who would be eligible for it are yet to be announced, but already there is widespread interest in how it might work. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä has praised the idea, and he sees it as a way to simplify the social security system. With unemployment being an increasing concern, four out of five Finns are now in favour of a basic income. Sipilä has expressed support for a limited, geographical experiment, just like Dutch city of Utrecht is executing this autumn.
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Finland Considers Minimum Income To Reform Welfare System

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  • 4/5 in favor (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    does that say that 1/5 is paying for it?

    • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:5, Insightful)

      by danbob999 ( 2490674 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:02AM (#50354015)

      Nope, it doesn't. Believe it or not some people are not 100% selfish.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, exactly. The 20% of people who would stand to gain from this that don't want it are not selfish.

      • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:18AM (#50354181)

        Not wanting to give out welfare isn't a selfish proposition. I've spoken to social workers who themselves say they prefer not to put people on disability or other welfare programs if they can avoid it, because those people tend to find a comfort zone there and tend to stay that way for the rest of their lives, and it ends up being psychologically damaging to the recipient because they lose the will to improve themselves, end up with depression, etc.

        Not to mention, if everybody was that way, you'd start to see a gradual decline in GDP.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          I have heard poor people say that would rather starve to death or freeze to death or be punched in that face over and over again, rather than eat or sleep in a warm bed or not be punched in the face. Well, poor, crazy people at least or rich people claiming to be poor people on the internet, yeah, those buggers do it all of the time ;D.

          Easiest way to subsistence payments (this to replace the theft of the right to a subsistence existence, starve or work or kill) to all is nationalise financial services, so

        • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:42AM (#50354439) Homepage

          If you had a minimum level of income, sufficient for you to share a small apartment with a couple roomates and buy low budget groceries and bus fare and the like, but nothing else, would you just say "I've got it made!" and never work again?

          Believe it or not, the vast majority of people want to take steps to better their lives. They don't want to just sit around on their arse all day. They want to own things, they want to be able to do things - that's human nature. And people take on work to be able to afford the things that they want. People also work to avoid boredom and to have achievements they can feel proud of. It's simply not true that you have to threaten people with starvation to keep them working.

          One of the biggest discouragements to people working in most conventional welfare systems is that when they start working they lose their benefits. In some cases, they can even end up poorer by working; it's a counterincentive. Under a basic income scenario, this never happens - all work is extra money. And at the same time you ensure that nobody ever starves in the streets. Having such a safety net also ensures that people feel more free to work toward their passions and take big steps that they might otherwise have been too afraid to take for fear of ending up in the streets. And society ends up a better place, even more productive, when people are working in fields that they enjoy. It's a huge benefit to general happiness - which of course should be the goal.

          There's other benefits as well. Namely, it simplifies everything. Think of how many various social services are run for different people who have been disadvantaged by different situations. And all of the paperwork and review to see if people quality, and the effort to administer the programs, and ensure compliance, and this, and that. A large chunk of the existing welfare infrastructure can simply disappear if everyone has a minimum level of guaranteed income - X amount for each adult plus Y for each dependent child.

          There's a lot of good reasons for such a program.

          • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:5, Interesting)

            by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @11:51AM (#50355213)

            I am entirely in favor of a basic income that you get even if you work at other jobs. I think that the automation and structural unemployment we are seeing is the first stages of automation being able to relieve humans of drudgery.

            Unless the profits are distributed more evenly, then you just have more starving people and more money to the already rich. I don't even think the rich themselves care about that except for the fact that they are driven to drive up their "high score". To that end, raising that money should be done by putting in specific inputs at points in the economy where it is easiest to realize income from profits that are clearly due to automation.

            If we do this right, we can have a solid economy where people still can and do want to work, but we reduce the possibility of people falling through the cracks.

            Note, this is not "taxing the rich". While the rich do realize benefits from automation, there are many, many places where the money saved by automation is diverted. Anyone who believes you can simply upend rich people and shake the money out of their pockets to support this has no understanding of how you would really support such an income long term.

            Some people in certain industries would likely lose some or all of their business/jobs. Just like the tax preparers might be out of a job if you made all taxation one flat tax that you got a bill for every month, there are businesses and other people that siphon off the largess afforded by higher production who do not show up in some Forbes of Fortune list of rich people.

            This system should not borrow to fund a basic income system unless that borrowing is either for cash flow, or is done in a manner that does not encourage spending more than percentage of GDP that is produced by automation as determined in some scientific manner. The only reasonable theory backing basic income is that automation and efficiency removes drudgery which creates a surplus that can be used to support people who would otherwise work at drudgery. Borrowing to achieve some number and creating huge amounts of debt is the denial and possibly the falsification of that theory and is effectively taking money from people in the future for the comfort of people now.

            Aside from how this is funded, my only other problem with any of this is that it would likely be administered by *the* government. I'll grant you, it's the obvious solution, but it is very dangerous in the sense that you become even more dependent on the organization that you should be voting every few years to keep in check.

            I think basic income and welfare should be administered by entities that are solely and totally devoted to only maintaining those services with no extra power and no extra authority except what they need to maintain the specific system. They have no army, they have no police. They can tax or raise money, but they use other groups to enforce it. The managers of that system are elected specifically for maintaining that system and while politics are probably unavoidable, it might give us the ability to dispense with clueless generalists and lawyers (ie. legislatures) from trying operate a system they don't understand.

            In other words, I should have an option of experts on the economy and administration to pick from. Not careerist legislators. I want people who I can trust to give it to us straight and not allow us to pressure them into providing us bread and circuses that our economy cannot afford. I want to elect people who are good at their job, not just good at telling me what I want to hear. I should be able to have the choice to elect a person who I completely disagree with on foreign policy, but they are right-on with managing a basic income, and not feel nervous that they're going to nuke Iran or something.

            While it should be a benefit of citizenship, it needs to be understood not as a "human right" but as the expression of human progress in production and economic growth. No one has a right to live. No one has a right to eat,

          • If you had a minimum level of income, sufficient for you to share a small apartment with a couple roomates and buy low budget groceries and bus fare and the like, but nothing else, would you just say "I've got it made!" and never work again?

            Right now? Yes.

            I will also add:
            When I first graduated from college, I had no clue how to find a job. It was really stressful and tough, and I wanted to give up. I didn't though, because I didn't have a choice. Having a basic income in that scenario would have been a major disincentive, and I wouldn't have found a job for a long time, if ever.

          • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:5, Interesting)

            by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @12:42PM (#50355793)

            Believe it or not, the vast majority of people want to take steps to better their lives. They don't want to just sit around on their arse all day. They want to own things, they want to be able to do things - that's human nature.

            I don't think it's safe to say the vast majority. A majority? Maybe, it's hard to say, but I kind of doubt it, and I'll explain why. When I was taking business courses in college, I remember reading two conflicting theories about what motivates workers.

            One of them went something like: Most employees are inherently lazy, and only by constant supervision, and proper discipline can you get them to continue to work most efficiently. This was the prevailing theory until about the 1940s

            The other one went something like this: Most employees want to work, and if you give them more autonomy, more power to make their own work decisions, and more flexibility in work hours, then they are happier and more productive workers. (This theory largely prevailed after Henry Ford set a global trend of 40 hours a week, taking Saturday off, and giving higher pay to encourage his more productive employees to stay with his company rather than go elsewhere.)

            Anyways what I'm getting at is this: Both theories are still employed to this day, and each different theory is applied to different types of work. For work on a massive scale that is highly time sensitive, the first theory prevails. For example, UPS is notorious for micromanaging their truck drivers (I recommend further Googling of that rather than explain it here) whereas companies like Google that are looking for creative and engineering talent needed to create the "Next Big Thing(TM)", and those people must have autonomy.

            I personally think that the first theory represents the majority however, namely because it applies to some of the most numerous jobs in the world, such as fast food workers, janitors, etc, whose employers rely on them to do menial tasks, and do them quickly, but the quality of employees that they find at the wages they can afford are NOT the self motivated types.

            In addition to what I said above, there's another growing demographic that's sort of the elephant in the room here: The basement dweller who spends his days playing World of Warcraft while his parents work. I've seen a lot of these, and IMO they're the biggest cause of the obesity epidemic. If you give these people free money, believe me, they don't move on unless they are literally evicted. I'm sure you guys have heard the horror stories about video game addiction where such and such person loses their job, their wife, and their house, while they were playing video games.

            Personally, I don't believe in such a thing as video game addiction, because I've seen people do these things without video games (sometimes it's TV, sometimes it's drug abuse, sometimes it's the religious belief that "god will save me from myself", etc.)

            And finally one more point that ties back to the theories about why people work: Both of the theories that I mentioned above stipulate that money itself does not motivate people to work harder; so for example, giving somebody a raise doesn't mean they'll be more productive (if you believe otherwise, I'm sorry, but all of the evidence so far says you're just wrong) but it does mean they're more likely to continue working for you instead of somebody else.

            But why am I mentioning this? Simple: If you pay somebody money to do nothing, then they're also more likely to continue doing nothing.

            • by Etcetera ( 14711 )

              In addition to what I said above, there's another growing demographic that's sort of the elephant in the room here: The basement dweller who spends his days playing World of Warcraft while his parents work. I've seen a lot of these, and IMO they're the biggest cause of the obesity epidemic. If you give these people free money, believe me, they don't move on unless they are literally evicted. I'm sure you guys have heard the horror stories about video game addiction where such and such person loses their job, their wife, and their house, while they were playing video games.

              A term used in parts of Europe, heavily in Japan (especially within the last 10 years or so), but that's virtually non-existent in the US is "NEET [wikipedia.org]" -- "Not in Education, Employment, or Training (school)". There's a little bit of overlap with the Hikikomori [wikipedia.org].

              The take-away is that we really do have to consider there there's a higher case of actual psychological dysfunction associated with these groups (including "Failure-to-launch" Millennials in the US, etc...) . Whether it's caused by, exacerbated by, or sim

          • The problem is we basically have this today.
            Despite what people say, even about the US, the is a minimum standard of living.
            There is social housing.
            There is welfare.
            There is Medicaid ...
            They have kept it crappy because that's why people don't want to end up there. If they kept social housing really nice and made welfare enough to buy food and not many eligibility checks... you'd basically have what is being proposed.

            When people speak of a guaranteed income, they generally mean free money to provide a decent

        • by nbauman ( 624611 )

          Not wanting to give out welfare isn't a selfish proposition. I've spoken to social workers who themselves say they prefer not to put people on disability or other welfare programs if they can avoid it, because those people tend to find a comfort zone there and tend to stay that way for the rest of their lives, and it ends up being psychologically damaging to the recipient because they lose the will to improve themselves, end up with depression, etc.

          Not to mention, if everybody was that way, you'd start to see a gradual decline in GDP.

          So those social workers would also prefer to have a high inheritance tax, because people who inherit enough to live without working will lose the will to improve themselves, end up with depression, etc., right?

        • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:45AM (#50354461) Homepage

          It's not about giving out welfare or not giving out welfare in this case. It's about what hoops they make people jump through to get the money. With minimum income, there's no hoops to jump through. You don't have to prove you are trying to find work, and they don't have to police the people receiving the money to ensure they are trying to find work, or whatever other types of roadblocks they come up with. The system costs less to run because there is so much less bureaucracy. People will generally want to find a job, as minimum income isn't generally a very comfortable lifestyle.

        • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @11:10AM (#50354793)

          Having known a lot of people on welfare growing up, I think the biggest problem is perverse incentives, mostly tied to eligibility requirements. If they lose $0.50 in benefits for every $1 they earn, then not only have you given them that "comfort zone", you've effectively cut their paycheck in half. Would you work as long and hard as you do for half the money? Now imagine you're also having to deal with the discomfort and abuse typical of minimum wage jobs, and earn less than $4 an hour for your trouble. Worse, a lot of benefits fall off in sudden steps, so your heard work and dedication earns a $0.50 raise, and suddenly you are effectively making substantially less per month than you were before. The game is rigged to foster dependency, only the most capable and driven have a realistic path to escape.

          I suspect a universal basic income would provide both lower costs and provide more incentives - no eligibility requirements, no bureaucracy to assess it and game the system in exchange for favors, no shame or social stigma associated with receiving it. Just everyone getting a monthly "social dividend" check that they can rely on, and getting paid full value (minus taxes) for their labor. Then, as your earned income increases, the taxes you pay will transparently neutralize the basic income.

          If you wanted to get really crazy you could explicitly base the size of that check on, say, a percentage of GDP, and suddenly everyone also has a personal stake in the economic health of the nation. GDP down 10% this year? You're feeling it in your monthly dividend check, and even if you can't find a paying job you have incentive to try to find some way to contribute to society and help the recovery.

        • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:4, Insightful)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <.mojo. .at. .world3.net.> on Thursday August 20, 2015 @11:12AM (#50354801) Homepage Journal

          Don't believe the hype. There are lots of media pieces and TV shows about all the scummy people living on benefits and proud of it, but in reality the vast majority want to work and better themselves. The level of benefits isn't that important, what matters is that jobs area available and that they pay reasonably. In the UK some people end up in a situation where if they take a job they will lose their homes as benefits are removed. By the way, the solution to that isn't to lower benefits, it's to raise wages.

        • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @11:29AM (#50354955) Homepage Journal

          On the contrary. As a person who's been on disability and started a business and now takes no services at all and pays taxes, you're missing two relevant points worth considering:

          1) you're making a choice between starving 'those people' or feeding them like animals, but you can't really change people. Wealthy people do exactly the same behavior you object to, but apparently it's fine for them. It's actually good that people find a level and typically stay at that level of engagement, because it makes them predictable and you can make plans around them if you know what they'll do.

          2) If you're doing the behavior you prefer, say starting a business and creating things and working, you must have customers and cannot take money only from other entrepreneurs because they don't have it. There has to be a base of people who are spending money rather than seeking to grow their capital, which is where the money comes from. If 'those people' don't exist, the money supply isn't there to start a business and you're dead in the water.

          So, not wanting to give out welfare IS both a selfish and a deluded proposition. I've been self-supporting for years and I have to pay attention to the world out there in a way that salaried Silicon Valley libertarians perhaps don't. You guys get to make value judgements, I can't: I won't get paid if there aren't customers, where a lot of Slashdotters will get paid regardless, or will get paid in proportion to income inequality, not in inverse proportion to it.

          I've seen a correlation in income not to capital or the stock market, but to the extent that 'welfare' is stepped on and austerity rules. If you are trying to run a business, which by definition is part of Gross Domestic Product, a well regulated welfare state is your best ally giving you more liquidity in your customer-base, and austerity measures are your worst enemy unless you specifically sell aviation jet fuel for hedge fund managers to flee the country to safe houses when everything comes crashing down.

          Pro tip: that is a very small market and job opportunities there are effectively nonexistent.

          Read some Mark Blyth, Slashdotters: or of course Piketty. There are experts in this field and your casual opinions might not be the last word in awesome, any more than your boss's casual opinions in code are the last word in effective.

        • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:5, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @12:40PM (#50355769) Journal

          Not wanting to give out welfare isn't a selfish proposition.

          We need to start looking at welfare in a different way. We will soon enter an age when we don't need "full employment" for everyone to have all the goods and services that they need. The late-stage capitalism where the more things are automated, the harder working people have to work, is just not sustainable. The only reason we have that situation today is to support the supply-side perversion of capitalism. It's already groaning under the weight of supply-side economics, and the burgeoning disparity of incomes and wealth is the evidence. When you have more than 40% of the US work-force making less than $15/hr, and 80% of people not having enough savings to retire on by age 68, social and economic disruption is going to occur.

          Rich people can hire only so many servants and drivers and people to wash their cars and be nanny to their kids. There are only so many people needed to service the robots. Only so many people needed to do the dirty work. And those are just the low-paying jobs. The middle-income jobs have already started to go. How valuable you think your ability to program Java is going to be by 2017? Or for that matter, by this Christmas?

          So, we can decide that a guaranteed minimum income is something we need, or we can decide to become a society where 67 year-old beggers fight with 25 year-old beggers who fight with 12 year-old beggers as they line the streets. As someone who's spent time in such countries, let me tell you, it's not that great to be a well-off person in a place where everyone else is dirt poor. It might appeal to the big-L Libertarians in the crowd, but for the other 99%, it's not a pleasant proposition.

      • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:27AM (#50354273)

        Who is "selfish"? Is the guy who wants to keep the wages he earned in his paycheck "selfish"? Is the guy who wants benefit money for doing nothing "selfish"?

        Maybe labeling people "selfish" and then thoughtlessly dismissing their concerns isn't really a useful way to analyze policy preferences.

        • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:4, Insightful)

          by pipingguy ( 566974 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @11:43AM (#50355113)
          "There are four ways to spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why you really watch out for what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well then, I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it costs, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40 percent of our national income."

          - Milton Friedman
      • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:32AM (#50354325) Homepage

        That's a good snarky response, but I actually really hate when these discussions get boiled down to "selfishness". First, because it has a tendency to turn into the same old discussion where one side is moralizing and the other side is presenting some kind of counter-intuitive argument about how "selfishness" is actually a productive impulse. It's boring

        But more than that, I think it throws the the discussion off track from the real reasons to do something like this. They are probably looking at a "minimum income" to replace other forms of welfare because they believe it's a better policy. It may be easier and cheaper to administer. It may be more economically efficient. There may be real, practical benefits to a policy like this.

        To give a simple sort of example, I'm in favor of providing free vaccines to common illnesses to poor children, even if it means slightly higher taxes for me. There are selfless humanitarian reasons to support that kind of thing, but my motivations are not really all that selfless. I have three very selfish and practical reasons why I support it: (a) If I'm ever poor and have kids, I will want to get vaccines for them even if I can't afford it; (b) Paying for vaccines today is cheaper than paying for the illness tomorrow; and (c) Vaccinating everyone else in society cuts the chances of me or my loved ones becoming sick.

        So going back to this plan, I'm in favor of whatever country I live in providing an effective social safety net for a few different reasons. First, I may find myself in a bad position sometime in the future, and I may need that safety net myself. I never have, and I hope I never will, but I possibly could. Beyond that, there are various reasons to think that having a good safety net can be good for society, as well as good for the economy. It removes some of the motivation for hopelessness and crime. If removes some of the hindrance on business to provide those needs for their workers. If it helps get workers back on their feet, enabling them to be productive, then that will help the economy.

        I know there's a sort of "common wisdom" that says you need extreme, brutal poverty as a possible consequence in order to motivate people to work, but I just don't really believe that. I don't think that kind of suffering helps anyone. I don't think increasing income inequality and rampant poverty are good for the economy. I know a social safety net costs money, but I would support a good one, funded with my tax money, for some very selfish reasons.

        • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:5, Informative)

          by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:48AM (#50354507) Homepage Journal

          I have three very selfish and practical reasons why I support it: (a) If I'm ever poor and have kids, I will want to get vaccines for them even if I can't afford it; (b) Paying for vaccines today is cheaper than paying for the illness tomorrow; and (c) Vaccinating everyone else in society cuts the chances of me or my loved ones becoming sick.

          In evolutionary biology, that's called reciprocal altruism. Communities that take care of their members survive. Communities composed of people who don't help each other don't survive.

      • Believe it or not, a person can be unselfish but only want to voluntarily support people they actually know and care about, rather than letting some lazy parasite steal from them by force of law

        • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @11:46AM (#50355139) Homepage Journal

          If you're that kind of rich person your time is too valuable and you'll do a terrible job of redistributing what little income you are prepared to let go.

          Seriously. You're not going to spend hours out of your day finding poor people and inspecting them to see if they're worthy. You'll do nothing of the sort, so your 'support' will trend towards zero, as the people you know won't need it.

          There will be people who'd meet your standard, but you won't know them. Welfare case workers will know them. You'll never have to see them or the ones who aren't so worthy in your eyes. You don't hang around people like that so you have no basis on which to grade them for worth.

          Just be taxed and hush. I really doubt you intend to work as a welfare caseworker for the rest of your life, so you're actively choosing not to know the answers to the questions you assume must be asked. That ought to be enough to disqualify you from the chain of command there.

    • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:5, Interesting)

      by michelcolman ( 1208008 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:20AM (#50354199)

      It's not as bad an idea as it might seem at first sight, at least if it's implemented correctly. If everybody gets a certain basic income and can then work to add more money to that income, that guarantees a difference between working and non-working people and therefore provides an incentive to work. Right now, in many European countries, you may actually make less money by working than by sitting at home unemployed. Certainly if you factor in daycare, transportation expenses, etc.

      By just giving everyone the basic salary, then letting them earn as much as they like above that (paying tax on those earnings to pay for the basic salary, obviously), you greatly simplify the system. No need to check whether someone is really unemployed or not before sending them their unemployment benefits, just send the same basic salary to everyone. Apply a flat tax to all extra income, and this automatically emulates the older system of progressively rising taxes. Also, it becomes cheap for companies to hire people for smaller tasks, since there needn't be a minimum salary anymore. If someone wants to do some job for $200 a month (on top of his basic salary), no problem.

      Of course I'm oversimplifying and there will be a few caveats, but still, it's not as stupid or communistic as it seems.

      • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:58AM (#50354655)

        I really like this kind of system. It simplifies the tax code, reduces administrative overhead, and creates incentive to be a productive part of society.

        My main criticism is that free money could be used for things other than basic needs. Someone gets a nice 75 inch TV instead of paying for food and clothes for their kids, and then complain to the government that their kids can't be left to starve. Someone else puts the money toward drugs and hookers. Eventually the government caves and puts more money into the system, and before you know it the incentive to work has disappeared.

        So I would like to turn this into a restricted debit card that divides the total based on each specific type of use, such as food, clothing, shelter, child care, transportation, etc. The amounts can vary by region (e.g. San Francisco would need higher allotments for housing) and other details like number of dependents.

        • by fnj ( 64210 )

          Your criticism is part of the classic truism that there is no guarantee that all societal members are rational, wise, and reliable providers for offspring and other dependents. Your restricted debit card is worth considering, but I fear the bureaucracy that would likely become involved making the decisions on the split. Also, even within given regions, I have grave doubt that any one-split-fits-all scheme would be fair to all.

          Another solution worth considering is simply replacing money with provisions for c

      • People fail to realize that society ends up paying no matter what approach they choose. You can pay for an expensive social safety net, or you can pay for increased law enforcement and prisons to deal with the increased crime from unemployment.

        I think the minimum income approach is better than trying to have dozens of programs as it results in a much lower amount of administrative overhead. However, there are some likely abuse cases that should be addressed to prevent the system from being gamed.
    • Re:4/5 in favor (Score:5, Interesting)

      by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:21AM (#50354205) Journal

      does that say that 1/5 is paying for it?

      I'm a taxpayer in the UK and a small business person. This means I see more tax than most people, because I see corporation tax, employer's contribution and what comes off my paycheck and goes to HMRC. Most people are on PAYE, get a monthly paycheque and never have to actually consider taxes in any meaningful way.

      I'm fully aware of my tax burden because I have to administer it.

      I support minimum income, for a variety of reasons.

      1. You essentially need it anyway even if by another name because we've collectively decided that on the whole it's better than having homeless starving people.

      2. You can scrap minimum wage. That's a whole load of administration gone.

      3. You can scrap jobseekers allowace with all that administration and crap.

      2 and 3 combine to remove the benefit trap. At the moment these things interact in bad ways. For instance taking a short term job on JSA is generally a bad move since when the job ends, there's a delay in getting new payments, so you essentially lose money.

      4. It will help lower exploitation of poorly paid workers, because they can realistically choose to leave.

      5. It will reduce the friction moving between jobs because the out of work periods aren't as punishing.

      6. It will help startups through the early, poorly paid years.

      Fundementally most people want to work and the minimum income won't provide a good standard of living. If you want to live well, you'll need a job. It might not work, but I think it's worth a shot and offers to save substantial amounts on administration while improving the felxibility of the economy.

      Seems like a win to me.

      • You seem to believe that adding a new government program will end a bunch of other, similar, programs.

        The evidence of history is that the new program will just sit atop the older programs, adding complexity without a corresponding decrease in complexity elsewhere....

  • Finally (Score:3, Interesting)

    by philmarcracken ( 1412453 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:05AM (#50354053)
    After all this time reporting on our robotic overlords, somebody realizes they don't get paid, desire no sleep nor suffer as many inaccuracies as us meatbags!

    Eventually people will get off this train of consumerism for the good of economic growth, which in the end doesn't mean much for peoples real needs like shelter, food and water. All humanity needs to contribute is entertainment(our only true want) with our overlords taking care of the rest.
    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I attempted to understand what you posted but unfortunately developed a segmentation fault...
  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:14AM (#50354121)
    Isn't this usually called welfare? Apparently "basic income" is the new politically correct term for it.
    • Re:basic income? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:19AM (#50354185)

      Nope, it's conceptually different. Most ideas of "welfare" are based on "We'll help you, but only when you're worthy, and the goal is to kick you off it" which in turn leads to a whole system to enforce those rules. Which means a lot of it goes to paying people to run that system.

      Basic income, however, is simply the idea of making sure people have the money to pay for the things they need to live, and avoids a lot of the expensive infrastructure and management.

    • nope (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chirs ( 87576 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:31AM (#50354321)

      It's a replacement for welfare, employment insurance, social assistance, old age security, etc.... Some fiscal conservatives are in favour of it because if nothing else it minimizes administrative overhead by combining everything into a single program.

      Also, it's usually set up so that there is always a benefit to working more. Claw-backs start at 50% and go down as income goes up. (As opposed to silly current welfare that initially doesn't let people keep any of the incremental additional money they make, leading people to not even bother trying.)

  • Why doesn't reform welfare by turning it into a job search/ career search system? Even most of the mentally and physically disabled people can work at some jobs. It just comes down to finding something within their available skill set.

    What really get me is that telemarketers and help desk people could easily be workers who work from home who can't go to an office daily for what ever reason. heck businesses can do a remote phone secretary so that you can call in talk to a person, yet still get transferred c

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:27AM (#50354271)

    I know some elderly people who barely worked an honest day in their life. Now they expect to live on Social Security because it's what a "civilized society does." When I've brought up the subject and suggested that they are morally obligated to give something back for the nearly $10k/year they get from a fund that they never felt the need to contribute to they freak out about how selfish that suggestion is.

    And that's why it won't work in the long run. It'll acclimate people to the idea that they have a right to public money just because they showed up, not because they're part of society and it's part of a set of reciprocal rights and duties.

    • by FranTaylor ( 164577 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @11:08AM (#50354771)

      And that's why it won't work in the long run. It'll acclimate people to the idea that they have a right to public money just because they showed up, not because they're part of society and it's part of a set of reciprocal rights and duties.

      that's precisely why it WILL work in the long run, as mechanized society takes away more and more jobs, nobody is going to expect to get an actual job

    • I would bet that people with this kind of attitude are also terrible employees. I don't see keeping them out of the labor market as a loss.

    • When I've brought up the subject and suggested that they are morally obligated to give something back for the nearly $10k/year they get from a fund that they never felt the need to contribute to they freak out about how selfish that suggestion is.

      God, why do you hate the poor so much? Are you a straight white guy or something?

      acclimate people to the idea that they have a right to public money just because they showed up

      Get yourself a fiddle, Nero - all this has happened before.

    • by PraiseBob ( 1923958 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @12:24PM (#50355597)
      I know some elderly people who barely worked an honest day in their life. Now they expect to live on Social Security because it's what a "civilized society does."

      Since they are elderly, and have few work-gained skills, I would suspect they aren't a good employee for anyone at this stage in their life. Are you suggesting that as a society we should kill them, and have them executed for not being a good enough worker? Or are you simply suggesting to let them starve to death and die of exposure? What exactly are they supposed to "give back" to earn their benefits? And what should we as a society do if they refuse?
    • Instead of a fixed amount it could be implemented as a simple redistribution. For example a 10% tax on all personal income and gross business receipts (Businesses are people right?) with no deductions. Then divide by the number of citizens and pay out. This can be automated enough to do the updates quarterly. It also insures the system will stable indefinitely since it can't have surpluses or deficits.This will naturally work out (as well as any Centrally planned scheme could) because if people start gettin

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:30AM (#50354307)

    The west has a very serious problem created by increased efficiency and automation: How to make sure enough wealth reaches all citizens to that they can live decently (ensuring freedom from social unrest) and spend locally (ensuring a working economy). The idea of a base-income for everybody is one possibility that has merit, in fact it seems to be the only one with a good chance of working. "Create more jobs" has basically been a failure, and nothing else suggests itself. The base-income for everybody may still be a failure, but it needs to be tried to see whether it works.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:31AM (#50354311) Homepage
    In america we assume people are poor because they are lazy; its a very childlike answer to an enormously complex question. Further simplifying our approach, we generally only define wealth by financial terms. we base our welfare system in part on an inherent desire to punish the recipient for their perceived lack of participation and drive to accumulate money. a more appropriate analysis is to begin with the following assumption: a set of people will never contribute monetarily equal or greater amounts to a society in which they live. This may be due to a number of uncontrollable constraints like illness or ineptitude, but could also be a reflection of your society. Perhaps there is nothing worth doing in the case of the 'working poor' or perhaps there isnt any pay (and perhaps none is expected) in the case of many artists. The question is not how to motivate these people, but how to ensure they are sustained at a comfortable level proportionate to the societies acceptable living standards. In the united states our unspoken answer to this is death on skid row by preventable disease. in the USSR the answer was that everyone according to their means contributed at very least some working effort. artists would do art, the sick would work to get healthy, and others would contribute to foster the wealth of the society as they could, be it intellectual or monetarily.
  • Good. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:33AM (#50354333)

    It is what is being done ANYWAY here in the UK, with the poorest so poor that they have to be given welfare to pay for the basics because the full salary they receive for their work is insufficient to pay for *necessities*.

    And trying to catch benefit cheats (and the tabloid rags enraging people over fictitious and overblown incidence of living the high life by lowlifes on welfare) costs a shitload to police.

    So pay everyone what would be needed to live on. Welfare payments have to be made to do this today, so it won't actually cost any more.

    And you save on all the shit about policing welfare.

    Additionally, the rich benefit from this scheme too: they get paid for what they pay in just as much as everyone else benefits! And increasing the minimum wage payout will benefit the wealthy too!

    Lastly, it means that the job market and contract agreements between employer and employee are now REALLY contracts: a meeting of minds and an agreement on terms.

    At the moment, you can be given the "choice" of starving on the streets (because welfare won't pay if you refuse to take the job) or accept the job offered. They will not change the terms, or the pay. So it isn't an agreement. It isn't a contract. It is a fiction of a contract, hiding a slavery term. Moreover a slavery that doesn't even place burdens of ownership on the slave owner.

    If I can afford to say no to a job, because I can still at least live at the minimum, then I can agree or disagree. If i cannot say no, it isn't an agreement. It's ransom.

    So, good.

  • by areusche ( 1297613 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @10:50AM (#50354537)
    A minimum income is an excellent way of eliminating valueless bureaucracies while ensuring that those that need the income get it. As much as the plight of the poor saddens me and they should be helped, the dead beat government worker pushing paper deserves no such assistance. Administrative overhead should be the first thing on the chopping block.
  • by periodic ( 902820 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @11:04AM (#50354731)

    As a member of the Finish bureaucrat association I am against this.

    This suggestion will put many state employed bureaucrats and administrators out of work.

    And at the same time my friends in the government tells me we will loose track of what people are doing with their spare time if they don't have to come to us to discuss why they need money.

    Therefore I am strongly against this.

  • by C0L0PH0N ( 613595 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @11:13AM (#50354821)
    As a retired person, I get both a small pension from my work, and Social Security. From my small income I purchase health insurance to supplement my Medicare. I have no savings (wiped out by "problems"). It's enough to live on. As a result, I already live as people in Finland/Utrecht do. I know a ton of retired folks in the same boat. Here is what I observe. Retired folks are as energetic as their health allows. There is an awesome amount of volunteering going on, and a bit of "small business" activities. I myself am a retired computer guy, and as such, get asked to fix a lot of computers. I ask for a "donation" of about $20 an hour for fixes that would cost them $90/$120 at any computer shop. Sometimes I fix things for free. I rationalize that I am helping poor old folks :), and also getting some money for an evening out for my spouse and I. I also maintain an number of community, club and museum websites as an unpaid volunteer. So I am in the category of "not needing a minimum wage". What I really see is this. People are as active as their health allows. There are a lot of social activities and game playing, such as dancing, musical jam sessions, theater presentations, variety shows, golf, pickle ball (like tennis), cards, bingo and water volleyball. Many of these activities require administration, and they are staffed with happy volunteers, who give an amazing amount of time. People into hobbies, such as my spouse who quilts, will work at them from dawn to dusk. People value life, their families, their communities and their world, and they do what they need to take care of their health. What I don't see is violence, drug use, laziness, or homelessness. I will concede that communities (I participate in several) of retired folks represent the result of a lifetime of a good work ethic. But what I don't see are bad results worried about by many. I read Marshall Brain's prescient "Robotic Nation" years ago, and the handwriting is on the wall folks, and I'm glad to see some early-adopter nations experimenting with our future.
  • by blindbat ( 189141 ) on Thursday August 20, 2015 @11:36AM (#50355041)
    There are a lot of people that have great wealth but keep working because they enjoy what they are doing. To suggest that everyone will just bail on work is not a good argument. Furthermore, consider how many people could continue education, or pursue arts, contribute to non-profits, etc. Our whole culture could shift in ways that we cannot fully predict with the security of a basic income.

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