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The Almighty Buck EU Government

Universal Basic Income Programs Arrive (theguardian.com) 1052

An anonymous reader writes: Y Combinator will give 100 randomly-selected families in Oakland between $1,000 and $2,000 each month as a test, continuing the payments for between six months and a year. And The Guardian reports that Finland and The Netherlands also are preparing pilot programs to test Universal Basic Income, while Switzerland will vote on a similar program this week. One Australian site is now also asking whether the program could work in Australia, noting that currently the country spends around $3 billion on their Centrelink welfare system, "so simplification can offer huge potential savings."
The Guardian sums up the case for a Universal Basic Income as a reaction to improving technology. "In a future in which robots decimate the jobs but not necessarily the wealth of nations...states should be able to afford to pay all their citizens a basic income unconditional of needs or requirements... In an increasingly digital economy, it would also provide a necessary injection of cash so people can afford to buy the apps and gadgets produced by the new robot workforce."

I'd be curious to hear what Slashdot readers think about the possibility of a government-run Universal Basic Income program.
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Universal Basic Income Programs Arrive

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  • What I think? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 05, 2016 @02:38AM (#52251947)

    I think that universal basic income is inevitable, and probably sooner rather than later.

    Simple fact of the matter is, that you're not going to be training an average 45-year-old factory worker in how to write the AI for the robot that took his job. And even if you did, after the AI's in place, he might not have much work. While some people have cited that every technological revolution has ended up producing jobs to replace the ones lost to the automation, they are increasingly other jobs, for other people, and "other people" will often include people who are not in a position to acquire the necessary skills.

    I'm pretty certain that there would be very negative consequences for society overall if the population is left to starve because of increasing automation. As such, basic income will be required just to keep the country stable and productive.

    NOTE: I am generally conservative in my views on a lot of things. and I am definitely not a socialist. But this is how I see things playing out, and I can see that there may be some very negative consequences that accompany it. But still, at this point it seems inevitable.

    • Luddites? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Herve5 ( 879674 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @02:49AM (#52251991)

      (...) I'm pretty certain that there would be very negative consequences for society overall if the population is left to starve because of increasing automation.

      I'm definitly not accurate on History things, but at some point in the past there was an event in Britain's history called the Luddite's revolution, featuring a (finally failed) anti-machinism attempt...

      Maybe we could gain something by looking at what happened at the time, although I fear the relative dimension of the event was different from now (a much smaller population among others)

      • Re:Luddites? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @03:14AM (#52252075)

        Economics took a turn which the luddites did not anticipate. They thought that greatly increasing the productivity of an individual worker would allow the demand for labor to be satisfied with a fraction of the number of workers. Instead the increased productivity lead to a decline in the price of goods that greatly increased consumption - it lead to the consumer age, where many people lived lives that would be the envy of any pre-industrial king. The mass purchasing of wanted-but-not-needed tat fueled the new economy.

        There's no assurance it would happen again: People can only want so much stuff. The environmental consequences of a society where everything is disposable are also quite bad enough as things are.

        • Re:Luddites? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @05:13AM (#52252457) Homepage

          There's no assurance it would happen again: People can only want so much stuff. The environmental consequences of a society where everything is disposable are also quite bad enough as things are.

          Take a look at rich people, their mansions and vacations and other extravaganza. I very much doubt there's any real upper bound on what people want. The environmental consequences are another matter, but if we want to work on that we should work on halting population growth first and becoming "greener" second, a hundred billion people will pollute more than one billion.

          • Re:Luddites? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @07:46AM (#52253013) Journal

            Take a look at rich people, their mansions and vacations and other extravaganza. I very much doubt there's any real upper bound on what people want.

            They'll just have to adapt, like the rest of us. Because there ARE bounds, upper and lower, and we need to start paying more attention to raising the lower bound and lowering the upper bound, even just a little.

          • Re:Luddites? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Sunday June 05, 2016 @08:13AM (#52253113)
            You confuse rich people with flashy people. There are plenty of wealthy people who don't flaunt their wealth in this manner. It's never good to rub people's faces in the fact that maybe you have something they don't. Nothing good ever comes of it. And there are plenty of people who own the "bling" and can't really afford it, living beyond their means for as long as they can keep up the juggling act. Never judge a book by its cover.
        • Re:Luddites? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @07:49AM (#52253019)

          Not only that but a consumer driven economy needs consumers. And those consumers need money. It does not matter whether what you want to sell is priced at 100 or at 10 if your potential consumer has nothing to buy with, and those that could buy already have bought.

          For a consumer driven economy you cannot accumulate the whole capital in the hands of a few, that does not work out. The net result is what we experience today, lots of capital available for investment and nothing to invest in because there is no viable business you could open, lacking the ability to sell to anyone because nobody who would buy can, lacking the funds. This leads to the currently observable insanely low interest rates which in turn leads to low inflation which leads to people clinging to their assets, which in turn grinds the economy to a halt.

          Producing makes you poor, only selling makes you rich. And to sell, you need someone willing AND ABLE to buy.

          • Re:Luddites? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @10:23AM (#52253733)

            Not only that but a consumer driven economy needs consumers. And those consumers need money. It does not matter whether what you want to sell is priced at 100 or at 10 if your potential consumer has nothing to buy with, and those that could buy already have bought.

            Money is irrelevant to the equation. In fact if you try to route a UBI through money, it's doomed to fail. All you'll do is inflate prices to where stuff becomes unaffordable despite everyone getting a UBI, just like the widespread availability of student loans has inflated the price of college tuitions to where you can't afford if despite the loans. When you increase people's ability to pay (demand-side economic fix), prices just rise to compensate. It's like trying to climb out of quicksand by pulling one foot up, then putting your weight on that foot to pull your other foot up. Then someone says "let me help you" and pulls one foot up even further. The net effect is no change in your position, except you and the person trying to help did a lot more work for the exact same results.

            Money is not wealth. Money is a bookkeeping tool we've invented to represent wealth. Actual wealth is productivity - the goods and services which are actually produced by the labor we do (or the labor the machines we operate do). As a representation of productivity, its value fluctuates to equalize the cost (in productivity) to produce something, and the value (how much productivity someone is willing to swap in exchange for it). If people you give people money for free (no productivity needed), then that decreases the value of money, leading to increased prices, but the wages of people doing productive things (working) rises in lockstep with those prices. So even though prices go up, wages go up the same amount, and the affordability of stuff remains the same if you're working.

            Not so if you're receiving a basic income - since the amount of money you receive (for free) is fixed by some government decision, the amount of stuff you can buy decreases against this inflation. The market is literally adjusting prices and wages to represent the true amount of productivity that went into the money you're receiving. People who receive a UBI are affected because they aren't doing productive work, and the market adjusts prices to reflect that. People who do productive work and receive wages are unaffected because they're being productive, and the market adjusts their wages to offset the higher prices.

            To make UBI work, you must decouple it from your market currency. Make it a supply-side fix, instead of a demand-side one like with student loans. You can allocate rations (government buys a bunch of food, gives everyone a card each month which entitles them to pick up x pounds of it from a distribution center). Or you can create a parallel currency which trades in only UBI goods (no steak and lobster dinners for sale). There will be leakage - some people will sell their UBI food ration for cash, or convert the parallel currency into the primary currency. But it won't be anywhere near as bad as if you just distribute UBI in your primary currency.

            For a consumer driven economy you cannot accumulate the whole capital in the hands of a few, that does not work out. The net result is what we experience today, lots of capital available for investment and nothing to invest in because there is no viable business you could open, lacking the ability to sell to anyone because nobody who would buy can, lacking the funds.

            That's not what happens. Since money is just the representation of wealth, if it becomes so concentrated that it actually impedes people's productivity, it doesn't stall the economy. What happens is the market sees that inefficiency and attempts to correct it - by creating a new form a money to add fluidity to trade. A black market pops up. At first it'll start with bartering and I scratch your back, you scratch mine

            • Re:Luddites? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by martas ( 1439879 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @03:44PM (#52255317)
              You are very wrong.

              Money is irrelevant to the equation. In fact if you try to route a UBI through money, it's doomed to fail. All you'll do is inflate prices to where stuff becomes unaffordable despite everyone getting a UBI, just like the widespread availability of student loans has inflated the price of college tuitions to where you can't afford if despite the loans.

              UBI is not comparable to student loans. Tuition inflation happens because students are not paying with some finite amount of income, they are paying with a virtually unlimited amount of credit, because student loans cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. There is no downward pressure on the price, because credit is treated as an unlimited resource (in practice it is of course limited -- the limit is lifelong indentured servitude).

              When you increase people's ability to pay (demand-side economic fix), prices just rise to compensate. It's like trying to climb out of quicksand by pulling one foot up, then putting your weight on that foot to pull your other foot up. Then someone says "let me help you" and pulls one foot up even further. The net effect is no change in your position, except you and the person trying to help did a lot more work for the exact same results.

              You're making a vague, qualitative statement about a quantitative question, the Deepak Chopra of economic arguments. The question isn't whether UBI would increase prices, the question is how much and of what. If what you say was true, there'd ultimately basically be no point in any welfare program from food stamps to medicare. UBI is wealth distribution. Translating dollars into "percent ownership of total existing wealth", what UBI does is take some percent from everyone above a certain threshold of wealth and gives it to everyone below that threshold. Would that cause some amount of price increases in some goods? Yeah, of course. But prices are still dictated by the market. Since we don't currently have people starving in the streets in developed nations (quite the opposite, in fact), one can safely assume that the consumption of, for example, staple foods like bread and milk would not change with UBI, at least not much. There's only so much milk you can drink. Whatever price increases happened would be 1) as a result of overall decreased productivity due to people choosing not to work (which is an unknown quantity, but there are arguments why it would be a manageable amount), and 2) to price out UBI dependents out of goods that are currently near the threshold of what the poorest people can afford. Neither of these are anywhere near as catastrophic as what you claim. A lot of people seem to miss the "basic" part of "universal basic income." This isn't an amount of money that's supposed to be enough to live like Kanye West. It's supposed to be enough to not be homeless and not starve.

              Am I certain that UBI is a good idea and won't result in catastrophe? Hell no I'm not. What I am certain of, however, is that if your handwavy little argument was enough to prove UBI so obviously unworkable, there wouldn't be any real-life, grownup economists willing to consider it, but there are.

      • by aralin ( 107264 )

        At the time, brawn was automated, people shifted to exploiting brains for profit. Now brains are being replaced. What are we going to shift to exploiting this time?

    • Re:What I think? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rei ( 128717 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @03:24AM (#52252107) Homepage

      IMHO it has nothing to do with robots or anything like that. Barring a full-fledged singularity where robots become better than humans at everything, humans will always end up moving into whatever fields robots are worse at. It's happened with every wave of automation throughout history.

      Universal basic income is simply about efficiency. Human societies have by and large, for right or for wrong, decided that they don't like the idea of people starving and dying in the streets. And so have built these mishmash patchworks of programs all with the goal of preventing one or more aspects of this for one or more specified groups of people. Often with disincentives to people bettering themselves because then they could end up off one system or another, and almost always with huge bureaucratic overhead costs.

      It's much simpler just to accept the basic premise, pay for it, and be done with it. That premise being "Okay, we don't want people starving and dying on the streets, but we don't want people freeloading either, so we're going to give some minimal support to everyone - but if you want a better life than that, you have to work for it." The patchwork of programs dies, the government shrinks, the disincentives to work go away, there are no gaps for unfortunate people to fall through... everybody wins.

      You probably don't want a single, fixed payment for every adult - you probably want something extra for each dependent a family has, maybe more for people who are disabled and can't work to better their lives, maybe some variation based on local costs of living, etc. But overall you end up with a vastly simpler system. And you simplify the political debates vastly, down to conservatives saying that the minimal standard of life is too generous vs. liberals saying that it's too austere - just a simple fight over the numbers.

      It shouldn't even be that terribly difficult to implement. You can start rolling it in without cutting anyone's benefits, but at the same time make any benefits they receive from Basic Income automatically be deducted from their potential aid from all existing welfare programs, at all levels of government. They get their basic income payment, but all of their other payment are automatically reduced or eliminated by a net corresponding amount. Including big-ticket items like national pension programs (Social Security, etc). So many smaller programs quickly end up in a situation where the vast majority of their enrollees no longer collect anything - and with scaleup, the big-ticket ones as well. With the right policies in place, anyone who doesn't collect anything for several years gets automatically booted from the rolls. As the rolls shrink, the overhead costs drop. When a welfare program gets small enough, it gets killed altogether, with the eventual goal of only Basic Income remaining.

      The extra costs for the universal basic income program (aka, the new people who are getting support, which wouldn't be fully paid for by the reduction in welfare-program overheads) are paid for by new corporate taxes. In turn, however, in addition to corporations not having to separately pay for pensions/social security and the like (since it's now rolled into universal basic income), minimum wages would also classified a government-required benefit (because they are), and what minimum a company has to pay a person is reduced by the individual's basic income. Wages would get to reflect the actual supply/demand for a given field. Just like all other welfare programs, minimum wages would eventually be eliminated altogether. Bookkeeping for companies would become simpler as well.

      • Re:What I think? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @04:06AM (#52252259)

        IMHO it has nothing to do with robots or anything like that. Barring a full-fledged singularity where robots become better than humans at everything, humans will always end up moving into whatever fields robots are worse at. It's happened with every wave of automation throughout history.

        You would think, but this time is different...

        Humans Need Not Apply:
        https://youtu.be/7Pq-S557XQU [youtu.be]

        Well worth your time to watch...

        ---

        Note: Don't react emotionally or with what you "think" you know, watch it and pay attention to the numbers. Numbers and math don't lie.

    • So, I basically agree about UBI and echo the point that many have made: between welfare, food stamps and progressive income tax we're most of the way toward UBI already. What the current systems usually require is that you "demonstrate need" for some of the benefits to kick in - basically forcing people to become demonstratively unproductive in order to get the check. Seems like a make-work program for the people checking to make sure the recipients are unproductive, and a real productivity killer for the

  • Inflation, anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kylant ( 527449 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @02:50AM (#52251995)
    I wonder how this is supposed to work. A lot of the prices people pay are set by the market. Let's assume the rent in a city is at a specific level. Now suddenly everyone in in this city gets +$1000, so people can 'afford' more. As a consequence, landlords will be able to ask for more and prices will rise and the benefit of the pay rise will disappear.
    In the end the benefits from the basic income will disappear through inflation and in the process the existing incomes and savings lose in value.
    • by tricorn ( 199664 ) <sep@shout.net> on Sunday June 05, 2016 @03:10AM (#52252061) Journal

      A lot of Basic Income schemes also propose a flat tax and/or a VAT (for simplicity, the UBI itself isn't taxed as income). The regressiveness of those taxes is offset by the UBI.

      The UBI offers a good way of managing the money supply. You're putting money directly into the economy, then adjusting the tax rate to control the inflation/deflation rate.

      • by kylant ( 527449 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @03:20AM (#52252097)
        So UBI is just a new name for money redistribution. You take it away from people who have it (tax) and give it to people who don't (assuming that the number of tax payers is lower than the number of UBI receivers, the tax payers will lose money even after accounting for UBI).

        My bet would still be on inflation. Let's stay with the rent example. Today, there are some rich people who could afford to pay more for rent but as they are few this does not increase rent prices for everyone. If everyone has more money there is no reason why rents should not increase overall.
        • by tricorn ( 199664 ) <sep@shout.net> on Sunday June 05, 2016 @03:44AM (#52252167) Journal

          The benefits are reduced costs to administer support services, eliminating negative incentives to work (UBI doesn't decrease when you work), increased mobility, improved economy. People can take more risks starting businesses or going to school or trying something new.

          Maybe rents go down because people can move to less crowded places, which increases building and new business elsewhere.

          Everyone gets the same monthly payment, everyone pays the same tax rate. Why do you think that's not fair?

          It has a long history, you might try reading about its conservative roots.

          • Everyone gets the same monthly payment, everyone pays the same tax rate. Why do you think that's not fair?

            It isn't about "fair", it is about "will this solve the problem you're trying to solve".

            If you give everyone $1,000 a month, but average rents go to $2,000 a month, what have you solved?

            If you then raise the monthly payment to $2,000 a month and then rents rise to $3,000 a month, again, what have you solved?

          • by gtall ( 79522 )

            Paying people not to work...so we get more people not working....sitting around idle. Now, do they use their new found freedom to educate themselves, by essential things they haven't been, or start new businesses? Or do they sit at home and watch TV, buy toys they do not need, or start new drug habits?

            If it is the latter, with 5 years of that lifestyle, they are unemployable. So if you are wrong about human nature, you have just signed on for their keep for the rest of their lives.

            So could you please regist

      • by lurker412 ( 706164 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @03:45AM (#52252175)
        Financing UBI with VAT is still regressive and a flat tax would have to exclude UBI or it would simply be idiotic. A more rational approach would impose new taxes on capital itself, not income. The long-term trend is that labor will have ever decreasing importance in the creation of wealth as robotics and AI become more productive and widespread. The creation of wealth will largely be a function of capital alone, directed by a tiny minority of the world's population. While UBI may offer some short-term efficiencies compared to current disjointed redistribution programs, its main advantage is that it addresses the long-term problem.
        • Change that to "income from capital" rather than "capital itself" and you have the real solution. Tax rent and interest income increasingly until it is impossible to actually profit just from owning things, and watch those worthless investment properties be sold off for cheap to whoever actually needs them for their intrinsic usefulness, and bam, you have a society of all owners.

    • That's the universal argument against ever paying people more, and for the last hundred years it hasn't been born out once. Hell minimum wage used to be over $10 an hour in today's money and a middle class life was vastly more affordable than today. It's time that tired old corporate socialist myth was put to bed, it's little more than a scare tactic to convince people to continue socializing corporations' losses and low wages while allowing them to privatize profits.

  • Unlikely prospect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 05, 2016 @02:55AM (#52252009)

    As a former academic (i.e., from a system where money was handed out based on `membership in a club', at least theoretically), I find it highly doubtful that this is going to happen on a large scale. I do think that it would be a great experiment-- the benefits of being able to eliminate toxic elements of the workforce without having to worry about their livelihoods alone might more than pay for this, from the perspective of improving the world we live in, and I also believe that we need a new economic model to deal with a world in which either technological progress outpaces the learning abilities of the average human, or otherwise the capabilities of `artificial intelligence', divided by cost, exceed those of the intelligence of a substantial subset of humans in economically important areas.

    However, my impression is that the majority of people in power do not model the world in this fashion, but instead on ideas of power dynamics: who can decide what for whom. The prestige that comes with power is important to many members of that class, and (abstractly speaking) it needs to be reflected somewhere to satisfy their needs.

    Universal basic income now has the problem that it substantially reduces the power inherent in today's real-life hierarchies. For technology people and artists, this sounds great, but for managers, politicians, and other "power people", this is worrisome, if not downright terrifying, as it reduces their leverage and prestige. Thus, I rather expect that anti-universal basic income propaganda will start reasonably soon if the idea is ever adopted on a larger scale (Finland and the Netherlands seemingly being the most likely candidates for that, at present, since the Swiss proposal seems a bit too ambitious to pass the voters' filter).

  • by backslashdot ( 95548 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @03:08AM (#52252051)

    10 PRINT "Hello world!"
    20 GOTO 10

    I thought that already worked anywhere.

  • by Koby77 ( 992785 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @03:15AM (#52252079)
    I've heard one of the justifications for a Universal Basic Income as: if there is a huge welfare state paying out entitlements, there may be such a huge overhead cost for administrating the programs that it may more efficient to eliminate the administration and use the money instead to simply pay out the Universal Basic Income. Everyone will get $X each month for rent/food/medicine. What happens if someone spends their money poorly, such as blowing it on drugs or gambling, and then they have nothing left at the end of the month to eat or pay their rent. As a society what do we do then? Do we just shrug and let them die in the street? Or do we restart the bureaucracy and have a UBI plus an extra welfare program for irresponsible spenders?
    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @03:20AM (#52252095)

      What happens if someone spends their money poorly, such as blowing it on drugs or gambling, and then they have nothing left at the end of the month to eat or pay their rent.

      The same thing that happens currently when someone blows their welfare payment. The answer to your next part is yes, idiots make themselves homeless over this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      "What happens if someone spends their money poorly?"

      Honest question.

      What would you do to, say, your children? Would you give them, say, $1K/month and then say, "there: buy your food, rent a room, etc. and come next month for more" or would you provide them food, shelter, education and healthcare for free and then, maybe some pocket money on top of that for they to expend as they see fit?

      Why shouldn't be exactly the same case for the population in general?

  • Experiments (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @04:20AM (#52252301) Journal

    continuing the payments for between six months and a year

    How is that an experiment on basic income? Nobody is going to really change anything in their lives for getting $1000 for six months. You would have to provide a lifetime commitment for it to be comparable to the basic income situation. Even then, you would need to make it a couple of generations, to see the effect in children that grow up with the knowledge that they won't really need to work, ever.

    There was, if I remember correctly, a coffee company that offered a lifetime "salary" to the winners of a raffle. That was a long time ago. Surely there are more people in this situations, with some kind of unalienable lifetime stipends of one kind or another. Finding these people and asking them about the changes in their lives would be easier and more productive, in my opinion.

  • The UBI spiral (Score:4, Interesting)

    by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @05:52AM (#52252573)

    In a future in which robots decimate the jobs but not necessarily the wealth of nations...states should be able to afford to pay all their citizens a basic income

    Nations, i.e. governments only get their "wealth" from 2 sources: taxation or selling government bonds.

    Any nation that doesn't want to get into hyper-inflation would never fund a day-to-day cost by borrowing, so this UBI would have to be paid for from the tax take.

    However, the amount of tax: income, corporate, sales, that a government extracts from its citizens depends to a very large extent on them earning salaries and then spending their pay on the non-essential items that attract sales taxes. Also, corporation taxes are levied on the profits that companies make, generally from selling their goods and services. Once you have a population that chooses not to work, not to produce stuff and doesn't have the discretionary income from UBI to buy "luxuries", your corporate tax income takes a dive, too.

    I doubt that a 1-year study is long enough to draw any meaningful conclusions. Certainly it wouldn't attract a representative enough group of subjects to be able to say how an entire country's populace would react. I'm just glad that this experiment is being tried somewhere else. Personally, I think that the money would be better used to ensure everyone had a job - that way they'd also feel like they had some worth to society, rather than just accepting handouts.

  • by Rob_Bryerton ( 606093 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @07:07AM (#52252869) Homepage
    The idealist sees this kind of future as obvious: the Star Trek economy, where there's no money and people 'work' to better themselves (lol). This sounds great but does not account for human nature, namely greed and to a lesser extent, cruelty.

    The pessimist (realist?) sees the future as it was depicted in the 2013 movie 'Elysium', where the ultra-rich have just about everything, are completely corrupt & nearly completely useless, and walled off from the majority of the population. Meanwhile, 99.999% of the population lives in squalor. Sound familiar?

    It's possible we'll have both realities, but unfortunately we'll need to get through the 'Elysium' economy before arriving at the 'Star Trek' economy. TBH, I don't think anything resembling a Star Trek economy is possible because of human nature... As bad as this sounds, I'd put my money on 'Elysium'...
  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @08:59AM (#52253313)
    I have been reading a lot of thoughtful posts about this issue, but I fear the reality is that it will turn out to be like our attempt to reform the mental health problem.

    Remember when we were going to eliminate the horrors of the mental health warehouses by shutting them down and opening up smaller, local homes for the mentally ill? We shut down the hospitals, then never opened the local homes. Those who needed help ended up on the streets with the homeless population.

    Now we propose to taper off our hodgepodge of social safety nets and eventually replace them with a basic universal income. What I forsee happening is the taper, as that is politically viable, but then they never get fully replaced with an equivalent cash income, as that is politically too easy to oppose.

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