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Canada Government Robotics The Almighty Buck IT

New UBI Program Launches In Canada To 'Define Our Future' (thestar.com) 300

As automation continues to replace human workers, a universal basic income program will begin paying $1,689 per month to select Ontario residents later this year, as Canada joins other countries testing a UBI (which include America, Scotland, the Netherlands, Finland, India, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda). An anonymous reader quotes the Toronto Star: Public support in Ontario for the province's three-year UBI project to be launched this spring in three Ontario communities is remarkably strong. The 35,000 Ontarians canvassed by Queen's Park for their input were near-unanimous in supporting the UBI projects. And they insisted that a UBI augment, rather than replace, existing welfare, medical and other social supports...

A well-designed UBI equates to freedom. Freedom from exploitative employers. Freedom to launch a small business or develop an invention despite a lack of employment income. Liberation from the "poverty trap," where taking a paying job means surrendering welfare and other benefits... Fact is, job scarcity in traditional vocations is acute, worsening and permanent. In 2013, two Oxford professors forecast that about 45 per cent of U.S. jobs could be eliminated by automation within the next 20 years. And a more recent report by researchers at Indiana's Ball State University found that 88 per cent of U.S. job loss has been caused by automation, not globalization.

Interestingly, the U.S. launched a Universal Basic Income pilot program which ran for three years starting in 1968. It was run by 36-year-old Donald Rumsfeld (who would later become Secretary of Defense) working with special assistant Dick Cheney (who went on to become America's vice president from 2001-2009). U.S. representatives even voted to replace welfare with a UBI, but the measure ultimately failed in the Senate.
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New UBI Program Launches In Canada To 'Define Our Future'

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  • Legalised marijuana and UBI: is Canada trying to createn some sort of utopia?
    • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

      nope, for quite a while, we have been a testing ground for the US.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      This isn't really a big thing. Legalized marijuana isn't likely going to happen, and that's the realm of federal government. And the Trudeau government keeps pushing it back, then changing their mind, then walking away from it and so on. Likely nothing will happen despite I believe the 4th or 5th time in the last year and half they've promised something on it.

      The UBI test program is the realm of the province of Ontario, and is only being tested in one area. That one area is in the asshole of nowhere, th

      • It's already de facto legal in many areas. At one rally, a guy toking a joint went up to a cop and said "Aren't you going to arrest me?" The cop said, "Why? Nobody's filed a complaint."

        Either legalize it and control it, or ban tobacco as well. Now, I'd prefer the latter (because it all stinks like shit) but banning only one of the two is hypocritical.

        • Actually, if pot was regulated the way tobacco is - that relentless campaign against the latter - the war on drugs would be a lot more successful. Problem w/ most Leftists is that they wanna legalize pot but ban cigarettes/cigars/et al. Incidentally, hookahs are considered cool, despite being another tobacco source: had cigarettes or cigars had an Islamic heritage, they'd probably have been just as welcome as pot or hookahs.
        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          It's not legal in Canada, small amounts are "decriminalized" still illegal, but you won't go to jail -- if you're charged you'll be fined. Canada only has one set of laws regarding federal crimes, which is what drug laws fall into. We don't have the patchwork system where states(provinces), have their own felonies(indictable offences). Provinces have either summery conviction(misdemeanors) or standard infractions. If you go from Ontario to British Columbia, the crime of possession is the same in both pr

          • Please, learn the difference between "de facto" and "de jure". I said it was "de facto" legal in a lot of places because the police will not do anything except confiscate it if you're under age or have a significant quantity. Basically, it's often used as an "access" offence. If they want to search someone or their car, the smell of weed gives them just cause for a legal search.
    • Actually, narcotic sales alone should be able to fund UBI
  • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Saturday April 01, 2017 @02:21AM (#54156761)

    UBI is always defined as "everyone gets money, no questions asked". It is, in fact, the main selling point: apparently we spend more money on civil servants to figure out who is supposed to receive any money, than that we would spend just giving money to everyone, ridiculous as that may sound.

    If you then go and look at all those programs, you quickly find that they are not for everyone at all: these are programs for small numbers of people, people who were preselected by the government because they are already in social programs anyway. There is nothing universal about any of this; these people are already on benefits as is, and the only thing that is changing is that society is making even less demands on their precious time. For example, the people in this program in the Netherlands will not have to apply for jobs anymore - i.e. they won't have to make any effort to stand on their own two legs again anymore, the rest of us will pay for them for life.

    Whether this is an enlightened policy, or if society is simply writing off the most problematic people in a humane way, I'll leave for you to decide... But at any rate, it has nothing to do with a _universal_ basic income.

    Oh, and the rest of us weren't asked whether we actually want to pay for the upkeep of these people. Personally I don't mind supporting people who are temporarily in a bad situation, or who through circumstances outside their own control cannot get a job. But should we also be supporting people who are certainly capable of working, yet choose not to? Should we, as a society, have families around where being unemployed and on benefits is a lifestyle choice going back three generations? I say we build some container villages. Give them a central kitchen, let them have food and shelter, and no more. If they want any luxury beyond this, let them go out and work for it, like the rest of us.

    • Almost as if it was a pilot program. Crazy. Isn't it?

      • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Saturday April 01, 2017 @06:28AM (#54157063)

        Yes, that is crazy, and I'll tell you why. We already have social security, and that money is already being paid to those people. So what makes UBI different? Well, it mostly appears to be two things: the fact that it is universal, and that no demands are being made on participants. So we test that, and our test parameters will be as follows:

        1. It is not universal.
        2. The demand being made on participants is that they already qualify for social security benefits.

        So what, exactly, are we testing here? What the new name looks like? Because that is all it is.

        • Not all UBI programs are created equal. UBI is taxable income, and as your income increases, more is clawed back in income tax. Also, test programs like the one in Canada in the '70s reduced UBI payments by 50 cents for every dollar of earned income, so that if someone earned twice the basic UBI payment, they were no longer collecting UBI. The "Universal" was that the program was open to everyone, not that everyone would automatically receive it - just those who needed it as a form of "top-up" for deficient

          • UBI is a good idea for the reasons its proponents state: increased automation, and a disappearing job base. But making it a government program makes it undisguised socialism - particularly the way you've spelt it out. If taxes are gonna be increased to pay for it, it'll be like Obamacare: more and more people are gonna drop out of the tax pool and try and be UBI recipients, which will make the whole thing collapse of its own weight.

            Better idea is to, ironically, automate the UBI program: have people

            • What is it about people who have never experienced socialism claiming that it is so bad? Most of the G8 has socialized medicine and their citizens wouldn't have it any other way. And yet people in the united states would rather pay insurance companies money to deny them medical care - more money per capita to cover a smaller portion of the population than any of the G8 spend on universal coverage?

              Do you pay a toll each time you walk on the sidewalk? You would if it were owned by a for-profit corporation. S

              • What is it about people who have never experienced socialism claiming that it is so bad?

                Because people have experienced socialism, and it was so bad.* See roman_mir's comment [slashdot.org] about experiences with similar programs in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

                more money per capita to cover a smaller portion of the population than any of the G8 spend on universal coverage

                Opponents of socialized medicine would counter that some new drugs are made available in countries with socialized medicine years later than in the United States because the single payer in those countries isn't willing to pay as much per month's supply as private insurers in the United States are.

                * And not in the sense of a certain Power G

                • And people HAVE experienced american-style health care, been bankrupted by it, something that just doesn't happen in Kanuckistan.

                  And of course, there are outcomes where people live a decade longer in Canada with the same disease than they do in the US [www.cbc.ca].

                  Also noted in the article is that Canadians have much higher access to organ transplants than the US:

                  The study found a greater proportion of patients in Canada had transplants (of any organ) - 10.3 per cent of patients vs. 6.5 per cent.

                  That's 58% more access to organ transplants. As for the drugs, anyone can import a 6-month supply of pharmaceuticals into Canada for personal use provided th

                • by GNious ( 953874 )

                  Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

                  ....found the American!

                • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
                  There are others who lived in the USSR with somewhat different experiences (/me points to myself). So?
            • But making it a government program makes it undisguised socialism

              The whole world doesn't have America's phobia for the word socialism. Probably worth remembering that when discussing other countries.

    • Society can choose to use that tool in a variety of ways. Mostly it's used as a dishonest form of social classing and the subsequent population control - One step up from serfdom.

      It's possible this may change in the future.

    • But should we also be supporting people who are certainly capable of working, yet choose not to?

      Yes. The alternative is worse, plain and simple. The universe is not inherently fair and as such we must choose between suboptimal solutions. Ask yourself what's worse: paying higher taxes or having more crime in your society? (Debt and poverty destroy your ability for rational thinking and lead to crime.)

      Give them a central kitchen, let them have food and shelter, and no more. If they want any luxury beyond this, let them go out and work for it, like the rest of us.

      That is in essence the idea of UBI. It is meant to be a subsistence income. Any luxuries still require acquiring resources beyond the UBI. By the way: a smartphone and a computer are not luxuries, nor are

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I mostly agree with the absurdity of UBI "pilot' programs, the premise of them is based on their universality and the lack of concern with how people spend their individual UBI payments.

      So once you eliminate the universal part, what's left? It almost seems like they want to evaluate how the recipients spend their UBI payments, and of course, to reach the conclusion that the money wasn't spent well, and thus UBI would be a failure.

      Part of the problem with UBI, IMHO, though, is that some of the advantages ar

      • Universality isn't what you think it is. You still pay income tax on that UBI - and at a certain earned income point, you've got it all clawed back - without the bureaucracy of a means test. It's self-balancing under the existing tax code.
        • by swb ( 14022 )

          Yes, the best UBIs operate kind of like a negative income tax, ultimately getting cancelled out above a certain income level.

          But AFAIK, there's really only spreadsheet models and estimates of whether its increased costs would be payed back by the elimination of benefit administration bureaucracies.

    • If they want any luxury beyond this, let them go out and work for it, like the rest of us.

      Time for a reality check. "Like the rest of us" is already a minority. Slightly less than half the total population works. Total working = 152,528 (February 2017). Total population = 325,874,000. So the total working population is 46.85%. And it's going to get worse as more people continue to retire than are born. And that's not including projected job losses in the millions as automation play the grim reaper to those jobs that are left.

    • by trawg ( 308495 ) on Saturday April 01, 2017 @12:39PM (#54158059) Homepage

      But should we also be supporting people who are certainly capable of working, yet choose not to?

      I think that is the goal we should be striving for. I like the John Adams line: "I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce, and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry, and Porcelaine."

      Or more simply, "I am a soldier so my son can be a shop-keeper and so his son can be an artist."

      I think it will be a long time before we get close to the kind of post-scarcity economy that would allow this kind of lifestyle though - if ever. Maybe it can only exist in the realm of science fiction. But I think it is a noble goal to strive for.

      In the meantime though: I agree with you. I think if we're going to have a UBI or whatever social program it should be based on subsistence and survival for now, with a view to getting people to want to join the economy if they want more.

  • A well-designed UBI equates to freedom. Freedom from exploitative employers. Freedom to launch a small business or develop an invention despite a lack of employment income. Liberation from the "poverty trap," where taking a paying job means surrendering welfare and other benefits... Fact is,

    Fact is that nobody has shown that giving people lots of free stuff produces anything other than poverty in the long run.

    • Are you suggesting that it has been proved that giving people free stuff produces poverty in the long run? Worse poverty than if they had been given nothing?

      This is an experiment, like many others, that is attempting to see what happens, maybe even prove that giving people free stuff is beneficial.

      Oh and Fact is that while the use of the ellipsis in the summary may not be ideal, it is pretty clear that "Fact is" belongs with the next sentence, as in:

      Fact is, job scarcity in traditional vocations is acute,

    • A well-designed UBI equates to freedom. Freedom from exploitative employers. Freedom to launch a small business or develop an invention despite a lack of employment income. Liberation from the "poverty trap," where taking a paying job means surrendering welfare and other benefits... Fact is,

      Fact is that nobody has shown that giving people lots of free stuff produces anything other than poverty in the long run.

      So show the controlled studies that prove that giving people free stuff results in poverty in the long run. Bill Gates got lots of free stuff from his folks. Seems that people born in privilege do okay financially.

    • Re:fact is (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ksevio ( 865461 ) on Saturday April 01, 2017 @11:00AM (#54157763) Homepage
      Actually in the previous Mincome [wikipedia.org] experiment it was shown that people stopped working to do things like spend time with children or get an education. When people have money they're also not in poverty so your "fact" is obviously an "alternative fact"
  • If people are worried about joblessness, I have a better idea: make people actually work for their "universal basic income". The government has more than enough things for people to do: clean streets, maintain parks, go around as census takers, etc. As a bonus, people get basic experience actually holding a job and showing up for work.

    • I'm not deeply opposed to public work projects, but we've got to rid ourselves of these Calvinist ideas of work, because we waste so much on busy work.
    • So, get people to sweep the streets. Great way to put municipal workers, who actually know how to drive the street sweeper, out of a job. "Bt that's okay - they'll be able to collect UBI in return for sweeping the streets." Any you create another layer of bureaucracy, because now you need more supervisors to supervise untrained people to do the job than you would with trained, experienced people.

      Your idea won't work. It will just turn a few good existing jobs into crappy make-work schemes for many while l

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      What if we make robots that can clean the streets, maintain parks and take censuses (or just have enough people)? What if we say a person's job is to create an art project? What makes you think people actually need to hold a regular job and show up to a normal work place?
  • The state of Alaska has essentially implemented a small Basic Income scheme since 1982 - the Alaska Permanent Fund [wikipedia.org] gives permanent residents an amount varying up to about $2000 per year from a trust fund from natural resource royalties (mostly oil). Everybody there seems to love it, and treats it as a right rather than an insulting welfare program, as far as I can tell. Criminals are excluded to various degrees, but otherwise there's no criteria other than residency.

    There's no reason the country as a who

    • Alaska has a population less than a million, which is less than a lot of US cities. So for starters, it doesn't even scale. Second, it's a state that has plenty of oil, so that it can afford to pay that to the few people who live in those areas that they want them to live in.

      There is no way such a plan could be implemented in MI, PA, CA, or most states on the mainland

      • How much wealth does the 1% have compared to the rest of America? Increase their taxes and you'll suddenly have a whole lot of money that can go around. Of course, these wealthy would need to honestly declare their actual income. Instead of hiding it overseas and exploiting loopholes in the tax code. Loopholes that other 1%ers put in there for the benefit of the wealthy.

        • That ploy can only happen ONCE: the first time, the 1% will take it in the gut. After that, they will go ahead, and either park their money overseas, or if things become bad enough, simply leave. It will be tough to support the economy once they're gone, since the economy ain't the reserves of gold, silver, platinum, diamonds and other precious metals and rare earths, but the productivity of the population. Sap that, and the economy will no longer have legs to stand on.

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