(T)he debate about being an independent, self-reliant individual is moot.  It’s not about morality, it’s about reality.  Most Americans really have no choice.  Since government has become so large, it’s almost impossible to live an entire life without collecting some form of government assistance.  This reality has been forced upon you by a short-sighted and ignorant electorate.  But ignorant as they may be, this is a democracy…and this is the new reality you get to live in.  You can decide to take advantage of it or be taken advantage of.

Thus, to truly enjoy the decline you must take as much government money as possible.

Enjoy the Decline: Accepting and Living with the Death of the United States by Aaron Clarey

On an earlier post, I flirted with the idea of government providing a guaranteed income to people who are both out-of-work and who have few prospects of ever finding work due to automation and the inevitable termination of entire career fields.

Mind you, this isn’t something I favor or am advocating.  I’m not even saying that there is certainly a time in the future at which it might become a good idea.  Instead, I think it’s an interesting proposition that’s at least worth exploring.

We know that about 1/3, maybe more, jobs in the US are expected to be eliminated due to the Rise of the Machines.  Honestly, I’m less worried about the robots.  I’m worried about the people who control the robots, but maybe that’s a topic for a different time.

I’m sure there are plenty of jobs that robots or software won’t be able to do for a long, long time if ever.  Even then, however, we can only fill so many of those jobs with so many people in our growing population.  Maybe some of you believe that new technology will result in new career opportunities.  It’s possible.  I don’t think my job even existed in 1997 (thankfully, it’s also resistant to automation).  Who’s to say what 2037 might look like?

If you’re like me, you think that stupid humans have no chance of keeping up with the robots and that it’s inevitable that employers will gleefully push us out of the workforce wherever they can.   Your plastic pal who’s fun to be with doesn’t need health insurance, doesn’t take vacation, doesn’t have any need for meeting with OSHA or EEOC requirements, and doesn’t talk back or call off of work.  What’s not to love?

Given this reality, we have to entertain the possibility that the future involves millions of idle, unemployed people who are going to get restless as they get hungry.  The argument becomes whether or not we should carry out the largest wealth redistribution in history, from the Bot Lords to the Fleshy Slobs.  Pay what used to be the working and middle classes enough to subsist and keep the Internet turned on.

I would suggest that there’s a tipping point at which it’s not so much a moral imperative as it is a matter of survival for the ruling class.  Unless they decide to use the robots to “cull the herd.”  That’s a possibility too, I guess.  Hopefully, they’ll be more open to paying us off.

For my part, I find Clarey’s point above to be very seductive.  Whether or not we like to admit it, the direction of the US is toward socialism.  We only really hate the word, but nobody refuses any entitlements ever.  I really wonder why we shouldn’t take everything we can get.  It’s not like the government money ever has to be paid back or covered with tax dollars.

Shouldn’t we all be allowed to join in on the free ride?

This is a Discourses post and that means we’re free to examine issues and ideas from a non-ideological viewpoint. There aren’t any right or wrong answers.  It’s just an opportunity to look at a topic from a different perspective.  So let’s begin.

You don’t have to answer any of these questions to participate in the discussion.  Some people might find them useful as a jumping off point.  Up to you.

  1. If you’re opposed to the idea of a guaranteed basic income, what is your opinion of Social Security?  Is it really any different?
  2. When do you believe a basic income would become necessary?  Would you base it off of labor force participation rate, unemployment rate, or what?  Or should we start entertaining the idea right now?
  3. What career fields would you recommend to kids today to avoid being cucked out of a job by a droid?  What is likely to be a growing field either in spite of or because of the increase in automation, besides Robot Ass Polisher (I suspect robots will polish other robots’ asses though)?
  4. How do you think a universal basic income would affect individual rights and liberty?  At this point, aren’t we all just wards of the state?
  5. What would you consider to be fair for a basic income?  Do you apply a means test or is it universal?  Do we just allow enough for food and necessities or should it be enough to ensure everyone can have the latest iPhone?
  6. If you had the option of going on the dole and it was almost sufficient for you to maintain your current lifestyle, would you do it if it meant that you wouldn’t be allowed to work ever again or start your own business?  You’d be taken care of for life, but never have the opportunity to better your circumstances or become rich.  Would you do it?

That should work for starters.

48 comments

  1. I have a hard time, nowadays, really coalescing my opinions on entitlements. This is going to meander a bit, as a result, and it gets a tad personal, but it represents the struggle that I have in trying to make sense of it all.

    There was a time, if I was debating entitlements, I would *begin* from a (nonfactual, as far as I know) position that 7 out of 10 people receiving assistance were taking advantage of it and that I was fine with that because of the other 3 people. Mostly, this was a tool used in order to move beyond that particular argument. You hate entitlements because they are abused? Let’s not debate the level of abuse, then. Let’s debate your alternatives and the flaws associated with those alternatives.

    Over time, however, I’ve witnessed firsthand the abuse. I’ve listened to my tenants discuss, in front of me, strategies that they employed to get SSI or other “free ride” assistance, up to including the advice to “have another baby”. It soured and disgusted me and I swung much farther to the right on the subject to the point where I was quietly questioning my support for the system.

    More recently, my wife and I attempted to assist some family who were horrifically in debt due to habitually bad decisions. We gave them the opportunity to become debt free by way of us paying off their debt in exchange for them giving us assistance around the house. The one condition was that we’d have a transparent view of their finances at all times and would assist them with a budget. We spent months coaching them, lecturing them, and cheerleading them until, finally, on the final day, I handed them $70. It was the only money they ever received. The rest went towards car payments and collection agencies. At the end of it, almost $12,000 later, they were out of debt. We were proud. They were proud. Finally, a clean slate! Everything was palm trees and daiquiri’s!

    It’s only been 2 months since that experiment ended but their tendency towards choosing the wrong thing seems to have already reared its ugly head. It’s been quite a deflating thing to stomach — feeling as if you’ve helped right a ship only to realize that the ship was heading right back towards the rocks.

    I’ve done some thinking about it and I’ve come to realize that there are just going to be some people who find a way to make things hard on themselves. You can attempt to instill good habits but you can’t train good thinking. People who make bad decisions are going to make bad decisions. I used to think that it was due to some weakness — knowing something was wrong but choosing it because you wanted it. Now, I’m pretty convinced that it’s just ingrained in some people. Sadly, I know several people like this — give them two scenarios and they will always find a way to choose the one that will ultimately cause themselves the most harm.

    Perhaps a poor analogy but Siegfried and Roy spent a lot of time and energy training a tiger to not be a tiger but, ultimately, the tiger was still a tiger.

    Where I’ve come to, recently, is the idea that these types of people will always be a drain on our system. Forget the abusers and those that are temporarily in financial straits — I’m talking specifically of the people who just can’t seem to find their way, no matter how hard they work. To these people, they think they are doing things right but are simply the victims of “bad luck”, never realizing that the “bad luck” that they experience is the fruit of the decisions. They aren’t necessarily lazy or even stupid. But the way that their brain prioritizes things and analyzes their short-term needs versus their long-term needs is just different.

    I grew up with a safety net. My parents took our family from the lower class to the middle class in my lifetime. By the time I reached my 20s, I was motivated and ambitious and mostly self-reliant. However, I always had my parents to fall back on if I over-extended myself or needed a short term loan. To that end, I usually don’t take too much credit for the success that I’ve had in life without acknowledging the running head start that my parents provided. I made a lot of poor choices, too, but I never had to bear the burden of those choices for very long.

    Not everybody has that.

    So, in a society that cherishes human life, basic rules of nature need to be overcome. Euthanasia and sterilization aren’t options (or, at least, I hope they aren’t) nor are passive herd-culling techniques. Unlike other systems, those that are drains on the system need to be accommodated for, even if it frustrates the people providing the accommodations. We have chosen to trade efficiency for compassion. Not everybody feels as strongly about it as others but, culturally, it defines the human race.

    If you begin the discussion there, much like my “7 out of 10” example above, I think it quickly becomes clear that there will be money provided, in one way or another, to the poorest among us, regardless of how or why they found themselves in that position. So, the argument then shifts to “what is the most efficient means to assist those people”? I think I’ve read enough to suggest that some form of guaranteed income would be beneficial if it was coupled with cuts to the hierarchy of entitlements. For example, if providing, directly, $1 to an individual allowed the government to cut $4 in less efficiently structured assistance that also, ultimately, only provided $1 to that individual, we’re better off.

    There are still flaws with this. We still need to consider that there are many people in the lower class that are there due to the poor decision making skills that I referenced above. A friend who works for the Secretary of State told me that they used to provide SSI payments in big chunks. However, they quickly realized that the recipients would blow through the money very quickly and find themselves with empty pockets long before their next check arrived. They have since restructured the process to stagger the payments more evenly. Similar accommodations would need to be considered with any type of basic income.

    One year ago, I would have opposed a basic income. But I’m warming up to it. I think there’s still a lot more debate regarding the benefits and pitfalls, however, but it may end up being more efficient than the multitude of entitlements currently in place.

    One last point, mostly unrelated to my overall post, but directly related to this question:

    If you had the option of going on the dole and it was almost sufficient for you to maintain your current lifestyle

    One personal idea that I can’t escape is the concept of “gravity” as it pertains to class. I use an example similar to yours when I discuss it. The “pull” that exists by a financial incentive to stay below a certain entitlement threshold is very real and provides negative incentive to push above it. The family that I described above are a good example of that, as well. I remember how upset they were when they barely crossed over the threshold between receiving $150/month in food stamps to receiving $0 because they were essentially making that extra $150/month with work. So, the argument becomes, “why should I work that extra bit for that extra $150 when I could *not* work and get the $150 provided to me”?

    That’s the gravity. It’s real. It needs to be considered and addressed by any programs that are meant to encourage upward mobility. It exists at every level, too, lest we think that this is only an issue with the poorest class. While less important to basic necessities, some of these (such as the ObamaCare subsidy or Roth IRA contribution limits) provide incentive to keep net income under certain limits. All of these things create a pull downwards instead of an incentive upwards.

  2. If you’re opposed to the idea of a guaranteed basic income, what is your opinion of Social Security? Is it really any different?

    Social Security is a terrible idea. But at least (most) of those who draw from it paid into it at one time. I would donate every cent I’ve ever paid into SS as a goodwill gift to the nation if they would let me take every cent from now until I retire, and invest it for retirement. I would come out so far ahead, it is maddening that the government forces me into this stupid program.

    When do you believe a basic income would become necessary? Would you base it off of labor force participation rate, unemployment rate, or what? Or should we start entertaining the idea right now?

    I think the question is flawed. This is not the roll of Government, and should never be.

    What career fields would you recommend to kids today to avoid being cucked out of a job by a droid? What is likely to be a growing field either in spite of or because of the increase in automation, besides Robot Ass Polisher (I suspect robots will polish other robots’ asses though)?

    Politics.

    How do you think a universal basic income would affect individual rights and liberty? At this point, aren’t we all just wards of the state?

    The Story of the 20th Century Motor Company.

    If you had the option of going on the dole and it was almost sufficient for you to maintain your current lifestyle, would you do it if it meant that you wouldn’t be allowed to work ever again or start your own business? You’d be taken care of for life, but never have the opportunity to better your circumstances or become rich. Would you do it?

    Not only no, but hell no. If someone had offered this to me a decade ago, and I had accepted it, I’d still be earning less than a sixth of what I made last year. I believe in the American dream. I believe in improving myself, and the unlimited potential I possess actually meaning something. Anyone who would accept the above might as well cease to exist.

    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

  3. Anyone who would accept the above might as well cease to exist.

    Are you in favor of actively or passively allowing that to happen? It needs to be addressed as it’s probably the biggest elephant in the room.

  4. Universal income might have a net positive effect on entrepreneurialism. In the nations it’s been implemented the catch is that it’s s basic income you get come hell or high water. At least in Finland, the government hasn’t said that it turns off when you’re dutifully employed so there is still a motivating factor to make more money if you want. Being able to take risks on more entrepreneurial careers has also been an early benefit to the program, which has taken people from dead end careers destined for automation and produced an environment to be creative and innovate.

    America is not a free economy, it’s at the minimum a plutocracy if not an outright oligarchy at this point. We can dispense with the liberty and molon labe bullshit.

  5. We can dispense with the liberty and molon labe bullshit.

    Some of us don’t consider it bullshit. You can move to Finland if you wish.

  6. At least in Finland, the government hasn’t said that it turns off when you’re dutifully employed so there is still a motivating factor to make more money if you want.

    I always argue that socialism is a lot easier to manage for smaller populations. Finland has about 5.5 million people. Trying to introduce this on an economy and population on the scale of the US would be a nightmare.

  7. Other than changing the law so that humans will still have an advantage, I really haven’t seen what those opposed to what amounts to an unemployment income due to robots have as an alternative. There will simply be too many people and not enough jobs to go around, and the competition for remaining jobs will be fierce as people try to market their skills. More people may be self-employed at home or work as contractors, but the vast majority of people will not be that creative or ambitious. So, if you want a free market society where businesses can hire machines that won’t be demanding fifteen dollars an hour, what do you do for the displaced? Because there will be a lot of them, and they won’t vote for any party that is seen as taking what may be their only source of income away.

  8. PS Social Security is intended for the elderly who are retired or can’t work anymore; it’s not exactly the same as welfare or a basic income. And a lot of retirees do have their own money.

  9. “Marge, I agree with you, in theory. In theory, communism works.” From personal experience, I have formed the belief that we are (hopefully) evolving toward some sort of socialism. The reason socialism is so hard for Americans is because it’s almost incompatible with the rugged individualism that’s worshiped here.
    For an extreme case, take something like a kibbutz in Israel. You only have enough money to send one kid to college per year. Everyone has to shove their pride aside and decide that their neighbor’s kid is more deserving than their own kid. That’s not the level of evolution that I am personally at, but it clearly works on a small scale.
    On a larger scale, it does not work to the same degree because most people will try to advance their own interests over the collective. However, incremental moves, like free health care and education are possible, even in fairly large countries. It was not the free education that brought the USSR down, it was the centralized economy, high military spending and insane corruption.
    The problem with this discussion is that we are not starting with an even playing field.
    I personally would love to take a basic income and devote my time to something other than my job (get the pitchforks out.)
    I don’t define myself by what I do. It’s a means to an end (paycheck.) I have not job hunted or moved up in many years because I enjoy what I do and I have no desire to make more money than I make now if it means giving up the flexibility I have, or having less time off or more paperwork. I actively resist having to work over weekends even if it means overtime pay.
    I understand that this is a very un-American way of thinking about work and money.
    On the flip side, I am also pretty good with what money we do have. We have no debt, fully fund all retirement accounts, college funds, etc. and still go out every week. Yes, if I got to keep the money I pay into Social Security, I would utilize it more efficiently than the government. But many (most?) people would not. Look at how little most people have saved for retirement. Which would leave us with everyone over 65-70 either having to work for the rest of their every-increasing lifetimes, starving in the street, or being given money from the government that they did not pay in. It would be nice to be able to exclude virtuous savers from the system, but who decides and how do you guarantee that your savings don’t disappear tomorrow?
    Same with the basic income – I could take a lump sum payment, use it to pay rent, but food, whatever and make it last until the next installment. Many people would blow it on stuff they can’t afford and not have food by the end of the pay period.
    Therefore, I would favor a system that subsidizes housing, food, healthcare and education directly, rather than cutting large checks to people. Sort of like the NHS – everyone gets some basic care for free, and you can pay through the private system for more.
    This discussion assumes that there are not enough jobs for everyone once the robots come. The options then are – make up jobs just to keep people busy, basic income, or cull the herd.
    I guess overall, if you are ambitious, have a calling, want to bust your ass – fine, you will reap the material rewards. If you can’t or won’t, I don’t want to watch you starve. I think a fair proportion of the population would still do traditional work, many more would create art than do now (most of it will suck) and some will sit around and do nothing.
    I agree with kevinmkr when he says that there will always be people who are not able to support themselves. While I would argue that his particular example speaks more to the need for better financial education in the schools and the home, there will always be the disabled, etc. Unless we are willing to cull them or punish their children, the need for a social net remains. My main concern is not with people who are adults right now, they are a lost cause. But if you plot the trajectory of my kid and a kid a couple miles away in inner city Detroit, who is eating lead paint chips, not being read to, going to a horrible school, you can predict that the outcome will not be the same. It’s not because that kid is inherently less deserving than my kid, or smarter than my kid, it’s just the accident of birth. I don’t want to punish the kid for the choices of the parents (even if you think they had choices to make.) I am happy to pay more in taxes now if it actually goes to cleaning up the lead paint and improving the schools, rather than a new fighter plane. Once the socialist robot paradise arrives, we can work on improving the lead paint thing and the horrible schools thing and level the playing field eventually.

  10. Yeah, I hit the gravity point hard when I was unemployed for 9 months in 2009. I was able to find part time work, but what ended up happening is that the state would just deduct what I earned working from my total unemployment check. So basically, I was out gas money plus the lost time I could have been filling out applications online.

    I finally stopped the pride game and just quit working. It wasn’t worth it. Even though I genuinely wanted to do something useful, it was completely counterproductive. In my defense, I settled for a full-time job long before my benefits ran out.

    At the time, I was mortified to be on unemployment, but if it happened now? I wouldn’t give a shit. I’d joyfully collect unemployment, job hunt, and blog all day. I’d probably accept basic income if offered and apply my talents somewhere other than a full-time job if I could.

  11. I understand that this is a very un-American way of thinking about work and money.

    Not really. It’s actually getting to be normal. People are putting a greater emphasis on work/life balance and spending time with family instead of chasing the almighty dollar. I work from home full-time and am thoroughly satisfied because I value the flexibility and time with the kids. If I were offered a position at double my current salary, I wouldn’t take it if I had to go back to the office.

    Therefore, I would favor a system that subsidizes housing, food, healthcare and education directly, rather than cutting large checks to people.

    This would seem to be the best solution for those Kevin identified above who can’t seem to manage their lives.

  12. The problem is how do you decide who can be trusted.
    Like Social Security. Sure, I can save for myself now and can demonstrate that I can be trusted. But if I develop an illness or an addiction tomorrow and blow though my savings, what do I live on in retirement?

  13. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

  14. Assuming there are not enough jobs to go around after the robots come, what do you propose?

  15. I’d like to know as well. As Kevin says, it’s the “elephant in the room.”

    Do you foresee that there will be new innovation or some other development that will create new opportunities? There were certainly people who thought we were looking at DOOM when the manufacturing base was declining and were surprised by how explosive the job market was in the 90’s thanks to the information economy.

    What do you see coming that would be an alternative to deeper socialism?

  16. If it helps you sleep at night, by all means, scream it from the mountain tops. It won’t ever change the cold hard fact that America is not a free or even capitalist economy and hasn’t been for decades:

    I vote strictly quid pro quo when it comes to politics. If I get something out of the deal you might have my vote. And why not? It’s the exact same motivation for the wealthy to intervene in politics so why can’t I? If I don’t get it I’m most certainly paying taxes for someone else to.

    Sometimes I spend a minute and wonder what life must be like in your trump wallpapered bubble. It’s either the most willfully stupid way I can imagine living life or the most dedication to fictional reality I’ve encountered.

  17. We already have a wonderful socialist system. Unfortunately for the average American it comes in the form of corporate welfare, subsidizing losses and privatizations by profits.

    It could very easily be transferred to the public for a fraction of the cost, of say, the socialized and subsidized military contract system.

  18. Sometimes I spend a minute and wonder what life must be like in your trump wallpapered bubble. It’s either the most willfully stupid way I can imagine living life or the most dedication to fictional reality I’ve encountered.

    Come on. Not on a Discourses thread.

  19. I think I remember that period of time. You and I were in friendly communication at that point (either via the VO or Facebook, I would assume?). I’ve never been unemployed but am sure that I’d give myself a couple of months to be depressed, a couple more to bum around and tackle some personal goals, and then, finally, devote myself to applying for work. I don’t know, though. It’s really easy to assume things when you haven’t been in that situation. I do know you to be a proud man, however, and I’m sure that the logical part of your brain still had to contend with the dutiful part when you made that decision — couldn’t have been easy.

    I’d probably accept basic income if offered and apply my talents somewhere other than a full-time job if I could.

    Zurvan made a point below regarding the position he would be in had he not continued to push and achieve more. I do think everybody has the responsibility to push until they’ve reached their comfort level but I also think that virtually *everybody* gets to the point where they are satisfied with what they’ve accumulated and are willing to voluntarily remove themselves from the workforce. We call it “retirement”. The big difference, of course, is that in retirement you are ostensibly living off of the accumulation of wealth and investing by your forward-thinking younger self whereas with taking a basic income and doing your own thing you are ostensibly living off of the wealth of others. It’s a pretty big difference. But in both cases, you’ve given up the desire to climb the ladder and are willing to accept that somebody else is bankrolling you (whether it is your younger self or a complete stranger).

    If somebody offered to give me a basic income, I’d probably take it as well, honestly. I’d still do what I do but I’d feel better without the stress of wondering whether or not the job would still be there for me in 10 years.

  20. It was probably on the VO. I honestly can’t remember when we got in touch on FB. But yeah, the psychological impact of being unemployed for a long time is devastating. I’d never want to wish it on anyone.

    I can definitely understand the viewpoint of those who are opposed to the UBI because they worry about what it would do to the work ethic and overall well-being of those who became dependent on it, for that reason.

  21. Basic income is an interesting, but I think ultimately fundamentally flawed idea. It’s basically throwing in the towel on the idea of personal responsibility, which itself is already possibly gravely wounded. Humanity has struggled against nature for its entire existence, warding off poverty and death through the initiative of those motivated to survive and thrive. Civilization has socialized this to a large degree, but still pays homage to this fundamental struggle by requiring people to actually work in some way to survive, and generate sufficient surplus for those unable to do so. A UBI fundamentally severs that in a way that is spiritually and morally degrading, removing the basic motivation that built civilization in the first place. Scarcity is never too far off, despite the abundance we enjoy today. It will rear its ugly head again if we remove the incentive to work, and it won’t end well.

    As for career recommendations, there are certain skill sets that will and can never be automated, at least in our lifetimes. Business, management, human-centered, and creative professions are all but future-proof. These jobs will forever exist. But there are other professions and trades that can be far more highly automated, but for which those professions will adapt. Architects and engineers, designers, doctors and nurses, even skilled craftsmen and construction trades will always require some human element, even if the approach to their profession is fundamentally transformed by technology. Young people should choose careers whose industries interest them, and in which they can adapt and change along with those industries.

  22. I don’t want to be too harsh, but I think your attitude is the precise result of the spiritual and moral degradation that results from severing the link between work and survival. Trust is destroyed, and incentives to productive and cooperative behavior are abolished. People become cynical and self-centered, and ironically a sort of survival instinct kicks in where people retreat from society to protect themselves. Talk about throwing in the towel.

    Civilization requires people to cooperatively work to maintain it. Remove the incentive to contribute to civilization, and perversely introduce incentives to drain it of its resources, and we. are. f’ed.

  23. It’s basically throwing in the towel on the idea of personal responsibility

    My biggest issue with the concept, historically.

    which itself is already possibly gravely wounded

    The only reason I’m considering it. If people are getting the money already and we have a more efficient way to get it to them, I think I have to at least listen to the argument.

  24. We already have a wonderful socialist system. Unfortunately for the average American it comes in the form of corporate welfare, subsidizing losses and privatizations by profits.

    I don’t see that going away with a UBI. If anything, the government will be more involved in your daily lives (i.e. who gets to work, how much income you are entitled to etc.) which means they’ll be more ripe for corruption. You’d have more concentrated industries with heavier influence on the governing class.

  25. I was unemployed for a stretch circa 2003.
    I chose not to collect benefits and just live off my savings because I was mostly bumming around, travelling a lot and not going out of my way to job search. It felt dishonest.
    I was in London when I phone rang with for the job I have now and I felt more resentful about the long distance charges than relieved.
    I am sure the situation would have been very different if I had dependents at the time.
    There are degrees of ‘getting everything out of the system.’ Back in 2011, when my baby daddy lost his job, he did apply for unemployment, but not, say foodstamps and whatever else he was technically eligible for as a single dad (we had a kid but were not married.)

  26. Sometimes I spend a minute and wonder what life must be like in your trump wallpapered bubble.

    Thank you for proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are not worth having a conversation with…ever.

  27. However, incremental moves, like free health care and education are possible, even in fairly large countries.

  28. I think the attitude on the right, that not everyone deserves food, water and healthcare is much more cynical, self-centered and survivalist than the idea of a basic income.
    Why is work spiritual and moral? Why not art or child rearing? Why do only the workers deserve to survive?

  29. You have two false premises.

    One that this is the Government’s job to “fix” through some form of welfare or wealth redistribution model. It’s not, nor should it be.

    Second that there are a finite number of jobs, or things for humans to do in the world.

    Aristotle first put it in words that with sufficiently advanced machines, man’s labor wouldn’t be needed. Some 2,400 years later, and man is still working. I’m also doing a job that didn’t exist 20 years ago, but it’s also a job that a machine couldn’t do. And my son will probably have a job that doesn’t exist now, that a machine can’t do. But even beyond technical advancement, there is a growing skills gap in this country that Mike Rowe talks about often – millions of unfilled jobs such as plumbers, and electricians because there are nobody with the skills to do them.

    Yup, automation is going to change many, many things. And we may reach the point that there are not enough of old type jobs to go around. But man is nothing if not inventive, and I don’t foresee a time when man looks around and goes, “well, there is absolutely nothing for me to do.” And even if that happens, it’s not the Government’s place to then pay the worthless individual for simply existing (or more accurately, voting for the right party).

    Going back to my first point, as evidenced by the welfare state that now exists in this country for many, government seizing assets from one to give to another isn’t the solution.

  30. I understand exactly what it means – free to the recipient, paid for by my taxes.
    These countries are taxed at rates similar to ours, but, instead of spending a large portion of that money on defense, they choose to spend it on social welfare and do so efficiently
    I am on the record as being willing to pay more in taxes, if it means my money goes to better education, better healthcare, etc.
    The problem is, we already spend more than most countries on, say healthcare. We just don’t utilize that spend efficiently.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/2-charts-show-the-biggest-problem-with-us-healthcare-2017-4
    Not everything can be reduced to a meme.

  31. I think the attitude on the right, that not everyone deserves food, water and healthcare is much more cynical, self-centered and survivalist than the idea of a basic income.

    I think everyone deserves food, and water, (and healthcare to a certain extent). I don’t think it’s the Government’s job to take my food and water and give it to someone else.

  32. So your picture for ‘socialism’ is taken in New York City, the capitol of capitalism in 1932.
    Do you see any irony in that?

  33. Dorothea Lange 1932, New York City.
    “Unemployed men stand in line to get a free dinner at New York’s municipal lodging house.”

  34. Finland, was it?

    Source.

    And they’ve only managed to find a basic income for 2,000 people. I wonder what it will look like when that jumps to 48% (the percentage of people in the US already not paying taxes that would most likely eventually be a target for your “free” money).

  35. Yes, because the old “why don’t you just move there” argument when someone points out an example really sets the table for a discussion.

    The feeling couldn’t be more mutual.

  36. It’s a go-to overly simplistic catch phrase that is supposed to paper over complex and new problems we face. “The economy will provide” is an article of faith that sometimes has worked, but it’s impossible for it to have worked without the cooperation of government.

    I think that the people who espouse this view are confused. On the one hand they consider themselves advocates of smaller government but in the very same breath they’ve advocated an elected a president that pretty much ran a campaign of promising government intervention in a global “free” economy to tip the scales of trade defects and runaway business. It’s simply catatonic.

    In my link above it pretty much states that almost 1in 10 dollars earned in this economy are from passive profits, money earned from dividends and no labor at all. This send to be acceptable and defense worthy, and not destroying the moral fabric of society as long as it is in the hands of a small pool of privileged people. If you extend that passive money to cover the poor and people who will be deleted from the workforce due to automation…. well THAT seems to be inconceivable.

    I guess we’ll have to see what the concensus is when we’re at 50 percent unemployment and there’s soup lines again.

  37. You can’t just say “wrong” and throw a total garbage link at me that doesn’t really address the point I made anyway. Are you letting a socialist rag make your arguments for you now?

  38. That’s amazing. It so thoroughly disproves my points in the post, as to be a game changing “drop the mic” moment. Well done.

  39. I am happy to pay an extra 15% in taxes if it gets us the top educational system in the world.

    It won’t. We throw money hand over fist at schools with no measurable correlation between spending and student achievement. I know how math works too.

  40. Sorry, guys, but I’m shutting down the comments on this thread. It’s been an energetic and contentious debate, but not what I look for in a Discourses thread.

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