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Why We Need a Universal Basic Income

Why We Need a Universal Basic Income

Keri Leigh Merritt

As Labor Day approached this year, I awaited the lip service of Republicans praising "job creators" and business owners. I knew full well there was no chance they'd honor the common laborer—the people who feed, house, and transport them; the workers who keep their cities clean and their towns sanitary; the men and women who have raised their children and taken care of their aging and dying parents.

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The things we need and those we get are determined by an oligarchy whose philosophy is that the people are too stupid to govern themselves so they must be kept powerless and poor enough to not endanger them, the “job creators”.

The oligarchy could take this opportunity to give us an UBI, but get rid of Medicare, Social Security and all government aid in return.

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This article is all over the place. First it says that UBI would be for “those who could not endure traditional full-time employment,” then it says “UBI would work best if paired with a federal jobs guarantee”. Not sure how you do this if it’s only offered to people not working.

Then it mentions either UBI would be “paired with other social programs,” or “economists need to deduct the cost of all the social safety-net programs and tax credits that UBI would replace.” I’m sure that’s the way to get Republicans on board, offering to cut social services and replace them with something with “less than 25 percent” of the cost.

Third, it talks about lifting people out of poverty, but then shows she’s talking about the federal poverty line. Poverty means being unable to afford the most basic costs of living. The federal poverty line is a rhetorical and statistical ploy developed by the government to avoid having to deal with the issue of actual poverty and to make it seem like the poverty rate is lower than it actually is.

Fourth, she spends the beginning of the article saying how abused most people are by their employers, but at the end, she makes no mention of holding employers accountable; rather, she somehow advertises UBI+FJG as a panacea that will allow abused workers to flee their horrible jobs and get government-offered jobs, that we have no reason to believe would be any better.

And since she’s pushing FJG as a way to help non-car owners, how are they supposed to commute to the places where the federally-guaranteed jobs are?

One option is UBI; another option is a combination of increased wages and training programs. You’ve probably noticed in the news that employers in skilled labor, health care and other areas where income is acceptable but not astounding are saying they can’t find enough people with the skills to take those jobs. We can argue about whose responsibility it is to train, but employers refuse to invest the money to train and with such a broad range of needed technical skills, it isn’t really feasible for community colleges, although there is more that they could do.

State investments could pay off and it’s a shame that even typically liberal states don’t see this. Since major employers are all getting tax abatements, and when they move in, a large part of their skilled labor comes from out-of state, why not attach strings to long-term tax incentives to get employers to cooperate and, in the end, hire locally? Then you don’t have the problem that UBI has, that the same percentage of your population is dependent upon government assistance in the long term, and you limit the labor pool that retailers draw from, encouraging them to raise wages (not forgetting, of course, to raise the minimum wage).

But UBI makes more sense in rural regions where there simply isn’t the opportunity for better employment, and the typical employer (let’s say a grocery store) has neither the profit margins or the ratio of highest to lowest paid to absorb the effects of a starting wage that doubles from $7.50 to $15. In that case, and because it’s federal, the income is derived from people outside the region wh can afford to pay more in taxes.

And somewhat naive.  Mother Nature doesn’t work that way, and if you say, “Oh, but we’re civilized, not cave-men” then I’ll refer you to “Lord of the Flies” among many works which illustrate just how thin our veneer of “civilization” really is.  SFAIK, we homo sapiens evolved roughly 100,000 years ago (some say a bit earlier), whereas agriculture and the “civilization” which depends on it less than 1/10 that, so at best we’re instinctively social with around 100 or so fellow tribe members, not with the entire 300+ million people currently living in the U.S. And does this UBI extend to all 7.5+ Billion people on the planet, or are we going to support the American ‘ideal’ of a home, 1.35 cars & 2.75 children with a US-citizens-only UBI based on our continuing to exploit the 3/4 to 4/5 of humanity who live in the “developing” world?

OTOH, there does seem to be some justification for the idea that those who are un-creating jobs by replacing humans with robots owe the displaced humans some sort of ongoing compensation and means of survival. We may have to face that question someday, if enough humans survive the effects of Climate Change to make the effort worthwhile.  Most likely what’s left of us will be hunter-gatherers again – or at best subsistence farmers – and the question will be moot.

It sees every new generation seeks to resurrect old demands so as to avoid the inevitable conclusion that what is required is not reform of capitalism but its abolishment. The UBI/Citizens Wage is no panacea for the poor and may well have unintended consequences that its advocates do not expect due to the manner that the laws of capitalism operate and their lack of understanding of capitalist economics.It explains their surprise when the UBI is supported by many right-wing anti-worker economists.

The advocates assume that if the government gives everybody, working or not, a regular income this is going to have no effect on wage levels? They seem to be assuming that this would be in addition to income from work whereas what is likely to happen is that it would exert a huge downward pressure on wages and that over time real wages would on average fall by the amount of the “basic” income.

In other words, that it would be essentially a subsidy to employers. It would be “basic” in the sense of being a minimum income that employers would top up to the level people needed to be able to reproduce and maintain their particular working skill. Don’t they understand how their much-vaunted law of supply and demand works?

It is streamlining and saving costs on the so-called welfare system. It is another tax reform and yet another reform of the poor laws. There is so many contradictions in the logic of “progressive anti-capitalists”.

But don’t heed my opinion read this article

UBI is going to receive much support from certain members of the ruling class because in addition to making the welfare benefits system more efficient it will distract the workers from abolishing the wages system and that is what we need…the end of wage slavery

To me, this is the more or less ideal and incredibly difficult situation to enact. UBI at a quite low, basic income funded by taxing more of less everyone, but heavily taxing wealth, especially great wealth. Government jobs always available whether part-time or full-time, mainly at low pay. Private jobs would have a somewhat higher minimum wage. Most people want a job, but not a hated slave job. With globalization and robotics, there will never be enough decent paying jobs for everyone who wants to work.

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From what I’ve read on UBI, it seems doable since the amounts for individuals isn’t that high. We already have a form of UBI for the “defense” industry, so why not for citizens? I don’t buy into the idea that it creates dependents because there would still be an incentive to make more and do better for yourself.

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What is FJG transportation? Also, if someone has a job that they cannot “endure” what are we saying here- that people are too weak to work? Gee, I imagine that those who do work including people in the military would love that! Sarcasm here.

When people are on welfare, they sometimes do not want to do better which is why we ended up with multiple generations of welfare recipients. Some of them had kids without having any income, and some continued to have kids so they would receive more benefits.

We do not need a basic income- we need real jobs, and less automation. Automation was originally intended to make people’s jobs more efficient not to eliminate them. Gee, do you know that in Japan there is a company that makes robots for having “sex”- in other words let’s get rid of us humans! maybe the robots will have a revolution and gang up on their inventors!

Some people already have a basic income- it’s called welfare. The other side likes to confuse people by calling social security welfare. Excuse me, if you get ss retirement- that is because you WORKED not because you are taking something for nothing.

The US has seen this also. Remember the Great Society? Some economists have stated that very few people who were on welfare actually were lifted into independence. Instead mutiple generations lived on it, and considered this a SALARY> It is not a salary- it’s money derived from the tax payers. Also, many people had kids without even considering whether they had the means to support them.

Perhaps those who uncreate jobs ( like that term) should have to pay a heavy penalty. Not everyone can or wants to be a rocket scientist or android engineer. Plus most people so not have that ability. I would also like to say something that not everyone will like. The bulk of money in public schools is spent on sped. I agree with a lot of that, and have worked in and support public schools. However, when sped kids have reached their peak, are in diapers, and grunt, and have to be fed, are let’s say fourteen, it;s time for a day program or perhaps some more help for the parents. Thinking that everyone is geared to more independence and promotion of this ideal does not work for everyone. Nor does “dumbing down” college work either by providing tutors for people who “just need help.” Technically, college is meant traditionally for academic careers with two per cent of the population. Perhaps combining community college with high school would alleviate taxes also? Providing a basic income puts a bandaid on a situation that is impossible- what is says is that many people are unemployable and since most jobs today demand high skills and at least a college degree that leaves many out in the cold. Maybe it’s time to stabilize the population - not make it easier for people to just keep producing and developing land and water use. Also, keeping old , senile people “alive” by segregating them into nursing homes with strangers is not living. It is only providing a living to someone else. Plus, let’s stop pretending we care about our fellow men and women ( animals ALWAYS but that’s different). Saying we are all “brothers and sisters” is absurd at most. Many people do not even like each other. So, unless people have deep connections to others fuggetaboutit.

Who makes a UBI in defense? If you are talking about soldiers- they actually work very hard and risk their lives! Also, if you make enough for your own needs - I would think there would be no incentive. This is very naive.

I doubt anyone here will live in those conditions. In the developing world, they already are.

One more thing: only two or is it three states allow for assisted end of life. What if someone can get assistance if he or she just has had enough. Oh, the horror!!!

I didn’t mean the soldiers, but the minimal income they receive is sought after by youth who don’t have many options at home. So, that’s another example. I primarily meant contractors for arms procurement, since they are handsomely paid, and regularly. The defense industry receives a large base of money in the hundreds of billions of dollars every year, year after year, with no change in the base. Do you mean if you receive enough money (or UBI), you wouldn’t have an incentive because your needs are met? If so, most people don’t live just to provide their basic needs. They also have wants, like an nicer car, home, city to live in, clothes, video games, etc. There’s plenty there as an incentive.

What??? How would people get insurance and health care- you must be young or at least naive. Good thing these posts are just fantasy, and they do not go anywhere.

I don’t agree with that incentive fantasy. People are incentivized by having to earn, and many people need to only look at needs not wants- that is the whole problem- not looking at needs vs wants. Also, over the many years people who live on welfare do not NOT have an incentive to work. I have seen parents of kids who get aid for school lunches who happen to be as aid- they have free housing, food, medical and some kind of unearned tax credit. Some of these folks have new clothes , cameras cars, etc. I once saw a parent with a T shirt that said" Who me- work?"