Universal Basic Income - The Free Market Version - Caleb Jones

I already talked about universal basic income here. In summary, the concept is that the government taxes everyone and then provides every citizen (who wants it) a basic “free” income to cover minimal expenses.

The bottom line is that it won’t work. Both fundamental human behavior and laws of economics would prevent such a thing from ever working in the long-term the same way it prevents things like communism from working long-term. I’m a small-government, minarchist libertarian, so I admit I’m biased on this issue, but it’s very clear to me that economically speaking, such a system could never work on a large scale or the long-term.

However, what if we could fundamentally transform the entire concept of UBI by removing government from the equation? Would it work then? I don’t know, but it’s interesting to think about. Here’s a thought experiment to get your brain working on this.

Predictions made by some in the intellectual community (including Sam Harris) and the business community (including Mark Cuban) state that at some point, because of things like robotics and AI, we are going to soon see trillionaires. Those men who are worth $1 trillion or more.

For purposes of illustration, the richest man in the world is Bill Gates, who’s worth about $82 billion. A trillionaire would be a guy worth $1000 billion or more. A multitrillionaire would be worth $2000 billion or more. That’s an unfathomable amount of money, but it’s somewhat likely we will see men worth this much in the relative near future.

These predictions go on to state that income disparity will heighten to the point that human beings have never seen before. You’ll have a few trillionaires at the very top (maybe 1%), a very tiny middle class (maybe 5%), and a massive horde of very poor people (the other 94%).

One theory is that the trillionaires aren’t going to be very happy watching millions of raving, poor barbarians constantly smashing against the gates of their castles, even if these poor people have high-tech conveniences like smartphones (as most poor people do today).

Left-wingers point to UBI as the answer; just have big government tax the shit out of these trillionaires and then hand over that cash to all the poor people. It’s a nice fantasy, but as longtime readers of this blog already know, it won’t work. As I already described here, US taxpayers have already spent $22 trillion (yes, that’s trillion with a “T”) on the poor since the 1960’s and the poverty rate hasn’t budged since then. Government also wastes at least 40% (and that’s being very nice) of all tax dollars collected on waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption.

A government-based UBI isn’t the answer.

But what about a UBI where the government had nothing to do with it? What about a capitalist, free market, 100% voluntary version of a UBI?

I still don’t know if it would work, and it probably wouldn’t, but at least now we get into the realm of something that might work (voluntary UBI) rather than something that we know won’t work (government-based UBI). Here’s one possible scenario.

The trillionaires all get together and decide that having a society filled with 94% of very poor people who are constantly at each other throats, trying to overthrow the trillionaires, and not purchasing as many products and services as the trillionaires would like is not a good idea for anyone.

Thus, they voluntarily decide to implement a UBI. Government has nothing to do with it. The trillionaires are going to do this completely in a voluntary, free market way. As a matter of fact, government likely tries to get involved, but the trillionaires tell it to fuck off (which they can, since such a society would be highly corporatist like the US is now).

The trillionaires tell everyone in the country that from now on, every adult in the nation (age 18 or over) will receive the equivalent of around $1000 to $1800 a month. This money would go to provide these basic items:

1. Basic groceries. There would be a focus on fruit, vegetables, dairy, bread/rice/pasta and meat. Things like sugar and alcohol would be minimal or not allowed at all.

2. Basic shelter. This means a studio apartment that you might have to share with one or two other people. The apartment would have water, electricity, heating, garbage and sewer services, and in warmer areas, air conditioning. Maybe it would have some kind of very slow wifi internet. It would not have any cable TV.

3. Basic clothing. Enough to get 2-3 pairs of pants, 3-4 shirts, one pair of good shoes, and one good jacket per year or two, in addition to socks and underwear. That’s it.

4. Basic healthcare. This means standard emergency room services for things like broken bones and cancer, plus perhaps one physical every 1-3 years. Crap like taking your kid to the emergency room for every little sniffle would not be covered.

5. Access to local mass transit if you live in a city. You’d get a monthly local bus/metro pass or similar.

That’s it. The trillionaires explain that if they will not give you a car, not provide you with any entertainment, and not provide you with any travel outside of a local bus, or anything else. The UBI would be there to cover minimal human needs only.

They also point out that children do not apply to any of this, so if you have a child, that’s fine, but any expenses for that kid (food, healthcare, etc) come out of your monthly UBI ($1000-$1800) per month. You don’t get any extra. The trillionaires wisely don’t want these poor people reproducing if they’re so damn poor that they need free money to live.

The trillionaires would then tell people that they are free to get jobs and/or start businesses if they want lifestyles beyond the shitty one the UBI would provide. In such a society, I’m assuming that this would be relatively easy to do since government regulation on this kind of thing would be low, or at least manageable. (Remember, I’m presenting a free-market scenario here.) If instead the government was highly oppressive (like Venezuela), bureaucratic (like India), or socialist (like Europe), the trillionaires would step in, slap the government around a little, and eliminate or mitigate most of those laws and red tape.

The trillionaires would explain to people that if they worked hard, they could indeed live much better and happier lifestyles than those who settle for UBI. The trillionaires might even offer free training courses on business startups, marketing, management, engineering, and other skills.

There would also be a policy that once you started making a certain amount of money per year, your UBI would end. (But if your income ever dropped back down for whatever reason, the UBI would kick in once again.)

The numerals work out something like this. Using the example of the United States, there are about 242 million adults. Taking the highest monthly number in my example ($1800 per month), it would require somewhere around $4.3 trillion dollars a year to pay all 242 million adults $1800 per month.

The actual number would be much less, since the trillionaires would be able to use economies of scale to get that $1800 down to $1000 or perhaps even less, not to mention new technologies will make things like houses very cheap in the future. This $1800 could actually be $500 or even less, bringing the $4.3 trillion figure down to around $1.2 trillion. This would be within the realm of possibility for the trillionaires, assuming they did all of this as a group and assuming the government wasn’t trying to tax them very much.

Again, since such a society would be largely corporatist, the trillionaires would be in de-facto control of the government already, just as the billionaires are today. So it would be unlikely the trillionaires would be facing a large tax burden anyway, just like the super rich don’t today. (Today, the people who pay the highest taxes as a percentage of their income are the “low-rich,” i.e. the upper-middle-class, i.e. people like me. Although, since I follow an Alpha 2.0 financial structure, I’m able to legally avoid most of these taxes. Most other guys who make the income I make aren’t so lucky, and are getting hammered with huge taxes far beyond what the poor or the rich pays.)

What would be the result of all this?

I don’t know, but I can give you my best guess. My guess is that a decent percentage of the 94% UBI receivers, anywhere from 30% to 60%, would do exactly what you’d expect; they’d just sit on their asses and do nothing. They’d spend their time watching TV in the wifi internet, smoke weed, play video games, jerk off, bitch on the internet, and do nothing productive.

Another percentage, I’d say about 30% to 40%, would be somewhat productive. They would do odd jobs to make a little extra cash from the tiny 5% middle class. They’d do things like help fix people’s cars, mow lawns, babysitting, housecleaning, sell drugs, and stuff like that. They would make a little extra money beyond the UBI and actually enjoy a slightly higher standard of living that would involve more entertainment and slightly larger apartments, but that’s about it.

The remaining small percentage is people who indeed would become moderately successful workers or entrepreneurs and would possibly join the middle or upper middle class. The middle class would still be very tiny, perhaps expanding from 5% to 10% or 15%, but probably no more than that. Much of these more successful folks would make just enough money to not lose their UBI, effectively cashing in on the system to its maximum degree without having to work too hard. A few other more motivated folks would keep making more money in pursuit of a better life, not caring if they lost their pathetic UBI.

Would a system like this work? I don’t know, but it’s certainly interesting to think about.

27 Comments on “Universal Basic Income – The Free Market Version

  1. It would reduce anxiety and violence, that’s for sure. In time, most laxy people would just die out, with their lazy genes gone, the UBI would vanish as well…

    Unless we get to genetic engineering and everyone becomes very creative and motivated. Then we’d get those fucking flying cars for the masses…

  2. Interesting point about (non-inflationary) trillionaires. If robotics does step up to another level, then individuals with $200B+ would be likely.

    Instead of giving people money with a UBI, trillionaires could just to employ all those people in some capacity. Form a separate company and offer people contract jobs. For example, the contract could include a 20 hours workweek, insurance, food coupons, clothing, housing, etc. It could end up like shady mining/agriculture company where you have to buy everything from the company store. Of course, it could be better designed and be a win/win for the employer and employee, as well as society at large.

    Also, as a side note, I think one of the significant cultural changes in philanthropy between 50-100 years ago and now is that much of the money and resources of US philanthropy is focused internationally (which in and of itself is good). Many issues in the US don’t receive as high a priority culturally, in the media, etc.

    For example, Carnegie donated most of his money for libraries in the US. Other people started universities (like Stanford). Many foundations still make many generous grants domestically, but a lot of the mindset has shifted to look internationally. I’m not saying it’s a good or bad, but I think it’s a big shift.

  3. Another consideration, since this is (hypothetically proposed) for adults 18+, what of the young adults going to college? If you dont get your UBI as a full time student, then many people would decide to forego college (maybe a good thing, not sure).
    Or should the UBI go toward college funds? Then you know the schools would raise tuition – or instead maybe you just get free education….Hmmm.

    Interesting.

  4. With the disclaimer that I am, as I previously said, on the fence about economic systems, I’ll say a few things:

    -If the super-rich freely give away money to help the very poor – and inevitably get at least somewhat pissed at those among the rich who just don’t, which *will* happen – , how is that different from the classical anti-tax argument that one doesn’t want his money to go to lazy people who don’t work ? On the one hand you have lazy rich people who won’t donate, and on the other hand you have lazy poor people who won’t work. The way I see it, if I’m gonna tolerate a *percentage* of a social group being non-participatory and absolutely had to choose, it’d be a percentage of the very poor, rather than a percentage of the very rich.

    -It could be a *semi*-universal BI, ie a somewhat conditional one: if you clearly have the time/health/energy to be learning a usable skill but aren’t, you lose part or all of the UBI – that way it is ensured that non-handicapped people receiving the UBI aren’t there in a permament state but actively trying to extricate themselves of and interval of economic non-participation. Your own statement that only economically active people should have the right to vote, or a variation of it, could also be implemented there.

    -I’m still not convinced that it would be a bad idea to replace *all* (or really really close to it) social aid with a UBI, provided that the UBI is low enough to spur non-miserable people into getting off their asses. It’s easy to say that there will be millions of idle people with a $700 UBI, but it’s also a mathematical inevitability that there will be less if you give them 650, and even less if you give them 550. I fully agree that coercion (“government putting a gun to my head”), in a perfect world, shouldn’t exist, but a widely accessible – and modest – UBI would decrease something else that shouldn’t exist either: people without a roof, running water and 1000 calories a day, in the 21st century, in countries with nukes and stem cells and gold-plated limos. I may be wrong, but I remember you saying that when it comes to it you don’t mind taxing the shit out of the really, really rich provided hard-working middle class people aren’t taxed nearly as much; thus a more “angled” progressive tax (one that starts very low and rises faster past a certain income) could pay for the UBI.

    -Repeatedly making the argument that such a system can’t work and will collapse long term is a unilateral refusal of trying to quantify these things and acknowledging degrees/increments. Is it a fact that a $900 UBI (other or most other social aids removed) would bankrupt the US ? Ok, what about 600 ? What about 500 then ?

    -The main weakness of what I’m saying here is, IMHO, this isn’t an improvement if the UBI somehow doesn’t reach everyone (or a higher percentage of people than those currently helped by charity and social safety nets). Because then it wouldn’t show an improvement over capitalism, which usually admits that it can’t eliminate all poverty but argues that it eliminates most. But it seems to me that accessibility is mostly a problem of paperwork and similar bullshit (which would be drastically simplified if all social aid is replaced by one UBI); other than that it’s non-citizens/illegal immigrants who will still have a problem, which I don’t consider as the country’s problem in terms of moral obligation anyway.

    Most arguments against an *intelligently implemented* UBI that I’ve seen so far were very unconvincing, and just keep going back to “this is kind-of-sort-of like communism, and communism doesn’t work”, which oversimplifies so much that it’s basically meaningless (NB: I don’t mean that *my* above suggestions are “intelligent”, LOL, I mean that some of the proposals out there are much more subtle than the criticism assumes). Ultimately I see the dance done by both capitalism and socialism as pretty hilarious: both accuse each other of perpetuating poverty, and both promise that if properly implemented they’ll solve everything…because “automation will save us”, not on their own. This is as old as Marx (and older) who was fascinated by machines and hoped they would eliminate labor, and AFAIK it’s a similar attitude on both sides of the economic spectrum. My prediction is that when automation does save us, BOTH sides will shriek a triumphant “I told you so”, but the real credit will be very unclear to me.

  5. In time, most laxy people would just die out, with their lazy genes gone, the UBI would vanish as well…

    They would not die out. They would have lots of kids and reproduce. Poor people tend to have more kids than rich people. Go watch Idiocracy.

    Instead of giving people money with a UBI, trillionaires could just to employ all those people in some capacity. Form a separate company and offer people contract jobs. For example, the contract could include a 20 hours workweek, insurance, food coupons, clothing, housing, etc.

    I’m not sure that would actually change anything, since the truly lazy just wouldn’t go to work, and you’d be right back to the same problem again.

    Also, as a side note, I think one of the significant cultural changes in philanthropy between 50-100 years ago and now is that much of the money and resources of US philanthropy is focused internationally (which in and of itself is good).

    Very true.

    Another consideration, since this is (hypothetically proposed) for adults 18+, what of the young adults going to college?

    UBI wouldn’t cover college expenses. That’s an entirely different can of worms. And go back and read my articles about how fucking useless most college degrees are today; college is no longer a determining factor in future success, and the trillionaires would likely know this. Hell, most of them probably would be college drop outs themselves.

    If the super-rich freely give away money to help the very poor – and inevitably get at least somewhat pissed at those among the rich who just don’t, which *will* happen – , how is that different from the classical anti-tax argument that one doesn’t want his money to go to lazy people who don’t work ?

    I don’t see the problem. Warren Buffett is the 2nd/3rd richest person in the world and he’s going to donate his ENTIRE fortune to charity. He doesn’t give a fuck about what other billionaires are doing.

    I may be wrong, but I remember you saying that when it comes to it you don’t mind taxing the shit out of the really, really rich provided hard-working middle class people aren’t taxed nearly as much;

    You’re misquoting me. I said that as a compromise I would agree to jacking up taxes on the super rich if the middle class paid ZERO taxes, not “less” taxes. “Less” taxes is a progressive income tax, which I 100% oppose.

    thus a more “angled” progressive tax (one that starts very low and rises faster past a certain income) could pay for the UBI.

    NO! I would oppose such a thing withe every fiber of my being.

    Repeatedly making the argument that such a system can’t work and will collapse long term is a unilateral refusal of trying to quantify these things and acknowledging degrees/increments. Is it a fact that a $900 UBI (other or most other social aids removed) would bankrupt the US ? Ok, what about 600 ? What about 500 then ?

    I didn’t say it would “bankrupt the US.” I said it wouldn’t work (one way or the other) because the laws of economics and human behavior would not allow it to work long-term (short-term a government UBI would work just fine). And yes, that includes a UBI of $500. Even a UBI of 1$ a month would eventually become extremely problematic (waste, fraud on the part of government employees and beneficiaries, abuse, etc).

    Most arguments against an *intelligently implemented* UBI that I’ve seen so far were very unconvincing

    Name one huge government program that was “intelligently implemented” over a period of 20 years or more.

    The fantasy of competent government….

  6. And in return for receiving this form of UBI, the recipient has to get sterilized…

    Fuck yeah. Good idea (as long as it was all voluntary).

  7. Well, the trillionaires would want *something* back. Maybe they would sign these people up as “employees currently not doing any specific job”. Those people would be the responsibility of the trillionaire, and in return they’d have to work at call.

    But what if they refused to work? A system like this cannot have bottom-rung people just hanging about, not belonging to – sorry – employed by anyone. Well, presumably they’d be charged with vagrancy or something and utlimately wind up in prison.

    I believe this system is called “feudalism”.

  8. Gil Galad, you wrote:

    quote
    I fully agree that coercion (“government putting a gun to my head”), in a perfect world, shouldn’t exist, but a widely accessible – and modest – UBI would decrease something else that shouldn’t exist either: people without a roof, running water and 1000 calories a day, in the 21st century, in countries with nukes and stem cells and gold-plated limos.
    end quote

    I don’t understand. Please explain why people without a roof, running water, or 1,000 calories a day “shouldn’t exist” in the 21st century in countries with nukes, stem cells, and gold plated limos. Under what principle of justice do you make the claim that such poor people shouldn’t exist?

  9. In the Scandinavian countries, you already have somewhat this system, and we have lower unemployment than the rest of the world. I know, I know. Scandinavian countries are small, and they’re headed for disaster because immigrants are abusing this system to the full extent.
    But before that, when we were a small society of a few million aryan citizens, the UBI system worked just fine, and most people did their part. Corruption was and still is the lowest in the world, happiness is the highest in the world, the health care and education (also free) are among the best in the world as well.
    And no, the money doesn’t come from oil, no matter how much you’d like to use that excuse (maybe for the Norwegians). We don’t have more oil than anybody else, and it is nowhere near our top export products. It’s barely mentioned in our stock market at all.
    It’s about having a country small enough to obtain a mindset that requires people to do their part to contribute to society. Having the government handle was just fine.
    Now, however, with the European Union and their open borders policies and immigrant quotas and other stupid shit, we’re headed for downfall just like the rest of the West. Like with the American golden 50’s, our glory days are over.

    Do I think that a government UBI system could ever be implemented in the US? Hell no. Do I think that trillionaires would voluntarily hand over all their money? Absolutely not. Look at how Apple and other large corporations work today. Most likely, the country would go straight to economical collapse beforehand (since money is only worth the value people attribute to it). If you had a country where 94 % were directly poor, you’d end up with American citizens immigrating to Europe / South America / Asia to “seek the American dream” as people used to do the other way around.

  10. Well, the trillionaires would want *something* back. Maybe they would sign these people up as “employees currently not doing any specific job”. Those people would be the responsibility of the trillionaire, and in return they’d have to work at call.

    That’s not a UBI. UBI means you get the money regardless of what you do or don’t do.

    But before that, when we were a small society of a few million aryan citizens, the UBI system worked just fine, and most people did their part.

    Nope. The primary reason it worked is because of your oil (which is soon to run out). Without the vast amounts of oil in the Norwegian Sea to fund its socialist programs, Scandinavia’s socialism would not have “worked” as long as it did.

    Read these past comments:

    http://calebjonesblog.com/why-the-west-is-collapsing/#comment-81995

    http://calebjonesblog.com/high-taxes-in-the-west-means-china-wins/#comment-80134

    As well as this video:

  11. Don´t you think a society where 95% of people can´t even afford to live alone while 1% hoards trillions like a dragon hoards a treasure is really messed up? Living with others suck, specially when you get older.

  12. As I told you, our oil industry is not a major player in our societal economics. We are not one big nation. The Norwegians have plenty of oil – In Denmark, we import most of our oil. I am not taking your YouTube videos as proof over years of living in the country and knowledge of our companies / stock market.
    We have never lived off our oil – We were also a welfare state before oil was even a part of the economy.
    Your YouTube videos and unfounded sources does not provide proof otherwise.
    You can keep using the Trump tactic and just tell the same lie / sentence no matter what anybody else says. Doesn’t really make it true.

    Again, look at the numbers; unemployment has always been the lowest in the world even though we have always had the easy option of getting welfare. It’s about mentality and work ethic. Look at the Germans as well; They also have a high work-ethic even though their welfare system is a lot easier to access than in the US – and they still choose to work.
    The Italians/Greek basically have the same resources as the Germans, but their mentaility is not the same at all. They’d prefer not to work, and thus you have a completely different unemployment rate.
    In the US, the you have exactly the same; Some guys, such as yourself, love to work and think they should be compensated for their hard work (which they should!) while others feel entitled to sit on their ass and do nothing, or go to college and learn about fictional genders and get paid the same as scientists for going to protests or whatever they spend their time on. Of course a large welfare state wouldn’t work – guys like you would end up paying for it (which you are).

    We can agree on one thing : The west is screwed either way. Asia will become the new economic capital of the world. It’s about planning for it and plan to move out as soon as possible.

  13. @Walter:

    quote
    Don´t you think a society where 95% of people can´t even afford to live alone
    end quote

    What do you mean 95 percent of people can’t afford to live alone? That’s preposterous. Where did you pull that bullshit from?

    quote
    while 1% hoards trillions like a dragon hoards a treasure is really messed up?
    end quote

    No. What’s wrong with that? Why are the two connected? Are you suggesting that if others are starving, I’m not allowed to get fat? Are you suggesting that if others are sad, I’m not allowed to be happy? Are you suggesting that my happiness is chained to the happiness of others and that we must all be happy or sad together? Are you suggesting that happiness should only be legal with the official written permission from the saddest person?

    What collectivistic horseshit is this? My happiness doesn’t require permission from the sad! Sadness and misery does NOT give you authority! Who the fuck do you think you are?

    As long as I’m not directly responsible for other people’s misery or poverty, didn’t cause it, and am not directly profiting at the expense of miserable people or deliberately and actively keeping them down in any way (which I’m not), explain why I have any obligations or responsibilities towards the starving. Explain why my happiness must be chained to the sad? Explain why I’m required to be handcuffed to a man who is drowning/ If they can’t have happiness no one can? Is that it? My spiritual, emotional, psychological, and economic evolution is dependent on theirs? That’s called slavery pal!

    quote
    Living with others suck, specially when you get older.
    end quote

    Why should I be concerned with your sucky life? Explain the source of my moral responsibility for you! Make more money and live alone. You want my money? Mow my lawn or paint my house!

  14. Prediction: in my lifetime, a lot more jobs will be lost to automation, yet we’ve got a long way to go before robots do everything. My computer crashes on a bi weekly basis and I often have to tell it to communicate with my bluetooth speakers. Another prediction: when self driving cars hit the road for anything other than experimentation there will be a few horrible accidents so people will freak out and self driving cars will be shelved for 20-30 years.

    So what if I am wrong and we do have an extremely automated society in 30 years? There will still be the need for tons of services and craft products that only people can provide. There will be winemakers, brewers, baristas, chefs, servers, doctors, therapists, lawyers, teachers, salesmen tour guides etc, etc, etc. We will still need large work force and with declining populations in wealthy countries, I would not be surprised if employment rates stayed above 70% of the working age population.

  15. Don´t you think a society where 95% of people can´t even afford to live alone while 1% hoards trillions like a dragon hoards a treasure is really messed up?

    The living alone thing I don’t care about, but I think any society without a huge, thriving middle class is very fucked up, yes.

    As I told you, our oil industry is not a major player in our societal economics. We are not one big nation. The Norwegians have plenty of oil – In Denmark, we import most of our oil. I am not taking your YouTube videos as proof over years of living in the country and knowledge of our companies / stock market.

    I’m not going to have a back-and-forth debate about Scandinavia’s socialism here because it’s too off topic. I will write an article about it at some point. The bottom line is many of the big reasons Scandinavia’s socialist practices worked for a while are because of factors that had literally nothing to do with the merits of socialism. Many of these factors don’t and won’t apply in most other countries. Therefore, saying that because socialist practices worked for Scandinavia for a while, these socialistic practices are great ideas regardless of what nation they are tried in, is ignoring the facts and not being objective.

    Comparing me to Trump and refusing to look at my sources (which themselves are all sourced, that you can verify) indicates that you don’t want to be objective about this anyway, which is fine. Just remember that false cultural Societal Programming (“my country does it right!!!”) is the strongest type of false SP there is.

    Another prediction: when self driving cars hit the road for anything other than experimentation there will be a few horrible accidents so people will freak out and self driving cars will be shelved for 20-30 years

    Yes, I agree that’s quite likely.

    Yet as you said, it will simply delay it, not stop it.

  16. @Jack outside the box

    “What do you mean 95 percent of people can’t afford to live alone? That’s preposterous. Where did you pull that bullshit from?”

    Dude did you even read the post? He clearly said that the vast majority of people would be forced to share a flat in that hypothetical society.

    “Are you suggesting that if others are starving, I’m not allowed to get fat?”

    This goes way beyond being fat. Remember we are talking about a 1% who has trillions while 94% have nothing. A more fitting analogy would be a town of 500 people who are all nearly starving while one single fat guys in that town owns 50 warehouses fully packed with food. He doesn’t need all that food. He has more food that he could eat in 100 lifetimes. When you point out to him that he could feed the entire town of he just gives away 2% of his food, he tells you that those people deserve to be starving because they are all lazy. Don’t you think that guy would be a massive piece of shit?

    Humans have a moral resposibility towards each other. Let me give you another example. Say a guy is driving a car and he comes across an accident in the road. A car crashed and a woman is trapped inside, bleeding to death. The guy can save her life, all he has to do is call an ambulance. Thats it. He doesnt have to help the woman himself, he doesnt even have to stay there and wait for the ambulance. He just has make a 2 minute phone call. Don’t you think a guy in such situation has a moral OBLIGATION to save the woman?

    He didn’t caused the accident. He didn’t make her crash. But he is there and he is perfectly capable of helping. It doesn´t cost him anything. If he chooses not to help in that situation, it is almost as bad as if he had killed the woman himself.

    “Are you suggesting that my happiness is chained to the happiness of others and that we must all be happy or sad together? ”

    No but if the vast majority of people around you are sad, and you are perfectly capable of helping them but you don’t want to, can you really be happy? I know I would not.

    “Explain the source of my moral responsibility for you!”

    There is this thing called empathy, you may have heard of it.

    @Captain

    I agree we still have a long way to go before a fully automated economy, but you are underestimating technology.

    “winemakers, brewers”

    Modern chemical plants are very automated, they require less and less people each time.

    “doctors”

    We already have robots able to perform operations. In the future, a computer will probably be able to make an instant diagnosis of an ill person based on the medical history, a description of the symptoms and a blood sample. Doctors are easier to replace than you think. The human body is basically a machine.

    “teachers”

    lol teachers are already near obsolete, we just haven’t realized yet. Nowdays you can learn almost anything you want with help from online courses, videos and tutorials of all kinds. In the future, there will be no need for students to actually go to some place just to learn things, they will be able to get an education at home with the internet.

  17. Ultimately I think this free market UBI could work. I read somewhere that the first trillionaire is projected for as early as 2042. It’d take a relatively modest number of people each having between $100B and a few $T who actually want to make this happen in order for it to happen.
    My estimate of the percentage of people who would sit on their asses and do nothing would be somewhat lower than CJ’s, but still substantial I imagine. I’m very much on the lazy side (or the “I *can* work hard but most work is horribly uninteresting to me” side) and yet I would definitely get *some* work done even if I didn’t have to, ie even on a very generous UBI. My perception is that much more than half of all people have emotional self-worth urges too high to let them REALLY do nothing and be complete parasites permanently, even though that still leaves many millions of genuine ass-sitters (emphasis on that last bit).
    Besides, in a world likes this, most of the ass sitters would be the entitled type, while paradoxically the balance of power would be more in the hands of rich people who donate willingly rather than through government coercion; which means they’ll have a lot of latitude to “shame” the ass sitters with impunity. Which is a good thing, and will probably exacerbate those self-worth issues I mentioned even if those people barely have them, spurring many of them into actually doing some work. The most entitled people are usually those most impressionable by shaming tactics, which is why they’re so obsessed with “don’t judge/don’t shame” garbage.

  18. @ Walter

    My observation has been that a significant number of people with high disposable incomes use if for cool experiences. People buy micro brews and artisanal wine because they appreciate the craft that goes into it not to mention the nuanced flavors that a “Chemical Plant” cannot replicate. Have you ever done a wine tasting with the winemaker guiding you through the experience? If not, I highly recommend it. It is awesome!

    As for teachers, you are correct that we already have fantastic online education tools available, but they are and always will be tools. Khan academy is a fantastic tool for Math and Science, DuoLingo is a fantastic tool for language. However people still spend Billions of dollars sending their children to private schools because none of these tools can motivate, hold a child accountable and respond to an individual child’s needs. Parents usually don’t want or don’t have the time/energy to do these things either.

    I am sure there will a lot more automated medical technology but my best guess is that it will still have to be operated by an expert. Not to mention that research will still need to be done on real patients by real doctors. So, the medical field will change but doctors are not going away in my lifetime.

  19. Besides, in a world likes this, most of the ass sitters would be the entitled type, while paradoxically the balance of power would be more in the hands of rich people who donate willingly rather than through government coercion; which means they’ll have a lot of latitude to “shame” the ass sitters with impunity. Which is a good thing, and will probably exacerbate those self-worth issues I mentioned even if those people barely have them, spurring many of them into actually doing some work.

    Nope. Lazy people don’t give a shit about what hard-working people think of them.

    Lazy losers know they’re lazy losers. They don’t care.

  20. Unfortunately, a lot of Libertarian party types are pushing it too. See Mark Munger, prof at Duke, got his PhD in economics. Ran for governor of NC on the LIb ticket.

    Two problems — one, the Malthusians have always been wrong. ALWAYS. No reason to think that their bleak view of the future will be right this time. This is the same crap we heard when machines freed up farmers to do other kinds of work.

    Two, this is just re-fried socialism. Just as toxic, just as contrary to human nature, just as stifling to the development of human potential.

  21. No way! Its already happened. Just swap the monthly income concept with all the spoils of living in a first world country. The billionaires and innovators of the industrial revolution gifted us with electricity, steel, cars, trains, roads, etc. Americas poor have more spoils than rich people a hundred years ago, and upper middle class people just over the border, yet many of these “poor” still participate in violence and crime.

    Being poor is usually a cycle of laziness than can only be broken by incentive.

  22. I can’t imagine any sort of UBI working long term.

    We’ve basically had a UBI in Australia for years (affectionately known as the “dole”). Most of our cities have whole suburbs where lots of the people haven’t had a job for 3 generations. Admittedly those generations are only 40 years apart due to the having of kids around 16-20 years old. Lots of crime, lots of drugs, lots of mothers with 5 kids from 5 different Dads. Very angry, violent, unhappy, unmotivated, low self-esteem people. It has great results!! :/

    But I think it would work a lot better if they restricted the type of things people could spend the money on (eg no drugs & alcohol, entertainment etc) didn’t pay extra for extra kids (a way of getting a promotion and pay rise in our system).

    I think even our Govt run system would work way better in the medium term with some of these changes. Problem is the Govt doesn’t have the balls to do it.

  23. If I were a trillionaire, rather than “saving” a country, I would certainly prefer to start a new one. A unique challenge if nothing else, and a chance to build something really exciting. Not even sure this requires as much as a trillion.

  24. I’ve become somewhat of a Libertarian due to the evidence presented in your blogs, but I can’t ignore things like this:

    http://i.imgur.com/w0NMuAc.jpg

    [40% of bananas are thrown out by farmers because they don’t meet supermarket standards]

    I’m making an attempt to avoid confirmation bias and expose myself to non-libertarian arguments, but how does this happen? Surely the value of those all those bananas isn’t $0.00? Why would farmers do this? Is this necessarily the fault of “capitalism”, or something else?

    I’m aware that the United States is corporatist, not capitalist, but it sure seems like pretty damning evidence.

  25. I’m aware that the United States is corporatist, not capitalist, but it sure seems like pretty damning evidence.

    I don’t understand what you see as damning. So what if farmers choose to waste their own product? It’s their private property; they’re welcome to do with it whatever they like. Bananas are also biodegradable so throwing them away doesn’t harm the environment. I don’t see a problem.

  26. A nice fantasy.

    How would the money be reported? IRS forms, but to the trillionaires instead?

    Who handles compliance to ensure those who go over the income do not continue to collect it? Automatic, AI monitoring of everyone’s account?

    The benefit to the trillionaires is……….they don’t killed?

    I suppose that could be motivating enough, but I don’t know why anyone would ever want to be a trillionaire in that case.

    And, I’m not sure how the trillionaires stay trillionaires in this case.

    What’s the actual return on investment without the “possible” non-death from the mob? 🙂

Leave a Reply

To leave a comment, enter your comment below. PLEASE make sure to read the commenting rules before commenting, since failure to follow these rules means your comment may be deleted. Also please do not use the username “Anonymous” or “Anon” or any variation thereof (makes things too confusing).

Off-topic comments are allowed, but Caleb will ignore those.

Caleb responds to comments in person, but he only does so on the two most current blog articles.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search.