Let’s do a mind experiment.
Michael Andrew Haines.
1

“Everyone uses their own money to signal what they want produced to meet their own needs.”

Money doesn’t just say, “Here’s what I need…” it also says, “Here’s how well a producer is meeting my needs…”. If you’re doing a terrible job of meeting my needs, and everyone else’s needs, then your income must accurately/correctly/truly reflect this. It must be really low so that…

A. you have very little influence over how society’s limited resources are used

B. other people studiously avoid doing what you’re doing

Imagine if students could choose their teachers. The best teachers would have many students while the worst teachers wouldn’t have any. In this case would it make sense for all teachers to make the same amount of money? Of course not. We would want there to be a disparity in income that reflected the disparity in performance. We would want the worst teachers to have the maximum incentive to learn how to become better teachers. There would be absolutely no doubt about who the best teachers were. The best teachers would be making the most money.

What if the worst teachers weren’t able to become better teachers? Then we would want them to have the maximum incentive to become secretaries or plumbers or writers or anything else. If the worst teachers aren’t effectively meeting people’s need for education, then they must have the maximum incentive to try and meet people’s other needs.

A basic income would distort reality and increase the amount of irrelevant behavior. In order to minimize irrelevant behavior we need to maximize our grasp of reality. This can only happen when all non-markets are transformed into markets.

Right now Medium isn’t a market. You and I go back and forth debating economics without having any idea how beneficial our behavior is to others. We’re in a twilight zone. Or a reality vacuum. We lack the necessary and accurate information to make informed behavioral decisions. This would change if Medium was a market. Then we could compare the benefit of our behavior to the benefit of other members’ behavior. And if we didn’t make any money discussing economics while other members made lots of money discussing religion… then we might not like this reality but at least we would be able to grasp it. We could make an informed decision whether we continue engaging in behavior that doesn’t benefit the rest of society or whether we improve our behavior.

Imagine our behavior as treasure on a map. The map should indicate exactly how valuable/beneficial our behavior is. If it’s really valuable, then society would benefit from others engaging in the same behavior. If it’s not at all valuable, then society would benefit from others avoiding the same behavior.

A basic income would incorrectly change the value of all the behavior/treasure on the map. It would decrease, rather than increase, the accuracy of the treasure map. This would in turn decrease the value of everybody’s behavior.

Regarding automation… it’s most certainly the case that you really fail to appreciate the incredible diversity of people’s needs. If the meeting of some needs is automated then this frees up workers to meet countless other needs that aren’t automated. But this system can only work effectively when every non-market is converted into a market. It’s only through markets that needs can be added to the treasure map.