I do, and they should.
Michael Andrew Haines.
1

With basic income you want the government to give people money. With your idea of students getting paid you want companies to give them money. It’s never the case where you want the opportunity to reach into your own pocket to help reward/support the people who you think deserve to have more money/influence.

My friend Mimi teaches 5th grade. Her students have a blog… Classtopia. They write about a wide variety of topics. On one page they have a list of their favorite entries sorted by donations. So it’s possible for you to use your own money to help rank/grade their entries. You can paypal the money to Mimi, she’ll give it to the students in charge of the blog and they’ll update the list accordingly.

Maybe you won’t be able to find any entries that you enjoy/appreciate. Would this be a problem? Well, it’s certainly not ideal. If students are going to do a bunch of work anyways, then they might as well do the most beneficial work. But this is only possible if it’s really easy for everyone to use their money to communicate just how much benefit they derive from the students’ work. Students aren’t mind-readers. You could just leave a comment to communicate that you enjoyed/appreciated an entry…. but talk is cheap.

Let’s say that you do happen to find an entry that you enjoy. In this case, you’ve already enjoyed the entry. You know exactly how much enjoyment you derived from the entry… but then why spend the correct amount of money on it? You have a clear incentive to spend less than your true valuation. Except doing so would be the equivalent of giving a grade that’s lower than it truly should be. If your feedback is less encouraging/rewarding than it should be, the supply of similar entries would be smaller than you truly want. This is the free-rider problem.

But in this case the free-rider problem is somewhat diminished by the fact that donations help determine the order of the entries. The more donations an entry receives, the higher it will be on the list, and the more people that will read it. So a donation in this case doesn’t just signal/reward/encourage… it also helps to promote.

Try and imagine all the students in the world putting all their work online. Everyone would have the opportunity to use their donations to help grade/rank/reward/encourage/promote the most beneficial/relevant work. This would logically help minimize the amount of irrelevant work that students do.

Would companies have an incentive to participate in this process? Of course. But if a company is spending its money to promote/reward/encourage relevant work done by students… then are these students essentially employees of the company? Do they even ever need to be? If not, then what happens to the company as a concept? What happens to the concept of students and schools?

“Since none of these people contribute anything to the economy, on your views, they should have no say in what gets produced to meet their needs, in fact they should not even be able to meet any of their needs at all — since they contribute nothing to the ‘economy’, they should get nothing.
Is this what you are saying?”

Once schools are transformed into markets then this will minimize the amount of people who do irrelevant work. But it’s possible that there will still be some people who don’t do, or can’t do, relevant work. Should these people get nothing?

Let’s say that Samantha is a good samaritan. You see her give some bread to a hungry person. Do you derive any benefit from her behavior? Probably. But do you adequately reward/encourage her behavior? Probably not. The free-rider problem is a real problem. It doesn’t mean that nobody will voluntarily contribute to our collective well-being. It means that most people won’t voluntarily contribute enough.

The free-rider problem is why taxation is compulsory. Since you are paying taxes anyways, if you could directly choose where they go, then you might as well give some of your tax dollars to Samantha. You might as well empower her. You might as well give her more influence over how society’s limited resources are used. Unless there are more beneficial uses of your tax dollars. This is entirely possible. The point is for you to use your brainpower and information to decide which uses of your own tax dollars are the most valuable.

Every tax dollar that you give to Samantha is a tax dollar that you can’t give to some kid in school. Do you want to spend your tax dollars on treating the disease… or curing it? Do you want to spend your tax dollars to build bigger prisons or do you want to spend your tax dollars to support/guide/encourage poor students?

Figuring out the right answers to these questions depends on doing your homework. People who do their homework tend to earn more money, and pay more taxes, than people who don’t do their homework. We want the issue of welfare to be tackled by the people who do their homework. This is what will naturally occur if people can choose where their taxes go.

Right now people can’t choose where their taxes go. The public sector is not a market… but it should be. Every non-market should be transformed into a market.

“So you keep saying. But so far you haven’t explained how this would work in practice, other than reference Medium.”

I’ve referenced Medium, Classtopia and the government. You already know what a market is. So you can identify where markets are and are not.

Right now you can choose whether or not you spend your money on Netflix. Netflix is in a market. But if you do subscribe to Netflix, you can’t choose whether or not you spend your subscription dollars on nature documentaries. Netflix is not a market. It’s a non-market. Transforming Netflix into a market would simply involve giving subscribers the opportunity to choose which shows and movies they spend their subscription dollars on.

Youtube isn’t a market either. Same with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Reddit, Wikipedia… it’s a long list. Most websites aren’t markets because most people don’t understand what markets are good for.

Once every non-market is transformed into a market then everybody will have access to a much much much better treasure map. People will clearly see that they are actually surrounded by valuable opportunities.

Like I said, people’s needs are incredibly diverse. But the value of so many of these needs is hidden because so many markets are missing. Once every non-market is transformed into a market… then all the valuable needs will be visible on the treasure map. We will all do a much better job of meeting each other’s incredibly diverse and valuable needs.

Let’s get specific. Here’s a photo of an orchid blooming on a tree in Australia. I enjoyed it so I clicked the “Favorite” button… so did twelve other people. We can see that thirteen people like this photo but we can’t see how much they like it. All thirteen of us have a need for photos like this but, since Flickr isn’t a market, it’s not easy for us to reveal the value of our need.

If Flickr did transform into a market then the value of our need would be revealed and known. It would be added to the treasure map. Everyone could see and know that a good photo of an impressive specimen of this orchid is worth $5 dollars… or $20 dollars… or $50 dollars. So if you’re walking along in the bush and you happen to see an equally impressive orchid in full bloom then, thanks to the accurate and comprehensive treasure map, you could make an informed decision whether it’s worth it to take and share a photo.

There are spectacular orchids all throughout the tropics. Every day so many people in Mozambique, Guatemala and Cambodia walk right past these orchids without taking and sharing photos of them. It’s the equivalent of walking right past a dollar bill… or a five dollar bill… or a twenty dollar bill… on the sidewalk. All these people fail to spot and recognize these valuable opportunities because Flickr and all the other photo sharing sites are not markets. These sites don’t make it really easy for us to put our valuable needs on the treasure map.

Lots of people are really interested in orchids…. but orchids really aren’t the only plants that people are interested in. People are interested in all sorts of plants… and animals. People’s needs/interests are incredibly diverse. This means that valuable opportunities are virtually endless. All that’s required is for every non-market to be transformed into a market.

If you can begin to appreciate the diversity of people’s needs/interests… then you can begin to appreciate the absurdity of giving money to people for no good reason.