Thank you for once again bringing this issue to attention about which I have often talked. Some thoughts though:
When you say
We can’t stop there though, because the incomes received by these 8.2 million people create the jobs of others. Those 3.5 million truck drivers driving all over the country stop regularly to eat, drink, rest, and sleep. Entire businesses have been built around serving their wants and needs. Think restaurants and motels as just two examples. So now we’re talking about millions more whose employment depends on the employment of truck drivers. But we still can’t even stop there.
you follow a common misunderstanding about money flows. Money does not disappear. Money doesn’t sit in a bank. Money always flows. If the money doesn’t flow to truck drivers it will flow to other places and those places will inevitably employ people. The big question of course being how many people.
It’s hard to make any objective politically correct statements about this, but I do fear that it’s getting harder and harder for the less intellectually gifted to get good jobs and I do suspect automation plays a major role causing wealth inequality. (And yes, as a programmer I actually do feel somewhat responsible for this). People often enjoy blaming the 1% for wealth inequality, but the reality is that a team of engineers and programmers can soon do the job of around 38 million people in North America + Europe + China + India (assuming the percentage of truck drivers is similar enough). It’s a totally logical — and even somewhat fair — then that whoever pays that team of engineers and programmers is going to be one rich dude.
The problem of course is that beyond the fairness of the free market however we also have a responsibility towards our fellow human beings. And thus I think it makes perfect sense to introduce a fixed unconditional basic income for everyone. Not as a trick to keep the economy running or because we have to blindly chase a constantly increasing standard of living, but simply because it’s the right thing to do. The oh so big problem with all this however is that most of that money will in the end have to come from the rich — not because some kind of Robin Hood thinking, but simply because that’s where the money is — and those same rich have the basic human right to freely move to another country. Thus any country introducing such an income will naturally become uncompetitive compared to a country which goes down farther into the free market hole.
In other words, although I think what you’re calling for might well be the right thing to do, it’s far harder to do such a thing in the real world than it might sound like on paper. After the second world war some of the greatest economists claimed we would work like crazy for a few decades so that our children would bear the fruits of our labours, but we’ve ended up stuck in a mad chase to increase the standard of living. And in the global society we live in the only way to break with it is to somehow agree globally to stop this mad chase and start enjoying the fruits—automating the existing jobs and keeping the standard of living constant, whilst decreasing the hours worked — … and well… considering how hard it is to agree on totally simple stuff like global warming, it’s hard to imagine we will ever come to agree on such a controversial thing.