I’ll start by pointing out that this was always meant to be ballpark math to show the general…
Kady M.

Which instance to you represents real growth and value produced for society?
There is no answer to the question posed in that fashion. GDP is simply the total market value of finished goods sold over a given period of time; no value judgements on relative value to society are therefore valid. To your example, ONE HOPES that the 1000 encylopaedia sets that were sold in a given month for 1000 (so, contribution to GDP 1000x1000=$1,000,000) is replaced by a website that generates > 1,000,000 in subscription fees, making the change in sales channel a wash.

That’s if you only count money as value. Money is simply one way of expressing value, and it isn’t perfect. Anyway, Wikipedia is free, and it serves hundreds of millions of people. It brings information to everyone, and it doesn’t require a whole ton of trees to be cut down. That’s not a wash to me. That’s an enormous value added to society, but one that doesn’t help GDP. To appreciate it, you must recognize knowledge as a valuable resource.

But what does “employment” really mean to you?
Something that has three characteristics: 1) you get a wage, 2) you get a task, and 3) there are expectations of you that you must meet in order to stay employed. Charity work or family caregiving don’t qualify.

Right. That’s the system we have. I think that’s flawed. I think someone who takes care of the sick is providing value to society, and that that value should be compensated, so that more people can make the choice to provide that form of value without fear of catastrophic poverty.

Is the fact that someone has decided to attach a dollar value to that labor the reason it has meaning and gives satisfaction?
Yes, to the 87% of the population that does not intrinsically motivate.

That’s a perception, speculation. Even if you claim to have measured it somehow, it’s a false experiment. There is no control, because we don’t have a world with a UBI. Many UBI pilots, however, have been done, and while they are not truly representative of all the benefits expected from a full UBI (due to it being guaranteed for life and community wide), they have roundly shown that working hours do not decrease, health outcomes improve, crimes drop, graduation rates increase, and entrepreneurialism grows. This doesn’t sound like 87% of people not intrinsically motivating under a UBI. Perhaps it’s our current system that makes it so hard to intrinsically motivate.

Does 40 hours per week have some significant meaning, or is it an arbitrary number?
It’s arbitrary, and likely to change in the future, when we need to go to job guarantees due to automation.

Why doesn’t a UBI amount to the same thing? If the jobs we can guarantee are only 20 hour per week jobs, paying only $15/hr, then they are barely survivable, and a UBI will be needed. Without it, the middle class will vanish and the economy will grind to a halt.

And what does any of this mean in a near future when that doorman will be let go, replaced by a robot, along with 50% of the labor market?
Hence my support for job guarantees.

Not guaranteeable. Do you believe Trump when he guarantees he’ll bring coal jobs back?

Was standing still in the same spot all day really an effective use of that human being’s time and talent anyway?
I travel a lot, and often have a lot of bags. So, I must answer “yes”.

What the hell does that mean? You need a bag carrier? That’s gonna be a quick job to go, too.

but is this a challenge we can address by pretending it doesn’t exist?
I am not aware of anyone claiming that globalization and automation have no long term employment ramifications.

But are they realistically addressing them? I’m highly skeptical, and your insistence that some sort of jobs guarantee will do it is not reassuring to me.

Can we find new forms of employment to provide us meaning and fulfillment, rather than relying on current ones that may or may not remain valid and are arguably beneath our talents?
Well, “we” don’t find employment; the market creates functional needs, which are traditionally filled by employees. The enire problem here is that those functional needs are suddenly being filled by things that are not-employees.

Does that mean you are for banning technological advancement and forcing companies to keep people on to do mundane tasks? Good luck. If not, what does it mean? How does one guarantee jobs? By what mechanism?

As for “talents”, I am sorry to say that the vast majority of people lack the motivation to hone them, unless their job depends on them. After 40 years in the technological workforce, I continue to be amazed at how little motivation people have.

Maybe that’s because society motivates primarily with fear. Maybe a lot of people you’re working with are only in your field because it seemed a plausible way not to be poor, but they hate it. Maybe they’re actually dragging down companies by being there. Maybe good candidates have a harder time being hired, because there are so many damn applicants. That was my experience: really hard to even get called in, much less hired, and when someone finally does, you do twice the work of everyone else.

Does my status as “creative” have any bearing on the content of my argument? Would this classify as an ad hominem line of argument?
No. It is an observation.

The creative part is an observation. Implying that it means something about my credibility is an ad hominem argument, aka a fallacy.

Does it lend my argument greater credibility to know that I was a mechanical engineer, working in missile systems and energy technologies for years before becoming an actor/writer/filmmaker? If it does, should it?
Certainly. A polymath is always of greater societal value than an idiot.

Some of the biggest, most worthless idiots I’ve known went to ivy league schools, studied econ and engineering, even working in those fields, and some of the smartest have been creatives. That’s not a rule of course, but you’re so damn broadsweeping with your pronouncements I fear you’re missing out on a lot of insightful people and ideas because you’re not open to listening to the mouths they’re coming from for lack of your approved resume.

Aren’t produce and create synonyms? Is the only difference between the two that one has found a market value?
Correct. Anyone can “create” something; its uptake (usually measured at the cash register) measures its value in the economy. People can certainly “create” and find personal satisfaction in doing so, but that’s not something to be done on the taxpayer’s dime.
Are you using “the creatives” as a pejorative here? Do you disdain those who create?
No. What I have disdain for are people who actually plan how to live on the public dime. Regardless of who they are.

Is there nothing we have an inherent right to a share of? The air, the earth, the infrastructure, the legal system, the tax code, our capitalist economic structure? These are assets of the commons. Nobody living created it. We all inherited it, and so nobody can claim ownership, yet great wealth is extracted from it. This wealth is claimed by the wealthy, because they have capital to leverage. One of the main arguments about how to pay is to tax the use and profiting off of such commons, such public assets, and return that value as a dividend to the people. Everyone should be treated as a shareholder in this nation’s publicly owned wealth fund. They do a version of this in Alaska, brought about by a Republican governor, and they love it. Everyone (man, woman, or child) gets an equal dividend from oil profits. They love it, no matter their political leanings, and it makes them proud to be Alaskans. It’s not a full UBI, (has ranged from $1K a year to $3K a year), but it’s a damn good start.

Do you think “creatives” are the only people who might embrace UBI for this reason?
Not at all. There are no shortage of lazy people in the world who would love just enough income to have a modest apartment and sip latte all day. Sweden, where I have relatives, actually cut back on some of their welfare spending a decade or so ago when an international study showed that they had the highest percentage of people in the developed world of working age who weren’t. They reviewed their programs and realized they were enabling sloth. So, they cut back on various aspects of their welfare structure.

I disagree. That’s a boring as hell existence. You get sick of latte after a week of it, you know? And latte isn’t all that cheap. A modest apartment and a latte habit would probably cost more than the $1000 per month I’m advocating for. I agree in that I don’t think a UBI should be enough to buy luxury, at least not until we truly know more about human motivation, but I do think it should guarantee survival. If Sweden cut back, maybe they were giving too much and taking it away too easily. That’s why Finland is currently experimenting with UBI. They want to find out if a guaranteed income will incentivize the unemployed to go back to work. Under their current system, unemployment benefits are pretty comfortable, and you lose them by taking a job, and so people don’t take jobs. Are you at least curious to see what they find? If they can show that a much larger percentage rejoin the workforce, that sounds look a good proof of concept to me.

Can you accept there might be a difference between embracing guaranteed income and rejecting guaranteed job schemes? Why not have both?
See above.
But what do you do if a jobs guarantee is your only plan, but it turns out that there are far fewer income-generating “jobs” than there are people?
I cannot imagine this to be the case, at least in the short term. There are so many jobs that go undone because (speaking of the public sector alone now) the tax base cannot support more teachers, teacher’s aids, day care workers, pothole fillers, public parks gardners, etc, etc, etc.
How does proclaiming to guarantee a job solve that problem? What is the actual method for guaranteeing those jobs?
Well, you raise taxes (obviously that’s part of all these programs) to fund them. The job guarantee worker gets paid less than the guy next to him that actually works for the city//state/county. So, he is motivated to work hard, because what he (or she) wants is to actually be HIRED for the real job when an opening occurs. The guaranteed job thus becomes a job training/job interview program.

People already work 3 jobs and can’t pay the rent. Providing more, even crappier paying jobs doesn’t seem like much of a solution.

What is money to you? What does it mean/represent? Does money = value per se? Is someone with more money or income than you inherently a more valuable human being than you?
No. It means that their work is valued at a higher level than mine is. It is not a personal indictment of any sort.

Good word choice. You say their work is valued at a higher level than yours is, but is it more valuable? That was the question? If money, as distributed by our economic system, is the only thing that really determines value in your mind, then it must be so. Anybody who makes a penny more is doing work that is more valuable than yours, and anybody who makes a penny less, the opposite. Have you ever been paid less than a male colleague for no apparent reason of merit? Maybe, maybe not, but it happens all the time, and their are millionaires and billionaires who do more harm to society than good, and impoverished people who add value to society. We do not live in a meritocracy, and our markets do not adequately reward labor, and so a jobs guarantee alone is not a sufficient solution.

Does our current economic system perfectly reward value with money? If not, is it wrong to take steps toward addressing that discrepancy?
I don’t let perfection get in the way of the practical. One can always make the case that the teacher is more INHERENTLY valuable than the lawyer, that the cop is more INHERENTLY valuable than the hedge fund manager. You can try to address that all you like, but it’s not easy.

I have a solution for addressing that. You might be able to guess it.

If you object to my ballparking methods, can you suggest a different measure by which to assess how large of a flat income tax (again, not my preferred method of paying for UBI, but a rhetorical jumping off point) could pay for it?
It’s not going to happen with either an increase in the income tax or a tax on GDP (aka, a “VAT”). There’s way too much that will blow up in your face. An 18% VAT craters sales activity and moves jobs offshore; an increase in the income tax that you’re suggesting (1% brings in about 100B a year, roughly) would be across the board 35% increase, or thereabouts. You’d have people (like me) moving to Romania without a second thought, and the capital flight would be enormous. You would literally break the banks.

1% of $15T is $150B, no? That’s where I came up with 22%. But what if we pay for a lot of it with commons tax and dividend policies? Then it’s far less. What if our economy booms because people are spending more money rather than letting it sit in inflated bank accounts? Then each percentage of income tax gets you more. What if crime and health care costs plummet? What if some of the current welfare programs can be phased out? What if you end tax expenditures that really only benefit the wealthy? What if you cut back on military spending? This is why I’m using income tax as a jumping off point only, but you seem determined to ignore that. The question is, what percent income tax increase becomes worth it when you realize that we are each getting that $12K a year plus a stable economy and guaranteed security? I never mentioned a VAT tax. Besides, you said yourself you want to raise the same types of funds by raising taxes, you just don’t want to spend them that way, because you don’t trust people. That seems to be your real issue with UBI.

If you look at two methods which are sometimes discussed as ways of dragging in a boatload of money, neither works. One is the financial transactions tax, the other is a net worth tax. Try to get 3.5T out of either one, and anyone with any money at all is living in Bucharest.

Why must it be one or the other? You take what is reasonable from each source. If people want to move to Bucharest because they can no longer extract value from our economy, I’m for it. They represent a net loss to us all.

There is only one way I know of to generate that much money, and that would be a tenth of a percent taken on all of THIS:
A tenth of a percent isn’t much, but I can’t promise there’s no mess caused here, either.

YES! That’s another source of funding I support. Tax financial transactions. I was a stock trader at one point, too, so I know of the crazy volume flying around there. A tax like that would discourage wild speculation and enormous blackbox algorithms and encourage longer term investing. What’s going on now isn’t really investing any more. I would start very small here, too, to see what the real consequences are, but that’s a great way to add to a public dividend that many UBI proponents support.

Is that increase necessarily bad, especially if it’s going to individuals and not disappearing as a government expense?

That’s back to your lack of trust, methinks.

If the largest earners, the top 1% and 0.1% and 0.01%, are making most of the money and paying a fraction of what they should in taxes due to entitlements and loopholes and low rates on unearned income, then could doubling or tripling the tiny percentage they (and corporations) pay back make up this kind of percentage taken as a national average?
Full stop. It is a myth that these “largest earners” are paying a “fraction of what they should be paying” due to “loopholes”. In 2013, the top 1% paid an effective tax rate of 34%; back when we had the “old top rates” of 50% under Jimmy Carter, they paid an effective rate of 35%. There is such a thing as a carried interest “loophole”, but very few people work for partnerships and can take advantage of that loophole. You hear about it in the press a lot more than it deserves.

That’s on earned income. Most of the wealthy make more money on unearned income, and that’s taxed at 15%. Also, they can declare a whole lot of losses that aren’t really there if they know what they’re doing. And 35% is not nearly enough when you’re making millions. It used to be 90% for a reason. 90% is way too high in my view, but it’s worth noting that when that happened, people didn’t move to Romania, and the economy rebounded drastically, and the middle class expanded again.

Again, this is not how I actually suggest paying for all of a UBI, but raising taxes on the super wealthy, to whom our system funnels profits, is a thing I already think needs to happen.
Raising taxes on the 1% by 4.6% (as Obama got done in the Boehner deal in 2011) added about 60B to tax receipts. 60B is 1.5% of our federal budget. So, you can keep raising taxes all you like on them, but there’s just not enough of them to move the needle. They’ll all be in Bucharest long before any financial issues the US has gets solved.

You really must like Bucharest.

If UBI frees people to create more art, start up more businesses, contribute more to their communities, and become more active in politics, is that not a formula based around truly productive work?
Not in this context. “Create more art” reminds me of the content battle between HBO, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, whoever. We are already, in this venue, producing far more “art” than we can possibly consume in a lifetime. Good art needs no subsidy. Only poor art does.

That’s not how art works. Good art very much needs subsidy. Or do you only want to consume blockbusters and sequels for the rest of eternity?

And, unfortunately, a 12K stipend really isn’t enough to start a serious business on.

It’s enough if you keep working, and put the $12K toward basic expenses, and the income toward starting that business. That’s the whole idea. You guarantee basics, and the incentivizing capitalist market is there for anyone to pursue their dreams beyond lattes. That’s what I would have done a lot more of all along. But I was too busy trying not to die.

Is the concept of UBI really a dole, or is it a dividend recognizing that we’re all shareholders in this country, and all should have a share of the opportunity to be our best selves?
It’s a dole. I would rather have the work of a person’s hands and pay him for it. To use that prior example you raised, I am sick and tired of lugging my own bags into hotel rooms because minimum wage has destroyed the bellman profession. I am tired of having middle school classrooms of 40 because we can’t afford more teachers and aids. My ass is chapped from waiting in lines at Wal-Mart because only four of the fifty checkout lines is open. There are a ton of jobs for people to do, we just have to get creative and figure out how we want to get them done.

So your solution is to pay them all less for less hours? You’re starting to sound pretty inhuman and out of touch.

That person is a fearful person. I’ve been there, and I know I’m much more valuable to society when I’m not there.
I’ve been there too. I retrained. it was motivating.

Without the fear of homelessness, would you still have retrained and been motivated, or just “Nah, lattes”?

I want anyone with a good idea or purpose to pursue to have no excuse not to fling themselves passionately at it.
But the vast majority of them won’t. This is the point of my chart above. When the factories left the midwest, the people didn’t come up with great ideas to reinvent themselves. They didn’t go chasing a dream. What they chased was crystal meth and booze.

If there are no jobs, that’s what happens. They didn’t chase crystal meth and booze because they suddenly sensed an opportunity to screw around and wast their lives away and were excited for it. They turned to those drugs as an escape from having to face a morbid and desperate and, to them, hopeless reality. The people who made it from those towns often had to leave those towns. That’s not sustainable.

If you don’t think people really will behave productively and proactively in the way I describe, is that a reflection of real human nature, as you referred to it, or a reflection of yourself and your perceptions after living your life in a world that doesn’t encourage this sort of mindset? Can you really base your conclusions about UBI on past experiences of human nature 1) when your experiences are limited to your circles and your history and your perceptions and 2) when what UBI is calling for is a massive paradigm shift in which the way society functions and the ways people engage with it are drastically altered?
No. I base my views on data. As I mentioned before, there are about a million studies on life satisfaction, and the #1 bar none factor that affects life satisfaction is a productive job.

Is it the job, or is it the combination of the feeling of doing meaningful work, plus having security?

I have never seen a study in the 25 years I have been reading educational psychology literature that shows that the intrinsic motivations that must exist in order for your utopia to flourish are present in more than a moderate to small percentage of the population. I always remember 13% because it was on a test when I was working on my Masters; but now we see that intrinsic motivation is so weak in the population that school districts are starting to pay kids to take tests and to show up for school on time:

Because what’s the damn point, that’s why. Not because people are lazy, but because school is becoming more and more of a financial liability, and the job market is not providing opportunities for those that go through the system flawlessly.

…..and if that’s not bad enough, we have some researchers saying that NOBODY is truly intrinsically motivated; that whatever we do, we do so because we hope to get something out of it other than the pleasure of “doing”:

If this is the case, what are we arguing about? What are we fighting to protect or improve? Why advocate for a jobs guarantee when we’re all doomed, humanity is worthless and asinine, life is pointless, and we should all just kill ourselves already? If that is your view, it doesn’t seem like a worthwhile exercise to hash out public policy with you.

So, no, I think your program stands to benefit the liquor companies quite a bit. I would not be surprised to find them lobbying the government for UBI. :-)

I hope you’ll change your mind about human kind some day. I don’t think I could handle being you. It must be so lonely.

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