Before I go running off and wasting time, tell me what changed since grad school back in the early…
Kady M.

First off, thank you for sharing more of your thoughts. I’m sorry my first response was so rash. Now to responding:

My own thoughts on the original discussion of UBI are not well formed, so I’m open to arguments for or against it that make sense to me. And for now, I do believe the SDT perspective can shed some light on the issue. My qualm with your statement that people would “obviously not” work if they didn’t have to (backed up by the extrinsic vs intrinsic motivation statistic) is that I don’t see how the statement follows from the numbers. In fact, I might have concluded the opposite.

Yes, I agree that we are mostly extrinsically motivated, and that, often, people are intrinsically motivated to do things that are not necessarily productive for society. But I don’t see how not having to work for money would have negative consequences, given the statistic. Extrinsic motivation simply means that you perform an action in order to achieve an outcome that is separable from that action (even if the action gives you pleasure, it’s not the pleasure you’re seeking but the outcome). Right now, for many people, that outcome is a paycheck—so, for example, they work at McDonald’s doing a job that could be perfectly automated; benefit for society: zilch. But for others, whose immediate needs are/would be covered by savings (or, say, UBI), the outcome can be so much grander. They study because they want to become doctors (extrinsic) and eventually help cure cancer (extrinsic); they become teachers because they want to help children develop into awesome adults (extrinsic) and they don’t have to worry if the pay is shit (because, UBI), instead of doing something they are not motivated for (and, hence, are unlikely to be so good at) simply because it pays more.

Sure, I can’t and won’t say that ridding people of the need to do any job in order to have their basic physiological needs met will make them all move on to grander things. But you must agree that it won’t make everyone a silly talentless artist either. So it just seems to me that the argument is inadequate. Thus we circle back to your problem statement:

EVEN IF each human finds that thing which motivates THEM……that doesn’t necessarily translate into a viable and productive society, nor one which is economically viable on into the future.

Here, I must agree. Where I disagree is that it’s not worth a try. The societies we live in right now all work under the premise that motivating people with money is optimal, and yet we still have embarrassing rates of physical and mental ill-health, amotivation, recessions, yada yada. So something could definitely be improved. Luckily, we now also know that you don’t have to think up a policy and just implement it everywhere and hope for the best. Maybe UBI is awesome, maybe it’s shit, maybe some variations of it are awesome and some are shit; let’s test it and find out (as, I hear, many cities are currently trying to)! May the truth win in the end :)

On another note, could you link me to that work of yours you mentioned? I’d love to check it out!


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