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November 21, 2021

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I expect the database will have to be more complicated than that. For example, I can't believe today's conservatives are going to allow prisoners in jail to receive their UBI payments. After all, if you have a $10K or $15K annual income, you're not going to do heavy field labor for a pittance to try to earn enough for cigarettes.

As with all such socio-economic arguments, the conservative positions for what does and doesn't constitute "universal" coverage will be quite instructive.

I can't believe today's conservatives are going to allow prisoners in jail to receive their UBI payments. After all, if you have a $10K or $15K annual income, you're not going to do heavy field labor for a pittance to try to earn enough for cigarettes.

It would seem relatively straightforward to just charge prisoners for room and board. They still get their UBI payments, but they stop getting room and board at state expense while incarcerated.

It's not, strictly speaking, part of UBI itself. But it is an issue that can be fairly readily designed around.

As I think further on it, that suggests an improvement to our penal code. Suppose that, for anyone convicted of a "white collar" crime (or maybe just any crime), all income from any of their assets -- interest, dividends, maybe even (not sure how) capital gains -- becomes a fine in addition to incarceration. That is, you can't run up your fortune while you are in jail.

In addition to the fairness aspect, it would provide a significant incentive to not let rich criminals skate. There would be too much to be gained by actually trying and convicting them. Hmmm....

wj: well it's just good that there isn't any major political party pandering to rich criminals, is there?

I can envision stakeholders in the status quo, like public employee unions, fighting it tooth and nail.

conservative: One who readily invokes the backward bending supply of labor curve, but only for the poors, because we all know they are morally inferior, lazy, psychologically impaired, or have the wrong phrenology due to (cough, cough) 'other factors'. There are are a few exceptions: Children under the age of 4 and dead people. Thus the more you pay poor people, the less they will work. This obviously does not apply to CEO's and those who work frantically to preserve the value of their trust fund.

Clearly, from a true conservative viewpoint, UBI would be nothing short of full blown socialism.

I can envision stakeholders in the status quo, like public employee unions, fighting it tooth and nail.

Any time anything changes, there will be some people who are negatively impacted. Or just fail to get as big a positive impact as they think they deserve. If you aren't willing to accept that, all you have left is stasis.

Note also that, from a conservative point of view, upsetting public sector unions is probably a net plus. ;-)

Clearly, from a true conservative viewpoint, UBI would be nothing short of full blown socialism.

More clearly, you have decided to embrace the reactionary mis-definition of "conservative". Rather than deal with what the term really means. Now if you had said "a reactionary viewpoint", you might have had some basis for anticipating their disliking it. And for their (mis)characterizing it as socialism.

A conservative, in reality, is one who prefers incremental changes, when possible, rather than massive changes. That isn't always possible, as any real conservative will acknowledge; but it's a preference.

Likewise, a conservative will take the position that, if someone wants to change something, the burden is on the advocate for change to show:
1) that there is a real problem that needs to be addressed
2) that their proposed solution will actually do something to address that problem. Specifically the root problem, rather than something which is just a symptom of the problem.
3) that the entirely predictable unintended consequences (both positive and negative) of the proposed change are, on balance, outweighed by the benefits of the proposal
4) that the proposed solution will actually work in the real world. Not just using whatever the proposer's preferred model is for how people should behave, but under the ways that real people actually do behave.

For me, one of the most irritating "features" of current political discourse is its fondness for guilt by association:
"Reactionaries/conservatives/moderates/liberals/progressives/socialists like and support this idea, there for it must be evil, by definition!" Or, alternatively, "Reactionaries/conservatives/moderates/liberals/progressives/socialists oppose this idea, there for it must be good, by definition."

Regardless, in both cases, of the idea's actual merit or flaws.

Indeed, that was one of the motivations for this post: to look at the actual merits of the idea, without reference to who first proposed it.

wj,
I have nothing against UBI as a public policy. If you support it, well that's great. However to conflate it with your concept of "conservative" leaves a lot to be desired, i.e., it does not comport with actual political reality (one of your big gripes...really?), nor does it comport with traditional conservative political writing going back to, say, Edmund Burke. And as to your assertion that your version of "conservatism" being "non-ideological" well, that is a bit strange.

More clearly, you have decided to embrace the reactionary mis-definition of "conservative".

Correct me if I am wrong, but this is an argument for "conservatives" to vote for the moderate Democrats in their local/state races, because that's the side that favors "conservative" policy. Certainly the reactionary Republicans will not support it.

Here in Colorado, given demographic changes, I am less than convinced that Boebert can actually win a Congressional district again, as other than a protest vote.

I will add another point, UBI would helps local community.

People who couldn't find works in hometown would not need to chase work in coast, People may accept much lower wages to continue work in their hometown. Local economy, local tradition, would be helped immensely.

There are also equalizing effect: comfortable housewife, farmer, trucker, plumber, etc would be attractive employment with UBI. College and White collar jobs would only be chased by ambitious young people. For majority, less competitive jobs would be more attractive with UBI. These also allow much free time, which would help community.

as to your assertion that your version of "conservatism" being "non-ideological" well, that is a bit strange

bobbp, my apologies if I seemed to say that I think my version of conservatism is somehow non-ideological. As you say, that would be strange. Not to say nonsense. Clearly it is an ideology.

What I intended to convey is that a proposed policy should be evaluated on its real-world merits. Not on how well that policy fits with any particular ideology.

wj, I'm not going to wade in much except to say thanks for sticking your head about the parapet. As I've said, I feel your pain at having a definition of a word that you like and feel is appropriate get bent, spindled and mutilated until it isn't the word you use. I also have to say that if everyone else uses one definition, there's not really a lot you can do.

I would note that in one sense, UBI can't be conservative because there is no real example of a UBI out there, if 'conservative' means identifying what is good and useful and keeping that.

Finally, I think this is interesting in light of the discussion of 'what will/should the right do next'

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/21/climate-denial-far-right-immigration

this is an argument for "conservatives" to vote for the moderate Democrats in their local/state races, because that's the side that favors "conservative" policy.

It is, and I routinely do. At least in those depressingly frequent elections when there isn't a sane, non-reactionary, Republican on offer.

Here in Colorado, given demographic changes, I am less than convinced that Boebert can actually win a Congressional district again,

That definitely counts as good news. I just hope that, after she loses, Republicans in her district quickly make the intellectual leap (more like a babystep) to figure out they should nominate someone saner. But if the Republicans here in California are any guide, it may be decades before that happens. During which, a Jon Tester type Democrat could have a pretty safe seat in a pretty red district.

I would note that in one sense, UBI can't be conservative because there is no real example of a UBI out there, if 'conservative' means identifying what is good and useful and keeping that.

Conservative, as I undrstand the term, does mean that. But not only that.

It also means accepting that there are things which do need to change. Both those which are ongoing problems and those which have arisen do to other changes. Because the world around us is constantly changing. As any non-reactionary knows, it isn't going to stop and return to some past configuration -- neither a real one nor a fantasy one.

I can envision stakeholders in the status quo, like public employee unions, fighting it tooth and nail.

Which public employee unions would that be, CharlesWT? And what parts of the proposal do you envision them fighting?

I can't imagine any teachers unions opposing UBI, though I can see them opposing it being denied to any legal residents working here and paying taxes, or any DREAMers, or for the incarcerated.

Police unions? Oh yeah. They'd oppose.

Fire and EMT? Don't have a good feel for how they would go on this.

I will say, though, that you have the strangest notions of public employee union attitudes of anyone I have ever encountered.

Let me also say right here that I oppose the incarcerated not receiving a UBI, or anyone working here legally not receiving it.

If you want to *exclude* convicted felons from receiving income from any source *other than* UBI while incarcerated, and freeze assets so that they earn no interest, and allow no stock appreciation during that time, then that's fine. Charging inmates a reasonable room and board is also okay. But I want nothing that smacks of slavery and no incentives to import workers to work for a pittance.

Incarceration should be restorative justice, not punitive retribution.

I want nothing that smacks of slavery and no incentives to import workers to work for a pittance.

It seems to me that UBI would actually reduce that incentive. If citizens have UBI, and immigrants do not, you can probably get non-immigrant workers for less. Simply because they can afford to work for something less than minimum survival wages. Many of them might refuse to, but it won't be just for financial reasons.

It seems like there would be some tradeoffs. And you might end up paying higher wages, just because workers aren't as desperate to keep eating. But on balance, I'm guessing demand for immigrant labor at the low end goes down.

Which public employee unions would that be, CharlesWT? And what parts of the proposal do you envision them fighting?

I may be misreading Charles. But I assumed he was talking specifically about the unions representing workers in the current welfare bureaucracy. Those being the unions which would lose members.

UBI sounds generally fine to me. Everybody needs to eat and have a place to live.

UBI as a way to make it possible for employers to pay crap wages in perpetuity seems… less appealing.

An issue raised here is the phenomenon of jobs that (a) actually need doing, and (b) don’t pay a living wage, and (c) can’t pay a living wage while still making economic sense to keep doing them, at least the way things are currently arranged.

Can we get a structural solution to that, rather than a band-aid?

As far as what ‘conservative’ means:

I don’t see real conservatism on offer in the US right now. LIkewise, I don’t see a realistic ‘left’ in the US.

We have technocrats, who see government as a Swiss Army knife to solve any and all problems. And we have reactionary authoritarian nationalists, more or less a modern-day Falange.

Given those choices, the technocrats will get my vote every time. I’d be open to wj’s vision of conservatism, if one were on offer that didn’t involve throwing working people to the freaking wolves. And, I’d be open to a truly left approach, where authority and agency did not flow so exclusively to capital ownership.

UBI’s a work-around. It’s arguably preferable to welfare as it exists now, and I’d be fine with it. But it’s a work-around for the inequities that are the natural result of the capitalist model.

But it’s a work-around for the inequities that are the natural result of the capitalist model.

This is exactly right. Implementing public policy to blunt or eliminate those inequities would be preferable to my way of thinking, for UBI is just a way to split up the pie allocation outcomes more fairly vs. actually addressing the fact that the pie is split up so inequitably in the first place.

UBI is fine, but it does not address the basic problems of economic inequality and the total imbalance of economic power that we currently have as an economic and political framework.

UBI as a way to make it possible for employers to pay crap wages in perpetuity seems… less appealing.

If that were to happen, it would be an unintended consequence. But would it happen?

You can get away with paying crap wages if people have the alternatives of work for that or starve. But without that worse alternative? It seems equally likely that employers would actually have to pay more. Or in some other way make the job more appealing.

I would also expect, as a result, to see some shifts in how things are arranged. If you want to hire caregivers, for example, and you can't get enough people on crap pay (because UBI lets them say No), then those jobs start to pay more. And some other jobs start to pay less. Not because they become less important, but just because more people actually enjoy doing them. And, with UBI, can afford to do what they enjoy.

UBI is fine, but it does not address the basic problems of economic inequality and the total imbalance of economic power that we currently have as an economic and political framework.

I agree that UBI does not address that. That is, it's not a universal solution. But the framework issues you see are, I would contend, a seperate problem. Needing a separate solution. UBI may facilitate crafting such a solution. But it isn't flawed because it doesn't address that different problem.

I would also note that, as a practical matter (sorry!), UBI seems likely to be far easier to put in place. And, because it is pretty simple, far less likely to have the sort of design flaws and unexpected (at least by the designers) consequences that whatever global structural restructuring you initially come up with.

it isn't going to stop and return to some past configuration -- neither a real one nor a fantasy one.

The core tenant of conservatism, as generally understood, and as passed down by conservative political theorists of one stripe or another (like the left, there are several) is the preservation of hierarchy, be it an "aristocracy" or the boss with their absolute power over the workplace.

The core tenant of conservatism

I admit I probably don't qualify as a conservative political theorist. But since my version doesn't include "preservation of hierarchy" as any kind of tenant, let alone a core one. So I'd be interested in seeing some references on that.

Well, hope I'm not too harsh in pointing this out, but tackling UBI before dealing with racial and gender issues seems to be precisely like a 'preservation of hierarchy'. I suppose a lot depends on whether you are going with UBI because you think that dealing with racial and gender disparities is too difficult or if you are thinking that they aren't as big a problem as others suggest they are. I'm revealing my own biases here, but I'd say the first one would make you a liberal, the second a conservative...

I'd also note that previous schemes that have the flavor of UBI have been organized so as to keep hierarchies and differences in social standing intact.

https://repository.uchastings.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3259&context=hastings_law_journal

https://naacp.org/articles/viewing-social-security-through-civil-rights-lens

You can get away with paying crap wages if people have the alternatives of work for that or starve. But without that worse alternative? It seems equally likely that employers would actually have to pay more.

That's a good point. My own thought was that employers would continue to pay less than living wages and rely on UBI to keep their employees from starving, the way they do now with programs like TANF etc.

Unlike supplemental programs, UBI would (presumably) provide total income sufficient to let people simply walk away.

So, you could be correct.

preservation of hierarchy

IMO it's more than fair to say that the idea that some people are 'fit to rule' while others are not is, if not a core principle, at the very least a common assumption in conservative thought.

And the things that mark one as among those fit to rule are often things like property, or education, or lineage. It's a deeply class-based point of view, where the population in general are more or less a mob and governance by an enlightened few is what keeps society from descending into chaos.

Maybe not a core tenet, but definitely an assumption about human nature.

There's similar logic behind having the US cover healthcare for all citizens, so that employers don't have to deal with it.

The opposition? Tribalism.

Well, hope I'm not too harsh in pointing this out, but tackling UBI before dealing with racial and gender issues seems to be precisely like a 'preservation of hierarchy'. I suppose a lot depends on whether you are going with UBI because you think that dealing with racial and gender disparities is too difficult or if you are thinking that they aren't as big a problem as others suggest they are.

It seems to me that it's pie in the sky to talk as if there's some central decision-making process that is going to determine which thing "we" work on first. For the most part, people gonna do what people gonna do. "We" are awash in dire problems, and "we" all chip away at whichever side of the mess seems most crucial to us, or most easily remedied. I would rather be happy to see people working on any one of these problems at all, because there are an awful lot of people right now actively working to make things worse (from my and I think your POV). In every way possible.

My volunteer work is all with a local land trust. Should I take that time and work for racial justice or economic justice instead? Or should I hope that what the land trust is doing will make sure there is some undeveloped open land for our great great grandchildren? The land trust, to its credit, is now working on making alliances with Native groups in relation to land justice from their point of view. I hope to see it also start taking into account the problem of an acute affordable housing shortage, which has obvious connections to the notion of setting land aside to keep it from being developed.

In the diversity class I took long ago at UMaine, there was a reading that included a chart showing that when bad economic times hit, poor people take the brunt, and black people disproportionately. I couldn't and can't help but think that the fact that poor people take the hit rather than the billionaires is just as appalling as the fact that black people are disproportionately poor.

(This is written in haste ... as of a week ago I became a grandma, and am even more preoccupied than I was before with things that are keeping me from engaging here. Carry on.)

Well, hope I'm not too harsh in pointing this out, but tackling UBI before dealing with racial and gender issues seems to be precisely like a 'preservation of hierarchy'. I suppose a lot depends on whether you are going with UBI because you think that dealing with racial and gender disparities is too difficult or if you are thinking that they aren't as big a problem as others suggest they are.

I'm just not seeing how UBI constitutes deliberate "preservation of hierarchy". It's true that it doesn't address racial and gender disparities, and it doesn't claim to. Those are serious problems. But every policy doesn't have to address them in order to be worth doing. All UBI claims to do is provide a better way, i.e. more comprehensive and less difficult for recipients and administrators alike to deal with, to achieve the goal of make sure people can afford the minimum necessities of life.

Now if you think we currently have (even roughly) equal or better chances of enacting something to comprehensively address those issues, you might have a case for doing that first. But do you, 'cause I'm not seeing it? And if not, I can't see an argument that we shouldn't do other things to address other real problems.

My volunteer work is all with a local land trust.

As an aside, this is a vital and under-sung issue.

Out west, folks are up in arms (sometimes literally) because the government won't let them use land they way they want to.

Around here, in the long-settled coastal elite enclaves that People Like Me call home, we deal with the constant and unrelenting pressure to turn every inch of open land into McMansions and condos. The value of land for development generally dwarfs the revenue it can generate via agriculture or other non-development use, let alone just leaving it open.

Preserving open land as such is generally not on the radar for public actors, so private actors step up, usually non-profit land trusts.

So thank you, Janie.

IMO it's more than fair to say that the idea that some people are 'fit to rule' while others are not is, if not a core principle, at the very least a common assumption in conservative thought.

And the things that mark one as among those fit to rule are often things like property, or education, or lineage.

I admit to thinking that there are some who are "fit to rule," and others who are not. Would you argue that Trump or Cruz or DeSantis or Hawley (not to mention Gosar or Boebett) are fit to rule? I sure wouldn't. So yeah, I will concede to that as a principle, maybe even a core principle.

Now the markers for fitness to rule? Certainly things like education can help to rule effectively and well. But they aren't prerequisites -- that's the whole basis for democracy.** And, as the cases above demonstrate, education (or property/wealth or lineage) isn't sufficient for fitness to rule either.

** I would say that, in the United States today, maintaining democracy definitely is a conservative principle -- after all, we've had some form of it for a couple of centuries now. Overthrowing because you might lose elections to someone whose ideas (of other characteristics) you dislike is a radical change, and not conservative at all.

This is written in haste ... as of a week ago I became a grandma, and am even more preoccupied than I was before with things that are keeping me from engaging here.

Congratulations, Janie!

(This is written in haste ... as of a week ago I became a grandma, and am even more preoccupied than I was before with things that are keeping me from engaging here. Carry on.)

Congrats! There are far worse things than becoming a grandma to keep one off the Intertubes...

And russell, thanks for confirming that the word "tenet" has a different meaning from "tenant", even in the US! I was starting to wonder. But that's us hierarchically superior elites for you...

Tenet is also a pretty good movie.

GftNC and CharlesWT -- thanks! It's an adventure, and quite a different one from having one's own child. Since I'm not around babies much, I had forgotten how tiny a newborn person can be. I told my daughter and her husband: wait five minutes, she'll be in college. Because that's how it seems, looking back. :-)

Congratulations, Janie! A very happy occasion indeed!

Only peripherally related to the "fitness to rule" question. But I found it irresistible, and that's an excuse, so here it is anyway.
A Michigan woman tried to hire an assassin online at RentAHitman.com. Now, she’s going to prison.

All these years later, he’s still a little dumbfounded people don’t realize his site is bogus.

“I don’t get it,” Innes told The Washington Post. “People are just stupid.”

Can anyone argue that someone this dumb is fit to rule? Just sayin'.

Hurray, Grandma Janie! (Can I have some ice cream?)

Can anyone argue that someone this dumb is fit to rule?

LOL. not me.

I think everyone understands that some people are 'fit to rule' in the sense of having the competence and temperament needed to do a good job of it.

When I say that there is a conservative assumption that some are 'fit to rule' and some not, I'm referring more to the idea that some are fit to rule because of their membership in some class or other within society. The converse of this is a conservative suspicion of democracy in its direct or pure forms, which are seen as opportunities for mob rule.

This shows up in Burke and through Burke in Kirk, it shows up in the Federalists of the first generation of American leadership, basically it shows up in a million places.

Certainly some conservatives think some form aristocracy (whether of birth or money; essentially whatever group they personally belong to) is the correct way to go.

But I would argue that a conservatism which does not include that particular prejudice is entirely possible. Which is to say, it is not a core principle.

a conservatism which does not include that particular prejudice is entirely possible.

agreed.

I'm just making observations about what is, rather than what could or should be.

in any event, UBI is fine with me. add it to the list of useful things I wish we could have.

:(

Certainly some conservatives think some form aristocracy (whether of birth or money; essentially whatever group they personally belong to) is the correct way to go.

feels to me like that's one way social conservatism tries to maintain the status quo. those men who currently rule are clearly meant to rule, and the job should clearly go to someone like them next - like, for example, those men's sons, or brothers, or golfing partners!

By one accounting, for a budget-neutral UBI of $7,923 for under 18 and $15,845 for 18 and older, a list of things that would be needed to be repealed. I don't think the politicians and bureaucrats would want to give up that much power and influence.

Changes to federal individual income tax code and benefits/transfer system for budget-neutral UBI analysis

Exploring a budget-neutral UBI

From what I read 'conservative' is a rather young term in the political sense, dating no further back than the 18th century (The concept itself is of course thousands of years old).
I found it quite surprising that it arose in the context of the rise of abolutism and in opposition to it wanting to conserve the traditional medieval class system and its religious foundation (as opposed to the principles of 'enlightened absolutism').
So, the way we understand 'traditional' conservatism today (as opposed to the radical and/or reactionary RW movements that have adopted the term) is actually wrong because these days 'traditional' conservatives would consider themselves as rational (i.e. they try to argue their position from a rational base not purely a 'G#d has ordained it so, no need to argue' one).

Janie,

May your granddaughter live long and prosper. She will have at least one advantage in life: a really cool grandma.

--TP

the way we understand 'traditional' conservatism today . . . is actually wrong because these days 'traditional' conservatives would consider themselves as rational

I would agree that the understanding is different than it was originally. But then, I would also argue that conservatism isn't properly unchanging. A rational individual cannot miss the fact that change occurs constantly, and therefore life must adapt.

A conservative may have different ideas about what changes are the best way to adapt. And possibly that some individual changes were a mistake**, and should be reversed if possible. But to demand that there be NO changes (except to roll back the clock) is not based in reality.

** To argue that all changes were desirable is not rational either. Just ask yourself if the change in wealth distribution since the middle of the last century was desirable. Seems to me like a classic example of a change that should be reversed.

The radical reactionaries at AEI take on UBI:

https://www.aei.org/tag/universal-basic-income/?gclid=CjwKCAiAnO2MBhApEiwA8q0HYcjkPQVTiNimDs11iye1uT0FB8y148C5vhue55IhsP_ZUsBVzB1JUxoC77oQAvD_BwE

Are they not conservatives?

But I would argue that a conservatism which does not include that particular prejudice is entirely possible. Which is to say, it is not a core principle.

I'm not so sure.

1. I think Russel's got the right of it here, inasmuch as this tendency is endemic to the vast majority of actual conservatives, including the most influential conservative thinkers and leaders. If a different kind of conservatism is a possibility (and I'm skeptical) it remains a theoretical one.

2. I'm rather skeptical of your outline of some aspects of "conservative" thinking at 6:53. It casts much too broad a net -- I think most "liberals", and even a fair few "radicals" could agree with 100% of those principles. Myself included. It does nothing to define what distinguishes a conservative from anyone else.

After all, who can object to things like first demonstrating that there is an actual problem, or that a proposed solution will actually work and be worth its costs? Likewise, I think almost everyone prefers minimally disruptive solutions, if they exist. None of those are actual points of difference.

The *actual* points of difference between "liberals" and "conservatives" instead tend to revolve around whether problems do indeed exist in the first place. Or at least whether they are severe (and thus in need of drastic measures).

3. If you start to ask *why* that's where the arguments crop up, you'll invariably start getting answers about how existing hierarchies and power structures are legitimate and must be preserved.

This is explicit in a lot of conservative statements of principles: protection of property, maintaining (social) order, preservation of cultural heritage, etc. And a justification of those otherwise unjustifiable hierarchies must inevitably fall back on tropes of class and/or genetic superiority. It's all of a piece.

The one thing that seems to be a universal constant is that conservatives (usually the older generation) lament that society is going downhill. We find that sentiment expressed for about as long as it was possible to put it in lasting form (i.e. since writing developed beyond pure accountancy), so we can safely assume that it already existed before that.

Or to put it in the words of the late Douglas Adams:

Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.

It would be nice, if conservatism would simply mean 'demanding good reasons for change' (which is indeed a rational POV). Unfortunately, it seems to have never limited itself to that in reality.

I don't think the politicians and bureaucrats would want to give up that much power and influence.

Or get shot. At least as I read the lists, it would put me in an impossible place financially. I'd have to both go back to work and buy support services for my wife due to her advancing dementia. Then hope I didn't get ill -- recall that Medicare wasn't created because health insurance for old people was too expensive, it was created because health insurance companies simply found ways not to cover 65+ year olds at all. Many other people as well. All it takes is one geezer with terminal cancer to decide there's no real price to pay for killing the Senator who voted to take away their retirement.

Compare UBI to the "Pass Go, collect $200" rule in the game Monopoly.

The goal of the game -- as opposed to the goals of the individual players within it -- is to pass the time and have some fun. It's not to get it over with as fast as possible by bankrupting most players quickly so as to eliminate them from the game.

Real Life is not a game; neither is The Economy. But they both have this in common with Monopoly: the goal is to keep it going, not to get it over with. (Some flavors of religious fanatics may disagree.) After all, when one player "wins", The Game is finished, and so is the fun.

BTW, one thing missing from Monopoly, and from AEI's musings, is a military budget. When "analyzing" how to "pay for" UBI, the unspoken assumption always seems to be that "Defense" is excluded from any trade-off.

Also BTW, Hartmut is right: lamentations that the world is going downhill are older than the hills, if you'll pardon the expression. I don't think the lamenters would have been seen as anything but "conservative" in any age, whether the word had been invented yet or not.

--TP

By one accounting, for a budget-neutral UBI of $7,923 for under 18 and $15,845 for 18 and older, a list of things that would be needed to be repealed. I don't think the politicians and bureaucrats would want to give up that much power and influence.

So many bad takes packed into one little paragraph.

1. The notion that a major obstacle to UBI is "bureaucrats" is absolutely hilarious. I think the copy of the Constitution I have in my universe must be missing a page -- the one where social welfare "bureaucrats" have veto power.

(Incidentally, I don't know about yours, but over here in my universe, "bureaucrats" (i.e., high ranking executive branch officials) "give up power" *literally* all the time. There's usually less turn over among the rank and file, but that's because a lot of them are in it for the pensions or the health insurance, or maybe even a desire to do a little good in the world. Not so much the unfathomable power and influence that comes from being a G7 claims clerk in Schenectady.)

2. That entire AEI scenario seems to be designed around constructing the dumbest possible proposal.

Repealing Medicare/Medicaid to pay for is a particularly bizarre thing to do. (I'm pretty sure buying private insurance would eat up literally the entire 16K -- if that's even enough to get it at all, particularly if you are over 65.) Ditto Social Security, at least at that level of benefit (16K would be a cut for a lot of SS recipients).

Both of those are obvious non-starters (and not because of the "bureaucrats"). I'm sure that's the sort of straw man AEI is trying to construct though, so bravo, I guess.

Out here in the real world, expanding Medicare is probably the more rational complement to UBI. And there's no real reason it needs to be purely "budget neutral," whatever that even means. Some programs (food stamps, EITC) are indeed redundant with a (sufficiently generous) UBI, and eliminating them will soften the budget blow a bit, but I don't think there's any question that a proper UBI would involve a substantial new budget line item and commensurate tax increases.

Concretely, these amounts (or Yang's $12K/year) certainly aren't what I'd call adequate. I think somewhere in the region of $30K or more would be necessary (roughly the equivalent of a $15 minimum wage). And it would need to be inflation pegged.

The radical reactionaries at AEI take on UBI:
...

Are they not conservatives?

Ignoring the fact that not all conservatives agree on everything (any more than all progressives do), I would say that on this they aren't particularly conservative. Except in so far as they say that don't want change, even of the welfare system.

I must say, however, that it was quite amusing to read the one author there whose argument against UBI was essentially that UBI is bad because it would eliminate the important efforts of social workers on domestic violence and drug abuse. Although I don't see why removing the distraction of the rest of the welfare system would hurt their efforts.

Plaudits from AEI for social workers. Who'd a thunk it?

At least as I read the lists, it would put me in an impossible place financially. I'd have to both go back to work and buy support services for my wife due to her advancing dementia

Perhaps I have been missing something in UBI. But my sense was that it was focused on basic income support, with medical care a separate issue. That is, it didn't include eliminating Medicare or Medicaid. Or preclude expanding either one.

That is, those would be separate discussions.

I'm guessing that, if UBI is implemented, it would either be on top of existing Social Security payments, or at least no more that a substitute for some part of them. Not a substitute which eliminates them entirely. Not sure if that was even part of what you were saying, but....

"All it takes is one geezer with terminal cancer to decide there's no real price to pay for killing the Senator who voted to take away their retirement."

Copy that.

Concretely, these amounts (or Yang's $12K/year) certainly aren't what I'd call adequate. I think somewhere in the region of $30K or more would be necessary (roughly the equivalent of a $15 minimum wage). And it would need to be inflation pegged.

There's a reason I suggested, as a possible starting point, the Federal poverty threshold (which is already adjusted annually). Also, do current welfare programs provide something like $30k per year? I'm guessing not.

Now it may be that the threshold ought to be raised. Or, absent UBI, current welfare payments increased. But that's independent of the merits of UBI.

Perhaps I have been missing something in UBI. But my sense was that it was focused on basic income support, with medical care a separate issue. That is, it didn't include eliminating Medicare or Medicaid. Or preclude expanding either one.

I was referencing CharlesWT's two links. Both eliminate all of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid -- and a bunch of other current spending -- to fund their UBI. Under those, my wife's and my basic income might be decreased only somewhat, with UBI in place of SS, but our expenses would expand greatly w/o Medicare*. And possibly Medicaid in the future, as that's how the US has chosen to assist with long-term care. A state neighboring mine, that is much more conservative, introduced a bill to withdraw from the Medicaid program. The nursing home industry showed up en masse, with simple testimony: essentially every long-term care facility in the state is out of business without those Medicaid payments. Or as I was known to tell people who argued for that, "Good that you bought the McMansion, because Grandma's going to come live upstairs. Who changes her diaper?"

* We had Kaiser as an ACA policy before we hit 65, and Kaiser's Medicare Advantage afterwards. Basically the same coverage. When I was checking that things had transitioned properly, the guy at Member Services said, "Congratulations! Two weeks of nice vacation and delivery pizza instead of frozen for you guys!"

Copy that.

You know, some days you're sort of a disturbing person. I am so much fonder of my peaceful partition view of the future.

There's a reason I suggested, as a possible starting point, the Federal poverty threshold (which is already adjusted annually). Also, do current welfare programs provide something like $30k per year? I'm guessing not.

Now it may be that the threshold ought to be raised. Or, absent UBI, current welfare payments increased. But that's independent of the merits of UBI.

Well, I agree that quibbling about the exact numbers is probably a little in the weeds.

But would hope the minimum bar we'd have for any acceptable UBI proposal is that the most vulnerable must be at least as well off as they were before, at least overall.

And while I haven't run the numbers myself, some of the complaints I have heard from the left about Andrew Yang's proposal in particular -- which was $1000/mo for an individual, IIRC, just about the federal poverty line -- is that it would actually leave many existing recipients of means tested aid worse off (i.e., less able to afford food and housing).

It's not as if US benefits are particularly generous to begin with, so assuming that's true, I think that's a hard fail for a poverty line level setting. The US poverty line is a famously low bar anyway. A UBI should probably be at least a little bit higher.

Beyond that, I think, perhaps more controversially, a good UBI really ought to be a truly livable alternative to work. There are real social benefits to a UBI at that level. It makes it truly useful for those who can't work, are doing unpaid/underpaid work (raising children, e.g.), or for using the program as an entrepreneurial safety net, or as leverage for better labor market conditions.

If living wage advocates are right about that bar being around $15/hour (and rising), that seems like it might be a good starting point for UBI too (perhaps modulo some details about dependents and so forth).

Now it may be that the threshold ought to be raised. Or, absent UBI, current welfare payments increased. But that's independent of the merits of UBI.

In theory, perhaps, but in practice the two things are inseparable, and your own discussion of UBI in the OP starts to delineate thresholds for who can and can't receive it.

The first and most basic question is going to be "do people have a right to a basic level of individual financial security guaranteed by their government and paid for by collective funds?" (Or "shall we grant to people a basic level of...?" if you are inclined to quibble over whether this is a right or a practical consideration.)

A "yes" answer to this puts us into a discussion of who and how. A "no" answer makes me look at any analysis or policy suggestions done by this entity with an eye towards where their work is trying to sabotage the basic discussion.

Either a discussion is aimed at convincing someone that UBI is a productive tool for making our communal lives better, or it's a discussion of how UBI (the merits of which we already recognize) can best be implemented, practically, in our society with an eye towards feasibility, sustainability, and coverage.

Any discussion that tries to do both - avoir le cul entre deux chaises - is going to land on its ass.

Wow, lots of news. Congrats Janie, nice to hear some good news for a change.

The conversation has moved one but
I'm just not seeing how UBI constitutes deliberate "preservation of hierarchy".

As one can see with discussions of systemic issues, 'deliberate' isn't really involved too much.

In theory, perhaps, but in practice the two things are inseparable, and your own discussion of UBI in the OP starts to delineate thresholds for who can and can't receive it.

The first and most basic question is going to be "do people have a right to a basic level of individual financial security guaranteed by their government and paid for by collective funds?"

I think you may have missed the point of the original post. It's not about how UBI ought to function. It's about making a case for the entire idea.

Your "first and most basic" question is, to my mind, entirely separate from UBI. (Unless you want to argue that we have that level guaranteed currently. Which I'm confident you don't.)

The threshold proposal was included because, if you are going to address arguments that it will "cost too much", you have to start with how much will it cost? In particular, how much will it cost compared to what we now spend. It doesn't reflect how much we should spend, because I think that's a separate discussion. One we need to have, but still a separate one. And quite separable.

I was referencing CharlesWT's two links. Both eliminate all of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid -- and a bunch of other current spending -- to fund their UBI.

Yep. Those links are basically just bad jokes. They are to UBI as "government death panels are going to murder grandma" was to Obamacare.

AEI is, shockingly, not a serious participant in the debate here.

I'm just not seeing how UBI constitutes deliberate "preservation of hierarchy".
...
As one can see with discussions of systemic issues, 'deliberate' isn't really involved too much.

Actually, I'm not seeing how UBI would inadvertently act to preserve hierarchy either. (Except, I suppose, to the extent that it would remove economic desperation as a motive for revolution.) Is having that level of income enough to make people disinterested in making changes to the social order? If so, nobody here would be intetested in change, since we're all much better off than that. But clearly this is not the case.

So, where, or how, does UBI act to preserve hierarchy? Help me out here.

AEI is, shockingly, not a serious participant in the debate here.

These days, it doesn't seem to be a serious participation anywhere. If it ever was.

Just peeking in to say thanks for all the good wishes. I would order ice cream for the house if I could. Maybe someday.

"I am so much fonder of my peaceful partition view of the future."

That is my second choice to a peaceful, unarmed America staying together and remaining as one.

My third choice is the disturbing one, because I just can't envision the conservative movement, now driven over the fascist edge here and abroad by the insane trump factor, giving up until they murder en masse.

They want it all.

I really quite a normal guy, but I "see" patterns and unfortunate possibilites/probabilities. I'm blunt about it.

Congratulations to new grandmother Janie and her grandchild.

I think you may have missed the point of the original post. It's not about how UBI ought to function. It's about making a case for the entire idea.

It's about a *conservative* case, and the battle to be fought there is either convincing conservatives that this is a natural right, or convincing them that it is a productive strategy for dealing with other deep problems that are hard to address specifically. And the sticking point in that conversation will be around "entitlement mindset" and how low the UBI bar can be set to prevent it.

The *liberal* form of that second argument will be about how to set the bar high enough to prevent the "freedom from want" that FDR laid out in his Four Freedoms speech. Opposition to UBI for this side would be to what they see as an ineffectual UBI that would poison pill the concept itself.

Hence our two chairs and the space between them.

The only solid meeting point would be between those who already agree that UBI is the expression of a human right, and that discussion would only be about what form it should take.

(Hooray JanieM \m/).

It's about a *conservative* case, and the battle to be fought there is either convincing conservatives that this is a natural right, or convincing them that it is a productive strategy for dealing with other deep problems that are hard to address specifically. And the sticking point in that conversation will be around "entitlement mindset" and how low the UBI bar can be set to prevent it.

To my mind, it's a discussion for conservatives about how we might do what we are already doing, but better. And for that, it would be useful to keep "how high/low should we set the payment" outside the discussion. If we can start out with more, fine; but if all we can get is the equivalent of what we are providing now, that's a start. Once we get the basic idea thru, then we can start discussing how far we need to increase it.

Compare it to we first got Social Security in place at all. And then proceeded to increase the level of benefits significantly. (If memory of my history lessons serves, the initial Social Security was set extremely low -- as in poverty level or lower. It was just supposed to prevent seniors from starving.)

(Hooray JanieM \m/).

Amen to that

Opposition to UBI for this side would be to what they see as an ineffectual UBI that would poison pill the concept itself.

In other words, the converse of the "slippery slope" argument.

Frankly, I think the other side is closer to correct. Consider the messy rollout of Obamacare. Did that poison the well? Or is the other side so (correctly) terrified that there's no going back that the red states are turning down free money and keeping their people (specifically a lot of their own voters) without care a little longer. Just to try to hold back the tide. Didn't work for Canute either.

I'm guessing they will all eventually cave on the ACA. Just as long as enough time passes that they can avoid the horror of having their people call it Obamacare.

The evidence is on the side of the left here. The ACA was left with minimal implementation and the mandate (a *conservative* idea of how to avoid a tax) got gutted and exchanges were not pursued, etc. All so the GOP could say that it was a failure. This strategy is the default strategy for a whole swath of federally mandated services that the GOP wants to hollow out.

Mailed anything lately?

The ACA was left with minimal implementation and the mandate (a *conservative* idea of how to avoid a tax) got gutted and exchanges were not pursued, etc.

But you're comparing it to what you thought it should be. Rather than to what was there before.

As we've seen, there's more coverage than there was before. And despite their best efforts, it's not going away. By now, I doubt they would even seriously try for repeal; too many votes to lose there.

At some point, I expect the program will get expanded. Not as fast or as far as you'd like (at least initially), but further progress. And, since it will be an expansion, rather than a new program, it will be easier (I'd go so far as to say much easier) than the original was to sell.

WHile writing this, your discussion with nous was going on, so I think some of the things I say are mirroring nous' points.

I'd argue that any sort of bureaucratic hurdle provides an opportunity to reinforce the hierarchy. You have to either actively pursue steps to deal with these issues or it won’t have an effect. If people aren’t aware of the issues, or simply elide them, they will out.

You see a similar thing with voter id. It’s simple to assume that everyone has the requisite id, or can obtain it. But when you get to implementing it, you discover these ‘outliers’ that, if you scratch the surface, are hiding a much larger problem. Is it ‘deliberate’? I don’t think so, at least up to the point it isn’t laid out, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Seizure of criminal assets and enforcement of fine systems that were revealed after Ferguson were two similar systems.

Social Security is another good example of this. By excluding agricultural workers, and failing to take into account the reduced life span of African Americans, while it wasn't 'deliberately' racist, it ended up having a racist effect that continues to be difficult to correct for. And note that the SocSecurity system still ends up taking the contributions of illegal immigrants, which then accounts for some of the surplus.
https://www.marketplace.org/2019/01/28/undocumented-immigrants-quietly-pay-billions-social-security-and-receive-no/
No one would claim that SocSec was set up to screw illegal immigrants, but now, it is cited as a reason to avoid amnesty programs by those opposed to immigration.

If you don't take ameliorative steps to deal with the problems of racism (and sexism!
https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2021/11/this-day-in-labor-history-november-15-1975 )
it is difficult to imagine that UBI wouldn't reinforce them. As any discussion about felons and others getting UBI above shows, any UBI would end up dealing with the questions of who 'deserves' it.

And given the tactics and strategy of the Republicans (who, as much as you'd like it not to be true, stand under a banner that says 'conservative' though perhaps it is in the Fraktur font), it is difficult to imagine that if UBI were picked up in any meaningful way without consciously acknowledging the issues of racism and sexism, it would not, by default, exacerbate those problems.

I wonder if you are taking up UBI because you feel, like me and maybe others on the board, things are at a tipping point and if steps aren't taken to address the kind of inequalities we see in society, it's going to go up in flames. As such, I'm with you on that, but a solution that doesn't see that the problem is a lot deeper than that is not really going to be a solution at all.

I don't know if you are on a similar page as Andrew Yang on this, but my take on Yang's proposal is that it is another one of the tech bro Muskian/Bezosian proposals that only works because it glosses over systemic inequities in the system.

Again, apologies if any of this is stated too forcefully and I do appreciate you posting something that can get people talking. Thanks again.

I feel obliged at this point in the discussion to suggest an alternative that requires no government intervention at all.

Employers could pay living wages.

Just tossing it out there.

But you're comparing it to what you thought it should be. Rather than to what was there before.

No. Not at all.

Question for you: when you say that you are making a conservative case for UBI, are you making that case to other conservatives or to the people to your left? I can't tell. And are you arguing that the right should make a case for UBI and that the left should support that case, or are you arguing that this is the framing that could possibly get conservatives on board for supporting a UBI?

Why I say that the issues you are arguing about are secondary, I'm saying it because you are either going to have to convince the right or the left to try to implement this, and the case you make will have to get past that first audience before trying to convince the second. If you are trying to convince the left, then they are going to look at things like SS and the ACA and conclude that whatever they try to implement, they will have to implement on their own because the conservatives are going to do their best to make it fail and go away even if it's minimally implemented.

So if you want to start with the minimal version (because it is better than the complex and flawed next-to-nothing that we have), then the case needs to be made to the right and supported by the right - and that means convincing enough of the right to get past the ones who will scream about entitlements and socialism.

Anything suggested by the left - even a fairly basic implementation of a conservative policy - will be treated by the right as if it is Mao incarnate.

To my mind, it's a discussion for conservatives about how we might do what we are already doing, but better.

That's a discussion conservatives are not inclined to have. Conservatives, historically, have had considerable resilience, as they have been forced to concede ground in the face of relentless pressure from the underlings to make life more "fair". The organized, nay (may I say it?) ideological demand for social justice is a relatively new phenomenon (isolated instances aside) commencing with the onset of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. cf: Bismarck instituting social welfare programs in the 1890's. Was his purpose to make life better for those without, or was it to mitigate the possibility of a bloody revolution against the junker order?

Hey, wj, how about coming to terms with the fact that when you say "conservative," what you actually mean is "classical liberal?"

Or is that too insulting?

Seems a more accurate label for your arguments than conservative.

I'd argue that any sort of bureaucratic hurdle provides an opportunity to reinforce the hierarchy. You have to either actively pursue steps to deal with these issues or it won’t have an effect.

I think I'd say "complexity" rather than "bureaucracy" (admittedly overlapping phenomena). Buta major feature of UBI is that it reduces complexity and bureaucracy. Which, on your correlation, ought to reduce hierarchy as well.

I wonder if you are taking up UBI because you feel, like me and maybe others on the board, things are at a tipping point and if steps aren't taken to address the kind of inequalities we see in society, it's going to go up in flames.

I think we are horribly close to a situation where our society could go up in flames. But that isn't what motivated me take up UBI. i took it up because I see serious flaws in the current welfare system, and UBI is the first idea I've seen which both addresses a lot of those flaws and seems like a viable approach -- something which could be enacted and actually work without massive rewrites to fix problens. (Tweaks, of course, but not rewrites.) At minimum, it's got a lot fewer places where it can break down.

when you say that you are making a conservative case for UBI, are you making that case to other conservatives or to the people to your left? I can't tell. And are you arguing that the right should make a case for UBI and that the left should support that case, or are you arguing that this is the framing that could possibly get conservatives on board for supporting a UBI?

I guess I wasn't as clear as I hoped. I'm not trying to convince anyone to my left. My perception is that you guys already like the idea.

There is the risk that, if one side (visibly) embraces the idea, the other will see that as sufficient reason to oppose it. Some, on both sides, will do that. But I'm hoping that a non-trivial number of right-of-center folks can be convinced by the right argument. So yeah, your last option.

Hey, wj, how about coming to terms with the fact that when you say "conservative," what you actually mean is "classical liberal?"

Don't you think that "classic liberal" is another term where the real meaning and the current take have diverged? At least as much as with "conservative."

I think I'd say "complexity" rather than "bureaucracy" (admittedly overlapping phenomena).

bureaucracy and complexity are, to my mind, like a body and a shadow. No one ever writes 'it is a simple bureaucracy'.

I support UBI simply because no one should have to be homeless and malnourished. Certainly not in the "richest nation on Earth."

But, after giving the matter a lot of thought, I also support UBI because people who really don't want to work ... shouldn't have to. Whatever the reasons, it doesn't make sense to me to force people to do something they hate and would, therefore, be lousy at it. (Everyone's had at least one job they hated with all their hearts, and everyone therefore is familiar with how soul-sickening having to stay there is. Why wish that on anyone?)

Alternatively, people who would love to work in certain fields but can't because the pay sucks (art teachers, child care workers, nearly any job at nearly any non-profit organization) would now be able to, as any pay they get would be in addition to the UBI.

The idea does turn our Calvinist, Social Darwinist mentality inside out, and the Right would go apeshit, but it would be absolutely delicious to see the policy enacted.

bureaucracy and complexity are, to my mind, like a body and a shadow. No one ever writes 'it is a simple bureaucracy'.

But they do write "complex bureaucracy" (and "cumbersome bureaucracy" and "inefficient bureaucracy" and "bloated bureaucracy"). Which arguably suggests that there are some bureaucracies which are not those things -- else there's no need for the modifier.

I also support UBI because people who really don't want to work ... shouldn't have to. Whatever the reasons, it doesn't make sense to me to force people to do something they hate and would, therefore, be lousy at it.

I confess I have little respect for those who just don't want to work. Whether they are trust fund babies or living on the edge of poverty. "Don't want to work" just doesn't do it for me.

Now if what you want to work at doesn't pay well, that is a totally different story to my mind. Even if you aren't particularly good at it (think wannabe artists), if you are at least trying to get better I'm OK with that.

It's just the "others owe me a living" types that bug me. Fortunately, they seem to be a pretty tiny minority. If the price of getting UBI for the rest is supporting a few parasites, so be it.

We had the discussion for the unmarked case. Complex bureaucracy doesn't mean that the non modified is simple, just that it is simpler...

Simpler is a good thing.

If the price of getting UBI for the rest is supporting a few parasites, so be it.

One more thing that marks you as a classical liberal. Conservatives would want to keep UBI low enough to force people to have to work as some sort of moral imperative.

And I disagree that "classical liberal" has shifted in meaning. It's just that the rw has so thoroughly demonized the word that they resent even the forms of it that the decent among them practice.

My own hunch is that most people would find ways to participate in *something* that was productive, even if that thing was not particularly monetizable, if they were free from having to worry about basic necessities like food, shelter, and health care.

But then I've certainly watched too much Star Trek in my day, so it's inevitable that a bit of Picard would rub off on me.

Conservatives would want to keep UBI low enough to force people to have to work as some sort of moral imperative.

Conservatism, when married to some strains of Protestant Christianity**, can see work as a moral imperative. But that's the religion, not conservatism per se.

My own hunch is that most people would find ways to participate in *something* that was productive, even if that thing was not particularly monetizable,

Mine, too. As I said, the real parasites are a tiny minority. Tiny enough that it shouldn't derail UBI.

** I am not a theologian, so I can't cite which strains off the top of my head. Sorry.

wj, I think - in the absence of any hard evidence whatsoever - that if there were such a thing as a livable UBI, people who currently think they hate working might change their minds if they can finally be in a job they enjoy having. So much of lower-end employment seems absolutely designed to make people hate the "work ethic" - call centers, retail, almost any entry-level position.

There are probably many, many of those people.

And, like you say, the number of outright parasites is probably a fairly low percentage of the population. Not non-existent, though. And I'd be willing to give them a free ride, because (based on anecdotal evidence) when they are forced to have a job, they make such a hash of it to the point that they inevitably get fired. The utility of forcing employment on the unemployable, and having to clean up after them, escapes me.

My own hunch is that most people would find ways to participate in *something* that was productive, even if that thing was not particularly monetizable, if they were free from having to worry about basic necessities like food, shelter, and health care.

I think you are right, and the fellow Marx just might agree. To work is to be human. "Work" can take many forms. To be forced to work or starve is slavery.

But that marks me as a starry eyed left wing dreamer who (climbing way back down) just wants the federal government to be able to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma.

Baby steps, right wj?

But they do write "complex bureaucracy" (and "cumbersome bureaucracy" and "inefficient bureaucracy" and "bloated bureaucracy"). Which arguably suggests that there are some bureaucracies which are not those things -- else there's no need for the modifier.

It's one of those cases where a negative epitheton is considered mandatory. The same way as Christian theologians once had to always add one when they used the word 'Jew(s)' (like 'faithless', 'accursed', 'stinking').

testing

So much of lower-end employment seems absolutely designed to make people hate the "work ethic" - call centers, retail, almost any entry-level position.

I don't want to go too far off track into borderline sci-fi, but this suggests to me the thought experiment on how things would be done differently if there were no workers desperate enough to take soul-sucking jobs.

Would call centers (just for one example) simply go away? What would companies replace them (or other things) with, or would they so radically change their business models that call centers (or whatever soul-sucking work places) would become irrelevant?

Some stuff has to be done. We need clean public restrooms. Do we end up paying people more to clean them under better working conditions or do we make custodial robots (or build self-cleaning restrooms)?

If millions of people were freed from economic desperation, how many social ills would be alleviated?

Slime-bucket, genocidal conservatives swoop in like buzzards to fight over their blood-money version of a universal basic income:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/kyle-rittenhouse-rips-lawyers-lin-wood-and-john-pierce-as-they-feud-over-his-dollar2m-bail?via=newsletter&source=DDMorning

Some stuff has to be done. We need clean public restrooms. Do we end up paying people more to clean them under better working conditions or do we make custodial robots (or build self-cleaning restrooms)?

I expect it'd have to be the first thing to start with. But higher wages would make automation and better design look more and more tempting as time went on.

I think that's probably one of the major long term benefits of a maximalist UBI. Maybe there's a couple of people out there who genuinely enjoy cleaning toilets professionally, but for the most part, it's just a waste of human potential. And there's a lot of crap work like that out there that we probably already have the technological wherewithal to eliminate, or at least minimize, if we tried a little bit harder.

It's just that as a society, the incentives are all wrong. As a building owner, hiring janitors is cheap enough. Why bother thinking about it any deeper -- or paying your architect to? As a janitor, economic desperation makes you want "the work", and might even drive you to agitate against efforts to automate it away.

Which is not to say UBI is some kind of cure-all -- I think LJ's points about entrenching inequalities are well taken. Sometimes it's just a coat of fresh paint -- paint which just follows the contours of the surface underneath.

It's also worth ruminating a little about why cleaning toilets is regarded as low paying work to begin with. There're always people ready with easy answers about how that's just economic forces -- unskilled work, plenty of workers, etc. But there are limits to how much that actually explains. A lot of cracks appear in the facade when authorities are actually forced to reckon with labor market forces rather than merely coast on what different jobs "ought" to pay. The truth is, a lot of it is entirely socially constructed.

Perhaps a UBI or some other arrangement that cuts the effing Puritans and wage overlords out of our lives might lead to being our true selves:

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-5-most-common-regrets-of-the-dying-and-what-we-can-learn-from-them?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Notice this latest bullshit inflation panic comes only as wage slaves (many of them trumper conservatives who were pissed off that their wages had been declining and disappearing at the behest of corporations and their wage-theft and low-wage-rent seeking abroad, shoved down America's throats by the conservative movement with an assist from triangulating corporate liberals; not saying there weren't sizable benefits, but at what cost to American sanity?) gain of bit of purchase.

When it was yacht-builders, attorneys, doctors, Wall Street finance types, landlords, homeowners, and such like raking in the rewards to their income and assets from the raging inflation of the past forever years, nary an effing peep was heard from the suits, until they happened upon a 30-cent rise in the prize of a happy meal.

What does Joe Manchin really hate about inflation in the coal patch?

The demand for higher wages from coal country labor.

Certainly NOT the rise in the price of coal and his skimming of the vig as he buys and sells the stuff.

Who then turned around and f*cked up the global supply chain.

Same usual suspects. And we never again need to ask who those masked men were, because they shun masks and breath death directly into our faces as they lower themselves to eat a happy meal.

We're always worried about the wrong reds:

https://jabberwocking.com/we-are-nowhere-near-herd-immunity-for-covid-19/

Our very own home-grown reds are trying to kill us.

Show me a Christian who cares more about their life after death, making their own exits from this life a going proposition, certain as it is, but also to be looked forward to, and I'll show you a genocidal murderer.

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