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Why the world should adopt a basic income

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KimWingerei

The idea of a UBI has been around for a long time. Richard Nixon was an advocate for it until he realised it would be too hard to get it past congress. Check out "Utopia for Realists" by Rutger Bregman for excellent insights into both the history behind it and the rationale for A UBI.

Michael Harrington

How much better to design policies that empower citizens to earn a basic income and more? Right now we impose tax and financial policies that make that difficult - why not merely reform them? The problem with basic income is that it is a welfare transfer program, so that over the long term people adapt to the perverse incentives and the economy ends up rewarding those who meet the new demand these basic incomes generate. Prices all adjust, so the real gains to recipients are inflated away. Is there any doubt food, energy, and housing prices would merely soak up this newfound demand? And the population of recipients would merely increase, perhaps exponentially? It's the wrong way to achieve the goal of greater participation in the gains of capitalist wealth creation process. I suggest a closer look on how risks are distributed and rewarded in that process.

blakek in reply to Michael Harrington

The beauty of a Universal Basic Income is that it efficiently eliminates such perverse incentives, if you get the same amount of money regardless of need it doesn't act like a marginal tax rate where you lose benefits by working. If it is universal to start with the roles can only grow with population increase, which can be exponential and problematic, but poverty is a poor population control barring mass starvation. Policies that empower citizens to work and earn money are great, but not at all incompatible with a universal income, and lots of people are stupid or crazy or otherwise disabled. All government spending is inflationary, but the gains from being given money outweigh the inflationary costs to the recipients, or wall street and defense contractors would be broke as hell, which they obviously aren't. Control inflation with taxes or interest rates.

Michael Harrington in reply to blakek

It's nice to think so but I see many problems with your scenario. If it is universal that means all citizens or residents receive the income, or just those below a threshold? If there's a threshold, there is an incentive effect on the margin. If it is true universal, it is merely demand stimulus that is inflationary if accommodated by deficit spending or monetary credit. At the least it, changes relative prices to reflect whatever market demand results. That would likely affect the lowest income cohorts with higher food prices, energy prices, and housing prices, wiping out the intended effect of the basic income. So, what then? A political demand to keep raising the UBI level.

There's no real avoiding the fact that it is a welfare transfer that would require the reallocation of public resources. We already have lots of experiments there, none of which are very attractive, if necessary.
So a welfare safety net is necessary, but I think the point of public policy is to aim a lot higher. Human self-dignity is earned through some kind of effort and feeling of earned success. It's a shame to deprive people of that, unnecessarily.

blakek in reply to Michael Harrington

It certainly would be inflationary, and the economy would have to readjust to the greater demand for services for the poor. Prices of goods and housing would likely rise, but that is profit for producers, and unavoidable if their consumption is to be increased. Effort and success are important, but a properly calibrated UBI would help rather than discourage those things, poverty is more crippling than motivating at the extremes, I think.

Michael Harrington in reply to blakek

"Effort and success are important, but a properly calibrated UBI would help rather than discourage those things, poverty is more crippling than motivating at the extremes, I think."
Well, that's now how it works with my kids. ;-)
But poverty is already addressed through the welfare and entitlement system. Poverty is not crippling unless one is cut off from leveraging one's natural endowments. On entitlements, one might argue these programs have tipped the scales from reducing old age poverty to encouraging low savings rates and dependency on a pay-as-you-go 'non-insurance' scheme (I'm referring primarily to US programs). Our current retiring generation is relying on cashing in on a 35 year housing credit bubble. No future generation is going to see such returns unless the West soaks up the rich populations of the world.
We need to focus on the skewed distributions of capitalist production, but the causes are not addressed by redistributing the product, but rather by risk-sharing and defending ownership rights across the board. We have too few people on the profit-side of the equation. Perhaps technology will finally reward the entrepreneurial class again.
For all these reasons, I view UBI more as a political panacea.

blakek in reply to Michael Harrington

I presume your kids have access to shelter, food, education, health care and transport, and some level of positive social interaction. I would also presume that they don't have children of their own to care for. Likely they also have protection of property rights and protection from violence. These things should be provided as part of the welfare and entitlement system, but often aren't. And navigating the welfare and entitlement system is often a full time job on it's own, requiring all sorts of perverse gymnastics like turning down work, being stuck in public housing far from opportunities, not living with wage earners, and so on. Poverty preventing people from leveraging their natural endowments is to my understanding widespread in America today, and that is what a UBI can efficiently address. UBI is a panacea that doesn't wholly address the causes of skewed distribution, although poverty is one of those causes, but it mitigates the damage caused by skewed distribution. And it does so without creating perverse incentives not to work, as losing benefits is treated by a rational actor as part of the marginal tax rate. The economist actually had a pretty good article on it a while back. https://www.economist.com/united-states/2013/09/10/taxing-hard-up-americ...

Michael Harrington in reply to blakek

Yes, but these advantages didn't arrive due to the largesse of the government or my fellow taxpayers. You ignore the crucial factor: two married parents who value hard work, financial prudence, and educational effort, and pass on those values to their children everyday.
It would be great if a UBI could do that, but it can't.

The problem we have with poverty in America is economic, social, and cultural. We allow people to fail but then wrongly assign to them all responsibility for consequences. We have tax and financial policies that favor the successful and then permit a culture that denies these advantages or discourages those who need them most. We penalize low income savers mercilessly, so no wonder they go into debt. We make it difficult to participate in market capitalism and then tell them the lie that government is going to take care of them. It's all done with the best intentions.

UBI looks like another false promise intended to help people help themselves, but there are better ways. Universal benefits from any national social program means that we can't discriminate behavior - so malignant behavior is treated the same as productive, but malignant is often a lot more fun. I will read the Economist article, but I haven't read anything on UBI yet that allays my concerns.

Michael Harrington in reply to blakek

Yes, but these advantages didn't arrive due to the largesse of the government or my fellow taxpayers. You ignore the crucial factor: two married parents who value hard work, financial prudence, and educational effort, and pass on those values to their children everyday.
It would be great if a UBI could do that, but it can't.
The problem we have with poverty in America is economic, social, and cultural. We allow people to fail but then wrongly assign to them all responsibility for consequences. We have tax and financial policies that favor the successful and then permit a culture that denies these advantages or discourages those who need them most. We penalize low income savers mercilessly, so no wonder they go into debt. We make it difficult to participate in market capitalism and then tell them the lie that government is going to take care of them. It's all done with the best intentions.
UBI looks like another false promise intended to help people help themselves, but there are better ways. Universal benefits from any national social program means that we can't discriminate behavior - so malignant behavior is treated the same as productive, but malignant is often a lot more fun. I will read the Economist article, but I haven't read anything on UBI yet that allays my concerns.

blakek in reply to Michael Harrington

What you say is basically true, except that the better ways of discriminating malignant from productive behavior have a horrible track record. If we could assign every American a good Dad or an Angel to follow them around and make sure that they are making good choices that would be great but we can't. I don't really trust the federal government to recognize a wise choice if it bit them on the ass honestly. What we can do is allow people to go bankrupt on bad debts, and let them have a small allowance for starting over, in the hopes that they will make something of themselves. Some will, some won't, but at least they won't be driven to crime by desperation. Basically make sure that everyone has a chip and a chair, so that they have the opportunity to make good choices if they choose to.

Michael Harrington in reply to blakek

I agree, the government doesn't monitor behavior very well, which is the problem with single payer health insurance and care - monitoring becomes a matter of supply constraints: "Yeah, you deserve that operation and it's your right, but you're going to have to wait 6-12 months. Hang in there."

But private markets solve the asymmetric information problem in behavior monitoring and moral hazard in many ways. The best way is to internalize information through self-insurance through private savings plans like HSAs, 401ks, and 529s. These are savings plans for healthcare, retirement, and education. We probably need one for housing too.

I read the Economist article but this seems focused predominantly on using UBI to replace existing welfare programs in the interest of efficiency. That sounds plausible to me. But in the US people are throwing around UBI as a solution for unemployment and the technology disruption of the labor market. That's virtually welfare for all, which is unworkable IMO.

I would be more in favor of helping the lowest rungs of poverty by granting restricted baby bonds at birth that can only be cashed in for things like education. And the bonds earn a fair market rate of interest. The problem of the poor and lower middle class is that they have no capital and no access to capital. How does one survive in a capitalist system with no capital and no hope of accumulating it?

blakek in reply to Michael Harrington

Using UBI to replace existing welfare programs in the interest of efficiency is exactly the idea I support. Welfare for all is unworkable with inefficient welfare programs such as exist today, but with a UBI funded with sin taxes (like a pollution tax) it should be workable I think. Since it is a fairly clean and efficient wealth transfer it should reduce income inequality without the large frictional losses that would destroy value, and if it was fairly small, on the order of 12k a year per person most people would not be comfortable enough to stop working. Most people now could stop working after earning 12k and just sit around being poor, but few do, especially those with good job opportunities. That is how the poor and lower middle class can survive in a capitalist system, by being fed a constant trickle of capital that they can save and accumulate, or spend and enjoy, or invest as they see fit. Since some people would indeed drop out, wages would rise, also the increased demand would cause wages to rise, and that would bring some people back into the work force. Inflation would result, but nothing that couldn't be controlled by raising interest rates or taxes. This would pop the stupid FIRE sector bubbles, but whatever, overleveraged people can survive on their universal income while they find jobs they can do without massive government subsidies.

Michael Harrington in reply to blakek

Well, just to nail this down a little more. Who gets UBI? Only people below an income threshold? Why not fund people with capital they need to invest, not spend? Like with the savings programs I mentioned? Why not subsidize saving instead of subsidizing borrowing? Private companies match your retirement contributions, why not government?
The problem with airdropping demand is that while one can control the general price level, one cannot control relative price changes. Whatever the UBI recipients spend their income on will rise in price to neutralize the effect on their total well-being. And at what cost? Are they able to spend on sin products?
Seems to me we're empowering them to a certain extent, but if it doesn't yield productive behavior, it's a net drain on society's resources. I'd prefer to give them incentives to save and invest - that's how people get rich under market capitalism.
Addressing these concerns, it might make sense as a minimal safety net for a certain segment of society, but I'd much rather give a poor kid $10K at birth and provide the right incentives so he doesn't blow it at the race track.

blakek in reply to Michael Harrington

If a UBI isn't universal, so everyone gets it, then it loses quite a few of it's benefits. It distorts behavior at the margin, if earning a dollar cost you $12k you would be much less likely to show up to work that day. And the government needs to track income, which it is terrible at, and you get Mitt Romney style tax return nonsense where he has like 30k income in a year where he ends up 30 million dollars richer. The reason you don't want to force people to invest it is because you are trying to balance skewed consumption in a simple and relatively incorruptible way. I am not opposed to savings programs, although the government has a track record of calling themselves the only safe investment and then immediately spending the money on whatever they want, but they don't feed people who are hungry now. Price levels will rise on products whose consumption is encouraged by the UBI , but that will encourage production and so the price level rises won't exactly balance the UBI and the people will end out ahead (except the ones whose taxes fund the UBI more than they receive, but those people can presumably afford it). If they want to blow it at the races, then that doesn't hurt anyone, gambling on nonsense seems a pretty clear signal that you have more money than you know what to do with, and probably aren't THAT hungry. If you don't let people do dumb stuff they won't learn from doing dumb stuff, and a lot of the people I am talking about are various flavors of stupid or crazy and aren't realistically ever going to excel at sensible investing. But some may be Van Goghs who are unappreciated genius, and maybe what that apparently crazy person is building in his garage instead of working will turn out to be the next big thing. Basically what I am saying is that it is difficult and expensive to babysit people, but a UBI can reduce income inequality, which is reaching dangerous levels, without causing most of the traditional harms of antipoverty programs. It doesn't have to be the only program, and may not be the ideal program, but I think it would work much better than what we are doing now.

Michael Harrington in reply to blakek

If it's universal it doesn't make much sense to me economically, rather it's like a universal renters' tax credit, which has zero positive impact economically on housing economics. I think a one-time capital endowment to be far superior to jump-start the kind of redistribution desired. You blow it, who's to blame? Gradually that knowledge influences the culture of poverty. The market allows people to do dumb stuff, the point is not to reward them for it. Blow your $12K on drugs and you get another $12K next year? That doesn't make behavioral sense to me.

Looking at the likely downstream economic effects, I don't think UBI will reduce inequality at all in real terms.
And the cost-benefit analysis seems to me to invite a real dangerous public finance crisis. The lesson that each of us must do our utmost to help ourselves and take responsibility for that seems a far better lesson to reverse the culture of poverty. If poor immigrants can come to the West with nothing and reach middle class lifestyles in 1-2 generations, there's no reason natives can't do the same. We should be willing to help them do that, but not willing to throw good money after bad. The real economic challenge for developed societies is not the poor, but the distribution of endowments between the rich and the middle class - that's almost all about human and financial capital.

blakek in reply to Michael Harrington

I don't quite see how you don't think a direct transfer from a carbon tax to a universal payment won't reduce income inequality. It is exactly equal income coming to everyone. The income is inflationary as government spending is, the tax is deflationary as taxes and higher interest rates are. If the government prints a trillion dollars and gives it to me personally I will clearly be richer, even if the prices of the stuff I like to buy go up somewhat to reflect the increased demand. A carbon tax would be borne by people who burn a lot of fossil fuels, which are high income people basically. Transferring money from high income rich people to low income poor people reduces income inequality almost by definition. I don't know much about them but I would imagine a universal renters tax credit is a subsidy to renters(based on their marginal tax rate so particularly to high income renters renting expensive places) and landlords, which is dumb I agree.

Michael Harrington in reply to blakek

Because it's just like a race where we move the starting line forward, it makes little difference to the outcome, it merely changes the distance for all. We try these things all the time, like a tax rebate to all regardless of income. It has a short-term distorting effect but then merely arrives at a new equilibrium that is not different than the old equilibrium. We have no real idea how relative prices will change, but the prices that effect the poor most will likely increase and neutralize the entire effect of the income grant. But those who reinvest the entire amount will be even better off.
There's a prevalent fallacy that the government can borrow and spend the economy into prosperity (see MMT) – but these policies merely change asset prices to reflect the subsidy. And servicing the public debt becomes a burden on productive resource allocation, to the point where the government will not be spending on social programs but on expenditures that keep the whole boat afloat. The more I think about it the worse UBI sounds.

Far preferred, IMHO, are policies that encourage the poor to save and invest as much as they can and encourage the rich to consume as much as possible. A wealth tax can help do the trick, and progressive capital taxes so that lower incomes are not taxed on capital accumulation and appreciation at all. We want the population to be able to fund their own way of life, not be perpetually dependent on the largesse of a short-term political calculus. We've seen universal programs balloon because the political demand is always to grant more benefits in order to gain votes and win elections. Only people who know how to game the system are better off.

blakek in reply to Michael Harrington

I don't see how it is possible to game a UBI, that is why I support it. Do we really give tax rebates to people regardless of income all the time? I certainly don't recall receiving any lately, like $600 under Bush maybe once, and even that wasn't regardless of income, it was targeted to taxpayers, who are the ones who need it the least. And I don't recall it not working, it didn't do much, but I don't know what you would have expected it to do if it worked. Do you have any reason to believe that prices would rise to exactly cancel out the benefit of the grant to the poor, it seems very unlikely to me that the higher prices wouldn't spur increased production at all.
Social security and medicare is the closest thing I can think of, and that didn't have no long term effect, it switched the beneficiaries from being the most impoverished segment of the population to the wealthiest.
I think the point of MMT is that the government doesn't have to borrow in order to spend, it can just print arbitrary amounts of money and drop it from helicopters if it feels like it. That's not a great idea, and it erodes the value of the currency, but it is a better idea than allowing the banks to create the money, borrowing it from them, and paying them interest for money that no one ever saved or earned, which is to my understanding what we do now.
Saving money is all well and good, but if the big money people saw tons of great investment opportunities at the moment no one would be buying Swiss bonds at negative interest rates or 10 year TIPS yielding .8 percent interest. Stocks have been a good investment, but they are trading over 30x price to earnings, so how much upside is likely in the medium term, and how much money is the average low income person really likely to save even if you encourage him very nicely? A single parent of 2 earning 8 bucks an hour? Some people can be motivated to act more responsibly, and I certainly have no problem with that, but it seems unrealistic to me to expect savings to do the job when most of the population that I am worried about has so little income to save. A wealth tax could help, but I do see that benefiting those who game the system or hide their assets or simply flee to more wealth friendly locales. I think not taxing capital appreciation or accumulation for low income people is a good idea. I would rather target taxes at behavior that should be discouraged like pollution and drug use and importing goods made by outsourced jobs. We want the population to be able to fund their own, presumably somewhat comfortable, way of life, but it seems a risky bet to go all in on. Certainly many would be left behind to suffer.

guest-aasaliwj

UBI already exists in Germany. The recently arrived African migrants are already receiving basic incomes which cover their apartment rents and food, clothing and transport allowances. Officially these migrants aren't allowed to work. They will continue to receive these monthly payments until their final status is determined, which will take some time.

These migrants will be receiving UBI for the rest of their lives.

UBI already exists; it has to be refined and optimized.

blakek in reply to guest-aasaliwj

Barring people from working is such an idiotic policy that it is difficult to know where to begin, but barring them from working and not providing housing and food would I suppose be even worse. Might as well give them free insecticide showers at that point, and I think the Germans didn't much like how that ended last time they tried it.

Alan in Tucson

From an American point of view, do we prioritize the creation of the most "just" welfare system for current residents, in which case a UBI would be a strong consideration (on some level, we had a UBI in Alaska), or do we instead focus on creating the most open and international society, in which case maximizing immigration and economic growth are the top priorities? As Brett Stephens reminded us in a recent NYT column, there is a tradeoff between a tolerance for immigration (both in an economic and political sense) and how robust a social welfare system is. I do not see any reason why the "equilibrium" answer would be the same for France as it is for the U.K. or Japan or Ireland or the U.S. I think the greater injustice is turning away people who come from countries overrun by crime and other violence (an even greater injustice when it is our demand for drugs that is financing much of this crime), so preserving our welcome mat and a focus on the rule of law should be the highest priority, even if it means we have a weaker social safety net.

guest-owoloaa in reply to Alan in Tucson

What happens overseas is not our problem. Some people making it here just exacerbates matters for those left behind. They need to sort their own nations' out. The 1951 refugee convention should be scrapped.
No immigrant should be permitted unless they directly benefit the long settled population and society. I like the Qatari system, where people can only come to work, no job they leave. Citizenship for them and families they may have is out of the question. Qatar for Qatari only, one might say.
Within such a framework a BI is practical, but it must never be something for nothing. You must present yourself to do useful stuff 9 to 5. Paid a day rate. No arrival no payment. BI must not provide an out for drunks, junkies and wasters.

guest-amaeeiew

It is not realistic to expect any advanced country to turn its economy on its head and experiment with an unproven UBI.
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So, dear UBI supporters, please offer a plan to introduce UBI gradually. A nice start would be to increase pensions for those currently living in poverrty.

guest-amaeeiew

Nice diversion. Many young people will dream of being paid for nothing and not protest where their opportunities of career are being taken from them.
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In 15. century people looked for the land where roasted chicken grow on trees, in 21. century they dream of universal basic income.

guest-aasaliwj

UBI should be introduced along with a 4 day work week. Some people would have to be hired to cover the 3 remaining days of the week, so the government could offer extra income above the basic sum to people who want to cover these three days. Of course this works only in low skill or non skilled jobs. After this you can safely tell anyone to " GET A JOB!".

eny

TE, why did you delete my posts a week ago?
What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of truths? Gagging people, is this what you are proud of?
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US leaders have no qualms to lie, to cheat, to break laws, to attack/invade illegally (Iraq, Libya, etc) committing war crimes that resulted in atrocious occupations, destructive wars, homes destroyed leaving millions of innocent people (including children, women) being raped / murdered / injured / traumatized/enslaved and/or displaced, captive women being sold as concubines, hundreds of thousands of refugees flooding Europe, more than 8500 people have died or disappeared while attempting to cross the Mediterranean since the death of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed ashore in Turkey in 2015, drawing global attention to deadly consequences of the illegal attacks/invasions...all of these are the results of US/UK/France illegal attacks/invasions (Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc), the most brutal crimes against humanity committed by Bush/Blair/Sarkozy/Cameron/Obama, etc.
Where is your moral compass? Where is your moral obligation?
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The mainstream media provoke and egg on these war criminals Bush/Blair/Sarkozy/Cameron/Obama, etc. (and their generals) to lie, to cheat, to break laws, to attack/invade illegally (Iraq, Libya, etc), they have a lot of blood on their hands.
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US leaders have a history of committing war crimes around the world with the most vicious violation of human rights.
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See the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup d'état - the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh throwing democracy, rule of law all under the bus.
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Since 1947, when CIA was established, US has had a continuous semi-covert, semi-overt policy of overthrowing foreign governments. In fact, CIA was designed to avoid genuine democratic oversight and provide presidents with “plausible deniability.” It has gone on to topple dozens of governments, in all regions of the world, with no accountability there or at home. Illegal attacks/ invasions/ genocides/ assassinations are all in CIA operating manual and acceptable to CIA.
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CIA overthrew a democratic Iranian government in 1953. Iranians had had the temerity to elect a progressive, secular prime minister who believed that the country’s oil belonged to its people, not to UK or US. After the coup, the CIA installed a brutal police state under the Shah.
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Likewise, following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the US encouraged/armed SHussein’s Iraq to attack Iran, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Iranian deaths in the 1980s.
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See the war crimes committed by the United States Army (in Philippine–American War) including the March across Samar...
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See the No Gun Ri Massacre - an incident of mass killing of an undetermined number of South Korean refugees by U.S. soldiers of the 7th Cavalry Regiment (and in a U.S. air attack) between 26–29 July 1950 at a railroad bridge near the village of Nogeun-ri, 100 miles (160 km) southeast of Seoul...
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See the My Lai Massacre - the mass murder of 347 to 504 unarmed citizens in South Vietnam, almost entirely civilians, most of them women and children, conducted by U.S. soldiers from the Company C of the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division, on 16 March 1968. Some of the victims were raped, beaten, tortured, or maimed, and some of the bodies were found mutilated.
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See the Abu Ghraib prison- accounts of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, including torture, rape, sodomy, and homicide of prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq which were committed by military personnel of the United States Army together with additional US governmental agencies. In January 2014, evidence accuses British troops of being involved in widespread torture and abuse towards Iraqi civilians and prisoners....

eny in reply to eny

US is murdering its own people too, glorifying the killing of native Americans with cowboy movies, honoring these murderers with monuments/statues…
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By the time C.Columbus reached the Caribbean in 1492, historians estimate that there were 10 million indigenous peoples living in U.S.
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But by 1900, native Americans were hunted/ambushed/killed systematically down to less than 300,000.
Yes, from 10 millions down to less than 300,000, this is genocide of massive scale.
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Numerous atrocities against Native Americans span the hundreds of years from the first arrival of European explorers to the modern era under a wide range of circumstances.
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For hundreds of years, colonization, atrocities, policies of discrimination have devastated the Native American population.
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In the course of this time, it is estimated that over nine million Natives died from such genocide.
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Yet some cities (US, Canada as well) are still glorifying/honouring these killers with monuments/statues that litter these cities.
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For too long this ugly history of atrocities against Native Americans has been severely under-recognized and too rarely discussed (self-cencorship again).
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Today there are over 500 Native American tribes in the United States, each with a distinct culture, way of life and history.
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Even today, Native Americans face large challenges to cope with the disadvantages history has left them and ongoing cases of discrimination.
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These are not local grievances, these are war crimes, systematic genocide committed by war criminals.
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Are these Americans sub-humans?
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Are they apes, chimpanzees, monkeys to be hunted/ambuhsed/killed to extinction?
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Does US live up to the values?
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All the above are not fake news.
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The mainstream media, why are you self-censoring all these ugly truths?
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Why is US running away scot-free?
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Is US above the law?
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The hypocrisy is too toxic.
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Until all this poisonous hypocrisy is stopped, these ugly truths must be told and retold.

TS2912 in reply to eny

Your finger must be getting TIRED
FURIOUSLY PRESSING 'LIKE' ON ALL YOUR OWN COMMENTS :)))
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(Unfortunately the incompetent software providers hosting The Economist website have NO CLUE about how to identify and block people like you)

eny

continue:
Powers (like US, UK, France) frequently carried out genocidal violence against indigenous groups in the US, Canada, Australia, Africa, Asia and elsewhere, ethnic cleansing these indigenous people almost entirely, for those "lucky" few indigenous people who remain alive, the imperial powers impose their way of life on the indigenous people with devastating consequences, stealing Koh-i-Nur, one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, killing/ pillaging artifacts, enslaving natives/ Africans...
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The mafia US, UK, France must be held accountable for every casualty in all the above massacres as the Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese, Iraqis, Syrians, Africans, etc.... are not sub-humans that the US, UK, France treat them to be.
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US engages in all kinds of wars (illegal attacks/invasions which are war crimes, cyber attacks, illegal CIA activities, information war with distorting reports, half truths or outright lies, breaking agreements with Russia with frequent and provocative military drills targeting Russia and deployments of more and more advanced weapons/troops in surrounding countries closer and closer to Russia...)
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Totally disregarding all the countries around the world (especially the ones threatened by rising sea levels and climate change), to hell the billions of people who are going to suffer the deadly results of climate change, US leaders shrug and recklessly break off Paris Climate Agreement.
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With US vehement support, since the creation of Israel, the Palestinians have lost everything, they lose their country, they lose their homes, they lose their hope. Now, contemptuous of Palestinians and world opinions, US leaders deliberately ignore the volatile and explosive Isreal-Palestine conflct provoking and escalating the bloody conflict to unprecedented dangerous level by breaking International Agreement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The Palestinians are physically and mentally destroyed with nothing left.
Biased US is now a totally unacceptable peace broker, US must be kicked out of this region and elsewhere to give peace a chance.
Palestinians will struggle even more to rebuild their country, their homes, their hope, their dignity despite all these deliberately sinister and vicious US's actions.
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Iran nuclear deal is one of the best deal that will help the world to denuclearize (especially in violent/volatile Middle East) that hopefully will become a model for others (like NKorea) to follow to denuclearize.
Iran is complying the nuclear deal in good faith.
Guess what? Against all signatories to the Iran nuclear deal, mafia US, behaving as a dictator again, tyrannize all others with sinister intent to break off this nuclear deal destroying whatever faint hope for the world to denuclearize.
In fact, the wicked US leaders are following the poisonous CIA operation manual again, plotting menacing regime changes in Iran (Syria, NKorea and others) even with illegal wars and committing more war crimes (if need be) with more millions being murdered/raped/injured/traumatized/enslaved and/or displaced.

eny

continue:
So, now US leaders are doing all the sinister preparations (severe sanctions leading to economic collapse, to hell millions will be killed/ injured/traumatized or displaced, support/agitate widespread chaos and violence to achieve illegal regime change): keep watching closely, this is what vicious US leaders are doing.
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Are all these illegal attacks/actions the principles and instincts deeply rooted in the American spirit?
Is this how America stands by their principles and values, national prestige, international legitimacy?
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Actions do have consequences.
Bush, Blair, Cameron, Sarkozy, Obama (and their generals) have a lot of blood on their hands.
Bush, Blair, Cameron, Sarkozy, Obama (and their generals) must be held accountable for their war crimes.
Bush, Blair, Cameron, Sarkozy, Obama (and their generals) must face the music.
Bush, Blair, Cameron, Sarkozy, Obama (and their generals) must be charged/jailed for life.
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The biggest enemy of the American people is not Russia, Iran or others who refuse to kiss US dirty feet, but the US government itself prefering to be in bed with extremist Wahabis Saudi, rather than having good relations with Iran which is more democratic than the House of Saud could ever be.
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Russia, Iran are not a threat to US. There is no threat from Russia, Iran, NK etc, in fact it is the US that is a real threat to world peace with all the regime changes involving illegal attacks and commiting war crimes with millions of innocents (including children, women) being murdered/raped/injured/traumatized/enslaved and/or displaced.
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There is a not insignificant number of Anglo-Americans who are racists tried-and-true.
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These racists are the ruling elites in US (UK the lot) who are held hostage by their own obstinate toxic beliefs, jailing themselves in a narcissistic prison of their own making.
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These racists are the ruling elites who repeatedly debase the system.
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US (UK the lot) need to free themselves from their own toxic beliefs before more and more disasters are inflicted.
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Why US has nukes while others are not allowed to have nukes when US in fact is the real threat to world peace that repeatedly breaking law to attack/invade illegally (Iraq, Libya, etc) with catastrophic consequences of millions suffering?
If US truly believe in peace and denuclearisation, US must get rid of all its nukes to be the true moral leader that truly has credibility for all others to follow to rid of all their nukes.
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Every country has the right (including pre-emptive right) of self defense.
Iran, NKorea (or any countries who refuse to lick the dirty US boots) know that nuke is the only way for them to defend themselves (rightly so) against US that endlessly tyrannizes them with sinister plots to do regime changes (including illegal attacks and/or all other illegal activities) and the US leaders know it.
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It's unlikely that any US president will be able to convince them otherwise given the history of US leaders being serial liars and serial cheats.
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NKorea is now working with US leaders to denuclearize.
Take heed: When you're dealing with US leaders, always remember they'll lie, they'll cheat, they'll break laws, they'll lure you to a corner and you'll be slaughtered mercilessly, this is how US leaders operate.
NKorea must insist there must be permanent, verifiable and irreversible total US withdrawal of troops and all military hardware/installations from Korea.
There must be permanent, verifiable and irreversible total end of all military drills involving US in or around Korea peninsular.
There must be permanent, verifiable and irreversible total peace in Korean peninsula that no one (US, Japan or any crooks) will attack/invade NKorea and NKorea will never attack others.
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US is now the biggest threat to world peace.
US must be kicked out of Europe, Asia and elsewhere and the prospects of world peace will improve dramatically.
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Opinions are free but facts are sacred.
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All the above are not fake news and the US/UK/France leaders, the mainstream media all know it.
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The mainstream media, why are you self-censoring all these undeniable, indisputable, and in-your-face ugly truths?
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The poisonous hypocrisy is too toxic.
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Until all this poisonous hypocrisy is stopped, these ugly truths must be told and retold.
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Until all this poisonous hypocrisy is stopped, the world continues to face endless conflicts and bloodshed.
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Until these heinous war criminals (Bush/Blair/Sarkozy/Cameron, etc and their generals) are charged/jailed for life, the US/UK/France leaders and their generals will continue to commit more war crimes.

guest-amaeaoas

Let us have the BI and let us suspend basic economics for a second and just deal with people and what we are going to have are a whole bunch of want to be artists, musicians, programmers, & pilots that don't have the skill sets to get a job in there chosen field so they take there BI and wander why someone doesn't knock on there door. Ok...ok...let us just stop fooling are selves this is just one philosophic pie in the sky idea that has been created in a bubble of someones dream, or they watched so much Star Trek. Good grief I don't even think Lenin would believe this.

Sweeterthan in reply to guest-amaeaoas

Fair point, but don't we have loads of people now who are pursuing these endeavours to little or no benefit now. I think the author contends that a UBI would provide these people with some degree of security that would enable them to succeed in their pursuits. Of course, on some the investment wouldn't bear fruit, but for others the UBI might empower them. Being broke and condescended upon all the time creates a barrier to achievement. If there is indeed an emerging "precariat" (and clearly there is), eventually they will organize and start a revolution. These people are probably more ostracized and disenfranchised than many of us realize, and this issue will be exacerbated if robots cause much more structural unemployment. If a bit forward thinking social investment heads off the further radicalization of our politics, it would probably be worthwhile on the whole. That said, more negative income tax and a way of taxing the beneficiaries of 'rentier capitalism would probably be a better place to start.

TS2912

About 10 years ago, I was extremely skeptical of the concept of UBI. (The reason being that idle people tend to waste away, not live to their potential and ultimately self-destruct... as is apparent in certain socio-economic groups living on welfare for generations).
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Today I am not sure.
While UBI will undoubtedly cause the negative effects outlined above, the following factors *strongly* favor it:
1 - As a programmer, with an above-average understanding of AI, I am 100% sure that robotics and artificial intelligence will take over 99% of our current work. So, while people like myself are currently not adversely affected by AI, it is simply a matter of time before my job also disappears). Will our current jobs be replaced by many more (yet unenvisaged) jobs? Possible but not probably.
2 - Most jobs today are pure drudgery (e.g. working as a cashier at a supermarket, or a truck driver). These jobs SHOULD be eliminated.
giving people more time for more pleasurable activities.
3 - The same jobs take away too much time. For example, I have a whole bunch of projects that I would love to work on.
Unfortunately I am programming 8+ hours a day and am too tired when I get home.
4 - UBI is BASIC INCOME. No one would be terribly content getting a couple of thousand dollars a month. So people who would want
more luxuries would have to work for it.

guest-amaeeiew in reply to TS2912

Your logic falls apart in one more step.
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New technologies will be owned by big corporations, but social security is paid by state. So, how money for UBI would come? Would you nationalize AI? How would you avoid that corporations lobby the state to simply shoot people demanding UBI? Isn't it better to mandate that AI should be affordable to almost everyone so profits flow to many, not the few?
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In point 1. you expect that '99% of work' will be replaced by AI and robotics, but in point 4. you declare that 'people who would want more than basic income would have to work'. Don't you see a contradiction? How those people would work without jobs for them? A society where 99% of people are forced to live idly?

blakek in reply to guest-amaeeiew

AI should be partially nationalized in the form of taxation, or at least taxation of it's negative externalities. Carbon and pollution taxes would be sufficient to fund a UBI and would help clean up the environment as a side benefit. People should not be forced to be idle, but they shouldn't be starved to death for incompetence either. A UBI would allow people who's skills cannot earn enough wages to properly support them to have an improved standard of living, no one is saying they should be barred from improving those skills or working, and a UBI would assist them in doing those things.

Publius Americus

How nice. Another policy to further encourage degradation of spirit and indifference to caring for oneself. When what one honestly earns by tact of mind or sweat of brow is taken involuntarily, the more productive types "progressively" do less and less. Why work hard, when it is taken, anyway? Far better to allow the more productive among us to earn and invest on the basis of their skills and knowledge, to grow the wealth, so that those who cannot earn so well might be afforded essentials. If not taxed (already a substantial imposition), the earners might gain the nobility of voluntarily giving some of the fruits of their lives to those who cannot do for themselves. The disregard of the obvious benefit of respect of private property, an institution essential for liberty, condemns this to be yet another mechanism by which the condescending types rationalize their imposition of tyranny. No, thanks.

guest-amaejaol

There once was a very wise college professor who told his class that the scores on the last test he gave ranged from 62 to 97. He then further told him that he was going to throw out the top score and the bottom score, and average the remaining scores. Then, EVERYONE in the class would receive that grade for the test. Every test in the future would be calculated the same way. Well as you can imagine, there were yays and nays. But, so be it. He was the professor and his word was final. As the semester progressed, the average scores continually got lower and lower until everyone was at the D level, almost failing. So what is the moral of this story? You cannot diminish the hard work of the studious by giving it away to the slackers. When one feels their hard work is given to another and they give up, everyone fails. That is EXACTLY what the BI principle would do to our economy. Only a fool would think otherwise.

Sense Seeker in reply to guest-amaejaol

Alas, dear guest, your analogy is false, and hence your argument is moot.
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Where your imaginary professor would throw out the top scores and average, a BI would only provide a bottom score for all. Where in this article do you see that all incomes are averaged? Nowhere - you simply made it up.
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In the corrected version of your analogy, the minimum score for all would be just above the minimum needed to pass, one would imagine. Unfair, you may say, as some students who learnt nothing would pass and get a degree without possessing the requisite qualifications!
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But here your analogy breaks down again: the students that fail would in the real world be citizens who starve, and who you seem to be denying the right to live because for whatever reason, they did not participate in the formal economy. But surely, everybody deserves to live.
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As to the economy shrinking because nobody would engage in any productive work, that assumption rests on the averaging of incomes that you entirely made up yourself. In reality, most people would not be keen to live on the bare minimum. Do you see Warren Buffett or Marc Zuckerberg quitting their jobs to enjoy a new basic income, or because they would have to pay a few percent of their income to finance it? Of course not - they wouldn't notice, and anyway, the game is not about absolute wealth, but relative wealth: to be richer than your neighbour.
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So please, instead of accusing others of being fools, do a bit of critical thinking before you hit send.

alexander hamilton

Easiest way to do this.
First, declare ALL revenue generated from the earth ( oil, copper, diamonds, cobalt, lithium etc.,no matter where) as being from the shared earthly property of all 7.3 billion globilitants ( humans).
Then tax the revenues therewith by 5%...and share it pro-rata with everyone-- each Warren Buffett and impoverished beggar-child in Bangladesh would get a share.
It would be a start ,anyway.

guest-amaejjis

Majority of people want to be given a fishing rod, not fish. This observation, perhaps unexpected, comes from limited interest in universal basic income, also on this forum. Very few people are seriously excited about promise of government giving them money for nothing.
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Ideologists, please, take note and modify your program.
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I can only speculate about reasons. One important reason is, perhaps, that society doubts government. UBI may turn to be empty promise. State pensions are a part of the UBI which was already introduced. They were promised to guarantee decent living for the elderly, but were eaten by rising costs of living.

blakek in reply to guest-amaejjis

Our governments being untrustworthy idiots who do things like Brexit and Trump is obviously true, but it shouldn't in my opinion bar consideration of good policy. That we should only consider stupid or corrupt policies because those are the only ones likely to be enacted may be true, but it is too depressing for my tastes.

Bruce1253

I would add a twist to the proposal for a Basic Income: I would set a floor earning level. Anyone who did not earn that much during the preceding month would be supplemented to bring them up to that level. This would dramatically lower the cost of providing a BI.

Looking forward, I can see a number of possible effects of providing a BI to our societies. A dramatic change in the workplace. Gone would be the days in which people could be forced to accept abusive conditions or bosses. With BI a person could leave, they would probably suffer a decrease in their lifestyle, but a BI would get them through until they could find another job. Businesses would have to get the religion of worker involvement and employee relations, or find themselves without a workforce.

I would also expect to see an explosion in the social side of life, the arts, learning, volunteerism would all benefit greatly from people who no longer had to worry where their next meal was coming from and could instead do what they really wanted to do in life. This one thing I believe would completely transform our society. Can you imagine what life would be like if people could do what they wanted to, as opposed to what they had to do just to survive?

Lastly comes the question of how to pay for it? Some of the funding could come from the consolidation of existing benefit programs that would be unnecessary if a BI were implemented. The use of a floor earning level would also reduce the cost by a lot. There still remains, however, a large chunk to be funded. The largest chunk of funding available is the military spending of the various countries. Currently we are all like a group of cavemen who do not trust their neighbors. We are all buying bigger and better clubs to whack the no good people next door. If that were not necessary, if it were possible to guarantee the safety and security of the world's nations, then a huge amount of funding would be available to improve the lives of the people of the world. This would seem to call for the formation of a world governing body to safe guard the welfare of the world's people and nations. This may not be the only way of eliminating the abject degradation and misery that much of the world's people suffer under, but it is a way to do it. I believe it is something we need to start to consider, because our present system is obviously not working.

blakek in reply to Bruce1253

The argument for a UBI instead of an income floor is that an income floor perversely acts as a 100% marginal tax rate for people under the floor. They can work, but unless they work under the table they won't get any benefit from working, so they would be irrational to do so. There are other benefits to working like gaining experience and self satisfaction and things, but working for nothing or less than nothing if working involves costs would be discouraging of those benefits too.

Phaedrus32

Response to the Ethical Argument and Presuppositions waived aside:
If Society has (collective) wealth does it follow that each individual member of society has an equal or even some non zero claim on it? From whence is this claim derived? (A Collective something cannot be assumed to be collected in equal shares of merit over all individuals --without some argument.)
In fact a collective in which the total property is composed of the property of the individuals considered assumes that the idividuals have something to put in the pot. The controversial reasoning here is that some individuals might not have such a something.

guest-theritz

Not one of us had any choice about being brought into the world, or into the particular circumstances of our birth, which are a matter of blind luck. Anything practical to compensate all of us equally for that outrage is a moral good. I have yet to consider Basic Income in detail, but it sounds worthy of such consideration.

guest-amamslan

It may be that AI and automats will eliminate most jobs. The answer is however, to guarantee widespread ownership of this AI and automation, so that everybody would become a rentier living off technology.
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Even Communist Party of China noticed the danger of technology owned by a narrow elite. According to Chinese, the West will succumb to poverty and social unrests when AI will eliminate most jobs, and China will survive. Communist Party is needed to distribute fruits of technology fairly to all society in China. Right diagnosis of danger, wrong answer. Much better that Western legal systems prohibits concentration of wealth and technology before social unrests really come.