Unconditional Basic Wage

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Unconditional Basic Wage

#1  Postby Galactor » Dec 27, 2016 4:06 pm

There has been one thread touching on this subject although there have been points raised about it elsewhere. The thread just mentioned regards Finland and as is likely known by many, the Swiss voted against it. Here in the Netherlands, there are a number of councils in a few cities that have been trying it out.

I thought I would open a thread to get the subject going again.

Across the world there are various movements touting the idea. Just google the subject of this thread.

Personally I am in favour of it. On the whole I think it is a good distribution of the wealth that is automatically generated through efficiency in information systems, robotics and so on and it should raise people out of poverty. Having worked for government departments and having seen the waste that takes place, it seems far better to reduce the complexity of social support systems and pay part of the costs through (largely) disbanding these institutions.

In the Netherlands, a basic income of €1500 p.m. is being proposed (by whom I am not sure as they do not identify themselves) which would cost around €300 billion per annum, which is about 40% of GDP. However, the cost of managing social security is already around one half of this. You could therefore, by largely abandoning the social care systems, provide a wage of €750 p.m. (and put a select breed of pen-pushers out of a job).

Another 20% (almost) of the income could come from removing some of the entrenched rebates and exemptions such as mortgage relief. The process is portrayed, in essence, as a redistribution of wealth although there is the proposal to increase wealth tax and VAT.

The site (basisinkomen.nu trans: basicwage.now) also tackles (very simply) the risk that people will stop working by pointing out that experiments show that people indeed work fewer hours when given a given a basic wage although to a very limited degree.

The suicide rate in the Netherlands shot up during the crisis. Would the national wage have prevented a poverty trap and saved many people or would they still have lived beyond their means?

Surely we just have to move forward with this and add a wage to the list of entitlements we enjoy: health care, education, law and order, highways, railways and so on, which have been enabled by our scientific and engineering endeavours.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#2  Postby Scot Dutchy » Dec 27, 2016 4:38 pm

Well I agree with the idea but achieving it would require a mind shift in society. Unemployment through automation is going to be a big problem. One solution is to spread the available work around. This will mean very few if any would work what we call today full time. Part time will be the norm. Sharing a job contract with maybe two other people so as supplement the basic national wage ensuring everyone has a comfortable life.
The basic wage would be sufficient to live a basic good life but any supplement would add to it.
The idea of becoming super rich would have no place in such a society which would require as I said a massive mind shift.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#3  Postby Galactor » Dec 27, 2016 4:51 pm

Scot Dutchy wrote:Well I agree with the idea but achieving it would require a mind shift in society. Unemployment through automation is going to be a big problem. One solution is to spread the available work around. This will mean very few if any would work what we call today full time. Part time will be the norm. Sharing a job contract with maybe two other people so as supplement the basic national wage ensuring everyone has a comfortable life.
The basic wage would be sufficient to live a basic good life but any supplement would add to it.
The idea of becoming super rich would have no place in such a society which would require as I said a massive mind shift.


A few of the big parties here in the Netherlands are in favour of at least investigating further. VVD (Conservatives) are against it although I can only see fiscal benefits myself and the ability of political parties to be able to wash their hands of so many responsibilities.

I think the idea will take time though, in that, I agree I think with what you are saying.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#4  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Dec 27, 2016 5:16 pm

I like the idea. Haven't looked into it enough to claim to know whether it's better than the current system however.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#5  Postby Scot Dutchy » Dec 27, 2016 6:37 pm

The problem is basically greed. If you can get that out of society it would work.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#6  Postby PensivePenny » Dec 27, 2016 10:48 pm

Scot Dutchy wrote:The problem is basically greed. If you can get that out of society it would work.


:rofl:

:nono:

We're fucked.

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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#7  Postby PensivePenny » Dec 27, 2016 10:58 pm

I think what you're talking about, here in the US we call, "Raising the minimum wage" (though the right would prefer we 'raze the minimum wage').

I'll leave it to the economic experts, but I can't see how such an endeavor would result in anything more than short term relief. You still have corporations striving to outdo the year-over-year earnings by an ever increasing percentage. 4% profit last year? We can do better... shoot for 4.3% We'll fire the CEO if she fails to reach that goal. So, raise wages, corporations will raise prices, sell assets or reduce expenditures. The executives and the shareholders WILL reap the returns even at the cost of the business being liquidated.

Like scot said, you have to make the shift away from greed, somehow. The only way I see that ever happening is if resources are unlimited and free, including energy, travel, food and goods. So, we're left with some kind of imposed ceilings on earnings for both corporate execs and shareholders (also for small businesses). I don't think there'd ever be a consensus on who decided those ceilings, let alone how they were determined.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#8  Postby Beatsong » Dec 27, 2016 11:20 pm

PensivePenny wrote:I think what you're talking about, here in the US we call, "Raising the minimum wage"


No, it's different.

"Minimum wage" refers to the lowest amount employers are allowed to pay employees for doing a job. "Unconditional basic wage", as used here, refers to the government paying a certain amount to everyone regardless of whether they work. It sometimes goes under the name "Citizen's income".
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#9  Postby Macdoc » Dec 27, 2016 11:28 pm

The idea of becoming super rich would have no place in such a society


They are not in the least preclusive.

The idea of a basic national income means that the benefits from the national critical industries, the patents and the high flyers flows down in a relative even handed manner with little distribution overhead.

So yeah ....the first $100 million in profits on a high flying company owned by a single person or private group goes to the national income pool via taxation. but the next $100 million is all theirs and they have a better society underlying them.

Yeah they might have to work harder to get to the big payoff .....but it does not preclude it and it is hellishly more productive in getting funds to those that need them as opposed to the patchwork of aid agencies with too much overhead.
I'm all for it and there are some experiments in Canada starting.
There was one in Canada in the 70s.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#10  Postby Beatsong » Dec 27, 2016 11:40 pm

Galactor - is there any information available from those local areas in the Netherlands that have tried it, describing successes and/or failures?

The Greens talked about it in our last general election campaign in the UK, but couldn't make the numbers add up. They were talking about a basic income of £72 a week, and the problem is nobody can actually live on that amount of money in the UK, so it's not like it would actually solve anything. It wouldn't stop people being made homeless, or children from being raised in poverty. And what modest difference it might make to the living standards of the poorest would come at the massive, basically wasted expense of also paying it to well-off people in work for whom it would make little difference.

Yet even for that amount, the cost was going to be something like more than three times the current social security and pensions bill. Completely unrealistic.

My feeling at the time was that it would make far more sense just to give an amount you can actually live on decently to those who are unwaged, plus increasing minimum wage laws etc. to keep working wages above that level. In a way that's exactly what the blair/brown government tried to do with welfare entitlements, though this would have the advantage of reduced bureaucracy.

Certainly mass automation in the future may change the whole situation radically, and make an unconditional basic income necessary. The people of the UK however will almost certainly react instead by trying to make sure they as individuals can stay employed, while continuing to blame an ever-increasing underclass for its own unemployment and letting it starve. By the time that underclass reaches critical mass, God knows what state we'll be in. Probably emaciated bodies desperately throwing molotov cocktails at the walls of the compounds of the 1%, and not even any pretence of a democratic government any more that could administer something like a citizens' income.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#11  Postby tuco » Dec 27, 2016 11:48 pm

Let me just note that such income can only be implemented in (economic, political and geographic) regions with same, or very similar, wages, which rules out the EU for example at least for the time being.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#12  Postby Macdoc » Dec 28, 2016 12:26 am

It is very difficult to make work while basic shelter is open to predators. Control housing costs, then many many other aspects fall into place....and so far none of the govs have the courage to do so and in many areas only a crash can do it.

Obama had a chance to do it by giving the banks 10 cents on the dollar for their bad loans and creating a stock of social housing instead of the foreclosure nightmare plus bank bailout path he chose.

Without shelter control ....there is no baseline that can support the poor in the cities and outside cities there are few jobs to augment the basic wage.

The other aspect is there is no clawback so that the basic income is a support floor and anything you make above that improves your income directly as opposed to current programs that clasw back income earned and are disincentives.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#13  Postby lyingcheat » Dec 28, 2016 1:18 am

I'm guessing that many here will be familiar with Bertrand Russell's essay 'In Praise of Idleness' written, presciently, in 1932.

He is not arguing for an unconditional wage but rather for a kind of redistribution, of both the wealth and the leisure, made possible by what he could already, in 1932, see.

Modern methods of production have given us the possibility of ease and security for all; we have chosen, instead, to have overwork for some and starvation for others. Hitherto we have continued to be as energetic as we were before there were machines; in this we have been foolish, but there is no reason to go on being foolish forever.


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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#14  Postby Scot Dutchy » Dec 28, 2016 9:09 am

Beatsong wrote:Galactor - is there any information available from those local areas in the Netherlands that have tried it, describing successes and/or failures?


It was reported in September that four town councils in certain districts want to try with an experimental basic income.
They are Utrecht,Wageningen, Groningen and Tilburg. Sadly it is a watered down version and up till everything is rather quiet. It was meant to start per 1 January.

Here is a link to a Dutch newspaper report.
http://www.volkskrant.nl/binnenland/experiment-in-vier-gemeenten-meer-vrijheid-voor-uitkeringsgerechtigden~a4386908/
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#15  Postby Beatsong » Dec 28, 2016 10:14 am

Macdoc wrote:Control housing costs


Aye. I do wonder whether a lot of this stuff is better handled as direct provision of necessities than as provision of money to buy those necessities. Give someone a house and they have a house. They can go inside, the rain can't fall on them, they have an address to give potential employers etc. etc. Give them a certain amount of money each month and that MAY be enough to rent a house, or it may not. It may be when you come up with the idea, and then not when implementing the idea (or just some other factor) sends inflation through the roof. It may not if they go and spend all that money on gambling, drugs or a bad business deal, and then you're left with the thorny question of which people "deserve" social security.

The problem is that you potentially create a very 2-tier society, with the dependent underclass marked out as dependent and deepened in their dependency culture by not having the facility to make choices about what to do with what you give them. But you can't have it both ways. If you want to create a situation where nobody goes without the basic necessities of life, you need to make some centralised judgment about what those are and administer the money to pay for them efficiently.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#16  Postby Scot Dutchy » Dec 28, 2016 11:02 am

The two tier society already exists.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#17  Postby Galactor » Dec 28, 2016 11:07 am

Beatsong wrote:Galactor - is there any information available from those local areas in the Netherlands that have tried it, describing successes and/or failures?


I've been looking into this but haven't found anything concrete yet.


Beatsong wrote:The Greens talked about it in our last general election campaign in the UK, but couldn't make the numbers add up. They were talking about a basic income of £72 a week, and the problem is nobody can actually live on that amount of money in the UK, so it's not like it would actually solve anything.


There's something wrong with either the UK or the NL if there is such a discrepancy between what we (in the NL) could pay (and are wasting on civil servants) which is around £1280 p.m. Even merely disbanding the social security systems here would allow a £640 per (adult) person p.m. wage. It's almost as if the UK doesn't do automation.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#18  Postby Galactor » Dec 28, 2016 11:15 am

Scot Dutchy wrote:
Beatsong wrote:Galactor - is there any information available from those local areas in the Netherlands that have tried it, describing successes and/or failures?


It was reported in September that four town councils in certain districts want to try with an experimental basic income.
They are Utrecht,Wageningen, Groningen and Tilburg. Sadly it is a watered down version and up till everything is rather quiet. It was meant to start per 1 January.

Here is a link to a Dutch newspaper report.
http://www.volkskrant.nl/binnenland/experiment-in-vier-gemeenten-meer-vrijheid-voor-uitkeringsgerechtigden~a4386908/



It's indeed starting in January although other papers are reporting this in 2015. It's going to last for two years. And the government is indeed messing it up. The investigative institution is the University of Utrecht. They are somewhat pissed off that they can't actually carry out the experiment as designed as the government are insisting that no extra income may be earned while the participants are being subsidized.

The whole point of having an unconditional wage was to get people out of poverty-welfare traps. Jesus wept.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#19  Postby Sendraks » Dec 28, 2016 11:17 am

It's hard to deny that the Netherlands appears to be living in a future at least 50 years ahead of the UK.
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Re: Unconditional Basic Wage

#20  Postby Galactor » Dec 28, 2016 11:25 am

Beatsong wrote:
Macdoc wrote:Control housing costs


Aye. I do wonder whether a lot of this stuff is better handled as direct provision of necessities than as provision of money to buy those necessities. Give someone a house and they have a house. They can go inside, the rain can't fall on them, they have an address to give potential employers etc. etc. Give them a certain amount of money each month and that MAY be enough to rent a house, or it may not. It may be when you come up with the idea, and then not when implementing the idea (or just some other factor) sends inflation through the roof. It may not if they go and spend all that money on gambling, drugs or a bad business deal, and then you're left with the thorny question of which people "deserve" social security.

The problem is that you potentially create a very 2-tier society, with the dependent underclass marked out as dependent and deepened in their dependency culture by not having the facility to make choices about what to do with what you give them. But you can't have it both ways. If you want to create a situation where nobody goes without the basic necessities of life, you need to make some centralised judgment about what those are and administer the money to pay for them efficiently.


People are already being provided things. Health care, education, law and order, highways and the like. We are so deep in this "dependency culture" and have been for centuries. Having these things enables people rather than stultifies them.

Those people who cannot utilize the platform that this infrastructure provides, can indeed enter a poverty trap.

As to inflation, in the NL we are talking about re-distributing existing wealth and not printing more money. I think the global basic wage movement is built along this line.
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