Analysis of the Universal Basic Income Debate

A debate worth having about a most dangerous idea

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I attempted to engage Scott Santens, a self professed intellectual champion of UBI and the /r/BasicIncome/ subbreddit in a debate about several gaping black holes that I see espoused in the pro-UBI reasoning. Which proved to be akin to picking a bar fight with a group 14 year old teenagers.

Having failed to find a worthy opponent to debate on the topic of Universal Basic Income I watched this 90 minute debate on the topic with keen interest.

Intelligence Squared does these excellent long form debates on difficult issues that profoundly impact society.

10:12 The pro-UBI team agrees with the $1000/monthly figure that the math I did was based on.

16:00 Thanks for a little reality! UBI does require that the government choose winners and losers. I hope he’ll clarify later on that UBI changes incentives, drastically. It encourages people to make bad decisions.

22:00 The pro-team has convinced me of one thing: Universal Basic Income would imbue more dignity to the individual than being on welfare. It would perhaps teach people more responsibility to spend their own money than to merely swipe their food stamps card at a grocery store.

34:15 People have been predicting the rise of the robots for a long time but the pro-UBI team makes a good case that there will be lot of jobs replaced by technology and software. I hope it does, it will make the economy drastically more efficient and lower the cost of living sharply.

39:30 Why AI won’t replace lawyers.

42:12 The core of anti-UBI argument: A dollar going to someone who doesn't really need it is a dollar going away from someone who really needs it. This is same thing I said…

…nobody really wants universal basic income. Ask a true believer Bernie bro, a purple haired SJW, a liberal tenured college professor or a hammer & sickle tattooed communist if they really think that the government should cut a $1000 monthly check to Ivanka Trump, Lloyd Blankfein or Kanye West and you’ll get a bit of angry eye twitch and they’ll admit that what they really want is basic income to help poor and middle class people.

45:00 There’s no money for UBI. This is probably the most important anti-UBI argument. It’s just a mathematical impossibility. Even if we didn’t give Kanye and Ivanka an extra $12,000 yearly, even if we just took all the funds currently allocated to means tested welfare programs and redistributed them as basic income just for poor, they would still be getting a getting a worse deal.

54:00 Pro-UBI people are fond of saying that millionaires and billionaires get basic income from the government. Can someone explain to me how this works?

56:00 He claims there will be an ephemeral network effect from everyone having an extra $12,000 that will empower civil society. Is there evidence for this? I seem to think that it would make society a whole lot less civil, when people know that the government will always take care of their pay check, they have a whole lot less incentive to be really civil.

1:01:00 I got a response for this guy! Free Market “Universal Basic Income”

For example, in 20 or 30 years the trillionaire shareholders of Amazon.com decide to offer free 3D printed modular apartment housing. The cost of manufacturing and distributing the component parts of 3D printed apartments gets so low that the fabulously wealthy shareholders of Amazon decide altruistically to give free housing to anyone who wants it.

Imagine numerous Fortune 50 firms doing this and a universal basic living standard could be provided for free to the public in the same way that Google Maps is free.

1:04:00 Interesting point! UBI may increase risk tolerance; people would be more willing to take a risk and start a small business or quiet a crappy job. On the flip side it would may be bad for work ethic because young adults would just free money from the government

1:11:00 I’m so glad an audience member finally brought up the inflation argument! It would totally cause inflation, especially because the government would actually need to print an insane amount of money to fund UBI. Inflation would ultimately undermine the benefit of basic income, instead of helping the poor it would just make us all more poor.

1:13:00 Universal Basic Income vs Basic Income — the pro-UBI team admits that the war on poverty has been lost and they think delusionally that it’s because it’s not universal.

1:17:00 For UBI to reallywork everyone needs to believe that it will actually be there forever. I’m sure some statist idiots will believe that but anyone who has any sense will know that it’s big maybe if it will last 5 years, 10 years or longer.

1:20:00 Big tech companies which benefit from automation should fund UBI. I think they will, if we allow the free market to work. If we raise taxes on them they will just raise their prices.

1:26:00 Implementing UBI would require broadly cutting all existing welfare programs. That may hurt a lot of the poorest people more than it help them.

Welfare is an entrenched, bureaucratic part of the government; the thousands of government employees who administrate the vast welfare system and the +100 million Americans who depend upon welfare are not going to simply go away. No, they will strike, protest and riot in the street while politicians and legislators argue for years on end about which welfare programs to cut and which to keep.

The Anti-UBI team convinced a (no doubt very liberal) Manhattan audience that UBI is not the answer.

Agree? Disagree?

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Adventuring philosopher, Pompous pontificator, Writer, K-Selected Biohacker, Tantric husband, Raconteur & Smart Drug Dealer 🇺🇸

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