Saturday, May 19, 2018

Scott Alexander on basic income vs.a guaranteed job

Recently, a number of Democratic politicians have been talking about a government program to guarantee that everyone will have a job.

At the Slate Star Codex blog, Scott Alexander discusses a basic income guarantee vs. a jobs guarantee, and argues that basic income seems to be a much better idea.  It's a long post, and you should read all of it, but here is just a little bit:

I have a friend who was stuck on a dead-end career path. His job paid a decent amount, he just didn’t really like where it was going. So he saved up enough money to live on for a year, spent a year teaching himself coding, applied to a programming job, got it, and felt a lot more comfortable with his financial situation.

And I had a patient in a similar situation. Hated her job, really wanted to leave it, didn’t have enough skills to get anything else. So she went to night school, and – she found she couldn’t do it. After working 8 to 6 every day, her ability to go straight from a long day’s work to a long night’s studying just wasn’t in the cards. And her income didn’t give her the same opportunity to save up some money and take a year off. So she gave up and she still works at the job she hates. The end.

Basic income would give everyone who wants to work the same opportunity as my friend – the ability to take a year off, cultivate yourself, learn stuff, go to school, build your resume – without it being a financial disaster.

Basic jobs would leave everyone in the same position as my patient – forced to work 40+ hours a week, commute however many hours a week, good luck finding time to earn yourself a ticket out of that lifestyle while still staying sane.

I think Scott makes a pretty good case.


Bob Campbell said...

It's awesome to see these kinds of ideas and discussions becoming increasingly visible :))) On a recent team human podcast Charles Hugh Smith proposed an interesting alternative where, and I hope I'm not distorting too much in paraphrasing, people claim ownership of their own metadata, and all these systems that use our data are required to pay a kind of royalty fee. I believe Jaron Lanier has similar ideas. I also like Bucky Fuller's idea of making people shareholders in the country's wealth.

Psuke said...

I agree with Scott Campbell. I don't think people need "jobs" - especially when those jobs pay less than what is needed to pay rent, utilities and feed oneself/family. Or that job is "make work" whose only purpose is so someone can earn a pittance. I think a UBI would be better, particularly as I think it would give people space to hopefully come up with better ideas for using and/or sourcing the resources we are currently depletin in this rat race.

Or so says my idealistic mind.

Branka Tesla said...

Jaron Lanier has been talking for almost a decade about humanizing the technology and how social media should increase financial value for everyone instead of concentrating all the monetary benefits for just a few at the top. Here is the link to one of his more recent interviews on: "Who Owns the Future" :

Why don't we humanize technology and use it to abolish poverty? Social media platforms appear to me as a vehicles, and without the fuel those vehicles can not function. Who provides the fuel? Users. Users fuel the vehicles. But only the creators of vehicles get paid. And they are getting the fuel for free. (And they are all billionaires!) Inequality? Lack of social responsibility?

Personally, I think people should boycott Facebook and delete their accounts and stop supporting greedy and sleazy MZ. (I have never been on FB.)

I agree with Bob Campbell: "It's awesome to see these kinds of ideas and discussions becoming increasingly visible"

Although, I'd prefer to see and experience the empirical implications of all these great ideas, especially in this climate where the vast majority of population have reduced itself to the National Enquirer level of "he said, she said"; and the media incapable of reporting anything else but about the Mafioso in the White House, despite George Lakoff's message: "Don't Think of an Elephant".

It seems to me that a huge cloud of naivety has started to cover this country where fascism keeps seeping in 24/7 and people are becoming numb. I am afraid the expectations for the outcome of November elections are too high. Democrats will probably get the Congress. I am not sure about getting the Senate also. (I do not hope I am wrong. I wish I am wrong!) And then what? Even if the Mafioso is impeached, he will not be removed from the office. I don't know about you, but I feel abused daily by this regime and it is exhausting and sickening.

So, yes, any positive ideas and humor are very welcome.