Link Roundup, May 31, 2016

From The New York Times: The left’s case against the basic income. In essence, “How would we survive without government controlling our every move?” Plus, he gets the math wrong.

From The Atlantic: Oregon’s remarkably successful welfare programs.

From The New York Review of Books: Why the very poor have gotten poorer.

From Quartz: The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still its richest families today.

From Ars Technica: Personally, I welcome our new octopus overlords.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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144 comments on “Link Roundup, May 31, 2016
  1. Ken says:

    I wasn’t surprised by the result of the Swiss vote regarding UBI but I’ve seen posts regarding polling of folks leaving their voting centers suggesting close to 40% would consider it in the future. Swiss welfare is pretty efficient but it might get a stronger vote here. The link is to the english version of a Swiss newspaper “The Local” covering the vote….http://www.thelocal.ch/20160606/a-guaranteed-income-why-the-swiss-said-no

  2. Griffin says:

    Ezra Klein on the UBI and how we need to change our mindset towards work of the UBI to, well, work.

    http://www.vox.com/2016/6/1/11827024/universal-basic-income

    • 1mime says:

      Fine article, Griffin. I think the problem of status is more closely aligned with work for men than it is for women. This is probably a cultural carryover, even with the transition of women into the workforce in great numbers. I also think there is an element of fear – of what could be lost….home, car, health care, retirement savings. This would probably impact women more than men who typically worry about not only their personal situation but that of their children.

      It’s interesting for me as a retiree of almost 8 years to listen to critics of social security and medicare without feeling somewhat frustrated. I see some resentment of our elderly who basically receive a SS UBI which is driving much political discussion about cuts. It is a complex issue – this UBI – but as the VOX article pointed out, there is a complete lack of interest and action to address the large number of people who want to work but can’t find a job. Underlying all of this is a social and cultural disconnect with helping promote “the common good”. No one wants people to abuse public assistance, but the problem is far greater than its abusers and these are the very people who Donald Trump can thank for his nomination.

    • dstaszak says:

      Pardon me, but it seems as if everyone is missing two basic points.
      Their would be no “3 Trillion dollar cost”. That may be the payout, but what about a claw back of the UBI as your income rises? Something along the lines of for every dollar you “earn” you have to give back a portion of the UBI that you got, so that at say $75k you would have given it all back. Then of course we have to figure in the “savings” achieved by eliminating federal and state welfare programs (smaller government anyone?). Still think this is workable. And the NYT didn’t mention Milton Friedman’s support for this, making this an older idea than he gives it credit for.

  3. Rob Ambrose says:

    More evidence the media is finally doing their job. I mean, sure it’s easy to be “Teflon Don” when demonstrable lies go unchecked. When they do, though, and the media highlights those inconsistencies, public opinion will change accordingly.

    http://www.rawstory.com/2016/06/watch-cnn-hosts-fact-check-shuts-down-trump-backers-blatant-lies-about-the-clinton-foundation/

    The Trump surrogates obvious lie (Clintons foundation keeps 80% of money) is revisted by the anchor after her team does a fact check and they correct the record. The fact that the surrogate was so wrong (they actually SPEND 89% and get an ‘A’ from an independent charity watchdog) just shows how flimsy and thin the Trump teams “research” is.

    You just can’t win a general election with such little regard for actual facts, especially in the internet age. It’ll come back to bite you every time.

    Trumps bombastic, fact free schtick worked in the GOP primary, but frankly, the current GOP is a diseased and toxic hulk of a political party. Winning that is as impressive as me beating a 4th grader in a one on one. It signifies nothing as to my ability to go against Lebron James.

    • 1mime says:

      I noted in the press conference on Vet donations that he went out of his way to insult several members of the press. These people are the elites of their field and even though they are competitive, they are also a tightly knit group around respect for the field. Trump may have gotten a pass earlier, but he will not get any going forward. Just like Cruz’ negatives because he pissed off so many of his colleagues finally came back to bite him in the butt, so will Trump’s arrogant attacks on the media hurt him. For one thing, they won’t “want” to give him a break. From this point on, the press will be actively looking for things to hang him. As you noted, Rob, he is so thin-skinned, he will respond to tough investigation in his predictable repugnant manner which will also deflect scrutiny of his opponents – Libertarian, Independent, and Democratic.

      He has made this bed. Now, he gets to “lie” in it.

  4. Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

    Contrary to feelings of some on the left (cough, cough, Rob, cough), there is little indication that Trump is going to get blown out in this election.

    Today’s analyses by 538 of live interview polling data indicates that Trump is pulling 85% of GOP voters, which is right in line with the support that Romney, McCain, and Bush had at this stage in the process.

    The “neverTrump” movement within the GOP has very quickly gone away, with even Rubio coming out in support of Trump in the last week.

    Obama managed to hold something like 92% of the Democrat vote, so he “pretty easily” won (by only 4%), so these numbers don’t mean that Trump will win, but it means that he can win.

    Right now, Hillary is not pulling in 85% of the Democrat vote because she’s not settled the nomination yet, and if the Bernie voters don’t end up supporting her, then it will be a very uphill fight for Hillary.

    The folks in the middle will decide the election, but Trump is holding on to the GOP base, and if Hillary cannot get the Democrat base, then she is going to have to do disproportionately well among the middle to beat Trump (and that is not all that likely).

    • 1mime says:

      Homer – you and I are on the same page.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      I hear you, but there is always a post clinch bump for candidates from both parties. It happened in 2008 when McCain clinched first , and then was tied with Obama…until Obama clinched, and shot ahead.

      http://www.politicususa.com/2016/05/22/chart-shows-trump-leading-clinton-polls-completely-worthless.html

      It happened in 2012 the same way.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/05/22/why-donald-trumps-polling-lead-is-a-bit-misleading/?wprss=rss_the-fix&tid=sm_tw_pp

      Basically, Trump has gotten his post clinch bump and the best he can do is down by two points. That, to me, absolutely points to his getting crushed, because Hilllarys bump will bring her to a 5-10 point lead (unless you think she won’t get one, which is a tough position to defend since every candidate from both parties typically gets one. Bill Clintons was a 20 point bump). And that’s BEFORE any debates, or spotlight on Trumps paper thin policy positions, or info about his scam Trump U.

      And anybody who think Bernie’s supporters won’t rally behind Hillary both ignore history (Hillary’s supporters were “never” going to support Obama either…until, of course, they did) and totally misses what Bernies supporters actually support him for.

      As a millenial, and a Bernie supporter, I can assure you they will vote for Hillary, if it comes down to Hill and Trump. Trump thinks because his supporters and Bernie’s supporters want systemic changes that there’s a natural fit there. In reality, Donald Trump is the literal personification of what we think is wrong with the system. In other words, if the “system” that we want changed were to become a human, it would look, act and talk very similar to Donald Trump.

      Trump will lose, and lose badly. One thing I think Clinton can be counted on is not commuting any unforced errors on the campaign trail. Trump does not have the toughness or ability to let even the tiniest sleight go. He’ll make a plethora of unforced errors.

      • 1mime says:

        One thing you haven’t calculated is the continuing email investigation. We can assume that the State Dept investigation is far less harmful than the FBI, and don’t forget our wily friends on the right nor their majorities in Congress and in “certain” courts. I doubt HRC won’t make any new gaffes on the campaign trail but she has certainly put herself in a very difficult position with this email problem. There are consequences and then there is politics. When the two collide – no one can predict the outcome.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        I think if 2012 and 2016 taught us anything, it has taught us that Hillary is not a very good campaigner.

        Hillary also has a tendency to do things that really easily allow her opponents to paint her with a pretty negative brush that already aligns with people’s general unease about Hillary.

        Hillary (rightly or wrongly – and probably rightly), has a reputation of being not-so-transparent, and the email thing plays right into that. Sure, other SOS did it before her, but hers was a little different (in her house) and hers actually is getting an FBI and State investigation, which others didn’t get. Those investigations may be politically motivated, but they are still happening. That just makes it really, really easy for Fox News, the GOP, and voters to talk about those issues. It already fits into the narrative.

        Hillary also pretty quickly wandered over into some racially less-than-sensitive rhetoric in 2008 against Obama.

        I think we can absolutely count on Hillary making any number of unforced errors in the next six months.

        Trump may make more of those errors than Hillary, but folks expect it of Trump, and Hillary’s mis-steps as the front runner will be magnified.

        Lastly, to the above point about the media finally getting back at Trump, I would defy you to find a GOP ticket in the last several elections that did not blast the media on a near daily basis.

      • 1mime says:

        ” to the above point about the media finally getting back at Trump, I would defy you to find a GOP ticket in the last several elections that did not blast the media on a near daily basis.”

        Nothing like this, Homer. Nothing. The tone, the personal insults, the sneering visage – Trump is making this real ugly. This goes beyond politics; this is personal attacks. He may have gotten away with that as a businessman, but we should all hope that none of our presidents would stoop this low in how they conduct themselves.

        Hillary Clinton has made some awful mistakes and has handled them very poorly, but HRC has been under a microscope like no other person in politics for decades. In addition, (and you know I support her candidacy and I know you support Trump), from the standpoint of qualifications and intent, I think Hillary is head and shoulders above Trump. There is simply no comparison.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @1mime: With all respect, unless something truly earth-shattering comes out, no one gives a flying f*** about Clinton’s damn e-mails. Republicans, as is their bad habit, keep coming back to it because they have nothing else and people, by and large, have already tuned it out.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Mime….I couldn’t tell if you were joking, but for the sake of others without a history here:

        In no way do I endorse or support Trump as President of these (or any other) United States.

        I, sadly, will vote for him due to the all-too-common downfall of hubris as I gleefully pointed out to my sister that she was so, so, so very wrong that Trump would be the nominee and happily assured her that I would vote for him were he to be the nominee.

      • 1mime says:

        I know that, Homer…but for the life of me, I cannot understand voting for Trump if you do not support him. However, I respect promises, especially to family.

        Cheers..

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Mime – were it anywhere but Texas, and if there was any chance at all that my vote would have an impact on the Presidential election, I certainly would not vote for Trump.

        Contrary to Lifer’s position below, i think Trump wins Texas by at least 15%.

        If Lifer is correct that the Libertarians pull away so much from Trump that it is within even 10% between Trump and Hillary, I’ll ignore my promise (then making hubris and lying part of my downfall), I’ll vote for Hillary.

    • 1mime says:

      The New Republic looks more deeply into the threat that a Trump presidency might hold for America and concludes: “for all there is to fear and regret about Trump’s ascent, our institutions, however flawed, are still robust enough to curb his ambitions—that Trump represents more of an existential threat to modern Republicanism than to our democracy as a whole. ”

      This affirms my personal opinion that Trump poses more of a threat to the GOP and Cruz to the nation. I continue to believe this is true.

      https://newrepublic.com/article/133830/can-donald-trump-wrestle-democracy-submission?utm_source=New+Republic&utm_campaign=af6c5ee5be-Daily_Newsletter_6_1_20166_1_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c4ad0aba7e-af6c5ee5be-59579285

    • goplifer says:

      I have never once in my life heard Republican voters in private expressing such reservations about a Presidential nominee. This is unprecedented in my lifetime. And the resistance I’m hearing in Texas of all places is off the charts. The Libertarians would only need to get vote totals in the teens to throw the state to Clinton, and that looks like a real possibility.

      Unless something dramatic happens at the convention, this is not going to be a remotely close election.

      • flypusher says:

        That gives me hope, Chris. Everybody posting on this blog is far more qualified to be President than that orange-hued raging id. Party loyalty is demanding too much of the members with brains and integrity. The Emperor is buck nekkid, and sell outs like Priebus and McConnell and Rubio and Christie are disgraces. Hell, I actually now have the tiniest shred of respect for Lucifer-in-the-flesh himself for not endorsing this buffoon

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Losing Texas, quite frankly the lynchpin that gives Republicans any semblance of a chance of winning the presidency, would be a huge psychological blow and hopefully enough to shatter the national relevance of the GOP in an undeniable way.

    • flypusher says:

      “If Lifer is correct that the Libertarians pull away so much from Trump that it is within even 10% between Trump and Hillary, I’ll ignore my promise (then making hubris and lying part of my downfall), I’ll vote for Hillary.”

      Keeping promises is almost always a good thing, but one lesson I’ve learned is that eventually an exception is going to crop up. For those of you who watch “Game of Thrones” or have read the books, think of the character of Jaime Lannister- he broke one of the most sacred oaths, and for a damned good reason. So if you see the chance to be a TrumpSlayer, go for it, and the ballot is secret anyway!

  5. Rob Ambrose says:

    Prognosticating Trumps rise and inevitably fall has clearly been a mugs game.

    To me, it looks like the media finally not laughing off the insults and letting Trump be Trump (8th times the charm, right?).

    Saw some pushback re: the “Mexican” judge, and he’s getting crushed on this veterans money thing.

    What a scumbag. He didn’t pay the vets until May 20, the day the WaPo finally started asking hard questions and made it clear they weren’t going away. Then he sits there and calls the media scumbags and “sleazes” for doing their job and holding candidates accountable for their words.

    I still firmly believe he’s going to lose historically. He’s got soooooo many issues that actually matter that make him look not just incompetent, but borderline psychotic (the released “playbooks” for Trump U suggest they should look for “single mothers who need money for food” and use that as leverage to get their money).

    Has a candidate ever just quit before? I’m not sure his ego and paper thin skin is going to be able to handle what’s coming.

    • 1mime says:

      Trump’s ego would also never allow him to think he might lose…..so, there you have it!

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I don’t think so Mime. I think how Trump acts and how he truly feels are two entirely different things.

        His bombast and “confidence” seems to come from a place of pretty obvious deep rooted insecurities.

        I know he would never admit PUBLICLY that be thinks he could lose. I also think the fear of it probably keeps him up at night these days. And I also think as soon as Bernie drops out Hilllarys numbers will shoot up, as happens for every candidate once they wrap up the primaries.

        And once they start debating, Trump is going to start dropping like a rock, especially if the media continues to do their job.

        Trumps personality disorder is pretty common. I’m sure we’ve all known many ppl exactly like him (the difference is Trump inherited $200 million).

        I don’t know that he can handle it.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I mean….just read this article, and the quotes taken directly from the playbook. I recommend leaving a half hour afterwards for a shower.

        http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/06/01/inside-trump-university-s-secret-playbooks.html

        How can a candidate for the freaking POTUS win among the 80% of the population that ISNT seduced by white supremecy? This is sleazy as hell. And the former CEO of Trump U says he “personally” approved the curriculum.

        And this is the guy that wants Bernie’s supporters and is going to “fight for the little guy”?

        I mean….I just….I’m speechless. This creep is so obviously a crooked piece of human garbage. How can even the racists fall for this?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        From the “playbook”:

        “Salespeople were instructed to “collect personalized information” about the potential students. As an example, the playbooks said, “are they a single parent of three children that may need money for food?”

        Followed by:

        “According to the playbooks, “money is never a reason for not enrolling in Trump University; if they really believe in you and your product, they will find the money. You are not doing any favors by letting someone use lack of money as an excuse.”

        What. A. Piece. Of. Shit.

      • vikinghou says:

        The bloom should have been off the rose long ago. But there’s a big group of voters who hate Hillary so much that they’ll vote for Trump just for spite. I’ve seen lots of comments on web sites where people say it doesn’t matter to them what the press writes about Trump, they’ll vote for him no matter what.

      • 1mime says:

        One only has to look at his former opponents and others who have come around to support him: Grassley, McCain, Rubio, most notably. When “party” is paramount, it is apparently ok to sell one’s soul. I respect Jeb! W, and the few GOP leaders who have made principled stands against supporting Drumpf.

      • Creigh says:

        A really interesting interview from many years ago (don’t have a reference) asked Trump if he’d like to be President if he could just assume the office. He said something like “No, the thrill would be to win the office, not just to have it.”

  6. 1mime says:

    Lifer – What’s the “scoop” on this supposed 3rd candidate as tweeted by Kristol?

    • goplifer says:

      An embarrassing stunt. He’s apparently trying to get a National Review blogger on the ballot. Unless this is some sort of head feint (it’s hard to take anything seriously anymore), this is a giant nothingburger.

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/31/bill-kristol-thinks-a-nobody-named-david-french-can-take-down-donald-trump.html

      • 1mime says:

        I have to admit that Bill Kristol is on my short list of Republicans who I really don’t like.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @1mime: Perhaps, but even Kristol has his uses. He’s like a living incarnation of one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, “The Opposite”. Slightly more than nine times out of ten, anything that Kristol says will happen, you know the opposite is the way to go.

      • vikinghou says:

        Kristol was on Real Time with Bill Maher some time ago. During the panel discussion one of the guests (can’t remember who) asked Kristol why anyone listens to him anymore, and proceeded to list a myriad of Kristol’s pronouncements that have turned out to be wrong. The audience went wild. Kristol blew up. Maher just sat there and grinned. I thought Kristol was going to leave the set but stayed put. Needless to say he hasn’t returned.

  7. 1mime says:

    This is such a savvy group that you probably already saw that Gov. Jerry Brown of CA endorsed Hillary Clinton. That’s pretty important…don’t know how much it will help her but it can’t hurt. Brown is a very popular, successful governor. She’s in a real dogfight for votes in CA with Sanders. Election June 7th.

  8. duncancairncross says:

    As has been said a means tested “UBI” is not a UBI

    The way around that is to think of the whole tax system – the income tax system is designed to “tax income”
    UBI is additional income, there is no need to “means test” the UBI because we have a system in place that does that already – if you are rich then with a uBI your taxes will increase – the same effect as a “means test” but using the existing mechanism – no need for an additional mechanism

    IMHO the best way to actually fund a UBI would be with a wealth tax

  9. Tom says:

    The oddest part about the NYT case against the UBI is the disincentive to work — to me, and probably a lot of people on the left, removing the need to take a low-paying job at McDonald’s or Wal-Mart is a feature, not a bug.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Tom – Tell me how your $20 Big Mac tastes. We need entry-level jobs. The poor need inexpensive goods and services. They go hand-in-hand.

      • Tom says:

        No, a Big Mac won’t cost $20, because nobody will pay $20 for a Big Mac. Businesses don’t actually work like that — if McDonald’s has to charge $20 for a Big Mac to make a profit, then either they need to reduce costs (most likely reducing their need for human labor) or they will go out of business because a competitor will figure out a way to sell a Big Mac for $2.

        Your comment assumes that there is some sort of inherent value to working for the sake of it, and that producing inexpensive goods and services requires cheap human labor. Neither of these things is necessarily true, but so long as there are people desperate to work for minimal pay, there is no impetus for businesses to modernize production.

      • 1mime says:

        And as long as there are desperate people who work for wages that are insufficient to live, there will be taxes required to provide for their health care, and SNAP, and crime, and….

      • fiftyohm says:

        Tom – I don’t disagree. Provide incentive sufficient to remove entry-level labor from the process of providing goods and services, and there go the entry-level jobs. Pretty soon everyone will get to be a CEO, eh?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Mime – Nonsense. Do you deny the importance of entry-level employment?

      • 1mime says:

        Not at all. But when entry level employment pay fails to increase with employee loyalty and performance over time, I have a problem with that.

        Remember, this is the mom who had 3 children who had paper routes for several years… Also, I indicated in an earlier post and have stated before that I believe wages need to be regionally linked due to COL differences.

      • 1mime says:

        Lest we ensnare ourselves in an endless debate over poverty which is a losing argument for you, my friend (-; here’s something that will offer you an interesting diversion…

        http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/05/beer-for-dogs/484652/?utm_source=nl-atlantic-daily-053116

      • Tom says:

        Terming dead-end/make-work jobs as “entry-level” is more than a little insulting. Entry-level implies that there is upward mobility from those jobs.

        And in any case, those jobs are already heavily subsidized by the government in the form of food stamps and other means-tested programs which essentially require work for eligibility. More free time (and money) to acquire skills for better jobs is a bad thing… how, exactly?

      • Tom D says:

        $20 for a fast food burger seems like a wild overestimate (or may have been intended as hyperbole). Wages are not what the majority of the price of a burger goes to pay for (think of rent, utilities, advertising, packaging, beef, buns, condiments, and of course corporate profits), so an increase in workers’ hourly wages won’t result in a commensurate increase in burger prices.

        Considering that some jurisdictions have recently enacted substantial minimum wage increases, keep an eye out and see whether you actually see anything close to $20 Big Macs as a result of this. You won’t.

      • fiftyohm says:

        It’s hardly ‘insulting’. You just deftly conflated entry-level, with make-work and dead-end. (Well, maybe not so deftly, as I noticed it.) Listen: Nobody ever said or promised that any job, no matter how menial or unrequiring of training or experience, should support a family. That’s an asinine concept. A first job, without training or work experience simply cannot be expected to do that. If you believe it should, you gut the base of the employment pyramid, and those jobs go away for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Then everyone – every high-school dropout can just settle down and “self-actualize”. Yeah – right. Sounds like a great plan to me.

      • 1mime says:

        I’m guessing your point here Fifty is to argue against the $15/hr wage for entry level jobs. Right? Education is a tremendous leveler. Don’t have it and your opportunity to ever have anything other than an hourly job is slim. Where I agree with you is that entry level wages for unskilled persons will be less than what that individual should expect after working at that job for months/years. Reality is that for many people in America, all they can work are jobs at McDonald’s. Some are able to break out and use this as a stepping stone to more rewarding positions, but poorly educated people are not so fortunate. Women, especially, are among those whose work is frequently hourly. The point that I want to make is that we pay for poverty one way or another. Why not help people on the front end instead of paying for their help on the back end through income taxes? It’s the old argument frequently levied at the poor who lack health insurance and go to the ER for their care. No one in their right mind, especially working people who labor, wants to go to ER centers and wait for hours for “free” care. Insure these people, provide community clinics or school clinics and be smart about how we spend money to care for people who lack the means to care for themselves.

      • goplifer says:

        To be clear, I am absolutely denying the value of the so-called “entry level” job. McDonalds is not an entry to anything. When 3/4 of the restaurant staff is replaced with the McDonaldtron 3000, we will all be better off and your order will finally be correct.

        Just a century ago people argued against child labor laws using exactly the same logic. These jobs only exist because we have a swelling mass of poor people who can’t find any gainful work. WalMart and McDonalds are being subsidized by billions in welfare money that makes it possible to do those jobs. Good riddance.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Let’s define “entry-level”. Let’s define it by task and wage. Let’s define it by station in life.

        Is it 30K a year? Is it a part time job for a kid in high school paying for gas? Or movie tickets for his girlfriend? Is it summer employment between high school and further education? Is it simply a first job to learn what having a job is all about? (Don’t deny the importance of this, please). Is it a busboy, or a dishwasher that aren’t going to be replaced by a McDonaldatron3000 any time soon? Is a job than could be done by a machine were there incentive sufficient to build one? In that last category, just how many jobs do you think that includes?

        Before I became whatever it is I’ve become, I pumped gas, was a lifeguard, worked on a factory assembly line, sold milk in a middle school, mowed lawns, and a few other completely menial jobs. They supported me as a kid, and in university. If those jobs paid the equivalent of 30K I would have been shit out of luck.

        If the basis of the employment pyramid is a “living wage” for a family, the system is screwed beyond all reasonable recovery. There will be no entry-level jobs. Supporting a family is not an entry-level position. Now I fully understand that there are those who are in that position, whether from bad decisions, or through no fault of their own, and we have to collectively address that – but there are ways, and there are ways. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath.

      • Tom says:

        No, fiftyohm: you are conflating flipping burgers with, say, an associate attorney at a law firm or an intern at a radio station. Those are actual entry-level jobs. The pay is low and the work kind of sucks, but at least there’s a possibility of advancement. There is no possibility of advancement from McDonald’s. Ask yourself, is a medical office hiring an employee going to hire a high school dropout because they have work experience flipping burgers or someone with no work experience who’s completed an associate’s in a relevant field?

        The people at the bottom rung of the employment pyramid are going to be far better off getting more education and training than they’re going to be flipping burgers. As for the people who won’t/can’t move off the bottom rung, is any value added to society that they’re working 40 hours a week for a tiny paycheck, doing work that could just as easily be mechanized?

      • Tom says:

        And yes, I am absolutely denying the value of “learning what having a job is all about.” This line of thinking assumes that there is some sort of inherent value in work. The only “value” to work is that it can be exchanged for money. No more, no less.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Um… money assumes the creation of value. Without that, no one eats. No one gets anywhere short of some sort of dystopian Neverland where all are free to do whatever the hell they please at the moment, and to hell with the future consequences. Work is the basic definition of value. J@ckin$ 0££ is, well – just that, sport.

      • fiftyohm says:

        And yeah – I’m sure a high school kid is going to get a job as an “associate attorney”, or an intern at a radio station. Just not on this planet. Good grief.

      • 1mime says:

        I think there is value in work – at an entry level and beyond. It’s not just about money, it’s about understanding what one is capable of, learning to work within an organization and with others, learning how to interact with the public, provide service, find out what one’s likes and skills are as well as one’s deficits. I absolutely agree with the value of work and there are many many people who worked their way through high school, college and post grad work at jobs they didn’t want to work at their entire life. But, they needed those jobs and those jobs taught them something.

        As Fifty pointed out and I as well, there are people who lack the education and skills to do more. They should be fairly rewarded but this may be the only job they can manage.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Honestly mime, I do really like to see newcomers to the blog. I do appreciate other points of view. But some of them just make my eyes bug out. Somehow I’m reminded of something I said about hipsters the other day.

      • Tom says:

        Talk about missing the point. The fact that a high school kid can’t get a job as an associate attorney isn’t the point.

        An associate attorney can make partner. A burger flipper can… flip more burgers. There is a difference here; one of these offers the possibility of advancement. The high school kid, by the way, is far better off not working, concentrating on his or her schoolwork instead so he or she can get into college. Working at a menial job after school isn’t even a good bullet point on a resume once you’ve finished school. I worked at a pizza place during college, and aside from having a little spending money from it I didn’t get anything out of it. This whole idea that kids need to learn the value of work is bull.

      • 1mime says:

        Ok, Tom. Poverty lesson time. Many kids who work during high school and college are not working for “spending money”, they are contributing to their family’s survival. Big difference. Sure, it’s always better for kids to study and participate in school activites than it is to work – especially if it is only for spending money. But, lots of kids can’t. The real world is a lot harder than many of us grew up in. I don’t know if I could have done as good a job as many of these kids/college students who are literally burning the candle at both ends.

      • Tom says:

        1mime — but that’s a lot of the problem. People who are working 40 hours a week aren’t going to have the time to improve their education and skills. They probably aren’t going to have the money, either. That’s where, as Lifer has pointed out (in the post he linked and probably others), those kinds of jobs frequently turn into a dead end. You get stuck working to pay the bills AND you don’t have time to get the skills required for a better, higher-paying job.

      • 1mime says:

        See post a minute ago. I doubt there are ANY kids who think flipping HB is their life’s fulfillment, but it happens.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Of course. And as an experienced parent you obviously know that all that time your teenager doesn’t have to spend working is filled with schoolwork. Tell me, just how long did you have that job at the pizza joint? What would you have done without the money? Would you have studied harder? Would you have… ah forget it. If you can’t see where this is going, I can’t help you. (Are you an ‘associate attorney’ now?)

      • johngalt says:

        From a person whose first job was bagging groceries and “spot mopping” the produce section, there is a role for this sort of job in teaching teenagers the expectations of the working world. For me, it taught me that I never, ever, wanted to do something so menial again and (thanks to a variety of fortunate circumstances) I never did. When these are lessons earned by 17 year olds, this is a good thing. When these jobs are done by 25 year old single mothers, they are not.

        But it is true that McDonalds and Walmarts need shift leaders, section managers, store managers, and division managers. These largely come from within ranks. Starting as a stocker at Walmart might lead to a salaried position for those with the right work ethics. My sister-in-law’s sister is one of these. My admittedly anecdotal conversations with employers indicates there is absolutely a need for training in how to be a responsible employee, and what better way to do that than in circumstances in which the stakes are low, like being a cashier, stocker, or fry cook.

      • 1mime says:

        Humble beginnings teach us many important life lessons.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Guys

        The thing you are missing is that the UBI would make this sort of “job for learning and pocket money” MORE prevalent not less

        People would not be doing these jobs because they HAD TO but because they wanted to – a much more reasonable position

        The only experience we have had of a UBI experiment in Canada found that people did study more

        I suspect that the pay for these positions would not change much but that “management” would find that they had to be more flexible and treat their people better

      • fiftyohm says:

        Hey JG! Clean up on aisle four!

        (I’ve always wanted to say that!)

      • fiftyohm says:

        Hey Duncan. I’ve not really been talking directly about the UBI. I’ve not come to a conclusion about that yet. BTW, Ontario is considering the concept now.

      • johngalt says:

        As much as I never wanted to hear it again, 50!

        Duncan – maybe. But nobody wants to bag groceries at Safeway or flip burgers at McDonalds. I suspect that if the people who do them were free to not do them, you’d see a lot more automation – ordering at McDs on a touch screen, for instance. I already almost always use self checkouts at grocery stores – I’m just as fast as the paid employees, don’t have to stand in line, and bag groceries (see my previous experience) vastly better than most current employees. Five years from now expect to see RFID tags on everything. Imagine pushing a cart full of stuff through a detector in a few seconds and having your total automatically charged to a credit card on file. You’d choose that over a cashier, I would bet.

      • 1mime says:

        Hey, better yet, let a drone drop your order right on your designated stoop!

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi John
        “nobody wants to bag groceries at Safeway or flip burgers at McDonalds.”

        I’m not so sure, with a bad boss yes!
        But with a few small changes and a decent boss?

        In some of the plants I have been in the assembly line workers enjoyed coming to work “for the crack” (conversation – not drugs)

        They would not have come in for no wages BUT they enjoyed their hours at work

      • goplifer says:

        When I needed to get obscure foreign currency for a recent trip AMEX sent me to a local office that was actually a travel agency. I was fascinated that such a thing still exists. I actually sat and talked with them for a while. Basically there are still some older people with money who don’t want to book a flight online. They also do some work building custom travel packages and tours. But basically its dying.

  10. tuttabellamia says:

    One thing that would need to be addressed is the circumstances under which people would enter the Basic Income Program. Those of us who’ve lived most of our lives without the Basic Income would see the Basic Income as a windfall, kind of like winning the lottery, since it would be an unexpected, pleasant surprise, and how we would use our basic income would most likely be a variation or extension of how we already live our lives. We would have more time and money to continue doing things we are already doing, or have always dreamt of doing. And the risks of the basic income would be the same risks and personal weaknesses we already have to deal with — frittering time, overspending, etc.

    Things would be different for people born and raised with the concept of the Basic Income, and they would take it for granted, but they might actually make better use of it than those of us who see it as a winning lotto ticket, as fun money.

    • 1mime says:

      I think to consider a guaranteed basic income would have to assume that there would be more opportunity for people to plan for and contribute to retirement. If all it does is lift one’s standard of living, those who are at subsistence levels would likely benefit by not incurring new debt whereas those who are already working at higher levels would likely improve their circumstances. Either way, one day, we all become old or infirm and can’t work anymore. That’s when savings are really important.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Hmmm… I’m not sure people “living at subsistence levels” have any real opportunity to incur debt. And if they do, they walk. Why not? Is it going to hurt a nonexistent credit rating?

      • 1mime says:

        I gather you are focused more on my use of the term “subsistence” than the example itself. Defined: “the action or fact of maintaining or supporting oneself at a minimum level.”

        Are you denying that there are people who live at subsistent levels? Do you assume that they “want” to live this way? What word would you have used to describe someone whose income is barely enough to live? Do you further believe that most people who live at or below poverty wish to incur debt? And, that if debt occurs, that they all “walk”? Are you aware that many poor people work multiple jobs to cobble together a living and still fall woefully short in terms of meeting basic needs? Are you aware that credit ratings impact the poor? When they try to rent a home, credit is pulled – and that’s just housing.

        Come on, Fifty. I know it’s easy to assume that all poor people don’t give a rip and want everyone else to pay their bills, but that’s just not true. Are there some? Certainly, and I have no patience with them. But let’s not denigrate poverty in this manner.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Now mime, please reread exactly what I said. I neither wrote nor intoned any of those things. I simply said that people living at subsistence levels have no real ability to incur debt. Period.

      • 1mime says:

        So, you’re being a clever “wordsmith”.? Meaning – if you’re poor, you can’t get any poorer? Or, what exactly do you mean, Fifty?

      • fiftyohm says:

        I meant quite specifically what I said. I was not being clever. The seriously poor – those without assets or income – have no means to acquire debt. No one will lend them money or services. Why is this fact controversial?

      • 1mime says:

        Seriously poor can have both income and debt. You are correct that no one will lend them money but that doesn’t stop them from accruing debt. EX> car needed for work breaks down necessitating repairs. In your scenario (and in reality), these repairs have to be performed on a cash basis – cash a poor person may not have even if they have a job. But they have to be able to get to work, thus the car has to be fixed, thus they end up at a loan shark. think those people aren’t out there?

      • Tom says:

        right, 1mime — in fact the legal structure regarding credit means that lending to the desperately poor can actually be MORE profitable than lending to people with means. The “payday loan” industry didn’t crop up because it’s unprofitable; the fact that the poor have fewer options makes them easy targets for predatory lending. Payday loans are for all intents and purposes legalized loan sharking.

      • Tom D says:

        ***The seriously poor – those without assets or income – have no means to acquire debt.***

        This is not what is normally meant by the term “poor.” Most poor people have some assets (such as a cheap car) and/or some income (such as a part-time job, child support payments, or disability benefits). And they certainly have the ability to incur debt – often very expensive debt such as payday loans, car title loans, student loans (which are really hard to walk away from), subprime auto loans (which likewise can’t be walked away from), and credit cards with high interest rates. Not to mention other forms of debt like unpaid medical bills and past-due utility bills. It has often been observed that being poor is expensive!

      • fiftyohm says:

        I have no argument with the evil of predatory lending practices. But we’re talking about “the poorest of the poor”, and now they seems to have cars?

        And Tom – The housing disaster was in large part about the profitability of high-risk loans, and the institutions that made them getting bailed out by *us*. Never think I support that crap either.

      • 1mime says:

        Fifty. The poorest of the poor have cars. I have to ask you to describe what you consider “poor”?

      • goplifer says:

        Interesting fact – it is amazingly (depressingly) easy for the very poor to rack up devastating debt. Check cashing schemes.Payday loans. “Title loans” on miserable used cars. Reverse mortgages on inherited houses.Rented furniture. Safety deposits on rental housing.

        Very few people are extremely poor *all the time.* The world is full of people who have figured out ways to separate them from an $800 tax return or a junk car someone gave them or money they managed to earn working under the table on a construction site.

        A buddy of mine in law school married into a very rich family. About the time I was leaving Texas his wife’s brother was laundering campaign “contributions” to Texas legislators to get some specific protections lifted from poor borrowers. Those protections were blocking a certain kind of payday loan business they wanted to launch. He ended up making tens of millions and then selling the chain. It was a horror show.

      • 1mime says:

        I’m searching my brain to see if I could ever see value in lenders like this, and I guess I could if they were regulated….which, of course won’t ever happen, but the poor have to go somewhere for help. Most of us here could go to a friend or family member for that “lifeline”, or, better, qualify for a loan of some kind at regulated rates. The poor have no such backstop.

        A point about entry level jobs, Lifer. I disagree that these types of jobs don’t serve a valuable purpose. That they should not be “dead end” or abusive in terms of pay and benefits is a given, but young people can learn a lot in these types of jobs. No paper routes today, yard services are pretty much cornered by the pros…I think kids can learn from these positions if nothing else other than this isn’t what they want to spend their lives doing. Sadly, there are many people who will spend their lives in these jobs and if they work hard and are long term employees, they should be rewarded.

      • goplifer says:

        How much money could you make doling out **secured** loans at a +300% APR: https://www.thecheckcashingstore.com/

        Answer – a metric shitload.

    • Tom says:

      Why is this a bad thing? People who are already spenders will just spend more. People who are savers will probably put the UBI check in the bank.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      >] “Things would be different for people born and raised with the concept of the Basic Income, and they would take it for granted, but they might actually make better use of it than those of us who see it as a winning lotto ticket, as fun money.”

      With an idea of this scale, some abuse and misuse is inevitable, but I can’t help thinking that the overwhelming majority of people would use it to lead fulfilling, satisfying lives. In the meantime, we have to do everything we can as a society and as people to see that are children grow up strong enough to put the money to good use; which means passing universal healthcare, tackling our drug issues, bringing college affordability in line with a tough but fair and rewarding work requirement, etc, etc. Everything that would other suck the potential out of a UBI.

  11. fiftyohm says:

    Help me out here. I read the article about ‘the poorest of the poor’. The piece uses baselines of 1969 and 1996 and compares these to 2011 to make its case. Furthermore, qualification for the ‘extreme category’ is 1 or 3 months of unemployment, i.e. no income.

    I’m certain that the Great Recession was taken into account here, right? And that comparing the early post-recession years with an extremely sluggish recovery to an otherwise average pair of years decades past was unintentional?

    Frankly, and absent some additional information, I’m having a very hard time making the slightest sense of this piece whatsoever. (At least insofar as the case that ‘the very poorest of the poor’ are getting poorer on the average, and over any typical span of time.) It appears to be the sort of sleight-of-hand Murray used in his attack on the BI in the NYT piece.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Correction: Murray’s plan was used by the author of the NYT’s piece inappropriately. That was the sleight of hand to which I was in reference.

  12. tuttabellamia says:

    Lifer, here’s a nice, non-judgmental book about the South that I’m currently reading:

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23719344-deep-south

    I thought of you while reading it, as you once said you’d like to try your hand at travel writing.

    • goplifer says:

      I’ve heard people talk about it, but I haven’t read it. Just ordered it.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I first heard about it when Paul Theroux was interviewed on Travel with Rick Steves Saturday night on NPR, and I bought the book the next day.

  13. Octopus overlords? Hmm. One suspects global warming is actually the nefarious end game of the Great Old Ones; R’lyeh rises and Lord Cthulhu awakes!

    “That is not dead which can eternal lie,
    And with strange aeons, even death may die.” – H.P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Chtulhu” (1928)

    😉

  14. vikinghou says:

    I agree with you about paying prevailing wages. But the private sector is never going to take up the infrastructure problem alone.

  15. vikinghou says:

    In the Oregon article something doesn’t completely add up. The author tends to imply that one of the reasons why Oregon’s welfare system works so well is that the population is racially homogeneous (i.e., predominantly white). This doesn’t hold water when one considers neighboring Idaho (which is even whiter), which has a more punitive system for dealing with the poor. It makes me wonder how many Idahoans have moved across the border to receive a better deal.

    The author should have kept to his initial thesis in the first few paragraphs—that blue states like Oregon generally do a better job than red states like Idaho when it comes to administering welfare programs.

    • Tom D says:

      I agree. The article focuses on one very white blue state and compares it mainly to some red states that are much less white (Ark and La are mentioned), not to red states that are as white as Oregon, and not to blue states that are more diverse. The writer makes some suggestive comments about race but doesn’t really prove anything.

  16. Tom D says:

    I like the idea of UBI, but the NYT article seems somewhat persuasive to me. As I read it, the main thrust of the critique is “it would be too expensive to give out all that money to a huge number of people who don’t need it” – not anything about government control – and this seems like an important point that deserves an answer.

    Lifer, how is the math wrong? And what’s your response to the claim that it would be too expensive?

    • moslerfan says:

      The “too expensive” argument is somewhat specious, the Government can create enough money. There is an issue of inflation, if spending of the money created runs up against supply constraints. The Gov could combat the inflation by raising taxes, somewhat negating the effect of UBI. I don’t know how it all would fall out in the end, but the inescapable conclusion is that the distribution of spending and taxes matters greatly in how the economy works.

    • goplifer says:

      He uses Murray’s plan as a baseline for framing purposes because it is by far the most expensive. Then he uses the wrong math for it – counting every US citizen rather than every US adult – resulting in a 50% over-estimate of cost.

      Then he conveniently declines to mention how much we pay for the current social safety net – about $1.4tr, or about 60% of the actual cost of Murray’s proposal.

      There’s a fine line between advocacy and distortion. He’s dancing on that line.

      • Tom D says:

        There are about 242 million adults in the US, so giving them each $10,000 per year would cost about $2.42 trillion.

        Ten thousand dollars is pretty hard to live on already. If you go much below that amount per person, you end up failing to give unemployed individuals any real dignity, autonomy, or decent standard of living. Liberals, at least, should and likely would oppose any UBI proposal involving a lower amount per individual. So $10K per person is a reasonable figure to use when working out how much this would cost.

        Current federal spending on social safety net programs other than Social Security and health care is $362 billion, according to CBPP. Link:http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/policy-basics-where-do-our-federal-tax-dollars-go

        Eliminating Social Security and giving seniors instead a UBI of $10K would be widely opposed and would be unfair to seniors. Eliminating Medicare and Medicaid would leave lots of people unable to pay for health insurance or health care – you can’t afford that on $10K per year after paying for rent, food, utilities, and transportation. So you have to keep those programs in existence.

        So if you subtract about $362 billion and add about $2.42 trillion in spending, you’re effectively increasing spending by about 2 trillion dollars. Total federal spending is about 3.7 trillion dollars per year, so this would be a very large increase in spending.

        Most of this money would go to people who aren’t poor, unemployed, disabled, or otherwise needy.

        So: (1) where are these numbers wrong? (2) if these numbers are not wrong, then how would this ever be politically feasible?

      • 1mime says:

        Tom, why is there reluctance to means test for the UBI? Social Security is presently means tested by taxing recipients whose income exceeds certain levels. Isn’t the real issue here what America wants to do to help its elderly and disabled? If that is a goal, then the means are prioritized and funded – just like we seem to do with our defense budget. Any UBI has to be accompanied by universal access to health care, or it can’t work.

      • Tom D says:

        Come to think of it, I should have used the number of non-elderly adults in the US, since I’m assuming that Social Security continues to exist. That’s about 189 million adults. So the net cost of a $10k basic income would then be about 1.5 trillion dollars. Which is still a very substantial increase in federal spending and I have a hard time seeing it as politically feasible.

      • 1mime says:

        “Figures never lie, but liars often figure.”

      • goplifer says:

        Here are a few numbers for comparison. The average SS benefit is about $13,000 a year. The average family on welfare in Texas receives less than $3,000 a year – that includes food stamps. In New York City a family of four receiving the maximum welfare payment gets less than $5,000 a year, plus $1500 for food stamps.

        10,000 a year would be a life-changer for a lot of people.

      • 1mime says:

        Per SSA, in 2016: “The average monthly benefit for retired workers is expected to be $1,341 per month in 2016 (or $16,092 for the year), and retired couples who are both receiving benefits will receive an average of $2,212 monthly”. That’s about $3K/yr higher than your $13K figure. I don’t know how many people earn the average amount but imagine SS has those figures.

        http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/planning-to-retire/2015/10/15/7-ways-social-security-will-change-in-2016

      • tuttabellamia says:

        My main problem with a basic income is that it would come with strings attached — conditions, expectations. I don’t see how it could be otherwise. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. You would have to answer to your fellow taxpayers with respect to how you spend it.

      • Tom D says:

        ***The average family on welfare in Texas receives less than $3,000 a year – that includes food stamps. In New York City a family of four receiving the maximum welfare payment gets less than $5,000 a year, plus $1500 for food stamps.***

        Okay, but how are those people paying for housing? If they’re living in public housing or using a Section 8 voucher to cover their rent, then that’s another substantial financial benefit they’re receiving which would presumably be eliminated if a UBI were enacted. If they are among the many folks who are eligible for subsidized housing but not receiving it, then they’re probably homeless – staying in a shelter, living in their cars, crashing on a friend’s couch, etc. You can’t rent an unsubsidized apartment in NYC on $5000 per year. A workable UBI would have to be big enough to keep people from being homeless, or else the existing subsidized housing programs would need to be maintained and expanded instead of being eliminated.

      • 1mime says:

        Or, we could “relocate” all those who are living in high COL areas to low COL areas (-; so as to lower the average subsidies people need…or, better yet, as Louie Gomert suggests – send ’em all to Mars!

      • goplifer says:

        Don’t get me started on subsidized housing. Almost no one anymore can get access to subsidized housing. In my county there are almost 60K on the wait list. Every three or four years a few new slots open, usually a few dozen. What I’m trying to suggest is that 10K a year would be much more than most people think, especially if it went to every adult in a household.

      • Tom D says:

        ***Tom, why is there reluctance to means test for the UBI?***

        1mime, as far as I understand it, that’s just inherent in the concept of a UBI – it wouldn’t be universal if it didn’t go to everyone.

        Plus, the fact that it goes to everyone means that you don’t need a bureaucracy whose job is to determine who is eligible and to combat fraud; and it means that individuals don’t have the burden of applying for it and proving eligibility. And there’s no stigma associated with getting a UBI check, because everyone gets them.

        I think it’s a lovely idea, but I question whether it’s really affordable and whether it would ever be politically feasible.

        If you had a means-tested UBI, it wouldn’t really be a UBI any more – it would just be a form of welfare. Perhaps a more generous form than we have now (depending on the specifics), but still categorically different from a UBI.

      • 1mime says:

        There are many who consider social security welfare. I understand the simplicity of giving everyone a basic income, but if it were means tested, as is SS, that doesn’t mean that the assistance isn’t universal, only that the amount varied. The case can surely be made for fairness, but if part of the goal is to reduce poverty by helping those who otherwise have to depend upon other forms of public assistance, what have you really gained?

      • Tom says:

        1mime, I think a lot of the issue with “means-tested” programs as opposed to a UBI is that under a means-tested program, you can actually end up being worse off if, say, your company gives you a raise because you lose eligibility for some benefits.

    • Stephen says:

      The government already taxes and spends which transfers income and wealth. But how you do this changes incentives. A basic income would incentivize businesses to increase compensation to attract workers at the lower end of the pay scale. This would raise cost to society in decrease profits for businesses and higher prices for consumers. Which one absorbs the cost and how much depends on the elasticity of demand. But the increase buying power of workers would generate more demand which raise profits for businesses. The biggy for rich right wing billionaires is that power would shift away from them to regular working folks.

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t think it’s a matter of shifting power from business to workers, Stephen. Paying people living wages increases money in circulation. All these businesses who are showing weak P&L this cycle are directly reinforcing the fact that if their customers, i.e. working men and women, do not have discretionary income, they cannot spend on anything other than basic needs. Forget new clothing, gadgets, new cars, etc. Food, shelter, health care, transportation, education are paramount. I do agree with regionalized pay as COL is a major factor in some areas and not in others.

  17. vikinghou says:

    May I add another article to the mix? The author (from a German newspaper) is comparing politics in the West today to the end of the Weimar Republic during the 1930’s. Food for thought.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/31/opinion/is-this-the-wests-weimar-moment.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

  18. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Regarding universal income, the author says some rightists like the idea because they couple it with killing social security and medicare.

    Is that your point of view?

    • goplifer says:

      Wy do I need social security, at least in its present form, if everyone has a basic income? You might still have some form of subsidized retirement program, but it would probably have to be more optional. Given the cost/return on SS and the presence of a basic income, I’m not sure who would still elect to participate in it.

      You still have to retain some form of universal health insurance. I’d prefer something more decentralized than medicare, but for now probably everyone on a basic income would be on medicare.

      • moslerfan says:

        We wouldn’t need unemployment insurance either, arguably.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        EI and Medicare/SS could still exist as optional programs. Lots of ppl would want insurance on their job. Others wouldn’t, and they wouldn’t have to buy it.

        It wouldn’t be NEEDED though, with a UBI

      • 1mime says:

        Please correct me if I am wrong, but everything I have heard and read is that one receives far more from SS than is ever contributed. I suppose you are suggesting that if that personal contribution was instead invested and compounded over a lifetime of work, that the total would exceed the aggregate total from SS? What is correct?

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi 1mime

        The amount that is available to get back out depends on the efficiency and effectiveness of the investment system

        If you compare to a decent system that matches the average of the stock market and has very little in the way of fees then the SS system will return less than that

        But it is incredible sensitive to the “fees” – if you look at an average fee system then you will get back a lot more on SS

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Mayhaps I’m just the oddball on this, but I’d actually feel more incentivized to be paying into SS if I had a UBI rather than not. It’s barely anything for me to be paying into right now, so why should I feel the need to stop if I had more money? Actually, if we turned SS into an optional program, I’d like for it to be reformed with reasonably structured payments tiers so people could either increase or decrease their payments if they so desired. If that happened and I were on a UBI, I’d probably want to up my payment into the system by a modest amount.

        I’d tie that in together with a basic retirement account and perhaps a savings here and there, just to have all my bases covered. And if the federal government were on a surplus and had a system like President Clinton proposed back during the late 1990s to invest in people’s retirement accounts, that would just be icing on an already delicious cake.

  19. vikinghou says:

    With regard to the basic income article, I’m with Mr. Greenstein on this particular point.

    “How about subsidized employment? The government could subsidize jobs as varied as school repairs and fixing potholes. “This would provide employment while doing things that improve productivity and improve people’s lives,” Mr. Greenstein said.”

    I have often thought that, immediately after taking office (while he had a compliant Congress), Obama should have created a WPA-style program to repair the nation’s infrastructure. Such jobs would not be outsourceable.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Agreed.

    • goplifer says:

      I can’t think of many things worse than that idea. One of the purposes of a basic income is to give lower income people the same opportunities to ‘pivot’ in life and a career that people at higher incomes enjoy. It’s kind of hard to separate that WPA idea from the chain gang.

      If we need infrastructure work done, then hire people to do it at prevailing wages.

      • Stephen says:

        We are in 100% agreement. In the NYT article the author wrote a basic income would discourage working by lower income people. Fortunes are made off workers trapped in wage plantations. A basic income would equalize barter power and those living off of capital which BTW now include me would still make plenty. It with health care and education reform would give people the ability to achieve their potential. Contrary to right wing belief most people want to work and contribute. We would find very few slackers.

      • Creigh says:

        We tried this once, and it seemed to be well short of the worst idea ever. Either UBI or a job guarantee would stimulate the economy and increase employment in the private sector, but I can see advantages for a JG that UBI doesn’t have, namely increased production, work environment training, taking pride in doing something constructive for your community, and an easier entre into private sector employment (for reasons good and bad, employers hate to hire the unemployed.) And there’s plenty of things that could be done other than, well, breaking rocks in the hot sun.

      • 1mime says:

        Plus, we have a direct example of how government jobs – even if short-term – can work – the WPA and the CCC implemented under FDR’s leadership. America has infrastructure repair and expansion needs. People want to work. Put people to work, offer re-training in an area that will require ongoing maintenance, and stimulate the economy. The fact that the Republican Party has chosen to ignore and delay addressing our infrastructure needs is irresponsible. Roads, bridges, airports, etc are critical to our nation’s economy and safe transport.

      • 1mime says:

        Great idea, Lifer! Would you please put a “bee in your GOP Congress” to fund an infrastructure bill?

        Viking, Obama lost valuable time the first two years of his administration focusing on the recession he inherited and the ACA. He was also politically naive – thinking he could “reason” with the Republicans. He should have realized from the first “You Lie!” this would never happen and done a lot of things. He didn’t have a good hit the ground running plan and so he wasted his majority while he had it. And, I say that as an Obama supporter. If the Obama of today had started out in 2009, there would be a lot of differences.

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