Beyond jobs


The modern workplace

Does capitalism, with its accompanying technological disruptions, create more jobs than it destroys?

Conventional wisdom says unequivocally “yes.” Each new wave of innovation eventually brings new jobs in number and value far greater than those it displaces. Telegraph readers become telephone operators become call center representatives. No need to fret over, or more to the point – adapt around – changes to the workforce wrought by technology because new employment will magically replace the old. What has been always shall be.

Policy-makers and the public at large may be missing a massive transformation unfolding right beneath our feet because we are looking at the wrong data. Has capitalism always created an ever-expanding pool of jobs? Not exactly. Will it create enough new jobs in the future to support a social model based on mass employment? Almost certainly not.

Two logical flaws contribute to our myth of capitalist job creation. First, we conflate “jobs” with “work.” They are not the same thing. Capitalism invented the concept of a job while steadily and relentlessly eliminating work. Mass employment is itself an innovation developed by capitalism. As technical sophistication advances, the work we replace becomes more sophisticated. This process eventually eats into job creation, as even the most uniquely human of work processes becomes vulnerable to automation.

We have already entered an era of declining employment that has been overlooked for decades. The decline in new job creation is only cushioned today by our tolerance for low wages, fueling the growth of easily replaceable employment in low-skilled service jobs. The end of mass employment as a social force is already well-advanced. Though it poses a social challenge, it a promising development for cultures with the agility to adapt.

Capitalism, and the technical innovations it spawns, incrementally replaces returns on toil with returns on capital. In other words, capitalism delivers accelerating value by relentlessly eliminating work. In its early stages it created jobs where none existed before. Extend the process of eliminating work across a long enough time frame, and jobs begin to disappear as well.

Richard Arkwright’s water frame could simultaneously spin 128 threads. It could operate 24 hours a day, stopping only for intermittent repairs and resupply. By comparison, that work was previously performed as a cottage industry by skilled weavers who usually also engaged in other work. In the course of a full day working, a weaver might be able to accomplish six to eight hours of weaving, between cooking, cleaning, child care, farm labor, and so on. Workers were sometimes assembled into factories, but those factories were little more than a lot of people in the same place weaving by methods similar to cottagers. Cottagers performed work, but they did not have “jobs.”

A single day of operation by one of Arkwright’s early machines in the 1770’s could easily replace the work of a thousand cottagers. His first mill was five stories with several dozen machines. It employed about 200 workers, almost all of them children. It rendered the work of thousands of people redundant, but created 200 jobs where no formal employment had previously existed.

Downstream from the factories, new jobs would over time emerge in mercantile stores, distribution, machine assembly, factory management, business accounting, banking and other previously unheard of roles. Those new jobs would be far more lucrative and humane than the endless toil of farm or mine labor that had existed before. They would not, however, require anything approaching the amount of human work previously necessary. Conversion of endless subsistence labor to “employment” in a “job” would lead to a long term, though still temporary rise in the number of people engaged in formal employment as capitalism and innovation continued to replace human labor at a steadily accelerating pace.

As we eliminated work, we created entire new social institutions. With families freed from the endless drudgery of farm labor and cottaging, women started to become, for the first time in history, homemakers. As the elimination of work progressed, demand for (a social tolerance of) child labor declined. In the farm economy that dominated economic life in the 19th century, only a rare few women or children avoided dawn to dusk toil for subsistence. By 1920, only 21% of women were “gainfully employed.”

By the second half of the 19th century we began to imagine childhood as a promising development phase rather than just a period of dimmed human usefulness. In 1910 only 20% of American children were employed. That number dropped by more than half over the next decade. By the time the US finally outlawed child labor in 1938 it had already ceased to be economically relevant. We had eliminated so much work that children had been freed from labor. This pool of children no longer forced into mines or fields could develop themselves, preparing to perform higher value work later in life. The replacement of work created the nuclear family, childhood, mass education, retirement, and a knowledge economy.

Eliminating work gradually made the remaining jobs more and more lucrative. If we look closely, this process is evident in our employment and pay statistics. Our employment to population ratio peaked along with industrialization. As a moving average, that ratio remained flat for decades until it began a temporary rise in the late 1970’s. What happened then? At a social and political level we had, for the first time in our history, begun to allow women and minorities to participate in the workforce on more or less equal terms with white males.

Women had been sidelined from work starting in the 19th century. Along with Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities they had been marginalized in order to preserve the most lucrative of the emerging job opportunities for white men. By the 70’s both groups were gaining new access to the workforce.

For the next twenty-five years we saw a surge in the number of people participating in the workforce. It should come as no surprise that the entry of new workers into an already weakening jobs environment led to stalled wage growth.

By the late 90’s the moving average for employment to population plateaued. It has been declining ever since. Overall, liberalizing workforce participation and integrating the southern states into the national economy led to about a 9% temporary increase in the moving average for employment, which eventually settled back to about a two-percentage point increase, from which it has resumed its long term decline.

Statistical noise from the liberalization of the workforce in the late 20th century can be eliminated by examining workforce participation by the only group of people who had full access to the workforce– white males. The employment to population ratio for white males has been in decline for as long as we have measured it. In fact, it has dropped by almost a quarter over the past sixty years. The pace of the decline was fairly steady until the 90’s. Since then the rate of decline in employment to population for white males has doubled.

The numbers tell the tale. Capitalism is not creating new jobs. It hasn’t done so for a very long time. Capitalism is not an engine of job creation. Capitalism is an engine for generating returns to capital. Capitalism invented the concept of a “job” to solve a problem being experienced at a certain stage of industrial development. There is no reason to think that mass employment could not be innovated away as easily as the horse-drawn wagon. As automation and machine learning begin to cut into our demand for skilled human work, we can expect a new phase to emerge. The age of mass employment is coming to an end.

For generations we have cushioned the impact of technical innovation with social adaptations like the nuclear family, a 40-hour work-week, child labor laws, retirement, and the welfare state. As capitalism grows and its impact accelerates, our social evolution must keep pace. Our next step is probably some form of basic income, but more is needed.

A basic income would replace our economic dependence on mass employment, but it would do nothing to transform the social role of employment. Continuing to develop the power of innovation while easing its social impact will require us to rethink of the role of work and employment in our basic values.

A social order that gradually evolved around the concept of formal employment must evolve or be rendered irrelevant. Worse, it may become unstable. Those who want to slow or halt this process are missing the point. Eliminating work may eliminate jobs, but it does so by creating enormous new wealth. Halting that process may keep someone employed, but it also keeps all of us poorer. A vastly higher percentage of people were working far more hours in 1880 than are today. The replacement of that labor was a value to humanity. We want that process to continue.

Our challenge is not to stop people from losing jobs. Our challenge is to build a social framework that allows us to assign the rewards from innovation in a just manner without mass employment. Up to now we have granted nearly all of the value from new innovation to the people who perform the jobs in those field, or the people whose capital funded the effort. Value, not just in terms of income, but also in terms of status, respect, even health insurance, is distributed (mostly) via jobs. With far more value being created now by new, relatively jobless institutions, we need a new way to assign the value from that economy.

This is a matter than deserves far more thought and consideration. Needless to say, the Luddites railing against trade and innovation are contributing no more to this discussion than those who ignore the problem altogether.

How would you create value from your life if a job were no longer an option? Though it sounds revolutionary, our ancestors have been down a similar road. We already solved this problem when we set children loose from toil. We solved this problem when we allowed people to retire from jobs at an advanced age. Precedents are available to guide us.

Are we ready to replace “get a job” with “get a life?”

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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368 comments on “Beyond jobs
  1. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    And so the RNC ruthlessly smacks down even the faintest remote chance of stopping Trump at the convention. The pain train keeps on chugging, choo choo!

  2. Rob Ambrose says:

    So, not to change the subject (or maybe I am) but this kinda seems like a big deal doesn’t it?

    • 1mime says:

      You would think it would, but Trump’s dismal bankruptcy record hasn’t seemed to matter to those supporters who are in awe of his business acumen. When you look for logic in his appeal, the only group, IMO, that has any rational basis are the white blue collar workers. Not that I think they are voting in their best interests, but in comparison to: Evangelical support? Republican loyalists support? Business support? Anyone who is college educated?

      It defies reason. All we can hope for is that he fails in his bid for presidency.

      • objv says:

        Mime, it really is not that hard to understand.

        Of course, Trump’s record is disturbing. However, the alternative is someone who is “extremely careless,” corrupt, untruthful and is so technically inept she can’t charge her iPad without help. She has turned a blind eye to her husband’s predatory habits and attacked the women who dared make accusations.

        Personally, I do not want a Trump presidency, but vote for Hillary? “It defies reason.”

      • 1mime says:

        No surprises here. Vote or don’t vote for whoever.

      • 1mime says:

        Many former corporate donors are refusing to contribute to this year’s GOP convention, leaving the host committee in a jam which turned into a delicate problem….

      • 1mime says:

        To be fair, the Democrats are having a similar problem with donor contributions for their convention….evidently a rules change is queering the corporate interest in ponying up. Can’t say I blame any of them….Wish our campaign process was much shorter and less elaborate.

        Donor fatigue is setting in and we have 4 months yet to go.

      • johngalt says:

        “Extremely careless” – meaning she behaved just like the past two Secretaries of State (Powell used an AOL account for chrissakes). Corrupt? She’s definitely enriched her family based on the offices she’s held. She’s probably changed her positions because of campaign donations. This is hardly headline news for politicians. Technically inept? Maybe? Who cares? She’s been investigated nonstop for 25 years and this is the best you can do?

        As for enabling her husband’s dalliances, well, when comparing that to a man on his third progressively younger wife, whose first wife has claimed he raped her, and who has said some truly disturbing things about his own daughter – yeah, sure, you can hang your hat on that line of argument.

    • And there you have it. Time to ban assault trucks. Or maybe just trucks with high capacity fuel tanks. Or maybe just trucks with an arbitrary list of cosmetic features. Or perhaps trucks with automatic transmissions – those darn things shift gears way too fast.

      • 1mime says:

        Let’s try to be compassionate at this time and put our own agendas aside. There will be plenty of opportunity later for politics.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:


      • Shiro17 says:

        Actually, yes! Let’s! It’s about time we started investing more in public transportation in this country. How many people die in car accidents every year, as opposed to train, plane and subway accidents?

      • The day Obama calls for radical Islamist terrorist control before he yammers for gun control after one of these incidents, I’ll be happy to give it a rest. Until then, no holds barred.

      • 1mime says:

        Gosh, and here I thought the President was doing absolutely the proper thing to focus on domestic gun violence during a week when there were so many domestic gun violence deaths… Hmm, guess he should have just focused on terrorism instead. The families of those killed and the American people probably wished he had spoken about terrorism instead…….

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I guess this is (like so many others) just a Rorschach test. We’re all going to see what we want to see.

        To me, this highlights exactly why we need gun control. If the crowd was so dense that a guy in a freaking TRUCK could kill 77, then it was dense enough to easily kill 100+ with a military grade assault rifle. thank goodness he didn’t live in a country where those kinds of weapons were available or else he likely would have done even more damage.

      • 1mime says:

        What we need is an elite, international team with the singular mission and the authority and means to destroy ISIL leadership and identify and capture its membership.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @Tracy Thorleifson: >] “The day Obama calls for radical Islamist terrorist control before he yammers for gun control after one of these incidents, I’ll be happy to give it a rest. Until then, no holds barred.

        In all seriousness, Tracy, and on my word and honor, I’ll make you a deal. You tell me why, in a convincing and satisfying fashion not just to me, but to all our fellow commentators here about why President Obama declaring those seemingly magic words, “radical Islamist terror” would somehow make it easier for us to pound Daesh and other terrorist organizations into the ground, I’ll never speak a word about the 2nd Amendment or gun control here again, period.

      • 1mime says:

        Count this as one more gun yammer wish to control the sale of guns happening without benefit of background checks. It’s too easy for irresponsible people to buy guns in America.

      • johngalt says:

        Ryan, “Radical Islamist Terrorism” is a buzzword that gets a certain sort to salivating, the sort of people for whom the world is black and white and choose not to see the millions of shades of grey. For them, it is obvious that we just need to bomb the shit out of somebody, somewhere. Of course, how one bombs the living room in Nice where this last terrorist sat with his disaffected buddies blaming their lot in life on everyone but themselves is not exactly clear, but Bombs! Guns! Shoot Something!

        Reducing Radical Islamist Terrorism™ is not possible without the wholehearted cooperation of Muslims who are not Radical or Terrorists. This is not a fight that will be won with tanks and F19s. That effort becomes harder when there is a perception that the West is at war with Islam. President Obama understands this. Tracy, apparently, does not, and he is far from alone.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        JG precisely. Some people seem to think the world is a big video game and if we just enter the right cheat code or say the right phrase, all our problems will be solved.

        Similar to the sovereign citizen numbskulls who go to court and say because the flag has a gold fringe, the court has no jurisdiction, or if they just utter the right phrase, the judge will be forced tobsay “well, you got the correct cheat code! You’re free to go!”

      • “Count this as one more gun yammer wish to control the sale of guns happening without benefit of background checks. It’s too easy for irresponsible people to buy guns in America.”

        1mime, do you realize how idiotic this statement is? Take a look at the *prosecution rate* for NICS Form 4473 background check violations (0.15% –, and you’ll discover that the FBI just doesn’t give a rat’s rear end for the background check system. The reason for this is completely obvious to the most casual observer: criminals don’t generally buy their guns from licensed firearms dealers, and to the extent that they do, they utilize straw purchases by people who can legally purchase a gun. (Straw purchases are a felony violation, too, but it’s already a felony violation for a felon to obtain a gun. ARE YOU STARTING TO GET A CLUE?) The background check system in its current state is already unenforceable; all of the goofy proposals for a “universal” background check system are ludicrously less enforceable.

        I’ll tell you what, I’m completely willing to compromise. My starting point is “shall not be infringed.” Here’s my compromise: Let’s roll back *all* gun regulation to the 1934 Nation Firearms Act. And with respect to the NFA, let’s drop the goofy ban on silencers (barring a $200 federal tax stamp that takes half a year to process); my hearing has already suffered enough. This compromise will still ensure that fully automatic firearms are still restricted from the general public, and at the same time will eliminate a slew of unenforceable laws, and, as an added bonus, eliminate a big chunk of utterly useless federal bureaucracy.

        What say you? 😉

      • 1mime says:

        What say me? I say, if the current background check program is either not being enforced or unenforceable given available resources, change it so it works. Expand it where it can do the most good. The effort should include gun proponents such as yourself who can speak to your concerns, as well as law enforcement, legislators, and community experts in mental health, medicine, research, etc. Anyone who can lend expertise to helping reduce violence in our country – not just through guns. The problem is larger than simple “gun control” but this iss part of the problem and probably the easiest to manage IF we could reach accord on our goals.

        I don’t know if you watched either the Dallas commemoration or last night’s town hall meeting, but two police chiefs spoke to the problems they are facing due to how many guns are out there and especially now that open carry and concealed carry are legal in many states. This is law enforcement speaking.

        People like myself can only add voice to the futility of the carnage that guns (and other violence) inflict. Let there be a disciplined, focused, expert group of appropriate parties examine the issue and see if there is any way to make improvements to the existing procedures which clearly are not working. We have never tried this approach because the NRA, principally, and gun proponents, generally, have shut down any legitimate effort to do so. Why not come together with a common purpose to see if common ground could be found that actually works?

        That’s my answer.

      • johngalt says:

        Hey, Tracy, why stop at 1934? Let’s roll this back to 1794. You can own all the barrel-loaded muskets you want, carry them wherever you want. Your right to do so shall not be infringed by me or anyone else. But if you want to own rapid-fire killing machines, join the army.

  3. Bobo Amerigo says:

    A re-cap of the president’s reconciliation meeting:

    Was our esteemed lt gov there? Haven’t found a mention yet.

    • 1mime says:

      Sounds like the meeting evolved into a positive, open exchange. That is progress. I didn’t note in the article any mention of the need for police training and I think that is key to fair expectations of our police officer performance. You can’t put rookies into hostile, difficult situations and not expect them to make mistakes. Many times, deadly mistakes for themselves or others.

      If you are interested, tonight (or tomorrow depending upon your PBS schedule), Charlie Rose has a one on one interview with Bryan Stevenson with the Equal Justice Initiative. I have exhorted all here to read his book, “Just Mercy”. It’s not long but boy is it a powerful look at justice as experienced by people we don’t frequently interact with – the poor and our minority population. Please get the book. I look forward to hearing him engage with Rose on the subject of equal justice.

    • 1mime says:

      As for Dan Patrick – I wouldn’t think anyone who is so self absorbed would score an invitation to this meeting.

    • Well, bobo, if it’s anything like his patronizing, pedantic and grossly partisan CNN gun control town hall, I’d take a pass, too.

      • 1mime says:

        Bobo, I posted a notice about tonight’s town hall on violence yesterday. 8PM ET, several channels (ABC, ESPN, others). Guess Patrick made the cut for this one. He wouldn’t have been on my list for either meeting. Let’s hope he comports himself well and makes some positive contributions without all the posturing.

    • johngalt says:

      From the Post article to which Bobo linked: “That kind of thing is foreign to me, if you will,” said Pasco, of the Fraternal Order of Police, adding that the accounts he heard of racial profiling Wednesday took him aback.

      It is beyond belief that the President of the FOP is unaware of allegations of racial profiling by police. How blind does one need to be to have missed that?

      • 1mime says:

        How blind does one have to be…..It’s a conscious choice, JG. It’s part of the problem that members of the Black community have lived with for a very long time and the rest of us have been “blind” to. The Police? They have no excuse. They know it’s going on, and, further, they have covered up for “bad” police behavior. Even the “good” police who greatly outnumber the poor ones.

      • johngalt says:

        Indeed, mime. I almost worded that a different way to emphasize his willful ignorance.

  4. 1mime says:

    Technology’s reach is everywhere. Taser International, the developer of the stun gun in 1993 has expanded into police body cameras and data management. It has cornered the market. It’s an interesting story. As Taser has grown, the company has “come under fire for questionable business practices” because of its close relationship with law enforcement officials. More and more police see body cameras as a valuable tool to corroborate chain of events, but an interestingly benefit it that” wearing body cameras produces better behavior – of both the police and the public.”

    • This technology is really just in its infancy. GoPro-style image stablization is just hitting the market. Multiple cams on the ground could facilitate 3D stereographic scene reconstruction, assuming high accuracy GPS or line-of-sight device-to-device relative positioning. Evolving from passive visual spectrum sensors to passive IR and active microwave or mm-wave radar could facilitate projectile trajectory analysis, better 3D and low-light scene reconstruction, etc. We’ll soon get to the point where investigators and grand jury members can stroll through a VR or AR incident scene. This kind of image processing technology is already being deployed in the remote sensing/satellite imagery, 3D seismic technology and military mission planning worlds; it’s only a matter of time before it hits the wearable video cam world.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Not to mention Pokemon Go. I’m going to download this. I’ve never been much of a gamer but this version sounds like a lot of fun.

  5. Interesting string of UBI op-eds, articles and letters in the WSJ over the last month or so, both for and against (the most recent in today’s edition): – “a solution in search of a problem” – “New Technology Creates Challenges, But a Universal Income Isn’t the Solution” – “Proposal aimed at guaranteeing residents a minimum allowance receives scant support” – “Replacing the welfare state with an annual grant is the best way to cope with a radically changing U.S. jobs market—and to revitalize America’s civic culture”

    Interesting statistics: a true UBI for every adult American of $10K/yr would cost $2.4 trillion annually, and leave the poor and the elderly worse off than they are now. A $10K/yr for *every* American would cost $3.2 trillion annually. This would leave poor *families* in much better shape, but the elderly would still be hammered.

    Greg Ip, in the most recent article (listed first, above) states, “To advocates, UBI is appealing precisely because it’s unconditional. It cleanses government assistance of its behavioral-modification stigma. Yet in a world of limited resources, taxpayers have a right to expect their money go toward the social goals that matter most. UBI fails that test.”

    Like tuttabellamia, I very much doubt that a UBI in practice would for long prove resistant to the lure of “behavioral-modification,” which is, after all, the raison d’etre of political apparatchiks of all stripes. In my book, UBI fails on both of Ip’s criteria.

    • Also interesting, total federal spending for 2016, less defense, is $3.05 trillion. Pensions, welfare and healthcare spending totals $2.5 trillion. So, leaving defense, deficits and the debt out of it, and depending on what other federal spending we were willing to forego, we could implement a true UBI of somewhere between $7,840/yr and $9,565/yr for each and every American.

      • 1mime says:

        I imagine that any effort that is this significant should put all spending and debt on the table. No sacred cows – not defense, nor entitlements. That would be the only fair and smart way to proceed. However, it is virtually impossible to determine what are America’s priorities given the total gridlock we have in Congress. Something “like” a GBI could never realistically even be discussed in this toxic political environment. The players are all wrong. The goals would be self-serving. The GBI has to be approached like SS – with a pure goal. I don’t see that happening until many of the D.C. players are gone.

      • 1mime says:

        Tracy, what was is the total federal spending for 2016 INCLUDING defense, Tracy? Also, I am assuming you are speaking about “up to this date” since the 2016 budget doesn’t conclude until September 30th. Do you have a link to share on this information?

    • 1mime says:

      Possibly we should improve upon what we currently have? Most of what I read talks about reduction of assistance to the elderly and poor rather than enhancement. With so much of America’s wealth tied up in the hands of relatively few people, it does present a concern that those who may get to make these decisions are least knowledgeable about the needs of those who will be affected. I have long maintained that one of the smartest, best forms of aid for all Americans is quality universal health care. I also believe in the importance and value of helping the elderly, disabled and poor, but hope that one day our educational system will become a leveler for jobs preparation and a productive life – however one chooses. There is a cost for both these important basic elements and as a country, we have to decide how and what we want to fund – what our priorities are. We cannot do it all.

      • “We cannot do it all.”

        That was Grep Ip’s (and Jason Furman’s) point, and his chief criticism of UBI. Still, if technology continues to develop on trend, we’ll get to the point where we *can* do it all. Won’t that be interesting?

        It would be an interesting social experiment to see what people would do with their UBI. Given access to something like that for my kids, I’d have invested every penny of it, and then handed them a juicy income earning portfolio upon their majority. A couple of generations of that, and all my descendants are full members of the ownership class, living a life of leisure.

        One suspects not everyone would make a similar choice. Then again, natural selection in humans has always favored those who practice delayed gratification and forward planning. Why mess with what works? 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        Oh, Tracy, how many people would be able to make the kind of choice to invest that you and I might? As Homer said so clearly – for many people, the money would help pay the damn bills. We cannot forget that there are people who start out life very differently than we did and whose options for this relatively small amount of money would be totally basic needs focused.

  6. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    While discussing Roger Ailes and the growing scandal over his purported habit of sexually harassing subordinates, Bill O’Reilly seems to become unaware of this phenomenon of “irony”.

    “Seemingly speaking about himself as much as about Ailes, O’Reilly urged that the United States adopt the British civil legal system “whereby if you file a frivolous lawsuit and you lose, the judges are right to make you pay all court costs…[Otherwise] we’re gonna have this out-of-control tabloid society that is tremendously destructive.”

    Doesn’t he know his big boss Mr. Rupert Murdock owns a number of papers in the U.K., Australia, etc. Tabloid papers that is…

    Out-of-control tabloid society? Seriously? His boss has been funding the infrastructure for that “society” for decades. That is how he was probably paid in the beginning of his career with Fox News, with the profits from Murdock’s tabloids.

    Why is he complaining?

    And if Bill O doesn’t like frivolous lawsuits, maybe he shouldn’t have engaged in inept attempts at phone sex with a disinterested party who used to work with him.


    I wonder how much of these facts go over the heads of your average Fox News viewer.

  7. Griffin says:

    Great article from Ta-Nehisi Coates on how anti-police violence is only going to get worse until we address actual policy that will legitimize the police in black communities.

  8. JeffAtWolfcreek says:

    It is refreshing to see so many smart people talking about UBI but how about the not so smart ones… the GOP wants to fix global warming by burning more coal. This is not a fringe bunch of radicals but roughly half of the power base in the country. Seems to me more likely that the economic answer for redistribution will be brutal austerity for the poor. That should teach them not to have kids.

    • 1mime says:

      Brutal austerity for the poor – in America? You might have trouble with this, I know I do, but there’s poor, and then there’s poor. If you want to see world class poor, visit India or Nepal.

      Or so I have been told.

    • 1mime says:

      Mosler is one of Lifer’s commentators who is particularly interested in financial topics. He recommended the blog, Evonomics, as an excellent compendium of thought on economic matters. Today’s post speaks directly to Lifer’s topic, Beyond Jobs.

      It asks: ” … do economists really believe that “the world runs on individuals pursuing their self interests” (… Milton Friedman) and that businessmen should be motivated solely by self-interest unadulterated by any feelings of sympathy or morality? Maybe we’ll all find some answers or possibly new questions about how we individually and collectively share in a capitalistic economy.

  9. Rob Ambrose says:

    The GOP speakers are released, and Newt is specifically named, while Pence is not. There’s also a spot for “VP nominee”.

    Soooo…….Pence it is?

    • tuttabellamia says:

      It will be good when the VP nominee is announced, so that the attention and energy can shift away from Mr. Trump and over to that person. At that time we might be looking at the person who would be the true leader of our country should Mr. Trump win the general election.

  10. Rob Ambrose says:

    Ah, GOP logic at its best. In the protest zone around the Cleveland RNC convention, carrying guns will be allowed.

    Banned though? Toy guns.

    Makes sense.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      From reading the article I don’t think this has anything to do with GOP logic. It’s according to Ohio state law and Cleveland city regulations.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        The apparent contradiction seems to be between city and state law. The city of Cleveland can ban toy guns, etc, outside the stadium, but state law won’t let it ban real guns that are lawfully carried.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        And real guns are not allowed INSIDE the arena because of Secret Service concerns, so I guess the Secret Service takes precedence over state law in this case. That’s how I understand it.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I don’t think the Secret Service has any legal precedence to override state law. They can advise and suggest, of course. But if the GOP insisted on real guns inside, I don’t see how that could be stopped.

        Ohio is, of course, an open carry state, andas such people should be allowed to carry inside the convention. I thought more guns made us all safer?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Kevin Dye, spokesperson for the U.S. Secret Service, points out that the gun ban on the premises during the convention is perfectly legal and will not change.

        “Title 18 United States Code Sections 3056 and 1752, provides the Secret Service authority to preclude firearms from entering sites visited by our protectees, including those located in open-carry states,” Dye said. Under this code, only authorized law-enforcement personnel working in conjunction with the Secret Service for an event may carry a firearm inside of a protected site.

        “The Secret Service works closely with our local law enforcement partners in each state to ensure a safe environment for our protectees and the public,” Dye added. “Individuals determined to be carrying firearms will not be allowed past a predetermined outer perimeter checkpoint, regardless of whether they possess a ticket to the event.”

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I will look into this whole Secret Service thing and whether they have the power to ban firearms.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Keep us posted. I dont THINK they can, but I’m not super up to date on this either, it would be interesting to know one way or the other.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        “Title 18 United States Code Sections 3056 and 1752, provides the Secret Service authority to preclude firearms from entering sites visited by our protectees, including those located in open-carry states,” Dye said.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I guess the Secret Service is using “conventional wisdom” in this case.

      • Rob Ambrose says:


        I guess you learn something new everyday. Thanks Tutta

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Actually, I’m really not that interested in gun rights per se, but I am fascinated by the laws that govern them.

  11. Griffin says:

    An interesting take on radical leftist cynicism to the new capitalism:

    “Maybe, in the eyes of the Great Actuary in the Sky, the world is a better place today than it was yesterday. Maybe God’s spreadsheet has an ever-rising sum in the Total Human Utility cell. Maybe. But your life isn’t lived on a spreadsheet. It’s lived on the pavement and on the grass. And out here there’s suffering and heartache for days. What kind of a sociopath looks at a hungry child and consoles her by saying that there are fewer hungry children than ever before?”

    This presummes that his solution to the problem is the one that shall end virtually all poverty (a difficult to test hypothesis) but this argument really struck me as odd because it reminded me of what George Orwell wrote about, a mindset he both decried and attributed to a new brand of British conservatives he called “Neo-Reactionaries”, a group who argued against most reforms because a utopia would not be achieved in the short term anyways so why bother:

    “The danger of ignoring the neo-pessimists lies in the fact that up to a point they are right. So long as one thinks in short periods it is wise not to be hopeful about the future. Plans for human betterment do normally come unstuck, and the pessimist has many more opportunities of saying ‘I told you so’ than the optimist. By and large the prophets of doom have been righter than those who imagined that a real step forward would be achieved by universal education, female suffrage, the League of Nations, or what not.”

    It’s odd that the socialists are becoming so similiar to the “neo-pessimists” Orwell once railed against. However I’m guessing this argument against capitalism will become more common because, as Owell pointed out, both brands of cynicism are true up to a point and thus can cause real damage to a movement.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      I don’t think there’s any large movement that is purely anti capitalist. Bernie isn’t anti capitalist, neither are his followers (for the most part). What they are is ‘anti-the capitalism that we have right now’.

      If Bernie came up with an economic system from scratch, it would be fundamentally a market based capitalist system. Just with strong protections built in to protect the People from the worst excesses of capitalism.

      Nobody is saying tear down the system, they’re saying make it better.

      I disagree with the writer. Things ARE better now. To say they aren’t because some individuals still have a hard life is inaccurate IMO. Im also a believer in the “greater good” theory in that whatever is better for the most amount of people is inherently good.

      Thus, a tragedy that kills 2000 people is horrible, but better then one who kills 2001. A world with 50% child poverty is terrible, bit it’s better then a world with 51%.

      And anyone who IS talking about replacing capitalism needs to have something in mind to replace it. I’m open to that, but so far, capitalism is the best system we’ve had that works within the framework of human behavior.

      That’s a key point. Communism, in theory, is an excellent economic system. Contrary to most opinions, it is not inhere tly evil. It is amoral, it’s an economic system, nothing more or less. It just falls apart in practice because it doesn’t fit with how we know humans behave.

      • 1mime says:

        What are your thoughts about democratic socialization?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I’m not sure the exact definition of that Mime. I personally define it as a market capitalist system with a progressive tax policy and a robust social safety net, similar to the system that I grew up with in Canada.

        I consider that, personally, to be superior to the American system.

      • 1mime says:

        Bernie used to say he was an advocate of socialized democracy or something like that, and, neither do I know what that means in any formal sense. Canada does seem to meld the best of both worlds and has had a pretty stable economy forever….Trudeau appears to be taking the country more to the left but in ways that I like. Will be interesting to see how the changes he’s advocating will impact Canada’s economy.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Indeed Mime. In the most near term, Trudeau has promised rollout of nationwide cannabis legalisation by April of 2017. I’m sure lots of countries will be watching this experiment as it unfolds, specifically how much money it brings in.

        I think (hope) it’s going to be a cash cow, both in terms of tax revenues, as well as greatly diminished costs to the criminal justice system.

      • 1mime says:

        Guess if the US were to legalize cannabis, the private prison industry would have to find another way to meet their quotas…..arrest more peaceful protesters?

      • Griffin says:

        “I don’t think there’s any large movement that is purely anti capitalist.”

        No I wasn’t saying Bernie Sanders fell under this category of radical leftists, just that this might be an increasingly common argument among actual hard-lefties who want to replace capitalism. There aren’t many of them but where they have most influence, in certain parts of the humanities in certain parts of Acadamia, they can make their voices somewhat more influential than they should be (though not nearly to the point right-wingers claim, which is that they totally dominate universtities and “brainwash” students).

      • Griffin says:

        Another article going around showing the sheer anger on the far-left and their desire to essentially recreate the New Left which primarily defined itself against mainstream liberalism.

        “You are not “The Left.” You are the lowest of the low and do nothing but fortify the rich white male elite that benefit from the exploitation of so many marginalized identities. We don’t need you — and we will burn your whole fucking Party to the ground if that’s what it takes.”

        View at

        Will they “succeed” in actually creating this movement (which, I believe, will only allow hard right-wingers to win on “law and order” platforms due to moderates being terrified of them)? I’m not sure they have the numbers, but it’s not outside the realm of possibilities.

      • 1mime says:

        This article supports your concerns about hard core Bernie supporters. If this is true, it doesn’t look like H will get their support – in fact – many will vote Trump or write in Bernie.

        I have to say that Bernie has not begun to help heal this chasm. He can be a leader of those who still listen to him. The others – they hear only themselves.

      • Stephen says:

        We have tried socialism before in our country. It only worked in small religious organizations for a few generation. Human nature is the reason. You always have cheaters and stealers who destroy the trust needed for the system to work. Same problem with libertarianism. Without some regulation and a system to provide goods and services needed but with limited profit motivation (socialism) Capitlism falls apart because of the cheaters and stealers. I believe Capitlism and Socialism are joined at the hip. With only one you end up with Fedualism.

  12. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    latest interesting poll:

    “Donald Trump Gets 0% Support From Black Voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania: NBC/WSJ Polls”

    Can I call it? Can we now say that without a doubt that “the blacks” do not love Trump, and that perhaps he was being untruthful in that assertion?

    • I’m sure that Donald Trump would never speak in public without rigorous fact checking first! 😛

    • 1mime says:

      Other polls have been more positive for Trump, including the Quinnipiac which 538 gives an A- for quality….which is a good ranking.

      I know I sound negative, and I know it seems unbelievable, but this is going to be a close election. The Q poll focused on swing states which are critical for both candidates.

      The convention is looming, however, and there is a concerted, organized effort to refuse Trump the nomination by freeing delegates to vote for another person…Cruz appears most likely as he has over 600 + delegates of his own. So, that scenario will play out this weekend.

      Here’s a little exercise for you. very casually, ask people what they think of Trump’s chances for President. Don’t ask them who they are voting for…just get an idea of Trump’s appeal….I think you will be surprised.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        If the polls are close after the debates I’ll be worried. Hillary is an incredibly prepared debater, if not the most eloquent. And Trump won’t be able to hide behind 13 other candidates. Trump will be so mismatched I won’t be all that surprised if he cancels using some pretext.

        Debates are like tax returns. Most ppl alive assume they’re mandatory, but there have been elections without them.

        That said, I think skipping the debate will be far more politically damaging then not releasing taxes. But I also think skipping the debates will be LESS politically damaging for Trump then actually attending them, and I think he knows it. So I think there a chance (less then 50% but probably more then 30%l) that he just refuses to do it.

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t see Trump skipping the debates at all. His ego is such that he will expect to dominate her just as he did the “erudite” professionals he competed with for the GOP nomination. After all, Cruz has debating skills and Trump handled him. In a one on one substantive debate IF the moderators will not let him get off subject and force him to answer the questions posed, Hillary should do very well. We’ll see.

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s a sobering statistic about Trump:

        “Support for Mr. Trump among white evangelicals is even stronger than it was four years ago for Mitt Romney” 36% for Trump to Romney’s 26%. What does this say about those who call themselves evangelicals? Mitt Romney has his faults – but I don’t think he can be faulted for his deep faith. Funny, isn’t it, how we believe what we want to be true?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        That’s not terribly surprising Mime. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in a very strict Pentecostal home, and my family would have NEVER voted for a heretic Mormon like Romney. It wouldn’t matter what his policies are, evangelicals tend to have a VERY narrow definition of whobis “saved” (and thus getting into Heaven) and who is not.

        For example, I was taught that Mother Teresa was in hell, along with all Catholics, as they weren’t “born again” and don’t ask Jesus to come into their hearts to be their personal Lord and Savior.

        To anybody with eyes and a brain, Trump has zero religious credibility. But at least he isn’t an outspoken heretic.

      • 1mime says:

        Rob, those who were teaching you about all the people who wouldn’t make it to heaven….did they say where their heaven is? I’m kind of concerned because I really want to end up where Mother Teresa is…..Can you share the coordinates with me please?

  13. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    Well, I can’t say I’m surprised… a harbinger of things to come.

    “Donald Trump Gets 0% Support From Black Voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania: NBC/WSJ Polls”

    Now I know what some people might say (like on, Hot Air or the National Review), “Oh it just the darkies on the Democratic plantation… will they even bother to vote in November if they are still haven’t worked through their welfare checks.”

    Now I would naturally digress. Some people (esp. minorities) make what I would call a wise decision when they decide not to vote for the guy that has the support of people like David Duke (classic) and New David Duke (Matthew Heinbach). White supremacy doesn’t typically go over well with black people.

    A politician getting white supremacist love is a big red flag… that frequently has the stars and bars.

    Just sayin’.

  14. Sorry, just a test post… technical difficulties…

    • Hmm. Weird. I’ll try it in pieces…

      Throughout the history, two things have had economic value: time, and energy. Time, because each of us receives a fixed (albeit uncertain) allotment. Energy, because it’s the ultimate fount of the goods that keep us alive (and save time, or make time more enjoyable).

      In the preindustrial era energy was measured in manual labor. People were paid for their manual labor; leisure and individual freedom were non-concepts. In the industrial era individual labor capacity was vastly multiplied by machines with human operators. This was the world of “jobs” our parents/ grandparents inhabited. In the postindustrial era (a gross misnomer) machines increasingly operate themselves, leaving us with a paradox: basic goods (and energy) have never been less costly, but traditional “jobs” are increasingly scarce. Many are caught between a rock and… a soft place. (That soft place being a world where basic needs are so easily met that we can maintain a vast welfare state indefinitely.)

      • 1mime says:

        Please explain what you consider “basic needs” and how we are easily meeting them.

      • 1mime, I know you’ll have trouble with this, but there’s poor, and then there’s poor. If you want to see world class poor, visit India or Nepal. The bottom line is that our welfare state permits our poor to live in manner that is the envy of the rest of the world. As as much as I yammer about it, we can actually afford it (or at least most of it). Similarly, we have prisons simply because we can afford them. Back in the day, punishment was corporal, swift, and harsh – simply because the societies of those times could not afford to maintain a prison population. The prolific wealth generated by our technological society is what permits all of this.

      • 1mime says:

        Are you certain that “all this wealth” is being created by the technological sector? You don’t see any other contributors? I do. If the reward for more wealth is more prisons, I wouldn’t call that progress.

    • What to do with our time (and how to make a living) in a world where traditional “jobs” are no more? The answer is already manifest. We create things that make time more enjoyable. Those with a mechanical bent become independent contractors, building unique living spaces (Tiny Texas Houses) and fun toys (Blue Collar Bobbers). Those with a mixed artistic/mechanical bent offer unique learning and living experiences. E.g., my stepbrother has long helped run Burning Man and the Oregon Country Fair. Those with an intellectual bent have the world of online publishing open to them, like our own Chris Ladd. Those with an artistic bent create beauty. My beloved (the artist/poet) and I just attended an opening for a juried exhibition benefiting a local, independent social services provider hosted by an artist’s cooperative gallery (Archway Gallery). Those with a tech bent (your truly) build and program the machines that… build and program the machines. (I just got back from the Esri international user conference, where the theme was, “Building a Smarter World.”

    • Those content to gaze at their navel can do so. Those with the drive to learn, build and create have fewer constraints than at any time in history. The collected knowledge of humankind is available online. Consider: my beloved and I, as part of our grandparent *eccentricity enrichment* program, are learning… the ukulele. Our instructor? One Aldrine Guerraro (, whose lessons are accessed by 146,000+ students. Anybody who wants to can learn anything, at anytime, anywhere… for free.

      We have passed from the industrial economy through the service economy, and are entering what I call the artisan economy. We are already used to gifting top flight entertainers with ridiculous sums of money, simply because they make that limited commodity, time, more enjoyable. What most are slow to realize is that almost all of us have some talent or skill that, nurtured and developed, can earn us a living. Despite all our self-inflicted woes, it’s a very, very cool time to be alive. I envy my grandson.

  15. 1mime says:

    I have posted several articles on the events surrounding the Baton Rouge protests over the death of Alton Sterling and the treatment of Black people in La generally and by the police. Here is a harrowing, first-hand report of a Breitbart reporter who got caught up filming the police advancement onto the protesters, was arrested, and jailed, and ultimately bonded out.

    If this doesn’t make you want to absolutely cry, I don’t know what will. This is what these protests are all about. This man is White, represented a conservative news source, and has lots of friends in high places. Imagine what this experience was like for the protesters who were Black and lacked resources.

    Think our justice process isn’t broken? It may not be in Dallas, TX, but it sure as heck is in Baton Rouge, LA. Not only am I furious, I am incredibly sad. Shame on Louisiana. Shame on Mayor Kip Holden. Shame on Governor John bel Edwards. Shame on the police force administration in Baton Rouge. Shame on us all for looking the other way. I am appalled.

  16. Griffin says:

    Jonathan Chait article on the bizarre “logic” used by reactionaries to argue against police reform:

    Unintentionally hilarious New York Post article perfectly encapsulating said paranoia:

  17. Greg Wellman says:

    I’ve edited the following out of a far longer email I wrote to a friend. I think it dovetails very well with Lifer’s post here. He definitely did a better job of covering the evolution of the concept of “job” and who is required/entitled to have one. The main thing I’m trying to contribute here is not to reiterate what Lifer said, but to connect it to environmental sustainability. I hope people here find this connection interesting and I’d be interested in hearing whether people find it convincing (and if not, why not, etc.) and/or have other reactions.


    As people lifted out of subsistence became more enlightened, progressive policies were forced by popular demand via government, and we wound up with a pretty decent market economy with various socially beneficial interventions (aka the welfare state.). One of those interventions, unemployment insurance, is a very interesting thing to consider. It’s effectively a recognition that the effects of what we call “creative destruction” or “disruptive innovation” on individuals are not their fault. All those farriers thrown out of work by the horseless carriage need time to become industrial steelworkers or whatever. But there’s also an internalized belief (expressed in the duration of unemployment insurance) that the natural condition of a market economy is one of full employment. That belief has reasonable grounding in classical economic theory, and has been fairly true for most of the history of capitalism, with the exceptions fairly well explained by Keynes (and those who followed). But this is where we have to consider what limits exist. As long as there are no resource constraints, capitalism is the perfect growth engine, absorbing innovations, increasing productivity, reallocating resources as they are freed up, etc. But because it’s the perfect growth engine, it *requires* ever-increasing resources (even if the efficiency of the use of the most constrained resources increases, this merely frees up capacity (and therefore the need) to use other resources.) It also requires ever-increasing consumption because it’s hard to have production without consumption.

    So, we’ve pursued this maximal-growth, full employment model for some time now with some really fantastic results so far in terms of lifting a couple billion people out of poverty. But we’re running into some problems.
    1. Hard physical limits on the use of some resources, with Global Warming and Ocean Acidification only two of many. Many are pollution-related, but some are truly cases of resource depletion.
    2. Soft(er) limits on consumption. You might be thinking that sounds crazy – if it’s available, people will consume it – but I mean something slightly more subtle. We have become so efficient at producing our necessities that a very large fraction of us are employed producing luxuries or even non-physical goods (music, movies, apps, games, advertising …) But employing an increasing fraction of the population in the production non-essentials involves convincing everyone that we want to have these non-essentials in ever-increasing quantity. It would be unimaginatively pessimistic to think that we can’t go any further in this vein, but it would be foolishly optimistic to think we can continue forever. Also, non-essentials and non-physical goods are much more vulnerable to economic downturns. People cut back on the non-essentials, and suddenly all the producers of those non-essentials have to cut back more…
    3. The “automation crisis”. This is the focus of Lifer’s post above – as he said “Capitalism is not an engine of job creation. Capitalism is an engine for generating returns to capital. […] There is no reason to think that mass employment could not be innovated away as easily as the horse-drawn wagon.”

    Thus, we’re at a point where we can produce all that we need, and most of what we reasonably want while only employing a fraction of the available labor. But without a UBI, everyone needs jobs, so we collectively engage in a lot of wasted activity. For a fun search, google “useless crap on the internet”.

    If we were to introduce *both* a UBI and a carbon tax (with the latter partially paying for the former) it would create a market signal that would greatly clarify what people value enough to pay the true costs for. The “useless crap” would tend to disappear because it’s economically marginal at best right now, and would face higher labor costs (to compete with the UBI) and manufacturing/shipping costs (from the carbon tax, at least for physical goods).

    That makes a UBI not only an eventual necessity as capitalism continues destroying the need for work, but an essential component of climate change mitigation. The carbon emissions of all that useless activity of people scrabbling to make a living in world that doesn’t really need their labor can just go away. Sure, leisure activity carbon emissions would go up, but no one drives in rush hour traffic for leisure, so I feel safe in claiming that it would be a net benefit. Also, the carbon tax would incentivise low-carbon leisure activity, especially for anyone who’s sole income is the UBI!

    To sum up, a UBI makes sense from a purely economic perspective, but the environmental argument is more urgent. A UBI in conjunction with a carbon tax is the foundation of future sustainability. Other steps are needed too, but those two transfers are the foundation.

    Links of interest:

    Links of humor:

    • 1mime says:

      Well done, Greg! I am once more drawn back to Lifer’s post on “Sugaring” and the “desire” as opposed to “need” of young women to exchange sex in order to purchase extravagances…..Work as we have traditionally defined it is obviously changing as well when our young people candidly trade sex as a commodity for goods. As stated earlier, when it is traded to meet life’s necessities, that is a whole different situation.

      One statement you made with which I agree in part but wonder if there is a better choice of terms:
      “… capitalism continues destroying the need for work”….Broadly speaking, I understand your point, but Is it really the “need” for work , or would the noun “necessity” for work be more accurate and consistent with your hypothesis?

      Haven’t had time to explore your links but very interesting post.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I don’t know if this really fits in with what you’re saying, but your mention of consumption reminds me of what I was thinking the day Lifer posted this blog entry, that reducing consumption and therefore needing less to live on would reduce the minimum basic income amount that would be necessary. I’m not suggesting we starve ourselves, only that we reduce our consumption of non-essentials. The idea would be to lessen the need for any basic income at all, or as minimal an amount as possible, to be able to live on what little we make, so as to keep our personal autonomy intact as much possible and not have to be too dependent on outside sources such as jobs or the UBI.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        But I can only speak for myself. I don’t feel comfortable advising people to reduce consumption. Consumption is very personal, and I don’t see how we can enact the UBI without eventually telling people how to use their basic income. How is it possible to go from the concept of having money that is earned to money that is given and not expect a total change in mentality, both on the part of the receiver and of the giver?

      • 1mime says:

        I can only speak for myself, but – I am quite willing to eliminate consumption of all the things I don’t want ……..(-;

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        And what, exactly, are the “non-essentials” you’re talking about? I get that you’re talking about reducing the need of the UBI, but why? Personal autonomy? A UBI is an enhancer of autonomy, not its antithesis.

        With all respect, and I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, but you would seem to be hewing dangerously close to what we hear from far-right Republicans about cutting government for the sake of cutting government, as if it’s an end in and of itself.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        As I said in my previous post, “non-essential” means different things to different people. I can live without phone and internet. I prefer not to live without running water.

        Money equals autonomy as long as it doesn’t come with too many strings attached.

        The ideas of a UBI sounds good, and I know the various consequences have been considered, but I would be interested to see the tangible results of such an experiment.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        >] “But I can only speak for myself. I don’t feel comfortable advising people to reduce consumption. Consumption is very personal, and I don’t see how we can enact the UBI without eventually telling people how to use their basic income.

        You’re getting into some of the basic conundrums surrounding the UBI. If you go around telling people how to spend said money, you’re not anything different than our current welfare programs (like food stamps), and that nixes the whole point of a basic income. Going with this plan means you have to take a leap of faith in people and their inherent desire to succeed and lead meaningful, satisfying lives.

        >] “How is it possible to go from the concept of having money that is earned to money that is given and not expect a total change in mentality, both on the part of the receiver and of the giver?

        I’ll answer your question with another question. Why are you presuming a total change in mentality from money that’s earned from money that’s given? What’s the difference? Let’s put it to a simple thought exercise.

        Let’s say that Random Person A was given a sizeable amount of money for their birthday, Christmas, or some other holiday. What’s A going to do with their money? Let me hear what you think, and why or why not.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        >] “Money equals autonomy as long as it doesn’t come with too many strings attached.

        Absolutely right, and that’s precisely the point of a UBI, hence why I don’t understand why you’re going into the proverbial weeds talking about reducing the need for a UBI. With all respect, tutta, you’re totally contradicting yourself here.

      • 1mime says:

        To expand a little on “freedom to spend as one desires/needs”, consider SS. That money is a fixed amount, payable on a fixed schedule, with no strings other than where it is deposited. Some social security recipients didn’t contribute to the fund yet receive benefits – however, the majority do contribute. IMHO, for a UBI to be effective, people need total freedom to determine how to use “the” money. An interesting twist on this is with taxpayer subsidized welfare, such as SNAP. SNAP $$ are limited by law as to what they can purchase. (Look over the list and see if you agree with it.) Is this a different situation? How? A friend was offended one day to see a lady pay for a birthday cake with SNAP $$. Why? That might be the most important use of her SNAP allocation to her……and the recipient.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I would have absolutely no idea what Random Person A would do with their holiday money, since I don’t know that person, nor would it or should it matter to me.

        If I were the recipient of the holiday money, I would have ideas as to how to use it, but in the back of my mind I would feel the need to use it in a way that would not go against the beliefs of the giver.

        So maybe I have my own personal hangups about receiving money. I don’t want to be beholden to others, even if I wouldn’t expect others to be beholden to me.

        I’m a more gracious giver than a receiver.

      • Greg Wellman says:

        My response would be that the amount of the UBI would be whatever works best in terms of balancing individual freedom, societal cohesion and environmental protection as well as leaving incentive for those who want to strive for more than the UBI. I would expect the numbers to evolve somewhat over time.

        I believe this could support a variety of rich, fulfilling lifestyles, but would probably encourage lower consumption lifestyles than affluent North Americans are currently used to. It would be up to individuals to decide how to spend their UBI. The market signal from the carbon tax would generally suggest some behaviors over others, but if someone wants to economize in other areas to afford something carbon-intensive, they can.

      • 1mime says:

        If a UBI ended poverty (as defined by the US government), that in and of itself would be worthwhile.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        >] “If I were the recipient of the holiday money, I would have ideas as to how to use it, but in the back of my mind I would feel the need to use it in a way that would not go against the beliefs of the giver.

        Okay, so let’s follow that logic and come at it from the standpoint of the federal government enacting a UBI and cutting you a check every month. The purpose would be to better your life, follow your dreams and do your best to help make the world a better place.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Because, Ryan, I don’t see how it’s possible to receive a UBI without some sort of strings attached. I don’t see how it’s possible to receive a UBI and be truly autonomous.

        If you were to offer me money right now I would say no thanks. I am suspicious of offers of money. Nothing is free.

      • 1mime says:

        Tutta, The distribution of government funds from fossil fuel royalties in Alaska has been the practice for a very long time. It seems to be working fairly well in terms of fairness, but it is prone to economic cycles such as the downturn in the energy field.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I might misuse the money at first and not spend it wisely, and then I would feel guilty for cheating my fellow taxpayers. If I blow my own hard-earned money, I have only myself to apologize to.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        >] “Because, Ryan, I don’t see how it’s possible to receive a UBI without some sort of strings attached. I don’t see how it’s possible to receive a UBI and be truly autonomous.

        With all respect, tutta, you just have to take a UBI at face value. It is what it is; money given to someone with no strings attached, period. If there were any, then whatever you’re talking about isn’t a UBI.

        Essentially, it seems like you’re having a really hard time believing that the government could given anything to anyone without having some kind of conditions attached, and while I can appreciate that, at least from a historical context, that’s in large part what makes a basic income so revolutionary in its scope, because it’s different from really anything that we’ve ever tried before.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I would be very interested in examining the Alaska project that Mime mentions. I am open to new ideas. I like Greg’s response:

        “the amount of the UBI would be whatever works best in terms of balancing individual freedom, societal cohesion and environmental protection as well as leaving incentive for those who want to strive for more than the UBI. I would expect the numbers to evolve somewhat over time.”

        It would be a work in progress that could be tweaked over time.

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t think so, Tutta. This is one of those major changes in our democracy that would have to be pretty clearly defined from the get-go in order to pass. I don’t see any real tweaking unless the revenue stream supporting the UBI needed to be re-vamped.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @Greg Wellman: >] “My response would be that the amount of the UBI would be whatever works best in terms of balancing individual freedom, societal cohesion and environmental protection as well as leaving incentive for those who want to strive for more than the UBI. I would expect the numbers to evolve somewhat over time.

        I have absolutely no idea what that’s supposed to mean. A UBI is meant to provide a base floor under which none shall fall, effectively eliminating poverty and giving people the means to advance themselves, and yet you’re talking about as if we should expect so much more of it.

        How, exactly, does a UBI encourage social cohesion, specifically more so than right now?

        Secondly, let’s try and get away from this idea of tying a UBI together with a carbon tax. Not that I don’t support the idea in and of itself, but we don’t need it in order to pay for the basic income, and the last thing we need is to have a long, protracted battle as if that’s the case. It’s going to be a tough enough lift all on its own. We don’t need to make it any tougher than need be.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I could see the UBI program being tweaked as times change and we learn more about how the thing works.

      • “I don’t see how we can enact the UBI without eventually telling people how to use their basic income.”

        Bingo, tuttabellamia. Therein, exactly, lies the rub. C.S. Lewis put it best:

        Utilitarianism is all well and good, right up until you realize that it has to be implemented by human beings. Then it’s just plain frightening.

      • Greg Wellman says:

        Ryan> A UBI is meant to provide a base floor under which none shall fall, effectively eliminating poverty and giving people the means to advance themselves, and yet you’re talking about as if we should expect so much more of it.

        I was, in particular, responding to Tutta’s concerns around telling people how to spend their UBI. If the amount of the UBI is enough to eliminate poverty and give people the means to advance themselves, it’s enough to offer people choices. Say it’s enough for a modest family home, a nutritious though non-extravagant diet, and basic clothing, there will definitely be people who will skimp on one of those to splurge on a better version of one of the others, or some other non-essentials. It’s personal choice and what I was saying to Tutta is that I don’t think we should make any significant attempt to regulate that choice (for adults anyway … obviously already-existing regulations regarding child welfare would apply).

        I do believe that there is the possibility that *eventually* the UBI could indeed be much more than the bare basics. If we reach the point where our robotic factories and clean energy sources can provide a luxurious life for everyone, let’s do it! But my point was that at any effective level, a UBI provides choices, especially when there’s still some human employment available, such that one choice is to work for extra money.

        Ryan> How, exactly, does a UBI encourage social cohesion, specifically more so than right now?

        Well on one level that’s easy. Major social unrest happens when large numbers of people are excluded and have no real stake in mainstream society. If enough people feel they’ve nothing to lose, that’s when the riots start. No one is going to want to burn it all down if it will cost them a livable UBI.

        On another, and I think Lifer was alluding to this a bit, it would be my hope that some/many people freed from the necessity of working a paid job would find an unpaid calling in community care and other pro-social activity.

        Ryan> Secondly, let’s try and get away from this idea of tying a UBI together with a carbon tax. Not that I don’t support the idea in and of itself, but we don’t need it in order to pay for the basic income, and the last thing we need is to have a long, protracted battle as if that’s the case. It’s going to be a tough enough lift all on its own.

        I’m glad to hear that you think we can pay for a UBI in other ways, but let’s face it, a UBI would involve the largest tax-and-transfer system ever implemented. All taxes create certain incentives or distortions, so we might as well be as Pigovian as possible about it. And of course the fundamental thrust of my argument wasn’t “Let’s have a carbon tax so we can have a UBI”. It was “Mitigating climate change is essential, and a UBI, while also being justified by the evolution of our economy, would help by reducing unnecessary carbon-wasting activity, so let’s have a UBI and we might as well use the also-necessary carbon tax to pay for it.”

      • 1mime says:

        A “win-win” as it were.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @Greg Wellman: >] “I do believe that there is the possibility that *eventually* the UBI could indeed be much more than the bare basics. If we reach the point where our robotic factories and clean energy sources can provide a luxurious life for everyone, let’s do it! But my point was that at any effective level, a UBI provides choices, especially when there’s still some human employment available, such that one choice is to work for extra money.

        As far as the natural progression of economic innovation and market-based forces go, I’m inclined to agree with you. There surely will come a day in the not too distant future where a UBI can attain a person a lifestyle of far greater comfort and convenience than we have today. We’re already on that course today; the only difference being the ease with which our people can attain that sense of security in the future.

        >] “On another, and I think Lifer was alluding to this a bit, it would be my hope that some/many people freed from the necessity of working a paid job would find an unpaid calling in community care and other pro-social activity.

        On a broad level, I see where you’re going with that, but on a more interpersonal one, I don’t see much changing.

        >] “I’m glad to hear that you think we can pay for a UBI in other ways, but let’s face it, a UBI would involve the largest tax-and-transfer system ever implemented. All taxes create certain incentives or distortions, so we might as well be as Pigovian as possible about it. And of course the fundamental thrust of my argument wasn’t “Let’s have a carbon tax so we can have a UBI”. It was “Mitigating climate change is essential, and a UBI, while also being justified by the evolution of our economy, would help by reducing unnecessary carbon-wasting activity, so let’s have a UBI and we might as well use the also-necessary carbon tax to pay for it.”

        In all fairness, Lifer has made his case for how we can pay for a basic income (without the necessity of a carbon tax), so as far as numbers go, you can see for yourself:

        That aside, and on a political level, I still stand by keeping some distance between a UBI and a carbon tax. They’re both two huge issues on their own; best to knock one off at a time.

        @Tracy Thorleifson: >] “Utilitarianism is all well and good, right up until you realize that it has to be implemented by human beings. Then it’s just plain frightening.

        Not when you’re only giving people the means to find their own happiness and satisfaction, but the result itself. Let’s not put the cart before the horse, Tracy. 😉

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Whoops, meant to say not the result itself. Sorry ’bout that.

  18. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    Let’s consider the ongoing progress of reconciliation in the Democratic Party regarding the presumptive nominee versus the ocean of discord and disappointment in the Republican Party regarding its presumptive nominee, “The Donald”.

    From GQ (via Politico), and exploration of juicy quotes by GOP operatives regarding their “not presence” at the upcoming Republican convention in Cleveland.

    “I would rather attend the public hanging of a good friend,” says Will Ritter, an up-and-coming Republican digital strategist who worked on the three previous conventions.”

    “Normally, we’re all jazzed up about getting together and celebrating our nominee,” said Chris Perkins, a GOP pollster who has attended every Republican convention since 1996. “There’s nothing to celebrate this cycle. I’m going because I have to, not because I want to.”

    “Don’t use my name,” said one senior party strategist. “I don’t want anyone to know I’m there.” (A few days after the interview, the strategist got back in touch, having decided not to go, after all.)

    “I don’t want anything close to the appearance of supporting Trump,” said Jason Roe, a veteran party strategist. “This ship can sink without me as a passenger.”

    “I asked around and couldn’t find a single person who planned to be there,” said one Goldman executive who declined to be quoted by name. “Most people who want to see someone from the Trump campaign can do it some other place at some other time. And the potential is there for Cleveland to be a complete sh*t show. It’s a real problem for executives because if you go, you are certainly going to offend women and minority groups within your own company.”

    2016 GOP convention = Complete sh*tshow

  19. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    I wonder what you guys (and gals) think of this part of the “revamped” GOP platform…

    From Mother Jones:

    “The Republican platform committee met in Cleveland the week before the Republican National Convention to hammer out the party’s policies in a Trump era. Not to be outdone by Democrats, who approved the party’s strongest platform language yet on climate change this weekend, Republicans have gone as far as possible in the other direction—by endorsing coal as clean.”

    “After a unanimous vote on Monday, the RNC’s draft platform officially declares coal “an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource.”

    What are they talking about?!

    Did anyone in that room have any knowledge of what it was like to deal with Tennessee Valley’s Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill in 2008.That was an unmitigated ecological disaster. Clean sources of power would not cause something like that.

    It is almost as if they not only ignore basic science, but also have chosen to close their eyes and imagine a non-existent dreamworld where coal is “clean”.

    Personally, that would be the only way I could compromise my intellect enough to support an absurd position like that.

    • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

      Hopefully my previous post doesn’t seem like too much of a tangent but it did get me thinking about Chris’s thoughts about disruptive forces that are occurring in our world.

      Advancing technology taking over tasks from people…where human based cognition is not always essential, the end of mass employment and the possibility of creating a basic income.

      When I think about that bullsh*t assertion by the new GOP platform regarding coal I begin to wonder, who in the party leadership (or the base for that matter) is ready to absorb this information?

      They seem incapable of accepting the unambiguous reality that archaic forms of producing energy through fossil fuels like coal is very polluting and not “clean”.

      Who in this party with any significant influence is capable of truly understanding that being a deregulating Republican and a capitalist is not enough to deal with what Chris was discussing about in his “Beyond Jobs” posting?

      Can anyone in the top tier of the party or movement leadership think beyond their form of conservative ideology to explore counter narratives?

      Because they need to find viable/reality based solutions to the problems that are clearly on the horizon.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Just more evidence that the GOP is truly living on another planet. Im happy to see garbage like this because it just makes the disintegration of the modern GOP more certain, and more quick. And the sooner that happens, the sooner they can reorganize, boot the f’ing wingnuts, and provide the kind of center right balance needed to make sure the left doesn’t go nuts like the right has.

      Stuff like just makes them more and more irrelevant everyday.

      • 1mime says:

        And, they just can’t get over themselves. They don’t know when they’re beat….Gotta keep pandering to the far right……..heaven forbid that they might simply take the time to think deeply on the subject of marriage equality and live and let live……

      • Mime,

        Not to disagree with you, but they keep pandering to the far right and it keeps working. I know it takes gerrymandering, voter suppression and pandering to the least educated, but the GOP keeps winning elections except for the big enchilada, the White House. Hell, even when they screw up royally, like in Kansas, the governor gets reelected! And if Trump hadn’t won the nomination, Republicans probably would win in 2016!

        So, i think from their viewpoint, they are not doing all that badly! In fact I have read that some Republicans feel not winning the White House is not so bad as long as they keep the senate and the House. I would like to think their wins are only because the Democrats do not vote, but that is just a theory on my part.

      • 1mime says:

        And, you know what? I agree with them. Why? Because they’ve been allowed to get away with completely shutting down not only a duly elected POTUS, but the nation’s business. Indeed they have been effective, if one looks at it from a purely selfish POV. It does little good to win the presidency when Congress controls everything else.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      That ain’t even the worst of it. They actually voted to put Trump’s f-ing wall into their platform.

      I mean it’s not like minority turnout wasn’t going to be high enough already. What’s a little added insult to try and juice it up even more, y’know? Seriously.

      And then there’s the poor dope with the most miserable job in all of Washington, Reince Priebus, that gave out this gem of a statement: “The idea of a border fence has been in our platform for many, many years and just changing the word from fence to wall is what they did and maybe it was a little hat tip to Donald Trump on that issue and that’s fine.”

      That’s just fine, he says.

  20. 1mime says:

    OT, but it needs to be said:

    SC Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who I have always respected, was dead wrong to speak out about Donald Trump or any candidate seeking the presidency. I have been critical – and I think fairly so – of Justice Scalia for his overt political mongering while on the court, and she should be held to the same standard. I’m disappointed that she did this even though I agree with her in fact, all members of the SCOTUS should be apolitical in words and actions. This was wrong.

    It also sends a pretty clear message that she’s planning her departure regardless who the next president is….when you get to a point that you simply don’t give a rat’s A** about decorum, it’s time to go. My lord, we could have two open positions, and if she retires early, a 7 person court with a conservative majority. Wow.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      i don’t pretend to understand the inner machinations of Justice Ginsburg’s mind, but I would say that she’s a hot-blooded human, just like the rest of us. If Trump were elected, I can see how that would be akin to being like a knife in the heart of a lot of things that she’s fought for and tried to protect over the course of her life.

      Was what she did wrong in the context of the independence of the judiciary? Sure. Was it wrong as an individual who may have felt that she needed to speak out? Harder to answer.

      • Stephen says:

        Supreme Court Judges have held that job before and run for political office at the same time.
        So this is not recent ground but there is plenty of precedent in the past.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Yeah I wasn’t too thrilled. My charitable conclusion is that not giving any f’s has long been the perogative of people of a certain age. My grandfather says things we all laugh off that would seem horribly racist if it came from someone a few decades older. That’s prob not fair, as bigoted comments are bigoted objectively. But it just feels different.

      Of course , my grandfather isn’t a SCOTUS. My point being that it’s kind of a human tradition going back as long as humans have existed (I assume) that ppl of a certain age are allowed to say things that nobody else is, and RBG is def past that age. I also believe she is going to retire not long after the election and frankly doesn’t care what ppl think, Shea going to do what she thinks is right.

      With that said, I think the biggest shame is that her political instincts don’t seem to be as sharp as her legal ones, and I fear she’s played right into Trumps bands. I think this helps him galvanize his base, while at the same time changing nothijbg. Anybody who likes RBG enough to give her opinion any weight was already a #NeverTrumper

      • 1mime says:

        Going out flaming all the way………….

        Since I qualify on the grandma level, I can attest that you do acquire a certain nonchalance about expressing your opinions as you not only don’t give a flip about what people think of you, you have some pretty well formed opinions….which can both good and bad (-; Still, in her position, Ginsberg has a much higher responsibility than most grandmas and I really wish she had waited until her retirement for a “tell all” book or interview to let ‘er rip.

        Somehow, I don’t think she’s losing any sleep over this…..

    • tuttabellamia says:

      What I find interesting about the whole Trump phenomenon is how it’s gotten everything and everyone in a topsy-turvy state — people like Justice Ginsburg doing and saying things totally out of character, the basis of our entire political process questioned, with talk of seizing the nomination from Trump, the most unlikely people (college-ed) supporting Trump, etc.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        His VP running mate will have to be a very special person indeed to be able to deal with him.

      • 1mime says:

        I’m sure at some point, Lifer will compare and contrast the two political institutional scenarios in the U.S. and Great Britain. I know one thing, the Brits get mega points for being able to move the process along….no long, drawn out, expensive, ugly campaigns….yet, their country’s democracy survives….even a BREXIT vote…Is our process better? To handcuff a leader for four years with an obstructive Congress? Or, vice versa? I hope when or if the U.S. political process “changes” that some attention will be paid to brevity. My god but we drag things out here. If I get one more call soliciting either my money or my vote, I am going to barf! Thank goodness for caller ID. If you want to hear a live voice on our end, you better not put “private caller” on my phone screen…I know I may miss some calls, but it’s worth it to screen out the months of bla bla bla.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I worry that Mr. Trump would be the type of president to move with lighting speed, and we wouldn’t know what hit us.

        Brevity is only as good as what is being accomplished.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        “I worry that Mr. Trump would be the type of president to move with lighting speed, and we wouldn’t know what hit us.”

        I don’t know. I don’t categorize the risks of Trump as such. “Lightning speed” seems to imply an agenda, particularly a nefarious one. I just don’t think Trump has an agenda at all, other then to get elexted, I.e. “win”. I believe Cruz was/is far more likely to hurt America directly.

        I think the danger from Trump comes in different ways, from the ” normalization” of bald faced lying in politics, from the strengthening of the white supremicist movement, and from just plain incompetence. What Trump doesn’t know is frightening. Worse, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. That’s the most dangerous type of idiot in power.

      • 1mime says:

        Are you watching the Never Trump movement? They are using the VA ruling that was filed by a Cruz delegate that ruled delegates are not “bound” to vote as their state rules dictate at the convention (as I understand it). They need gather only 28 delegate votes on the rules committee to pass a rule that frees all delegates to vote their “conscience”. They’re calling it the “conscience clause”. If this fails, their plan B is to bring their fight stright to the convention floor.

        Lifer, you may get your default favorite nominee yet. Heaven help us all.

      • 1mime says:

        BTW, completely agree with you.

    • 1mime says:

      By now all of you have read that Justice Ginsburg apologized for her inappropriate remarks about Donald Trump. What you may not have seen is his response, which understandably was critical, but I don’t think anyone doubts the astuteness of her remarks……Trump wishes he had one iota of Ginsburg’s brain. Still, she was wrong, and she apologized. That takes not only sensitivity, it requires humility – something Trump might study.

      “Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg apologized on Thursday for making disparaging comments about presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, whom she called a “faker” with an “ego” and “no consistency.” Ginsburg said the remarks “were ill-advised and I regret making them” because judges should avoid commenting on political candidates. Trump responded by saying Ginsburg’s “mind is shot” and she should resign. ”

  21. An excellent and thoughtful post, Chris. Thank you. It’s a topic that I’ve been discussing with people in meatspace and that always fosters interesting thought.

  22. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    Question: Is trying to get a valid point across to Paul Ryan while being from a member of a group whom he has largely ignored, villainized or belittled an act of futility? Example: Like trying to talk to blank white wall that has all the charisma of a sedated Kevin Costner

    I’ll let you be the judge…
    From huffingtonpost
    “Mark Hughes, Wrongly Identified As Suspect In Dallas Shooting, Asks Paul Ryan A Question At CNN Town Hall”

    Special note: I was also talking about the issue of mental illness, people with military service and guns just a couple of days ago on this site.

    • 1mime says:

      Same old, same old gun position from the right, Sir Magpie.

      What happened with false identification could have had a tragic end. While I clearly understand this man was within his rights to carry a weapon, the purpose of the march was a peaceful protest. He put himself in the crosshairs (along with others) in trying to test gun rights for Black people. His larger point got lost in the melee that occurred and he is damn lucky he didn’t get shot himself.

      He was absolutely correct in his question to Ryan but Ryan has totally drunk the koolaid and the gun issue is on the top of the stack of issues he will not speak to. A waste of time except to get him on the record.

  23. Griffin says:

    GOP platform shifts further right on social issues, coming out in favor of gay conversion therapy, declaring porn a public health crises, cracking down on abortion, and going even further against LGBT issues in general than in 2012. Why are they shifting further right on these issues while the rest of the country has gone left since 2012?

    The most plausable explanation I can come up with is that they don’t care about the party platform because they think most moderates don’t pay attention to it anyways so they might as well just give it to their fringe to appease them. Is that accurate?

    • 1mime says:

      You’ll have to get Lifer to answer that one, Griffin. Why put something in a general election platform if you don’t believe in it deeply and don’t plan to implement it? Lifer?

    • goplifer says:

      Gingrich is making money from political celebrity, just like Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson. He’s a full-fledged modern rightwing nutjob political entrepreneur, and by some accounts he’s earned more than $100m from his ventures.

      He has no interest in getting elected to anything ever again. He has his own publishing business that publishes his works. He has a for-profit healthcare think tank (think that through for a moment). He also has a “non-profit” political Pac-type thing that has collected tens of millions and pays him and his friends by covering expenses and hiring them as consultants.

      Sick and disgusting. Pure scam. Just like the Trump campaign. Being the VP nominee will give him enormous publicity while creating zero risk of getting trapped into some miserable government job. Match made in heaven.

    • goplifer says:

      Ask yourself this question – which Republican contender managed to get the most people into delegate slots? That’s right, Ted Cruz.

      Far-right religious nutjobs are the best organized force in Republican politics, with no real competition. They want a platform that will please white suburban Republican Jesus, and that’s what they’ll get. They have the numbers and the coordination.

      By the way, what’s happening with the platform is a preview of what would happen if the delegates were turned loose to vote as they please. They are Cruz’ing for a losin’.

      • 1mime says:

        I had a cordial, lengthy conversation with an extremely well educated, very nice, very successful lady today about the upcoming election. She’s from Iowa originally, living in TX. She is torn, I mean really torn, as to who to vote for for President. After I recovered my composure, I asked her why she was struggling with her decision. Did she feel both candidates were equally experienced? She said, well, Trump had so much business experience and that would be good for America. I asked her how much of the president’s time is spent on “business” versus all the other things he/she has to do…That elicited a “good point”….but no acknowledgement of the importance of his deficit experience in foreign affairs, governance, legislative expertise….(or good judgement)…..

        It was a disheartening, enlightening experience. She said many of her work colleagues think Trump is exactly what America needs…….I’m telling you, we keep thinking this is just working class people tuning into Trump but I continue to be amazed at those who tell me they will probably vote for him.

      • 1mime says:

        Yet, you felt Cruz was the better of the two GOP finalists because “he” would at least preserve the institutions…..I never agreed with that because anyone who leads from a position of far right religious beliefs are zealots and will destroy anything in their path to achieve their personal “god” ordained goals.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @1mime: Another example of one who has nothing to lose, hence her mental torn-edness. She’s going to be just fine no matter what happens in November.

        In all seriousness, I wonder if you might ask her a question on my part if you see her again. On a personal level, does she stand to gain anything substantive from a Trump or Clinton presidency, and if not, would she consider that a form of privilege? Why or why not?

        >] “Yet, you felt Cruz was the better of the two GOP finalists because “he” would at least preserve the institutions…..I never agreed with that because anyone who leads from a position of far right religious beliefs are zealots and will destroy anything in their path to achieve their personal “god” ordained goals.

        Ted Cruz is the anthropomorphic incarnation of FUBAR and would be a near unmitigated disaster as president. Just the sheer thought of it should be enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine. That said however, he wouldn’t take a sledgehammer to the Republic in the same way that Trump would. Two entirely different beasts.

        Trump is unique in his capacity in that he just doesn’t give a s**t. Brazenly, shamelessly appealing to the politics of white supremacy, racism and outright anger and hatred, he’s opened a virtual Pandora’s Box that Cruz, whatever you think of him, wouldn’t. He’d pursue a radical and backwards looking agenda, no doubt, but he’d do it within the confines of the system itself, no matter how much he perverted and twisted the rules to get it done. Trump makes his own rules.

      • 1mime says:

        I’ll ask the lady and let you know.

        Re: Cruz v Trump. Here’s the difference I find so unacceptable (when choosing between these two people). Trump is dangerous because of all the reasons you state BUT the GOPe would have more chance (I think?) of controlling him in actual operation because he doesn’t know s&:% about governing and is likely not to listen to his advisors. They could box him in procedurally coming and going. For all his many faults, the man does care about the country as long as his brand survives. Cruz, OTOH, clearly understands the process, doesn’t give a s&:% about what or who he destroys in order to achieve his faith-driven goals and would take down any person or the nation – as he has already demonstrated. I have to say that either man would be equally disastrous in regards to world peace.

        IOW – GOTV Democrats!!!

      • goplifer says:

        Someone else (I don’t remember who) put it best in describing the danger posed by Donald Trump.

        If Ted Cruz were impeached, you can be confident he would actually leave the White House.

        That’s really the difference in a nutshell.

      • 1mime says:

        With the dominance of the Freedom Caucus and the right wing in the House and the Senate, what makes you think they would impeach a Cruz? They may hate the guy but as long as he’s pushing the broad agenda the majority wants, there will be no impeachment. They might crown him “king”, but impeach? Nah.

    • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

      Griffin says “Why are they shifting further right on these issues while the rest of the country has gone left since 2012?”

      Quid Pro Quo, sir.

      In exchange for stomaching a reprobate like Trump as the party nominee, social conservatives get this as a gift as compensation for their grudging support… the marginalization or limiting of the rights of law abiding minorities because “Jesus and Gawd” say so.

      That what this steaming pile of bullsh*t is all about.

      So to recap:
      The status of Trump and the GOP being accepted by groups who are not blue collar and white and male.

      Jews… nope
      women… nope
      LGBT… nope
      blacks… nope
      muslims… nope
      hispanic/latinos… nope
      college educated… nope
      the disabled… nope
      asians… yeah, probably nope
      so-called “progressive evangelicals”… nope
      neo-conservatives… nope (been listening to David Frum)

      if I have missed any groups that despise Trump and his compliant handmaidens, please let me know.

  24. 1mime says:

    The Freedom Caucus has issued its ultimatum to Paul Ryan: call for an impeachment hearing for IRS Director John Koskinen, or they will bypass him and use special privilege to bring the matter directly to the floor for a vote.

    Despite great reluctance on the part of many Republicans to call the Director up on impeachment charges, “Even Republicans who don’t like the idea and don’t support it have said privately they will have to vote for impeachment for fear of how it will play back home should they vote the other way.”

    This group of 40 men is subverting the democratic process. They are dangerous.

    Read more:

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Didn’t all that happen BWFORE he was IRS director?

      The freedom caucus is a bunch of unhinged Looney tunes

      • 1mime says:

        The Freedom Caucus is a narrowly focused group of men who have enough members (40) to allow them to block any action they don’t like by block voting, as long as Ryan observes the Hastert Rule which forbids any Democratic votes from being used to pass legislation. Vacating the Hastert Rule to pass the budget last year is what cost Boehner his job, and this same group is promising to hold the budget hostage when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30th. This FC group needs to be targeted by Dems wherever possible in elections but it is difficult due to their safe gerrymandered districts. The move will probably have to come from within the GOPe itself to primary them and so far, that hasn’t happened. Their ultra right, Tea Party platform is destroying any opportunity for governing consensus within Congress. There are some in the group who are so far right that they are unhinged, then there are others who are deadly smart and will use their power to achieve their personal agenda no matter what.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Paul Ryan was screwed from the get-go when he tried to bargain with a group of trolls. You don’t try to negotiate or reason with a troll, you crush it. In other words, Speaker Ryan’s only winning move is to quash the so-called Hastert Rule and start working with Democrats. Doing that takes away the Freedom Caucus’ leverage and makes them nothing more than a band of screeching banshees in the House.

      Of course, he won’t do that, hence why he’s screwed. Part of me even wishes I could say I feel sorry for him.

      • 1mime says:

        When you make a deal with the devil, the devil will have his due……….Yep, you are correct on this one. Ryan forfeited a chance to become a great Republican Speaker. In a lame duck term, he could have achieved so much not only for his party, but for his nation that he lauds so highly. Further, he could have advanced his own personal agenda by building coalitions (his 10 pt plan…he would have at least had some bargaining power with Dems). He gave all that up and I believe his chance for a run at the Presidency. People will look back at the choices he made while Speaker and decide if he can’t stand up to the FC, how would he make the really hard, independent decisions required of a POTUS?

        Agree. What a waste of an opportunity.

    • 1mime says:

      Well, the Freedom Caucus filed a measure to impeach IRS Director John Koskinen, going around Paul Ryan and clearly showing the chamber that they are “the bosses”. Never mind that many Republicans do not share the FC feelings about Koskinen, they will vote for impeachment.

      Gutless wonders. All. That Hastert Rule looking any better to you now Ryan? Or, are you waiting for the budget default? When are the rational Republicans in GOP leadership going to stand up and be counted? The sky is falling….the sky is falling…

  25. Griffin says:

    Rudy Giuliania’s “wisdom” on problems in black communities.

    ““The real danger to them — 99 out of 100 times — is other black kids who are going to kill them,” the Republican ex-mayor added, citing a fake statistic.

    “That’s the way they’re gonna die,” he added.

    If he “were a black father,” he said, he’d warn his son to “be very careful of those kids in the neighborhood and don’t get involved with them because, son, there’s a 99% chance they’re going to kill you — not the police!””

    Oh Rudy… You moron… It’s almost as if some of that hardline “tough on crime” rhetoric from back in the day could have doubled as racist dog whistles!

    • 1mime says:

      For those who are interested:

      “President Barack Obama will take part in a (one hour) town hall on race that will be broadcast across Disney media properties on Thursday evening, as he continues to try to drive the national conversation after a series of shootings of black men by police and the massacre of five police officers in Dallas.
      The primetime town hall will feature “candid discussions on race relations, justice, policing and equality,” the network announced.
      Moderated by ABC “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir along with ESPN commentator and host Jemele Hill, the town hall will be broadcast from Washington, D.C.

      The town hall is set to air Thursday at 8 p.m. ET and will be simulcast commercial-free on ABC, ESPN, Freeform,, Freeform Digital, Watch ABC, Watch ESPN, Yahoo, ABC News’ Facebook page and YouTube channel as well as ABC Radio.’

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      There’s a lot of pretty specific facts there. Any source to back those up Rudy?

      After Trump, I worry that truth will no longer be objective. Why bother with things like actual facts when Trump has proven that not only does truth no longer matter, it’s actually more rewardin, politically, to lie or obfuscate.

  26. Greg Wellman says:

    This might be my first comment here – been reading for 3 months or so.

    Just wanted to say this is a good article on an important topic. Without a transition to a UBI, inequality will worsen and the fate of the owners of capital will continue to diverge ever further from the fate of everyone else. That divergence is one of the reasons we haven’t done anywhere near enough about climate change.

    Anyone else see a direct line from the decline of available employment discussed here, through the “gig economy” to the Vanity Fair article on “sugaring” that Lifer posted in the last link roundup? Just another form of inequality…

    Also, I’d like to second N1cholas’s endorsement of That is the sort of fundamental big-picture thinking I’d like every politician to be aware of. I first read that Four Futures article maybe three or four years back, and whenever I discuss my political and economic beliefs, I feel I need my conversation partner to have read that, or I can’t properly explain where I’m coming from.

    • 1mime says:

      Welcome, Greg. I spoke earlier to the relationship between the Sugaring article and inequality, specifically, the sad fact that these young women resorted to sex for money to pay off college debt. I was less sympathetic with those who used sex as a revenue source to pay for luxury items. I see a fundamental difference in the two scenarios.

      There is no denying that wealth inequality is real and is producing changes in our society. What is a “real” job anymore? Sex for pay is a “job” to these young women, but at what a risk.

      • Greg Wellman says:

        Thanks for the welcome. I plan to post something longer on this UBI topic when I have the time to edit it out of an email I wrote a while back. What I wrote dovetails well with what Lifer has written here – it would be nice to see if other people think so.

  27. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    Just a few day(s) out from Trump announcing his VP pick, Newt Gingrich has apparently seen fit to cancel his role as a contributor on Faux News. Coincidence?

    • 1mime says:

      At this point, I don’t really care. I’m curious as to Lifer’s opinion of Gingrich. My own is that he is a hypocritical, sneaky, narcissist. IOW, a perfect VP for Trump.

      • texan5142 says:

        I second that.

      • 1mime says:

        Actually, I do think Trump’s VP pick will be MI Governor Mike Pence, why? More than any other reason, Trump needs to increase voter turnout in the sectors who plan to vote for him. That includes Evangelicals (oddly, but…whatever). Pence will help him there. Also, Michigan requires him (if he plans to seek the VP spot) to indicate by Friday of this week. It all fits.

        That said, because it all “fits”, it probably won’t (-;

  28. objv says:

    “The story of John Smith telling the Virginia Colony aristocrats that “if you don’t work, you don’t eat” shows just how far back this idea that being a Good American means being a good worker goes.”

    Some early colonists were so upset by John Smith’s leadership, they defected to Indian tribes. Unfortunately, the Native Americans lived by the same motto and the settlers returned to Jamestown eventually.

    Captain John Smith wasn’t such a bad guy. He could have very well said, “If you don’t work, you will be eaten.” In 1609, only 150 out of 500 colonists survived the winter and reportedly there were incidents of cannibalism.

  29. tuttabellamia says:

    I don’t get the picture at the top of the blog with the caption “The Modern Workplace.” Shouldn’t you have a picture of someone’s house instead, since we will be working from home?

    • texan5142 says:

      How do you know it is not someones basement and their gaming computer?

    • antimule says:

      I think that the point is that there are no people, just server rooms.

    • goplifer says:

      Actually, the inspiration that led to that picture, and also to the post, was a visit to a printing company several years ago. Their IT along with all major corporate positions was housed in the same facility from which they do all their manufacturing.

      On this visit we got a chance to peek out at the manufacturing floor. Imagine ten or fifteen football fields of indoor space filled with printing machines all roaring away. I counted about a dozen human beings down there. It was eerie and kind of disturbing. They weren’t even very automated, they just had simple machines doing most of the work. If you want to get really freaked out you should see the facilities that manufacture computer circuitry. They are reproducing themselves…

      • tuttabellamia says:

        So, Lifer, you agree that there’s something eerie and disturbing about this movement toward a less human environment. It’s not just me.

  30. 1mime says:

    How about protecting the constitutional rights of due process? How can those who loudly proclaim their belief in strict interpretation of the Constitution take actions like these? Is this how Republicans plan to shrink government?

  31. 1mime says:

    When is a good time to address gun violence, Congress? Will there “ever” be a good time?

    “Republican leaders say now is not the time for a political debate over an issue that has stoked tensions across the country following a series of deadly shootings.”

  32. Jack Hughes says:

    Computers and automation have created a permanent global labor surplus which has resulted in permanent mass unemployment. And as with an oversupply of any commodity, in this case labor, this has reduced the demand and lowered the price, i.e., wages.

    Sooner or later it must be recognized that Industrial Age labor policies will no longer work in the Information Age, if by “work” we mean a policy that promotes full employment and a prosperous middle class.

    In order to offset reduced demand for labor, we must artificially reduce the supply by lowering the hours in the work week and reducing the retirement age (talk of raising the retirement age in a surplus labor market is madness). Naturally, prices will rise, but so will leisure time — and more importantly, wages.

    The 40-hour work week was considered “radical” when it was introduced during the New Deal. Now it is taken for granted, but the 40-hour week was not sent down from Mt. Sinai etched in stone.

    • goplifer says:

      Oh, and by the way, it took the US 50 years to finally pass an effective ban on child labor. Why? Because of public fears of youth idleness. Seriously. Imagine how much faster we could have gotten to where we are now if we’d banned child labor in the 1880s and starting sending those kids to public schools.

      • antimule says:

        Child labor was passed in 1930? Sounds crazy.

      • goplifer says:

        1938. Basically, it took several years of 20% unemployment to convince Congress to ban child labor. States had started putting laws on the books in the 19th cent. Massachusetts, of course, was the first. But those laws were very gappy and many states had none at all.

      • antimule says:

        sorry I meant “banned.”

      • 1mime says:

        ” As industrialization moved workers from farms and home workshops into urban areas and factory work, children were often preferred, because factory owners viewed them as more manageable, cheaper, and less likely to strike.”

        Youth idleness might have been a concern in rural areas where whole families worked the farm, but where does your comment about public fear for youth idleness originate? Also, children were given more responsibility at younger ages (families were larger – older sibs helped mom/dad) and there were more jobs for younger children to perform safely and with few skills.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Even with child labor laws and the 40-hour work week, there was still the concept of work — perhaps a shorter work week, or less physically demanding work, or in the case of kids, work to be taken on eventually, so I can see the work day or work week becoming even shorter, even less demanding, with even fewer participants in the work pool due to age, but I still can’t wrap my head around the idea of this tapering off to the point of having NO work at all. A life entirely of leisure?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Technological advancement is presented as an accelerative process, with faster and faster movement toward an unknown destination, so hold on tight, but I am beginning to see it more as a slowing down, a tapering off, because now we have less to do, and what we do is easier. But will it taper off to nothingness? Will it result in a vacuum?

        In a way it’s more peaceful now, more meditative, but in a way it does feel like a vacuum, I feel an emptiness. Now we have the danger of being constantly connected to our devices, although the good thing is that’s a choice, and we can turn them off whenever we choose.

  33. Griffin says:

    Interesting article on why Hillary Clinton can seem so contradictory at times. To be decent at governing and horrible at campaiging, and to be respected by those who work with her but disliked by the general public. I’ve never heard of this theory before but the author of this article thinks it’s because she has far better listening skills than she does speaking ones, which is (rightly or wrongly) often the inverse of how most presidential campaigns are valued.

    • Griffin says:

      On an unrelated note my facebook feed is growing increasingly disturbing. To be honest for a long time I scoffed when Lifer suggested that left-wing radicals and extremists would be making a comeback in the US. I thought, “We’re in the US, a pretty centre/center-right country, and the most left-wing person in the Senate is a run-of-the-mill social democrat in Europe, and the New Left died thirty years ago, what’s he talking about”? I’m feeling pretty silly right now.

      This website that ended up on my Facebook feed, “Mask”, advocates for beating cops and has some of the most unironically extreme leftist stuff I’ve seen in a while:

      I’m also seeing more-and-more people post about how literally all cops are “bastards” and an instagram photo going around facebook that says “(Bleep) all cops” because “literally every cop is complicit and participating in a system designed to uphold the capitalist oligarchy we live under and thus all cops are guilty of that systems sins. (Bleep) your brother. (Bleep) your cousin. (Bleep) your Dad. (Bleep) all cops.” (They didn’t use the word “(Bleep)” obviously, but I didn’t want to copy the link in case it went back to that persons facebook page) Please don’t tell me the hard-left is essentially going to be recreating the times they would spit on veterans and cause pointless riots.

      I’m starting to think that maaaaaybe college students aren’t very good with nuance. Also I don’t know why but I have a sudden urge to become more conservative in response to all this, is that normal? (not at all “conservative” in the modern Republican Party sense but “conservative” in a Burkian sense of having respect for existing social institutions with moderate reforms)

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        I think there is a small slice of people whose goals are violence and disruption. Perhaps they are anarchists? I don’t know. And I don’t know how much real damage they do to our sense of social well-being.

        In 1970 I was one of thousands walking through Austin to protest the war in Vietnam. In earlier meetings, organizers told us to help keep any angry marchers in check, but if anyone started breaking shop windows, for example, to get away from that person because there would be state troopers with rifles on building rooftops; there was to be no property damage.

        This action of some many people felt heavy and significant. Then along comes a guy in a station wagon. He has a little sign visible only to the marchers, not the police directing traffic. The guy is smiling and gesturing to the sign, which said, “Off the pigs.”

        I found that repulsive. I didn’t feel that way about police. Marchers were there about the war, not about the cops. Not really a participant, but on the edges of the event, that guy wanted to co-op the marchers’ strong feelings. He was a jerk, but I never forgot him.

        Jumping forward several decades, I also saw guys at the edges of Occupy Houston gatherings. Some actually wore Guy Fawkes half masks as they zoomed around on bikes. Performance art or an attempt to piggyback their intentions on somebody else’s event?

        So Griffin, my take is we need be aware of people like those whose magazine ended up in your feed just in case they try to muscle into legitimate protest. Because then we’d have a decision to make.

    • 1mime says:

      There is also the very real factor (pointed out in the article) that she has been the subject of criticism for decades in an attempt to denigrate her work and ideas. As she stated, you hear something often enough and pretty soon you start believing it….

      Gotta think for yourself……..

  34. Tuttabellamia says:

    I think it would be a good idea to interview low-income people and ask them what they think of the basic income and what they would do with it. Their voice in the matter is important. A good many of them may.actually reject the idea and refuse the money. Never assume we know what’s in others’ best interests; we can only know what’s in our own best interests.

    • 1mime says:

      Tutta, I think it’s how you offer help that is so important. Welfare, for instance, has been ridiculed and shamed by conservatives instead of offered as a bridge to survival. If a basic income were implemented and distributed like SS, for example, where there was no singling people out on the basis of need, rather, it was handled much like the royalty distributions to all AK citizens every year. A legitimate question to ask is why those who reject helping the poor or temporarily needy feel that the benefits they receive through their businesses or from government (contracts, tax breaks, etc) is any different really than money handed out to the poor.

      I will say this: I would rather see each and every American have access to free quality health care for life than a basic income. To me, that is worth far more in quality of life as well as meaningful support.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        And I’m partial to free lifetime education instead of a minimum income.

      • goplifer says:

        What’s the point of free education if I can’t afford to feed myself while taking advantage of it?

      • 1mime says:

        Having a free education doesn’t mean that one may not also have to work…but it might mean that work hours would be reduced and not force students to choose between work and study. It might also mean a student can graduate in less time because they can take more academic hours per semester, and, if they are really fortunate, mom and dad will allow them room and board for the duration….

        Having said that, I still am not a proponent of a free education for all. I think there needs to be a cost that is manageable, with expansion of grants and much lower loan rates.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Well, the idea is that free education is supposed to prepare you for the knowledge economy, to be able to compete, to be innovative and create new business, so that you’re able to feed yourself. You say there won’t be enough jobs to go around, but I’m still optimistic about the possibilities of innovation to create new, currently unheard of jobs. But I guess I’m old-fashioned, still thinking in terms of “jobs,” in terms of life as I know it.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I can’t really say that I support free education in and of itself, only that I would prefer it over a basic income.

      • 1mime says:

        Well, a vote for HRC will offer you both (-; But, if I had to choose one or the other, I’d choose basic income. Why? Because a B.I. benefits the family which is in dire need of support. Individuals have much more freedom to pursue work and generally fewer responsibilities. Both will benefit. If you have even minimal financial stability, your ability to pursue an education is greater. As Lifer stated, even with free tuition, you still have to eat.

      • antimule says:

        Free education thing isn’t that hard with internet (college is more of a credentialing institution at this point). Many programmers don’t have formal education. Hard part is having food while you are educating yourself.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        This conversation reminds of when I was a kid, and my mom would have to call me to lunch or dinner again and again, because I would be so engrossed in reading a book, until she would get exasperated and holler “Are you going to eat book for dinner??”

  35. JeffAtWolfcreek says:

    Chris, you have nailed this. Without circulation the patient will surely die. It’s unfortunate that all of the practicing physicians are attaching leaches to our feet.

    That cynicism out of the way, if you can get traction with this message I’m all in.

  36. Shiro17 says:

    Chris, do you ever do any ghost-writing for David Brooks or the New York Times? Had to do a double-take to make sure that you weren’t the author of this article:

  37. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    Roger Ailes of Fox News has just been characterize as the “Bill Cosby of Media” by his high profile ex-employee.

    As the character Vincent Vega said in the film Pulp Fiction “That’s a bold statement.”

    More women are coming out claiming similar harassment encounters with the Fox New head honcho. Decades old incidents. Where have we heard of something like this before?

    Sad, deplorable and epic. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer fellow.

  38. 1mime says:

    Pride goeth before the fall…………for all who bear such animus for Pres. Obama, and especially the ACA, let it be known that he hopes Congress will help make health coverage better. Lower RX costs? Check. More options via a public option? Check. He is open to making changes that will reduce cost and expand coverage, which typically are possible when people work to find common ground.

    ““Simpler approaches to addressing our health care problems exist at both ends of the political spectrum: the single-payer model vs. government vouchers for all,” Obama writes. “Yet the nation typically reaches its greatest heights when we find common ground between the public and private good and adjust along the way.” He opens the door for a public option as a new feature of the ACA.

    He will use his remaining months to continue to make improvements as possible in the ACA. He noted that hospitals are cooperating but pharmaceutical companies refuse to budge. They have a guarantee in place brokered in 2002 that government could not negotiate drug prices for Medicare Part D as they do in Medicaid and the VA Health Program.

  39. Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

    As I ponder a basic income idea, I play through scenarios of either my wife or I “retiring” to stay at home with the kids (but having to give up the nanny), or one of us going back to teach at university (or even lower levels). I see others here talk about pursuing a second career or going back to school.

    I think we sometimes lose site that for a huge number of people, a basic income would simply pay the damn bills.

    Maybe it means not working the crappy second job to keep the electricity on, but rather being able to be home to eat with your kids, help the kids with homework, or help out with an elderly parent.

    Maybe it means not putting up with a soul-crushing (or back crushing or on your feet 12 hours a day) job (Protestant Work Ethic be damned) just to have insurance.

    I don’t think it means everyone devolves into just doing the minimum to get by.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Excellent, sobering reminder. Thanks for bringing us back down to earth.

    • 1mime says:


      I had to quit my job which I loved in order to care for my husband. I wonder how many women face a similar situation – or maybe helping with aging parents…..A basic income sounds like it would provide that cushion that social security recipients appreciate. A check that comes in on time, every month, and can be used however it is most needed. Talk to people who went through the housing and market crash in ’08 and have been digging their way back up ever since. A basic income would sure have been a god-send for them.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Surely it would have, but a basic income in and of itself would only have been a cushion, not a spring by which to propel them forward again. We all know what a 401(k) is, but perhaps with the advent of a UBI, it’s time to start thinking seriously about incentivizing people into their own personal rainy-day funds for when the economy turns sour.

        States and cities have them, so why shouldn’t people?

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t know how many “old” (whatever age that is these days!) people you know, but this older generation always knew they had to save. There were no IRAs or 401Ks. There were savings accounts and credit unions….and that money under the mattress. Those who were able, invested in a much different stock market than we have today. There was the expectation of social security and Medicare/Medicaid. But, never was there a belief that we did not have to plan for our own retirement. There will always be those who need help and deserve it, and those who demand it and don’t deserve it. It is up to each generation to accept responsibility for themselves (and their family) to the best of their ability. How that changes with the changes that are coming to our workplace, I don’t know. I hope that it is compassionate and realistic.

  40. Sara Robinson says:

    It’s going to demand some very deep epistemological shifts in the US. As a nation, we’re a product of that same industrial revolution; and producerism is baked into our very bones. The story of John Smith telling the Virginia Colony aristocrats that “if you don’t work, you don’t eat” shows just how far back this idea that being a Good American means being a good worker goes.

    It’s common to find (mostly conservative) writers decrying the perils of indolence to the human soul. Yeah, if we’re not working, there may be some of us who sleep in, drink too much, spend the day on the couch, and so on. The implication, rooted in producerism, is that not working is immoral: idle hands are the devil’s playground.

    But there’s already a very large American adult cohort that offers us a very different model of what comfortably-funded leisure looks like: retirees. These people aren’t economically productive (or if they are, it’s at a fairly low and strictly voluntary level). Instead, they spend their days supervising kids or doing art or volunteering in their communities or tending their gardens or heading out on adventures with friends. Every other retiree I know says that they’re busier than they were when they were drawing a paycheck, and can’t find enough hours in a day. They don’t appear to be morally disabled by their leisure, they don’t seem unhappy, and they’re certainly not lacking for meaning in their lives. So this old Calvinist whine that letting people spend their days as they please can only corrupt them has no basis in reality: people will be as corrupt or not as they’re going to be, with or without a job to keep them out of trouble.

    We would have to change our educational system, moving away from the intense market values now applied to learning (where the focus is all about making students valuable to eventual employers), and returning to something more like a liberal arts curriculum that sets up students to engage the larger question of “what is a human life well-lived”? Because, freed from labor, they’re going to spend their lives pursuing their passions, beauty, and the good. They need to spend their childhoods learning how to identify for themselves what that is, or we actually will have the moral chaos the conservatives fear.

    Moving to a UBI would also increase social pressure to limit family size. If every kid anybody has is another one the system is going to have to support, there will be strong social value in ensuring that every kid is wanted, and will be raised well. The pie that supports us all is finite, and ensuring that we all get what need from it will require us to think holistically about what we owe to each other and what we can expect return.

    • goplifer says:

      Your example from retirement gave me an idea. Who are the most economically unproductive people in our economy? That’s easy, stay-at-home moms.

      Compare the resources and education invested in them as a group to their lifetime earnings. We get a fine glimpse at the tensions created by a jobs-based social system by looking at otherwise crucial work that is either completely unpaid (parenting) or chronically underpaid (teachers, police).

      Are stay at home parents idle? Ask one and find out.

      In a more sane and stable political environment conservatives would be among the first to latch on to the basic income idea. After all, it’s capitalism that has destroyed the family, pushing parents into the workforce and so on. Aren’t conservatives the people most concerned about the declining value we place on non-commercial institutions like family, church, community involvement?

      It’s actually a really interesting thought exercise: Are people who don’t work for a living inevitably prone to indolence? You know, lazy, shiftless people like moms and dads, and that lady who volunteers to run the church office. Oh, and those folks who operate the homeless shelter. Lazy bums.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        What about the appeal of the Protestant, capitalist work ethic? How do you reconcile this with the importance of family and community involvement?

        Is it that the former is the realm of men, and the latter the domain of women?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        So there may be no need to reconcile the two concepts if they are kept separate.

      • 1mime says:

        I think more women would work from home if the marketplace made this possible. Women may wish to serve in a dual role, but their “wife/mother” priority can’t be met because businesses don’t encourage working from home, or, allow flex schedules. There are still far too few companies that allow this work from home option even when many jobs are computer intensive. It’s a matter of trust that company information will be protected off site, but also the doubt that the person working from home puts in a set number of hours. The fact is that the work shouldn’t have to be tied to “hours” invested, rather, output/outcome goals met. Maybe this is an area with some promise for more well educated, unemployed domestic engineers (-; Possibly it ‘s the folks in management who need to lighten up.

      • Griffin says:

        “Are people who don’t work for a living inevitably prone to indolence?”

        This is a good point. Right now I’m on a break while I wait to transfer between schools. I’m already going insane with boredom, and it’s “only” been a few weeks (before I was a student all year round, with very few and very short breaks). There is no way I could see myself doing nothing for very long, most people have to keep themselves busy regardless of whether its via jobs or something else.

      • 1mime says:

        Hey, Griffin, volunteer somewhere! There are so many places that would welcome even a short term volunteer and you could really contribute!

      • Griffin says:

        Good idea Mime. So far I’ve just been helping family out when I can but I still have too much free time. I should’ve taken a summer class but my Dad was concerned I was doing too much studying and would burn out and asked me not too and I underestimated how long the break would be, so now I just feel lazy and it’s awful. I have no clue how people would be this lazy for years straight.

      • 1mime says:

        Think outside the box, Griffin….like animals? Volunteer at a pet shelter. Help at a VA retirement home….more fun – offer to help at an area school….reading to the students – shelving books in the library….Do something fun, or, do something that helps someone in need. Lots of places to help even short term.

      • vikinghou says:

        But Chris, the lady who volunteers at the church office, and the people who operate the homeless shelter ARE working.

      • Shiro17 says:

        And, of course, the converse is not necessarily the case: just because someone has a job does not mean that they are not prone to indolence. It’s something of an office cliche that “looking busy” usually matters more than actually being busy, and there’s also the coworker that tends to spend more time playing solitaire than doing what they’re supposed to. One wonders whether these people would benefit society more by spending their time with other things than by putting on a masquerade of pretending to be on the job when they’re clearly mentally checked out.

      • vikinghou says:

        Sorry, I didn’t complete my thought. Despite not receiving a wage today, these people are still contributing to society and are therefore deserving of some compensation. Even retired people receiving SS benefits who are serving in this capacity should be entitled to additional remuneration.

    • 1mime says:

      Regarding epistemological shifts, in order to limit family size, there is going to have to be a paradigm shift in acceptance of family planning. Let’s get out front of this issue by ensuring that the choice is each and every woman’s without shame, unnecessary burden or excessive cost.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      >] “The pie that supports us all is finite, and ensuring that we all get what need from it will require us to think holistically about what we owe to each other and what we can expect return.”

      Okay, so what do you think we owe to each other and what we can expect in return?

      I’ll be honest, I don’t want to expect anything from people. An individual can be smart and worthy of respect and loyalty, but as a whole, people are weak and will always disappoint you if you place too much faith in them.

      That being said, the idea of a world where the antiquated notion of a job has been effectively vanquished and people are encouraged to confront each other on a much more personal level is both exciting and terrifying at the same time.

      • 1mime says:

        Ryan, we all have weaknesses, sometimes we just don’t know what they are until we get into a situation that reveals them. What’s more important are our strengths. No one is perfect, including ourselves, which if we can keep that in mind, helps build tolerance for those who we hold to higher standards. If you want to test that theory – have teenagers (-;

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        No disrespect or insult to others intended, but I x-ed out the “having kids” section of my “having a fulfilling life” list a long time ago. Others have it in them to do it and good for them, but it is not for me.

        That aside, let’s get back to the point I was making, because it’s a serious one. In an economy and a world where jobs as we know them have been wiped out, what exactly should we expect of ourselves in our relations to others and what can we expect in return?

        A ‘traditional’ job is kind of like a middle-man in terms of how it regulates your relationships with your co-workers. If you want to keep your job, you understand that you have to maintain a certain level of respect with others. So what happens when that middle-man is destroyed, and more relevantly, what happens to those future generations that never had it in the first place? Do they suffer for not having had that experience, mitigate it, or are they somehow better equipped for relationships because they don’t have to put on a proverbial mask just to get by at work?

      • 1mime says:

        Relationships should be respectful with our family, our friends and our colleagues. It is difficult to project how our interpersonal relationships will change in light of a different business structure, but change they will. In prior decades, people stayed with the same company for life and their co-workers were also friends. Obviously, that is changing as more people work from home, within cubicles, or in a very different hierarchy. The nature of our work is changing and in many cases eliminates personal interaction. I believe that is unfortunate, but I also think our society will adjust. Will this offer a more satisfying work experience or simply a more profitable one? I think there is more to life than simply “earning” a living; like Lifer, I believe “living life” is integral to personal success. To each his/her own. With the departure of the traditional workplace, easy friendships will be lost….competition will be driven more by one’s self, and people will become more isolated. I lament that change.

  41. n1cholas says:

    This is one of the greatest socio-economic challenges that human society faces.

    There are NOT enough jobs for 7+ billion people today.

    There will NOT be enough jobs for 10+ billion people next century.

    If we can all agree that more efficient and effective technology and automation replacing human labor is a good thing in and of itself, the problem of people not having a “job” is solely a political one.

    If we can get over the notion that if you don’t have a job, it’s because you’re lazy, stupid, or a moocher, than we can begin to solve the dilemma.

    If we allow people to invest their time how they see fit, some will do nothing. And some will produce art, and music, and philosophy…just like a real society with a functioning culture.

    But many will seek out education and then educate; others will invent and engineer even better technology and automation so that the basic universal income quality of life improves even more. People freed from having to do repetitive things they don’t like so that they can do something more interesting aren’t a drag on society – they are an asset.

    Capitalism will never cease to exist. Even in a society with a universal basic income, there will be ways of increasing your own private wealth, whether it be with manual labor, or abstract analysis. The point, though, is that the economic system will work for everyone at the least, minimizing wealth inequality that satisfies a society and creates inherent distrust.

    While it isn’t easy trying to craft legislation that solves this political problem without adding in new problems, it does require that all political parties and the representatives be sane, rational, and realistic. Which means we certainly aren’t there yet.

    I’m sure I’ve posted it here, but this is a decent companion piece to Lifer’s post.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Nicholas wrote: But many will seek out education and then educate;
      Might this not be the key? Those who are well-versed in the knowledge economy would pass on their knowledge to the rest of us, giving the rest of us the opportunity to also participate in the knowledge economy, instead of just giving us money to keep us pacified.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        You don’t have to be employed as a teacher to teach. If I were jobless, I would make use of my time, and make sense of my life, by imparting what I’ve learned to others, so that they might make use of my knowledge and experience any way they choose, and that might result in people better-qualified to compete in the knowledge economy, to more innovation, which might help improve those people’s economic situation. Knowledge, like money, works best when it circulates among all of society. Hoarding just leads to stagnation.

      • n1cholas says:

        Or to put it another way: do teachers get into teaching for the big bucks and fringe benefits?

      • 1mime says:

        Teachers in it for the big $$$ and fringe benefits………..


      • tuttabellamia says:

        I once got into an argument (something I don’t do often) with 2 ladies who accused teachers of being greedy.

      • 1mime says:

        Good for you, Tutta! That’s a fight worth having.

  42. tuttabellamia says:

    I think a good way of looking at the evolution of work is through the words used to describe it.

    We went from TOIL, which is hard, physical labor, to EMPLOYMENT, which literally means to be used, or to be of use to something or someone, which means that the EMPLOYEE (the used one) is of no use without an EMPLOYER (the user). Semantically, then, an EMPLOYEE cannot exist if there is no EMPLOYER.

    So I would say the next step in this evolution is for the worker to rid him or herself of the concept of an employer, of the concept of being used by someone else, and to work only for him or herself, for his own pleasure, at his own leisure, at his own discretion. The next term that comes to my mind is SELF-EMPLOYED, but I really don’t think the word EMPLOYED will have the same relevance in the future. Maybe something like GAINFULLY ENGAGED?

    • tuttabellamia says:

      And if the new term is GAINFULLY ENGAGED, what exactly is to be gained? Does it have to be concrete? Can happiness be considered something to be gained? If nothing is gained, are we wasting our time, spinning our wheels? Is gaining something, no matter how abstract, a requirement?

      • Sara Robinson says:

        My husband left the workforce nearly three years ago at 51, and we’ve been searching for a term to describe our state. “Retired” feel much too old for where we are in life, and doesn’t reflect the reality that we’re busy as hell. I really love “gainfully engaged.”

      • 1mime says:

        My husband was 59 when he fully retired, but he began easing out of active management at age 55. He was able to enjoy almost 20 years of retirement before he was diagnosed with a chronic disease. Carpe diem all!

    • 1mime says:

      I can speak to the duality of being both employee and employer….which is true for many who opt to be small business owners. You typically can do any job you would “hire” another person for, but eventually migrate into a more pure management role as your business expands. I think that small business owners are the best of what America offers – people who took a chance, worked hard, hopefully succeeded, but haven’t lost the ability to understand and appreciate the value of the people who work “with” them, as opposed to “for” them.

      Big difference.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I’ve worked for the same small business for almost 30 years, and yes, I feel like part of the family.

  43. 1mime says:

    “Our challenge is to build a social framework that allows us to assign the rewards from innovation in a just manner without mass employment. ”

    Who is going to design the social framework transition that will make this process survivable? We may think we solved some of the problem by allowing people to retire from work at an advanced age, but, that age is creeping upwards, not downwards. People are strongly urged to work into their seventies, or find they have no choice but to do so. They are staying in the workforce past prime ability and crowding out younger people, because they can’t afford to retire. Obviously, income differences impact the ability and timing of retirement, but the type of work one does also matters. Our marketplace still includes jobs that are highly stressful and/or physically demanding and probably will for decades into the future. Laborers, nurses, teachers, soldiers – may not be able to increase work longevity without increasing health risks and reduced productivity. Then what has been achieved?

    It is evident, at least to me, that three critical components are necessary to make this transition humane and successful. The first is a commitment by our country to universal, affordable AND quality health care. The second is a total revamp of our jobs training preparation. The final piece is to help people and communities make the transition with the least difficulty. So far, I have witnessed little if any planning or commitment by business to assist impacted employees and communities by planning for the transition.

    The final piece – transition – may well be the most important and difficult element to accomplish. And, if things go as they normally do, it will probably be the last piece to be addressed.

  44. vikinghou says:

    The idea of a basic income to meet people’s fundamental needs is a compelling one to ponder but, in my opinion, there’s one thing it can never replace—a purpose in life. In a capitalist society (and probably other types as well), people tend to define themselves in terms of “what they do,” and that is described in most cases by their job. Being paid a stipend to just exist would be corrosive to the general psyche of our society and, in my opinion, could lead to a major breakdown. The survival of our civilization will depend on whether we can unravel this knot.

    It also occurred to me that there’s at least one endeavor that cannot replaced by robots—the arts. Robots will never have the human creative spark to write great literature and music, or produce masterpieces of painting, sculpture, opera and ballet.

    • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

      True, but your “purpose in life” and “what you do” can be volunteering, gardening, playing golf, woodwork in your garage, innovating in your garage, tinkering around with programming the next great app, or teaching elementary school.

      • 1mime says:

        For those who retire “young” enough, a second career is a wonderful opportunity to explore a new dimension of life – or, an old one that wasn’t fully satisfied.

        Fundamental to choices is having the financial security and health to explore them. “Who” is in charge and making the rules has a great deal to do with what options exist.

    • n1cholas says:

      If there is a stipend to “just exist”, people will do just that.

      And many others, who are interested in educating themselves will do so in order to do more than “just exist”, and will make everyone wealthier in the process, so that “just existing” becomes better and better as time goes on.

      Protip: a large segment of the population is just hanging onto the status of “just existing”. Thinking that society might break down at some future point when people are “just existing” implies that you haven’t taken a good look around the world lately.

      • vikinghou says:


        Seems I struck a nerve. Sorry, but I’m convinced that most people who are not challenged will not contribute to society. Believing they would accept the free income and still seek work is incredibly out of touch.

      • 1mime says:

        Do you disagree with the basic income concept, or, feel it can only be effective if there are “strings”…

      • vikinghou says:

        I don’t disagree with the basic income concept per se; however, I do believe people should be challenged to contribute to society. I would much rather see a minimum wage that’s high enough to allow people to have a sustainable life by working a standard 40-hr week. Plus, there’s plenty of work out there that is desperately needed. For example, rebuilding the infrastructure. I would love to see reinstatement of a Rooseveltian program like the WPA to accomplish this.

      • 1mime says:

        Of course you know that Pres. Obama proposed a jobs program around re-building infrastructure and it was dissed by Republicans.

        I have mixed feelings on the basic income. Having worked since I was a girl, I value work and never had anything “given” to me and I agree with increasing the minimum wage. I much prefer H’s earlier plan – raising nationwide to $12/hr, working for higher wages in areas where the socio-economics could support it. That’s what will probably happen anyway if H wins, as she will still have a majority Republican House to deal with.

        Somehow, the idea of working only a few hours for a much shorter work history is hard for me to grasp, but so are a lot of things that are happening.

      • n1cholas says:

        You didn’t strike a nerve. You simply stated your opinion and I disagreed.

        Not sure why you’re apologizing.

        There aren’t enough jobs for every single human being, right now. There will be even less jobs per human being in the future.

        Believing that there will be enough jobs for every human being in the future is incredibly out of touch.

    • 1mime says:

      Robots would never have the human element ….

      Oooh, not yet, but they are working now to introduce all of the senses to robots….Actually, I have heard this is a Republican plot….get in early and program all the bots with a conservative brain (-;

  45. Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

    Well, if a machine ever figures out a way to leave useless blog posts, I’m done for.

  46. Stephen says:

    This topic has long been written about in science fiction. Jules Verne’s time machine novel is one of the earlier pieces. He was pretty melancholy about it. The current economic system has been created over generations by all of us. But we still have not gotten the sharing part right. If we want to avoid strife we have to fix that. I cannot imagine a world were the 99.9% allow the 0.01% hog the whole system. And the smarter of the .01% realize that.

    People will be able to do the things that make us human more in the future. Explore, create and build up social relationships as leisure time increases. Life long schooling will become the norm. And we might even see the emergence of machine intelligence even we though we really do not know what intelligence and self awareness really is or how it occurs. I really enjoy this blog. Most of the post are high quality like this one and the readers a diverse lot of intelligent and experience people.

  47. tuttabellamia says:

    I love it when Lifer dusts off this blog topic and reposts it! It gives me the opportunity to dream about the endless possibilities, to think outside the box. Perfect timing, just in time for my lunch hour.

  48. Creigh says:

    The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi has a great deal to say about this subject. He was writing about the transformation from a cottage/agrarian economy to a market economy, and what effect that change had on society, and how society attempted to deal with that change. What he says is that rapid change creates upheaval in social institutions developed to deal with the old regime, and that it takes time to develop new institutions. There’s a lot in that book that would be relevant to the elimination of jobs that seems to be taking place. So much in involved in a job; economic security, status, social relationships, education, and so on. I don’t think a basic income alone is going to be enough. The book is not easy to read, but worth the effort if you’re interested.

  49. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Interestingly enough, Andy Stern former president of a [whisper] labor union[/whisper], had similar concerns this morning on Diane Rehm;

    Yes, he has a book.

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