Q:P.S. I think there will come a day when technology will be at a point when either wealth can be produced without human effort or there will be little to no need for exchange.
If your goal is a post-capitalist economy, basic income is a transitional step to such a system.
If the profits from automation go exclusively to benefit the owners of capital, democracy will inevitably suffer. That said, the impetus for basic income does not hang on technological innovation. Even today, it’s an achievable, advisable idea. Over the next twenty years, I am convinced it will become essential.
As far as economic tools usable as a means of transition to something better go, basic income should be considered a primary one.
Tomorrow’s holiday made possible by eliminating our fears of technological unemployment
Happy Labor Day, fellow humans!
I met Karl Widerquist at the 15th International Basic Income Congress in Montreal and did a brief interview with him. It has been crisp.
He is founding member and coordinator of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network and
Visiting Associate Professor at the Georgetown University in Qatar on the Persian Gulf.
A film by Enno Schmidt
"Unconditional basic income is one piece of the puzzle to build a truly free and democratic society. There is no freedom while you are forcing people to live in poverty." -Karl Widerquist
Walmart is the largest private employer in the United States, with 1.4 million employees. The company, which is number one on the Fortune 500 in 2013 and number two on the Global 500, had $16 billion in profits last year on revenues of $473 billion. The Walton family, which owns more than 50 percent of Walmart shares, reaps billions in annual dividends from the company. The six Walton heirs are the wealthiest family in America, with a net worth of $148.8 billion. Collectively, these six Waltons have more wealth than 49 million American families combined.
This report finds that the American public is providing enormous tax breaks and tax subsidies to Walmart and the Walton family, further boosting corporate profits and the family’s already massive wealth at everyone else’s expense. Specifically, our analysis shows that:
Walmart and the Walton family receive tax breaks and taxpayer subsidies estimated at more than $7.8 billion a year – that is enough money to hire 105,000 new public school teachers. The annual subsidies and tax breaks to Walmart and the Waltons include the following:
- Walmart receives an estimated $6.2 billion annually in mostly federal taxpayer subsidies. The reason: Walmart pays its employees so little that many of them rely on food stamps, health care and other taxpayer-funded programs.
- Walmart avoids an estimated $1 billion in federal taxes each year. The reason: Walmart uses tax breaks and loopholes, including a strategy known as accelerated depreciation that allows it to write off capital investments considerably faster than the assets actually wear out.
- The Waltons avoid an estimated $607 million in federal taxes on their Walmart dividends. The reason: income from investments is taxed at a much lower tax rate than income from salaries and wages.
In addition to the $7.8 billion in annual subsidies and tax breaks, the Walton family is avoiding an estimated $3 billion in taxes by using specialized trusts to dodge estate taxes – and this number could increase by tens of billions of dollars. Walmart also benefits significantly from taxpayer-funded public assistance programs that pump up the retailer’s sales. For example, Walmart had an estimated $13.5 billion in food stamp sales last year.
18% of all food stamps are spent at Walmart and many Walmart employees are on food stamps. How many employees remains unknown.
Meanwhile, the Waltons earn about $1.5 million per hour doing nothing but sitting on the dividends from the stocks handed to them by their father, Sam Walton.
The More You Know…
When #IfTheyGunnedMeDown Happens in Print:
Section from the Rolling Stone profile of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of two brothers who committed the Boston Marathon bombings vs section from the New York Times profile of Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson.
Well this is about as obvious as double standards get.
A wealthy noble was traveling from his castle to a summer estate for a hunting trip, when a sudden driving rain began. Soaked to the skin, the noble turned off the main road and diverted to a small village nearby, seeking shelter. The village was run down, and clearly had seen better days, but the noble was desperate to get out of the rain.
Upon arriving at the inn, the innkeeper greeted the noble warmly and quickly arranged accommodation. As was standard practice, the noble gave the innkeeper a deposit of $100 to reserve a room before descending to the lower level of the inn for a meal and a drink.
The innkeeper - who like most of the town had been down on his luck of late - quickly ran to the stable and asked the stable hand to take care of the noble’s horses. He also paid the stable hand $100 in back pay, which he hadn’t been able to afford up until this point.
The stable hand, as efficient as always, stabled the horses and then headed out into the rain to meet his wife for lunch, as he did most days. When there, he gave his wife all the money he’d just been paid.
After the meal, she took that money and went to the grocer. There, she used the hundred dollars to pay him back for the groceries he’d generously allowed her to buy on credit while she waited for her husband’s back pay to come through.
The grocer, glad to have some revenue, quickly pulled aside his watchman and gave him $100 of his pay for the week. “Since I’ve got the money coming in, I want to make sure you get taken care of first,” the kindly man explained.
The watchmen, after completing his shift, went straight away to the sex worker he often visited in his spare time when he had a little extra cash. Together, they went to the town’s inn to enjoy one another’s company. Upon arrival, she took the $100 he’d just paid her and gave it to the innkeeper, who’d been letting her stay on credit while she waited for the town’s clientele to have some extra cash.
At this point, the rains let up and a beautiful sunny sky shone down on the town. The nobleman, eager to be to his cabin, decided that he could just make it by nightfall if he left straight away.
"Innkeeper, never mind the room as I’ll be on my way. Please saddle my horses," the man asked.
The innkeeper fetched the stable hand and set him on the task, and then returned the noble’s $100 deposit using the money he’d just gotten back from the prostitute, and the noble left town.
In the wake of his departure, all of the money was right where it had started, yet absolutely everybody in the town was better off because of its transition through the populace. The ability of a single dollar to engage in multiple transactions and have a much larger economic impact than just one dollar’s worth is known as the velocity of money.
Meanwhile… by some measures velocity is the lowest it has ever been calculated.
An unconditional basic income would increase velocity by putting money in the hands of those who would spend it.
"I like the idea of basic income, but I’m no economist…"
This is the letter signed in 1968 by over 1,000 economists urging the implementation of a guaranteed minimum income.
The effects of a basic income guarantee on loans and debt
Q:Would you support replacing the current welfare state with a basic income, or would you add to the status quo?
I support replacing over 100 various government assistance programs with unconditional basic income. I prefer this level start at $12,000 per adult and $4,000 per minor.
However, there are certain programs I would not replace with cash, like health care or education, both of which I feel should be made universal themselves, but for any program where cash can be substituted like food stamps and housing assistance, I think it makes better sense to just give cash.
One further caveat is that not 100% of every program can be outright eliminated at certain levels right off the bat. For example, a basic income of $12,000 could eliminate about half of all social security payments entirely, but for those getting $15,000 in social security, we should either keep social security going for them, or give them the UBI plus a top-up of $3,000.
I just don’t see how it’s such a bad idea to give a guaranteed place to live/food to eat/means of transportation(public or private, w/e) but then still promote a economy focused on the arts, science, leisure activities, philosophy, lectures, books, ideas, advanced and really cool technologies,…
I don’t think you’re being utopian.
I think you’re being informed.
Imagine a society where someone loses their job and there isn’t instant panic and fear of eviction, foreclosure, or at worst, homelessness and starvation.
I just started doing some writing for this website and this is my first article! I’m pretty excited about it, and they’ve got some really informative pieces, so I totally suggest checking out the page!
Congrats on your first article! (and for it being about basic income)
In May 1968. Isn’t 50 years long enough?
"In May 1968, 1200 economists signed a petition in support of a negative income tax (aka, Basic Income). "It gives help in the form most useful to the individual, namely, cash," wrote Milton Friedman."’’Liberal and conservative economists could agree…
I am saying that all technology and science should be focused on reducing the need for labor. We now purposely create jobs for the sake of jobs—what an enormous waste. What’s the purpose, if not to eliminate the need for jobs. If future generations have to work we have failed.
Yes! I am saying that people should be paid a minimum income, to be free to be free, rather than be contingent on the work humans will innately do. We have created an unsustainable civilization on the pedestal of constant inhumane labor. A system designed to enslave will always enslave. If the future is one of work, we have failed.
Time for us to go all-in on unconditional basic income.
[Here’s what he says:](http://www.reddit.com/r/Futurology/comments/2afiw5/i_am_peter_diamandis_from_xprize_singularity/ciuk5s1) >First let me start b…
When presented with data and evidence backing up the concept of basic income, even the most libertarian capitalist futurologist was intrigued.
Free markets killed capitalism: Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan, Wal-Mart, Amazon and the 1 percent’s sick triumph over us all
There is no market here whatsoever. Any real market is open. Prices are transparent. You can enter it or exit a real market at will. You can compare contracts. So the free market ideology basically leaves us free of markets. The free market ideology is the fastest way to complete concentration of power.
So the free market ideology has killed markets?
The free market ideology has killed markets.