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Yang's Universal Basic Income

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While listening to an interview with Andrew Yang, he mentioned Alaska as an example of a polity that has implemented something like Universal Basic Income (UBI). The problem is that Alaska only pays out a fraction of what Yang is proposing per year - the latest payouts have been around $1,500 per year, while he's talking about $1,500 per month.

Are there any examples of large-scale, modern-economy polities like the United States enacting UBI?

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Not yet that I know of. Maybe we will be the first. While Alaska’s is lower than Yang’s # it also has an extremely low population and a more decentralized structure. 

I’d like to think that Yang’s proposal would work in America. We won’t know for sure until we try, and if we don’t, we will never know. 

I’m not sure if I’m a socialist or not (I certainly like a mix of good ideas about any governmental philosophy), but this reminds me of something I read by Karl Marx. I forgot which document or book this comes from as it was from 10 or 12 years ago when I read it, but Marx believe this:

That Socialism or socialistic ideas would work best in countries that were most attune to Democracy. He cites the US and the UK as the ideal countries for socialistic policies (i.e. not Russia, China, Eastern Europe, Cuba, Vietnam), but also suggests France, Germany, Scandinavia.  

If you consider what Marx says, he is correct as the countries most successful with socialistic elements are those that he predicted would do best with it: Scandinavian countries, Germany, France, UK, Canada, and the US (we have social security, Obamacare, VA hospitals, military pensions, minimum wage laws, so we are part socialist already). 

I’d like to think that a UBI would benefit the majority of Americans, even if it doesn’t benefit a much smaller minority of Americans, many of whom make so much money that any extra tax added to their income tax would put no dent in their spending power or professional ambitions.  At some point the acquiring of more and more wealth proves no real added gain for the billionaire, and then it’s just a form of hoarding,’which is a mental illness. I’d go so far to also say that any billionaire that doesn’t pay their taxes is also unpatriotic/unamerican.

Being an American is being for the people. That is, the majority. If Yang gets more votes from the people than Trump on a UBI platform, then we should try it. If he doesn’t, then we wait until the majority of the people want it  

 

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My sense is that Yang, as a candidate, doesn't have much of a chance, but the idea of something like UBI does because, if he starts to gain traction, other candidates can simply co-opt the idea.

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5 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

My sense is that Yang, as a candidate, doesn't have much of a chance, but the idea of something like UBI does because, if he starts to gain traction, other candidates can simply co-opt the idea.

That's true. I think Sanders, and Warren would. Booker and Gillibrand would, if only to save their campaigns. I don't think Biden, O'Rourke, or Buttigieg would make it part of their campaign--rather, they would sign it if it passed Congress, they'll say. I'm not sure which way Harris would go. I think Klobuchar would oppose it, as could Biden. 

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13 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

My sense is that Yang, as a candidate, doesn't have much of a chance, but the idea of something like UBI does because, if he starts to gain traction, other candidates can simply co-opt the idea.

Yang seems to be positioning himself well if he wants to get a job in politics.  He seems to have developed a cult-life following and is even out-performing better known candidates in the polls.  Plus, he should make the debate stage which would give him a bigger platform.

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Yang benefits from Trump's election in the sense that qualifications and government experience are no longer factors for presidential candidates.

UBI has been talked about for a long time.  Both Milton Friedman and Martin Luther King favored it.  Corporate owners and CEOs mostly oppose it, which is why there hasn't been a serious attempt at it.

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UBI is a interesting idea. Perhaps if Yang does well, it'll become more mainstream and it would be considered in the future. UBI is also said to be a way to reduce poverty. 

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1 hour ago, jvikings1 said:

Yang seems to be positioning himself well if he wants to get a job in politics.  He seems to have developed a cult-life following and is even out-performing better known candidates in the polls.  Plus, he should make the debate stage which would give him a bigger platform.

100% agree. He went from a nobody to having that small and devoted sect of supporters by basically retweeting AOC quotes IRL

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I only really hear about Andrew Yang on these forums. I'll occasionally see something of his pop up on twitter or something, but for the most part, for me, he has flown extremely under the radar.

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21 minutes ago, SilentLiberty said:

I only really hear about Andrew Yang on these forums. I'll occasionally see something of his pop up on twitter or something, but for the most part, for me, he has flown extremely under the radar.

News organizations have started to talk about him (which is  huge step for someone like him)

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26 minutes ago, jvikings1 said:

News organizations have started to talk about him (which is  huge step for someone like him)

I've seen his picture when they talk about 'everyone running for president' here and there, CNN specifically I remember having shown his picture even before Beto officially announced. 

I've yet to see a piece any of the big three have done on him by himself though. I'll keep my eye on the look out, as you're right that is a big step.

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1 hour ago, Jayavarman said:

Yang will get a CNN Town Hall on April 14, so that could give him a big boost like it did for Pete Buttigieg.

It's good to see that the media is giving minor candidates air time :)

Maybe people might like what they hear from Yang.

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10 hours ago, vcczar said:

If you consider what Marx says, he is correct as the countries most successful with socialistic elements are those that he predicted would do best with it: Scandinavian countries, Germany, France, UK, Canada, and the US (we have social security, Obamacare, VA hospitals, military pensions, minimum wage laws, so we are part socialist already). 

Image result for iww wage slavery

No. Socialism is more than "When the government does stuff" and you know it(or at least I hope you'd know that, Professor), Welfare does not equal Socialism, and half of those barely make any sense, how is Obamacare socialist, it forces people to buy private health insurance? Also, I wouldn't' consider UBI a "Socialist" policy, given that it doesn't really change the actual system of Capitalism, and it really, at worst, could be used as an excuse to gut other welfare, programs.

 

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23 minutes ago, WVProgressive said:

Image result for iww wage slavery

No. Socialism is more than "When the government does stuff" and you know it(or at least I hope you'd know that, Professor), Welfare does not equal Socialism, and half of those barely make any sense, how is Obamacare socialist, it forces people to buy private health insurance? Also, I wouldn't' consider UBI a "Socialist" policy, given that it doesn't really change the actual system of Capitalism, and it really, at worst, could be used as an excuse to gut other welfare, programs.

 

And we can't forget that world's very first system of institutional, government-funded "welfare" was created by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, a well-noted social conservative, imperialist, and monarchist, solely to capture the loyalty of the working class from the SPD, who were surging in the old Imperial German Reichstag elections at that time. It certainly wasn't a scheme of any socialist politician.

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Yang is fine as a spokesman for UBI, terrible as a candidate for president. 

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9 hours ago, WVProgressive said:

No. Socialism is more than "When the government does stuff" and you know it(or at least I hope you'd know that, Professor), Welfare does not equal Socialism, and half of those barely make any sense, how is Obamacare socialist, it forces people to buy private health insurance? Also, I wouldn't' consider UBI a "Socialist" policy, given that it doesn't really change the actual system of Capitalism, and it really, at worst, could be used as an excuse to gut other welfare, programs.

I nearly agree with all of this, which must be a first. Nothing makes my eyes roll out of my head faster than when people try to call social programs in a Capitalist Liberal Democracy "Socialism" or even "Democratic Socialism". They're only barely Social Democracy in many cases. So no, America isn't socialist, and Socialism doesn't just mean an active government. If it did than anything more than Anarchy would be a degree of Socialism which is just laughably false. Capitalism, republicanism, conservative, libertarianism. These are all ideologies which incur various degrees of government action, yet I'd describe none of them as "Socialist".

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4 hours ago, ZedWilliamsR said:

Yang is fine as a spokesman for UBI, terrible as a candidate for president. 

Why terrible?

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I haven't given Yang any consideration, so I'm only addressing the idea of a universal basic income.

I was a mess in my late teens, early 20's.  An absolute mess.  I ended up homeless, stealing food to survive, for a period of about four months -- through no one's fault but my own.

Thankfully, that was the wake-up call that I needed.  I found a way to pick myself back up, make better decisions, start thinking long term.  I found a job that wasn't necessarily what I wanted to do but it would get a roof over my head and food on the table without breaking laws.  I started making professional contacts and building up experience on my resume, and taking advantage of the opportunities I was finding and improving my education and turning myself into an actual adult.  I lived in my car for the last time in 2004.  By 2012, I'd reached my dream job which paid a comfortable 70k+ per year.  And I kept climbing from there -- I make six figures now at a job that I absolutely love.  I've also gotten married, have a daughter who is the light of my life, and bought a great house in the best school district in our area.

Part of that was my own hustle.  Part of it was taking advantage of government programs like the post 9/11 GI Bill that can help boost you up if you're willing to put in the work at it.

But I think a HUGE part of that was how much it SUCKED being homeless.  I sure as hell could never have raised a family like that, and my family is my whole reason for existing.

If homelessness hadn't sucked so much?  Or if I could have managed to avoid being homeless all together thanks to a universal income?  I might have been content to spend my whole life working retail and raising a family in a studio apartment.  I needed that kick to grow up.

To be clear: even homeless, I was still fortunate:  I suffered from no physical or mental disabilities, I had no serious addictions, I had more freedom to make long term strategic choices because I didn't have to worry about providing for any kids in the short term.  I had options, I just needed to motivate myself to pursue them.

I'm all for taxing the rich way more to provide necessary services to our citizens who need them, through no fault of their own.

But a universal basic income seems a step too far, for me.

  

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3 hours ago, Jayavarman said:

Why terrible?

I'm doing this quickly so this will just be a partial list of problems I have w/ Yang.

1. Plays into the 'not enough white babies' and 'economic anxiety' line.

2. Wants to drasticly cut the number of people government employs when government is already understaffed

3. No experience in government

4. Wants to create a branch of the army that would be able to bypass any laws to take people's land (legion of builders and destroyers)

5. No discernible foreign policy other than making it harder for the president to authorize use of nuclear weapons (What's the point of this? Nuclear weapons have to be able to be used quickly in the event of an emergency, we can't have an attack imminent and need to schedule a meeting between the President and V.P possibly in different parts of the world) 

6. Intentionally takes weird stances on irrelevant topics to gain attention (look at what he has said on the UFC and NCAA)

7. Wants a 10% VAT tax, VAT taxes are highly regressive because companies offload the tax onto consumers raising the prices and hurting the poor more than anyone else.

8. Lacks charisma and in my opinion seems generally aloof. I get the impression that there's not much of an emotional connection to the policies he advocates for and he's kinda just arguing for whatever polls well and gets him attention. Against

9. Plays around with military budget in a seemingly arbitrary way, don't just say re-channel 10% tell us what exactly is getting cut. R&D? Maintenance? 

10. Wants people to be able to vote with their phones, everyone who works in the cyber security industry seems VERY opposed to this idea.

 

That's a very quick outline of my thoughts on Yang as a candidate. His UBI also helps the middle and upper middle class way more than it helps the poor because it doesn't stack with welfare. Getting 8,000 a year from the government through assistance would mean you'd get 4,000 from the 'freedom dividend' whereas someone making 180,000 who doesn't need another 12k would get that full amount. 

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3 minutes ago, Actinguy said:

I haven't given Yang any consideration, so I'm only addressing the idea of a universal basic income.

I was a mess in my late teens, early 20's.  An absolute mess.  I ended up homeless, stealing food to survive, for a period of about four months -- through no one's fault but my own.

Thankfully, that was the wake-up call that I needed.  I found a way to pick myself back up, make better decisions, start thinking long term.  I found a job that wasn't necessarily what I wanted to do but it would get a roof over my head and food on the table without breaking laws.  I started making professional contacts and building up experience on my resume, and taking advantage of the opportunities I was finding and improving my education and turning myself into an actual adult.  I lived in my car for the last time in 2004.  By 2012, I'd reached my dream job which paid a comfortable 70k+ per year.  And I kept climbing from there -- I make six figures now at a job that I absolutely love.  I've also gotten married, have a daughter who is the light of my life, and bought a great house in the best school district in our area.

Part of that was my own hustle.  Part of it was taking advantage of government programs like the post 9/11 GI Bill that can help boost you up if you're willing to put in the work at it.

But I think a HUGE part of that was how much it SUCKED being homeless.  I sure as hell could never have raised a family like that, and my family is my whole reason for existing.

If homelessness hadn't sucked so much?  Or if I could have managed to avoid being homeless all together thanks to a universal income?  I might have been content to spend my whole life working retail and raising a family in a studio apartment.  I needed that kick to grow up.

To be clear: even homeless, I was still fortunate:  I suffered from no physical or mental disabilities, I had no serious addictions, I had more freedom to make long term strategic choices because I didn't have to worry about providing for any kids in the short term.  I had options, I just needed to motivate myself to pursue them.

I'm all for taxing the rich way more to provide necessary services to our citizens who need them, through no fault of their own.

But a universal basic income seems a step too far, for me.

  

I congratulate you on your rise from homelessness to prosperity. This was due, no doubt, primarily because of your innate talents and other worthy traits. However, suffering from no physical disabilities, no mental disabilities, and no serious addictions, and I'm assuming--no racism, bigotry, or misogyny, probably helped you in ways that might not help an over-represented number of people who are homeless. While a universal basic income might fuel addiction or fuel laziness in some, I think it's an error to say that majority of people wouldn't put it to good use to combat American's quasi-enslaving cost of living, to help a child afford text book or afford college, to better fulfill that pursuit of happiness by taking the family on vacation or to fly across country to see a dying parent, to afford food more nutritious than the cheaper more convenient kind, to buy new tires when they go bad rather than wait to see how long they can last to the detriment of those on the road, etc, etc, etc. The UBI would allow disposable cash and probably invigorate the economy further as more people will have disposable cash, mostly taxed from those who will show no decrease in their spending, since they make more than they can spend in a lifetime. 

If I were a congress person, I would accept a compromise that saw a,massive increase  in the funds for necessary services. However, our definitions of necessary may differ. I think my definition is less restrictive. Regardless, I'd imagine that the funding needed for these services, in order to replace the merits of the UBI, would actually cost tax payers an equivalent number. Additionally, the money pumped into these services would not go back into the economy, it would be strictly funneled to government agencies, their workers, and the industries allied to them (pharmaceutical industry, for instance) and not to small businesses and other businesses. 

For some, the UBI might make the difference between taking a job that one is ill-fitted for just because it brings a sizable paycheck and a job that one is natural for, even if it pays less. For instance, I am an adjunct professor. I do not make a lot--you make far more than I do--at least twice as much as I do if you make six figures. I do freelance work if I ever need extra money. I make much less than what most people make. I can afford it because I'm not materialistic, I don't spend extravagantly, I don't have children, and I don't have medical expenses (and when I do, I have Obamacare). Being an adjunct professor is perfect for me, as I am a good teacher. It gives me time to write, to read, and to work on various unpaid projects for both myself and for others. I am not lazy. I work 12 hours a day or more---mostly for free. A UBI in my case, and I assume for many others, would allow people the ability to focus and choose the job that best suits their innate abilities and likely better pursue happiness. I could quit this job, take a 9-5 job for which I am either I'll suited or less beneficial to myself and to my country just so I fit the current system, but what use is that for anyone? People aught to have the ability to work at a job for which they are most able--their most innate profession--without economic fears. Not everyone is adept, or should be adept, to work at the most lucrative professions. A UBI might not do much for a much in demand computer developer, but it would do much for the ever-underpaid social worker or public school teacher in a low-income neighborhood.

As people get older these economic fears increase. Industries and professions gain and lose desirability, and with that, unemployment rises in some sectors as it falls in others. A UBI would help someone retrain, and take the time to find new work that fits their innate and learned abilities without having to force themselves into ill-suited or even enslaving work not of their choice. 

Also, in an era of increased automation in the workplace, the UBI seems more and more necessary. If most jobs become part-time jobs through automation, it will be thrice as necessary. 

UBI, in my opinion, is a fulfillment of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. 

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24 minutes ago, vcczar said:

However, suffering from no physical disabilities, no mental disabilities, and no serious addictions, and I'm assuming--no racism, bigotry, or misogyny, probably helped you in ways that might not help an over-represented number of people who are homeless. 

Well, yeah.  I mean, I literally said that in my own post.

I can't speak for the average homeless person, whoever that might be -- I can only share my own experience.  And my experience was that being financially insecure sucked so badly that it motivated me to become a better person -- and by that, I don't just mean a wealthier person.  I became more educated, I worked more diligently, I learned to set goals and achieve them, I became exposed to other people and thoughts that I never would have experienced if I'd been content to stay extremely poor, and all of these experiences have made me a better friend, a better husband, and above all else, a better father.  The money didn't do these things -- it's perfectly possible to be an excellent father and be below the poverty line, I think we all agree on that, and it's just as possible to be an incredibly wealthy bad father (see: Trump, Donald).  But I was simply lazy and immature, and when I started to feel real, devastating effects of being lazy and immature, it changed me into the man that I am today.  If I could have continued on my path of laziness and immaturity forever, I probably would have.  I needed the kick in the ass that questions like "what parking lot offers the most shelter from the snow tonight?" provides.

But I became interested enough in the topic to check out Yang's webpage about this to get actual details.  To his credit, he has a very helpful FAQ on his site that explained things in a manner that helped me understand.

First, his proposal gives $1,000 per month to every person over the age of 18, independent of need or anything else.

Even at my income level, $1,000 per month would be great!  We have bills to pay, debts to pay down, vacations and dreams and educations to put away for.  Though we live comfortably, I am not in any position to turn down $1,000 per month that comes with no strings attached.  And when I was poor?  $1,000 per month would have definitely kept a roof over my head.

And yet...to every single person?  If you gave Donald Trump $1,000 per month, would he even notice?  Yang's answer: by giving it even to the absolute wealthiest people in the entire world, we de-stigmatize the handout.  I'm not worried about the stigma.  I want to know why a billionaire needs $1,000 MORE per month.  Especially when the money is not being distributed according to need AND is replacing current social welfare programs -- the rich literally get richer while the poor could get poorer.  

And if he's giving the money to the wealthiest people this world has to offer, rather than taking it from them...then where in the world is the money coming from?

VAT.

Which means it's coming from ME.  And YOU.  And the homeless guy.  It's coming from every single one of us in the form of, basically, a much higher sales tax on pretty much every single thing you buy.  And that's before companies simply raise prices based on literally their entire customer base's ability to pay more.  So....congrats on your $1,000 per month, which is going to buy you...exactly the same stuff that you already have.

Again, I absolutely sympathize with the people that actually need help up, and I am passionately in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy to help them -- even if it comes out of my own pocket. 

But I don't understand why I need to pay more for milk so Donald Trump can have an extra $1,000 per month.

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45 minutes ago, vcczar said:

A UBI would help someone retrain, and take the time to find new work that fits their innate and learned abilities without having to force themselves into ill-suited or even enslaving work not of their choice.

Right - my question is whether a UBI is the best way to do this. The advantage is it's simple. The disadvantage seems that it's too simple - a sledgehammer approach to fixing something that requires tack hammers.

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1 hour ago, Actinguy said:

But I think a HUGE part of that was how much it SUCKED being homeless.  I sure as hell could never have raised a family like that, and my family is my whole reason for existing.

This is the conundrum. You want certain things to be undesirable so people work to get away from them. Perhaps UBI would make life too cushy - the problem is, we don't have much real world data to see what sort of effects it would have.

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