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March 24, 2014 9:21 AM   Subscribe

A detailed, completely mental, somewhat plausible scheme for how a Guaranteed Minimum Income would work.
posted by Diablevert (142 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tying any benefits to a work requirement is automatically Workfare, not guaranteed income.

This is just a deranged and convouted way of asking, "Why can't all the poors pull themselves up by their Randian Bootstraps?" And then spitefully tacking on, "See, they won't even do it if thier precious Government hands them the Bootstraps to pull themselves up with!" And the libertarian circle-jerk jerks on.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:29 AM on March 24 [43 favorites]


It's even worse than a work requirement, it's a work requirement with $1/hour wages so that the guaranteed income just becomes a way to funnel essentially free labor to corporations. Am I missing something that makes this less than a terrible replacement for the current system?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:39 AM on March 24 [21 favorites]


This would be a huge handout to the payment processor (paypal or whoever, plus Visa or whoever) that lands it. It punishes people who aren't tech saavy enough to use the online marketplace efficiently. It creates a massive timesink for the poor, too, just like traditional welfare -- waiting in line to use the government computer to search for jobs, time spent trolling the marketplace for the kind of gig you know you like/for a higher paying gig.

If you spend three hours looking for a better job, and then wind up settling on a $1/hour gig, you just took a massive paycut on an 8 hour day -- a 50% pay cut if it's a small gig for three hours of work.

I'm also going to assume that it would be massively gamed somehow by every company with a legal department. $300 millon corporation creates 15 $2 million shell corporations that serve different geographic areas, provide the same services, and still are able to hire from a labor pool that undercuts minimum wage and loses their bennies if they don't work. Or something similarly terrible
posted by jsturgill at 9:39 AM on March 24 [8 favorites]


This is just a deranged and convouted way of asking, "Why can't all the poors pull themselves up by their Randian Bootstraps?" And then spitefully tacking on, "See, they won't even do it if thier precious Government hands them the Bootstraps to pull themselves up with!" And the libertarian circle-jerk jerks on.

That seems to presume that the author thinks this mad scheme wouldn't actually work. I think he does think it would work.


As for it being workfare, I was half- mulling a related post a couple weeks back based off a blog exchange between Kevin Drum and Paul Krugman, about the value people derive from work. Particularly in American culture, a lot of people's self-worth is tied up in work, in their sense of themselves as a productive member of society, in the sense that their labor is valued. Don't you think that if there was ever any kind of guaranteed income scheme to get off the ground in the US, there would have to be a work component? I think that's the only way you'd get buy-in.
posted by Diablevert at 9:42 AM on March 24


.Am I missing something that makes this less than a terrible replacement for the current system?

The current system already works like this, just less efficiently and all around shittier. This is seriously how Wal mart operates today, just not openly.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:43 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


If you settle for a $1/hour gig, you get $40 + the Guaranteed Minimum Income of $240 = $280. I mean, it's bonkers, but it'll be more fun if we all read the article and learn the crazy plan. Apologies if you did read it and I misunderstood.
posted by alasdair at 9:43 AM on March 24 [4 favorites]


What incredibly out of touch over privileged male white engineer type thought this plan up? Morgan Warstler, a "Habitual tech/media startup guy, new dad".

This has got to be the most poorly thought out scheme I've ever read, resting solidly on the intellectual foundation of "poor people are dumb".
posted by ChrisHartley at 9:44 AM on March 24 [10 favorites]


Particularly in American culture, a lot of people's self-worth is tied up in work, in their sense of themselves as a productive member of society, in the sense that their labor is valued.

I think you missed this nugget, which seems to be the real point of the piece:

The cold brutal fact is many Americans aren’t worth what social justice crusaders are forced to pretend.

Get it? It's because they're poor.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:45 AM on March 24 [30 favorites]


Another easy answer for hard problems, written on the lives of the immiserated other.
Pick up your own dog shit.
posted by Dreidl at 9:47 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I read it, my point was that the employer gets an essentially free employee ($1/hour) and the government covers the cost of what's basically minimum wage, so the only difference between this and the current system is who is picking up the tab for the minimum wage. It might provide a few more minimum wage jobs for people, but I don't see that being a huge effect.

Honestly, I wish we could get an indefinite moratorium on tech people proposing solutions to social problems, because they are so often terrible at it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:48 AM on March 24 [50 favorites]


It's an interesting mixture of good ideas, half-baked ideas, and pie-in-the-sky libertarian idealism, served with a side of massive economic privilege (I bet you didn't know everyone can afford a computer and the internet).

The biggest flaw in the premise is that it assumes that if the price of labor were cheap enough, there would be tons of jobs available. It overlooks one of the core problems that (IMO) leads to needing a GI in the first place, which is that due to the rise of automation and increases in efficiency, there's just not as many people required to do all the work that needs doing. Basically his scheme only works on the assumption there's way more jobs than people; as soon as you hit the tipping point of more people than jobs, the balance of power in his system would shift mind-bogglingly drastically back in favor of employers.

on preview: I think you're right, Diablevert, that a lot of people tie their identity and self-esteem to their work, but I think that's eventually going to have change, one way or another.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:49 AM on March 24 [7 favorites]


This is a very convoluted way to separate the deserving poor from the undeserving. And despite the assurances that companies with a large corporate footprint would not be eligible to do this, I see a thousand small staffing firms showing up to supply the workers for walmart.
posted by Hactar at 9:50 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


If you settle for a $1/hour gig, you get $40 + the Guaranteed Minimum Income of $240 = $280. I mean, it's bonkers, but it'll be more fun if we all read the article and learn the crazy plan. Apologies if you did read it and I misunderstood.

I think it's strange that you think people haven't read the article.

You're still working for $1 an hour. Your minimum income is increased by $1 for every hour you work, leaving you with $280 at the end of the week, if you find 40 hours. The $7 / hour he claims this nets you is a sleight of hand, at the very least. Maybe people who work at WalMart should include their food stamps and their children's free lunches when they discuss their wages?
posted by jsturgill at 9:51 AM on March 24 [9 favorites]


Yeah, the point here seems to be "how can we make people even cheaper than robots?"

It makes about as much sense as the idea I came up with in my teens. Give everybody a robot and have them send their personal robot off to work. Nobody's allowed to own more than one robot.

I don't see how that could fail either.
posted by Naberius at 9:51 AM on March 24 [5 favorites]


You know what would be easier and not make work and not a huge handout to corporations? Just sending a bloody check to every single person in America for $x/month. No payment processor middlemen to take rent, no free labor, no red tape.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:51 AM on March 24 [39 favorites]


You know what would be easier and not make work and not a huge handout to corporations? Just sending a bloody check to every single person in America for $x/month. No payment processor middlemen to take rent, no free labor, no red tape.

Direct deposit, please, and weekly. Otherwise a perfectly sensible solution.
posted by jsturgill at 9:52 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


Isn't this a lot like the workfare programs in the UK?
posted by en forme de poire at 9:53 AM on March 24


It's even worse than a work requirement, it's a work requirement with $1/hour wages so that the guaranteed income just becomes a way to funnel essentially free labor to corporations.

Yeah, I read it, my point was that the employer gets an essentially free employee ($1/hour)

Large corporations are debarred from hiring in the pool. There's a lot that's not at all thought through in this proposal, to be sure, but he's pretty clear on that point. He's not trying to dial the minimum wage (for jobs that currently pay minimum wage) back to $1 p/h.

(Of course, there's no doubt the big corporations would try to game any such system, but if we're going to criticize the proposal as written it's only fair to note that he does specifically and explicitly recognize this as a potential problem and try to prevent it.)
posted by yoink at 9:53 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


I think you missed this nugget, which seems to be the real point of the piece:

The cold brutal fact is many Americans aren’t worth what social justice crusaders are forced to pretend.

Get it? It's because they're poor.


Oh, I got it, and it's a pretty shitty thing to say.

But I also think that fewer and fewer of us will be worth much, to the capitalists of the future. We are now arriving at a point where AI and robotics are going to start chipping away at skilled white collar work, as well as unskilled and blue collar labor. It may be that a significant portion of the human population will be surplus to requirements. That's what's ultimately behind the stagnation we've seen in middle class incomes, the driving factor in inequality --- the more winner-take-all the economy gets, the more gains accrue to capital. How do we handle that?
posted by Diablevert at 9:53 AM on March 24 [5 favorites]


I like how he covers the collusion between buyer and seller and leaves out the much, much more likely collusion across buyers in a geographical district, which is how the jobs one takes are determined.

Also, yeah, whoever is running the "OPEN SOURCE MASHUP of Monster.com and eBay" is going to make fucking bank off this. Because I can't figure out how that aspect of the scheme is funded in the long run by way of this scheme.
posted by griphus at 9:54 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


The only trouble with direct deposit is that it cuts out people who don't have access to a traditional bank account. (Which is a whole other pile of crap, and if you want to read the recent metafilter thread, look for chexsystems.)
posted by stoneweaver at 9:54 AM on March 24


What about the scumbag slave labor boss?

They are quickly exposed. No one sells their labor to them. Your real name. Your real reputation. If you want to get “subsidized” labor, you better keep most of your hires happy.


Does anyone know where the libertarian "reputation" argument originally came from? I remember hearing this a lot back during the Ron Paul '08 campaign, as a defense of deregulation: if Pfizer sells a pill that kills people, they will get a bad reputation and nobody will buy their other drugs in the future, an interesting concept with the minor flaw that it doesn't actually happen
posted by theodolite at 9:54 AM on March 24 [45 favorites]


I wish we could get an indefinite moratorium on tech people proposing solutions to social problems, because they are so often terrible at it.

But it worked in the young adult sci fi novel!
posted by ead at 9:55 AM on March 24 [13 favorites]


The biggest flaw in the premise is that it assumes that if the price of labor were cheap enough, there would be tons of jobs available.

That's what stood out to me as well (beyond the author's apparent lack of real experience with contemporary poverty or the "ghetto"). If large organizations (like, say, the federal government*) are not allowed to bid on these workers I doubt there's any kind of massively available work that's not being done now that doesn't require some form of capital investment. Say, for instance, I'd love to be able to hire some folks to handle all of my yard work (and I do, for a contracted cost) and pay them under this system, but who handles the capital investment of equipment? The unemployed worker?

* because it's not really spending a dollar, see, yeah, when the feds spend it. then it's inflation or money printing or whatever because most people (this writer included) don't understand how money works.
posted by ndfine at 9:56 AM on March 24


I'm not sure cutting out the Fortune 1000 really solves the problem, it just changes the corporations getting the benefit.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:56 AM on March 24


Also, organized crime would have a fucking field day with this system. There's so many angles to it that it's practically custom-built to be exploited:
"We are both criminals, but the buyer has committed a felony. The punishment will hurt enough to deter the crime. Hire more than one person, receive kick-backs, and be found not requiring them to work in the eyes of society, you go to prison."
Who watches the watchmen, exactly? If two people collude to get kickbacks from the system, and no one complains, who is going to be checking up that the work gets done?:
"Under GI/CYB, dedicated artisans, singers, pianists, muralists, bloggers, gardeners, bakers, yoga instructors, etc. now have their DREAM JOB."

"Workers and Bidders are encouraged to take pictures and video, document before and after, week after week."

"Where are the time stamped before and after pictures? Proof work was done?"
The proof isn't required as per the system, and it becomes required, sure, here are all the photos of the poems I paid this guy to write for the whatever minimum payout is. I am happy with the work he delivered and I am choosing to re-hire him. Here's some more photos of poems. It's like a perpetual motion machine of free money that doesn't even have the oversight of doing a similar thing by way of Medicaid fraud.
posted by griphus at 10:03 AM on March 24 [4 favorites]


Did I miss the part where he talks about child care subsidies, or will this just generate a daisy chain of people using their week's "wages" to post a $40 job so someone else can watch their children while they go to work?
posted by lilnublet at 10:05 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


One of my concerns with welfare/basic/minimum income (which I am for) is that the signalling is pretty much "society can find no use for you, here's some bucks so you don't riot or unaesthetically starve in the street." Some will go and do art, hobbies, religion, entrepreneurialism, etc. but I am not confident in the overall ability of the people to find a satisfying internal purpose when society offers none.

Of course someone will make a buck running the website. Hopefully we can put some Silicon Valley shitty shitty tech people who don't deserve political opinions on it so it at least functions. Health care.gov also made some people bank, and they didn't even do the job correctly.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:05 AM on March 24


I propose less pulling of ideas out of insular provincial naval-gazing asses, more looking around the countries and states of the world and learning from actual evidence what helps... and what doesn't.
posted by anonymisc at 10:11 AM on March 24


The whole article reads like timecube.com
posted by rocketman at 10:11 AM on March 24 [8 favorites]


I don't know why people care so much about the 'criminally lazy'. Who gives a fuck?

Stop worrying about someone 'cheating' the system.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:12 AM on March 24 [33 favorites]


One of my concerns with welfare/basic/minimum income (which I am for) is that the signalling is pretty much "society can find no use for you, here's some bucks so you don't riot or unaesthetically starve in the street."

Why is that a concern? That's exactly what would be going on, but who cares? Of course, I'd (honestly) put it as "you don't have to justify your existence in this complex society solely on the terms of the few with capital", but either way, without those bucks there's rioting and unaesthetically starving in the street.
posted by deathmaven at 10:13 AM on March 24 [10 favorites]


i find it kinda hard to take a plan for guaranteed income seriously when it's written in meth-english and has a big 'haha the poors suck' jpg in the first page.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 10:13 AM on March 24 [15 favorites]


RE: "reputation" in libertarianism

I don't have a cite, but almost all of it is directly tied to 2 particular parts of the economic models in which most of the layman libertarians subscribe to; the "small town 1950's Andy Griffith/Leave It To Beaver" model; and the "perfect information" model.

In the "small town 1950's Andy Griffith/Leave It To Beaver" model, reputation is known because the total number of all participants in the model are few and easy to keep track of. The main failure of this is that humans have a limited ability to track and remember more than a few hundred individual variables before we start to lump and categorize things based on random characteristics (which is not reliably predictable) and really throws that model out the window when you get to anything larger than a group of about 150 participants in this economic model. It also assumes that every person involved is going to be a honest participant, another massive hole in the head for that idea.

The "perfect information" model assumes that if a companies products are "bad" that some how that information will be disseminated far and wide by some magical unfettered FREE PRESS that shares perfect information in real time with every member of society. It also assumes that there are no conspiracy theorists spouting off anti-Semitic loony tunes stories about how the Greys are controlling the minds of the lizard people who run all the international mega-corporations trying to poison our precious bodily fluids with evil chemicals through infiltration of the NSA and the Girl Scouts. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, where corporations own the media so the information about the products being "bad" never sees the light of day over the massive marketing and noise filled atmosphere of the modern media sphere.

I mean, seriously, if it were just one thing the libertarians got wrong, I'd be all for trying out some of their ideas. It's just that they start off from so many bad axiomatically wrong premises out of the gate that you just have to wonder if they shouldn't be studied more closely to identify the causes of such a massively wide spread pandemic of self-delusion.
posted by daq at 10:13 AM on March 24 [56 favorites]


I think being told you're surplus to society's requirements probably is bad for the psyche, especially with the American work ethic.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:14 AM on March 24


Does anyone know where the libertarian "reputation" argument originally came from? I remember hearing this a lot back during the Ron Paul '08 campaign, as a defense of deregulation: if Pfizer sells a pill that kills people, they will get a bad reputation and nobody will buy their other drugs in the future, an interesting concept with the minor flaw that it doesn't actually happen

Yeah, that whole angle of Libertarianism drives me up the wall, too.

Memo to all Libertarians: if I ruin my reputation by making a fortune exploiting workers and destroying the environment, you are out a shit-ton of money and an environment. I am out my "reputation", and I don't care at all because I still have a fucking fortune. (Side bonus: my reputation isn't actually ruined, because large segments of our society equate having a fortune with being awesome. Double Extra Bonus Points for using your economic "success" from your first time through to convince people to get in on it your second time through!) I would think the number of times we've seen it play out exactly as I've described would be a clue, but: that's a terrible, terrible plan.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:14 AM on March 24 [17 favorites]


"If however, the govt. used its money to hire you to dig holes, that wouldn’t be work, because no real individual spent their money."

I honestly don't know why we are discussing a moronic blog post by someone with know knowledge of the thing they are writing about.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:14 AM on March 24 [15 favorites]


What about the scumbag slave labor boss?

They are quickly exposed. No one sells their labor to them. Your real name. Your real reputation. If you want to get “subsidized” labor, you better keep most of your hires happy.


Yepperdoo. Sounds just like a bewildered Rand Paul speculating that the Big Branch mine disaster must have been some kind of sabotage because if the mine owners didn't run a safe mine, well gosh, nobody would work there.
posted by Naberius at 10:14 AM on March 24 [22 favorites]


I think being told you're surplus to society's requirements probably is bad for the psyche, especially with the American work ethic.

Who's going to be the one consistently defining "society" as "industry"?
posted by deathmaven at 10:16 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


I think being told you're surplus to society's requirements probably is bad for the psyche, especially with the American work ethic.

Sure. But what percentage of the population has to be surplus to society's requirements before we decide we need to suck it up and tell them anyways? Or are we just gonna put 'em all in jail, and/or have the ultra-wealthy hire them for a pittance to move sand grains from end of a beach to the other with tweezers?
posted by mstokes650 at 10:16 AM on March 24


Cuz I mean, being hired for shit money to work a pointless shit job is undoubtedly better for your psyche than being unemployed and sent a check every week anyways.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:17 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


wait, is this some kind of libertarian comedy thing? are we down a poe's law hole here?
posted by gorestainedrunes at 10:18 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


if Pfizer sells a pill that kills people, they will get a bad reputation and nobody will buy their other drugs in the future, an interesting concept with the minor flaw that it doesn't actually happen

And if you don't want to pay for incoming minutes on your cell phone, just switch to the company that doesn't do that oh wait.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:21 AM on March 24 [11 favorites]


So instead of looking at the study of the five times this has been done in various towns (once in Canada, four times in the US) we get this shit.

The government isn't paying you $240 so you can be paid $1/hour to do someone else's work. The government is paying you $21,000 a year (or more, whatever the necessary amount is) so that you can do what you want and assuming that whatever it happens to be it will be a net positive when lumped in with everyone else's choices. Teaching when you want (and not 10 hours a day to make bills), making art of whatever medium (not just what the dealers/agents would like to see), investing your time in the family, volunteering around the town, meditating, organizing for cause XYZ, whatever it happens to be. And the science says... it is a net positive! Imagine that, take away the fear of getting by and people make things better around themselves gradually. Science has given you the evidence for doing it the right way and yet this shit keeps coming up.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:21 AM on March 24 [19 favorites]


Just sending a bloody check to every single person in America for $x/month. No payment processor middlemen to take rent, no free labor, no red tape.

Yeah, because we all know that all those altruistic landlords, labor brokers, and middlemen won't just jack up all their prices by $x/month.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:21 AM on March 24 [4 favorites]


One thing that stands out to me is that, like the common misconception about minimum wage, is that it seems to assume that the GI is for young, single, childless able-bodied people, particularly the part about it replacing all other assistance such as food stamps, social security, and disability income.

He says that any employer can find a job for someone in a 74 y.o. in a wheelchair, but would they really if they can get someone fully able? What incentive do they have to do so? What about people who are not so functional -- such as my friend who is usually able to live up to responsibilities, but her multiple medical problems leave her sometimes unable to even care for herself for a day or two, often with no advance warning. Who's going to want to hire her? And she's not a 74 year old working for dignity, she's nearing 40 with a PHD and two masters who can't even hold down a Walmart greeter job.

And the whole bit about childcare being $50 a week? Has he never cared for children? It's hard work, skilled work when done right, and especially for the very young, bio-hazardous work. You really think good, competent people are going to do it for GI? Even if that did work, a single parent with 2 kids is paying nearly a third of their income for childcare. How are they supposed to feed, clothe and house 3 people on $180 a week?

Plus the whole thing about cheap labor creating lots of jobs. That didn't work so good during the Depression did it? GI might create jobs simply as unemployment does, in that some poor people at the bottom rung will have more money to spend and so will create more demand, but I think you will also find a whole lot more reluctance to spend more than the bare minimum required for unskilled labor. After all, there are a lot of employers now who only pay minimum wage, which is saying "If I could legally get away with paying you less, I would." Now they would be able to pay their employees even less, subsidized by the government, and with no payroll taxes or employee benefits to pay. You really think they will start offering more out of the goodness of their hearts?
posted by pbrim at 10:22 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


It's time for Bezos to fire some more peeps at Wapo
posted by goethean at 10:22 AM on March 24


"There’s only one way it works. Deviations on the idea without the requirement to choose a job offer priced by someone else’s ROI… ruin it immediately."

Well it's a good thing this guy has figured out the only way. Do not deviate!

"Using Paypal and an OPEN SOURCE MASHUP of Monster.com and eBay"

Mashup. Bacon. Zombies. Tired trope. *eye roll*

"Note: GI/CYB solves for the criminally lazy. Identifying and fixing them is one of advantages covered in the What Abouts section."

What. Also, nice choice of picture there.

"2. Recipients cannot be made to work outside a radius of 5 miles. This is a guesstimate."

... do I need to point out how stupid this is? I have the shortest commute of pretty much anyone I know and it's over 5 miles.

As a programmer myself, I'd like to state that there are a very large number of people out there who are pretty good programmers/tech guys/tweetmasters/whatever out there who have NO CLUE about social problems or how to solve them. GMI is an interesting idea but this guy's brilliant solution comes across as incredibly sophomoric and poorly-thought-out. It's like a drunken know-it-all bar speech ... "Ya know what the problem with X is? It's Y! If everybody would just listen to me ..." *

* n.b. I have made these speeches myself in the company of friends; I just don't blog them.
posted by freecellwizard at 10:24 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Under GI/CYB, dedicated artisans, singers, pianists, muralists, bloggers, gardeners, bakers, yoga instructors, etc. now have their DREAM JOB.

Our creative class will market themselves as willing to take any $40 wk offer doing the thing they love most, as long as someone offers to pay them for it. Utilitarian hedonists unite!
Their dream job pays $14,560 a year and has zero vacation time?
posted by Flunkie at 10:24 AM on March 24 [4 favorites]


Cuz I mean, being hired for shit money to work a pointless shit job is undoubtedly better for your psyche than being unemployed.

This is properly studied with research, but I think there's a decent chance this is true.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:25 AM on March 24


Man I love the way Medium lets any wahoo make an account and post incoherent gabble like this and pours it into a nice professional-looking template to give it authority.
posted by egypturnash at 10:25 AM on March 24 [21 favorites]


* Is a Universal Basic Income Really Utopian?

* How Much Money Would It Take to Eliminate U.S. Poverty?

* How a Universal Basic Income Would Affect Poverty

* Three Quick Notes on the Basic Income

* A Job Guarantee Plan to Reduce Poverty, Unemployment, and Race Riots

* Our Enormous Retirement Subsidies for the Rich
posted by goethean at 10:26 AM on March 24 [12 favorites]


Man I love the way Medium lets any wahoo make an account and post incoherent gabble like this and pours it into a nice professional-looking template to give it authority.

Maybe there will be a rebuttal on livejournal.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:27 AM on March 24 [4 favorites]


RE: the Libertarian "reputation" thing

I remember once watching FoxNews Randroid John Stossel make the argument that in his Libertarian utopia, things like government regulation of elevator safety would be unnecessary, because if enough people get squashed to pulp riding in unsafe LiftCo elevators, people will simply stop riding in LiftCo elevators, which will eventually force LiftCo to make all their elevators more safe.

What's scary is that I think he sincerely believed this.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:30 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Obviously poor = criminally lazy, and rich = the best possible people.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:34 AM on March 24


I think being told you're surplus to society's requirements probably is bad for the psyche, especially with the American work ethic.

Retired people, children, students and stay at home mom's all manage okay in the current system where they are surplus to the economy's labour requirments.
posted by srboisvert at 10:34 AM on March 24


"Reputation" is also mentioned in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. Something about there being no laws, lawyers, contracts; reputation is everything. They hint at public shaming "pay my wife what you owe within a week or I post your names in Old Dome" I think the quote is.
posted by tilde at 10:35 AM on March 24


If we are worried about employing people (I am not, particularly; I think people are capable of finding something to do, given the chance), then there are many scientific (comet spotting; field surveys), infrastructure (neglected parks; trashed vacant lots), social (meals on wheels; teacher helpers) and other jobs that many people could and would do, if they weren't so busy trying not to starve/be homeless. With a net gain to society. Rather than spending time and money trying to screen out the "undeserving", the government could provide a GMI and also encourage people to use their time/energy to give back to communities, if they can. It would not, like this harebrained, privilege-blinded, juvenile scheme, be mandatory, therefore removing the possibility of exploitation.

Could a GMI possibly be worse in the long run for our society than, say, our obsession with war and military spending? Because I doubt it.
posted by emjaybee at 10:35 AM on March 24 [12 favorites]


So, are people ready to except that "basic income" is basically a libertarian idea? President Rand Paul is going to be a good 4 years (or less) for drinking...
posted by ennui.bz at 10:38 AM on March 24


A good start would be to make minimum wage apply to interns, volunteers, service works (waiters), TA's etc. Focus on the "working poor".
posted by blue_beetle at 10:39 AM on March 24


I don't think I would exclude programmers from proposing anything. I would exclude programmers who do not program defensively. Spend a little time black-hatting it up and you can better develop your instinct for exploitation.
posted by adipocere at 10:40 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


What's scary is that I think he sincerely believed this.

Most people in America never got past or skipped over the period between the Civil War and WWI in their history courses. People simply don't know that there was a time when the only thing between the consumer and certain death from the products they consumed was pure luck (and that the products were essentially inert junk labeled as good stuff) and that most people still made a lot of their own food. Now that we're even more dependent on porcessors to provide us life, we'd be truly screwed if we went back to laissez faire!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:42 AM on March 24 [6 favorites]


Retired people, children, students and stay at home mom's all manage okay in the current system where they are surplus to the economy's labour requirments.

Those are still roles in society though. Children and students' role is to grow and learn. Stay at home parents raise children. Retired people are resting after paying their dues. People still join religious communities, another role often not economically productive. We call none of them "unemployed".
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:50 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Heck, most people don't even make the connection between the idea that their reputation will force a manufacturer to improve the quality of their products and the Ford Pinto and how Ford traded off the cost of making it safer against the cost of paying off lawsuits...
posted by MartinWisse at 10:50 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


There's a battery recycling plant in Southern California that's under investigation because there's serious lead contamination in the soil all around it - in parks and yards and gardens schoolyards. So now we're aware that they have a "bad" reputation. What are the people who live near there supposed to do to "punish" the company - boycott a place they don't use anyway? Move? Picket? Are their workers supposed to "punish" them by quitting? How does this work, exactly.
posted by rtha at 10:52 AM on March 24 [15 favorites]


Yeah, this plan seemed kind of terrible.

Let me try and derail into a question that I've been wondering about recently. This question is partly inspired by the excellent article at:
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2011/12/four-futures/

Assume a universal basic income. Are there any good algorithms for tying the basic income to the increase in society's prosperity? I.e. the basic income would not just be to keep people from starving in the streets, but would be a reflection the fact that we have automated away large amounts of previously necessary work, and citizens deserve to share in that benefit. So it would be something like an automation stipend. The idea is that as we automate larger and larger portions of work, the automation stipend would increase. And when we eventually reach the glorious robot future where machines can handle all necessary work, the stipend would be large enough to provide a baseline life of luxury for everyone.

The only similar plan that I've found is MLK's plan, from back in the 1960's, to tie a universal basic income to the per-capita GDP. Are there any other good plans for this that people have proposed? Assume a non-corrupt political system and infinite will to have the plan passed.
posted by Balna Watya at 10:54 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Heck, most people don't even make the connection between the idea that their reputation will force a manufacturer to improve the quality of their products and the Ford Pinto and how Ford traded off the cost of making it safer against the cost of paying off lawsuits...

I would hope that they don't, given that that story is just as bogus as the McDonalds Coffee Lady story.
posted by yoink at 10:56 AM on March 24


Assume a universal basic income. Are there any good algorithms for tying the basic income to the increase in society's prosperity? I.e. the basic income would not just be to keep people from starving in the streets, but would be a reflection the fact that we have automated away large amounts of previously necessary work, and citizens deserve to share in that benefit. So it would be something like an automation stipend. The idea is that as we automate larger and larger portions of work, the automation stipend would increase. And when we eventually reach the glorious robot future where machines can handle all necessary work, the stipend would be large enough to provide a baseline life of luxury for everyone.

You are outlining the utopian/libertarian view of capitalism where the "basic income" is the market determined minimum wage.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:57 AM on March 24


Heck, most people don't even make the connection between the idea that their reputation will force a manufacturer to improve the quality of their products and the Ford Pinto and how Ford traded off the cost of making it safer against the cost of paying off lawsuits...

I would hope that they don't, given that that story is just as bogus as the McDonalds Coffee Lady story.


Yeah, that seems more accurately applied to Toyota in the last decade actually (and GM apparently).
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:59 AM on March 24


Balna_Watya I've seen it hinted at in science fiction, both from RAH and Harry Harrison. The exact titles escape me at the moment, though I know it's referenced in "I Will Fear No Evil" talking about the artist's mother. RAH also had it in one of his other short novellas early on; something about a guy who only dated this girl on Tuesday and he was a not mathemetician but he dealt with increasing the stipend to the economy by crunching numbers and other information out of society.

And I wonder if this guy is thinking of modeling it on this Argentinian system:
Ibañez is now the president of the Cooperativa Recuperadores Urbanos del Oeste, which has about 700 cartonero members who gather about 35 metric tons of recyclables per day. He watches proudly as his members bring in their loads one evening at the end of their shift. Their sacks are taken by truck to a brand new recycling center, also run by a cooperative, to be aggregated and sold. The cartoneros now wear uniforms provided by the government, receive a minimum stipend as well as limited social security benefits, and cooperatives prohibit children from working alongside their parents. Ibañez estimates that each cartonero might earn between 1,000 and 4,000 Argentine pesos (that's about $195-$770) per month, but the number fluctuates depending on what they find and prices for specific materials.

Urban policy critics here have noted that the system treats recycling more like a social relief program. In exchange for running the city’s recycling system, recoverers receive only a stipend and the meager profits from what they sell. If you factor in the savings they bring the city through landfill diversion, there's a strong case to be made that they're actually making the city money.
posted by tilde at 11:00 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


What I don't understand is that by providing a Guaranteed Income aren't you just making it so that stores and housing increase their prices? I admit that I don't know a lot about this subject, but I'm not sure why people making $X now would be better off if everyone else has more money too. Seems that would just lead to more inflation so that they're overall new ammount money is now worth the same as the old amount no?
posted by Carillon at 11:18 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


Seems that would just lead to more inflation so that they're overall new ammount money is now worth the same as the old amount no?

Nope, because the increase in money supply isn't evenly distributed, its weighted towards the botttom.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:20 AM on March 24 [4 favorites]


What I don't understand is that by providing a Guaranteed Income aren't you just making it so that stores and housing increase their prices? I admit that I don't know a lot about this subject, but I'm not sure why people making $X now would be better off if everyone else has more money too. Seems that would just lead to more inflation so that they're overall new ammount money is now worth the same as the old amount no?

Its redistributing wealth and ensuring that the gains aren't captured by a limited group of people.

Poor people with spending money is a huge boon to local economies, as they don't remove it from the community and they don't hoard it. They spend it, spurring small businesses.

Also, we live in an increasingly capitalist world. If you have money, you have a voice. Your needs will be met. Who (with resources, in a caplitalist society) cares what a homeless person needs if they can't pay for it?

Give the homeless person $200 a week, and suddenly a lot of people will care and vie with each other to provide services to that person.
posted by jsturgill at 11:25 AM on March 24 [7 favorites]


Stop worrying about someone 'cheating' the system.

Humans are hierarchical. So no, sorry, that is never going to happen.

I guess, in theory, we are hierarchical because of resource scarcity; the hierarchy exists as a way to distribute scarce resources and because of the way those resources are themselves distributed. In a true magic-replicator-and-AI post-scarcity society, where everyone could have everything that they could possibly want, maybe you'd see hierarchies disappear because nothing anybody else did could possibly have any adverse effect on your own happiness in terms of resource access. But probably not even then.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:29 AM on March 24


This is properly studied with research, but I think there's a decent chance this is true.

This is utter bullshit. It's not being unemployed that sucks, it's having no money. I would quit my job in a heartbeat if someone offered me the same money to do nothing, and I wouldn't look for another. That's not to say I would do nothing with my time, but your fantasy of American Work Ethic Heroes pining for their precious jobs is laughable.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:30 AM on March 24 [19 favorites]


And when we eventually reach the glorious robot future where machines can handle all necessary work, the stipend would be large enough to provide a baseline life of luxury for everyone.

But haven't we already reached that point, time and time again? As compared to e.g. the 1920s, our energy is absurdly cheap and plentiful, our materials lighter, stronger and more versatile than they'd have dreamed of, our farming, manufacturing and supply logistics dramatically more efficient. If people still aspired to e.g. a 1920s-ish middle class existence, we could do it practically for free, with very little work. But instead we crave stuff like new iPhones, huge luxurious cars, exotic foods all year round, even better medicines, etc. This is all seriously resource-intensive. Every time the baseline "life of luxury" gets cheaper our expectations and demands grow to surpass it. The idea of post-scarcity seems to ignore a major part of human nature: we're not good at being content.
posted by metaBugs at 11:30 AM on March 24 [6 favorites]


I'm a few paragraphs in, and this basically about as well thought out as a drunken conversation at a bar that makes total sense at the time and you can't even remember what the fuck you were talking about when you sober up in the morning.
posted by empath at 11:38 AM on March 24 [5 favorites]


I.e. the basic income would not just be to keep people from starving in the streets, but would be a reflection the fact that we have automated away large amounts of previously necessary work, and citizens deserve to share in that benefit.

I have a suspicion that this won't be accomplished without a lot of violence. Because it can't just be that people aren't necessary for production, because the 'obvious' market-based solution would simply be to eliminate the excess people, not start cutting them checks.

No, in order for the unemployed to get a guaranteed income, they will have to be an active hindrance to production, and then accept a guaranteed income in return for not burning the factories to the ground.
posted by empath at 11:43 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


There are a lot of basic/guaranteed income proposals floating around, but this is one of the dumbest ones. The federal government can't put together a digitial insurance marketplace people only need to use once a year, and they still do pensions on paper, but somehow this massive weekly marketplace for labor is going to work out fine?

In a century, maybe.

Meanwhile, it turns out that removing the work requirement is relatively simple and cheap, and doesn't have disemployment effects... so let's do that.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:49 AM on March 24 [5 favorites]


Give the homeless person $200 a week, and suddenly a lot of people will care and vie with each other to provide services to that person.

This happened with college students and the result was a bunch of garbage colleges that took their money and delivered very poor educations not worth what they cost. Plus tuition inflation for the colleges with good reputations.
posted by srboisvert at 11:55 AM on March 24 [4 favorites]


No, in order for the unemployed to get a guaranteed income, they will have to be an active hindrance to production, and then accept a guaranteed income in return for not burning the factories to the ground.

I'd argue that's already the case, but the market has evolved an alternative solution: a two-pronged "carrot and stick" approach where on one hand, you periodically reward randomly-chosen individuals to create the illusion of a functioning social 'ladder' that can be climbed, and on the other hand you employ a small number of people to keep the rest in line with violence or threats thereof.

If you could show conclusively that a guaranteed minimum income is a cheaper way to keep the proles in line than lotteries, the occasional media fetishization of a rags-to-riches celebrity or Internet billionaire, and a whole lot of militarized police armed with machine guns, you might have a good argument for it.

But then again, feudalism was pretty stable for a long time, and I don't see any sort of modern longbow equivalent that's suddenly going to upset the balance of power. A couple of guys with a heavy machine gun can mow down a lot of peasants rioters.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:12 PM on March 24


This happened with college students and the result was a bunch of garbage colleges that took their money and delivered very poor educations not worth what they cost. Plus tuition inflation for the colleges with good reputations.

And? So?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:13 PM on March 24


metaBugs: "The idea of post-scarcity seems to ignore a major part of human nature: we're not good at being content."

While this may be true in a general sense it can't be seriously dicussed until after what we actually have has been distributed somewhat more fairly. It's a bit weird to ask people to be content when almost all the benefits of the improvements you list are claimed by a tiny minority of people.

Asking people to be content in the face of massive inequalities in terms of income and asset distribution has an unpleasant ring to it that reminds me somewhat of Fox news anchors ranting about whiny poor people who should shut up already because they got refrigerators and TVs.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:14 PM on March 24 [5 favorites]


" This happened with college students and the result was a bunch of garbage colleges that took their money and delivered very poor educations not worth what they cost. Plus tuition inflation for the colleges with good reputations."

And people wonder why regulation is a good idea. Do you think this would have been as much of an issue if the new colleges that were founded just to capture this new money in the system had been required to meet the same standards that existing colleges had in the past, prior to the changes in the requirements to form a for profit educational institution?

Also, a slight apples to oranges comparison, given that there was a lot of other factors in the creation of those garbage paper-mill diploma colleges.
posted by daq at 12:17 PM on March 24


I don't know if it's an issue with Libertarianism, or just this author and people like him, but whenever stuff like this is discussed, it feels like that conversation with a friend/loved one where it finally dawns on you that they have a disorder that they're not aware of.

Like this thing here, where it starts out with the idea of a "Guaranteed Income" and then the initial enthusiasm toward the idea slowly unravels back into this religious belief in the Free Market, and tying work-ethic to morality: I get the same feeling reading it and watching the logic falter that I did some years ago when one of my friends explained in detail why he was completely rational and sane, and why it was important that he turned each light switch off and on 3 times.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:30 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


A couple of guys with a heavy machine gun can mow down a lot of peasants rioters.

They haven't needed heavy weapons on rioters in the Capitalist world since the Brits left India. Why not? Because they use cheap, filling, and sugar/fat-filled foods to keep the masses from becoming rioters then beam them endless streams of lizard-brain satisfying entertainment. Now they've even made it where you can get your mind-numbing opiates pumped strait into your line of vision so you never have to look away!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:32 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


The federal government can't put together a digitial insurance marketplace people only need to use once a year, and they still do pensions on paper, but somehow this massive weekly marketplace for labor is going to work out fine?

No, the Federal Government runs multiple, massive, complex agencies with numerous mind-numbingly complex individual programs, like the Post Office, DOD, SSA, NSA, DHS, FAA, etc, with a very high degree of competency. But a group of cut-rate contractors on a tight deadline had a spectacular failure constructing a high profile website, that lasted about two months and is mostly fixed, magnified exponentially by a self-interested political opposition party/propaganda network, so sure, the government can't do anything right.

The technical problems of creating a basic income program could easily be overcome, and would be well within the competancy of the government to administer. But this proposal is so inane it's not even worth thinking about implemntation problems when what we'd be implementing is a C-level freshman polysci major who just discovered Lewrockwell.com's dorm room fantasy.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:32 PM on March 24 [19 favorites]


yoink,
re: mcdonald's coffee thingy and the Ford Pinto thingy

What are you on about? The case actually exists, as does the multi-million dollar settlement.
Liebeck vs. McDonald's Restaurants

Ford Pinto Case: THE VALUATION OF LIFE AS IT APPLIES
TO THE NEGLIGENCE-EFFICIENCY ARGUMENT
(sorry for the all caps, that's how the article is titled)

See also, The Center for Auto Safety which links to the memo, detailing the cost analysis of a recall versus paying out settlements for people who died due to the defect. So, um, yeah. Be careful when you try to say that something that happened didn't happen. Because it did.
posted by daq at 12:33 PM on March 24


Uther Bentrazor: "I don't know if it's an issue with Libertarianism, or just this author and people like him, but whenever stuff like this is discussed, it feels like that conversation with a friend/loved one where it finally dawns on you that they have a disorder that they're not aware of. "

The other possibility is that it's being offered as a Trojan horse proposal to capitalize on the recent openness of some sectors of the progressive movement to talk about things like guaranteed minimum income partially replacing needs-based welfare programs. This is precisely why, while I love the simplicity of "just cut everyone a check", I'm skeptical of any kind of progressitarian coalition. Far too easy for Libertarian Lucy to pull the football away at the last minute leaving a decimated safety net and an inadequate tax/transfer mechanism.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:38 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


The other possibility is that it's being offered as a Trojan horse proposal to capitalize on the recent openness of some sectors of the progressive movement to talk about things like guaranteed minimum income partially replacing needs-based welfare programs.

I'm not sure why "Writing everyone a check" isn't a perfectly good replacement for need-based programs? You cut out a ton of bureaucracy and it replaces the need for section 8 housing, food stamps, social security and so on. Assuming the check is large enough, of course.
posted by empath at 12:45 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


"Reputation" is also mentioned in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. Something about there being no laws, lawyers, contracts; reputation is everything. They hint at public shaming "pay my wife what you owe within a week or I post your names in Old Dome" I think the quote is.

Reputation-based economies like that exist, especially in failed states, and we want no part of that. What actually happens is that it's too risky to do serious business with anyone outside your social network. Trying to sell a car? In a regulated ie non-reputation-based system, you have 10,000 potential buyers, each with thousands of cars to choose from, and the agreed price is very much the utility and realworld value of the vehicle.

In a reputation-based economy, you want to sell a car, you can find 3 guys who are vouched for by people you sufficiently trust (and who have the social power to enforce payment), who are looking for a car. 2 of them have no money and want to trade work that you don't need, and the third is really looking for a truck, but if you sell the car for 1/3 its value, he'll grumpily spend his money on a vehicle that doesn't fit his needs and you'll grumpily get pennies on the dollar which is better than nothing.
posted by anonymisc at 12:47 PM on March 24 [11 favorites]


empath: "Assuming the check is large enough, of course."

First, did you miss the part where I said "leaving a decimated safety net and an inadequate tax/transfer mechanism"?

And second -- even assuming the checks are large enough, you still need the state to be the health insurer of last resort and the retirement program of last resort. Even if it's just ensuring that X percent of the check they cut gets put into private sector health insurance and/or retirement plans, we're not going to just give people money and let them die of illness or starvation if they don't take care of their health insurance and retirement needs.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:51 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


What are you on about? The case actually exists, as does the multi-million dollar settlement.
Liebeck vs. McDonald's Restaurants

Ford Pinto Case: THE VALUATION OF LIFE AS IT APPLIES
TO THE NEGLIGENCE-EFFICIENCY ARGUMENT (sorry for the all caps, that's how the article is titled)


Both cases exist, both are routinely the subject of bizarrely distorted and tendentious presentations of the "facts" of the case. In the case of the Pinto and the famous Ford memorandum three salient facts tend to drop out of view: one: that the memo wasn't in reference to alterations to the gas tank but to strengthening cars to resist rollover damage. Two: that the memorandum wasn't about the Pinto at all but about the cost of making alterations to the entire US fleet of automobiles. Three, that the memo wasn't a calculation of potential tort litigation costs but simply of increased manufacturing costs. It was a document they prepared in response to proposed regulatory changes that would have applied to all cars manufactured in the US. The figure the used for the monetary value of human lives saved (to be balanced against the imposed costs of the regulatory changes) was the figure provided by the NHTSA and was the standard figure used at the time in all governmental cost/benefit analyses.

So, you know, the entire "the calculated what the total cost of the lawsuits against the Pinto would be and decided against making the changes" bit is BS.
posted by yoink at 12:54 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


Guaranteed Minimum Income is not equivalent to Basic Income(UBI) and is much inferior to UBI. Confusing Minimum Income with Basic Income is disingenuous and uninformed.
posted by GregorWill at 1:04 PM on March 24


I'm not sure why "Writing everyone a check" isn't a perfectly good replacement for need-based programs? You cut out a ton of bureaucracy and it replaces the need for section 8 housing, food stamps, social security and so on. Assuming the check is large enough, of course.

It's called inflation. If you give everyone $100 then the price of everything goes up.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:07 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


GregorWill: "disingenuous and uninformed."

Morgan Warstler is a known quantity in the blogosphere, and let me assure you he's being disingenuous by conflating them, but is by no means uninformed. He knows the difference, but he wants to make the reader think they're the same thing. To wit:
There’s been a lot of chatter in the econblogoshere around the idea of a basic income, what we’ll call a Guaranteed Income.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:09 PM on March 24


It's called inflation. If you give everyone $100 then the price of everything goes up.

Solution: don't give the rich a check. and prices will only go up if the money supply is increased.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:11 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


In other words: Thanks for staying poor, you poor people. You're doing gods work keeping inflation in check.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:11 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: " It's called inflation. If you give everyone $100 then the price of everything goes up."

Not if the $100 is taken from someone else. That's kind of the idea behind taxes, yeah?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:14 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Solution: don't give the rich a check. and prices will only go up if the money supply is increased.

Not if the $100 is taken from someone else. That's kind of the idea behind taxes.


So if you are just redistributing wealth, why not just set a maximum income and continue with a welfare state? One problem here is that the rich already don't consume proportionately more than the poor, their consumption is not going to change because of not getting a check, while the poor are going to spend more ultimately sending their money right back to the rich people you taxed in the first place. It's like trickle-up economics, except in this case it actually works.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:19 PM on March 24


One problem here is that the rich already don't consume proportionately more than the poor

How so?
posted by jaduncan at 1:21 PM on March 24


The 10th Regiment of Foot: "So if you are just redistributing wealth, why not just set a maximum income and continue with a welfare state?"

I don't know why you chose to invoke the emotionally-loaded spectre of a "maximum income", but there's nothing at all like that on the table. My point is that the government can send people money that's taken from other people. They can also send money they printed, but there's a limit to that while still hitting the Fed's inflation target. I was merely pointing out that you were totally wrong to say "If you give everyone $100 then the price of everything goes up."
posted by tonycpsu at 1:24 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


jaduncan: "How so?"

The 10th Regiment of Foot is right about this, but it proves too much. He's right that, as a proportion of their income, rich people mostly keep it parked in bank accounts, while people living hand-to-mouth spend nearly everything they take in. But that's precisely why a progressive taxation scheme makes sense -- that idle money would do much more for society feeding hungry people than it can do sitting in a bank account.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:27 PM on March 24


None the less, I'm very dubious of the claim that they do not consume more than the per capita average.
posted by jaduncan at 1:32 PM on March 24


Of course, there's no doubt the big corporations would try to game any such system

they wouldn't try, they'd DO it - quite simple - lay people off and contract with contractors who are small enough businesses to be eligible

but no one's yet stated the major way this would be gamed - company x pays worker y 40 bucks a week, the bare minimum, and then pays the rest of the wages "under the table" - it wouldn't be anything close to minimum wage, but - a) that works for the company because they're getting a fairly above bottom rung worker - b) - it works for the worker, because instead of having 10 bucks subtracted for every 20 he makes, he gets to keep it all

and please don't tell me this wouldn't work or the government would catch on to it - many thousands and thousands of people collecting unemployment and social security are doing something similar right now
posted by pyramid termite at 1:34 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: "So if you are just redistributing wealth, why not just set a maximum income and continue with a welfare state?"

They actually tried to make something like that happen in Switzerland with the 12:1 initiative but voters rejected it about 2:1 after the "no" campaign outspend the "yes" campaign 40:1 in terms of advertising.

Another initiative did make it through which gives "shareholders of Swiss listed companies a binding say on executive pay and an annual right to vet board appointments. Other sanctions would forbid the award to executives of severance packages, side contracts, and rewards for buying or selling company divisions. The penalty for infringements could be as much as three years in jail, or the forfeit of up to six years’ salary."

It's a start.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:45 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


One of the most important things to me about a basic income is that it gives people the power to turn down terrible jobs because their options are no longer work or starve.

This plan ... doesn't have that.
posted by ckape at 1:51 PM on March 24 [17 favorites]


Yeah, because we all know that all those altruistic landlords, labor brokers, and middlemen won't just jack up all their prices by $x/month.

The implied logic of this comment is that there is no way to reduce income inequality short of a command economy. The world is full of examples to the contrary. The whole point about direct redistribution of wealth via a guarantee income is that markets are actually pretty good regulators of price.

Also "labour brokers, and middlemen" implies that maybe you don't grasp what guarantee incomes are about. These are the very people who would be required to be more competitive in a system where everyone was guaranteed the basics of subsistence.

It is a very odd comment.
posted by howfar at 1:56 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


jaduncan: "None the less, I'm very dubious of the claim that they do not consume more than the per capita average."

I was taking the word "proportionately" to mean as a proportion of their income. I think that part is pretty uncontroversial, no?
posted by tonycpsu at 2:02 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


"None the less, I'm very dubious of the claim that they do not consume more than the per capita average."

The question is how much more do they consume, versus the other cohort of actors in the economy. How much of their consumption is in velben goods, versus in the same commodities that the rest of the economy is consuming?

On average, while they may consumer more, and higher quality goods, there is an upper limit before it just becomes wasteful (and that would be highly inefficient, and thus, bad).

There is also the measure of how frequently those items are being purchased, and the over all effect on demand measured against the rest of the population. If they are buying a high end sports car, that has minimal effect on the rest of the economy, versus 10,000 people buying a consumer vehicle. There is also the effect on service based industries. Who is going to make more money in the long run? The mechanic who only works on super sports cars? Or the mechanic who services every car on the road, but not the super sports cars? Your rich person, there, actually has a negative effect on the economy, because his demand is so much lower than that of every other vehicle on the road, and depending on the service schedule, the shop that only services high end super sport cars is going to sit idle for a majority of the time, versus the other mechanic who will be open 7 days a week with a constant supply of customers.
posted by daq at 2:02 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


prices will only go up if the money supply is increased.

No. That is not how inflation works. Inflation is any decrease in purchasing power of a unit of currency over time. Increasing the money supply could cause inflation, or it might not, depending on how you did it. (If the increase to the money supply produces an increase to economic growth, you can actually have negative inflation as a result. This is classic Keynesianism.)

On the other hand, you could produce inflation to certain economic measures via redistribution, depending on how you redistributed money.

You can think of this more easily in reverse — because it's actually happened this way over the past few decades. Imagine we went around to everyone making less than $40k / year and took $1000 from each of them, and gave it to the nearest billionaire. The billionaires would say "gee, thanks!" and dump it into their coke-and-hookers slush funds. The price of yachts, Bentleys, private island real estate, Gulfstream Vs, and high-grade Bolivian blow would increase slightly, because of basic supply and demand. Stuff formerly purchased by the sub-$40k set, which they can no longer afford, would go down in price: take $1k from someone making $40k and they'd probably drive a lot less, put off buying a car, not eat out, use cheaper substitute goods, cancel that vacation; in other words you get demand destruction in certain economic categories. Note that we didn't change the money supply at all, just redistributed it. But depending on the relative weighting of yachts, BVI real estate, Andean Marching Powder, McDonalds meals, diapers, etc. in our preferred CPI metric, there could be a change to "inflation".

That's basically been America since 1975, just by the bye.

The inflation concern with traditional redistributivist welfare schemes boils down to: "if you give the poors money, the poors will buy shit and drive prices up." Ironically this is not really a concern to the very rich; they don't buy the same stuff that regular people do, or if they do it's a trivial rounding-error line item on their household budget so they don't care. And in some cases they profit from the economic expansion that you get in return for the demand creation as result of downward redistribution. But it could certainly affect the prices of things where there is a fixed supply and already-high demand, like apartments in major cities. So there's a legitimate downside for schemes that give cash transfers to people who only make below a certain income level, if you make just above that income level and don't get a check yourself: you're still in competition for the same finite resources (unlike the billionaire), and the prices of that stuff just went up. Congrats, welcome to the Republican Party.

The better UGI schemes take the sting out of this by giving the same benefits to everyone, which prevents there being a cutoff where the people above that cutoff feel they've gotten fucked and have a reason to organize opposition against it. If the amount given to everyone is the same, it's a smaller and smaller relative benefit as you get more and more rich, but there's no level at which anybody ends up actually worse off. But you can't do that without either taxes (which tends to tick off the people you're going to tax) or by creating money.

However: since if your CPI metrics are weighted towards fixed-supply items where the demand is linked to lower/working class income, like gasoline and rent, then you could definitely have an "inflationary" effect just through redistribution, there's no avoiding the 'inflation' concern. Better to drive right through it and pay for the UGI with monetary expansion, avoiding the political fight over taxes, than to fight the fight over taxes and possibly end up getting hit with claimed inflation increases anyway.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:07 PM on March 24 [22 favorites]


Better to drive right through it and pay for the UGI with monetary expansion, avoiding the political fight over taxes, than to fight the fight over taxes and possibly end up getting hit with claimed inflation increases anyway.

This assumes that monetary expansion is an easier electoral sell than higher taxation. I see no reason to believe this to be the case. Given that any guarantee income scheme, whether funded by taxes or not, is de facto redistributive, I think that being honest and appearing credible is the indicated strategy.
posted by howfar at 2:16 PM on March 24


" This assumes that monetary expansion is an easier electoral sell than higher taxation. I see no reason to believe this to be the case. Given that any guarantee income scheme, whether funded by taxes or not, is de facto redistributive, I think that being honest and appearing credible is the indicated strategy."

But we are already doing monetary expansion, and no one voted for that. It's called Quantative Easing, and the sole purpose of that is to increase the monetary supply. I certainly do not remember any politician running for office saying that they were for or against it, either, mostly because none of them have the ability to enforce that decision one way or the other. Also, as a note, the current reason we are doing it is because we can't lower the interest rate any further than it already is, since it is effectively at zero already (the other way in which the money supply is increased by central banks is through lowering of interest rates, and, well, that lever on the economy broke pretty badly back in 2008).

Of course, the main problem with Quantitative Easing is that is is explicitly NOT redistributive, and really only increases the money supply for people (or companies) that have the right kinds of financial assets (in this case, mortgage backed securities, aka, a lot of bad paper), so this really only helps out the people who already own a whole lot of "stuff". Of course, some people argue that a lot of people are affected by those bad securities and financial instruments, so the QE is actually helping out things like pension funds and insurance bonds, etc, etc, but you kind of have to question why they were in that game to begin with, and why they were exposed to such a high risk investment in the first place (but we don't really need to rehash the 100's of threads about the criminality of the financial markets and derivatives, etc, etc). But either way, you have to have had some skin in the game before the crash for any of that to actually matter to you, but even then, most people will never see any benefit to the increased money supply (except for the increased numbers of offers for consumer loans in your mailbox, or the increased number of credit card offers).

I still say things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get any better, and there are enough people who still believe in the myth of American Exceptionalism that we still have a long way to fall.
posted by daq at 2:29 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


I absolutely agree with the principle of your argument, daq. The problem is that QE, in its current inequitable and ineffective form, wasn't voted on and doesn't need to be voted on precisely because it serves the class interest of the elite.

You don't need a mandate for policies that protect those in power, those things get passed on the nod. You'd sure as hell need a mandate of some sort for any policy which would have the effect of making wealth and power structures radically more equal.
posted by howfar at 2:48 PM on March 24


FWIW, I'd like to point out that a Basic Income is not redistributing the wealth, it's reducing the redistribution of wealth.

In our status quo in the USA, the current extreme income inequality is resulting because we've chosen to aggressively redistribute the wealth away from its origins of the people creating it (in aggregate) - wages are down while profits are up. Reducing the amount of redistribution is the goal.
posted by anonymisc at 2:51 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


In our status quo in the USA, the current extreme income inequality is resulting because we've chosen to aggressively redistribute the wealth away from the people creating it (in aggregate) - wages are down while profits are up. Reducing the amount of redistribution is the goal.

I dislike this sort of quasi-moralism about wealth. It seems to me to swallow the notion that people should get wealth because they deserve it, and that the role of government is to make things fair. It seems to me to operate in exactly the same paradigm as that of the American Dream, just with a different conception of who is deserving.

I don't want a more equal society based on the idea that equality is a good thing, I want one because I believe that more equality is good for freedom and happiness.
posted by howfar at 2:59 PM on March 24


You don't need a mandate for policies that protect those in power, those things get passed on the nod. You'd sure as hell need a mandate of some sort for any policy which would have the effect of making wealth and power structures radically more equal.

The reason for doing UGI via monetary expansion is that it doesn't really harm the elites. The Kochs, Waltons, etc. might all stand to benefit from it, at the end of the day. The Koch fortune is mostly built on paper towels and toilet paper — I'm sure they'd appreciate it if a few million people switched from the cheap shit to Brawny. Giving a few hundred (or thousand) bucks to everyone in the country every month doesn't lower their pedestal appreciably.

You'd probably get some opposition from people with fixed incomes, or purporting to represent them, but it's tough to come up with a really hard argument against QE under the current interest rate environment. The people who generally really hate inflation increases are "savers", who have big annuities or dollar-denominated assets, but the push towards 401(k)s means there's not too many of them left — most people have their retirement funds in equities, not cash.

The real risk is what happens if interest rates go back up again, and you start having inflation for other reasons than the UGI. There's going to be a hell of a lot of demand to throw poor people under the bus and cut back on UGI, in order to slow inflation. There's really nothing you can do about that though, except try and sell people on the concept now, while the interest rate makes it easy, and hope that is enough to convince them when it's hard. But there is a legitimate risk that when interest rates recover that UGI will disappear and something people have relied on will be gone. You could, I suppose, view that as being worse than never having had it at all — I don't think that's the case, but it's an argument.

So anyway, I guess I agree with you, if you were making "wealth and power structures radically more equal" then you'd be screwed. But some sort of basic UGI isn't really rocking the boat very far. There will still be fantastically rich people, and they will still fly around in G5s to private islands and drive Bentleys and moan to each other about how hard is to get good help these days, but hey at least the gin is still pretty good and at least this UGI crap keeps those homeless off the front lawn.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:11 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


I dislike this sort of quasi-moralism about wealth. It seems to me to swallow the notion that people should get wealth because they deserve it, and that the role of government is to make things fair.

I don't see where you're getting this morality stuff. I'm pointing out that people create wealth (such as with their labor), and under our current system, that wealth then gets captured and redirected into the hands of a very few.

Neither you nor I are suggesting a moral basis for or against that flow, other than that it is dangerous to society and corrosive to prosperity and a Really Bad Idea for all sorts of similar practical reasons, up to and including people killing people, in situations that are ultimately unnecessary.

My point was that once you accept the issue being framed in the way it is currently being framed - that leaving some more wealth where it is (in the hands of people creating it) actually means "redistributing the wealth" (by big government!!!!) - then you've already been suckered into accepting that the status quo of the Gilded Age is the Right And Proper order of things and that anything else is trying to do something subversive and against the sensibilities and civilization.
posted by anonymisc at 3:16 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Hairy Lobster - "It's a bit weird to ask people to be content when almost all the benefits of the improvements you list are claimed by a tiny minority of people."

Oh, I agree. I'm not arguing that those in poverty should be quietly happy with their lot. I'm arguing that the "glorious robot future where machines can handle all necessary work" will never arrive, no matter how far our technology goes. We have the resources available right now to do many previous societies' vision of post-scarcity, but instead of resources becoming incredibly abundant and "too cheap to meter", we just invent new toys that are ever-more resource hungry and redefine our understanding of "normal" to include them. There's no level of advancement at which the wealthy will say en masse "you know what? my life is luxurious and exciting enough" and stop competing for resources, because even if you're disease-free and immortal, the floating sky castle could always be a more pleasing shade of puce. People suck at being content with our lives, so there will always be scarcity, and a pressure to compete hard for what you need or want.

None of which is an argument against sorting out the big problems with inequality in our societies. Utopic idyll doesn't seem likely, but that doesn't mean the only alternative is starvation and workhouses.
posted by metaBugs at 3:29 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


It occurs to me that the most serious political opposition to some sort of UGI would probably come from industries that exploit employ a lot of people at the minimum wage, who would never in a million fucking years do that job if they weren't desperate to not starve. Really horrifying stuff in slaughterhouses, stoop labor, etc., but also entry-level retail and fast food.

But I think you could get over that in two ways: (1) on the industrial-agricultural end, they mostly use undocumented, illegal labor anyway, so they probably don't care, but more importantly (2) we're already having this fight over increases to the minimum wage.

So, similar to the tax vs. QE/monetary expansion argument above, if you're going to slug it out with a particular sector of the political economy, you might as well do it in a way that gets you the big win, and do it with as many allies as possible.

If you decide to take on agriculture, meatpacking, fast food, etc. — the Exploitation Industries, pretty much — on the basis of asking for a minimum wage increase, you do it with two natural allies: those who make the minimum wage themselves and stand to benefit, and liberals who support it for ideological reasons. You do it with the opposition of the lower-middle class, who have to deal with competition for goods with the slightly-enriched poor but don't get a direct benefit themselves, except perhaps for an indirect knock-on increase to their own salaries, which isn't guaranteed. And that, as the last several years amply demonstrates, is enough to deadlock the political process. (When you have some self-interested grassroots for votes, industry for money and to coordinate those votes through advertising, you've got a viable power bloc.)

On the other hand, if you had the same fight over UGI, it might be harder for the Exploitation Industries to find a segment of the working population willing to get on board with them and punch down, because everyone would be getting a benefit. So those industries would be on their own, and money without votes doesn't get you very far. (In actuality I think what would happen is you'd split the populist Republicans with poor-white power bases away from the corporatist Republicans.)

Put very bluntly, the benefit of UGI over means-tested welfare schemes or even minimum-wage increases is that it buys off the insecure lower-middle class, who are otherwise not going to support (or can be easily convinced not to support) something that wipes out the remaining distinction between themselves and the true poor without getting something material in return.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:33 PM on March 24 [6 favorites]


People suck at being content with our lives, so there will always be scarcity, and a pressure to compete hard for what you need or want.

I think you should question your assumptions.

Here's some evidence that people will choose quality of life over quantity of money, if given a chance to make that choice.
posted by jsturgill at 3:37 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


I don't know why people care so much about the 'criminally lazy'. Who gives a fuck?

Caring about what other people do or don't do, even if the outcome does not directly affect you, is kind of the essence of solidarity.
posted by dmh at 4:11 PM on March 24


While we're talking pie-in-the-sky economic stimulus measures, what about some kind of debt reduction scheme? What if we used, say, $100 billion to buy off student loans, medical debt, credit card debt, underwater mortgages, etc.? Wouldn't freeing large numbers of people from debt have a similar effect as a guaranteed income, in that it would free people up to do other, perhaps more beneficial things with their time than work crap jobs they hate and perhaps free up some space in the workforce as well?
posted by vibrotronica at 4:18 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


My point was that once you accept the issue being framed in the way it is currently being framed - that leaving some more wealth where it is (in the hands of people creating it) actually means "redistributing the wealth" (by big government!!!!)

I think possibly we're using different definitions of "wealth". I think you are perhaps treating "wealth" as somewhat equivalent to "goods", while I am perhaps treating it as equivalent to "power". What we need, I think we agree, are active mechanisms that distribute economic power from those who currently have it to those who don't. Of course, I say that because of something else we firmly agree upon, that there are existing mechanisms that distribute economic power from those with less power to those with more.

I suppose my view is that mechanisms that tend toward inequality will inevitably arise, simply because of the nature of power. I am not sure that characterising them as "redistributive" is particularly useful, it seems to invoke the idea that power has a rightful place. I think they're just an unhelpful and damaging distribution.

To some extent our difference is semantic, but I do feel that getting away from the notion that wealth and power belong to their "creators" is a step in the right direction. The spurious justification for the continued enrichment of the wealthy is that they are "wealth creators". I think I prefer to explicitly reject the notion of desert and individual wealth creation entirely, and thereby avoid what seems to me a somewhat barren field of argument that is ultimately not very relevant to our practical goals.
posted by howfar at 4:26 PM on March 24


FTFA:
"Step 1: We guarantee a private corporation a threefold increase in business, competition-free, with government funds."

Well, I'm sold!
posted by IAmBroom at 5:36 PM on March 24


ckape: “One of the most important things to me about a basic income is that it gives people the power to turn down terrible jobs because their options are no longer work or starve.

This plan ... doesn't have that.”
Precisely. What a load of crap. The author's plan is bad and they should feel bad.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:41 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


To some extent our difference is semantic, but I do feel that getting away from the notion that wealth and power belong to their "creators" is a step in the right direction. ... I think I prefer to explicitly reject the notion of desert

Right there with you. I possess various pieces of paper, pieces of metal, plastic cards with a tiny magnetic storage capacity, and storage devices holding private keys. I possess these things for sure, and in addition my name and information is recorded in several centralized ledgers in association with various integers. Difficult for me to figure how I can own any money, though.

"Deserve" is contextual only. In the current legal and social context, a lot of people who get railed on places like here do indeed "deserve" their money. They are often only "not deserving" in certain moral contexts, and I think it's best to keep morality out of politics, lest you crap up both.

That doesn't mean social arrangements which cause some to "deserve" and obtain less money aren't a good idea...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:29 PM on March 24


Memo to all Libertarians: if I ruin my reputation by making a fortune exploiting workers and destroying the environment, you are out a shit-ton of money and an environment. I am out my "reputation", and I don't care at all because I still have a fucking fortune.

For a practical example of this: If you are found to be exploiting or scamming on the official Bitcoin forum, you are not banned or anything sensible like that. Instead, you get a scammer tag so other people know not to trust you next time you start a pyramid scheme!
posted by ymgve at 6:49 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


One of the most important things to me about a basic income is that it gives people the power to turn down terrible jobs because their options are no longer work or starve

That's basically the only reason I support minimum income. I wouldn't use it now, but goddamn if there weren't times in my life where I would have. It doesn't just make lazy peoples lives better (though it will do that), it makes everyone who works' lives better because they won't have to put up with bullshit, from the bottom to the top.
posted by empath at 7:23 PM on March 24


" For a practical example of this: If you are found to be exploiting or scamming on the official Bitcoin forum, you are not banned or anything sensible like that. Instead, you get a scammer tag so other people know not to trust you next time you start a pyramid scheme!"

And just how does one go about contesting this labeling? And can you see who is labeling you as a scammer? How do you prevent someone coming in and accusing you of being a scammer in order to lower your reputation so that theirs appears higher and more trust worthy by comparison? What recourse do you have if you are tagged as a scammer, but have mended your ways and no longer engage in scamming activity?

Those are just the few simple examples off the top of my head. I'm sure I can come up with several more, if we really want to go down that particular rabbit hole.
posted by daq at 7:30 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


QE is the purchase of longer term securities and its purpose has been to lower borrowing costs and ease credit conditions. It does this via what is essentially an asset swap - the Fed buys bonds on the secondary market from banks or non-banks; the money supply isn't increased for any of the sellers - their balance sheet remains the same. It's the composition of their assets that have changed - they've swapped a bond for some cash. The amount of reserves has increased sharply over the past few years, but this has notably not had any sort of meaningful effect on the broad money supply - i.e. the cash is basically sitting in reserves at the Fed and not going out into the broader economy via loans, which is due to both low demand for credit from the public and a lack of creditworthy borrowers from the POV of the banks. Credit creation is beyond the scope of the Fed.

Also, though it was subprime MBS that had a big part in the economy imploding, regular MBS are not in and of themselves bad. They've been around for decades and make up about a third of the Barclays Aggregate, which is the most widely used bond index. Pretty much anyone who has any kind of bond exposure in their 401(k) will have exposure to them.

I'll let anyone who knows more than I do about Guaranteed Minimum Income draw any parallels between the two based on what we know about QE.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:01 PM on March 24


After their first year, recipients get one week vacation with GI annually.
Wow, a whole week. How very generous.
posted by Mitheral at 9:24 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


They are often only "not deserving" in certain moral contexts, and I think it's best to keep morality out of politics, lest you crap up both.

How is the very concept of 'deserving' not a moral one? Furthermore, if you take morality out of politics, how does that serve the interests of anyone but the amoral (or the immoral)? If this isn't just a weak argument for the status quo, I'm not sure what it is.
posted by hap_hazard at 9:49 PM on March 24


How is the very concept of 'deserving' not a moral one?

In a moral sense, someone who has committed a crime for which there is no proof deserves punishment. In a legal sense, they do not deserve punishment. Different contexts.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:17 PM on March 24


Well, I thought you were talking about how Wall Streeters (which I assumed was what you meant by 'people who get railed on places like here') deserve their money, but... I guess you still are?
posted by hap_hazard at 12:07 AM on March 25


And just how does one go about contesting this labeling? And can you see who is labeling you as a scammer? How do you prevent someone coming in and accusing you of being a scammer in order to lower your reputation so that theirs appears higher and more trust worthy by comparison? What recourse do you have if you are tagged as a scammer, but have mended your ways and no longer engage in scamming activity?

Yes, those are really important questions. I may have phrased it badly, because I don't think it's a viable system at all - I was holding it forward as an example of where it's implemented and where it utterly fails to do what it's intended to do. Because if there's one thing Bitcoin is known for, it's the numerous scams and ponzis and pyramids.
posted by ymgve at 1:39 AM on March 25


Ya know, whether or not poor folks deserve money (does anyone deserve anything in that sense), typically they need it regardless. For the living. And breathing. And eating. Etc.

People don't think about whether they deserve something if that something is a need that's not being met. They can either take it and they do, or they can't and they die.
posted by PMdixon at 3:27 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Well, I thought you were talking about how Wall Streeters (which I assumed was what you meant by 'people who get railed on places like here') deserve their money, but... I guess you still are?

Yep, they deserve their money because they cashed a valid paycheck or received a valid direct deposit, which they deserve for doing their job, etc..., etc... That kind of "deserve" is real, it has guns backing it up.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:15 AM on March 25


Generating Skilled Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Uganda
A randomized field study recently conducted in Uganda found that giving money to people without conditions actually increases both how much they work and how much they earn per hour. The study gave a $400 one-time grant to 20 young people, chosen randomly out of a group of rural Ugandans who applied to be a part of the study. Essentially, this grant amount is a one-time basic income, sometimes called a basic capital grant.

Perhaps, $400 doesn’t sound like much, but because poverty is so high in rural Kenya, the $400 grant is equivalent to an entire year’s income for the people in the study. Researchers then followed the recipients for two and a half years to see how they behaved relative to rural Ugandans who did not receive the grant. What they found might surprise some readers.

Two-and-a-half years later, receipts of the grant worked 17% more hours than similar Ugandans who did not receive the grant, and they earned higher wages and salaries, so that their incomes increased by even more than the hours the worked for a total increase of 50%. If those who did not receive the grant were making $400 per year, recipients were making $600 per year. No one knows yet how long the differential will last, but it is likely to accumulate for at least several years, perhaps many years.
Via BIGblog
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:41 AM on March 25 [5 favorites]


In a moral sense, someone who has committed a crime for which there is no proof deserves punishment. In a legal sense, they do not deserve punishment. Different contexts.

This distinction only makes sense from the POV of an omniscient being outside of humanity (who gives a crap about our legal system). IRL, someone who has committed a crime deserves punishment. If there's no proof, we wouldn't know who that person was, but we'd still agree that that person deserves to be punished (taking for granted, of course, that a justice system should be concerned with punishment).
posted by deathmaven at 8:56 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


daq: "RE: "reputation" in libertarianism ... The "perfect information" model assumes that if a companies products are "bad" that some how that information will be disseminated far and wide by some magical unfettered FREE PRESS that shares perfect information in real time with every member of society."

If you want an iron-clad refutation of the perfect information model, take a look at the lead story from tonight's All In With Chris Hayes.

How much can a corporation get away with?

Answer: Somewhere between 12 and 303 easily-preventable automotive fatalities.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:02 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Herein, I’ll explain the way it works. There’s only one way it works.

And the Oscar for Quickest Eyeroll / Fastest Turnoff / Worst Writing In An Article I Thought I'd Support goes to...
posted by Muffpub at 6:27 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


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