Holochain Forum

Do you think Basic Income creates problems?

What problems would UBI likely create? Or if unlikely, are still risky?

i suppose it depends on the details :thinking:

what are you thinking?

Have you heard the Dutch historian called Rutger Bergmans views on basic income and poverty talk at Ted? Check it out on YouTube. The man makes some compelling conversation and then slaughters the audience later in another conversation about climate change explaining the irony of the wealthiest of individuals taking there private jets to the conference just to discuss global carbon footprints… Lol

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I have always been a supporter of UBI. However, recently I started to second-guess it after reading Douglas Rushkoff’s article Universal Basic Income Is Silicon Valley’s Latest Scam. These two paragraphs give a decent overview of the main point:

Shouldn’t we applaud the developers at Uber — as well as other prominent Silicon Valley titans like Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, bond investor Bill Gross, and Y Combinator’s Sam Altman — for coming to their senses and proposing we provide money for the masses to spend? Maybe not. Because to them, UBI is really just a way for them to keep doing business as usual.

Uber’s business plan, like that of so many other digital unicorns, is based on extracting all the value from the markets it enters. This ultimately means squeezing employees, customers, and suppliers alike in the name of continued growth. When people eventually become too poor to continue working as drivers or paying for rides, UBI supplies the required cash infusion for the business to keep operating.

So it seems to me the UBI in the presence of continued business-as-usual extractive, exploitative capitalism won’t solve the problems of poverty. I still like it as an idea though and imagine it would be better to have UBI than to not have it.

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Hi,
Tanks for raising this topic.
It is worth to invest time on it.
Of course as an economist, I consider it as important.
However, I don’t see how it links with holochain.
UBI has to be considered as a sub-system of a more complex system that includes money creation/destruction, tax and wealth redistribution.
If we consider holochain as a country with its own currency than we must first understand the money creation/destruction process, and tax.
If anyone can earn Holo currency by providing as an agent CPU power, than somehow it is already a sort of UBI.
UBI is needed where there is concentration of wealth to redistribute it.
If the system is decentralized, I am not sure that UBI is needed.
This question remains open…

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the details are important

people will try to turn anything with points and rules into a game

I’ve come to think of basic income as controlled demolition of national currencies.

As the debt wiring of society ties the noose ever more tightly it will eventually break (or our ecologies will completely collapse). Such a break can be a frantic explosion, or perhaps a controlled demolition of debt currencies.

Governments could choose to start issuing money, as Basic Income, to expand the currency supply without increasing debt. Other policies to soak currency back up could be implemented in wise ways. Such as taxes on pollutants or liquidity fees (negative interest). Money circulated back to the state could then be used pay back government debts to have money disappear from the system. This would be a way to try to handle the extreme currency fluctuations and general societal volatility that seem in the cards.

Of course this is very much a short term solution and I would view it simply as a stage endgame, hospice for national (perhaps even monetary) currencies.

It seems to me, that their relevance would subside in parallell to novel circulatory systems coming online along with regulatory systems that support them.

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UBI will be devastating to post-capitalist endeavours because very few will want to change the system when the masses are content in their little consumerist lives. Yes UBI will be great for individuals in their personal lives (I want it), but on a macro level it keeps every exploitative and negative aspect of capitalism alive.

All the power and ownership dynamics will remain, all the consumerism will remain, all the negative externalities and environmental destruction will remain. UBI is like passing the buck down the road another couple of decades to perpetuate a destructive economic system.

If you think of capitalism as a living organism, its internal contradiction of automation (ie you automate everything, the workers have no money to buy your products) is an existential crisis. So what did capitalism do? First it globalised to reach cheaper labour. Then it introduced credit so that consumption could continue via debt. Next it will introduce UBI to do the same.

And if that happens I fear the end game will be 0.01% of the humans owning the means of automation and political apparatus, with an underclass comprised of 99.9% of the population whose sole purpose is to consume.

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UBI addresses the problem of inequality by redistributing ressources to form a savety net for society, a base line of wealth below which no one can fall.

If implemented right, it can counter the crippling effects of existential worries. Richard Wilkinson has done some great research regarding the numerous negative effects relative inequality can have on a society.

It will probably reduce the incentive to work in many job situations (all those where the worker does not get any gratification or sense of fulfillment). Thankfully those are often repetitive jobs that can be automated.

On the other hand a UBI will free up a lot of creative potential, making it way easier to take a risk, start a new business or follow a passion less suitable for monetary gains.

So for better or for worse, a well designed UBI would remove pressure and stress from most people. How much pressure is actually good for a society can be debated of course. Right now, theres definitely too much of it.

UBI can also be shamelessly exploited by setting it too low, so that it does not enable a modest, but humane and social life and “not going to work” doesn’t really become an option. Then people are still trapped in the same old treadmill of capitalism and all the potentially positive effects of a UBI are lost.

And one final thought: If we want to keep our humanity, a UBI is the only feasible option I know of for the coming decades.
When the industrial revolution automated most physical labor, humans could transition towards intelectual jobs, using their mind instead of their muscles.
Well, AI keeps getting better at those jobs now too. The only space left for us soon will be social work (where human-to-human interaction is key, like parenting, psychotherapy, etc) and the arts - currently not the best jobs to make a living.
So its either a UBI as transitional period towards a post-monetary society or a really bad future for almost everyone!

I like the idea of UBI as some research seems to point to the fact that just giving cash to people is more successful than all the other complex forms of welfare and it is certainly a lot simpler to execute. Still I think our planet’s available net energy limits future automation. We have already harvested the easy fossil fuels and it is going to be much harder going forward. Hopefully we start addressing Climate Change and they become scarce for that reason, but I don’t think green-energy can scale to replace our current fossil-fuel use and certainly won’t allow it to continue to grow. So I see instead that human labor becomes increasingly important in the future. I worry that UBI in this world creates artificial consumers chasing a dwindling energy-intensive set of stuff. I instead like the mutual credit approach where everyone gets empowered and supported to create a wide variety of things of value to their local or extended community - i.e. it is much easier than today to create your own job(s). However their are feedback loops, credit limits, etc. that help us transition from a place of depleting the commons to restoring it and finding a way to live again within our means.

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UBI in conventional money is a crude re-distribution, trying to use the tool that creates inequality to mitigate poverty. Why would one expect that to work?

Universal Basic Economy - complex ecosystems of mutual credit networks - is altogether different, enabling far better application of human effort within ecological limits.

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I wholeheartedly disagree with your assessment there. Forget fossil fules. Earth is hit by more solar energy every day than all of society uses in a year. Then we have a bit of wind, water, tidal and geothermal energy to tap into.
And a few decades from now we might even have nuclear fusion at our disposal, catapulting us to a whole new level of power-availability.

In the long run I am sure the only physical labour left to men is the one we choose to do, because we want to.

And as long as we live in a monetary society, having a base line below which no one is allowed to fall, is a beautiful thing - no matter the currency.
In our western world we already aggreed than noone should starve to death. In Europe we even aggreed that everyone should get medical help, should they need it. A UBI would lift that baseline to incorporate a modest, humane, socially inclusive existence.

In my eyes the biggest problem a UBI might cause - people refusing to do tedious, boring work - will be cancelled out by the very reason we need it in the first place, namely automation.

Is a UBI the one solution to solve all our problems? No, of course not. As long as we have a monetary system based on compound interest (forced exponential growth), we’ll always run into crippling inequality. Also, with the constant need to grow our economy it will be very hard to counter climate change.

But a UBI frees people from existential worries and might give a lot more room for creative ideas to flourish. Just imagine what a UBI would mean in the current development of Holochain. I am pretty sure everyone working on Holochain right now is doing so out of a deep passion for this marvellours idea. If everyone received a UBI, even more developers might find the time to contribute to the project :wink:

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if we extracted all the solar energy that hit the earth every day that would likely be undesirable for the environment

not that i’m a fan of fossil fuels or think that’s what you’re suggesting, but everything taken to the extreme can be bad and there is such a thing as natural limits in closed systems, and the earth is a closed system - so is mars, for all the space x fans :wink:

the mindset of endless growth for its own sake pushes us to always sit flush up against whatever the next major bottleneck may be

in some ways this is great, it certainly motivated a lot of the innovation that led to us having this forum in the first place :slight_smile:

including caring for each other and our surroundings in the collective definition of “winning” seems to be what UBI is reaching for, and in a weird distopian way, other experiments like the chinese social credit system probably are too

society can exist without factory jobs (it can and has in the past) but i’m not sure we can avoid turning the whole world into a monopoly board (complete with a UBI for passing “go”) for as long as we measure all success and failure in dollar terms

to me it feels a bit like UBI addresses a symptom rather than solving some deeper root cause

even that seems to be part of the dollar headspace, as it is usually more profitable to protect a disease and sell medicine than to prevent or totally cure it

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1/500 would be enough for now. And our society can become way more efficient too. With that info above I just meant to suggest that there’s more than enough energy around to offset the muskle power of a few Billion humans… :wink:

Absolutely. A UBI is like a wet blanket in a burning house. Doesn’t fix the bigger problem. But it might help us make it out alive so we can build a new, better home.

And a UBI does help to shift the focus off of money (“how much do you earn?”) and more towards purpose (“what are you doing with your time?”).

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