Aug 062017
 

Right up front: on ideological grounds, the Universal Basic Income annoys me. But on a practical level… it’s probably coming. The combination of the re-rise of socialism, despite it’s utter failure in the Soviet Union and China and Venezuela and Cuba and every damn where, with the likelihood of automation rendering most people simply obsolete, makes something like the UBI probably inevitable. So, if it’s inevitable, the best thing to do is to try to make it make sense.

First, some numbers.

The population of adults in the United States: 125.9 million women, 119.4 million men = 245.3 million. About 93% of the population are citizens,so handwave that to 228 million adult citizens.

The 2017 budget:

From this, the “welfare” expenditures include:

Medicare & health:$1.17 trillion

Social Security, Unemployment & labor: $1.139 Trillion

Housing & Community: $0.09 Trillion

Total: $2.399 Trillion

So if we simply divide up what we’re ALREADY SPENDING by the number of American adults, you get  $10,521 per person, per year. Simply cutting everyone an annual or even monthly check would be *far* simpler than the current mess of government offices and bureaucrats and armies of accountants and all the rest.

There would be ways to increase the payments per person without increasing the actual cost. Criminal status would of course be an obvious one… commit a violent felony and you’re off the Freebies List for *life.* You could make receiving the UBI optional… if you get it, you don’t get to vote in Federal elections, perhaps. Or perhaps if you turn down the UBI payment, you get *two* votes in Federal elections.

Ten grand is a good chunk of cash, but its still well below the current poverty rate. A way to help people cope, now that food stamps and the like are gone, is to make food free. As previously proposed, every place that sells food or booze could have a stand carrying free bundles of food loaf. It’s not tasty, but it’s nutritious and it would be free. And being free and of limited interest to those who don’t actually need it, there would be little to no opportunity for a black market in the stuff, eliminating the likes of food stamp fraud.

By getting rid of Medicare and the like, medical care and its costs would be returned to the responsibility of the people. Getting government out of the business would restore a measure of free market economics to the medical business; this would lower costs, potentially by a *lot.*

 Posted by at 7:05 pm
  • imhoFRED

    Thanks for at least honestly putting out numbers for BI (socialism 2.0).

    So, this is not going to work. Grandma wants her SS check back, which you took away in your calculation. She says she already paid for it (ahem, I’m just repeating her argument here). Also, Grandpa doesn’t want to pay for his healthcare; and he votes more than you do.

    From a calculation point of view, you failed to actually spend money we have, you spent money that we collect and borrow. Ponzi scheme much?

    Also, absolutely no F&*King way should we do BI. 10K to pot smoking 19 year olds? F that.

    There is no evidence to support the contention that all jobs are going away. Much to the contrary. Sure, *SOME* jobs are being replaced, gradually. Good, that’s how a free market works. And we will all be better off, on average, for the increased productivity.

    • Scottlowther

      > Grandma wants her SS check back, which you took away in your
      calculation. She says she already paid for it (ahem, I’m just
      repeating her argument here). Also, Grandpa doesn’t want to pay for
      his healthcare; and he votes more than you do.

      Well, the Boomers are on their way out.

      > From a calculation point of view, you failed to actually spend money we have, you spent money that we collect and borrow.

      From a calculation point of view, I spent the money that the feds were spending anyway. What I’m suggesting isn’t to spend *more* money, but to replace current spending with something more efficient. yeah, yeah, ain’t gonna happen, but it’s still worth considering.

      > 10K to pot smoking 19 year olds? F that

      We’re pretty much doing that anyway.

      • sferrin

        “Well, the Boomers are on their way out.”

        Well, I’ve been paying into SS for over 30 years and I want mine back too.

        • Scottlowther

          Chances are, you ain’t gettin’ it. Safe bet you woulda been *way* better off if the money you’ve been paying into SS had instead been fed into the stock market. Some wisely managed, conservatively invested, general-purpose, broadly diversified, all-American fund would almost certainly have produced far better returns on your SS investment than simply Ponzi-scheming it around.Not that takign your money and foring you to invest agaisnt your will would have been any better ethically, it nevertheless would have been better *practically.*

          But that ain’t what happened.

          And you demonstrate the evil genius of SS: the government sets up a program that honest people recognize and morally wrong, yet they refuse to let go of it for themselves.

          • sferrin

            “Safe bet you woulda been *way* better off if the money you’ve been paying into SS had instead been fed into the stock market.”

            Would have been better off if I’d been allowed to feed it into my 401k. If the government, in effect, poured all SS collections into the stock market. . .yesh, the likelihood of them f–king it up in a colossal way is almost a certainty. “Oh, Prez. So-an-So is going to prop up his cronies’ failing businesses, because they donated millions to his campaign, through purchase of said companies stock with SS dollars.”

            If I were dictator I’d say, “you can either put your money into SS OR you HAVE to put it into a 401k of your choosing, and you must provide proof of it at tax time.” Not paying into SS and then blowing that money you got to keep on new Nikes and flatscreens would not be an option.

            God, the more I think about it the more I realize how f–ked up this country is, and how impossible it will be to fix it. Way, WAY too much dead weight and politicians who get their power from them.

          • JEC

            Universal basic income funded by government investment in the stock market…sounds like Mack Reynolds idea; Inalienable Basic.

          • sferrin

            “And you demonstrate the evil genius of SS: the government sets up a program that honest people recognize and morally wrong, yet they refuse to let go of it for themselves.”

            I refuse to “let go of it for myself” because it’s MY money. Nothing “morally wrong” about me wanting MY money.

          • Scottlowther

            And here again demonstrating the pure evil genius. They take your money and give it to someone older, promising to steal someone younger’s money and give it to you.

            You refuse to consider any changes to the system that might endanger your shot at getting a piece of the next generations stolen money. Then *they* will be the same, and the generation after them, until the whole system collapses and *nobody* has any money.

          • publiusr

            I can’t find a good pie chart on the current military budget broken down by branch:

            This is all I could find quickly
            http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-blg_-Uc-xIo/UIgPdS-XNWI/AAAAAAAAAnA/3Y0yVoMi5vc/s1600/defense_budget_2008_2009.jpg

            I heard about a rise in mishaps
            http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/09/02/military-jet-crashes-on-rise-as-some-cite-training-and-fleet-issues.html

            I wonder if this story is being floated now that a new Space Corp is being formed–and the jet-jocks just don’t want any cuts.

  • Thucydides_of_Athens

    I’m curious as to the amount of money in the categories you identify as “welfare” which are spent on the internal administration, pay and benefits and O&M of all the various agencies which run these programs. I suspect that you have included the “gross” costs, but a further breakdown would mean the “net” benefits to the people wold be much less . In other words. people simply don’t receive $10,000 in benefits, but a large fraction gets eaten up by the bureaucracy.

    Of course, by eliminating the bureaucrats and other costs in administering the now ended programs you free up the monies to actually pay $10.000/year, but you would absolutely save huge amounts of federal spending and lower taxes by simply paying out the “net” benefits and cutting government spending by the now ended costs that are no longer needed for the ended programs.

    A much simpler way to save huge amounts of Federal spending would be to go this route instead and eliminate a lot of internal duplication in each department and agency: http://hotair.com/archives/2016/12/06/report-pentagon-squashed-plan-to-save-125-billion-in-bureaucratic-waste/

    • Doug Pirahna

      Freeing up the overhead costs does work, my old public school system did this with the school lunch program.
      Up until a couple of years ago there were 3 price categories for school lunches, full price, reduced (discount based on family income and other factors) and free if you were poorer than the reduced pricing limits.
      For the reduced and free categories the family had to apply each school year and go through a process to determine what type their kid(s) would get. Then each school day the schools would note which kids got reduced or free lunches and then someone in the office would have to send those numbers to central office for reimbursement, etc.

      Extremely complicated process when a full price lunch was $2.

      So now the school system offers free lunch and breakfast every day, if you want an extra milk or lunch you have to pay for it but the basic meal is free to every student.

      I think the cost of doing it the old way or giving everyone a free one is the same, so much cost was on the administrative end that they didn’t realize how much the old way was costing the county.

  • sferrin

    UBI? Oh, fuck that noise. There’s always SOMETHING that needs to be done. (Picking up trash, landscaping, etc.) I will NEVER be for paying somebody to sit home on their ass and do nothing, and there are many like me.

    • Scottlowther

      The issue is that there may be many *more* people who are all in favor of it.

      And we’re *already* paying people to do nothing.

  • becida

    If you work for a living in the US you’re paying for your social security & medicare right now and have been your whole work life. When you turn 65 medicare still has to be paid for by you, they take the payment from your social security.
    It pisses me off when I see people calling that “welfare”. It pisses me off when those same people want to see it set up so they can grab a piece of it as the money flows.

    • Scottlowther

      > you’re paying for your social security

      No, you’re not… you’re paying for someone elses.granted that money is a fungible commodity, but the money you pay into SS right now gets filtered through a bureaucracy and then aid out to someone else. You’re not paying into a retirement account.

      • becida

        I did pay in to it all my working like as did anyone who worked for a living.
        I have no more control over the politicians who spent it as fast as they took it from me than I have of them paying any attention to me when I ask “why are we still in Afghanistan”. They only work for me on paper.
        I can object to everyone who tells me that I’m getting welfare when I start getting the social security that I already paid for.
        It’s not welfare, I paid for that too with the regular taxes.

  • Garrai

    I love these solutions that basically boil down to “We can save $XXX billions by eliminating the horribly inefficient bureaucracy/middlemen and give the monies directly to citizens who need it”. It applies to many areas of public spending like health care, education, etc., and yes, getting rid of the do-gooders and bureaucrats would free up a lot of funds that are now wasted through sloth and corruption.

    The problem is that one person’s worthless bureaucrat is another family’s breadwinner. Cutting all those people loose from their cush jobs would literally send the U.S. economy into a tailspin, and no politician will risk causing that kind of disruption.

    The only real solution is a modernized guillotine. Probably not in my lifetime, but some of you gen-x pukes will likely see them when the bullets start flying.

    • Scottlowther

      > Cutting all those people loose from their cush jobs would literally send the U.S. economy into a tailspin

      Give them spoons.

  • BD75

    Hey Scott,

    we have been there before. A century ago the agrarian reforms in Europe partitioned the large feudal farms and distributed the land between the peasants (didn’t happen in Russia – so the Russian Revolution). Similar thing can happen to the large corporations in the future. We will all become the stockholders and we will all participate in the profit. No need for the basic income or other socialist solutions.
    In a meanwhile – before the AI renders *all* human labor obsolete – we just need a shorter workweek.

    • Garrai

      Yes, AI is right around the corner, any day now. That is why our galaxy is filled with sentient, immortal robots seeking materials and energy sources…

      • Earl Nicholson

        I’m sorry , but I get annoyed at scepticism towards A.I. It’s not like FTL/Time Travel/Anti-Gravity/ect., It’s an effort to duplicate, hopefully with improvements, something we know exists, us. Besides, you don’t need an artificial Einstein to automate mining/construction/ect., or the kinds of jobs you mentioned in an earlier post.

        • Scottlowther

          Indeed. AI, depending on how you define it, is something we’ve had for a while. Hell, we’ve had it in our *pockets* for several years.

          I’ve mentioned before one of my problems with shows like “Humans” and “Westworld:” the androids are built with artificial brains the equal to those of humans. Why? You don’t *need* a sexbot or cowboybot or industrial load lifter to be able to hold an insightful conversation about philosophy. So why give them brains with the capability to rise up and get pissy? Also: why are the androids always so damn *strong?* Who thinks it’s actually a good idea for a sexbot to b strong enough to rip a guy in half??? Just bad planning…

          • publiusr

            Soft robotics seem to be in vogue these days. The devices designed to assist the elderly will probably be used for these..other uses.