back to article Blue sky basic income thinking is b****cks

How on Earth did this nonsense about a basic income come about, with its inability to understand governments' thinking on paying benefits? There are three parts to the idea. Firstly, that automation is going to kill jobs by replacing blue collar and white collar human workers with automated machines. Secondly, the basic …

  1. juice Bronze badge

    Haven't we just had this rant?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/10/18/basic_income_after_automation_thats_not_how_capitalism_works/

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Haven't we just had this rant?

      And it's in a better news category. But only just.

    2. You aint sin me, roit
      Angel

      Re: Haven't we just had this rant?

      Yes, but it's nearly Christmas!!

      'Tis the season to expect a plethora of anti-humbug articles!

  2. m0rt Silver badge

    You see, their work is done. You have already equated basic income ideas which mean only idleness will increase. Causation/correlation etc etc. Your thinking seems to follow that of most governments in that you must control people into doing 'good' by not providing the 'bad'.

    But the thing is, the 'bad' which 'causes' the 'idleness' (sorry about the 's) did actually provide a much needed equalisation in society when the various forms were introduced.

    Whereas I applaud the fact you wrote about it. I strongly dislike the manner in which you wrote it. But then, there will be others that support your rhetoric. This is debate in action.

    Fun, isn't it?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I love...

    ...is a good rant about the problem with X, without providing an alternative.

    How about this. Invest more in GOOD education (and I don't mean starting kids in school before they have learn't to eat solids).

    Spend more on crime prevention, drug rehabilitation, homelessness, health promotion and social skills and all those other fluffy things that you can't measure.

    And hey presto, you find all the other budgets no longer require as much money.

    But of course that involves a lot of short to mid term pain and we don't want pay taxes for that do we?

    1. Michael Strorm

      Re: What I love...

      " What I love is a good rant about the problem with X, without providing an alternative."

      In itself, and as a general principle, that's not a fair criticism.

      It's quite reasonable to see that something is a problem- e.g. global warming- without having an easy answer to it. (If nothing else, it stimulates discussion.)

      It's also quite reasonable to criticise someone else's answer to that problem- regardless of whether or not you have one yourself- if that "answer" is blatantly flawed.

      Otherwise, it's the equivalent of- having said that painting everyone's bottom blue and shoving marbles up their noses won't actually solve global poverty- the original proposer responding that they don't see *you* coming up with any ideas and at least they're doing *something* about it.

      What a negative ninny. Hand us the pot and brush when you're finished with it, won't you? :-)

    2. Preston Munchensonton
      Boffin

      Re: What I love...

      What I love...

      ...is a good rant about the problem with X, without providing an alternative.

      Lucky for you that El Reg exists, then.

      How about this. Invest more in GOOD education (and I don't mean starting kids in school before they have learn't to eat solids).

      Speaking of vagaries with no definition, exactly what is good education? Your suggestion is as worthless as the lack of alternatives from the rant that you loathed. The problem isn't investing, as there's heaps of money being thrown at education the world over, but how it's spent. As it stands, any teacher can tell you that the excess of money thrown at education has funded a huge bureaucracy and not addressed the issues in the classroom.

      Additionally, the kids who need the most help tend to have the least help at home, so your solution had better address that side of things too.

      Spend more on crime prevention, drug rehabilitation, homelessness, health promotion and social skills and all those other fluffy things that you can't measure.

      How about we decriminalize victimless crimes like drug possession and stop ruining people's lives because it makes us feel like we're doing something about crime. People don't need more crime prevention, rehabilition, or any of the other fuzzy measures of societal well being. They need peace, domestically and internationally, and that starts with decriminalization. I could go on at length about all the other bad governmental policies causing such distress (minimum wage laws, immigration restrictions, trade tariffs, et al), but I already have enough downvotes as it is.

      And hey presto, you find all the other budgets no longer require as much money.

      But of course that involves a lot of short to mid term pain and we don't want pay taxes for that do we?

      Unless you eliminate governmental agencies, you won't ever (EVER!) eliminate the spending. Politician cannot help but frantically give away government largess to their army of cronies that keep the political machine well-oiled. I think too many incorrectly assume that they would feel significant pain if somehow the government wasn't involved in virtually every area of our lives. It's truly short-sighted, since most of those institutions are a result of the growth of the developed nations and not a factor that caused the growth.

      All of that being said, the article is utter shite, since the author conflates the robot-job takeover crowd with the universal-basic-income crowd, when both camps don't even require each other. UBI is a concept to replace the huge swaths of social services with a stipend, nothing more. It's purpose is to raise the reservation wage. Any article that discusses UBI without mentioning the reservation wage is completely disingenuous. The robot-job takeover crowd have things completely backward economically, since robots wouldn't completely replace humans if no humans can spend on consumption (hence, consumers) unless robots can allow all of us to consume at will without working (and no one will be complaining then).

      /rantover

      1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

        Re: What I love...

        "How about this. Invest more in GOOD education (and I don't mean starting kids in school before they have learn't to eat solids)."

        Speaking of vagaries with no definition, exactly what is good education? Your suggestion is as worthless as the lack of alternatives from the rant that you loathed.

        As a starter, take some of the proven workers who have been "aged out" of the workforce and pay them to do all of those things that teachers are currently forced to do for free that take away from actual teaching time -- coaching sports, directing the school band/chorus, organizing the Christmas pageant, doing the bulk of the staffing for the field trips/"Spend An Educational Week in __________" excursions, etc., etc., etc.

        Pay the teachers to concentrate on teaching and either hire people to do those secondary things that you want available for "broadening" your child's world or shut up.

        1. Denarius Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: What I love...

          except this already happens. A lot of us in the retired/outsourced/junkheap categories already do freebie things in our communities. Rewarded of course by necessary bureaucracy, forms and process. Also copping lectures about upskilling at our own expenses (anyone can pay $25K for a crap college course, right?) One wonders how much the undocumented charity services save governments in West? Judging by how quickly the food bank in my small town had its user count climb I suspect the economic efficiency pundits don't have a clue as to how close many of Oz are to completely becoming disconnected to what passes for society. Then the last part of the article does hold true.

          Yet Western gummints, especially in Oz have an ideological fixation with punishing the poor, not the 35% of 100 biggest companies that pay no tax. If you want a recipe for instability, this is it. No doubt the rise of the security estate (yes, I think the spooks are another country inside their countries because they have different laws) is connected to the elites beginning to fear the peasants are restless. Trump being elected by use of persuasion techniques, not policy is a sign of this. Previous Oz PM is another, thankfully failed, example, though his toxic legacy lurks on.

          Now to watch the spook estate in Merkin Land investigate its presumptive El Presidento over Russian hacking, instead of asking the obvious question of why any computer of significance be accessible from anywhere ? /* yes I know, cost cutting by the stupid, but bear with argument please */

  4. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Mixed feelings

    I have mixed feelings about this article.

    Firstly, I agree that the Luddite thinking is wrong: Automation may kill off jobs, but other jobs will be created to fill the gaps. The population will reskill and things will continue as they are.

    However, I believe that a true basic income along with tax system changes would be a way to radically simplify taxation and benefits. If one was to figure out a sensible minimum liveable income (i.e. it would cover the most basic housing, food and bills, no more) and pay that to all, but then applied a higher but simpler tax to all income (maybe a flat rate, even), most would not loose out, and the cost of administering the system (for the government and for individuals) would fall drastically.

    We would, potentially, still need a system to root out the work-shy, but that's always going to be the case while we have a social security system.

    It's not without it's downsides, but the upsides have the potential to outweigh them drastically.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Mixed feelings

      >We would, potentially, still need a system to root out the work-shy

      Work-shy. I think that needs unpacking a bit. There are lots of activities that people do for recreation that are equivalent to paid or useful work. It's just much of the paid work has been made unenjoyable (paperwork, nasty bosses, petite rules).

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: Mixed feelings

        Work-shy. I think that needs unpacking a bit.

        It's not important to my main argument, but I meant "can work but choose not to and just rely on state benefits".

        I do not believe there are as many of these as a lot of people think, but I believe there are more than a lot of other people think. These are the people who choose to have a kid, get a council house/housing benefit, and live on what the state provides. This is completely unacceptable, as it means other people are working to support them in their idleness. I don't know how to deal with this, except for my above assertion that the basic income should only cover what's required to live, but it's something which would have to be looked at (and heavily discouraged if the system was to work).

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Mixed feelings

          "can work but choose not to and just rely on state benefits".

          The number tends to vary with the size of those benefits, since everyone has a different view of what :"life" means. That's a large part of the problem, are Starbucks/beer/cigarettes/Sky TV essentials or luxuries? Who do you pay this basic income to? Do you pay more to large families, and if so how do you stop people creating large families just to get more money? What about single parents? Remember that when child benefit was first introduced it was paid to mothers, because one of the reasons for having it was that some fathers were not providing enough for their children (either from lack or earnings, or lack of willingness).

          It's reminiscent of Marx ""From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" which sounds great in theory, but only works if people don't game the system, and people will always game the system. The only way to fully control it would be to go back to the Dickensien system of Workhouses, and I don't think anyone would want to see that.

          1. Richard Jones 1
            WTF?

            Re: Mixed feelings

            I absolutely agree with your comments and no doubt the other side will hammer in. If anyone takes the time to follow real life, e.g. by watching the flow through the Job Centre they will see what a depressing place it can be. Many come because they are unable to work through no fault or error of their making. Possibly > 90% fall into this group, but you do also get the odd one or two who are a delight for headline writers short of a space filler. the characters who have missed 6 appointments in a row who clearly explain it is not their fault as they "do not do mornings".

            Let me very clear the >90% are deserving of very carefully crafted help, the sort of help that was available back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the country needed to find people to work at whatever they could do. But back then efforts were made to try to find what was possible, not reasons to find that it was impossible for them to do anything. Job roles were found and some of them were still working and earning when I joined the labour force in the 1960s. Their accumulated skills served them well and they were often well respected members of the workforce, except when other more able bodied failed to communicate with them and used assumption not communication. I know I had to sort out the messes that created. Then of course we started resorting to importing people to try to fill the gaps, there is no intent to denigrate the imported workers.only to worry that today's stop gap is all too easily tomorrow's problem

            So now stop simply ticking boxes, start to deal with people and their issues in a quest for workable solutions to ease their lives. I have a close relation who urgently needs such help, a few hours voluntary work per week breaches their limits all too easily, following a string of medical problems. They don't moan about 'not doing mornings', but they do get hugely depressed about not having any quality of life and no way to improve that limiting situation.

            For the record, they get no unemployment money or any other income either and relay on relations to house, feed, transport and clothe them.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Mixed feelings

              So what do you do when there are 12 people stranded in the middle of the desert but only 6 bottles of water.

              Because that's essentially the problem right now. And putting it this way, it becomes clear there's no happy ending in store.

              1. JHC_97

                Re: Mixed feelings

                Actually its more like they have 12 people and 12 bottles of water but one of the people says he owns 6 of the bottles and you are right it won't end well for that person.

              2. Jason 24

                Re: Mixed feelings

                I'm not sure the bottles of water analogy works, to simple.

                We've one bunch of people screaming that they took our jobs.

                And then another screaming that if EU labour dries up there won't be enough workers.

                Always puzzled me as those 2 statements cannot both be correct at the same time.

                Not sure I can make the water bottle analogy work.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Mixed feelings

                  The EU labour is to provide continuity of labour due to aging demographics of the indigenous but not-so-outnumbered-yet population.

                  If jobs go then EU labour becomes less necessary - the downside is that there may not be enough people paying tax to support all the pensions and health problems with the oldies left behind. Guv'mint spending is pretty hand-to-mouth most of the time and these need to balance off to some extent.

                  Jobs for the old, that's what we need - ok, I'll get my coat...

                2. Rattus Rattus

                  @ Jason 24

                  "...screaming that if EU labour dries up there won't be enough workers"

                  By which they mean there won't be enough workers willing to work for peanuts and they might even have to start offering to pay something closer to what the job is actually worth.

          2. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

            Re: Mixed feelings

            @Phil O'Sophical:

            Firstly, nice name!

            are Starbucks/beer/cigarettes/Sky TV essentials or luxuries?

            Luxuries. Essentials are pretty much shelter (basic housing and power) and enough food to survive. Anything else is a luxury which should be worked for.

            Who do you pay this basic income to?

            Every adult.

            Do you pay more to large families, and if so how do you stop people creating large families just to get more money? What about single parents?

            We are getting into details now, and I don't have all the answers. For this and the rest, most of these issues are present in any social security system. Therefore unless one would argue for the removal of social security systems in general (and I certainly wouldn't), it's not an argument against the basic income. These issues need to be dealt with no matter how "benefits" are dished out.

            1. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: Mixed feelings

              "Essentials are pretty much shelter (basic housing and power) and enough food to survive. Anything else is a luxury which should be worked for."

              What about clothes? Do they come under shelter? What about the sort of smart clothing one might require for a job interview?

              While we're at it, what about enough internet access that someone can find and apply for a job. Does a phone connection come under the same umbrella as internet access?

              When it comes to food, what about something like chocolate? It's not necessary to live, but you'll find a bar in the ration pack of pretty much every army, as they consider morale just as important as physical fitness. Does mental health have a priority?

              1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                Re: Mixed feelings

                What about the sort of smart clothing one might require for a job interview?
                Mrs Git purchases most of her clothes from Op Shops and looks very smart indeed. Typically she pays $5-10 for items that cost north of $100 new.

              2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                Re: Mixed feelings

                "What about the sort of smart clothing one might require for a job interview?"

                If the interviewer is such a shallow-minded twat that they insist on smart clothes then they can bloody well pay for them. I don't see why the welfare system should foot the bill for the prejudices of a by-gone age.

                1. Rattus Rattus

                  @ Ken Hagan

                  "I don't see why the welfare system should foot the bill for the prejudices of a by-gone age"

                  Because those who don't bow to the prejudices of a bygone age DON'T GET A FECKIN' JOB.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: @ Ken Hagan

                    > Because those who don't bow to the prejudices of a bygone age DON'T GET A FECKIN' JOB.

                    Wear a $1000 suit & tie to an entry-level job interview, it's blatant ass-kissing. You will not get the job.

                    If it's an office job, something a bit nicer than jeans & t-shirt is advisable, to the tune of about $50 new, but anything presentable will do. And frankly I would hire someone in jeans & t-shirt as long as they don't stink to high heaven, if they seem competent.

            2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: Mixed feelings

              are Starbucks/beer/cigarettes/Sky TV essentials or luxuries?

              Luxuries. Essentials are pretty much shelter (basic housing and power) and enough food to survive. Anything else is a luxury which should be worked for.

              I would agree, but many people will insist that they need cigarettes/beer for medical reasons ("It's an addiction") or that TV entertainment is a basic right since they don't have a job...

              These issues need to be dealt with no matter how "benefits" are dished out.

              Indeed, but then you enter the whole area of eligibility, and "means testing", so it's no longer a flat rate income, but "welfare benefits", and if people can get them in addition to a basic income it's no different to what we have today, it just costs more.

          3. TheTick

            Re: Mixed feelings

            "It's reminiscent of Marx ""From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" which sounds great in theory, but only works if people don't game the system, and people will always game the system."

            Exactly, this silly idea requires that someone somewhere assess both people's abilities and people's needs. It's not surprising that the people making these decisions discover that they, their families and their associates need more than anyone else...

            It's also a philosophy that the current leader of the Labour Party believes in (if I recall, I heard him praise it in a YouTube clip of an Oxford Union debate). Yet I don't see him actually doing it, nor any other of the champagne socialists. There's nothing stopping them voluntarily spreading their wealth about.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Mixed feelings

              You could set the basic income by 1) taxing earners a fixed percentage of all earnings (both labor and investment income), then 2) dividing by all population and handing out cash. That eliminates the requirement to determine or specify need for the most part. There would still be requirements like children going to school, but it could be paid from the allocation.

              This method autoscales the basic income to the level where most will work. Think if the tax is 15% and only one guy in 100 million works, even if that guy makes 1 billion, everyone only gets 1.5. For the small percentage of free loaders, we are bribing to get out of our hair, but we pay today in other services anyway so that isn't so different.

          4. Red Bren
            Pirate

            Re: Mixed feelings

            "It's reminiscent of Marx ""From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" which sounds great in theory, but only works if people don't game the system, and people will always game the system."

            The powers that be always make a big show of cracking down on people gaming the second half of the system, often spending far more than the crackdown actually saves. While at the same time, they turn a blind eye to those gaming the first half of the system, partly because they're at it themselves.

        2. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Mixed feelings

          These are the people who choose to have a kid, get a council house/housing benefit, and live on what the state provides. This is completely unacceptable, as it means other people are working to support them in their idleness.
          So we need to force those who would wish to be idle to work so they can displace those in work, forcing them to be idle. IOW maximise unhappiness/discontent. Why?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mixed feelings

      "The population will reskill and things will continue as they are."

      Good luck with that - ageism is rampant in many sectors. Try getting a job as a (newly qualified) software engineer in your 40s as an example.

      We have to accept that there are people who will struggle to get new jobs once their existing job/career is rendered economically or technologically obsolete. While I think the universal wage is not the solution something else needs to come in to keep these people fit, motivated and not idle. Controversial but how about paying them to do state sponsored work (though not sure exactly what that might include - picking up litter, public gardening that sort of thing?) or take state funded reskilling classes e.g. to do apprenticeships etc.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Mixed feelings

        Controversial but how about paying them to do state sponsored work
        Slavery works well in the USA:
        [prisoners] can be forced to work under threat of punishment as severe as solitary confinement. Legally, this labor may be totally uncompensated; more typically inmates are paid meagerly—as little as two cents per hour—for their full-time work in the fields, manufacturing warehouses, or kitchens.

        American Slavery, Reinvented

    3. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Mixed feelings

      "Automation may kill off jobs, but other jobs will be created to fill the gaps. The population will reskill and things will continue as they are."

      I don't think this is true. Manufacturers don't buy machines so they can pay more people to tend the machines than they used to pay to do the work to begin with. Automation only makes *sense* if it reduces overall jobs.

    4. Richard 12 Silver badge

      "Radically simplify taxation and benefits"

      This is the part that's simply not true in any way, shape or form.

      A Basic Income scheme would have roughly the same complexity as the current benefits system, while having far more claimants. Administering it would cost far more, even ignoring the increased actual payout.

      The complexity in the current benefits system comes from many places.

      The cost of living (esp. housing and transport) varies across the country. Disability. Children. Single or has a partner. Top-up of salary (working tax credit etc).

      Almost all of that is still required under Basic Income - unless you want to hang those groups out to dry?

      Taxation is complex because of the array of exemptions and adjustments - encouraging business and individuals to do certain things, like R&D, save for a pension etc, preventing businesses from paying directors and employees "in kind" (car, house, private jet...)

      All of that is still there, in fact worse!

      1. Richard 81

        Re: "Radically simplify taxation and benefits"

        "A Basic Income scheme would have roughly the same complexity as the current benefits system"

        Why?

      2. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: "Radically simplify taxation and benefits"

        A Basic Income scheme would have roughly the same complexity as the current benefits system, while having far more claimants. Administering it would cost far more, even ignoring the increased actual payout.... The cost of living (esp. housing and transport) varies across the country. Disability. Children. Single or has a partner. Top-up of salary (working tax credit etc).

        A Basic Income system would pay out a set amount per adult. It may be that it would need to be area-specific, especially for London, but should definitely not be inflated for "rich" areas (e.g. housing costs in a high-income area).

        Working tax credit is no longer needed as everyone receives a set benefit.

        Single or with a partner doesn't matter, each individual gets a set amount. There would probably need to be an amount paid to each child's primary caregiver, but this, too, should cover only the basics required to live.

        Disability and a maybe few other types of benefit would still be required, but I doubt their administration would cost any more than they currently do. Therefore there are still the savings on administration of most in- and out-of-work benefits.

        As for taxation, there could then be a much simpler tax system. No personal allowance, fewer exemptions, fewer levels, and (I would suggest) no different treatment of different kinds of income. I believe it could just be done as a flat rate tax on all income (except the UBI, no point giving then grabbing back through tax).

        Your assertions basically amount to keeping the same system but calling it UBI. The entire point of UBI would be a radical simplification of the tax and benefits systems, without which it would be pointless.

    5. Mark 65

      Re: Mixed feelings

      FYI: new jobs are created but, typically, they have not been for those that lost theirs. There was an interesting doco on this a while ago discussing how, when big changes came about, you had a generation that lost their jobs and suffered great hardship and the jobs came about for later generations - it certainly isn't a straight up switcheroo.

    6. David Paul Morgan
      Facepalm

      Re: Mixed feelings

      we've been talking about this really since the late 70's / Early 80's.

      What could have been an opportunity to use automation and re-skilling to share the benefits of a more 'leisured society' became the selfish race to the bottom of Thatcherism/Reaganomics. We know now that pure unfettered capitalism will NOT filter down benefits to the less fortunate, less able and less skilled. (ironic that manual labour and ditch digging still has not been fully automated, but many middle class 'white collar' skills have!).

      In terms of 'the work shy' there will always be a very very small number that don't want to participate. let them. we can carry a small amount of slack. However, my issue with a fixed income is that it's too crude. I would suggest 'negative income tax' and scrap all other allowances and benefits.

      eg. Everyone would have a 'tax code' which would factor in their circumstances. In order to bring them 'up to' a level of income guaranteeing a level of dignity in society, they would receive the correct 'negative income tax' in their payslip. Then, as they are able or skilled to take on more work, eventually, they would get to the 'zero' point and then as their income increases, then 10k @5%, up to 25k @10% etc up to 50% 'private' income tax bands. A better continuum.

      This would all require a re-negotiation of "the social contract". what does industry expect from society (workforc & politics) - what do the workforce expect from their governments? I think at the moment, no-one knows their roles and are too confrontational, rather than cooperative - and in the UK 9& USA?) our political system is 'adversarial' rather than altruistic.

      Of course, underlining this is the fact that we have way to big a population to sustain any of this. An elephant in the room, consuming resources. We need a big push to encourage population shrinkage - especially in the more resource-hungry rich 'west' and as a way to improve people's standard of living in poorer countries.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Global Depopulation is the answer

    Not a civilisation shattering event like world war or zombie apocalypse... just a good old fashioned plague or two...

    1. MrXavia
      Alien

      Re: Global Depopulation is the answer

      I was hoping for an alien invasion myself....

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Global Depopulation is the answer

        The lizard people are now in charge of the UK and US if that helps.

        1. Richard 81

          Re: Global Depopulation is the answer

          "I come in peace. Take me to your lizard."

        2. Nolveys Silver badge

          Re: Global Depopulation is the answer

          The lizard people are now in charge of the UK and US if that helps.

          Lizard people or lizard brains?

    2. Preston Munchensonton
      Stop

      Re: Global Depopulation is the answer

      Not a civilisation shattering event like world war or zombie apocalypse... just a good old fashioned plague or two...

      Why wait? You can do your part right now and depopulate yourself. I'm sure that's just what the world needs. #smh

  6. AMBxx Silver badge
    Pint

    cream macchiato with a double shot not the cappuccino with soy

    So liberating to drink black coffee. None of this BS when ordering.

    1. beAfraid...beveryAfraid

      Re: cream macchiato with a double shot not the cappuccino with soy

      But no-one drinks Starbucks foul and flavourless coffee black.

      It's only made palatable by the addition of flavours, cream and sugar

  7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Caring for each other is something that we cannot readily automate. OK, some medical procedures can be automated, but I doubt we will get a really satisfactory replacement for the human touch. This holds true in many areas. I frequently fly all over the world and very much prefer eating in a restaurant or drinking in a bar where I can actually chat with waiters or bartenders, ask them advice on the menu or local beers. I do not see that need going away any time soon.

    Given the fact that we live to much higher age than before, one clear area where work will increase is simply in caring for the elderly, and not just the highly skilled job of treating ailments, but just day to day stuff, including such basic things as satisfying the need to talk to a fellow human being. That is something that is not easy to automate. Siri, Cortana or the new Zo are no replacement

    1. Seajay#

      But as was mentioned in the previous article, this does something pretty scary to the job market. The doctor gets replaced by an expert system, the surgeon by a robot. The only human job left is care assistant but that's a) an unskilled job and b) only going to be provided for rich people since it doesn't serve any particular medical need.

      It's not a particularly appealing future where a handful of people designing or managing the automated systems are fabulously rich and everyone else becomes waiters or artisan bakers in the hope that one of those rich people wants a human made, imperfect bread roll for the novelty even though they could have as many perfect machine made rolls as they want.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        I am not too sure people are willing to be submitted to a fully robotic doctor. There may well be a large "market" for persons translating expert system outcomes into a message palatable to the patients. After all, being a good doctor requires far more than being good at diagnosis and treatment. Suppose the computer states: you have a malignant growth. How would it be able to lend you the emotional support you need? Computers can be great tools for diagnosis (they are already so), but I doubt they will be able to give the same level of emotional support to patients us meat bags can. Today, they certainly cannot. Of course, quite a few meat bags aren't that good, but many are great.

        1. Nolveys Silver badge
          Terminator

          I am not too sure people are willing to be submitted to a fully robotic doctor.

          GREETINGS, MEAT SACK. I AM DOC-TOR RO-TOR. PREPARE ORIFICE FOR EXECUTION OF PROCEDURE PROSTATE EXAMINATION. CHARGING INDUSTRIAL HYDRAULIC SYSTEMS. PALPATE! PALPATE! PALPATE!

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            "GREETINGS, MEAT SACK..."

            Sorry, I don't speak COBOL. Do you have a colleague written in a proper language?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Up

            Digital Rectal Examination is actually a 100% analogue procedure. What, then, will they name the robot-administered version of the procedure?

            1. James Boag

              I was under the impression it was a digital procedure hence the glove !

        2. Pompous Git Silver badge

          I am not too sure people are willing to be submitted to a fully robotic doctor.
          But would a robotic doctor forget to administer anaesthetic and tell you: "I was distracted!"?

  8. John Lilburne

    Biology my friend ...

    Amazon, Starbucks, Google, Uber and the rest don't exist unless there is a population with disposable income. What's the point of Google slinging ads to people that can't afford to buy the crap that is being advertized? What is the point of banging out millions of expensive trainers if people can't buy them?

    Once a parasite becomes so successful that the host population crashes the parasite populations crash too.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Biology my friend ...

      Unless they turn inward, close the walled garden, and hash it out amongst themselves.

  9. Caff

    idleness

    Why assume people receiving a basic income would be idle? Its not like the dole, you would get it whether you work or not. Therefore is would allow people to take risks and try out jobs they may have shied away from before due to fear of failure or lack of a safety net.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: idleness

      Indeed. Someone who doesn't have to toil on 12-hour, 7 day a week shifts on zero-hour contracts just to keep a roof over their head and their children's bellies full, can afford the time needed to improve their own lot in life. OK, some people will choose to do nothing, but so what? They do that now.

      Also there are plenty of people who work their arses off without actually getting paid, e.g. people caring for elderly and infirm relatives, who'd otherwise need to be looked after by the state.

      I agree that automation probably won't suddenly make everyone unemployed, but attitude expressed by the article is distinctly unhelpful. It just says "no UBI will not work!" without providing any alternatives.

    2. moiety

      Re: idleness

      Agreed. Chemicals and games consoles only take you so far. A certain percentage will just coast, of course, but my money would be on a wave of creativity...mostly at the Etsy level but with the occasional nugget of pure gold.

      Comparing basic income with the dole is wrong too, on several levels:

      ● People on the dole are unable/unwilling to get jobs. So it's a pre-filtered section of the population.

      ● People on the dole are marginalised, both in popular culture and by the process itself, so depression is almost guaranteed if it goes on long enough and depression leads directly to the "Getting out of bed and facing the day seems like an insurmountable obstacle" behaviour that seems like laziness to anyone who hasn't experienced it for themselves, so it's a self-fulfilling prophesy in many cases

      ● Keeping the dole money coming in can be almost a full-time job in itself. When I was on the dole (a long time ago, thankfully), more than once I was forced to apply for jobs that didn't even cover the transport costs of getting there (over an 8-hour shift and 8 hours were by no means guaranteed) and if you don't show up or deliberately blow the interview the money stops. Jumping through bureaucratic hoops becomes your job in a sense.

      So paying everyone a basic income would be a completely different proposition. Just the lack of marginalisation on it's own would completely change the game.

      look at benefit estates, trailer parks with occupants relying on government handouts, and families who have been without work for generations. There is nothing noble about idleness, no realistic scope for satisfying creativity by people who were formally lorry drivers, baristas, counter hands, whatever.

      I've been a lorry driver, counter hand etc., as well as a benefit claimant. And now I herd websites, as well as having a couple of other projects on the go. So your point was? The "benefit estates" is another self-fulfilling prophesy...if you take the cheapest and least popular housing in town and herd all the town's skintest people there (or arrange it so they arrive there by osmosis, anyway), then things aren't going to get much better, are they?

    3. Stuart Halliday

      Re: idleness

      Going to take a huge and long term change of thinking for the average person.

      Some will just use it as an excuse for a while to do nothing. They'll eventually get bored, depressed, commit crimes, attack people and property.

      We need to provide training classes for those willing to do them. It can be exciting to learn new skills and to do volunteering jobs.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: idleness

        We need to provide training classes for those willing to do them. It can be exciting to learn new skills and to do volunteering jobs.
        I had friends teaching secondary school students in the 70s who taught their working class students relevant skills they would need when they left school. Boy, did they get into trouble for doing that!

    4. Seajay#

      Re: idleness

      It's difficult to disentangle whether some families are on the dole due to idleness, or idle because they are on the dole.

      Fortunately we can look at pensioners. Do (physically healthy) pensioners start taking drugs, playing xbox and never leaving the house when they retire? If they were the sort of person who was active before retirement, generally not. They play golf, look after their grandchildren, join the Rotary club, etc.

      I don't think we need to worry about the devil making work for idle hands. So long as we can sort the distribution of income in such a way that there remains some benefit to be had from doing socially useful work but without creating huge inequalities, all will be fine.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: idleness

        I agree. I actually don't think the natural state of a healthy human being is idleness. We get bored. We find stuff to do. In the absence of work the biggest problem would not be idle people, it would be people who directed that urge to "do stuff" in antisocial directions -- but they would be a minority, I think.

        I firmly believe that what we think of as laziness is usually the result of clinical depression, usually combined with an inability to see any path to move forward.

        Most idle people I know are caught in a vicious cycle; their living environment causes them to feel depressed and incapable, which makes it nearly impossible for them to get and hold down the kind of job that would get them out. They are effectively disabled, although not necessarily permanently so. Many have been abused or taken advantage of repeatedly by family members and sometimes past employers as well. These people see no way forward. What they need isn't a kick in the ass, it's mental health care and enough income to get themselves out of the abusive situation.

        BTW, most of the people like this I know are millennials, but not the "got a participation trophy every time" type. They're the ones raised in the *backlash* to that. They've been berated and told nothing they do will ever be good enough so many times, they've lost all faith in their ability to succeed.

    5. James Boag

      Re: idleness

      Having been off work for quite some time after meeting an idiot attempting to overtake on a blind bend. I can assure you that i have never be so creative in my life. Having lots of time and enough spare money to purchase components from China, I have solved lots of problems that i did not have before my "accident"

      Im sure if this was expanded to the population at large the explosion of creativity would revolutionise our society, Perhaps this is the reason that most of our "leader" are against this.

      Right im off to see what else i can build for a raspberry pi and a box of cheap sensors !

  10. ciaran

    He missed the point

    The basic income plan is actually a right-wing libertarian policy. With a basic income (which would only prevent dying of starvation) you can abandon lots of social protections like minimum wage, discrimination, employee persecution. When people aren't scared to walk away from a job it reignites the "free market" for employment - treat your employees properly or tomorrow you won't have any.

    Equally you've got a great idea for a new product? Fine, go an live in a garage for 3 years with a few buddies to see if it'll work, no worries if it crashes.

    Want some work experience? Fine, go an be an unpaid intern.

    Want to restart manufacturing jobs? Since your employees are already getting a basic income, how much will the workforce actually cost?

    The author says that people are never happy - of course not, that's why they'll go and get a job!

    1. TheTick

      Re: He missed the point

      Yes, although I struggle with the morality of state welfare (because it uses violence to extract wealth from workers to fund it), the reality is welfare isn't going anywhere for a long time.

      This method makes things entirely simple and understandable, and also no more prostrating yourself to government workers to get it. And if people want to better themselves, they can take a risk to do something they might not otherwise have justified being able to take. Start a business perhaps, or a job you always wanted to do but didn't think you would make it.

      Some people would simply live off the minimum true, but most people actually earn over minimum wage, which means they are prepared to do more than the minimum to make life better for themselves.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: He missed the point

        " struggle with the morality of state welfare (because it uses violence to extract wealth from workers to fund it)"

        Citation needed.

        1. TheTick

          Re: He missed the point

          Do you pay tax?

          Do you know what happens if you don't pay tax?

          1. Filippo

            Re: He missed the point

            I pay tax, and violence will happen if I don't pay tax. Also, I don't steal, and violence will happen if I steal. Jailing thieves is not immoral, and enforcing taxation is also not immoral.

            Maybe you think taxation is implicitly immoral. That's an interesting opinion. Regardless, you don't get to pick which bits of the social contract you subscribe to; a social contract is kind of an all-or-nothing deal. And most of the good ones currently feature taxation; you can get some with no taxation, but they tend to be really bad in other areas.

            Attempting to get only the bits of a social contract you like, while ignoring the ones you don't like, is in itself an action that warrants punishment. Just like for any other contract.

            1. TheTick

              Re: He missed the point

              @Filippo

              I'm glad you admit that taxation is violence, but what do you think it is if it's not theft? An organisation with the monopoly on violence tells you to give it a portion of your earnings or it will throw you in a cell for years, and if you dare to defend yourself it will cause great harm up to and including death upon you. You think that's a "social contract"?

              What social contract? When was this contract put in front of me to sign? When was I given the opportunity to negotiate terms? Was it when I was a child, and first received state services such as schooling? But contracts signed by children are unenforceable. Was it my parents? Parents have no authority to sign up their children into slavery.

              There is no social contract - stop making bullsh*t up to excuse the fact you want other people's money, and will threaten them with violence if you don't get it. That's what we call a gangster. Social contract my arse.

              1. Richard 12 Silver badge

                Re: He missed the point

                So go somewhere that (almost) doesn't tax.

                There are a few countries where the Government owns a few monopoly businesses and so has no income taxes.

                In the better ones, you are ok if you are well-off. But lose your job and you are completely and utterly screwed.

                In the others, you're ok if you can hire your own private militia to protect you.

                Otherwise, you're screwed.

                That's the "Social Contract" - paying taxes creates a country that can radically reduce your chance of early grisly death.

                1. TheTick

                  Re: He missed the point

                  Utter crap. What you describe is a protection racket.

                  1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                    Re: He missed the point

                    It's also the alternative to other forms of society, including anarchy. Humans, being tribal creatures, pretty much require some sort of structure. So you either bend the knee, work a deal, or fight it out.

  11. Douglas Lowe

    "...and families who have been without work for generations."

    I stopped reading at this point.

    If you're going to argue against a basic income then at least have the decency to base your argument on facts.

    Research has proved that "cultures of worklessness" do not exist, and that it is rare to even find even two generations of complete worklessness, let alone multiple generations. The myth of the "feckless poor" is a right-wing fairytale designed to excuse our society from caring properly for those who need our help.

    https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/are-cultures-worklessness-passed-down-generations

    1. SundogUK

      "I stopped reading at this point." and then linked to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation? Fuckwit.

      1. Douglas Lowe

        Nice. If you disagree with the study that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation undertook on this subject then perhaps you could tell us all what is wrong with it, and provide proof for your arguments, rather than just crass insults?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Fine. Try looking in the poorest areas of a major American city such as Chicago. Many of the people honestly think they're being put upon: dead-ended. And people wonder why the crime rates spike so high over there.

          1. Douglas Lowe

            Sorry, but this comment is so vague and hand-wavy I have no idea what you're trying to say with it. Can you try again (with proper proof, or references to some proof, for your claims)?

      2. James Boag

        Joseph Rowntree

        "I stopped reading at this point." and then linked to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation? Fuckwit.

        "I stopped reading at this point." and then linked to the "Bastards that funded the lying Lib Dem orgainsation" Fuckwit.

        fixed that for you !

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the other hand, Basic Income means nobody ever being better off on the dole than in work, because more work will always mean more pay.

    It doesn't have to mean a comfortable wage, just more or less enough to survive.

  13. Chris Miller

    It's a pity you don't still have Tim Worstall to point out the fundamental flaws in this argument far better than I can. But here goes:

    There are only two possibilities:

    1. We reach a world where all possible human desires can be fulfilled by machine without anyone needing to lift a finger. In which case we would have no need of money, which is basically a mechanism for rationing finite resources. (Fans of Iain M Banks may recognise this scenario.) Personally, I look forward to this Brave New World, but I'm not sure it will come about within the lifetime of anyone now living.

    2. There remain unfulfilled human desires, in which case we need to pay others if we want them to work in order to bring them about. This is what usually happens in technological revolutions. Prior to the agricultural revolution, the great majority of humanity lived a hand to mouth existence on the land. Today (in developed countries) only about 1% work in agriculture, the remainder having been displaced by tractors, seed drills and combined harvesters. Yet we don't have huge mobs of unemployed roaming the countryside, do we? They found alternative employment, at first in the factories of the early industrial towns, but these jobs in turn are now being automated away to be replaced by others.

    Basic Income is a perfectly sensible idea, BTW, just not for any of the reasons advanced in the article.

    1. moiety

      Harry Harrison had quite a good plan for the changeover period...the "work hour". As machines take over the load, humans doing things to benefit society became more valuable and get paid more, so it was possible in this book to make a survival wage for 3 hours of work per week. And unpopular/unpleasant jobs paid more, of course.

      Of course, it was based on an even sharing of society's benefits, so it won't happen. Nice thought though.

      1. Richard 81

        That's the kind of social engineering that the likes of the author would be appalled at.

      2. Seajay#

        The Work Hour

        As machines take over the load, humans doing things to benefit society became more valuable and get paid more, so it was possible in this book to make a survival wage for 3 hours of work per week

        This relies on the idea that there are jobs which any random human can do well (even when doing them for only 3 hours a week) but machines are not going to be able to do. That seems unlikely.

        The technological revolution will not be nice and even like that. If you're a policeman then sure, your time might become steadily more and more valuable as increasing amounts of the world's production becomes automated but if you're a call centre worker then when voice recognition eventually outperforms you, your work is suddenly worth zero. Maybe you could retrain, but maybe you just don't have the innate ability to do any of the jobs which haven't been automated. Even if you can, it's going to take you an extremely long time at three hours a week to get to the point where you would be useful.

      3. Denarius Silver badge
        Unhappy

        work hour ?

        Ah Stainless Steel Rat stories. Donning old geezer hat, yes, we heard fairy tales of shorter working weeks back when I were a lad. Got unpaid overtime instead.

    2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Happy

      Regarding fulfilling all desires

      Bit of a red-queen-like problem: once all our desires are fulfilled we tend to make up more of them. We are very inventive in that way. Kids now "need" mobile phones. Never considered wanting one "when I were a lad"

      I think it is therefore safe to say that the second case, i.e. there remain unfulfilled human desires will hold, rather than the first case

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Regarding fulfilling all desires

        But what happens if the pace of technology is such that newly-unfulfilled desires turn out to already be fulfillable with current tech. That's the big scare with this technological displacement: the avalanche effect of finding any new field you try can already be done by an application of the technology. Even supposedly-sacrosanct positions like the cashier are making way for self-checkouts. If it's a choice between a self-checkout and starvation, the former wins. And don't think people will automatically gravitate towards a human over a machine. Would people prefer a jerk to a machine. for example?

    3. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "Basic Income is a perfectly sensible idea, BTW, just not for any of the reasons advanced in the article."

      Except for one fundamental problem which the article notes. Who PAYS for it? And how do you keep those who are left to pay for it from simply packing up and leaving?

    4. Orv Silver badge

      I believe we can never reach (1) in a capitalist system, because capitalism always acts to limit the supply of goods that become un-scarce. If it really became essentially free to make food, electrical power, etc., sellers would abandon the market until those goods became scarce and were worth money again.

      The only thing that can become post-scarcity is human labor, because market forces don't act well to limit supply, at least assuming we don't want to let people starve to death in the streets. I really hope we don't get there, but I'm not sure what's going to prevent it. Schemes like basic income are anathema to the philosophical and religious beliefs that underlie our social contract, and the only other option would seem to be a neo-Luddite movement to unwind automation, which is also unlikely to go over well.

  14. Esme

    Ideally all this automation and computerisation should mean a world in which everyone works (thus achieving an income) for a decent salary (else there's not much point in working) for fewer and fewer hours as the years go by (so we have more leisure time i which to enjoy the rewards of the work we do).

    That's actually MY ideal world. Unfortunately the right-winger types tend to dislike the notion of employing 40 people for 20 hours a week rather than 20 people for 40 hours a week, and understandably so, because in the politco-economic system we currently have, it's more expenive to do the former rather than the latter.

    And thus we have the current situation - increasing amounts of Stuff being made by fewer people resulting in increasing unemployment and depressed incomes, and the gap between the richest and poorest widening. Because the system encourages exactly that.

    I'm not really a political animal at heart. I just wish more of those who are would gain a conscience, look at things logically, and adjust the system towards something saner. I'm not holding me breath waiting, though...

    1. TheTick

      "Unfortunately the right-winger types tend to dislike the notion of employing 40 people for 20 hours a week rather than 20 people for 40 hours a week, and understandably so, because in the politco-economic system we currently have, it's more expenive to do the former rather than the latter."

      Nonsense - on what do you base that claim? Under current legislation it's more of a problem to employ full time workers than part time ones. In the US lots of companies are hiring 2x part time workers rather than 1x full time worker so that they don't have to pay Obamacare fees for example.

      Unfortunately most left-winger types tend to dislike looking deeper into the claims they make because vague generalisations that disparage the people with political views different to them are much more fun to post...

      I base the above statement on your previous post.

      1. Seajay#

        There are good non-ideological reasons to prefer 20 people at 40 hours per week. There has been a lot of work on project management which shows that smaller teams work best. See for instance http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/02/03/mythical_man_month/. The PM overheads for a team of 20 who are all in work together are way lower than a team of 40 some of whom rarely see each other.

        Also consider the network effects, there are 190 pairs that might need to communicate in a team of 20, 780 pairs that might need to communicate in a team of 40. That's probably unmanageable so you'll have to break down in to sub-teams so you need another management layer but your management are also part-time so issues which could be solved immediately with a face-to-face discussion drag out over a couple of days of email tennis.

      2. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        @ the tick

        let me fix that:

        "In the US lots of companies are hiring 2x part time workers rather than 1x full time worker so that they don't have to pay Obamacare fees full time wages and benefits for example."

        If you take the spin doctor out of the phrase the context changes abruptly.

        Its less about **WHAT** their paying and more about *PAYING*. Companies are not in the business of PAYING anyone other than the C suite and stockholders.

        1. TheTick

          Re: @ the tick

          @ Alistair

          You didn't fix it, you ruined it. But at the same time still agreed with the point I made - thanks.

          Companies will do what they can within the law to pay the least amount for the same labour. Yes. Good.

          Good because companies that do that are then able to undercut their competition, which means lower prices for the same good or service for the consumer. Excellent, that's what we want - we want cheaper products.

          Unless of course you are prepared to pay a higher price for the same quality of product? (You will probably say you would, but we both know you would be lying if you did).

          1. Wensleydale Cheese

            Cheap == Good is a fallacy

            "Good because companies that do that are then able to undercut their competition, which means lower prices for the same good or service for the consumer. Excellent, that's what we want - we want cheaper products."

            You might be happy to fill your home with tat based on price, but some of us prefer to be selective and get better quality goods.

            Cheap does not always mean good.

            What you propose is a race to the bottom.

            1. TheTick

              Re: Cheap == Good is a fallacy

              "What you propose is a race to the bottom."

              Completely wrong, what I describe is competition. The same competition that has raised wealth and living standards across the entire world that has any measure of a free market. Even the Chinese have accepted it as the road to wealth.

              You are right about one thing, cheap does not always mean good. But if you sell the *same quality* product at a lower price because you have structured your business in a superior way to your competitors, and in such a way that the government doesn't punish you for it then that is *a good thing*.

              Honestly it's amazing how tough this is to get into people's heads. I'm not saying you're stupid, but you are clearly ideologically incapable of understanding the free market.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Cheap == Good is a fallacy

                "You are right about one thing, cheap does not always mean good. But if you sell the *same quality* product at a lower price because you have structured your business in a superior way to your competitors, and in such a way that the government doesn't punish you for it then that is *a good thing*."

                Not if you cut your labor costs more than the price of your goods. Remember that your employees are also potentially your customers, and if you price your own customers out of the market, that's like cutting your nose to spite your face. Because employees can also be customers, labor costs can have both knock-on and cyclic effects that can be very tricky to predict on your own business because the effects are so indirect.

                The TL;DR version: what good is keeping your prices down if the only way to do it is to cut your wages to the point they can't afford to buy your goods since everyone else will be doing the same thing, too?

      3. Esme

        @The Tick - I'm in the UK, and last I knew, it cost companies more to employ two workers for n hours total than it did to employ 1 worker for the same amount of time. Of course, I don't run a company, and things may have changed in the last few years, and also of course, if companies decide that part-timers should get a lower pro-rata salary than full-timers (as I've heard of happening here) then, well, that changes things too.

        My apologies for momentarily forgetting that El Reg has a readership outside of Blighty's benighted shores. The business culture can, of course, be markedly different in other countries., and I freely admit to knowing nothing about business culture and practices in the USA. Nor am I entirely current with things here in the UK, as, well, being interested in trying to improve things for the group overall, I don't tend to be looking at every wee change in the rules in order to be able to game the durned things.

        People of all political persuasions are inclined to disparage those with radically different ones in my experience. I recall some time back one Tory moaning that left-leaning folk tended to view his views as unethical and immoral. It didn't seem to have occurred to him that by their standards, that was exactly the case - and I have no doubt that the reverse is true too. With that degree of difference between two extremes, trying to find some sensible way forward is always going to be challenging.

        But I would remind you that I explicitly stated that businesses are simply doing what is in their best interests given the current rules (AFAIK, and in the UK). My point being that I don;t so much blame right-wingers for doing what it's in their nature to do given the system we have as I blame the politicians for not adjusting the system so that it;s in right-wingers interests to work for a fairer society rather than pure personal gain (in extreme cases. I am well aware that some right-wingers do have social consciences, and some lefties don't even in my view)

        It's also problematic that both politics and business in the West tend to demand that leaders be extrovert - which tends to also mean good at making snap decisions, risk-taking behaviour and disinclination to look at long term or wider implications of decisions. We could do with more introverts to rein them in a bit and make the quality of decisions better, even if they take a little longer to arrive at. IMHO.

        Finally, I don't find politics 'fun'. I find it painful. I truly don't understand why some can't see the benefit to all in trying to create a society fairer to all, and trying to bridge that gap in views and understanding often feels liek trying to walk barefoot over broken glass, rather than having an amiable discussion about how best to progres things for us all.. Which is a crying shame. But if I never spoke up at all, then you wouldn't know my views at all, now would you?

        1. TheTick

          @ Esme

          I'm English, the Obamacare example was simply the most recent one that sprang to mind, probably due to me listening to Peter Schiff a lot (the one who got it bang on about the sub-prime crisis way before it happened).

          I have no idea whether it really is cheaper/easier to hire full timers rather than part timers, but it's got naff all to do with their political leanings and everything to do with lowering labour costs. Which, as in my answer to the other chap, makes products cheaper for the consumer all else being equal. This is a good thing.

          The rest of your reply is interesting, you believe right-wingers do things that are in their best interests, but left-wingers don't and that this is a plus for the left-wingers? The road to hell is paved with good intentions, perhaps those you call right-wingers understand that by pursuing their best interest they also help others. Building a good business not only employs people, but provides value for the customers who choose (voluntarily) to purchase the products. Win-win all the way.

          You are right, it IS in everyone's best interests to live in a cooperative society. Which is why I don't understand why left-wingers are so set against businesses and free-market capitalism which are the essence of voluntary cooperation which benefits all.

          1. Rattus Rattus

            @TheTick

            "...the essence of voluntary cooperation which benefits all"

            Because free market capitalism is only voluntary in any way if you are wealthy. Otherwise it's "participate, under the rules set by the wealthy, or starve to death in the streets."

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: @TheTick

              "Because free market capitalism is only voluntary in any way if you are wealthy. Otherwise it's "participate, under the rules set by the wealthy, or starve to death in the streets."

              In other words, unavoidable externalities make a completely free market impossible. The cost of living, for example, tends to be inelastic. And because of this, the destitute comprise a captive market. And capitalism naturally distorts in a captive market.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Er..

    How about an actual 'Free Market'.. just saying..

    1. TheTick
      Unhappy

      Re: Er..

      God forbid!

    2. Denarius Silver badge

      Re: Er..

      and there lies part of the root cause of the current economic malaise. Economic theory is based on rationing of scarce resources. For the first time in history this is no longer the case in the West. Basic needs can be satisfied. Even the poor live longer than most great grandparents of any status. An example of market /needs saturation are mobile phone makers. Phones last too well while being incredibly cheap for what they can do but the phone industry relies on continuing sales when a 3 year old model is just as good for most users. Housing is another matter, but I suggest this is due to deliberate government policy.

      I don't see any evidence that jobs are being created to fill the gap left by automation. One can only keep a few baristas employed in a given area.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Er..

        I don't see any evidence that jobs are being created to fill the gap left by automation. One can only keep a few baristas employed in a given area.
        OTOH in Hobart a prostitute can be had for less than half the price being charged a decade ago going by their adverts in The Mercury. Looks like the number employed in that industry has swollen.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Er..

      Because it literally kills and hurts people.

      You good with that? 19th century ring any bells?

    4. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Er..

      "How about an actual 'Free Market'.. just saying.."

      You can't have a free market with labor because labor has illogical factors aggravating it: the destitute are desperate for their daily bread (creating a captive market) and everyone is looking out for their own skin (which aggravates surpluses because no one will be willing to just up and DIE).

  16. Mark Dempster

    Not a well thought-out article. All the tax avoidance measures that are claimed will prevent UBI working are already happening in the current system. That needs to be clamped down on, whether we stay as we are, move to UBI or anything else.

    As others have pointed out, UBI is meant to provide the income required for a basic standard of living; many people will choose to work as well to top up that income, but possibly only for a few hours a month. There will be a lot more job sharing than we currently have as a result.

    And under UBI what's wrong with people not working if that's what they choose? Everyone gets the same base income, and if you choose to work as well you have a better standard of living. Seems quite logical to me.

  17. Toltec

    Still not sure how it would work

    The price of putting a roof over your head varies massively across the country and will continue to do so where there are jobs to allow people to pay more for what they want.

    Several years ago I had a year off work and spent less than £5000, this did not include my share of the council tax, but did include the road tax and insurance on two cars so that balances out a bit as someone permanently on BI would use public transport or walk/cycle. The key thing was that we own our house so not morgage or rent to pay, just a couple of thousand to the council in tax.

    So I can imagine being able to live on a modest income, but actually having somewhere to live where there is a chance of getting a job, less so.

    1. Seajay#

      Re: Still not sure how it would work

      Well an economist would say that it cost you more than £5000 in opportunity cost. You have an asset, the value of your house. That asset could be generating you income because you could rent out your house or you could sell it and buy shares. During your year off work, you were effectively consuming that potential income stream in exacly the same way that you would have been if you had a couple of hundred thousand pounds worth of shares and you had been paying rent using the dividends they paid. The only difference being that because there was no actual movement of money in your case, you didn't see it.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Still not sure how it would work

        It's only an opportunity cost if the money isn't being used for essential purposes elsewhere. Giving up socialising and beer then spending it on developing a website is possible, and definitely an opportunity cost. Giving up eating is not possible, neither is moving from your accommodation in some instances.

      2. Toltec

        Re: Still not sure how it would work

        We could have sold or rented our house, however as we would still need somewhere to live locally once tax*, rent and moving costs have been taken into account there would be little net gain.

        * Income tax on the rent or stamp duty on re-purchasing a house after a year.

        As a quick estimate my half of the rent difference less tax would probably have been less than £1000, not enough to cover moving really. If I had been planning to give up work entirely and move out of the area rather than have a senior gap year it would be somewhat different. Even with UI, unless one is unusually financially prudent, many or most people would still require a steady additional income stream in order to live where it was possible to obtain such an income stream.

        Of course houses could become much cheaper or rather land could, because constructing a house is not going to get that much cheaper unless you self build, but then on BUI you would never have enough money to buy the materials...

        If we go to the extreme where materials and goods are very cheap because they are manufactured by robots that have been built by robots from resources mined by robots then we still run into the problem that raw materials are not infinite.

        I guess we have to get asteroid mining up and running.

        Using robots.

        Maybe one day BUI could work.

        Assuming the robots/AIs don't decide we are just in the way.

  18. JimC Silver badge

    The fundamental problem is that we have lost sight of what function businesses actually fulfil in society. They should be about a better standard of living for owners, customers, executives and employees, and if the balance gets out of kilter in any direction there are problems. The problem in the 21stC is that the executives are out of control, as in the 19th the balance tended to be too much the owners, and in some times and places in the 20thC too much the unionised employees.

    A business that is only about megabucks to the executives has lost its balance. The trouble is, when it comes to money for the executives, then its cheaper to employ only a handful of the very best people and work them until they burn out. But that's not much good for society...

    What to do about it, I fear I don't know, but the executive class are going to find themselves dangling from lamp posts if they carry on as they are.

    1. SundogUK

      "The fundamental problem is that we have lost sight of what function businesses actually fulfil in society."

      No we haven't. The function of a business in society is to make it's owner(s) money. Anything else is socialist bollocks.

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        The function of a business in society is to make it's owner(s) money. Anything else is socialist bollocks.

        I would tend to disagree.

        The core function of a business in society is to supply the product(s) and/or service(s) they produce. They will receive compensation in some form based on their value to those who consume them. Making money for the owner(s) is a by-product of actually performing it's core function.

        The focus on making money for the owner(s) is what screws a business up. It should concentrate first on it's core function, and the money will flow from that.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          No, in a capitalist system, that is precisely and completely the purpose of a business. In fact, that's the purpose of anything: to fill a demand and be compensated for it. If it isn't worth the money, the demand doesn't get filled (which is what happens when P and Q fail to intersect). No one HAS to supply the service, remember that.

          No, the most fundamental problem is that the market's too skewed, in this case with labor supply. The economics of labor have changed to such a degree that the labor pool is massively overprovisioned. The only rational solution is to find a way to reduce the surplus, but that run flat into the irrational factor that is self-preservation.

        2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Actually, it's not even filling a demand and being compensated for it. The market decides, and rarely is this fair.

          There will be plenty of products that are objectively absolutely worth their purchase price in terms of material cost, effort, and research. This doesn't mean they will sell for more than their production cost. There can be a demand for a product, yet no demand at its necessary production cost.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            That's what he meant by "being compensated for it".

            If nobody will compensate you "enough" to do X, you will not do X. You'll do Y instead, that someone will pay you "enough" to do.

      2. JimC Silver badge

        > Anything else is socialist bollocks.

        Could you possibly be getting so blinkered by simplistic economic theories that you aren't looking at how people and societies actually work?

        Although I must admit I happened to revisit something I wrote, oh, 25 years ago, today.

        In it I described the then music industry as being the last home of real kick 'em in the balls capitalism, with the subtext that society was tending more towards a more ethical compass. But I never imagined the rise of multinational advertising and merchandising mega corporations, which make the old record companies look like models of social responsibility by comparison. I guess too many MBAs hae been reading the same simplistic stuff you have, and have forgotten the moral responsibility to be an ethical human being first and a business executive only second.

        To quote/misquote/extend on Churchill (who seems to have been quoting someone unrecorded), like democracy, capitalism is the worst form of economic system, except for all the others that have been tried. It should be a tool of society, not its master, and its foolish to believe it perfect or all-wise.

  19. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    [robots] that replace people, whose income is taxed – can themselves be taxed, so that governments can redistribute the money to its unemployed citizens, thus giving them a basic income...

    First of all, businesses don't exist to pay tax, it being just another expense. They will twist and turn to avoid it, basing themselves in the Seychelles, the Cayman Isles, Panama and any other nation-state where such onerous and unwanted taxes are not raised."

    Where the person being replaced is being replaced outside of the country it doesn't really matter whether it's a robot or an outsourced human worker doing the replacement from the tax point of view. For some tasks external replacement wouldn't be possible anyway - the robot barista vending machine needs to be in reach of the customer. If its work is to be taxed it can be taxed at its location.

    But the line of argument in the article seems to assume corporation tax. Where multinationals are concerned corporation tax always favours small countries with a small local tax base. They can attract what are effectively accommodation addresses by offering competitive tax rates that bring in much greater receipts than could be achieved by the most swingeing rates on local businesses - and the local businesses then have the additional advantages of paying low rates themselves.

    If corporation tax is failing the objectives of most countries then maybe the time has come to look at an alternative or at least a partial replacement. Tax all money, credit or other proxy for money, leaving the country. That way it gets taxed before it reaches the tax haven. It also replaces import duties as the money leaving the country to pay for the imports is what gets taxed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If corporation tax is failing the objectives of most countries then maybe the time has come to look at an alternative or at least a partial replacement. Tax all money, credit or other proxy for money, leaving the country. That way it gets taxed before it reaches the tax haven. It also replaces import duties as the money leaving the country to pay for the imports is what gets taxed."

      Then the money gets converted into transportable assets or other things that can't be taxed as they are because their values are inconsistent (thus why stocks usually aren't taxed while they're held, only when they're sold--too much legal wiggle room). Remember, transnationals can play the tax games better than the governments and can turn sovereignty against a country.

  20. Toltec

    System efficiency

    For every pound that ends up in someone's pocket as BI how much will need to be raised in tax, government systems are not know for their efficiency. I bet MPs, ministers, their staff and other public servants will not be replaced with AIs.

    While I would like a Star Trek style future my more cynical/pragmatic/pessimistic side sees dystopia.

    1. The Mole

      Re: System efficiency

      The big selling point of BI is the system efficiency is far far better than the current set of benefits as there are no assessments or fraudulant claims to be made, beyond identifying people who should start receiving it (uk nationals on 16th birthday or whatever rules were selected) and ensuring it stops paying if the person dies (or perhaps leaves the country). Tell the government your bank account details and it gets paid in every month just a normal payroll system. It also allows the simplification of income tax as there is no pressing need for tax-free allowances etc.

      The challenge is that a vast amount of government jobs would be lost (e.g. much of the job centre assessment staff etc) so the unions will fight against it, and well meaning people will suggest special cases (such as the disabled etc) who deserve additional payments suddenly recreating much of the complexity. But even then it will still be better than the current system where going to work can cause people to loose more in benefits than they earn in income.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: System efficiency

        Disability allowances?

        Housing benefit?

        This argument is simply wrong!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right Wing Hell

    The likes of Amazon, Sports Direct, Starbucks etc... would need to completely automate or radically alter their employee relationships, with a safety net like UBI a lot of their employees would simply tell them to f-off under their current conditions, a UBI it will make it more difficult to hire workers unless you have a nice working environment, good perks and decent wages, the exploitation of the working classes may draw to an end. Of course it will mean an increase in migration from countries without UBI, if you think it's bad now...

    The ideal is for UBI to be literally universal, however this may be a utopian dream too far.

    1. Rattus Rattus

      Re: Right Wing Hell

      I see this as another benefit of UBI. Companies that want to hire workers will have to ensure a pleasant working environment as workers won't have the incentive of not starving to death to force them to put up with terrible treatment. No downside there.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Right Wing Hell

        Unless they just decide to dispense with sales associates alrogether, a la redbox...

  22. Pete 2 Silver badge

    But where would the robots be?

    The whole premise of Universal Basic Income requires that the robots that have "stolen" peoples jobs would simply replace those workers in the retail outlets they currently occupy and therefore the commercial enterprises that own and run these places would be a source of tax on the commerce they execute.

    But this is a huge supposition. And probably a wrong one.

    What reason would there be for individuals (who would be at home, either working there or because they have no job) to step out, possibly drive or be driven to a Starbucks, for example, merely to get an overpriced coffee? Would the replacement market not be much simpler and more effective if it placed the robot coffee-maker in peoples' homes and had Amazon (or whoever) to drone-drop supplies of beans and other raw materials.

    Whether it is a coffee maker, 3-D printer, freezer-to-plate cooker, clothes-maker or universal replicator. If these were owned by the user, there would be no source of taxation revenue except from the very people who were receiving UBI. That is similar to pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and doesn't seem to be a practical solution.

    The UBI premise only sounds attractive because it makes assumptions about the commercial future that almost certainly won't be what it evolves into.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But where would the robots be?

      What reason would there be for individuals (who would be at home, either working there or because they have no job) to step out, possibly drive or be driven to a Starbucks, for example, merely to get an overpriced coffee?

      Social contact. My wife is a full time mum and I've got a very nice coffee maker at home but does my wife prefer to use that or does she prefer to meet up with other mothers for a cup of overpriced coffee in pleasant surroundings? What's your guess?

  23. DwarfPants
    Coat

    Alternative lifestyle

    There was a time when I watched the Discovery channel and wondered what drives the offgird'ers to live 20 miles from their nearest neighbor. Now I find myself with a increasing collection of outdoor tools and looking longingly at woodlands for sale.

    The purpose of a business is to provide a mechanism for people to support their families, they do this by providing goods or services others consider to have value.

    Mine is the checkered one with the Davy Crockett style hat.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look at how governments try to cut the cost of pensions.

    I was under the impression that the "triple lock" has meant that pensioners in the UK have got _relatively_ richer than working age adults for quite a few years. Some observers link that to the fact that pensioners bother to vote.

    It's not the government that's been cutting pensions, it's the employers...

  25. frank 3

    UBI has issues, but there's a better solution.

    The NHS has not made me particularly careless of my own health.

    But it did de-risk at least one aspect of launching my own business.

    And that's the point.

    UBI frees people to fulfill their actual potential, without having to worry about failing.

    Still, I don't think UBI is the right solution as it puts you at the mercy of the state.

    Far better is a model around capital homesteading, whereby you gain an actual ownership of the services you use over time and derive an income from it. Think about it like this - every month you pay for your mobile phone contract. And in return you get a phone line + a tiny ongoing share in the business' profits. Over time that accrues and you start to build an equity stream.

    Like a mortgage instead of rent: over time you accrue equity.

    It's not a new idea, but it is a good one. Like UBI, but without the need for an all-powerful state, a revolution or a 'big bang' change.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-hamill/capital-homesteading_b_2023806.html

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: UBI has issues, but there's a better solution.

      But hoe do you convince the existing capital holders to play aling?

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: UBI has issues, but there's a better solution.

      That's a true pyramid scheme.

      Where does the equity come from? New users.

    3. Orv Silver badge

      Re: UBI has issues, but there's a better solution.

      "Capital homesteading" sounds like a renaming of the co-op concept, which has existed for a long time, especially in rural areas. The place where I grew up got both electricity and phone service from a co-op, because it was so rural that no for-profit business would wire it up -- too little return on investment.

      And there, I think, is the rub. If there's going to be significant profits from a business, such that "capital homesteading" would pay out well, no one in their right mind is going to start it as a co-op. They'll privately finance it, take it public, and then sell off for a massive short-term profit.

      The only way around this I can see is if you're proposing that the government force all corporations to be co-ops. I wouldn't necessarily disagree with that, but I don't see it as any less intrusive than UBI.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too many people

    Someone above skirted round this without actually saying it. There are too many people. Population increases while space and resources are fixed and limited. This simple fact lurks behind most of our global problems including climate change, environmental degradation, mass economic migration, famine, resource shortages, whatever. It doesn't actually cause all these problems directly but it reduces most proposed solutions to mere stopgaps.

    I'm not convinced this problem can be solved by deliberate intervention - the need to breed is part of our genetic makeup and in a low population world with poor health care it made good sense. Nowadays not so much.

    "Fortunately" the problem is self solving. Assuming we are not hit by an asteroid before things come to a head, one or more of the following will cause a massive reduction in population:

    War (international), possibly going nuclear, over resources with subsequent megadeaths due to starvation and disease.

    War (civil) as the underclasses revolt against their increasingly intolerable living conditions. The breakdown of order and the supply chain will lead to megadeaths due to starvation and disease.

    Massive environmental collapse with a devastating effect on the ability to feed the masses. Megadeaths due to starvation and the subsequent wars over the scraps left - and did I mention disease?

    Deliberate cull of the surplus population - probably unlikely and would almost certainly lead to one of the war scenarios.

    Plague - some nasty pathogen inherits multiple immunities and global travel spreads it faster than it can be contained. Meagdeaths due to disease and probably subsequent wars over the scraps.

    I think that covers the four horsemen. And of course that asteroid is still lurking in the outer dark waiting for the chance to sneak up on us.

    It is no good waving your arms and saying "science will find a solution" because all solutions, even the short term bandaids, will become more and more politically unacceptable. Science managed to find a solution to CFCs eating the ozone layer but the solutions to global warming were too expensive or slowed 3rd world economic growth or put coal miners out of work in marginal constituencies.

    I don't have a solution to offer. Nor do I have children and I think (hope) the collapse will not come in what is left of my lifetime. But come it will and our descendants will rightly blame us for not doing something at a time when perhaps something could have been done. I think I am living in the last of the good times and I am genuinely sorry for those who inherit the disaster that is coming.

    Actually there are solutions - C. M. Kornbluth memorably detailed one in his marvelous 1951 story "The Marching Morons" but, in the words of Deep Thought, "You're really not going to like it"

    (link for non H2G2 fans - http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/4637-o-deep-thought-computer-he-said-the-task-we-have)

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Too many people

      I was the one who brought it up, and the real problem is both political and instinctive. No one wants to be told "You lose, game over, better luck next life." This in turn makes "overpopulation" a dirty word: political suicide. Meaning the only real solution is the one no one would enact willingly. Worst thing is, if it's forced upon us, there's a very, VERY real chance the human race won't survive the fallout.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: Too many people

        Well, I would say the compassionate solution would be to stop making new humans who are likely to "lose" and have shitty lives. But that's not a popular one either, and it's opposed by the same people who would oppose a basic income scheme. Birth control is not popular on the right, and there's great fear and angst about the birth rate (for white people, mostly) going below replacement level.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Too many people

          They're afraid of a downward spiral. Fewer kids results in even fewer kids next generation until the point of no return hits and the population crashes. As noted by the baby boom of the 60's generation, populations can get extremely volatile under certain conditions.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: Too many people

            Birthrates have been going down for years in developed nations without a population crash. Most Western countries are only growing in population due to immigration.

            Most of our really intractable problems get easier if there's fewer people. We should be subsidizing people who *don't* breed instead of people who do.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Too many people

              Reality has never gotten in the way of the delusions of people up top. If they believe a population crash is imminent, nothing will stop them from believing it, just as believing that God has ordered Christians to go forth and multiply means they will do in spite of a lack of resources. God shall provide, after all.

              Note that I do no believe any of this, but many up top DO. It's the kind of thing that makes me want to challenge Churchill's statement about democracy with this question.

              "But what if the least-worst form of government out there is still insufficient?"

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Since you know so much,

    " ... this nonsense about a basic income", as you so eloquently put it, was strongly promoted by Samuel Brittan on the pages of the FT, three decades ago. His "Capitalism in a Permissive Society", later republished as "A Restatement of Economic Liberalism" with a lengthy but important postscript, is well worth a look.

    Advice to pamphleteers: read before you rant. Or try Twitter.

  28. cantankerous swineherd
    IT Angle

    as icon

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      IT powers the automation.

  29. Jeremy Allison

    The Future :-(

    http://www.syfy.com/incorporated/timelines/history-of-the-future-2016-2074

  30. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Why is work "good"?

    Work is often necessary, but why should it be considered a virtue? Not doing work that needs to be done I can agree is bad (lazy), but doing work that is unnecessary is just stupid. If automation has resulted in less work in total being needed to be done, then I do not see any benefit in demanding that everyone works 40+ hours per week.

    Perhaps the answer to the situation where there are insufficient (necessary) jobs is to double-shift every job. Then everyone has a job, but works half the number of hours per week. That would result in a huge saving in benefits, so tax can be reduced, meaning that people will be just as well off with half their present salary so business don't have a bigger salary bill. Well - at least that's the general idea, in practice the sums won't quite add up, so we'll also need an adjustment to our present economic model.

    The present method of making up for the lack of necessary work by inventing unnecessary jobs doing unnecessary work is screwing with society. Because a lot of the people in unnecessary jobs try to justify their work both to themselves and others by creating problems that didn't need to exist and applying solutions that mess up society. e.g. almost all of the problems blamed on drugs are a result of drug prohibition, and would not exist if drugs had never been declared "a problem".

    1. Rattus Rattus

      Re: Why is work "good"?

      Work is considered "good" because the work of the lower classes generates more and more wealth for the owning classes. And the owning classes have put great effort into perpetuating the "work=good" idea through brainwashing and indoctrination, usually in the form of religion but also through constant vilification of those who do not (or can not) work.

  31. JJSmith1950

    Chris Mellor thinks governments' money comes from "tax"...

    HAhahahahahahahahaha...

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      It does

      Though most of it comes from taxing people from the future.

  32. ecofeco Silver badge

    Bottom line

    You either pay people a decent living or they WILL come and take it.

    How can people with so much money have failed high school history class?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bottom line

      That was before nukes and robots and so on...

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Bottom line

        It's this different this time?

        Can't tell if sarcasm or real.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Bottom line

          It may well be. Just like the current trend in innovation is causing a mass net subtraction of jobs rather than being a net addition or more or less even. Where will the displaced go when there's no more need for them and no real opportunities in sight (since the new jobs are arlready being replaced with robots or are "elite"-class jobs only open to long-time specialists with openings few and far between)?

  33. SeanC4S

    Even with just the internet people are already worshiping at the hooves of the golden calf.

    Just exactly how nuts are things going to get??? It is all sounding like very bad news for the future. But then I'm somewhat old and perhaps unduly pessimistic.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Nah, you're pretty much reading it right. Most of the population's pretty much holding onto one giant rope for dear life and hoping it doesn't break before something else comes along to help them. Because at this juncture, that's all they can do.

  34. bobfrancis1980

    Citizens Dividend

    With a matter compiler or replicator like in Diamond Age or Star Trek, a citizens dividend would equally divide resources amongst all humans.

    This is the future but we will have to fight for it from the 1% who want everything for themselves.

    In the meantime we can use a citizens dividend to pay out money for their share of resources.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Citizens Dividend

      "This is the future but we will have to fight for it from the 1% who want everything for themselves."

      But what's to stop the 1% from fighting back and closing off the walled garden and turning on the Terminators?

      1. bobfrancis1980

        Re: Citizens Dividend

        Government.

        It might take protests at a level we have never seen but we can do it.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Citizens Dividend

          Haven't you noticed that the 1% can play governments like cheap whores? If a government tries to intervene, they'll pack up and leave, taking everything with them regardless of the laws in place. When you've got money like the 1% do, the laws are just ink on a page, ink you can work around.

  35. Identity
    Boffin

    Cat among the pigeons

    (or pigoons, for you Atwood fans...)

    As Buddha or Joshu might say, the question is not rightly put. [As in, "Where does the fire go when it goes out?"].

    Have you ever noticed how often problems go unsolved (or unaddressed, even) because of lack of money? Have you ever heard people complain of not having enough money? Have you ever heard people complain about taxes? about costs?

    Of course you have. Give yourself a point for each yes answer...

    Now, let's try thinking outside the box, despite centuries of history: let's do away with money!

    Don't like taxes? You won't pay them!

    Costs to high? Not anymore!

    Problems? Class sizes too big? Infrastructure in need of repair or replacement? Miscreants robbing you with a pen or a gun? Welfare costs, including fraud? (Etc. Etc...) No problem!

    So, just how is this supposed to work?

    In order to partake of these benefits, every able-bodied person must devote, say, 20 years to doing something to benefit society. [Sorry, Mrs. Thatcher — there is such a thing as society.] This grants one the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Where today, we too often measure status by wealth, under this system, status would be measured by contribution. So who would do the miserable jobs? There are, believe it or don't, people who want to be, say, old age home carers, despite today's miserable pay, when they could be cashiers or baristas. And when you consider that, in America, by far the most common job is truck driver; what shall we do with the drivers when self-driving vehicles replace them? (HINT: they will not become coders.) You speak of the dignity of work? This does not replace it, but indeed makes it the point.

    Of course, there is much more to say on this subject. You can find a much lengthier discussion at http://books.noisetrade.com/cacohen/the-root-of-all-evil

    Discuss.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Cat among the pigeons

      Bureaucratic nightmare of the highest order. You forget one of the most fundamental aspects of the human condition: people are going to CHEAT...AND find ways to get away with it. If money doesn't talk, how about a tank or a nuke instead?

  36. Charles 9 Silver badge
    Stop

    Answer this question.

    As the article notes, any talk about UBI is going to hit a very hard wall.

    Who's going to PAY for this UBI when practically the only people you can draw payments from are also the most mobile, able to just pack up and leave if you try?

  37. This post has been deleted by its author

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The reason this came about is because an army of robots building yachts for a handful of billionaires is the alternative in 50 years from now. I take it you don't think this is a 'brave new world' ? Or maybe you do.....

    In which case 1 million people using food banks and a 79% increase in homelessness in London is something to be extended to ever greater numbers of the population.

  39. lidgaca

    "Blimey, this redistribution of wealth is trickier than I thought." -- Dennis Moore

    -- Chris

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Because the wealthy know how to conceal their wealth. So there's always less wealth apparent and available than there really is.

      So soon you end up in a situation of twelve starving men on an island with only three coconuts (or rather twelve able workers in a world with only three jobs). In Sci-Fi the term for this situation is "The Cold Equation," and it entrails that, no matter how you try to split it, things won't end well.

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