back to article Universal basic income is a great idea, which is also why it won't happen

The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) unites a strange mix of people. “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things,” Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said in a speech at Harvard University in May. “And yes, giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn’t free. People …

  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    fast forward.

    UBI is a great idea in theory. But so is giving everyone everything for free. Forever.

    And it is the "forever" bit that is the problem. All the descriptions of UBI portray it as something that will go on for a year or two .... maybe 5 years, tops.

    But consider 100 years in the future. Where will the UBI come from then? What will the citizens of 2117 be getting. And more importantly, what about the families that have known nothing except getting all their money from the state for as long as any of them can remember - what will they be like?

    Will they have any education (unnecessary when the UBI pays for everything, and expensive). Will they have any skills? If UBI stopped - what would they do. And most important of all: when your entire population is dependent to a greater or lesser extent on government pay-outs, do you still have any form of democratic process? Or is the entire place run by a small elite who can use money to keep the vast majority in subservience: too scared speak out, or do anything wrong in case their UBI gets cut.

    1. Teknogrot

      Re: fast forward.

      All of your hypotheticals apply equally to the current system.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: fast forward.

        "All of your hypotheticals apply equally to the current system."

        Not equally. It's certainly possible to find families where nobody has worked for years and where education is ignored if not despised but they're a small minority and, however reluctantly, are supported by the rest. But what would happen if this were extended to the rest?

        1. Teknogrot

          Re: fast forward.

          Why be educated beyond what is necessary to fulfil the requirements of your employment? Do you think the introduction of mandatory basic IT classes in the last few decades was so that the general public can enjoy arguing on the internet and stealing porn like those of us enthusiastic enough to read a tech news site? I'm sure the focus on CV writing and MS Office use is entirely coincidental...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: fast forward.

            Enthusiasm, perhaps? I read that somewhere...

        2. Paul 195

          Re: fast forward.

          ... and yet.. when researchers have gone looking for the "three generations of unemployed" so beloved of tabloid lore, they haven't actually been able to find them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: fast forward.

            You can find the generations of unemployed in Hawaii. Locals and micronesians teach their children how to sign up for benefits when they graduate high-school.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: fast forward.

          Equally applicable. Not applied equally.

          Education is not despised now nor is it loved by the well-educated. It is pursued at great expense by most solely for the economic advantages it confers or is perceived to confer. With UBI, the rat race is de-pressurized and education becomes more meaningful.

    2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: fast forward.

      But consider 100 years in the future. Where will the UBI come from then? What will the citizens of 2117 be getting. And more importantly, what about the families that have known nothing except getting all their money from the state for as long as any of them can remember - what will they be like?

      It will be just like Star Trek. No one there ever seems to worry about where their money comes from. Except the Ferengi, of course.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: fast forward.

        Without the replicator technology that would actually eliminate scarcity, the more appropriate comparisons would be 1984 and Brave New World.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: fast forward.

          We'll likely never have replicator technology, but with the passage of time we get ever closer. As to the scarcity thing, you are looking at the wrong side of the problem. With regard to life, humanity faces only two seemingly insurmountable problems: mortality and greed.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: fast forward.

        "It will be just like Star Trek. No one there ever seems to worry about where their money comes from"

        They don't have a concept of money on Earth anymore in Star Trek, That's why.

    3. Julz

      Re: fast forward.

      If you just think of UBI as the citizen getting a proportion of the nations GDP for being a good (for some definition of good) citizen, then I think your fears become less stark. I don't see why this would cause democracy to fall or for people to stop wanting to earn more so that they can be more comfortable. Additionally, if you set the UBI at sufficient rate (basically the most of the welfare budget) then you can get rid of most pensions and benefits so you can then remove the biggest and most bureaucratic department of our government, which as the piece suggests, is a very real reason why it would be very difficult to do. Turkeys and Christmas...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: fast forward.

        Additionally, if you set the UBI at sufficient rate (basically the most all of the welfare budget) then you can get rid of most all pensions and benefits so you can then remove the biggest and most bureaucratic department of our government

        FTFY

        I think you underestimate the ability of any bureaucracy to hang on undiminished. Even if you got rid of the entire pension and benefits system you'd probably find they'd need at least 10% more staff to handle UBI.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: fast forward.

      summary: without threat of starvation and/or rampant poverty, NOBODY would work hard to get ahead.

      And, don't forget one other likely outcome: when 'minimum income' is handed out by "whomever", expenses will rise to meet it. So you'll be equally poor as before, but with more money. This translates to a rather nasty form of inflation. It's why housing in certain places is RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE, and the wages are often "just high enough" so you can SUBSIST but not get ahead.

      See how it works?

      The only fix is a TRUE free market system. As imperfect as it is, free market has the inherent checks and balances to reward hard work and punish laziness. As for "compassion", let private charities and religious organizations handle that part. When politicians are elected by giving other people's money away to those who vote for them, corruption is guaranteed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "free market has the inherent checks and balances"

        The issue with the actual "free" market is that many people are busy neutering the "inherent checks and balances" because they will work against them, and they don't like things like competition and the like. And many executive incompetency and laziness is often highly rewarded through golden parachutes.

        In many ways welfare is being use by big business to avoid to pay workers better - they attempt to burden the state and taxpayers (not them, because their money find every way to lonely islands...) with their greed and inefficiencies. They even make more money from it by increasing the debt level, which is another way to transfer even more money from the poor to the rich under the guise of interests paid to buy the same goods/services people should be able to buy directly.

        Yes, we would need to fix the free market first, and make it truly competitive and meritocratic, from the *top* to the bottom....

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: fast forward.

        > Without the replicator technology that would actually eliminate scarcity

        It's not replicators that eliminate scarcity, it's having sufficient land mass (read: source of solar radiation made usable to us by plants) per human.

      3. Dave 126 Silver badge

        > The only fix is a TRUE free market system. As imperfect as it is, free market has the inherent checks and balances to reward hard work and punish laziness

        Sorry Bob, but it doesn't just reward hard work. It largely rewards capital. It rewards luck. In addition, some of the rewards it provides are so disproportionate that it results in huge wealth inequality. The only reason that this inequality hasn't resulted in violent uprising in the USA in the 20th century is that technology has resulted in growth - even the lowly workers can afford a car and TV. However, plot the graph: how the hell can growth continue indefinitely when resources (ultimately: land area) are finite?

        1. Commswonk Silver badge

          The only fix is a TRUE free market system. As imperfect as it is, free market has the inherent checks and balances to reward hard work and punish laziness

          Does a "true" free market include the use of tar and feathers* for those who dump on the rest of us?

          If it does then where do I sign up?

          * Or worse...

          1. veti Silver badge

            Spammers. Bloggers who live on ad revenue. Those... people who post reheated political talking points on every forum on the internet, including this one. Ambulance chasers. Reality TV producers. Reality TV "stars". Professional celebrities. Journalists who write about celebrities. Paparazzi. Daytime TV presenters. The Shopping Channel. Advertising salespeople. Telesales drones. Cabinet ministers. A significant percentage of all civil servants.

            All in all, there are probably hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who turn up every morning to do a solid, professional, arduous, and often unrewarding and unsung, job that only has the effect of making the whole country a shittier place. Think Nathan Barley.

            The "growth of employment" is not something we should be celebrating.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Move forward to the 18th century

            Seriously Commswonk, we have guillotines now.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Humans are very rarely purely resource bound, imagination bound maybe.

          And to bollix up a quote, the "free market" system is necessarily the best, but it is superior to any other option tried or proposed, given human nature as we best understand it. It does reward capital, because capital is valuable, but it is purely political to say it "largely" rewards that way.

          A market, after all, is simply the external expression of internal needs through mutual agreement. And although people will always try to game markets, the strength of a free market system is that it is, generally, significantly resistant to permanent gaming. Markets act as a highly distributed information processing mechanism to satisfy various demands.

          The major issue with those who rail against or complain about a market based solution is that all the alternatives they propose turn out to be worse than what they complain about. Any bureaucratic solution will inevitably be captured by the controllers as that's what humans do. If humans were perfect or even just perfectable, maybe these controls could work, but they aren't and probably never will be.

          1. Teknogrot

            You seem to think that we sprang into existence fully formed with regulation of the market in place.

            Have you considered that you might be talking bollocks?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            never will be

            If humans were perfect they could effectively regulate a free market system. No different from government administration of enterprise.

            Fact is we have a hybrid and always will. One part governed by (nominally) democratic means, the other part governed by ownership of capital. Which part do you prefer to be ruthlessly efficient? Depends on where you stand, I suppose.

          3. oral_suspension

            If true free markets are necessarily superior, why are all the most successful developed nations mixed economies?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Checks and balances

          > The only fix is a TRUE free market system. As imperfect as it is, free market has the inherent checks and balances to reward hard work and punish laziness

          What checks and balances? The incentives that reward raping the planet by externalizing such costs and monopolizing labor and consumer markets? TRUE free market system? WTF is that?

        4. CarbonLifeForm

          Land is finite (unless you build up, or move offworld!). But resources and land are not identical. People are a resource too.

          I do understand your point, and it is true that the market rewards efficiency, hard work, luck, preparation, and capital, but the scarcity argument has been deployed many, many times and has yet to work. It just seems Malthusians and neo-Malthusians for example (not saying you are one!) are forever positing a catastrophe whose deadline is fast approaching, yet never seems to come true.

          Look at the famines of the 20th century, and a true lack of food was almost never their cause.

      4. batfink

        Re: fast forward.

        Sorry Bob - your first line is unsupported assertion, so none of the rest of it follows.

        You are making the assumption that nobody would work hard unless faced with starvation. What is this based on? Your own attitude? Based on your thinking, everybody should stop growing businesses, working their way into better-paid positions in organisations, etc etc as soon as they have enough income to keep them from starvation.

        But that doesn't happen, does it?

        So, why would you make the assumption for a UBI?

        Would you work less hard to get ahead if you had a UBI?

        In practice, none of the small-scale trials have shown your theory to be correct. In general, they seem to have had net benefits in terms of economic activity and reduced government healthcare costs. In none of these was any increase in idleness noted.

        In summary: you are opposed to it because of your incorrect (and unsupported) assumptions about "feckless others".

        1. Peter Galbavy

          Re: fast forward.

          It was tried. They were the centrally planned economies that they tried in Eastern Europe, the USSR and others. About the only one left now is Cuba. With no personal incentive to advance there is little advancement.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            WTF?

            Re: fast forward.

            "About the only one left now is Cuba. With no personal incentive to advance there is little advancement."

            So the nation with well educated children and a good health care system show no advancement?

            I think you are confusing base benefits with crippling economic sanctions.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: fast forward.

              You, you actually believe the propaganda about Cuba having a good health care system ? It's like the USSR used to be, the rubes like you were shown the nice hospital with actual clean bedding and quite modern facilities - but that's only used to for this purpose and only the nomenclatura get treated like that. The common herd get dirty rooms with limited drug availability, no running water, and attended by people not trained as doctors. The "well educated" is the same scam, they're only well educated by the fake tests used to show that.

              It's Potemkin villages, all the way down...

            2. JEDIDIAH
              Linux

              Re: fast forward.

              > "About the only one left now is Cuba. With no personal incentive to advance there is little advancement."

              >

              > So the nation with well educated children and a good health care system show no advancement?

              You are peddling a ridiculous fantasy there.

          2. strum Silver badge

            Re: fast forward.

            >It was tried.

            Was it bollocks. UBI has no similiarity to soviet communism. And those societies had disincentives for advancement, because the elite gobbled up any advances (especially if it didn't fit the party's policy).

            1. JEDIDIAH
              Linux

              Re: fast forward.

              Beyond pervasive corruption, the problem with communism is that commerce was a capital crime. If you saw that there was a material deficit and tried to remedy it you were KILLED if the state found out about it. The entire economy was badly mismanaged. Anyone that tried to help fix the situation was treated as an enemy of the state.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            faulty analogy

            UBI does not eliminate incentives to work for cash. It is not a centrally planned economy.

            Have some coffee. Clear the fog.

      5. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: fast forward.

        If you look at the numbers quoted, those universal income values are very much just scraping by / not far off poverty numbers, not the type of figures to live a comfortable and enjoyable life of no work.

      6. Paul 195

        Re: fast forward.

        Not true. UBI will stop you from starving or sleeping on the street. It would enable the young to try learning an income as a musician , author or artist (a function which the more generous supplementary/unemployment benefit we used to pay in this country a few decades provided). It wouldn't pay for the latest iPhone or whatever other piece of bling took your fancy. Most people would look for some kind of employment to boost their basic income; but the safety net would mean that employers couldn't just take the piss as they so often do now.

      7. strum Silver badge

        Re: fast forward.

        >The only fix is a TRUE free market system.

        One fantasy at a time, please.

      8. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: fast forward.

        The only "true free market system" I'm aware of on the planet is Somalia. Doesn't look like the masses are faring very well there.

        1. Steve 114

          Re: fast forward.

          'Somalia' as an example of the ultimate free market? Parachute each of them weekly 'UBI' cash and see how much better they do.

      9. FatGerman

        Re: fast forward.

        "The only fix is a TRUE free market system. As imperfect as it is, free market has the inherent checks and balances to reward hard work and punish laziness."

        A free market system rewards greed and ruthlessness. It punishes those who don't possess those "qualities". In that respect it holds humanity back in the dark ages. The only true way forward is to stop letting money run everything.

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Mushroom

          Re: fast forward.

          That's hilarious. It was the merchant class that got us out of the real dark ages.

          They continue to come up with useful things because there's profit in it.

      10. oral_suspension

        Re: fast forward.

        Which set(s) of rules constitutes "a TRUE free market"?

    5. LDS Silver badge

      "when your entire population is dependent"

      You're right - it's the dream of any politician - have the whole population utterly dependent to the State (which means to politicians) - which also means you eventually got the Big Brother - Freedom is Slavery...

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: fast forward.

      Not really. Almost everyone can get a basic income of various levels at the moment through benefits as long as they jump through sufficient hoops. However if you wish to work then there are certain significant issues which affect your benefits and mean that you need to work a certain sweet spot of hours to make it work.

      the idea with UBI is you can work any extra hours right through to being a CEO of a multi-million currency company and you'll still get the UBI. So even if you worked 2 hours a month it would still be extra income without having to cause issues with the benefits agency that may mean you lose all your benefits. Similarly with voluntary work - you could become a full time volunteer (for genuine charities not as an intern/cheap labour) and get your UBI if you are 'between jobs' and want some more work experience.

      The incentive to work will be that it will be much easier to get some extra money to top up your UBI, you don't have to worry about officialdom and red tape.

      As for families knowing nothing other than getting money from the state - I'm afraid that for some families that is already the case. This trying to stigmatise, it's just a fact that in areas with very high unemployment and very few job prospects and a lack of opportunities to mobilise then this can happen.

      As far as paying for it - This just needs some juggling of the figures. It shouldn't end up costing much more than it does now. The tax bands and rates will change so that for instance someone like me in a normal job doesn't get any benefit for the UBI even though I still get it (heck might even lose a little bit in tax). The benefits cuts as mentioned in the article will also pay for large sum. removing a lot of the bureaucracy (job centres for instance) and other departments (I know the article mentions this but hell, that can be dealt with in the revolution).

      As robots/ai start to take over jobs then company tax, company owners etc pay more tax which covers the UBI of the people they replace.

      I don't think UBI would work if everyone who go it felt 'well off'. However if it is at a level to make sure people keep their head above water and by working even minimal amounts they get a tangible supplement then it could help society as a whole.

      The major issues will be around extra benefits like housing benefit etc and how they are handled as it might end up being used in the same way jobseekers allowance is now and negating some of the pros of UBI.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: fast forward.

        "The tax bands and rates will change so that for instance someone like me in a normal job doesn't get any benefit for the UBI even though I still get it (heck might even lose a little bit in tax)."

        If you rely on extra tax on high incomes or large corporations to make it work, take a look around you. If X hours effort expended on rearranging tax affairs brings in more money than if it were expended on earning then that's what will happen and your hoped for taxation to fund it will be elusive. Should you manage to lose the benefits bureaucracy - IMV unlikely - you'll probably just redeploy it trying to collect taxes.

        You might be able to find a new tax base in terms of taxing the output of machines on the basis that these are going to take over employment. Employers will just respond by continuing to employ low paid workers (will there be any justification for a NMW/LW with UBI?) and lock in low productivity still further.

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: fast forward.

        "As robots/ai start to take over jobs then company tax, company owners etc pay more tax which covers the UBI of the people they replace."

        Thats whats got to happen - we're never gonna reach "Logans Run" type leisure utopia* if we keep finding ourselves slave like work to do just to justify our existence when the robots are happy to do it all for us . Why have a dog and bark yourself? They can bring this in gradually in 5 stages by knocking days off the working week.

        *hopefully without the Senicide

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: fast forward.

        "company owners etc pay more tax which covers the UBI of the people they replace"

        It sounds good in theory, but look at how well Apple, Google, and the like are doing at the paying taxes bit currently... They can spend far less than the cost of the taxes and generate ways to avoid them. Then add in the corruption of power, and the growth of bureaucracy, and I don't think many people would like the result.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: fast forward.

      > UBI is a great idea in theory. But so is giving everyone everything for free. Forever.

      Nah. The practical problems are:

      (1) an income of £50 or £100 per week is not a useful amount to live off - the main problem being the cost of housing.

      If there are not enough houses to go around for the number of people who want to live in them, the cost of housing will always rise to put it out of reach of the poorest.

      For someone who is single but has no job - they might be able to bunk at a mate's place, but can at least pay for pizza and beer from their UBI.

      For a single parent without a job - they will still be destitute.

      (2) it is meaningless unless it can replace almost all other benefits (including jobseekers allowance, housing benefit etc). If the UBI isn't enough to live on, and you can still claim other benefits to top it up, then UBI doesn't solve any of the problems it claims to - such as high marginal tax rates when you get a job. We are back to square one.

      Apart from the above, I think it can be made to add up more or less:

      - scrap tax free allowances, and charge everyone ~40% tax on every pound they earn (replacing both income tax and NI). By the time they receive their UBI, people in work will be more or less unaffected.

      - stop treating earned and unearned income differently; lump them together

      - scrap child benefit, and pay the child's UBI to the parents

      But if the aim of UBI is to plan for a post-work society where robots generate most of GDP, the amounts being discussed mean that the majority will live in poverty, unless you also build and maintain homes for everyone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: fast forward.

        @AC .... "For a single parent without a job - they will still be destitute."

        True, but if they can get someone to look after their kids for a few hours (like when they are a school) they would be able to earn something without loosing the benefit. Currently they have no incentive to earn anything as the withdrawal of benefits gives the same result as a 100% marginal tax rate. With UBI, working when they can makes them less destitute.

        1. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: fast forward.

          "True, but if they can get someone to look after their kids for a few hours (like when they are a school) they would be able to earn something without loosing the benefit. Currently they have no incentive to earn anything as the withdrawal of benefits gives the same result as a 100% marginal tax rate. With UBI, working when they can makes them less destitute."

          Exactly, the system we have at the moment is mental, You can go from benefits to full time employment and end up with LESS income... Where is the incentive for anyone on benefits to look for work (Unless they are able to find something well paid).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: fast forward.

          > if they can get someone to look after their kids for a few hours

          Which becomes more plausible if that childminder has UBI backing up their income.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: fast forward.

      "And that SNP-led government recently announced funding of local trials of “a citizen’s basic income, a radical form of social assistance,” in its programme for government for the coming year."

      Well I guess as this is effectively subsidising cash based businesses such as drug dealing and prostitution it's quite important for Scotland...

    9. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: fast forward.

      All UBI will do is cause inflation to a new equilibrium point. That point will still have hyper-rich & poor, with a minuscule middle class. And probably a hell of a lot more alcoholics & drug addicts.

    10. Def Silver badge

      Re: fast forward.

      But consider 100 years in the future. Where will the UBI come from then? What will the citizens of 2117 be getting. And more importantly, what about the families that have known nothing except getting all their money from the state for as long as any of them can remember - what will they be like?

      You're not thinking this through logically in my opinion.

      As we move to an ever more automated manufacturing base, real jobs will become scarcer. This has been going on for some time and is simply accelerating all the time. At some point in the (probably not too distant) future almost all products will be produced by robots or by automated factories of some description. All raw materials will similarly be extracted/sourced by robots and transported automatically. All infrastructure will be built and maintained in a similar fashion.

      And when that happens, money as we know it will become obsolete. I see UBI merely as a stop-gap measure along this path.

      As for people, I think you also underestimate humanity's drive and curiosity. The vast majority of people would want to (and would be able to) do things that they enjoy as opposed to being forced into what is essentially modern day slavery for most employees.

      For some people, their contribution to society will be artistic in nature. Imagine a future where anyone can submit a structurally viable design for a new bridge (for example) and have the local residents vote on the one they like the most before it is built. For others, who knows what possibilities the future could bring?

      I used to make games for a living. I would like to do that some more - but with the knowledge that I'm not being ripped off and exploited by an industry that treats employees like shit. I would like to get better at carpentry. I would like to have the time to fix things on my house - maybe turn the land into something that resembles a garden. I would like to have the time to travel more. I want to have the time to socialise with my friends more. If I were born several hundred years from now, I might want to explore new worlds. Don't get me wrong, I also want to be able to enjoy my free time and party like crazy, but not all the time.

      Of course some people will want to waste away their lives getting high and inspecting their navels. But if that's what they want to do, who are we to discourage that? ;)

      Addendum:

      Education shouldn't change too much I wouldn't have thought. Although if we had a fewer art-history majors that wouldn't be a bad thing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: fast forward.

        "As we move to an ever more automated manufacturing base, real jobs will become scarcer. This has been going on for some time and is simply accelerating all the time."

        Is a flat-out falsehood. More people are in employment now that any time in history.

        "As for people, I think you also underestimate humanity's drive and curiosity. The vast majority of people would want to (and would be able to) do things that they enjoy as opposed to being forced into what is essentially modern day slavery for most employees."

        So if everyone only did stuff they wanted to do, who would do all the shitty jobs that need doing? Who would clean the sewers, care for elderly people with dementia, fix potholes in the road?

        "Imagine a future where anyone can submit a structurally viable design for a new bridge (for example) and have the local residents vote on the one they like the most before it is built."

        Imagine a lot of fault bridges collapsing and killing a lot of people.

        "I used to make games for a living. I would like to do that some more - but with the knowledge that I'm not being ripped off and exploited by an industry that treats employees like shit."

        You are perfectly free right now to set up your own game company and be your own boss. Maybe the reason you don't is because, like me, as much as you bitch about your employers ripping you off, you really don't want the hassle, extra work and risk that comes with it.

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: fast forward.

          More people are in employment now that any time in history.

          Technically you might be correct, but I would argue a lot of those jobs are jobs for the sake of jobs. But I think the chances of that continuing is becoming less and less likely as a consequence of the things that are now being automated today and in the near future. The number of manufacturing jobs in the US peaked in 1979, for example. How many taxi or bus or goods drivers will be on the roads in 30 years time?

          Re: Shitty jobs

          Why wouldn't these be automated?

          The one people can't see happening any time soon is caring for others. But to be honest, I'd rather have a robot look after me than some snotty nosed cunt who doesn't give a shit about me or my needs.

          Imagine a lot of fault bridges collapsing and killing a lot of people.

          Which is why I said "structurally viable". All architects and designers today have software that will tell them where stresses are and whether a building is structurally sound or not - and what its breaking points are. Why do you think that would suddenly not exist? Or in an automated society, why would you assume such things would be allowed to be built in the first place.

          You are perfectly free right now to set up your own game company and be your own boss. Maybe the reason you don't is because, like me, as much as you bitch about your employers ripping you off, you really don't want the hassle, extra work and risk that comes with it.

          Actually, I don't want to be worrying about money. I know a lot of friends who've set up their own companies who have struggled (and continue to struggle) financially, or ultimately failed because they were unable to get financial support in the first place, or their products failed because an investor or publisher forced them to release too early simply to make up the numbers on their books. I have my own company already for personal software projects, but it's only a part time affair for me right now. It may never amount to anything more than that, which is fine. My point was that if I were financially unburdened I would still do what I enjoy doing which is solving problems, experimenting and trying new things out, and developing software that other people find useful or enjoy.

          1. d3vy Silver badge

            Re: fast forward.

            "The one people can't see happening any time soon is caring for others. But to be honest, I'd rather have a robot look after me than some snotty nosed cunt who doesn't give a shit about me or my needs."

            I'd rather book a trip to dignitas...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: fast forward.

          >So if everyone only did stuff they wanted to do, who would do all the shitty jobs that need doing? Who would clean the sewers, care for elderly people with dementia, fix potholes in the road?

          Maybe not care for the elderly with dementia (although families could do more of that), but the robots would clean the sewers and fix the potholes. Otherwise what is the point of inventing them?

    11. rmullen0

      Re: fast forward.

      Unless global warming is addressed, 2117 isn't going to matter. If things keep going the way they have been, you don't need to worry about 2117. The oil goons will have made the planet uninhabitable by then.

      1. Kiwi
        Trollface

        Re: fast forward.

        Unless global warming is addressed, 2117 isn't going to matter. If things keep going the way they have been, you don't need to worry about 2117.

        Why? The ocean levels will have risen by 500 trillion parsecs by then - but "isostatic rebound" would still be miraculously keeping pace....

        </troll>

    12. Kiwi

      Re: fast forward.

      And more importantly, what about the families that have known nothing except getting all their money from the state for as long as any of them can remember - what will they be like?

      I've spent much of my time working - childhood was school and helping around home then around the homes of friends and neighbours - among my earliest memories are being out on a frosty morning helping mom and dad feed the lambs across the road (owners were away), and being upset that I couldn't share their bottle. I still had a couple of years to go before I began school, but I was already working and learning various skills. Into my teens it was paper runs, then farm work eg milking before the paper run before school, then after I finished school before I found work I did further education or volunteer work. Once I entered the workforce I was either working, training, or volunteering.

      Even now, while I am unable to work full time, I volunteer most of my time when my body lets me.

      The simple reason, and it is stated in the article, is that I, like many others, actually like to do things with my life. I've seen children from beneficiary families move away from that. People like to have productive lives, they like their lives to have some level of meaning.

      While I expect with a UBI there would be a lot of people not working, I don't know you'd have much more than today. Those who cannot get jobs will tend to volunteer in their community. It might be like a guy near a mate's place - you see him out every day sweeping the gutters in the street and cleaning up around the local neighbourhood. Might be people going into parks and reserves and cleaning them - daily rather than the 6-yearly "look at how great we are" things we have today. Some won't want to get out of bed and just become even worse slobs, but others will still work one way or another.

      TL;DR: People want their life to have some meaning, and if they cannot work they'll tend to volunteer, UBI or not. UBI will just give them better options.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's got nothing to do with robots, it's overpopulation of the planet and the top 1% are scared that they will fight if they don't have food etc...

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      The top 1% don't care about UBI, they can make more money by replacing staff with robots. That's why they've been doing it for the last how many decades

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        surely then it would be in their interests to do UBI to keep the masses pacified and dependant on them?

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Tax the robots?

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "surely then it would be in their interests to do UBI to keep the masses pacified and dependant on them?"

          No, because closing off the walled garden and sending out the killer drones amounts to a one-time cost compared to UBI which would be continuous.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Peter Galbavy

        This point is sooooo hard to get into people's heads. I try with some of my more "right on" friends and they just don't get it...

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        "If you're living in the west, _you_ are part of the 1%."

        Interesting take on basic arithmetic you have there. At least half a billion people live in Western Europe and North America, which is nearer 7% of the world population. This is without adding in places like Japan which are not geographically "west" but certainly belong to the western economic model.

        The converse is not true either. Quite a few of the world's 1% are despotic scum who have screwed their respective countries for decades.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Ledswinger Silver badge

    A shorter term problem

    Is that with UBI, many more people might decide that doing some jobs wasn't worth the hassle, compared to doing something else with their time, and living off UBI. I'm not talking about the feckless idle that all societies have (they're already on benefits, or "NEETs), I'm talking specifically about the quite large number of:

    - people on crappy zero hours contracts,

    - people doing horrible minimum wage jobs or low paid shift work,

    - people simply doing unthanked and sometimes nasty jobs, eg prison officers, traffic wardens

    - people simply working for really shit employers, like JD Sports, or Amazon.

    There's a lot of different consequences if any proportion of those people throw in the towel, with few good outcomes or easy resolutions.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: A shorter term problem

      You realise that people can throw in the towel right now and be on benefits?

      People prefer to earn money. UBI gets t set at a level that stops you freezing to death starving to death or dying of illness where medicine is not socialised. Almost everybody would prefer to work a few extra hours to earn some money for luxuries that is how capitalism works or is supposed to.

      Means-tested benefits are profoundly anti-capitalist, they break the functioning of the market at the lower end of the income scale.

      Now unless you are one of those anarcho capitalists you believe that people shouldn't die of poverty, and there should be a safety net. UBI is just a much fairer more efficient and more flexible way of implementing that net.

      1. SolidSquid

        Re: A shorter term problem

        If you quit your job you can't apply for unemployment, at the very least. I'm not saying I agree that it's a major issue, but if you do implement UBI you're going to see worker retention become more difficult. In the long run this could lead to better working conditions, but that'll take time

        1. Mycho Silver badge

          Re: A shorter term problem

          If you quit your job you can't apply for unemployment, at the very least.

          You have to take a fixed term contract doing something or other first, but it's not that hard to work around.

      2. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: A shorter term problem

        You realise that people can throw in the towel right now and be on benefits?

        But for most people currently choosing to work, there's a stigma attached to "claiming benefits", added to which the system is set up to support (or pressure) people back into work. And any job will do so far as the benefits system is concerned. If the claimant can't evidence that they're trying to find work, then the benefits get stopped. So other than for the feckless, dishonest, and unemployable, it is pretty hard to remain on benefits as some sort of career choice.

        So UBI isn't the same thing at all. Since I don't live in Scotland, I'm all for Scotland trying it out. Lets see how it pans out, if it works, and is affordable, then other countries will copy it.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A shorter term problem

        Almost everybody would prefer to work a few extra hours to earn some money for luxuries

        Depends on the jobs available.

        Clear drains for £200/week, or starve? You'll find drain cleaners.

        £100 UBI a week, with an extra £110 if you'll clean drains? Sorry mate, ain't worth it, £100 is enough for me, I'll maybe do a few odd jobs as well, cash in hand.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: A shorter term problem

          Drain cleaning is well paid (and the specialist sludge (polite choice) slurper trucks are eye wateringly expensive) and the workers who do it are well trained (plenty of risks to be aware of, ranging from Weils disease, Anoxia to drowning, crushing)

          Disclosure: Know folk in the industry

      4. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: A shorter term problem

        Means tested benefits have stupoid consequences.

        Friend of mine, nbow too physically infirm to do "unskilled" manual jobs anymore (and no skllis to do office work etc) - worked on production lines all tehir working life.

        Too young to get a pension.

        They were frugal and saved - now cannot get various disability help precisely because they saved for their retirement in a mix of ways (e.g. ISAs not just pension).

        They will get disability benefit - when they have used their savings to live on for a while to dip below means tested value.

        So much for the incentive to save for retirement / rainy day - they may as well have had lots of holidays and fun and then they would be getting disability benefit, not having to pay for disability related add ons to their accomodation etc.

      5. strum Silver badge

        Re: A shorter term problem

        >You realise that people can throw in the towel right now and be on benefits?

        Not really. Getting benefits, these days, can be bloody hard work.

    2. moiety

      Re: A shorter term problem

      Most of your examples, Ledswinger, are employers taking the piss out of desperate people who have no choice. Those employers would have to raise their games or lose their businesses, and that is no bad thing.

      1. SundogUK

        Re: A shorter term problem

        This is bollocks. Companies simply don't do this. Increasing their wage bill will simply bankrupt most of these companies.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: A shorter term problem

          So Amazon has a revenue of over $136 billion ($136,000,000,000.00) per year, most of which is "reinvested" into tax dodges to avoid having a profit and therefore paying any tax. And yet a pay rise is going to bankrupt them?! Who actually beleives that? Profitibility in a normal company is about 40% which would be about $54 billion a year for Amazon. Even assuming that true pre tax dodge profitibility is half this figure it's still perfectly adequate to be able to pay their staff an extra few dollars an hour without causing one little problem for the company, much as they may scream about it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A shorter term problem

            "So Amazon has a revenue of over $136 billion ($136,000,000,000.00) per year"

            I think you need to look up what the word "revenue" means. Here is a clue - it is not the same as profit.

            "most of which is "reinvested" into tax dodges to avoid having a profit and therefore paying any tax."

            Wrong, most of it is offset in expenditure - you know, buying the stock it sells and paying it's staff and it's bills.

            "Profitibility in a normal company is about 40% which would be about $54 billion a year for Amazon."

            Wrong and wrong again.

            "Even assuming that true pre tax dodge profitibility is half this figure"

            Would still be wrong.

            Amazon sells vast quantities of stuff, but at very thin margins or even at a loss because Jeff Bezos wants to grow the business more than make immediate profits.

            Apple is a much better example of a company that is vastly profitable, and keeps all it's profits in a bank vault in an offshore tax haven to avoid paying taxes.

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              Re: A shorter term problem

              The problem is that legal if amoral accounting makes the entire discussion a nonsense. Amazons declared profits for this year were $200 million, though they announced a $13 billion purchase of another company.

              I do beleive that the pre tax dodge profitibility was much more than that, and that buying other companies means that the money spend is written off as an operating expense and therefore as it's not profit it's not taxed. (And pity poor old broke Amazon, who is so really deeply broke and that they can't afford to pay their staff entirely independant contractors the minimum wage or other workers rights such as holiday pay, a pension, protection from unfair dismissal etc)

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: A shorter term problem

                "Amazons declared profits for this year were $200 million, though they announced a $13 billion purchase of another company."

                That I found surprising as it involved borrowing money. AFAIK that has been contrary to Amazon's SOP; the reason for a low profit in relation to turnover has been that they've funded growth out of sales.

        2. Dave Hilling

          Re: A shorter term problem

          or they raise the cost of products meaning we are all still equally poor.

    3. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: A shorter term problem

      Yes, and no. Personally, I think UBI is a stupid idea. However, I don't think too many of your objections to it should be too serious.

      For instance, farming (in terms of the picking fruit type) is widely considered to be a example of a sector that you have to have hard working low paid employees doing a physically strenous job and offloading the cost of injuries caused by inproper heavy lifting etc to the state in healthcare etc despite the fact that you can already buy harvesting equipment to do the job. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bt73GOk4JRY) The only reason it's done with cheap labour is that this removes the need for capital spend on equipment.

      "horrible" minimum wage jobs exist because the employers know full fucking well that they can get away with treating their employees like dirt. Object? Your out on your ear and the next poor desperate sod comes in to replace you.

      Both the money and treatment comes down to economics, that a huge number of people are competing for a small number of jobs. If the labour supply suddenly drops, then you have to start paying and treating staff better. It's not as if JD sports or Amazon couldn't afford to pay/treat their workers better with their levels of pre tax dodge profitability, doing so is a deliberate choice.

      IF JD Sports/Amazon went bust overnight then it would have about the same impact as wollies going bust overnight. People would moan a bit, and then just use another shop. What it'd mean is that there would be competition for better working conditions to attract staff.

      The few unthanked and nasty jobs (eg, prison officers, police etc) would simply have to be offering yet better pay to attract people willing to do the jobs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A shorter term problem

        wait till BREXIT when all these "horrible" jobs will need to be filled by good 'ol hard working Brits as all the Eastern European labour will have gone, oh shit hang on a minute.......

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A shorter term problem

      UBI is good to get people working. The basic allowance is enough to keep people warm, fed and clothed. It's not enough to enjoy shiny toys like expensive mobile phones. If they want them they have to get a job, and because they still get UBI everything they make goes into their pocket to improve their lifestyle. Eventually they will be making enough money to pay a little tax, and if they want a better life and are able to progress they will get to the point where their tax bill reaches and exceeds what they are getting from UBI.

      Minimum wage jobs and zero hours contracts wouldn't so bad if they were essentially just providers of extra spending money, but they are really crap at the moment for the people who have to do them just to survive.

    5. veti Silver badge

      Re: A shorter term problem

      Then in so far as those jobs still need to be done, people will need to be paid (or otherwise rewarded) more for doing them.

      I see that as a feature, not a bug.

  4. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    I always wondered what was going to stop people quitting their jobs and decreasing the government's tax intake when UBI rises. Get close to someone's wage and why work when you can earn the same at home?

    I like this idea, but it seems like it wouldn't work in any circumstances. Plus we'd all need ID cards to prevent fraud for this.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Get close to someone's wage...

      ... of course that would also break the market. As with speed limits the fact that you can set it too low or too high doesn't mean it's a bad idea in itself

    2. Richard 81

      @Tigra 07: But they won't be earning the same; if their pay is the same as their UBI, then they've doubled their income.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        RE: Richard

        I realise that (and toyed with including it in my comment), but my logic was that a person may see the UBI as a good reason to jack in a job they don't enjoy for a similar income at home.

        Arguably some people may see it as a good reason to keep doing a shitty job since it would act like a pay rise, but then may disincentivise asking for a pay rise instead.

        There's a lot of factors...

        1. soulrideruk Bronze badge

          Re: RE: Richard

          They are talking £60 a week!!!

          What job do you do that you would be able to quit because the government paid you £60 a week?

          40 hours at minimum wage of £7.50 is £300.

          If someone is earning £60 a week, giving up their job because they got it off the government instead is not going to cause major ripples in the economic landscape. Hell, they are only working a day a week to replace it with £60.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: RE: Richard

            "They are talking £60 a week!!!

            What job do you do that you would be able to quit because the government paid you £60 a week?"

            £60/week for you, £60/week for each of your 5 kids, £60/week for your "partner" and it's a couple of thousand a month besides the cash from selling a little pot and meth on the side.

            I don't see the merit in bankrupting a country just to give every Oxygen theif 60 quid a week for nothing.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UBI is a horrible idea. It will destroy democracy and hand all power to a tiny ruling elite. (Even more than they have currently.)

    As a historical example, the Roman Republic introduced a universal basic income for all Roman citizens: Within a couple of decades the Republic - which was centuries old, and had become the greatest power in history - collapsed and became and Empire: Free Roman citizens became subjects of an all-powerful monarch.

    "Engineers look at systems that aren’t working and ask how they can be made to work,"

    Communists saw human society as a "system" that could be perfected if only a small group of very clever people (themselves) could only be given absolute control over it. How did that work out again?

    “Technologists can see more clearly than many that the employment market is going to change.”

    Technologists don't have a particularly good track record at predicting the future of the employment market.

    What people like Zuckerberg probably do see in UBI is that the cost to them is one worth paying in return for society's acquiescence in a tiny billionaire elite, which he is a member of, taking ever more control over society and the economy.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      UBI is a horrible idea. It will destroy democracy and hand all power to a tiny ruling elite. (Even more than they have currently.)

      Concur. It leads to stuff like this: https://www.goodreads.com/series/61988-owner-trilogy

      If you are not sufficiently horrified by page 30 you bloody well should be.

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Communists saw human society as a "system" that could be perfected if only a small group of very clever people (themselves) could only be given absolute control over it. How did that work out again?

      To be fair, the actual root idea of communism (with a small "c") where everybody shares property, and wealth is distributed equally amongst everybody, is a valid utopian ideal.

      The way that Communism was actually implemented in those countries that espoused it was as a ruling elite with all the property and all the wealth, and the rest of the population kept in poverty.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "The way that Communism was actually implemented"

        Just, it was implemented that way anywhere, showing that the very idea is utterly flawed from the very beginning. But still people believe it could work, and that's the dangerous thing - it will end in the same, terrible way anyway.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: "The way that Communism was actually implemented"

          Just, it was implemented that way anywhere,

          It was implemented NOWHERE. NOT a single "communist" country has ever pretended to implement communism. What they pretended to was to implement "socialism" with various adjectives describing it as an interim stage towards communism.

          The mere fact that you are saying "implemented" and "communism" in one sentence means you have got way too much propaganda brainwashing and you do not actually know a single bit about the ideological drivel which was used to justify various interesting approaches in the Eastern block.

          The actual system there was a THEOCRACY. You HAD to believe in the bright future of communism. That is what the posters (this one) said and you really needed that belief, because:

          1. The communist party manifesto is an ideal to subscribe to (chunks of it are plagiarized out of the Sermon on the Mount).

          2. The first volume of the Das Capital sorta makes sense. It is an interesting take on things to say the least

          3. By the time you are at volume 3 you are in WTF land.

          4. The only way to contend with Lenin's syphilitic drivel is to fervently believe in it. It is not WTF, it is beyond WTF land - most of the arguments fail basic formal logic requirements.

          5. The stuff "built on top" of Lenin or god forbid the stuff ghost-written for Stalin or Brezhnev is totally out of the lunatic asylum. We are not talking belief here, we are talking belief at the level at which lunatics in the US mid-west believe in Rapture and/or some bearded lunatics believe in the veracity of some of the stuff attributed to Muhammed.

          6. That is why "communists" persecuted religion that much as well - a state religion in a theocracy does not tolerate any competition.

          7. I can continue here - party hierarchy (religious) in parallel to the society one, persecution of heretics, elimination of heretics (Joseph Jugashvilli style) - the list can be continued on many, many pages.

          There was NEVER communism in any society on earth. There will probably never be. There were vicious oligarchical homicidal theocracies masquerading as "socialist societies striving to become communist". That is not communism as a societal order. In any sense.

        2. JEDIDIAH
          Devil

          Re: "The way that Communism was actually implemented"

          Sure. Give the Tories absolute power. Makes perfect sense. What could possibly go wrong?

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: "The way that Communism was actually implemented"

            To be fair, wine was frequently sweetened with lead in Rome back when IIRC.

      2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        'To be fair, the actual root idea of communism (with a small "c") where everybody shares property, and wealth is distributed equally amongst everybody, is a valid utopian ideal.'

        No it isn't. It's valid only for people that aren't human and believe in equality of income under all circumstances.

        In the real world, you'd better believe that people need motivation to make an effort with something, particularly if that's a role that is needed by society and cannot be left to the chance that someone will spontaneously decide it's their calling.

        I don't intend to work for a second longer than I have to, and once retired will do projects that interest me, help people, but don't contribute to the fabric of our capitalistic society in the same way my current role does. The only thing stopping me doing that right now is the fact that the outlook for my pension is currently dire, despite paying in a reasonable proportion of my salary (to be fair, I am trying to retire at 55. I haven't looked in depths at the numbers recently as I don't think I'll like the answer).

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Alister ...... "To be fair, the actual root idea of communism (with a small "c") where everybody shares property, and wealth is distributed equally amongst everybody, is a valid utopian ideal."

        How does that work? Say you and I pool our property and wealth then take half each. You look after your property, work hard and earn more wealth. I on the other hand trash my property, don't work and squander my wealth. Now whilst I have had a lot more fun but my wealth is considerably less than yours so it's time to redistribute thing evenly again.

        The cycle continues either till you decide it's not such a great utopian ideal and become despotic, or our property and wealth is reduced to zero and we both starve to death.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " It will destroy democracy and hand all power to a tiny ruling elite."

      You don't think we are not in that position now?

      "As a historical example, the Roman Republic introduced a universal basic income for all Roman citizens: Within a couple of decades the Republic - which was centuries old, and had become the greatest power in history - collapsed and became and Empire: Free Roman citizens became subjects of an all-powerful monarch."

      Actually more to do with an antagonistic military mindset, and allowing very rich private individuals to control and own large standing armies (certainly in the case of Julius Cesar).

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        The Roman Empire was at it's time the greatest power in history. However, it doesn't even make it into the top ten empires in terms of land occupied or people under it's rule, even allowing for the slaves.

        " It will destroy democracy and hand all power to a tiny ruling elite.

        You don't think we are not in that position now?

        Personally, I think we are about two thirds of the way there. The next hundred years will decide that one way or the other.

        I think the causes of the collapse of the Roman Republic/Empire is far more complex than can be summed up in a post on el reg. Gibbons takes six books to provide a reasonable accounting and only covers many major events with one liner explanations.

        That the Roman Republic Senators had corruption perfected to an art form beyond anything that our politicans aspire to and were far more despised than our politicans is certainly true.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The fall of the roman empire was due to them doing to much, you could ask what did they do for us.

      2. Swarthy Silver badge
        Boffin

        "As a historical example, the Roman Republic introduced a universal basic income for all Roman citizens: Within a couple of decades the Republic - which was centuries old, and had become the greatest power in history - collapsed and became and Empire: Free Roman citizens became subjects of an all-powerful monarch."

        Actually more to do with an antagonistic military mindset, and allowing very rich private individuals to control and own large standing armies (certainly in the case of Julius Cesar).

        I believe it also had to do with all of their drinking water being carried through "plumbum"(lead) and the associated heavy metal toxicity which can cause violent\aggressive behaviour, reduced intelligence, memory loss, headaches, and insomnia.

        Nero and Caligula may both have just been suffering from particularly bad lead poisoning.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I believe it also had to do with all of their drinking water being carried through "plumbum"(lead) and the associated heavy metal toxicity which can cause violent\aggressive behaviour, reduced intelligence, memory loss, headaches, and insomnia."

          This theory has been pretty well debunked, lead has been used for plumbing for centuries, certainly well into the last century, and apparently the lead content of the water it carries in pipes is not that great, and in this analysis lead poisoning was greater in later medieval periods:

          http://www.poweredbyosteons.org/2012/01/lead-poisoning-in-rome-skeletal.html

          Also you have to be careful of descriptions of the behavior of certain emperors, as in some cases you're reading the writings of political rivals or the ancient equivalent of the Sun or Daily Mail; for instance Caligula is often claimed to have made a horse a senator.... he didn't, he just said he could if he wanted to.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "lead has been used for plumbing for centuries, certainly well into the last century, and apparently the lead content of the water it carries in pipes is not that great"

            The explanation I heard was that in the past houses were not centrally heated and were occupied during the day with intermittent use of water so the water didn't sit in the pipes for long and didn't get warm there. That ensured that the concentration of lead was kept relatively low. A combination of central heating and wives going out to work reversed this so the lead levels could rise but about the same time lead piping started to be replaced by copper.

  6. beast666

    Welcome back Stalin

    When will these post-modernists realise they won't win?

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Welcome back Stalin

      >When will these post-modernists realise they won't win?

      Warning: approximate descriptions follow...

      Both modern and (what is often called) postmodern thinking are the result of the move to atheism. They both run into problems when philosophy rubs up against reality.

      Modern "Scientific" thinking says there is no purpose or reason to anything in the universe because it comes from randomness. Dawkins will tell you that. The problem is that people see their lives and their relationships and world events and instinctively know that they must have some purpose, and that "evil" is a real thing. Only a sociopath, not even Dawkins, can run his day-to-day life in harmony with the truth of a meaningless universe. There is an explicit disconnect between what is "fact" and what is "valued." Values are disconnected from reality.

      The post-modernist tries to remedy this problem of modern thinking. This came from shortly after the enlightenment (rather than being chronologically after the modern era) and was the reaction against the meaninglessness of enlightenment thinking. Rather than taking the external physical world as the starting point for truth, they take the view that the mind is what senses the physical world and therefore reality is in the mind, not the external world. Truth is therefore what we collectively agree is reality and therefore, anything which is "true" is a social construct. This thinking show up when we see "scientific consensus" being equated with "truth" (which may or may not be the reality of the situation) and also things like "gender is a social construct." The problem is that we have no way of stepping outside of our minds to test anything and therefore we've given up on, and are un-tethered from, "objective reality." Again, values are explicitly disconnected from reality.

      Once values are disconnected from reality, we get more and more irrational behavior. Logic and truth become twisted or irrelevant. Look at CNN, the BBC, the Guardian, Salon, student protests and mass shootings for evidence of this. I think Collectivists (Left and also Alt-Right) with their historical predilection for explicitly embracing secularist ideology and penchant for class (worker/capitalist; race; gender etc) warfare fall prey to this problem in a particularly identifiable manner.

      Once objective reality is disconnected from values, narrative and perspectives become paramount. Everything is viewed through a very limited lens leading to a warping of common sense. Yelling at the sky becomes a thing. Denying Trump is your president is a thing. Race warfare by any means necessary becomes a thing. Denying that Socialism ends in human catastrophe, becomes a thing. This isn't to say the Right doesn't have its problems - it is just that the Left has gone full-lunatic first.

      1. beast666

        Re: Welcome back Stalin

        Well said Mr Lee. Pay attention and speak truth.

        I'm off to clean my room and sort myself out. ;-)

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Welcome back Stalin

        You are confusing the evolved innate tendency for humans to believe in agency, with the necessity of that agency existing. You then throw in a mix of the misguided idea that belief in some agency is a prerequisite for moral behaviour (which is neatly disproved by the observation that atheists give more to charity than people ho identify themselves as religious).

        Basically, you start from the position that the universe is inherently meaningful, then argue for that position by claiming that anything else is a sign of sociopathy.

        You should probably take a look Here, tick off the pitfalls you have fallen into, re-examine your arguments, and start again.

        1. beast666

          Re: Welcome back Stalin

          You are confused and neatly disproved by the observation that ideas like the UBI lead to 100 million deaths in the 20th century.

          I start from the position that human suffering is universal and each of us can find meaning if we orient ourselves in the world correctly by paying attention and speaking truth.

          Atheists and post-modernists lack the intellectual depth to recognise this orientation even exists and are so doomed to following discredited ideologies of dead men. They are incomplete people.

  7. Nosher
    Big Brother

    Can technologists see the future more clearly?

    I would say that technologists have a patchy record at future-gazing at best, with Adam Osborne (of Osborne 1 fame) predicting in 1979 that 50% of jobs would be lost over the following 25 years, or Alvin Toffler suggesting that computers would enhance our mind power. I don't see much of that in the tabloid race to the bottom or a world of uncritically-accepted fake news on Facebook. Even the legendary Dr. Christopher Evans suggested that computers would remove drudgery, increase prosperity (for all, not just a few) and iron out intellectual differences between all people

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great idea, pity

    Like proportional representation UBI is a great idea, but certainly the UK would be among the last countries (together with the US) to adopt it.

    The problem is the "money for nothing" aspect which will jar with the right wingers, and the older community in both countries, as to whether we need it it depends on the pace of technology in all it's forms replacing humans in jobs (doesn't have to necessarily be any kind of artificial intelligence, the automated till that sold me snacks in the local mini market this morning definitely doesn't think, but definitely replaced a cashiers job).

    We have long dreamed of robots doing all the work so we could enjoy a life of leisure, but the reality is something people shy away from, we have a hideously unequal economic system but we are more outraged by someone scrounging benefits than someone, or some company, moving billions offshore to some tax haven :

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/15/benefit-scroungers-billions-rich-paradise-papers-tax-avoidance

    The problem will be for capitalism to sort out, companies overriding principle is to create money and cut costs, if it becomes viable to reduce payroll to near zero companies will do it, this would not be so bad if they paid tax fairly but at present they are not and they seem to have the politicians pretty well on their side.

    If we ever get to a state of advanced automation where most people don't have a job I think some kind of UBI will become forced on the commercial world in order to keep people buying, if they don't then the rate of failures will increase as profits fall, therefore to maintain the status quo we will need some kind of socialism for the rest of us, the alternative would probably be something approaching the French revolution, if those in control follow the "Let them eat cake" option (which is why some of these super rich internet moguls are so interested in UBI).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great idea, pity

      "The problem is the "money for nothing" aspect which will jar with the right wingers, and the older community in both countries"

      Wrong. The problem is the "complete dependency on the state for your income, for more and more people over time, and the subversion of democracy that this would entail" aspect, which will jar with anyone with a bit of intelligence who thinks about it for a few seconds.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great idea, pity

        ""complete dependency on the state for your income, for more and more people over time"

        And who said that is anything to do with UBI?, where this has been tried before in places like Canada it has given people time to follow pursuits which they have used to earn money,and develop businesses, nobody is saying because you get UBI that you are forbidden from making money in other ways, or having a job too, that's kind of the point.

        The thing is it provides everyone with a basic level of income to ensure people don't starve, and in doing so removes the cost of large and bureaucratic systems to administer "benefits". People who think this is just paying people "to do nothing" have fundamentally misunderstood the concept because of their own prejudices.

      2. PapaD

        Re: Great idea, pity

        And yet, in places where they have actually trialled UBI, they have found that almost everyone involved used the income to improve their own situation, either by education, or by spending.

        Getting £400 a month on UBI for a working age individual isn't going to give you an easy life - however, continuing to get £400 a month even if you are employed is going to encourage those who want to live on more than the bare minimum to actually seek employment.

        The whole point of UBI doesn't seem to be to give everyone a cushy wage so that there is little to no incentive to work, but rather to give everyone (employed or unemployed) a small amount of income based on the wealth of the nation. An amount that will allow them to improve their lives, buy things they otherwise couldn't, or even work a little less and enjoy life a little more.

        Doing so actually improves the economy, because contrary to the belief in trickle down economics, what actually improves an economy is having more people spending small amounts of money, rather than extremely rich people hoarding extreme amounts of money.

        All done in a way that reduces government spend (by decreasing bureaucracy), reduces the need for fraud investigation into tiny amounts of money (if all benefit fraud occurring right now stopped, the amount recovered would be a fraction of the amount that could be reclaimed by focusing on big tax avoiders)

        If done right, UBI could greatly improve society, provide a decent safety net for most, and encourage spending amongst everyone else.

        What could you do with an extra £400 a month - pretty sure you wouldn't give up your job for it, because even minimum wage is nearly three times that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Great idea, pity

          "All done in a way that reduces government spend (by decreasing bureaucracy), reduces the need for fraud investigation into tiny amounts of money (if all benefit fraud occurring right now stopped, the amount recovered would be a fraction of the amount that could be reclaimed by focusing on big tax avoiders)"

          It won't reduce government spend, it will massively increase it. Your maths is very faulty.

          If UBI is set high enough to actually live on - a lot more than £400 a month - it will be massively more expensive than current benefit spending.

          If it is not set that high, then you won't be able to eliminate other benefits: We will still need to have housing benefit, disability benefit, pensions, unemployment benefit, child benefit.

          So all the bureaucracy would remain, and the fraud.

          Yet another miracle cure for all the problems in society that turns out to fail, once you think it through for a minute.

          1. PapaD

            Re: Great idea, pity

            Pretty much every time i've seen a reasonable UBI proposal, the amount has always been in line with current benefits (pensions, child benefits and unemployment)

            No-one has suggested UBI be set to be enough to live on, its always been a 'safety net' of a small amount. Sure, in the far future where all work is done by robots, we may have to look at a UBI of a level enough to live on, just so that the companies can make profit by selling things to people.

            But what is being proposed these days is a replacement for most of the current welfare benefits (which does mean unemployment, pensions, child benefit will all go) - all that will remain will be a top up for disability and housing. The rest is removed by the UBI

            Btw, getting £100 a week per adult, and £50 a week per child is more than you would get on unemployment in the UK, and more than you would get for child benefit in the current setup.

            In all honesty, if you dropped it to £75 a week for a working age adult, and £35 per child, (£150 for a pensioner) the costs would be in line with current UK welfare provisions, but with reduced administration costs

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Great idea, pity

            "If UBI is set high enough to actually live on - a lot more than £400 a month "

            Actually you can (living very very basically, you could at least feed and clothe yourself, if you don't mind sleeping in charity hostels), but it does show the UK economy, particularly in the South, is ridiculously distorted and overpriced, especially in regards to accommodation.

            The reason people come here to pick fruit or work in factories for very little money is largely due to the fact that Pounds Sterling in their home countries is worth a lot more, the question of whether it stays that way is open to doubt given our current economic performance, and the eye watering levels of debt, the UK (public and private) economy is pretty much on a knife edge and could well reset in the next few years, especially if property collapses (accommodation being the highest cost most people have).

            If we suddenly see higher interest rates this could well happen (having had a mortgage when rates where at 15%, I remember the majority of the houses on the new estate where I lived suddenly became empty with lots of possession notices in the windows, and prices went way down, never say never, it's happened before!!)

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Great idea, pity

            "If UBI is set high enough to actually live on - a lot more than £400 a month - it will be massively more expensive than current benefit spending."

            Outside of London, you can rent a room in a flat share for £200/month including bills, even less if you look up north.

            I can live on £200/month for food & clothing, my family of 5 spends less than £1k/month on food & clothing, so that is £200 a person, and I we are not really careful at all with food/clothing spending..

            If the government was to invest in building high rise buildings for social housing, the costs could be even less for housing and more importantly if it was done right it would provide good quality housing.

            But the key thing is you get the UBI no matter what you do, so it costs next to nothing to administer, if your eligable you register once and then you get it forever, no need to check anything afterwards except to ensure the person isn't dead each year and when you reach 16 switch the management of the money to the new adult.

        2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: Great idea, pity

          @PapaD "What could you do with an extra £400 a month - pretty sure you wouldn't give up your job for it, because even minimum wage is nearly three times that."

          An average salary pays more than that in tax,... so I'm a little confused, is this £400 a tax break? If we are giving working people tax breaks, where do we get the cash to pay those that aren't working £400?

          Just where does the money come from please?

          1. PapaD

            Re: Great idea, pity

            Current welfare costs in the UK are about £253 billion a year - that's where most of this comes from - the universal income, set at £150 for pensioners, £100 for working age adults and £50 per child, would cost around 49% of the UK's income from tax. The current welfare provisions cost about 33%, so it would be more expensive - however the majority of that 315billion that it would cost would actually get spent and would circulate back to the government, increasing the annual tax income by some.

            You could reduce the UBI cost to around the same as the current welfare provisions by reducing the amount - this is why people suggest that the amount would need to be calculated based on the current economy - the richer the country was, the more would be paid to everyone

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Great idea, pity

              "the universal income, set at £150 for pensioners, £100 for working age adults and £50 per child, would cost around 49% of the UK's income from tax."

              So UBI would cost half of all current tax income, and still wouldn't be high enough to live on, so we would need to keep other benefits?

              I guess that's put the issue to bed then.

              "however the majority of that 315billion that it would cost would actually get spent and would circulate back to the government, increasing the annual tax income by some."

              Oh right, the whole thing is dependent on left-wing economic theory: The government can always afford to spend more money, because it would all simply come back to the government in higher taxes. Funny, that has never worked in practice either.

              " people suggest that the amount would need to be calculated based on the current economy - the richer the country was, the more would be paid to everyone"

              And when the country got poorer?

              What political party would ever campaign to reduce the payment - and what is the chance of them winning an election?

            2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

              Re: Great idea, pity

              "would cost around 49% of the UK's income from tax."

              So we cap the benefits of the disabled at £400 a month, and give perfectly healthy people in work a tax break, and lose money overall.

              Sorry, I still don't get how this is supposed to work.

      3. Professor Clifton Shallot

        Re: Great idea, pity

        >The problem is the "complete dependency on the state"

        Given that most people would want more than the UBI I'm not sure how many would be completely dependent on the state and I'm not sure it would be too much of a problem for democracy if they were.

        It would be difficult for a party that wanted to abolish it to be elected unless it was detrimental to more people than it helped but that would just mean those standing for election would have to differentiate themselves in other ways - the arguments about how best to run an economy would not change particularly.

        If you consider UBI as dividends on shares in UK plc to which all citizens are entitled then all will still want the country to do well and most will seek to take advantage on the extra opportunities it offers.

        If you set the UBI fund apart from government with established rules for distribution and a ring-fenced proportion of GDP then it doesn't offer much scope for subversion of democracy as we know it - certainly less than the NHS currently does.

  9. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    UBI will come - soon

    The principle is very easy to understand. Assume I have a factory that can make electric toasters for £5 each, staffed entirely by robots, with distribution by driverless lorries. I have no staff. If every other factory works the same way, then none of us have any customers for our cheap toasters, as no-one has any income. Result - unsold toaster mountain.

    UBI is just a simple and cheap mechanism to ensure that all in a society benefit from the advances of technology. As a society we've steadily mechanised, and as a result productivity has increased, so that we won the fight for a 40-hour week. No-one should now be doing 12 hour days, six days a week. This is just taking it to the next logical stage.

    A key feature of UBI is that it is very basic. Enough for food, clothing, shelter and not much more. If people want more, then they work - but not 40 hours a week. For every pound they earn they will pay some tax, but they will also keep some of it. Goodbye benefits trap. For people who cannot work they will continue to receive some benefits. Pensioners will receive some pension (which they have paid for and earned).

    It can and will work. But the vested interests fighting it will be as hard to overcome as Big Oil, Big Tobacco and Big Pharma.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: UBI will come - soon

      and if it DOES come, say goodbye to your economy. "the masses" will end up with mediocrity, and "the ruling elite" will always have "theirs". Separate the haves and have-nots by guaranteeing UBI and you'll keep all of those upstarts (who otherwise WOULD work harder to get ahead) "in their place".

      But why is that?

      Because, in order to PAY for it, you'll have to tax incomes at the worst possible 'progressive' rate. but "the rich" are ALREADY rich. You're heavily taxing people trying to BECOME rich. So you're heavily taxing those who have the POTENTIAL of being rich, but you're taking that opportunity away from them with the high marginal tax rates. And so they say "why the HELL should _I_ slave myself and get NOTHING in return?" So they stop working so hard, as it's POINTLESS. And so on.

      And "the rich" get RICHER, because they ALWAYS do, and the poor get POORER, because, UBI.

      See?

      1. Thesheep

        Re: UBI will come - soon

        YOU seem to have an INTERMITTENT problem with your CAPS LOCK key. And also YOUR logic.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: UBI will come - soon

      "But the vested interests fighting it will be as hard to overcome as Big Oil, Big Tobacco and Big Pharma."

      Given your initial proposition - a completely automated factory with nobody with income to buy its products - why would they fight it? As you describe it it would be in their interests.

      But what you didn't address is where does the money come from to pay the UBI so the toasters can be sold?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UBI will come - soon

      "Assume I have a factory that can make electric toasters for £5 each, staffed entirely by robots, with distribution by driverless lorries. I have no staff. If every other factory works the same way, then none of us have any customers for our cheap toasters, as no-one has any income. Result - unsold toaster mountain."

      In what way does making an assumption about a situation that does not exist anywhere, and never has existed, help make good decisions about economic policy?

      "UBI is just a simple and cheap mechanism"

      Except not remotely cheap.

      "A key feature of UBI is that it is very basic. Enough for food, clothing, shelter and not much more. If people want more, then they work - but not 40 hours a week. For every pound they earn they will pay some tax, but they will also keep some of it."

      Your maths isn't very good.

      How much is just enough to live on? £800 a month at least?

      So how much is the someone going to have to earn - working less than 40 hours a week, just doing the hours they feel like, and paying significantly less that 100% tax - to cover that £800?

      And that's just paying their own UBI, what about all the other people not in the workforce whose UBI they will have to cover?

      On top of all the other things our takes are still going to have to pay for - police, schools, fixing the roads, defense etc, etc.

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    “A low UBI would leave in place means-tested benefits, but it could take a lot of households off various means-tested benefits and because the administrative cost of UBI would be very small the net effect would be a reduction in administrative costs,” [My emphasis]

    Does he really believe that? As long as there were any means-tested benefits the entire administrative apparatus would still be in place. It's just the way things are done.

  11. lidgaca

    Elephant in the room ...

    Nobody has mentioned immigration ... This has been a contentious enough issue during the past few EU years. How would we possibly be able to police our borders if it becomes known that Britain = Free Beer for life ?

    1. Julz

      Re: Elephant in the room ...

      UBI would apply only to citizens. I guess any saving in welfare bureaucracy would be made up in Home Office incompetence. Oh well...

  12. rmason Silver badge

    It works..

    It works in star trek because they can magic anything they need from thin air,and will have a similarly "tech related" solution for any other fictional issue.

    We can't magic things out of the air, neither do we have robots or computers that can fill every job role this would effect.

    Thus we still need shelves stacked, fast food cooked, reasonably priced alcohol brewed, mess cleared up, the elderly cared for, or any other job we don't yet have a robot for.

    If this happens how much do you think we'd have to pay such roles to fill them?

    1. PapaD

      Re: It works..

      "If this happens how much do you think we'd have to pay such roles to fill them?"

      About the same as we'd pay them now, minimum wage - or do you think people will give up nearly £1200 a month (before tax) to be paid £400 a month (before tax)?

      How much UBI do people opposed to it think everyone would be getting?

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: It works..

        @PapaD "£400 a month (before tax)?"

        Sorry, recipients of UBI pay tax now? I think you just invented a perpetual cash machine, where tax on tax makes more money than is put into the initial system,.....

        1. PapaD

          Re: It works..

          Of course they pay tax on it - of course, if all they are earning is the UBI, then they have a tax bill of zero (cos £4800 a year is less than the £12k or so a year that is the minimum for paying tax)

          If, however, they are already earning £35k a year, then the extra £4800 will be taxed as any other income.

          1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

            Re: It works..

            "Of course they pay tax on it",... why give it to them in the first place? This is just admin overhead. The earning limit already solves this for those in work, you've just added a third wheel.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: It works..

      We don't have magic replicators, but we do have big combine harvesters. We're approaching the point - and have been since the invention of the plough - where it's available land mass that dictate our resources, not human labour.

      That's why we have so many jobs - coders, market researchers, interior decorators - that aren't directly tied to feeding us.

      1. Tom Graham

        Re: It works..

        "We don't have magic replicators, but we do have big combine harvesters. We're approaching the point - and have been since the invention of the plough - where it's available land mass that dictate our resources, not human labour."

        We are not remotely approaching the point where everyone can have everything they want without anyone having to work - where no-one has to do shitty jobs like stacking shelves, wiping the arses of senile geriatrics or scraping fatbergs off the walls of sewers. Who exactly is going to do these jobs if they can live on a handout from the state?

        "That's why we have so many jobs - coders, market researchers, interior decorators - that aren't directly tied to feeding us."

        You mean how jobs still exist even though technology was supposed to destroy all of them?

        How people keep on finding new jobs to do, even though machines plough our fields, work our production lines and route or telephone calls?

    3. beast666

      Re: It works..

      Star Trek relies on almost limitless cheap energy.

      The post-modernists would have us all use 18th century tech windmills to sometimes provide limited expensive energy.

      Let that sink in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It works..

        @beast666 "The post-modernists would have us all use 18th century tech windmills to sometimes provide limited expensive energy. Let that sink in."

        Ahh, I see you've been on UBI for some time, your idiocracy has begun to settle in nicely, well done, you deserve some well earned couch time.

    4. Aoyagi Aichou

      Re: It works..

      The near-communism of Star Trek works because of seemingly infinite energy resources, i.e. almost a complete lack of scarcity. Until that point is reached, systems like UBI are going to help a few, but will be abused by many, especially those coming from "developing" countries. In fact, I'm not sure if I could resist such proposal (i.e. live a medicore life with no luxuries and play videogames, watch Netflix, or do whatever else I want all day) myself, being a lazy tw*t.

      "Who exactly is going to do these jobs if they can live on a handout from the state?"

      The Klingons, of course. It's only for their own good.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: It works..

        Fatbergs are a product of our city sewers (dense population centres) and people carelessly throwing fat down the sink. This is cultural - many countries don't even allow toilet paper down the pan, it goes in a bin instead (Brazil). In Japan bidet toilets largely negate the need for it.

        So, carefulness being a part of the social contract, and thoughtfulness in our infrastructure.

        Let's be careful here and not talk in terms of extemes - the idea is not to allow everyone to become fat lazy coach potatoes, but to lead good lives. Building a house can be fun if you do it with friends and will enjoy the fruits of your labour. Useful work can make you feel good, doing shit work for low pay for forty hours a week doesn't.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It works..

          its more to do with they don't have a decent sewerage system that they don't flush paper. Turkey is the same they don't have 4" waste pipe its more like 2" so it can't cope

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It works..

      @rmason

      "Thus we still need shelves stacked, fast food cooked, reasonably priced alcohol brewed, mess cleared up, the elderly cared for, or any other job we have a robot for." FTFY

      You missed the point about there will be very few jobs and you mainly listed the easy ones to automate.

  13. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

    Alternative systems.

    Reduce the number of people, especially the useless ones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternative systems.

      "Reduce the number of people, especially the useless ones."

      Well I suppose we could run a society without politicians ....

  14. unwarranted triumphalism Bronze badge

    We already pay people to do nothing

    Too bad I'm one of those who has to work to get money. Where do I join the gravy train?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We already pay people to do nothing

      "Too bad I'm one of those who has to work to get money. Where do I join the gravy train?"

      Leave your job and go on benefits.

      The amounts being suggested are similar, this is not being paid large sums of money "to do nothing", it's basic income to survive, paid to everyone to get rid of the large "benefits" administration infrastructure in most developed countries, and provide everybody with basic income for survival.

      1. unwarranted triumphalism Bronze badge

        Re: We already pay people to do nothing

        > Leave your job and go on benefits.

        Doesn't work like that. If you quit voluntarily you don't get benefits.

        You've no experience of the real world. Leave the talking to those who do.

        1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: We already pay people to do nothing

          @unwanted triumphalism

          "Doesn't work like that. If you quit voluntarily you don't get benefits."

          I took VR from IBM a couple of years ago, I had no problems signing on and receiving benefits. As I had full NI contributions I was guaranteed Job Seekers allowance for six months, with a review after that, I'd secured another position in a matter of months however so didn't find out what happened at the next step.

          1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

            Re: We already pay people to do nothing

            That's not quitting, that's redundancy.

            1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

              Re: We already pay people to do nothing

              "That's not quitting, that's redundancy."

              It was voluntarily leaving a job, what do you see as the difference there? The point was I had full NI contributions and was entitled to JSA for six months.

      2. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: We already pay people to do nothing

        So I take it that you don't need anti fraud departments to prevent identity theft and then getting a 100% rise in UBI income through stealing the identity of somebody who's died or gone abroad?

        And also that with UBI at £400 per month is enough to scrap disability benefit, housing benefit and everything else.

        Meanwhile, in the real world the department that used to manage unemployment benefit ends up managing universal benefit, and all of the other departments continue to exist.

        1. unwarranted triumphalism Bronze badge

          Re: We already pay people to do nothing

          Show me where I said I supported or condoned benefit fraud.

          Here's a hint: you can't.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We already pay people to do nothing

      "Too bad I'm one of those who has to work to get money. "

      Fake News.

  15. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    Makes sense to let other countries trial it and if it works then we can consider it. I like the idea of UBI as we wont need a load of public servants for a simple system that supports the needy efficiently. But I am not convinced that the price of everything will be adjusted up because everyone having a guaranteed value income could make that UBI the new zero (all prices factor it in and move up). Also it would neuter government vote buying which they wont like as they cant pander to welfare issues (or more likely they will move away from UBI to bribe their voters).

    Of course to afford it would require everyone to pay much more in tax. Unless we are ditching other public services for it but that wont win votes either.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Way back

    Way back in the 60s there was a system proposed called NIT (Negative Income Tax).

    The idea was that everyone would get the absolute minimum necessary to live but they could earn more by working with the NIT reducing by a percentage of their earnings.

    The only real problem with that was the fact that all the welfare departments and organisations would be replaced by the income tax department - you filled in your tax forms and they worked everything out.

    If I remember correctly it got talked about in the UK House of Lords and some actual tests of the system were carried out in the US (a few selected cities).

    I think the main reason it wasn't adopted was that it would put too many peoples noses out of joint because they saw it as something for nothing ignoring the fact it mainly replaced the welfare and/or unemployment benefits that were available.

    1. Seajay#

      Re: Way back

      It was adopted. That's universal credit.

  17. Kaltern Silver badge

    At least this topic isn't yet being discussed on BBC HYS.

    Unfortunately, in the UK and US at the very least, it's always going to be the case that those with, generally, couldn't give a fuck about those without. History shows us that this is the case, no matter how many well-meaning folks turn up with their charitable ideas.

    UBI has the potential to work. However, all that would happen, is those who set prices, will inevitably set them higher, because there would be a small, but increased amount of spendable money. A loaf of bread will go from £1 to £1.25. These things happen, they always do. Inflation is usually to blame, although currently Brexit is a firm favourite right now - even though it has yet to happen.

    Those who DO have more money than the 'working class' will hate the idea of supporting these 'freeloading plebs' - because in the UK at least, that is how people are generally brought up to think. I really dislike my own country. I'm not suggesting everyone should be identical and therefore have no ambition - because ambition drives us forward. But just how many people have come and gone, with the potential to be the next Einstein, just because they don't drive a Merc?

    The country - and indeed most of the world, is drunk on capitalism. I'm not one of those ridiculous activists, running around naked, nailing myself to a tree in protest. But it's clear to anyone who has eyes and intelligence, that the world, as a whole, has completely stagnated. There have been no meaningful technological breakthroughs for decades. Meaningless studies by overpaid researchers into why mice prefer sugar over cyanide, snort up funding like coke, while education of the general public suffers. Politicians, who forget the 'By the people, For the People' thing, only exist now to line their own pockets and bend as many poorly thought out Westminster policies as possible. Governments view people as nothing more than taxpayers. And those who can actually afford to pay taxes do whatever they possibly can to avoid it.

    The state of world poverty has nothing to do with a lack of UBI. It's entirely due to greed and the belief that money is going to make everything better - assuming you have any.

    1. SundogUK

      You don't actually understand economics at all, do you?

    2. TheTick

      @Kaltern

      "Unfortunately, in the UK and US at the very least, it's always going to be the case that those with, generally, couldn't give a fuck about those without."

      As I understand it, the people of the UK and US are amongst the biggest contributors to charity in the world. A quick google gave me:

      https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/sep/08/charitable-giving-country

      Please stop spreading uninformed rubbish.

      1. Kaltern Silver badge

        Point... entirely missed.

        Oh well.

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Those who DO have more money than the 'working class' will hate the idea of supporting these 'freeloading plebs'

      You've put that in deliberately imflammatory terms. I suspect most people's thoughts go more along the lines of "Those who work hard to earn money will hate the idea of supporting these freeloadiers", and I can't say I blame them. No need to bring class into it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I wouldn't say its those with more money than the "working class" that would hate the idea. Nothing pissess someone off who doesn't earn much than seeing someone else who does feck all and is better of than they are actually working hard.

  18. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Crivens

    Well knock me over with a feather. An article which doesn't just mention the Scottish moves but correctly attributes the credit for moving it forward.

    Did you not get the memo Reg? ALL UK media must be universally Unionist at all times and all Scottish devolved progress must either be ignored or filtered through the SNP Bad filter (the Scottish Greens being also Yes are also Bad).

    Expect SA Mathieson to be taken off for urgent re-education or sacked and redeployed on RT or Sputnik News or maybe Al Jazeera English.

    1. unwarranted triumphalism Bronze badge

      Re: Crivens

      That's quite a chip you have on your shoulder. It must be a heavy burden.

      Have you thought about getting rid of it?

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Crivens

        You obviously have no experience of the Scottish media. It must be nice in your bubble of ignorance.

      2. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Crivens

        There is one, precisely one, newspaper which supports Scottish independence, The National. No TV stations or programs*, no radio stations. Yes supporters make up at least 45% of the population.

        The SNP is a long term party of government since 2007. Last Holyrood election its vote went up, yet again, moving it out of the sweet spot in the D'Hont system which saw them gain a majority the time before. But enough of us saw that danger and voted Green (Green votes electing people with 1/10th of the number needed for SNP people on the List) that there is and was a Yes majority still in the parliament though.

        Yet that government if introduced in news items in pejorative or negative terms constantly. When they do something good lots of articles come out decrying it in silly terms or if you are the BBC ignoring it utterly.

        There is a genuine lack of representation of Yes and the SNP as a valid government in our media. Even though the SNP has been the government here for 10 years it is still treated as invalid by much of the media.

        Do you think that half of the population being utterly unrepresented and unreflected in our media is fair?

        *Though there will be the much derided even before it is broadcast Alex Salmond show on RT on Thurs.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given the choice between

    'BT plots to slash pension benefits for 32,000 staff'

    .vs.

    UBI

    -

    Mines, the thinking of.... 'at least my time is my own' etc.

    .vs.

    'A lot of people derive their meaning from their employment'

    -

    /Just-a-former-IBM'er

  20. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    Shiver went down my spine, abolish the Dept. Of Workshy And Persecution, can just see that episode of Yes, Minster popping up.

  21. macaroo
    Pint

    The Future???

    Years ago, I read a Science Fiction story about a future time when industrial robots produced all the goods and all the people had a daily income from the government. The only catch was, the recitients had to buy the produced goods on a daily basis. The items only lasted a day, so they had to be replaced on a daily basis.

  22. andy 103
    WTF?

    "a £50/£100/£150 UBI would cost £28bn annually"

    "a £50/£100/£150 UBI would cost £28bn annually"

    I'm pretty sure that the cost depends on the cost. You should get a different figure depending on whether it is 50, 100 or 150, for the (constantly changing) number of people involved at any given time. This is known as basic maths and is why nobody pays any attention to these bullshit articles on things which are literally never going to happen.

    Nobody can calculate anything accurately enough to make this sort of thing a reality. Saying it would cost 28 billion is like saying it'll cost "some money". Exactly, you've no idea how much, and neither does anyone else. So how can a plan be implemented for it? Oh yeah, it totally can't, and won't.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "a £50/£100/£150 UBI would cost £28bn annually"

      A quick back of the envelope calculation. Assume

      - everyone gets UBI

      - everyone gets the *lowest* amount of £50 per week,

      - 52 weeks per year,

      - Population of England of 55 million (65 million for the UK).

      That comes to £143 billion annually (assuming a billion is a thousand million) for England (£169 billion for the UK). If one assumes that everyone get the middle amount (£100 per week) then the estimate of £28 billion is at least an order of magnitude too small.

      What am I missing? Is the £28 billion how much more this will cost than all the current benefit schemes that it proposes to replace? I'm not even in the UK, but I find these number fascinating.

    2. Seajay#

      Re: "a £50/£100/£150 UBI would cost £28bn annually"

      It's not £50 or £100 or £150

      It's £50 for children, £150 pensioners, £100 everyone else.

  23. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
    FAIL

    Oh FFS

    These guys cannot be arsed to have their beloved firms pay their required taxes into the already existing social networks! So what they are saying is basically 'build utopia and we will condescend to join you'. Or not.

  24. phuzz Silver badge

    "young people aged 16-24 getting £50 unless they remained in education,"

    Er, how's that a good thing? Surely encouraging education is generally the best course to take, not restricting it to only those who have someone else supporting them?

    1. Blotto
      Alert

      @phuzz

      i think that line is there to catch the eye of the Labour elite as they'd like as many youth as possible to not further their education so they can be looked after by the state for as long as possible.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Land Value Tax and Citizens Income combined

    Tax:-

    Don't tax income, tax ownership of resources instead.

    Benefits:-

    Don't give money to resource owners (farm subsidies, landlords) whether direct or indirect through benefits. Give a basic level of money to people instead.

    ie reverse it entirely to ensure that those hoarding resources pay and those adding value through brains or labour get rewarded. People can be flexible and in and out of work as health, skills, childcare needs demand suits. Elderly relative, spouse or child needs extra help, drop out of workforce, later reskill and join.

    No traps, no admin.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Land Value Tax and Citizens Income combined

      "ensure that those hoarding resources pay and those adding value through brains or labour get rewarded."

      Into which category do those adding value through brains and labour whilst saving for their old age fall?

      In case you feel inclined to try thinking through again remember that most "hoarding of resources", as you put it, happens through pension funds - and experience has shown it's still not enough.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Land Value Tax and Citizens Income combined

      How do you stop cheating, though? Landholders will simply find ways to dodge their ownership, probably transfer them over to foreign holding companies where the taxing country has no influence due to sovereignty. As for subsidies, they could use more tricks to say they don't really own the land and need the subsidies. Could act in cartel and threaten to stop crops. Any kind of mass revolt of resources can send a government into a panic.

      1. strum Silver badge

        Re: Land Value Tax and Citizens Income combined

        >How do you stop cheating, though?

        It is extraordinarily difficult to move a chunk of land elsewhere. Tax is due - wherever the owner chooses to reside.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Land Value Tax and Citizens Income combined

          Even outside of sovereign control? Besides, tax is based on value. Who calculates something as fungible as value, especially when you can just perform more shell games to conceal that value? That's part of how Tax Planning 101 (aka Buy, Borrow, Die) works.

  26. Mike Brown

    UBI

    UBI is easy to set up and maintain.

    Simply use the money that runs the welfare state, and give it to every citizen over 18. Bosh, job done.

    If everyone gets a UBI, there is no need to have council/civil workers to admin the welfare state.

    The bureaucracy costs of means testing, checking, interviewing, and actually filling the applications for benefits comes surprisingly close to giving everyone in the country £14k per year.

    Then simply remove the tax free allowance, from earned wages, keep the current tiers of tax, and boom! UBI for all, with no additional cost to anyone.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: UBI

      "Then simply remove the tax free allowance, from earned wages, keep the current tiers of tax"

      Self contradictory.

    2. Seajay#

      Re: UBI

      Where are you getting those numbers?

      I see £46Bn spent on working age welfare [1]

      41 million working age population [2]

      So we get about £1000 /year each

      [1] https://visual.ons.gov.uk/welfare-spending/

      [2] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/articles/overviewoftheukpopulation/july2017

  27. Valerion

    Housing problem

    The problem in UBI is it can't be Universal. Housing costs vary so wildly from area to area that £200 per week UBI has you living in a 3-bed house in one place and in a cardboard box in another.

    Also, a childless couple existing on UBI needs less space than a couple with 3 children.

    Therefore there has to be an amount of Child and/or Housing Benefit for those who aren't working. And that will still have to be means tested, and removed when the recipient finds a job or has their children reach claimant age. Which kind of then negates the whole point of avoiding benefits and withdrawal of benefits when work is obtained.

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Housing problem

      @valerion "Also, a childless couple existing on UBI needs less space than a couple with 3 children."

      Er, no. Tough nougies on the breeders. UBI is UBI, spread it a bit more thinly, and make do, because there's no reason to reward some people more highly for their life choices than others. If breeders need more dosh, they need to go to work and earn it.

      1. Steven Guenther

        Re: Housing problem

        But who would be the liberal voters of tomorrow? You have to pay them to breed, so you have future voters. If only workers had children, then those kids would value work and through the UBI out the window, and the politicians with it.

    2. Zakhar

      Re: Housing problem

      You have not understood what UBI is then!

      U = Universal. Means that whether you work or not, you have it. Doing otherwise is just what the state or private insurance pays for unemployment. It does already exist and is not UBI.

      Obviously, if you decide you are prefer not working, you won't be able to live in the center of big cities on UBI only. So there won't be any housing issue, or it could marginally push up some prices in remote locations that no ones fancies.

  28. Blotto
    Megaphone

    Instead of UBI

    Everyone should be continually (Monthly) assessed for benefits so that in the event they are needed the work of assessment is already done and only the changes need be considered.

    Those that need benefits should receive cash if they:

    Have been in employment longer than they have been in receipt of benefits

    Have paid income tax & NI for more than 20 years

    Are not in arrears to utilities, landlords or anything that may cause them to lose their home.

    Everyone else and those that have been on benefits for more than 5 years in the last 8 should:

    only get access to credits held in a benefit account and only accessible while using a benefits card which only permits essential purchases and limited non essentials like booze or fags. Essentials like rent & utilities are to be paid directly to the service providers, the smaller their bills the more they can spend on non-essentials. They can only spend at places that are registered with HMRC. If they want cash then they need to work in order to earn cash from their employers.

    Everyone will know where they are with respect to accessing state benefits. Tax payers will know that claimants won’t starve or lose their homes. Claimants will be incentivised to work in order to access cash that they can spend where and on whatever they want.

    It’ll be like a UBI except those that don’t need it won’t get it and those that do will only receive it to be spent on essentials.

  29. Blotto

    Inflation

    if everyone gets X amount, it'll cause costs of stuff (food, fuel, gas, electric, telecoms, transport, loans, mortgages etc) to increase as people will have more money to pay. As inflation rises suddenly the benefit of the UBI is diminished as its buying power will be hugely less.

    The system will adjust to the point that UBI will be a huge waste and we will be forced to return the current system of means testing and benefits.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Inflation

      if everyone gets X amount, it'll cause costs of stuff (food, fuel, gas, electric, telecoms, transport, loans, mortgages etc) to increase as people will have more money to pay.

      That belies a basic misunderstanding of economics. In short, you have assumed monopolies (or price-fixing cartels) on all those things, and no competition. Unless, for instance, all food producers decide to increase their prices in unison, the producer that puts their prices up by 10% loses business to all those who do not.

      1. DainB Bronze badge

        Re: Inflation

        Yes, it does, but from your side.

        If you introduce more money into the system they will be absorbed to the point of between income and spending. A very simple example is why homes in areas with high income cost more ? Not because they're better or bigger homes, often it's quite opposite, but because there are money to pay for them.

        Remove money - prices will go down, add more money prices will go up, what remains constant is price to earning ratio in the region.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Inflation

          What also remains constant is the cost to build, especially the bill of materials. That puts a floor on the price of a house like there's a zero line on the supply curve.

  30. peterm3
    FAIL

    This idea is banded about from different ends of the political spectrum. It could never work as those economically weaker, and with weaker skills who are currently excluded or exploited in the labour market, would similarly be exploited with the cash hand out system. The state would still need to provide social services to these groups who are unable to manage their money to buy the essentials.

    So the poor person gets their handout, an unscrupulous landlord takes half of it, and the reast goes on products from the shopping channel. Food will then still be needed from food banks.

    Much better to have the existing system, but start building council housing again. Get big companies to start paying tax again to pay for it. Simples.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "Much better to have the existing system, but start building council housing again. Get big companies to start paying tax again to pay for it. Simples."

      But good luck with that. It's MUCH cheaper for them to perform financial shell games to hide or write off their earnings and then ship them off to tax havens. Plus, if they sense loopholes are being closed, they'll take the extreme measure of bribing the government to open them up again. NO tax code on earth TTBOMK has been proof against getting loopholes put in them, even after they get taken out. Even governments can be bullied.

  31. FelixReg

    The world owes me a living ... wage.

    You get what you pay for. Paying people not to work seems an odd thing to do.

    A UBI may be a more honest and transparent alternative to current welfare systems. But it does make governments and taxpayers appear to be bad parents. Hey, kid, "The world does own you a living. Money does grow on trees. There is a free lunch."

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: The world owes me a living ... wage.

      You get what you pay for. Paying people not to work seems an odd thing to do.

      Looking at this form the other angle, is the fact that a rich economy like ours can easily afford to make sure that nobody is without a roof over their head and a meal in their stomach; even the most feckless in society shouldn't be left to starve or freeze to death. At the moment, these safeguards are being provided by charities that struggle to achieve this, which is why we have seen a massive increase in rough sleepers and food bank usage over the last few years. Where I live, there is barely a doorway that doesn't have cardboard and a sleeping bag in it.

      Anything above and beyond supplying those basic needs, sure; work for it. Nobody is advocating a situation where work doesn't pay. Not even Karl Marx.

    2. strum Silver badge

      Re: The world owes me a living ... wage.

      >Paying people not to work seems an odd thing to do.

      <sigh> After umpteen pages of comments, you still haven't understood what we're talking about.

      UBI is not "paying people not to work". It's paying people - leaving them free to work for more (or not, if that's enough for them).

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately a 'mad max' economy is preferred by the very same people who would have benefited from UI. Probably due to press brainwashing. Welcome to the new world order- an elite with the money and the rest turned into debt slaves for life.

  33. Christian Berger Silver badge

    The fascinating thing is that we are already there

    Starting in the 1960s, productivity has been high enough so people could work less for the same comfort. That's why German unions have been able to lower the work time per week to 38 or even 35 hours in union shops. (=Mostly car industry)

    We are already seeing more and more "bullshit jobs" which consist of fullfilling artificial buerocracy. We are seing more and more calls from the economy to lower education standards to lower productivity. The best known one is the Bologna-Process.

    The only reason we don't have universal basic income probably are neoconservative think-tanks like the Mont Perelin Society.

  34. Packet

    UBI to me begs the questions: "where does this money come from? Who dispenses it?"

    Answer: the government from tax revenues / nationalized industry the products of which it sells (mostly outside its border to a non UBI state or perhaps locally if it's just more than break-even.

    Basically, comes down to a government / state controlling everything you do - and the gradual erosion of personal choices and liberties as they're seen to be at a higher cost, etc.

    No, thank you - I refuse to live in such a dystopian world.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Well, you eventually either get governments controlling your lives (a la what you describe) or you get businesses controlling your lives (a la the Sprawl, Shadowrun, etc.). Pick your poison.

    2. Christian Berger Silver badge

      "Basically, comes down to a government / state controlling everything you do - and the gradual erosion of personal choices and liberties as they're seen to be at a higher cost, etc."

      Which is exactly what's happening in countries with a "free market". A "free market" usually leads to less competition as competitors will simply cooperate or merge to get around competition.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        IOW, the problem with capitalism is that it naturally tends toward a winner, much like at a poker tournament.

  35. Bob Dole (tm)
    FAIL

    UBI == death of all capitalism

    The cost of most goods and services in western countries is based on the desire of the goods and the ability of the people to pay for it.

    For example, when minimum wage increases, there are nearly immediate raises in the cost of housing. Every single time the minimum wage goes up parity is reset and the outcome is that things become more expensive and literally no one moves forward.

    UBI is the same thing. Sure, it sounds nice to just give everyone an extra $50 or $500 a month. Certainly the work landscape is changing - just like it has always changed as humanity finds new ways of doing things. However, the net result is that the price of things will rise to meet the new availability of cash.

    The only way to make this work is if the national government institutes price controls on pretty much everything at the same time. However once that happens you basically lock in everyone at their current wage tier.

    Essentially - instituting UBI is a way for the takeover of the modern western world. If I were rich I'd absolutely want to see it happen. If I were poor I'd likely be too dumb to realize the chains it would place on me.

    1. foo_bar_baz

      Re: UBI == death of all capitalism

      Not sure which part of the world you’re from, but UBI is not extra income. It just replaces the complex benefit structures in place already. In fact in places where it’s being trialled it’s actually less than job seekers’ allowance, with the absence of disincentives to work.

      Forumites == ignorant arm chair philosophers.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: UBI == death of all capitalism

        @foo_bar_baz

        Where is UBI being trialled? Which Govt gives all it's citizens, (now, that's _all_ it's citizens, to comply with the U part of UBI), UBI? (I'm excluding the Oil rich state of Qatar from the list of possible candidates, for obvious reasons)

    2. strum Silver badge

      Re: UBI == death of all capitalism

      >For example, when minimum wage increases, there are nearly immediate raises in the cost of housing.

      You have evidence for this assertion, I suppose? Oh. Thought not.

  36. Drew Scriver
    Meh

    To try new things...

    One of the keys to understanding the fallacy of UBI is Zuckerberg's statement that "“We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things."

    How many people would actually "try new things"? Sure - I few would. But most people in the western world already have the opportunity to do this. Libraries offer free books to read, countless organizations offer free volunteer opportunities, and there are virtually unlimited free courses (even at a college level) available to anyone with an internet connection.

    The vast majority of people have the time and opportunity to pursue these options but chose not to engage.

    In reality, UBI will enable even more people to simply spend their time to watch commercials (occasionally interrupted by TV programs) and, of course, spend more time in the echo chamber of Facebook. Also,

    UBI might work if society were stripped of non-essentials and everyone pulled together to provide the essentials. That's been tried before and while it seems to work on a small scale (e.g. communes, kibbutzes, Amish communities) it doesn't scale up well.

    Human nature just doesn't seem to be compatible.

  37. Steven Guenther

    UBI and Open Border are both bad ideas

    UBI and Open Border are both bad ideas but they work REALLY BAD TOGETHER.

    IF you have a small, well educated, homogeneous society, (like Silicon Valley) you might get away with it. But when you try to do it in south Texas or someplace with loads of border crossers that have no education and no stake in the society. It will quickly become untenable.

    How long does a person have to be in the country to get the UBI? Do they have to stay in the country to continue getting it (can retirees spend some time in Mexico?) ?

    Get a constant flow from South America, signing up for the benefits and heading home.

    Maybe we could add all of China and India to the benefits list if Mexico is not crippling enough.

  38. Ellis Birt 1

    UBI is great for the "third sector"

    The so-called third sector would be the big winners.

    Currently, doing charity work can lose you your JSL.

    With UBI, you could afford to choose to do voluntary work, much of which would be supporting our over-stretched public services.

    Society as a whole could be much better off under UBI.

    Even being a representative for your neighbours in your local council or the House of Commons could be a voluntary role without lack of wealth being a bar to entry.

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: UBI is great for the "third sector"

      @Ellis Birt 1

      "Currently, doing charity work can lose you your JSL."

      You simply have to be available for a job interview at 48 hours notice, and to be able to take a job at two weeks notice, and you can claim Job Seekers Allowance and do charity work. It's just that you cannot turn down jobs using the excuse that it will affect your charity work. How you get treated at the job centre really centres around how they perceive your genuine intent to find work. When I signed on after VR, they were really accommodating, offering me training and advice on starting my own business, signing on fortnightly. Some people there were reporting in daily.

  39. G Mac

    I see no mention of Speenhamland, a form UBI

    It was tried a couple of hundred years ago in the UK. It was a form of rural poverty relief, but in the end caused employers to use the payment as a subsidy, which I suspect would happen with a UBI.

    A better solution in my view is a Job Guarantee is a better. It puts a floor under wages, gives people a chance to have meaningful employment (whatever that may be), and alleviates the problem of employers not wanting to employ the short/long term unemployed.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Job_guarantee

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: I see no mention of Speenhamland, a form UBI

      "

      A better solution in my view is a Job Guarantee is a better. It puts a floor under wages, gives people a chance to have meaningful employment (whatever that may be), and alleviates the problem of employers not wanting to employ the short/long term unemployed.

      "

      And exactly where do all these "meaningful jobs" come from?

  40. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Next step for welfare

    The push for UBI as an 'income' appears to be coming from people currently living under the restrictions of welfare systems. We have programs to supplement or replace poor or no income. But these benefits are provided with conditions. EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer, a kind of debit card loaded by the state) comes with restrictions on what sorts of goods can be purchased with them. No booze. And in Washington State, no pot. And these rules are frequently being gamed by beneficiaries. For example: Buy large quantities of permitted commodity goods that can be traded around the corner for whatever.

    Housing assistance often comes with rules. Shelter provided outright is often conditional upon restrictions against drugs, alcohol and disruptive behavior. Which is one reason many of these people just move back to tents under the freeway off-ramps.

    Handing money to people as an 'income' removes these behavioral restrictions. And gives the recipients cash to use in the black markets (unlike EBT). If you really need to feed your kids, we have a system set up for that. If it's 'income', it may very well be spent on heroin and people will still end up sleeping in doorways if it doesn't make it t the end of the month.

  41. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Feeling useless:

    From the article:

    "

    “A lot of people derive their meaning from their employment. So if there’s no need for your labour, what’s your meaning? Do you feel useless? That’s a much harder problem to deal with.”

    "

    This supposes that the only way a person can feel useful is if they are working for someone else in return for money. I can assure you that it is perfectly possible to feel extremely useful by doing work that benefits yourself, your family and your friends. Try it, and you'll find that watching the kids playing on the swings etc. that you spent 10 hours making on your own is far more satisfying than watching a box of widgets that you helped 20 other people make for your employer getting loaded onto the delivery lorry. The happy smiles that the kids reward you with are worth far more than the £15 an hour your employer rewards you with.

  42. Dr. Ellen
    FAIL

    UBI is not a good idea.

    There is an old saying: "Idle hands are the devil's workshop." I don't know if that's one of the official Gods of the Copybook Headings, but it should be. Busy people, people with a job, don't have time to cause trouble. (Politicians and bureaucrats don't count there.) People who have nothing useful to do, will do SOMETHING. Some on the UBI will sit there watching TV. Some will be busily making more people to go on UBI. Some will discover an interest in painting and literature, or perhaps invention. And a lot of the rest will make trouble. Multi-generational welfare is not a pretty sight, and that is, at heart, what UBI would be.

    1. foo_bar_baz

      Re: UBI is not a good idea.

      And this is different from people on the dole, how?

  43. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    IT Angle

    UBI is the future

    So long as we can prise those offshore millions into the tax system.

    Putting it simply in my case, a UBI would allow me to quit my unloved job and sign on with the local university and finally finish my degree, and then I can go on and try things I might to try my hand at before Mr Grimm turns up to see me about some reaping.

    With UBI , you'd see the end of crummy employers treating their min wage workers as disposable scum, why, because they'd be able to go and find other low skilled work where the employers treat them as human beings.

    As for most people, we all want a better tv/car/holiday/house so we'd carry on working regardless, however with UBI , employers would only have to pay people like me £10k a yr instead of £25k

    But as with all wonderful ideas to make the people happy, it falls over for exactly the same reason as pure capitalism or communism falls over... human nature and its desire to grab more resources for the individual regardless of other people

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: UBI is the future

      "Haman nature" is a very malleable thing, it's not frozen forever:

      "To look at people in capitalist society and conclude that human nature is egoism, is like looking at people in a factory where pollution is destroying their lungs and saying that it is human nature to cough."

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: UBI is the future

      "With UBI , you'd see the end of crummy employers treating their min wage workers as disposable scum, why, because they'd be able to go and find other low skilled work where the employers treat them as human beings."

      There's nothing stopping those workers doing that now except the lack of sufficient better employers. I can't see why UBI should improve that situation.

    3. Jaybus

      Re: UBI is the future

      "As for most people, we all want a better tv/car/holiday/house so we'd carry on working regardless, however with UBI , employers would only have to pay people like me £10k a yr instead of £25k"

      Perhaps, but I can see another possibility. Many will take their UBI and be done with it, preferring to spend their time loitering about. Demand for jobs should not likely decrease, at least not due to UBI, but supply of willing and halfway reliable workers will certainly decrease. The result is an increase in pay for those actually willing to work. That is to say, those who are willing to work for large companies. The cost is highly increased taxes, which further increases the number of people willing to take the UBI and simply quit trying. The end result is a greatly increased income disparity, both for individuals and businesses, with small business eventually becoming infeasible.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do all the right wing loonies have those odd looking gold indicators?

    Is it so we can easily skip their posts?

  45. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    FALC will win...

    Fully Automated Luxury Communism, that is:

    https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/mar/18/fully-automated-luxury-communism-robots-employment

    If anything, UBI is a just a new version of the sop to the working class that the welfare state is/was, and is likely to be introduced to stop any nascent popular uprising against the 0.001%.

  46. Charles 9 Silver badge

    The biggest flaw in any kind of UBI is the human condition, plain and simple.

    Just as communism was too utopian a vision, so too is this. It can't stand up to the simple truth that people WILL cheat, and when one cheats, so will more until it collapses under the weight. Plus there's no real way to stop the cheaters because any measure you take to stop cheating can itself be cheated (because in the end there WILL be a human element to it; even robots have a human behind it at some point).

    Sadly, the human condition means we blind ourselves to the reality we're entering Cold Equation territory: as in, barring a deus ex machina, there's no happy solution to the problem (for those who disagree, get twelve people to survive a week in the desert on just two liters of water). One way or the other, the likely outcome is some sort of population crash: be it by natural or manmade means. The blindness comes from the fear we'll be one of the casualties; it goes against our survival instinct.

  47. Seajay#

    Great idea but..

    That's usually people's response. I disagree. The only time it's a great idea is if your problem is "The world is way too rich. How can we possibly share out this bounty?" and that's not our problem. If all we had to do was feed ourselves we'd be in that position, producing as much food as anyone could want cheaply is pretty much solved. But we also have to provide healthcare. Trying to prevent mortals from dying can always absorb as much money as you can throw at it without ever being solved.

    If we're not too rich then the fundamental problem with UBI is that it spends a mindblowing amount of money while actually making the most needy worse off. If you try to solve the 'making the needy worse off' problem by running a parallel means-tested system then you still have most of the problems of UBI but now you get none of the simplification benefits.

    It's a very appealing idea, I get that. But it just doesn't work, even in theory and that's before you start to get in to fraud, etc.

  48. Zakhar

    Homo Sapiens is obsolete

    I'm startled nobody talked about that in the comments.

    That is the real issue behind this UBI idea.

    We have had revolutions: the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, but the next revolution ("digital") jeopardizes what makes the difference between homo sapiens and the other living creatures: intelligence.

    A.I. boffins speak of an inflexion point called "the singularity". It is the point where the machine will outsmart mankind. Knowing that IQ progresses very slowly (if any at all) and that machines still more or less follow Moore's law, this "singularity" is said to be between 25 to 50 years in the future.

    At this point, what will the society do with all those obsolete person?

    Of course there are other alternatives than UBI, but that scares me even more!

    For those who understand French, I can recommend the speech Laurent Alexandre gave at the 2017's USI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3WOPKNvbt8

    His alternative is transhumanism.

    Frankly, having a chip inside my brain is not what I would vote for when we discover everyday the dark actions happening all around, the last one being Intel stuffing a spyware in every CPU...

    So pick you choice, between having my brain "enhanced" by Intel/Google or UBI, I'll vote UBI.

    Welcome to the scary future!

    1. foo_bar_baz

      Re: Homo Sapiens is obsolete

      We are already augmented, without having our brains chipped. I’m communicating with a person I’ve never met, and can exchange ideas with the touch of a few buttons.

      Forget about imagining the future. Stop for a moment to look at right now.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Credit Agency Says No

    As far as people like Moody's are concerned: It's welfare... The UK would get "ZZZ" rating. Credit Agency ratings are based on flawed economic theory - their assesments drive globalisation and the inexorable flow of "Wealth" from the 99% to super rich corporations and individuals, to be hidden, tied up, the source and destinations obfuscated. The ludicrous thing is; since the loss of the gold standard, the value which money represents is even more imaginary. I favour UBI because printing money for bankers to "Trickle down" has been proven to not work - money ends up tied up in savings and investments globally to advantage the 1%. As a country wide method to stimulate activity, it's a much more potent tool.

  50. TheHangingJudge

    Make the unemployed useful

    Instead of UBI, why don't we immerse the unemployed in liquid-nutrient-filled capsules, link their brains up to Facebook to keep them occupied and harvest their electrical energy to run server farms?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Make the unemployed useful

      Ah, the ducet politics of engineered scarcity doing what it's meant to do... demonise the poor like they possess nothing of value to offer humanity but death, near enough. You are something because they are nothing, remember that.

  51. J J Carter Silver badge
    Boffin

    That woman!

    Take it from me, anything Scottish greens and the SNP support is guaranteed to be a load of shiite.

  52. John Robson Silver badge

    Tax increase?

    So the current Scottish welfare budget is £20b, and this would cost £28bn.

    Given a UBI, do we still need a 'tax free' earnings band? If you simply drop all the thresholds by £11.5k then....

    Quick browse suggests 2.5million people are employed in Scotland - let's assume they all earn £11.5k or more (the current tax free allowance)...

    That's 20% of that 11.5k that they'd pay in tax - a little under £6b of the deficit is instantly recovered.

    Of course there are a number of people on higher levels of tax - for whom the marginal tax rate would be higher - if 30% of the population earns over £33.5k then you already have the £8bn needed (and there will be a smaller proportion whose marginal tax rate is higher still).

    This assumes:

    - Sanity (with the UBI replacing tax free allowances).

    - No reduction in benefit fraud

    - No reduction in benefit administration costs

    It also ignores targeted benefits (e.g. disability living allowance etc)

    So yes, it would cost a little more, but I don't think this is as costly an option as people make out...

    1. CommanderGalaxian

      Re: Tax increase?

      "Given a UBI, do we still need a 'tax free' earnings band?"

      No you don't. The Personal Allowance goes. The author and his source seem to be ignorant of the mechanics of UBI.

      https://wingsoverscotland.com/the-missing-half-of-the-equation/#more-98905

  53. Woeful

    UK UBI

    In the UK, if you are out of work, the government gives you cash, jobseekers allowance, about £3.8k a year.

    If you in work, you effectively get cash through your personal allowance, at your top tax rate, betweeon 20% and 45%. The jobseekers allowance amount of £3.8k is 33% of the standard personal allowance.

    So, rename the jobseekers allowance a UBI, give it to everyone and get rid of the personal alalowance.

    Gets a UBI in place, and has no great financial effect. It does, however, save some costs of administering the jobseekers allowance and personal allowances, benefits those in lowly paid employment at the expense of those paying higher tax rates.

    It also, if you are on the left, removes the stigma of those unfortunates stuck on benefits or, if you are on the right, means that lazy people sponging off the state have more incentive to go to work: their income is more likely to rise if they get a job.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: UK UBI

      "In the UK, if you are out of work, the government gives you cash, jobseekers allowance, about £3.8k a year."

      No they don't.

      If you are unemployed, and you sign on and agree to a job search agreement, where you agree to spend many hours a week searching for and applying for jobs, and confirm this with proof every two weeks, then you will get an electronic funds transfer to your bank account of about £3.8k a year.

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: UK UBI

      @woeful

      "So, rename the jobseekers allowance a UBI, give it to everyone and get rid of the personal alalowance."

      Er,... so take money off earners via taxation, and give it back to them? What? This is preposterous. It's admin crazy. If you'd said 'adjust the personal allowance to match UBI payments' that would be less admin overhead, but what you've proposed in essence is simply taking more money off taxpayers to give to the unemployed. How does that solve anything, exactly?

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: UK UBI

        "Er,... so take money off earners via taxation, and give it back to them? What? This is preposterous. It's admin crazy"

        It's really not.

        It means that everyone gets one payment (that is therefore utterly trivial to administer) and employers have a slightly simple bit of arithmetic to do when they do the PAYE calculations (because a significant number of employees will be on a single tax rate rather than two tax rates, one of which is zero).

        It also means that there is no question about whether employment will improve your financial situation - it clearly will, because you don't lose the UBI when employed.

  54. CommanderGalaxian
    Mushroom

    The author needs to do some decent fact checking of his sources.

    'Based on Scotland’s demographics, Young reckons that a £50/£100/£150 UBI would cost £28bn annually. “That’s almost the entire devolved budget..."

    Complete and utter bollocks. That sort of nonsense cost has already been well debunked. Once the savings of not having to pay benefits and increased tax take are netted off - the additional cost comes in at more like £3bn.

    https://wingsoverscotland.com/the-missing-half-of-the-equation/#more-98905

  55. VivM

    Incommensurable units

    On the point that UBI will mean 'no one will have the incentive to work hard to get ahead', I would suggest that you look at how pensioners live - that is a good demographic to provide a 'lab' to observe. There are some who get depressed and do nothing but watch daytime TV, but there are plenty of others who get involved in the community or in hobby clubs and feel they are doing more, and more good, than they ever did in their jobs.

    On the point that costs will rise to meet this new source of income from the taxpayer, yes that will negate the whole point of it.

    We have to take away the question: where is the money going to come from?

    It seems to me that the only way to do it, to eliminate homelessness and hunger in our country - and they are an obscenity if we are to consider ourselves at all civilised - is to separate the citizens' entitlement from the free market, and that means providing the UBI in units that are incommensurable with money. Units such as calories, kilowatt-hours and megabits per second - yes, the beancounters can do their sums as a hobby but leave them out of it. It would then become an extension of the voluntary sector, and people can choose to divide their time between the public (voluntary) sector and the private sector which can still be as rampantly capitalist as you like.

  56. MaxZ

    Basic Income = velocity of money

  57. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Saudi Arabia

    Citizens of Saudi Arabia get a cut of the country's oil revenue. That was fine and grand until the bottom dropped out of oil prices. They have a very large swath of people that live on money from the government and have very few skills otherwise.

    What UBI will do is let more employers pay minimum wage. Where employees were getting £400/week, new hires will start at £300/week. That's great for Zuckerberg and Musk. Elon built an auto manufacturing plant in an area with some of the highest cost of living figures in the US and Zuckerberg operates a company that produces nothing.

    People that slept through math and economics will see UBI as a boost in income, but will be blind to the tax increases that will shortly follow to gobble up that money. The people that educate themselves and work hard to earn a good salary will start re-locating to the first country that creates a low-tax environment for more than the very wealthy. Lots of Soviets were more than willing to get the hell out of the USSR and didn't care what country crest was stamped on the front of their new passport. This is the same as raising the minimum wage artificially until robot burger flippers and ordering kiosks become very cheap in comparison to low skill labor.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Saudi Arabia

      "This is the same as raising the minimum wage artificially until robot burger flippers and ordering kiosks become very cheap in comparison to low skill labor."

      But what about positions like caregivers and so on that still require the human touch due to Uncanny Valley concerns? Not to mention skills like plumbing that still require too much dexterity for a machine to replicate?

    2. Seajay#

      Re: Saudi Arabia

      This is the same as raising the minimum wage artificially until robot burger flippers and ordering kiosks become very cheap in comparison to low skill labor.

      This is the exact opposite of that surely? You just said a few lines higher up that this will let companies pay low-skilled employees less. If this policy means that their total income in unchanged but they are more likely to be employed because less of that money has to come from their employer, that's.. well it's not great because they're still flipping burgers but it's fine, it's better than the alternative.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Saudi Arabia

        It'll still come from the employer: in the form of increased taxes. Heck, there's little else the money can come from since you can't really tax the beneficiaries (giving back what the government just gave out, essentially).

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