Tag: Universal Basic Income

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My colleague at the Georgia Center for Opportunity Erik Randolph, with Dr. Vance Ginn of the Texas Public Policy Foundation penned an op-ed about Atlanta’s new UBI pilot program.  Randolph and Ginn say there is a better way to help lift people out of poverty. For Atlanta to make a real difference in seeking innovative […]

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The odds are that you’ve never heard about the “Automatic Boost to Communities” Act, HR 1030. It’s a bill sponsored by anti-Semitic “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and co-sponsored by seven other congressional economic giants, including noted Boston University Econ major Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY). It is pending before the House Ways and Means […]

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Is there anything more ironic than Andrew Yang tweeting “This is what $1,000 looks like. Imagine getting it once a month” ….when the man whose portrait appears on those $100 bills is quoted as saying “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”     […]

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Universal Basic Income and the Alaska Dumpster Fire


Every now and then a think piece shows up from conservative writers considering whether providing a Universal Basic Income (UBI), or a fixed payment to everyone, no strings attached, might be a positive alternative to Great Society-type programs.

I urge all of those considering these arguments to take a look at the cautionary tale of Alaska.  As a condition of statehood, Alaska has no private oil and gas rights owned by the state, and the state invested the royalties in a Permanent Fund.  Eventually, the money flowing in was so much more than state expenses that the state income tax was rescinded, and a dividend on the fund earnings are paid every year to every resident (depicted here in the Simpsons movie).  This Permanent Fund Dividend, or the PFD, is essentially a UBI.  The Permanent Fund has ~$60 billion in it, and historically the PFD has been in the $1-2K range.  With the natural gas boom going on in the contiguous U.S., royalties on current oil production in Alaska plummeted around 5 years ago, so the previous governor (a left-leaning independent) reduced the dividend, expanded Medicaid by fiat, dipped in to the state’s savings to make the state budget, and proposed reinstating the income tax.  Last year, the current Republican governor was elected promising to restore the full dividend (and more), cut nothing of significance, and have no new taxes.

Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political podcast my sweeties! Come to refill the old political obsession tank? Here to procure that pithy but deep diatribe fix? Well you are in the right place! This is edition number 223 and we call it the “No Match Podcast” with your absolutely unmatchable hosts, Right Coast radio guy Todd Feinburg and Left Coast AI guy Mike Stopa (the handsome one). This week we have our dear friend and special guest Jessica Vaughan, she of the Director of Research for the Center for Immigration Studies, to discuss with us the return (did I hear anyone say “Hallelujah”???) of the No Match letters that are now going out to every employer in America who submits an I9 form for even one employee whose name and social security number do not match what is in the Social Security database.

Jessica tells us that many of these no matches are just…typos! Many are just…name changes! And many are (shhhh) illegal aliens either using stolen or fabricated SS#’s. This is where the actual problem is. The Democrats know it. The Chamber of Commerce knows it. And they are screaming that these letters are going out and good lord that is a good thing!

Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for July 18, 2018 it’s the Trump Industrial Complex edition of the show with your suave and fascinating hosts, radio guy Todd Feinburg and, holding down the left coast, AI-guy Mike Stopa.

This week we bring two topics of very intellectual weight and concern. The first involves the military industrial complex, the deep state and the fate of the Republic. The second concerns the nature of Man and the importance of the Will to Power in Man’s survival. Must Man always struggle to be higher in order to still remain, in his essence, a Man?

Put Joe Biden Down as a “No” on Universal Basic Income


My guess, both from what’s in the media and talking to insiders, is that former Vice President Joe Biden is going to make a 2020 run for the Democratic presidential nomination. (He’s the very slight favorite, according to PredictIt.) In fact he just announced, Axios reports, “a big-name list of members of the Biden Institute Policy Advisory Board.”

In addition, he also put forward a plan to “restore the basic bargain … in this country that if you contributed to the success of an enterprise you got to share in its profits so you could not only make ends meet but also get ahead.” Lots in their about education, skills building, and reducing barriers to work (oddly though nothing about occupational licensing).

One thing that caught my eye is that Biden weighed in on the issue of a universal basic income. He doesn’t think much of it. Biden:

Universal Basic Income: Would It Work?


The idea of a UBI — Universal Basic Income — is gaining traction among liberals. No surprise there. To my knowledge, it’s not gaining traction among conservatives. Also no surprise. But, strangely, the most interesting proposals for a UBI are coming from libertarians. Now that is a surprise. There even seems to be a developing liberal-libertarian alliance around this.

Granted, the UBI is impossible to justify according to pure libertarian principles. But if your libertarianism is of a more practical kind, the UBI is worth a look. If you know that Charles Murray is the strongest proponent and Milton Friedman the author of the prototype we’re considering, you are almost obligated to take a look. And if you accept Murray’s calculations that even a sizable UBI would actually reduce debt if it replaced our 223 transfer programs, conservatives, too, should consider joining this movement.

There are many versions out there right now. Murray’s, to me, is the most interesting and well thought out. In a nutshell, all US citizens 21 years and older would get $13,000 a year, of which $3,000 would be set aside for health insurance. The rest would be sent electronically to a specially established bank account set up for the purpose. The UBI would be phased out — clawed back, as Murray phrases it — until it disappears for those with incomes above $70,000 a year.

Forget UBI, America Already Has Universal Basic Consumption


Recently, there has been much talk about having a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for everyone in the US. On the Left, one presumes this would be in addition to the rest of the welfare state. On the right one hopes it’s proposed to replace most of the welfare state.

I already oppose the UBI (even as a replacement for welfare) for sound economic and political reasons, but that’s not what this post is about. Rather, it’s about how our focus on income has ceded much of America’s public discourse about poverty to the Left. We can (and should) do better than that.

It’s easy to see how we’ve gotten here. The data on income is readily available, so it’s simple to pull charts and graphs and to test theories. And since income is the major source of tax revenue, it’s natural to focus on income when contemplating changes to government policy. The problem is when we use income as a proxy for quality of life, which is presumably what the debate about poverty is really about. If we’re interested in how people live — we do call it “welfare” — we should be looking at net consumption rather than net income. You can’t eat money and, unless you’re Scrooge McDuck, you don’t derive nearly as much enjoyment from having physical money as you do from spending it. Money is only worth what we can buy with it. How much Americans live on tells us far more than their tax return.

Peter Cove joins Brian Anderson to discuss his new book Poor No More: Rethinking Dependency and the War on Poverty.

Declaring the War on Poverty in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson stated that the goal was to “cure poverty, and above all, prevent it.”

Against the UBI


In last week’s Ricochet Podcast, John Podhoretz brought up the Universal Basic Income. I’ve been a proponent of the idea for at least a decade, and I’ve been in good company with the likes of Charles Murray and Milton Friedman, but I was recently convinced it would be a terrible idea.

First the arguments in its favor. In its best construction, the UBI would eliminate all other welfare and tax breaks. Leaving aside whether any deal to eliminate all or most other welfare and tax breaks is politically feasible (it isn’t), it has an alluring elegance. Everyone gets the same tax break, and ideally, the tax rate is completely flat, meaning there’s no tax cliffs destroying incentives. Those who can’t work can still survive. And no one is making any decisions about what they can do with “their” money.

This seemed like a slam dunk to me for a long time, but then I had the moral hazard spelled out for me. As bad as the welfare state is, one currently has to be at least ostencibly in real need in order to take advantage of it. You have to be disabled, or have children and no income, or seemingly unable to afford healthcare.

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Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a proposal to replace most or all existing wealth transfer (welfare) programs with a flat grant of cash per month.  UBI has gained a following across the political spectrum.  See, for instance, this Cato Institute discussion between libertarian policy wonk Charles Murray and retired union boss Andy Stern, where they […]

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I spent over 40 years in the tech industry, 30 of those in Silicon Valley, and heard the artificial intelligence (AI) promoters and automation pessimists the whole time. If the phrases ‘symbolic reasoning’, ’expert systems’, ‘4th Generation’ or ’neural nets’ ring a bell, you’ve been along on the same ride.  Each computer generation brought a […]

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Would Subsidizing Jobs Be More Conservative than the Minimum Wage?


shutterstock_126940808One of the problems of working is that I often I miss interesting posts and comments on Ricochet. One of them was @katebraestrup’s Free Money! No Strings Attached from April which discussed the guaranteed basic income as an alternative to the welfare state. I’ve been thinking about welfare reform — specifically, about the new pushes for minimum wage — but wonder if there isn’t an approach that might be more in-keeping with conservative views. Mind you, everything that follows I’ve phrased in relative terms; I’m offering what I hope is a least-worst alternative, not an ideal one. So, let’s begin with what I regard as the inherent dishonesty of the minimum wage:

  1. It presupposes that any occupation, if plied for eight hours a day (why not six or ten) provides social value equal to a living wage.
  2. Since the costs of the minimum wage are generally passed onto consumers, it represents a hidden tax on those buying goods and services from companies hire minimum wage employees.
  3. Companies subject to minimum wage requirements often compete with foreign competitors who are, of course, not subject to our laws. This makes the minimum wage an internal tariff on domestic labor.
  4. The minimum wage also acts as a tariff on labor as compared to automation. Thus, apart from the supply/demand effects (higher price lowers demand, i.e., jobs), an increase in the minimum wage increases the incentive to automate jobs.
  5. It provides an incentive to hirer illegal immigrants.

But real and harmful as these effects are on workers and consumers, this overlooks the harm minimum wage laws cause employers. First, the laws imply that employers are too tight-fisted to treat their employees fairly without government intervention. Second, it imposes all the burdens of implementing a minimum wage on the employer (whether to raise prices, whose job to eliminate, cajoling supervisors and middle managers to stay on without a raise to help absorb the wage increase, etc.).

So, instead of setting a wage floor, what if we subsidize job creation? To keep numbers very simple, if the employer pays $12.50 an hour ($500 a week), he or she receives a tax credit of $10 an hour. Cost-wise, this is a comparable to Kate’s suggestion of paying $20,000/year to everyone, except: (a) Nobody gets paid without working and (b) The work has to produce a value of at least $2.50 an hour plus the employer’s overhead and ROI.

Economists and the Universal Basic Income: The Details Matter a Lot


062916ubiWell, the IGM Forum economists survey produced some unpleasant results for universal basic income advocates. And these comments suggest why the economists are so skeptical:

– “Current US status quo is horrible. A more efficient and generous social safety net is needed. But UBI is expensive and not generous enough”.

– “Total health expenses and risk will remain high for individuals. It might also shift the norm whether to work. Work = being part of society”.

The Swiss Voted Down a Universal Basic Income Plan. Now What for the Hot Policy Idea of 2016?


People cast their ballots during a vote on the basic income in Bern, Switzerland, June 5, 2016. (REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)

Who turns down free money? Well, the Swiss did on Sunday, voting down by a 3-1 margin an initiative that would have guaranteed all Swiss residents a minimum income, maybe $2,500 or so. Of course the Swiss probably didn’t view it as free money, which it really wouldn’t be. Es gibt keinen Baum Geld! There is no Money Tree! The basic income would have meant big tax hikes, even if some social spending were cut. This was not a “replace the welfare state with a government check” kind of basic income. It was additive.

Universal Basic Income: The Ultimate Tool of Social Control


Whoops! Forgot the strings.

Finland is on the verge of replacing most of its welfare system with a Universal Basic Income, a guaranteed monthly check to every adult citizen (such proposals also go by other names, including “Guaranteed Basic Income”). Some champion UBI as a way of deconstructing the welfare state and enhancing individual freedom, as people can spend their checks however they please. Others tout the economic incentives since, in contrast to traditional welfare programs, people won’t lose benefits by taking low-paying or part-time work. Others worry that that — even if UBI were to pass — the welfare state will come roaring back as politicians seek to buy votes with other people’s money.