Universal Basic Income

The link you sent, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRRwZDSmTVI which was quite compelling actually, is an excellent segue into what some are calling UBI, Universal Basic Income.

The reasoning goes like this:

The robotization and automation of work will continue and actually increase apace in the coming decades. Robots, both physical as well as intellectual, are becoming more and more generalized. This is important as dedicated robots have been in use for decades, the car and appliance manufacturing industries for instance uses them to excellent affect. But you can’t take a chassis welding robot out of an auto factory and have it do other stuff. The same goes for informational robots too. The automated voice attendants are an example. “Press 1 to do this or that…” These are single purpose automation devices that cannot be adopted to other purposes.

But generalized robots are another thing entirely. “Mr. Robot, stand here and sort these recycling containers, or the returned items, or the amazon purchase orders, or the frozen foods section in the grocery aisle.” “Mr. iRobot, alert the FBI when you hear the words “fertilizer” and “diesel fuel” spoken in the same sentence across the millions of phone calls you’re listening to. And while you’re idle, parse all facebook posts, and twitter tweets looking for the same phrases. When you find something, compose a security memo and email it to these 10 security services.”

The more generalized robots become the more they can do. And the less humans will be doing.

Capitalists are funding these efforts to replace as many forms of work with automation as possible. The more they invest, the more they replace, the more money they do not have to pay people. The ultimate corporate entity is one where there are NO WORKERs. Where goods and services are made or provided with the smallest overhead possible; where overhead means humans. And nearly all of the income is profit. Workers are a necessary evil to corporations. They only hire more when the have to. And robots are on the way to eliminating as many of those as possible.

But the capitalists haven’t thought this through. Who will possess the money to buy the stuff they make when there are no wages returning to the those who might want to buy their stuff?

There will be a point, soon, when a very large percentage of citizens have literally nothing they can do, as work, to be paid enough to survive. What happens then? What happens when 50% of people not only cannot find work, have no ability to dream up new work venues (entrepreneur style), and can now no longer afford basic survival cost? There will be no work and therefore no way to earn a wage for these hundreds of thousands of people. That day *is* coming whether we like it or not.

Enter the Universal Basic Income.

The Austin Texas woman was spot on when she said she will not be working, EVER, if she can help it. Why should she? I agree. That particular system lack serious oversight. But it’s just a sign of things to come. What work could she perform, really, that would pay her enough to allow her to live the mediocre lifestyle she lives today? Best to just be given a stipend that she can use to keep the commerce wheels grinding. We may feel moral outrage at this behavior. But so what? She effectively has figure out the future before we have. The startling part of this is that this eventuality is NOTHING compared to what’s coming down the pipes in the coming decades.

The UBI is a severely flawed idea. But let’s face it. It’s already in place and not going away any time soon, if ever.

37 thoughts on “Universal Basic Income

  1. Two points: 1) WAGES should ALWAYS be calculated in relation to EXPENSES.
    A minimum wage of $15 in New York City is an offense against the workers there. While a minimum wage of $15 in Musgrove, Alabama might be a covetable luxury. Wages should be based on something like the Average Monthly Rent for a 1bd apartment : $750/mo x 0.02 (Wage/Rent factor) = $15/hr. A $1000 rent would be $20/hr. A $500/mo rent would required a min wage of $10/hr.
    The point is, tie wages to some factor of the cost of living.

    2) Wages are not like water flowing through and then lost.
    Wages are a reciprocating, feedback driven, compounding economic lubricant. Higher wages paid to workers will result in those workers spending more in their local economy — thereby driving higher demand for goods and services — which is a feedback loop — it lifts productivity and employment.


  2. WashingtonPost article:

    By Mike Konczal January 12, 2014

    If you’ve read any conservative commentary on the war on poverty in the past week, you’ve likely seen this talking point: “We spend $1 trillion each year on welfare and there’s been no reduction in poverty.” That’s crazy! Then, a sentence later, you’ll probably see a line like this: “It’s true. According to a recent report, we spend a trillion dollars on means-test programs each year, yet the official census numbers show no reduction in poverty.”

    A farmers market in Roseville, Calif. advertises its acceptance of EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards, which are used for food stamps. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

    If you are reading that second line quickly, you probably think it bolsters the credibility of the first line. It’s an “official” number, and the census and the report probably quote accurate numbers too, night? They do, but the second sentence is actually used as an escape hatch to say something that isn’t true. We don’t spend anywhere near a trillion dollars on welfare unless you mangle the term “welfare” to be meaningless, and we do reduce poverty.

    First, Dylan Matthews has already dissected the claim that poverty hasn’t declined. It has. It’s just that the “official” poverty rate doesn’t factor in the earned-income tax credit or food stamps in its calculations. Given that these are two of the most direct ways that the government tries to lift people out of poverty, that’s a major problem. These programs do, in fact, lift people out of poverty–it just doesn’t show up in the official rate, because that’s how the rate is constructed.

    The claim about $1 trillion on “welfare” is more interesting and complicated. It shows up in this recent report from the Cato Institute, which argues that the federal government spends $668 billion dollars per year on 126 different welfare programs (spending by the state and local governments push that figure up to $1 trillion per year).

    Welfare has traditionally meant some form of “outdoor relief,” or cash, or cash-like compensation, that is given to the poor without them having to enter an institution. As the historian Michael Katz has documented, the battle over outdoor relief, has been a long one throughout our country’s history.

    However, this claims says any money mostly spent on the poor is “welfare.” To give you a better sense here, the federal spending breaks down into a couple of broad categories. Only about one-third of it is actually what we think of as “welfare”:

    1) Cash and cash-like programs:
    As Michael Linden of Center for American Progress told me, there are five big programs in the Cato list that are most analogous to what people think of as “welfare”: The refundable part of the Earned Income Tax Credit ($55 billion), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ($21 billion), Supplemental Security Income ($43.7 billion), food stamps ($75 billion), and housing vouchers ($18 billion)and the Child Tax Credit. All together, that’saround$212 billion dollars.”

    2) Health care:
    This is actually the biggest item on Cato’s list. Medicaid spends $228 billion on the non-elderly population, and children’s health insurance plan takes up another $13.5 billion. This is also roughly a third as well.

    3) Opportunity-related programs:
    These are programs that are broadly related to opportunities, mostly in education or job-training. So you have things like Title 1 grants ($14 billion) and Head Start ($7.1 billion) in this category. But as Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Donna Pavetti notes, these programs don’t all go to poor people. For instance, Title I benefits school districts with a large share of poor children, however that money will help non-poor students attending those schools.

    4) Targeted and community programs:
    What remains are programs designed to provide certain services to poor communities, which make up the bulk of the number of programs. Adoption assistance ($2.5 billion) and low income taxpayer clinics ($9.9 million) are two examples here.

    So what should we take away from this?

    The federal government spends just $212 billion per year on what we could reasonably call “welfare.” (Even then, the poor have to enter the institution of waged labor to get the earned income tax credit.) And there have been numerous studies showing that these programs, especially things like food stamps, are both very efficient and effective at reducing poverty. They just don’t show up in the official poverty statistics, because that’s how the poverty statistics are designed.

    Publicly funded services have never been thought of as welfare. I drive on publicly funded roads, but nobody analytically thinks of roads as belonging to category of “welfare.” If the poor take advantage of, say, a low-income taxpayer clinic, how is that welfare? Do taxpayer clinics encourage illegitimacy, dependency and idleness and other things conservatives worry about when it comes to welfare? This confuses more than it illuminates, which I imagine is the point.

    Medicaid makes this very obvious. If a poor person gets access to decent health care, that’s not free money they get to spend on whatever they want. They aren’t “on the dole.”

    The fact that Social Security and Medicare, major victories of the War on Poverty, aren’t here makes it clear something is wrong in the definition. Even though these are anti-poverty programs associated with the War on Poverty, nobody thinks of them as welfare, though they should fit this definition as well.

    It’s interesting to see conservatives consider opportunity programs to be “welfare,” because those programs broadly involve things they say they are for. Perhaps you think these programs are good investments or perhaps you don’t, but they are a whole other conceptual category than welfare, or just giving poor people money when they need it.

    It’s also interesting to see conservatives lament the sheer number of anti-poverty programs. One reason this set-up exists is because so many programs are run through nonprofit groups (a set-up that makes us unique among developed countries). But conservatives have long tended to favor this arrangement, since nonprofit groups are supposed to boost civil society and provide an antidote to the nameless, faceless Big Government bureaucrats.

    Read that again: conservatives complain that we should have less welfare and more opportunity and civil society, only to turn around and also call those things “welfare” too when the time comes.

    Perhaps some of these programs should be discontinued, or expanded, or turned into straight cash. (How about cash instead of food stamps ?) But we can’t have a productive conversation unless we make it clear what the government is, and is not, doing. And it is spending a lot less on welfare than conservatives claim, and getting fantastic results for what it does spend.

    Mike Konczal is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, where he focuses on financial regulation, inequality and unemployment. He writes a weekly column for Wonkblog. Follow him on Twitter


  3. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/05/japanese-company-replaces-office-workers-artificial-intelligence-ai-fukoku-mutual-life-insurance

    A future in which human workers are replaced by machines is about to become a reality at an insurance firm in Japan, where more than 30 employees are being laid off and replaced with an artificial intelligence system that can calculate payouts to policyholders.

    Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance believes it will increase productivity by 30% and see a return on its investment in less than two years. The firm said it would save about 140m yen (£1m) a year after the 200m yen (£1.4m) AI system is installed this month. Maintaining it will cost about 15m yen (£100k) a year.

    The move is unlikely to be welcomed, however, by 34 employees who will be made redundant by the end of March.

    The system is based on IBM’s Watson Explorer, which, according to the tech firm, possesses “cognitive technology that can think like a human”, enabling it to “analyse and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video”.

    The technology will be able to read tens of thousands of medical certificates and factor in the length of hospital stays, medical histories and any surgical procedures before calculating payouts, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.

    While the use of AI will drastically reduce the time needed to calculate Fukoku Mutual’s payouts – which reportedly totalled 132,000 during the current financial year – the sums will not be paid until they have been approved by a member of staff, the newspaper said.

    Japan’s shrinking, ageing population, coupled with its prowess in robot technology, makes it a prime testing ground for AI.

    According to a 2015 report by the Nomura Research Institute, nearly half of all jobs in Japan could be performed by robots by 2035.

    Dai-Ichi Life Insurance has already introduced a Watson-based system to assess payments – although it has not cut staff numbers – and Japan Post Insurance is interested in introducing a similar setup, the Mainichi said.

    AI could soon be playing a role in the country’s politics. Next month, the economy, trade and industry ministry will introduce AI on a trial basis to help civil servants draft answers for ministers during cabinet meetings and parliamentary sessions.

    The ministry hopes AI will help reduce the punishingly long hours bureaucrats spend preparing written answers for ministers.
    The automated city: do we still need humans to run public services?
    Read more

    If the experiment is a success, it could be adopted by other government agencies, according the Jiji news agency.

    If, for example a question is asked about energy-saving policies, the AI system will provide civil servants with the relevant data and a list of pertinent debating points based on past answers to similar questions.

    The march of Japan’s AI robots hasn’t been entirely glitch-free, however. At the end of last year a team of researchers abandoned an attempt to develop a robot intelligent enough to pass the entrance exam for the prestigious Tokyo University.

    “AI is not good at answering the type of questions that require an ability to grasp meanings across a broad spectrum,” Noriko Arai, a professor at the National Institute of Informatics, told Kyodo news agency.


  4. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/12/brief-history-income-inequality-minimum-wage
    From the window of his university office in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, philosophy professor Philippe Van Parijs—considered by many to be Europe’s most prominent advocate for the idea that the state should provide a regular income to every citizen—can see the mailbox where he sent off invitations to the first “basic income” conference more than 30 years ago. “I’m quite amazed by the seed we threw on the ground now,” he says.

    After decades of obscurity, the idea is suddenly in fashion. Politicians around the world are interested and a handful of governments, such as Finland and the Canadian province of Ontario, are planning or considering basic-income pilot projects.

    But the idea of basic income has been around for more than 200 years, rising on waves of political and economic turmoil only to disappear in calmer times. Here are some of the highlights of its long, turbulent history:
    Thomas Paine Wikicommons

    1795-97: As the Industrial Revolution widened the gap between rich and poor, land reform was seen by some as an answer to social inequity. Thomas Paine, who two decades earlier had written Common Sense, drafted Agrarian Justice in the winter of 1795 and 1796. The earth by right belongs to all people, Paine argued, but the private ownership of land has stripped us of this “natural inheritance”; at 21 years old, citizens should be compensated for their loss with a sum of 15 pounds. A year later, fellow British-born radical Thomas Spence responded with a pamphlet titled The Rights of Infants. Writing in the character of a woman (“because the men are not to be depended on”), Spence said society should be organized into parishes that would lease out all houses and lands and then, after the community’s expenses had been paid, distribute their remaining funds equally among members.

    1848: Revolutions erupted across Europe, Karl Marx penned The Communist Manifesto, and Joseph Charlier, a Belgian variously identified as a “writer, an “accountant,” or a “merchant,” wrote The Solution of the Social Problem, now considered the first fully fledged proposal for basic income. His book received little attention and disappeared until two European academics stumbled upon it 150 years later and wrote an article that established Charlier’s place in history.

    Late 1910s and 1920s: Social movements demanded a radical redistribution of resources after the devastation of World War I. In England, two young Quakers published a pamphlet calling for a weekly “state bonus” for all citizens of the United Kingdom. The idea gained a following and was considered by the Labor Party in 1920 but ultimately rejected.
    Sen. Huey Long Wikimedia Commons

    1930s: The Great Depression swept across the industrialized world, wiping out jobs and sending poverty soaring. In 1934, populist (and famously corrupt) Louisiana Sen. Huey Long addressed the country on the radio and called for the confiscation of wealth from the richest and guaranteed annual incomes for all families, a program he called “Share Our Wealth.” The movement was cut short by Long’s assassination in 1935. That same year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the landmark Social Security Act, creating the anti-poverty program known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children—or “welfare.”

    1940s: Conservative economists Milton Friedman and George Stigler, both future Nobel laureates, developed the idea of a “negative income tax” (NIT), essentially a guaranteed income administered through the tax system. Low-income filers would receive checks from the government rather than pay taxes; as their earnings increased, so would their tax burden, but also the total amount the filer took home. Friedman’s plan may come as a surprise to his small-government acolytes, but the economist firmly believed an NIT would address poverty without adding to the state bureaucracy he reviled.

    1962-63: Basic income went mainstream as attention turned to poverty, unemployment, and the massive northern migration of African Americans. In 1963, critic Dwight Macdonald argued for the necessity of a guaranteed income for all families in an influential review of Michael Harrington’s The Other America in The New Yorker. Friedman made the case for an NIT in his book Capitalism and Freedom, while on the left, economist Robert Theobald outlined his “Basic Economic Security plan”—a proposal strikingly similar to modern basic-income schemes. Economists in the Kennedy administration embarked on a federal anti-poverty campaign, which, after Kennedy’s assassination, became Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

    1964-68: Racially charged riots, with demands for economic justice, erupted in cities across the country. In a 1967 speech, Martin Luther King Jr. called for a guaranteed minimum income for all people. Protests organized by welfare rights groups raised the pressure on government to address poverty and guaranteed income gained popularity within the administration. In a 1966 report, Johnson’s Council of Economic Advisers said a negative income tax “would be the most direct approach to reducing poverty” and “deserve(s) further exploration.” By 1968, a surprising cast of characters, including heads of major companies, had lent support to the idea. John Kenneth Galbraith and Paul Samuelson joined more than 1,200 economists in signing a statement advocating a “national system of income guarantees and supplements.”

    1969-71: Richard Nixon repudiated guaranteed income on the campaign trail, but after his election, he was persuaded that it might be the best solution to the so-called “welfare mess.” In a televised address in August, Nixon presented his Family Assistance Plan (FAP). While Nixon insisted that it was “not a guaranteed income” because it included work requirements, the plan owed its central tenets to the guaranteed-income debate and would have made a radical break with past poverty policy. Families headed by both working and unemployed adults were eligible, erasing a historic line between the “deserving” poor (the old, disabled, and mothers with young children) and “undeserving” (people who are physically able to work).
    Daniel Patrick Moynihan Marion S. Trikosko / Library of Congress

    In 1970, Nixon’s bill easily passed the House but stalled in the Senate Finance Committee, which was chaired by Huey Long’s son, Sen. Russell Long of Louisiana. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a proponent of the plan within the administration, wrote in a memo to Nixon that for Southern committee members “it would very likely mean the end of those political dynasties built on poverty and racial division.” Nixon’s plan died in committee. A revised version met the same fate the following year.

    Late 1960s to the early 1980s: Beginning in 1968, the US government ran four groundbreaking negative income tax trials involving nearly 9,000 families. In Canada, between 1974 and 1979, the government turned the tiny, isolated town of Dauphin into a living laboratory where qualified residents received a guaranteed annual income equivalent to about $15,000 for a family of four. (The Canadian data was never analyzed; a determined academic discovered the documents in the early 2000s, packed away in 1,800 dusty boxes in a Winnipeg warehouse.) The US experiments, which were primarily intended to study an NIT’s impact on labor, found only small reductions in work effort. But researchers reported that the trials in Seattle and Denver appeared to increase the rate of marriage dissolution by 40 percent to 60 percent. Although the results were later disputed, the damage was done. Moynihan, now a senator and once an avid supporter in Congress, renounced guaranteed income. But Nixon’s welfare reform efforts did have a lasting impact: Supplementary Security Income (income support for the aged, blind, and disabled) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (an NIT applied solely to the working poor) were enacted in 1972 and 1974.
    Jay Hammond Wikicommons

    1982: In 1976, as the Trans-Alaska Pipeline neared completion, Jay Hammond, a professional hunter turned governor, proposed a system of dividends to be paid to all Alaskans from a state oil fund established in 1976. The program dispensed its first dividends in 1982, in effect becoming the first basic-income system in the United States. Last year, the state sent checks of $2,072 to nearly 650,000 residents. In June, current Gov. Bill Walker capped payments at $1,000 per person this year to help cover Alaska’s budget deficit.

    Early 1980s to 1990s: In 1982, Philippe Van Parijs, then a young Belgian academic losing sleep to fears of unfettered capitalism, landed on the idea of a basic income. He found like-minded thinkers across Europe, and in 1986 they scraped together enough money for the first basic-income conference. At that meeting, the Basic Income Europe Network (“BIEN,” or “good” in French) was born. In 2004, at the insistence of a growing international contingent, the organization was renamed the Basic Income Earth Network.

    1997: Mexico launched a large-scale conditional cash transfer program (CCT), or a system of direct cash payments to poor households, followed in 2001 by Brazil and Colombia. While CCTs are not identical to basic income—the grants come with requirements, such as sending children to school, and are only given to the poor—they also operate on the assumption that people can be trusted to spend cash grants wisely. CCT programs spread rapidly across Latin America in the early 2000s and on to parts of Asia and Africa. Tens of millions of impoverished people worldwide now receive financial assistance through CCTs funded by governments, international aid organizations, and nonprofits.
    Zephania Kameeta Wikicommons

    2006-11: At a BIEN conference in Cape Town, South Africa, Zephania Kameeta, then head of the Namibian Evangelical Lutheran Church, shouted in frustration: “Words! Words! Words!” Kameeta was fed up with the endless scholarly discussions and lack of progress, so after the conference he set about organizing a real-life basic-income trial. By early 2008, a basic-income coalition assembled by the bishop had launched a pilot project in an impoverished settlement. Two years later, a group of researchers began a series of basic-income experiments in rural India involving more than 6,000 individuals.

    2015-Present: The Canadian province of Ontario pledged to roll out a basic income trial in 2017, with the Dutch city of Utrecht to follow in 2017. The Finnish government mulled a pilot project with up to 10,000 participants. In the United States, where Silicon Valley bigwigs were among basic income’s most vocal supporters, the startup incubator Y Combinator in June announced plans to start a pilot project this year in Oakland, California, that will distribute up to $2,000 a month to a few dozen people. Another private enterprise, the US-based nonprofit GiveDirectly, is planning an extended trial in Kenya that will span 10 to 15 years and involve at least 6,000 participants.

    2016: On June 5, Switzerland became the first country to vote on, and roundly defeat, a national basic income. Opponents argued that the policy would have discouraged work and undermined the Swiss economy. But for basic-income advocates, the referendum was remarkable. Just a few decades ago, Van Parijs remembers, it was “difficult to find 30 people who had heard of the idea.”


  5. “Still, Ocado’s business is by nature one in which robots will ultimately be preferable to humans. When pushed on the impact of automation on employment, Clarke is bullish. He insists that it’s a “game that is going to play out regardless,” adding that “this is happening on a world stage … if we as a U.K. business don’t continue to get better using automation, somebody else will, and we’re determined not to let that happen.””



  6. https://iot-for-all.com/amazon-go-were-all-f-cked-e6fb885f94c4#.4e2mzt5qc

    “But what does this do to our workforce? Amazon Go is a frightening proposal for cashiers, who just realized they can be replaced by an app on your smartphone. Contrary to the popular belief that truck drivers lead the American workforce, the most common job in America is retail salesperson, with cashier coming in at close second. Both jobs, which together employ a total of 7.8 million Americans right now, are in jeopardy with “Just Walk Out” technology, which is essentially AWS for grocery stores (and dare I say it, retail stores).

    This sort of abrupt end to blue collar jobs is a common theme in automation, which Amazon just achieved without even using a robot. Driverless trucks are predicted to end 1% of jobs in America, a devastating blow when you realize that is equivalent to 2 million Americans out of work. United Technologies just made a $16 million investment in automation at their Indiana factory, which will ultimately lead to fewer jobs. Since 2000, the total number of manufacturing jobs in the US has fallen by almost 5 million (30%).”


  7. “The future of work in America is uncertain. What we know is that things are going to change. Technology will upend countless careers, workers across fields will be displaced, and it’s not entirely clear how many jobs will be replaced.

    When driverless trucks are manufactured at scale, which will happen far sooner than many realize (as soon as five years), America’s 3.5 million truck drivers will be dispensable. That doesn’t mean the profession of truck driving will disappear overnight, but it will shrink considerably. ”



  8. In reply to:

    “The author confuses work with toil. No one wants to toil at a job. No one want to do many of the jobs ol’ Mike Rowe did on ‘Dirty Jobs’.

    Work? Work is different. You must work to build your own home, your own boat, a garden, a play structure. You must work to wrangle cattle, or emus, or horses. You must work to throw pots, blow glass, craft beer, bottle wine. I would posit that most of this ‘work’ is done through the love of the work itself. That will never vanish.

    I hope, in my lifetime, to see the end of toil. But I doubt it will come. Why? Because of the primary misjudgment of the single leading cause of inequality on the planet – the corporation.

    Capitalism benefits the capitalists. Capitalism drives the unchecked growth of the corporation. Corporations exist to deliver an ROI to capitalists — that is their ONLY GOAL. Humanity has underestimated the growth in expansion of power and avarice of the corporation. It is the corporations that will be in charge of the elimination of toil. The monetary benefits of this automation will fall only to the capitalists. The bottom 90% will be excluded from the trillions of dollars generated by this process. They are not owners. They are not rentiers.They are not institutional bankers, brokers, lobbyists, politicians, CEOs; they are not capitalist.

    “Oh but the world has benefited from all the corporate activity.”

    Imagine the world if all the corporate returns had been distribute out to those who’d made the all cars, the planes, the phones, the computers, the foods, the clothing, the everything. Imagine if the people were the owners of their work (and toil) — and not just the powerless agents of its delivery.

    UBI? The capitalists will never allow it.”


  9. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602278/ai-wants-to-be-your-bro-not-your-foe

    “It predicts that automated trucks, flying vehicles, and personal robots will be commonplace by 2030, but cautions that remaining technical obstacles will limit such technologies to certain niches. It also warns that the social and ethical implications of advances in AI, such as the potential for unemployment in certain areas and likely erosions of privacy driven by new forms of surveillance and data mining, will need to be open to discussion and debate.”


  10. http://evonomics.com/economic-ideas-change-the-world-keynes-hayek-friedman-reagan/

    That was quite the challenge. Take your mortal enemy’s arguments and turn them into an example to support your own premise. I’d say you succeeded. The bottom line, it would seem, of what you are proposing, is to persevere in one’s convictions. Maybe the world will adopt them — someday. And maybe it won’t. But adoption would not be an option if those ideas are not kept alive and active.

    I follow and tend to support much of what the author proposes. In light of that statement I would offer a simple idea regarding the changing of strongly held opinions: https://anonymole.wordpress.co

    The idea of “free-markets”, I hope, has now had its time in the sun. Time for it to get washed away with other notions that entities like corporations controlling unconstrained markets could ever form the basis for an equitable society. I look forward to a time of the “prosperous society”.


  11. In a matter of weeks some Londoners will have the chance to have food delivered aboard a small robot. Starship Technologies, which makes the wheeled delivery bots, announced today that it has tied up deals with two delivery startups, Just Eat and Pronto.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the robots fare when they are unleashed into the real world, especially when they encounter potentially hostile and hungry humans as they go about their work.

    These won’t be the first robots to move among us. Others are popping up in stores, hotels, and parking lots at a surprising rate. Still, operating on the open pavement among ordinary pedestrians will present unique challenges, not least figuring out who has the right of way.



  12. “Automation is becoming incredibly important to Chinese manufacturers, since they can no longer rely on a huge, low-paid migrant workforce to produce their products. Many manufacturers are already investing heavily in automation and robots, and the government is pouring billions into efforts to spur further efforts to replace human workers with robots.”



  13. The idea seems odd, at first review. But such thoughts are merely an extrapolation of times to come. The scenario goes like this, imagine a world where:
    Capitalists invest in and control all of the robots, all of the means of production for all goods of a country (or eventually the world).
    The general populace would be excluded from both the ownership and therefore the profits of the means of production — the robots. (Arguments about “everyone” having the opportunity to earn the capital to invest in such endeavors fall flat. The world is not equitable and never will be.)
    Now, the elite own and control all means of production. The populace has no way to earn a wage to buy the product of production — the goods and services provided by said robots. The whole cycle of a transactional economy fails.

    Taxing ‘bots, or rather the capitalists that own the robots, is simply a means to fund the whole machine. Without a mechanism to fund the consumers (who have no means to earn a wage now), then the machine will cease to operate. And in fact, if the capitalists were to actually think about this, the more they fund consumption, the greater the need there will be and therefore the greater the need for production. It’s a cycle — not a one way money escalator climbing up to the rich.


    “Robots in Europe may soon be given legal rights and considered “electronic persons,” following a draft report from the European Parliament that aims to address the rise of automated workers.

    Under the plans, bosses would be required to pay social security on their robot workers’ behalf, as well as adhere to new taxation rules and legal liability frameworks.

    “Humankind stands on the threshold of an era when ever more sophisticated robots, bots, androids and other manifestations of artificial intelligence (‘AI’) seem poised to unleash a new industrial revolution, which is likely to leave no stratum of society untouched,” the report stated. “It is vitally important for the legislature to consider all its implications.””


  14. According to a report from Michael Hicks, Ball State professor, 9 out 10 manufacturing jobs have been lost to mechanization, not trade policies. “No matter how you measure it, 2015 was the record year for manufacturing production in the USA. Right now manufacturing in Indiana and the USA is at record levels. There’s no ambiguity on this… To be sure, our trade deficits have cost us manufacturing jobs. The high-end estimates are that today we have 1.5 million fewer manufacturing jobs across the nation because of foreign trade. All the other 6 million or so lost manufacturing jobs are due to mechanization, better technology and better production practices. Today’s typical factory workers make twice as much ‘stuff’ in an hour as they did in 1977. For every manufacturing job lost to trade, nearly 9 have been lost to machines. But trade also creates jobs. We have 7 million more transportation and logistics jobs alone, likely attributable to trade since the 1970s.” — Will Huntsberry

    Click to access MfgReality.pdf


  15. Technology IS replacing workers. Foxconn reported it had nix’d 60k jobs through automation just last month. Everyday there are announcements about automation replacing workers. Wendy’s and MCD and others now will do away with counter workers in favor of kiosks. College level teaching assistants are being replaced by IBM Watsons. I keep a growing list and it is a fact that different jobs that are vanishing every day. Now, the attrition rate of jobs being replaced by robots hasn’t publicly been announced, but it is happening.

    Labor force participation is dropping and continues to drop. About half of this is due to retirement, but even that rate is accelerating due to seniors — not retiring because they want to — but because they have to. So the unemployment rate might be historically low, but the number of people employed reflects a much different zeitgiest.

    The research into UBI is incomplete. But there was a recent study of a Cherokee tribe who’s casino boosted the income for every member and the results were considerable and clear. Free money DOES benefit the poor. And no, bonus money does not lead to couch sloths.

    But the concept of UBI /without/ a conscription program to persuade people to do the nitty gritty work that won’t get done without it — won’t work. There are thousands of jobs that need to get done for every community that should be filled by those who are gifted by a UBI system. But as *everyone* would get a UBI, those who are already well enough off can buy their way out of the work detail, at at 10:1 ratio. If everyone were opted in to a four months of the year “volunteer” schedule, the work would get done, and those who could afford it, could buy their way out.

    UBI is not an idea that is going away. Better research and further examination must be done. But eventually /something/ like UBI will need to be put in place. Robots ARE taking jobs and will do so at a greater pace in our exponentially accelerating technological world.

    [ I realize that there appears to be a contradiction in my reply: vanishing jobs vs thousands of community jobs. But that, currently, is the case. There is work, at the bottom half of skill levels, that has not been automated — yet. Until it is, a UBI were it installed, should be done so in concert with a work program, akin to the New Deal of the ’30’s. When automation takes those jobs too, perhaps a modified UBI solution will have figured out how to engage people in productive activities at the same time as paying them. ]


  16. UBI — yes, but with caveats.

    1) Universal basic income “can work” provided every able bodied person is conscripted into social service for 1/3 of the year. The garbage still needs to get picked up, the roads repaired, the sewers cleared, and a thousand unpleasant other jobs that need to get done for society to work. Do you think people will volunteer for this work if we are given a stipend every month? Hell no! I wouldn’t. But if I was required to donate 4 months of my time, per year, to the tasks that society needs doing, well, then society would continue to run wouldn’t it?
    The other 8 months I could work at my desired profession, or educate myself or garden or just stay drugged up and drunk.
    And those who had the $$$ to spend could buy their way out of conscription at a 10:1 ratio.
    That is, until the automation of most work is accomplished by the robotization of the world’s labor force.

    2) Healthcare. If we all get UBI but we end up just returning it to pay for healthcare… That’s a failed system right there. So not only must UBI be implemented, but UBH too.

    3) UBI queens. There must be some form of penalty in place to curb the possibility that very low income folks don’t use children as a means of wealth accumulation. I apologize for bringing it up but, well, the possibility exists.

    4) The same for elder harvesting. If unsavory folks go into the business of caring for elders, collecting on their behalf, the elder’s UBI stipend, but providing care that is less than adequate… Just pointing it out.

    5) This last is something I’m not sure how to deal with, hoarding. UBI depends upon the velocity of money, the flow of cash to lubricate the economy. The more people get, the more they spend, the more the economy as a whole can prosper. But if the income is NOT spent, if the velocity of money slows or ceases, people thinking to save for a rainy day or month, then the whole system collapses. Continuous consumption is a requirement for UBI to function. Without it, deflation and collapse.


  17. “Cambridge Industries Group, faces fierce competition from increasingly high-tech operations in Germany, Japan, and the United States. To address both of these problems, CIG wants to replace two-thirds of its 3,000 workers with machines this year. Within a few more years, it wants the operation to be almost entirely automated, creating a so-called “dark factory.” The idea is that with so few people around, you could switch the lights off and leave the place to the machines.”



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