The idea of Universal Basic Income is like a band-aid on a sucking chest wound, it appears as though the situation is solved, but the underlying problem remains.
UBI tries to solve the problem of inequality but will fail at this. Why? Because the problem of inequality can only be solved by the equalization of wealth. Yes, giving cash — outright — to a select few individuals, or group does, generally, lift those people up out of the mire of poverty, or elevate them enough, give them a glimmer of hope so that the specter of impoverishment is pushed to the shadows.
But, give everybody the same allotment of cash and all you’ll do is inflate the currency and we’ll be back to Zimbabwe or the Weimar Republic. The elites will still be thousands of times more wealthy than the median population.
That’s the inequality that will not be cured. That’s why a full coverage UBI will fail.
But what can we do? Well, we could start with understanding why the wealthy are wealthy. If we figure that out, and universally distribute that — whatever it is — then perhaps the inequality will be reduced, eventually, to a socially acceptable level.
So, why are the wealthy wealthy? No doubt there are dozens of reasons we could cite, but the primary one is that they do not work for their income. As Warren Buffet famously said “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”
Okay, so what can we do with that thought? Let’s see, if the wealthy let their wealth earn them money, and if this is predominately done with investments in the corporations, the means of production, the growth and expansion of productivity, then somehow we need to get that into the hands of everyone.
What about this: create a financial instrument which can be distributed — UBI style — to every citizen of the country. Let’s say we create an ETF, an exchange traded fund, which is comprised of the rolling top 10000 companies and utilities, include bonds and treasuries in the instrument – a smorgasbord of components that represent the country’s economy.
We take that EFT and we give shares of it away to every citizen, one share per month, for life. We make investors out of every single person in the country, invested in the country itself, its progress, its future.
Some people will turn around and sell their shares right away. That’s okay, let them. They can use that money like the common UBI that has been proposed.
Others will let their shares sit. Accrue. Gain value and multiply. When they need cash for emergencies or buying a house or car, they can sell them then.
We could label this ETF: USAA — United States of America for All.
This would give cash to those who need cash, but for most, I suspect, it would give them a sense of participating in the wealth growth of the nation. Their investment would be making them money – “while they slept.”
This let’s every citizen participate in the economy just like the elites on Wall Street. This distributes Wall Street level prosperity down to Main Street where it’s needed.
Sure, this is not the whole solution — the wealthy still have thousands or millions of times more wealth than the median population. And there are solutions for that too — namely progressive taxation…
Employee Income Inequality Tax
Scaled Tax Schedule:
|Scaled Federal Tax Schedule|
15 thoughts on “UBI is not the solution”
Lots of UBI, automation and inequality posts in here.
What you must realize is that socialism will never be adopted in the US. Never. But, there are ways that we can rein in the Corptocracy that now runs our lives and our government. We do this through convincing the oligarchs that without a thriving bottom 3/4’s of society’s economy — they too will eventually fail.
It’s called Bubble-Up Economics. What we must convince our elected leaders (or pick new elected leaders) is that the plutocrats NEED us. That SHARING of the wealth will make them EVEN RICHER! The way to do this is through tough inequality laws. If all the wealth extracted from workers over the last 50 years had been more equitably distributed — the workers themselves would have been mini-capitalists, owners of the means of production. (See posts)
Education? What sector benefits the most from higher education? Corporations. So make Capitalists pay for employees education. A $100k/year employee will net the average corp $200k-$400k per year. So, have corporations payback universities for such great, highly educated employees. (See posts)
Automation? Yeah, it’s a done deal (baring a massive CME that wipes out all electricity in the Northern Hemisphere, possible…). (See posts)
UBI? Yeah, stupid. Let’s give everyone $15k and so everything is now three times as expensive as before. (See posts)
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“Previous waves of technological change have not led to an overall loss of jobs, but have disrupted the types of job people do,” the report said, adding: “With the most recent wave of industrial change, rewards from higher productivity have gone predominantly to business owners, rather than being shared across the workforce through better wages and working conditions.”
Hawaii obviously has no business trying to design a poverty floor income PFI — nor does any single state. State tax revenue can’t possibly compete with the FED’s income collection. However, what you dismiss out of hand as a “fever dream” IS going to occur, and the momentum of the replacement of work by automation will only accelerate.
What no one seems to realize is that the cost for such a basic income used to be part of this country’s tax system but was stripped during and after Reagan’s tenure. The golden age of America, the 1950, 60, 70’s (as far as the worker is concerned) came about primarily due to labor having power to negotiate living income AND the corporate and wealthy tax rate being at a level which remains to this day as logical.
So the worker’s wage is stagnant for 30 years now, the wealthy and corporate tax rates have plummeted, off-shoring of work and automation consume more and more jobs, and what is the result? Inequality beyond belief and the open discussion of a basic income.
The solution is simple — the income of production must be shared not hoarded by the capitalists made rich by the work of the workers.
Everyone’s assumptions about a basic income are wrong. Mine, yours, all the economists, all the pundits. Let’s just state that up front.
Everyone’s presumptions and questions about a basic income have some foundation in truth. Money for nothing? Impact on work? Funding? Impact on existing social safety nets.
The few facts that seem to persist can be summed up in just a few points:
• Automation of most manual and much mid-tier knowledge work is coming. With this the elimination of millions of jobs. And no the shift of work to new types of jobs will not keep up with automation.
• The few trials of a basic income have proven that money for nothing does NOT create a couchclass of lazy people. In fact a cash cushion often incentivizes people to work harder, learn more, eat better, etc.
• No one knows how to pay for a basic income. Despite the continued growth of corporate power and the corptocracy no one knows how to cure the inequality that accompanies this plutocratic escalation, which if tapped, could pay for an inverted social tax or basic income.
• The only way a basic income *might* come to be is through small, local trials and adoption. There will be no “Universal” aspect about it.
As machine learning and robotics improve in the coming decades, hundreds of millions of jobs are likely to disappear, disrupting the economies and trade networks of the entire world. The Industrial Revolution created the urban working class, and much of the social and political history of the 20th century revolved around its problems. Similarly, the artificial intelligence revolution might create a new “unworking class,” whose hopes and fears will shape the history of the 21st century.
Universal Basic Income
The social and economic models we have inherited from the previous century are inadequate for dealing with this new era. For example, socialism assumed that the working class was vital for the economy, and socialist thinkers tried to teach the proletariat how to translate its immense economic power into political clout. These teachings might become utterly irrelevant in coming decades, as the masses lose their economic value.
Indeed, some might argue that already, Brexit and Donald Drumpf’s presidential victory demonstrate an opposite trajectory. In 2016, many Brits and Americans who had lost their economic usefulness but retained some political power used the ballot box to revolt before it is too late. They revolt not against an economic elite that exploits them, but against an economic elite that doesn’t need them anymore. It is far more frightening to be useless than to be exploited.
In order to cope with such unprecedented technological and economic disruptions, we probably need completely new models. One that is gaining increasing attention and popularity is universal basic income. UBI suggests that some institution — most likely a government — will tax the billionaires and corporations controlling the algorithms and robots, and use the money to provide every person with a stipend covering basic needs. The hope is that this will cushion the poor against job loss and economic dislocation, while protecting the rich from populist rage.
Not everybody agrees that UBI will be necessary. Fears that automation will create massive unemployment go back to the 19th century, and so far they have never materialized. In the 20th century, for every job lost to a tractor or a computer at least one new job was created, and in the 21st century automation has so far caused only moderate job losses. But there are good reasons to think that this time it is different, and that machine learning is a real game-changer. The experts who cry “job loss!” are a bit like the boy who cried wolf. In the end, the wolf really came.
Humans have basically two types of skills — physical and cognitive. In the past, machines competed with humans mainly in raw physical abilities. Humans always had an immense cognitive edge over machines. Hence, as manual jobs in agriculture and industry were automated, new service jobs emerged that required the kind of brainpower only humans possessed. Now AI is beginning to outperform humans in more and more cognitive skills, and we don’t know of any third field of activity where humans retain a secure edge.
Of course, some new human jobs will develop in the 21st century, be it in engineering software or teaching yoga. Yet these will demand high levels of expertise and creativity, and will therefore not solve the problems of unemployed, unskilled laborers.
During previous waves of automation, people could usually switch from one low-skill job to another. In 1920, a farm worker laid off because of the mechanization of agriculture could find a new job in a factory producing tractors. In 1980, an unemployed factory worker could start working as a cashier in a supermarket. Such occupational changes were feasible, because the move from the farm to the factory and from the factory to the supermarket required only limited retraining.
But in 2040, a cashier or textile worker losing a job to an AI machine will hardly be able to start working as a software engineer or a yoga teacher. They will not have the necessary skills.
Proponents of UBI hope to solve that problem. Freed of economic worries, the unemployed could just forget about work, and devote themselves to their families, hobbies and community activities, and find meaning in sports, arts, religion or meditation.
Yet the formula of universal basic income suffers from several problems. In particular, it is unclear what “universal” and “basic” mean.
When people speak about universal basic income they usually mean national basic income. For example, both Elon Musk and former President Barack Obama have spoken about the need to consider some kinds of UBI schemes. But when Musk said that “There’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income … due to automation,” and when Obama said that “whether a universal income is the right model … that’s a debate that we’ll be having over the next 10 or 20 years,” it is unclear who “we” are. The American people? The human race?
Hitherto, all UBI initiatives were strictly national or municipal. In January, Finland began a two-year experiment, providing 2,000 unemployed Finns with $630 a month, irrespective of whether they find work or not. Similar projects are underway in Ontario, Holland and Livorno, Italy. Last year, Switzerland held a referendum on instituting a national basic income scheme, but voters rejected the idea.
In the U.S., Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, proposes to greatly expand the Earned Income Tax Credit program, boosting the income of poor Americans by about $1 trillion. Though the plan does not promise any stipends to the unemployed, it is seen as a first step towards instituting national basic income.
The problem with such national and municipal schemes, however, is that the main victims of automation may not live in Finland, Amsterdam or the U.S. Globalization has made people in one country dependent on markets in other countries, but automatization might unravel large parts of this global trade network with disastrous consequences for the weakest links.
In the 20th century, developing countries made economic progress mainly by exporting raw materials or by selling the cheap labor of their workers and service personnel. Today, millions of Bangladeshis make a living by producing shirts that are sold to customers in the U.S., while people in Bangalore, India, earn their keep answering the complaints of American customers.
Yet with the rise of AI, robots and 3-D printers, cheap labor will become far less important, and demand for raw materials might also drop. Instead of manufacturing a shirt in Dhaka and shipping it all the way to New York, you could buy the shirt’s code online from Amazon and print it in Manhattan. Zara and Prada stores could be replaced by 3-D printing centers, and some people might even have such printers at home.
Simultaneously, instead of calling customer services in Bangalore to complain about your printer, you could talk with an AI representative in the Google Cloud. The newly unemployed workers and call center operators in Dhaka and Bangalore don’t have the education necessary to switch to designing fashionable shirts or writing computer code — so how will they survive?
Under this scenario, the revenue that previously flowed to South Asia will now fill the coffers of a few tech giants in California, leading to huge strain on developing economies. American voters might conceivably agree that taxes paid by Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc. be used to give stipends to unemployed coal miners in Pennsylvania and jobless taxi-drivers in New York. However, does anyone think American voters would also agree that part of these taxes should be sent to Bangladesh to cover the basic needs of the unemployed masses there?
Another major difficulty is that there is no accepted definition for “basic” needs. From a purely biological perspective, the only thing a Homo sapiens needs for survival is about 2,500 calories of food per day. Over and above this biological poverty line, every culture in history defined additional basic needs, which change over time.
In Medieval Europe, access to church services was seen as even more important than food, because it took care of your eternal soul rather than of your ephemeral body. In today’s Europe, decent education and health care services are considered basic human needs, and some argue that even access to the internet is now essential for every man, woman and child.
So if in 2050 the United World Government agrees to tax Google, Amazon, Baidu Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. in order to provide a basic income for every human being on earth, from Dhaka to Detroit, how will it define “basic”?
For example, will universal basic income cover education? And if so, what would these services include: just reading and writing, or also composing computer code? Just six years of elementary school, or everything up to Ph.D.?
And what about health care? If by 2050 medical advances make it possible to slow down aging processes and significantly extend human lifespans, will the new treatments be available to all 10 billion humans on the planet, or just to a few billionaires? If biotechnology enables parents to “upgrade” their children, would this be considered a basic human need, or would we see humankind splitting into different biological castes, with rich super-humans enjoying abilities that far surpass those of poor Homo sapiens?
Whichever way you choose to define basic human needs, once you provide them to everyone free of charge, they will be taken for granted, and then fierce social competitions and political struggles will focus on non-basic luxuries — be they fancy self-driving cars, access to virtual-reality parks, or enhanced bioengineered bodies. Yet if the unemployed masses command no economic assets, it is hard to see how they could ever hope to obtain such luxuries. Consequently, the gap between the rich (Tencent managers and Google shareholders) and the poor (those dependent on universal basic income) might become bigger and more rigid than ever.
Hence, even if universal basic income means that poor people in 2050 will enjoy much better medical care and education than today, they might still feel that the system is rigged against them, that the government serves only the super-rich, and that the future will be even worse for them and their children.
People usually compare themselves to their more fortunate contemporaries rather than to their ill-fated ancestors. If in 2017 you tell a poor American in an impoverished Detroit neighborhood that she has access to much better health care than her great-grandparents did in the age before antibiotics, it is unlikely to cheer her up. Indeed, such talk will sound terribly smug and condescending. “Why should I compare myself to nineteenth-century peasants?” she might retort. “I want to live like the rich people on television, or at least like the folks in the affluent suburbs.”
Similarly, if in 2050 you tell the useless class that they enjoy better health care than in 2017, it might be very cold comfort to them, because they would be comparing themselves to the upgraded super-humans who dominate the world.
Modern communication systems make such comparisons almost inevitable. A man living in a small village 5,000 years ago measured himself against the other 50 men in the settlement. Compared to them, he probably looked pretty hot. Today, a man living in a small village compares himself to the 50 most gorgeous hunks on the planet, whom he sees everyday on TV screens and giant billboards. Our modern villager is likely to be far less happy with the way he looks. Will universal basic income include plastic surgery for everyone?
Homo sapiens is just not built for satisfaction. Human happiness depends less on objective conditions and more on our own expectations. Expectations, however, tend to adapt to conditions, including to the condition of other people. When things improve, expectations balloon, and consequently, even dramatic improvements in conditions might leave us as dissatisfied as before.
If universal basic income is aimed to improve the objective conditions of the average person in 2050, it has a fair chance of succeeding. But if it is aimed to make people subjectively more satisfied with their lot in order to prevent social discontent, it is likely to fail.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story:
Yuval Noah Harari at firstname.lastname@example.org
I like the way you’re thinking, and you went where I hoped you’d go when I saw the title of this post!
I’m excited to learn more about various UBI proposals (I say “excited” to mean that I expect to end up being for it, but I have to learn more first), and based on my current understanding, I think it can be one brick in a larger progressive economic system.
But I’m even more excited about the idea of a socialist capital market. I’m still learning about that too, but it’s exactly the answer to your question: “we could start with understanding why the wealthy are wealthy. If we figure that out, and universally distribute that — whatever it is — then perhaps the inequality will be reduced, eventually, to a socially acceptable level.”
An added bonus of socialist capital markets is that if the public has more control over the finance market, we could impose sensible rules to prevent the crises and the resulting depressions like the ones that led to my dad losing his job in 1988 and 2008. (Hey, we keep trying to do that, and the plutocrats keep rolling them back….)
The thing that makes me think UBI is still a good idea is because if we do end up with automation of most jobs, someone’s still going to own the robots. Why not socialize them too (or at least a large part of their output — someone can get paid for keeping them up to date, sure, but they didn’t do all the work to create them), and then make the profits into a UBI?
But you’re right: start with the capital markets. We already socialize the losses (i.e., taxpayer bailouts after the two crises I mentioned). We ought to socialize the gains, too.
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It’s heretical to say in this era of capitalistic might (but getting less so everyday) but I think Karl Marx was just born in the wrong century. Eventually, some more balanced system will arise. Whether it rises phoenix like, or more gently (fewer ashes, less turmoil) is anyone’s guess. If via the phoenix, I would suspect that the dystopian interim won’t be any fun at all.
It’s surprisingly not heretical, given how Millennials feel about the S-word! My fingers are crossed that this rebirth of interest in Marx and things thereunto related is the phoenix rising from the ashes, but you’re right, if it’s not, it will get messy….
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How will any kind of base income floor help if the underlying problem remains? The problem being stunning wealth inequality.
How did we get this way? How did a small segment of the population acquire the dominant share of wealth? If we don’t understand that — and fix it so that it does not continue business-as-usual style into the future, then the disparity of wealth will continue and worsen, regardless of some basic income distribution.
I’m afraid we’re back to Karl Marx. Why does the growing productivity of industry and services ONLY benefit the capitalists? Why shouldn’t EVERY member of a business concern have been rewarded with ownership of that concern? Why should corporate endeavors not reward every level of a company’s workforce? Most simply, why have workers only ever been paid a wage and not themselves become part owners in the industries they helped build?
That’s the core issue right there. Ownership gives you wealth earning ability into the future. A wage does not. Capitalists have been allowed, through government legislation, to ignore the equitable distribution of wealth to ALL contributors in a corporation.
If, from the very start of business, rather than encourage owners to own and pay workers to work, government had mandated that in addition to a wage, a portion of ownership ALWAYS accompanied said wage, then EVERY WORKER in the country — today — would be an owner and not a wage slave. And the need for a UBI would have been eliminated.
It’s our mindset of owner vs worker that is at fault here. If we do not alter that, then no UBI will ever fix the inequality that grows uglier and uglier.
“But these 3 alternative solutions could be faster ways to achieve increased opportunity, prosperity and equality.
Universal basic income (UBI) is a provocative idea that’s enjoying a huge surge of attention right now. The concept is simple: a government would provide unconditional payments (proposed amounts range from $10,000 to $25,000 a year) to its citizens that would cover their basic necessities — no job required. Advocates have heralded UBI as a solution to the financial insecurity that plagues workers and to the widening wealth gap seen in developed nations. As the world swirls with concern about technology’s impact on work, some big thinkers believe that guaranteed basic income is an essential ingredient in a future where robots take many more of the jobs humans do now.
UBI inched closer to reality in June 2016, when Switzerland was the first country in the world to hold a public referendum on it (it was voted down). The same year, two significant pilot experiments launched — one with 100 families in Oakland, California, who will receive $1,000–$2,000 per month for six months to a year; and another with 2,000 families in Finland, receiving 560 euro (roughly $589 USD) per month for two years.
The upside of a world with UBI could be enormous. It would eliminate poverty outright, beneficial for everyone but especially for children. And governments might be able to scrap the thicket of rules, bureaucracy and enforcement that surround current public-assistance programs.
But the barriers to its implementation are considerable.
For starters, its costs would be huge (for instance, providing a UBI of $10,000 a year to all 300 million Americans would add up to $3 trillion). Another major obstacle is ideological, even philosophical: UBI undercuts the principle of labor having value. It would represent a fundamental shift for financial security away from it being a reward earned through effort, and towards a lofty ideal of it as a human right.
What’s more, UBI may not be enough to solve the complex, deeply entrenched problems it is intended to address. As an example, in the US, social inequities are often rooted in deeply entrenched prejudices, like institutional racism and sexism. In light of these challenges, we might consider a few other solutions that also take aim at the underlying issues of inequality, insecurity and the uncertain future of work. While they’re not as simple or sexy as UBI, they might be more effective and sustainable.
1. Let’s match the savings of lower-income workers when they invest in assets — like small businesses, homes, retirement accounts and post-secondary training — that encourage their future financial security.
As it turns out, we already do this for richer people: The US spends more than $500 billion every year, primarily through its tax code, to help upper and middle-income individuals build wealth. The home mortgage interest deduction costs $70 billion alone.
Rewarding aspiration and investment is good public policy. While current efforts in the US are heavily weighted toward households that are already wealthy, we can foster economic fairness and growth by setting up a government program to match what low- and moderate-income families deposit into their savings accounts. Skeptics who wonder if the poor would indeed save should look at the track records of nonprofits that work in this area. For example, the San Francisco-based EARN has helped 6,000 Bay Area families — each with an average annual household income of $25,000 — to save more than $7 million of their own money.
2. Let’s increase the bargaining power of workers.
If one believes that human labor has great value, the establishment of platforms that protect and leverage this value is critical to ensuring that workers can continue to receive fair wages even as the world of work changes rapidly. The efforts of Saru Jayaraman, who leads the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, are one example. Aside from being a driver for higher minimum wages nationwide, she has redefined the role of restaurant employees by eliminating tips and increasing wages, and by making cooperative worker ownership a norm. Another pioneer is Sara Horowitz, who founded the Freelancers Union after seeing the need for economically vulnerable gig workers to organize.
Work like Jayaraman’s and Horowitz’s strengthens employee power in two important ways. The first is their unflinching affirmation of the value of human labor as an essential ingredient in a civil society. Second, they reject the traditional divide of owner and worker. Instead, they’re building models for a future where organized workers can also be entrepreneurial one-person firms themselves or aspiring co-owners of the businesses where they are employed. A new era of workers organizing outside the bounds of traditional movements could begin to redress the imbalances that now exist between industry and labor.
3. Let’s build a new post-secondary education and training system.
The traditional higher ed system — in which a small number of people attend relatively expensive universities — works only for the privileged and for the limited group who are able to use it to break cycles of poverty. We must explore options that expand opportunities for more people.
One way is through online education. Online providers, like Coursera, EdX and NovoEd, offer courses from established universities that provide skills and credentials. Through IDEO U, design firm IDEO is providing online instruction in human-centered design. Philanthropy University provides free courses to NGO workers. Students attending the online, tuition-free University of the People, which is accredited by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, can earn associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in computer science, business administration and health studies, as well as an MBA. The fees for these options range from free to pricey, but none come close to the cost of attending the existing private colleges and universities.
Some of the most exciting initiatives highlight the flexibility of online education to respond and pivot to evolving demands. EdX has an open source development platform, which is being actively used by nearly 100 institutions, including Stanford University and McKinsey, to create custom learning environments. Udacity, through what it calls “nanodegree programs,” has a growing number of specialized offerings that prepare workers for specific tech jobs. Now is the time to reset the relationship between industries and educators, and ask them to work cooperatively to keep education relevant as we enter a period of rapid economic change. A new system could result in greater efficiency in labor markets, and it would help to position the education sector — and society — to adapt to new kinds of work and employment.
Of course, these are just three alternatives among a universe of options — including the possibility that UBI lives up to its hype and promise. The experiments in Oakland and Finland will be important in helping policymakers and the public see whether UBI can deliver the economic and behavioral changes its supporters believe it will. But in the meantime, let’s not delay in brainstorming and testing other ways to rebuild opportunity for everyone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ben Mangan is the executive director of the Center for Social Sector Leadership (CSSL) at UC Berkeley-Haas business school, as well as a lecturer there. He is also a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute.”
What legislation, specifically, could be created and submitted that might earn lawful enactment which would embody the above “corporations must bow to society?”
My first tendency is to pronounce that “corporations are not people.” But of course this assumption, codified in the 14th Amendment and Citizen’s United decisions will be hard to fight if ever overturn.
Instead, we might adopt the philosophy of disenfranchising corporations by doing the following:
1) Do away with all corporate income taxes. Yes, corporations are not people and so must not be taxed like people. However,
2) Corporations must be managed with a mind to ensure that their profits and increases in productivity are equitably distributed to all the human components of said corporations. How?
3) An inequality tax. Corporations must be taxed based on how inequitable their compensation ranges are. Do the CEO get paid 1000 times more than the lowest wage worker? Then that inequality will be taxed through penalties on gross profits. Gross profits. Not net profits. What else?
4) A productivity participation law should be enacted to force public corporations to compensate ALL employees with equity ABOVE and BEYOND any employee’s wage. If officers of the company each are awarded 1000 option shares / year, then the lowest wage worker will get some % of those same option shares. ALL employees shall be granted some portion of share distributions. If not, a Productivity Participation tax will be levied on Gross Profits.
5) To ensure that the corporate board in inline with such equality adjustments, dividends paid to shareholders will also be regulated in balance with a ratio which combines inequality of pay, off-shoring of profits, and expansion of employee education and in-country hiring. Basically, if a corporation puts society first, then society will see that they are rewarded.
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There are myriad issues with UBI, this we all realize and try to deal with. However the elephant in the room is this: UBI, in any of its various guises, will never get through Congress. Never.
Let’s face it, Congress is arguing right now to destroy the primitive, barely working healthcare system that kinda works for many Americans. Replacing it with no doubt something far worse. If that’s a sign of the times then this UBI discussion is a non-starter.
Instead, I would posit that UBI be a byproduct of some other set of potentially passable legislation. Maybe UBI doesn’t actually need to be a formal “thing” if the symptoms of the need for UBI are eliminated.
For instance, wealth inequality can *generally* be identified as the result of corporatism. Corporations, public and private, have one primary goal: ROI to investors/owners. Society is simply the backs on which corporations stand. Society is not a partner with corporations, it is subservient to corporate policies. The trail of tears that has been the corporations’ rise to power, most egregiously evident in this country (the US), has led us to this massive gap in wealth equality.
Bernie Sanders gets it. Elizabeth Warren gets it. More and more millennials get it. And increasingly those in the bottom 90% of the wealth pile who are conservatives or progressives get it. The “it” here is that we’ve let corporations dictate their own rules; pay and lobby our Congress to sway government to their rules; and basically stomp out opposition (Koch Bros.) whenever we have tried to fight for society’s view point.
Those, those are the pressure points that, were we to create legislation to take back control of society from the likes of gov-corp, thereby reducing inequality through broad distribution of corporate profits through the enormous increase in productivity, we wouldn’t need UBI. The American worker could benefit from return of their labor for equity. We could force corporations to recognize that they exist at the behest of society NOT at the expense of society.
We’ve let corporations have their way. And we now pay the price in trying to patch the system with makeshift UBI programs. No. This is not the way to fix our society. Corporations should be beholden to us, We the People. It should have never been any other way.