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Thoughts on UBI?

What are your all thoughts on universal basic income? Are you for it? How much should be given? Any caveats?

I am all for it in theory. Andrew Yang’s VAT-funded proposal was quite interesting.

The positive aspects are pretty obvious (stimulate economy, combat poverty, a social safety net that’s a lot cheaper than the myriad of things running now) but we haven’t seen enough larger-scale experimentation with it to know what any negative long-term impacts would be.


I don’t think it’s a horrible thing, but too many people either willingly make bad financial choices or have never been given the skills to use money wisely…before handing out cash something should be done that would at least promote wise financial decisions. I really don’t know what that would be but I think required classes in the school system would be a good start, provided the material isn’t crap.

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I think it’s going to be necessary as we start automating more jobs. Andrew Yang was probably about 10 years early, but there will be a lot of people that are left out of a digital and automated economy. I have not heard many alternatives to UBI for that type of a situation.

As far as the concept itself I don’t like it on it’s face, but I don’t like the counterfactual of not doing anything when people are more or less permanently displaced out of the workforce. I do like Andrew Yang’s approach that the one thing the government is good at is cutting checks to a lot of people. It is not good at placing rules/restrictions (i.e. creating loopholes) to conditional money, and that is where a lot of poor welfare behaviors comes from.

It will be interesting to see how politics warps the issue over the next few years and ignores the actual arguments like it does for every other issue.


Historically, new technology has created more jobs than it destroys. I am skeptical myself about automation creating more jobs than it destroys.

I like the idea as a way to redistribute wealth. I think wealth inequality will continue to grow, and automation will likely accelerate that growth.

I personally, would think about early retirement if I got UBI and M4A. Could live a pretty good life with a paid off house, and a few hundred thousand in investments in my estimation.

I’m a strong proponent of the idea. I see it as an enabler, and while I remain cognizant of the arguments against it those seem to stem from a negative view of people that I myself do not share. Hard to imagine how it’d play out in other cultures and societies other than the one I inhabit. I’m also for 6-hour workdays or three-day weekends.

How much should be given is hard to quantify, costs aren’t uniform geographically.

Wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to a combined solution wherein you have a smaller UBI but certain expenses just… aren’t. Meaning there’d be goods available to you as you need them. That could be taken advantage of, I suppose, in some sense. But again, I tend to favour a goodness view rather than the opposite and I belive a UBI is a stepping stone towards disincentivising behaviour that would see the need to abuse these systems anyway.


I agree here. I think most people want to earn an income, live a good life. I think only a small amount of people want to be leaches on society. However, lots of effort has gone into convincing people that this small amount of people is much larger, IMO.


How did Yang’s plan work? Are people incentivized to breed?

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I don’t think anyone under 18 would be eligible under Yang’s plan.

I think significant thought needs to go into how these plans affect the marriage marketplace, family creation, and child rearing incentives. Welfare has generally led reliance on family to be replaced with reliance on the government. That does a lot of damage to society over the medium and long term.

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The UK actually tried something like it under universal basic credit. The result was a complete disaster, the idea behind it was to unify the following:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

But the roll out was so spectacularly bad that it has somewhat poisoned the well on it.

I’m not sure about UBI more generally, to be honest. If it were to simplify other entitlements, then great. An additional entitlement doesn’t seem like something any western government could afford at the moment.

I do agree with this.

Btw, in case it interests anyone, my earlier stated view is coming as a person who’s been raised on welfare. I’m all for assistance because I really don’t think some people can make it without it these days.

I’m curious though…I really do wonder how much $12k/year would actually help. For many, they’d still be making very little. $12k may not even cover the cost of getting their own health insurance.

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As do I. I’ve had the good fortune of knowing people from many different walks of life, albeit through a somewhat western lens but that includes Fortune 500 management types, and people living on disability due to illness(es), with the bulk of individuals being somewhere in the middle of those two outliers.

Consistent throughout is, given the ability, to live a pretty traditional self-sufficient life and contribute in some way that matters. How that ability expresses itself varies according to circumstance, and how much freedom they have to exercise that. Some find meaning and purpose in raising kids, others do charity work. For some, it’s an accomplishment to be able to hold down a job and be a tax-paying member of society.

For those that aren’t afforded such opportunity, because of whatever reason, I’ve never heard any sentiment uttered that suggest that these individuals are leeches. Rather, they feel that they are a burden which in some cases (burnout) makes recovery take longer. Especially, in the system deployed within my country, long-duration burnout makes you into less of a person because you are successively given less and less of a subsidy on which to subside.

Postulate that a person is/was a provider in a family, with kids, and burns out. In a short amount of time, that’ll mean having to downgrade their lifestyle even if it wasn’t frivolous by relative standards (possibly global) to begin with. Taking your family and kids, and moving out of your home to a smaller apartment just to meet bills rarely helps the individual whose mind is already overburdened.

I was myself on sick-leave for a shorter stint of time and had an employer and insurance that covered a significant portion of the loss of pay during that time. It was hard enough trying to recover, without having to hop through the hoops necessary to prove I “deserved” welfare. There’s a term for it in my language, basically “social insurance”-induced depression

Ironically, the people I have met that I’d consider met my definition of leeches on society are those making significant bank but that are egocentric. As in “Why should I pay taxes so other people’s kids can go to school when I myself do not want kids?”.

What if you can’t rely on your family? What if you come from a home with abusive parent(s)? What if your parents choose a career path that is altruistic rather than well-paying?

I believe that for it to have a chance of being successful it’d have to

  1. Replace all current subsidies (housing subsidy, sick-leave, …)
  2. Not mean that the people currently working with administrating those subsidies are worse off than they were before.
  3. Be substantial enough to encourage lateral career moves.

I know you’re from a Scandinavian country but I never remember which one. Norway?

This is a broad question and I don’t know really know to phrase it…hm. Basically, what’s poverty like in your country? What does it mean to be under the poverty line? What does it look like for people?

Sorry, like I said, that’s broad. Can you tell what I’m getting at?

Follow up: are there certain groups of people more likely to be poor? I suppose I’m mainly thinking of ethnic groups, but any type of group would do if applicable. I think we see this a ton in the U.S.

That’s a good question, and I think I get where you are coming from.

The way I’d like to respond is by first highlighting this,

and following up with that the U.S., comparatively, to “my” country (Sweden, although I’ve lived in Norway as well) is vast both in size and population. If one was to make a meaningful comparison in regards to

it might be more prudent to compare against Europe. But I’m not that well-familiarised with the rest of my neighbours on this continent to do that comparison.

But, try as I might, here’s my best stab at responding to you — just view the above as a caveat emptor for the rest.


Poverty, not sure that is defined the same in other nations so I’ll define the term relative as I know it to be defined here: poverty is defined as having less than 60% of the median income of the nation after taxes have been payed. This is a bit wonky, because the salaries in the South are higher but the cost of living does not scale linearly. I.e., in the North, where I live living costs are still quite substantial and yet our salaries are lower. This is in part influenced by the global job market, viz. that the global interest is greater in say Stockholm or Gothenburg and thus the salaries there reflect that demand and selection pressure.

Tangentially related: I have a mate living in the UK that lives on the outskirts (suburbs) of London and pays less in rent per square meter than some of the apartments in my small commune. He also makes a whole lot more money than the people who live in those apartments here make. n=1 and whatnot.


I know a few. It means that, even if you have a supportive family, every purchase is carefully considered or postponed.

I’ll provide a concrete example (not me): as a parent, you might have to forsake getting yourself a new jacket because it has holes in it. That might not sound like you are giving anything up, but if it’s minus twenty degrees centigrade out jackets do tend to matter. Why? Because you prioritise the needs of your children above yourself. You eat what is on sale, you buy in bulk, and you essentially have to spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring that whatever you do make lasts you long enough to make ends meet at the end of the month. I.e., living paycheck to paycheck.

This is hard to answer. The degrees of ethnic diversity varies wildly between “states”. But the homeless are made up of chiefly immigrants and they beg outside of supermarkets and send their money home. And let me tell you, if you decide that the way you’ll make money for yourself is to sit outside in below freezing temperatures then you have a better work ethic than I do.

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I assume that in the idyllic utopia in which we envision UBI, America’s broken and predatory healthcare system is fixed.

However, there is no doubt that $12,000 extra a year would help anyone. N+12,000 is better than N. Many will still be making very little, but they’ll be making $12,000 more than previously. And these people are the ones that need $12,000 the most.


It’s a stupid idea that failed in experimental stage in Canada and Europe. It’s is a disincentive.

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Can anyone explain to me why the UBI(Edit for clarity: Yang’s) would be so low? Wouldn’t it be better to give everyone something like $5,000/month?

I can agree somewhat on the disincentive part. I said above that with a paid off house, a few hundred thousand in investments, M4A, and UBI, I would consider retiring early. I don’t currently have any of those things, but am working on the first two aggressively. I would put very few people in the category of having a paid off house and a large investment portfolio at significantly below the standard retirement age. Maybe we don’t really have to worry about those people, because they are a small percent? Additionally, the people who do get to that point have likely paid a large amount of tax already.

I guess my point is that if the amount is low enough, that sure it is a disincentive, but probably not large enough that a significant amount of people would stop working. @NickViar this last sentence is my answer to your question.

I think that’s a not necessarily correct extrapolation. Sometimes things need to be implemented wholesale, or at least on a grander scale than UBI has been piloted for those conclusions to be unequivocally correct. I know Finland tested it, but since it was time-constrained it wasn’t feasible to study whether or not it would encourage lateral career moves as the time frame was too short.