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Old 11-30-2016, 11:54 AM   #21
calutron
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Wouldn't automation cause the cost of labor to drop? Essentially competing with machines right?

Also assuming there's widespread automation how would companies deal with loss of consumers? Since most people are both workers and consumers?
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Old 11-30-2016, 12:39 PM   #22
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Why should we demand productivity from everyone? Why not just give them enough money for food, housing and general living and from that foundation they can do whatever they want?

To add something to this, if the workforce is no longer as influential the gains we have seen in the 19th and 20th century will start to roll back, particularly in regards to wealth distribution and thereby effective freedoms.
Let me ask you something in turn. Is it acceptable for me to, the day after you get paid, put a gun to your head and demand, say, 30% of your paycheck? Is it acceptable for me to hire someone else to do it in my stead?

The answer to both is no. So why the fuck does it become acceptable when I hire the government to do it?

In what world is it in any conceivable way fair or just to have 25% of the population shackled to a job producing things, only to turn around and as a collective have a gun put to their head and ordered to support the rest of society that doesn't want to?

Fuck that nonsense. There is zero justification for legalized robbery just because some people don't want to work. Just because we can do such a thing doesn't make it in any way morally justifiable.
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Old 11-30-2016, 12:56 PM   #23
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Let me ask you something in turn. Is it acceptable for me to, the day after you get paid, put a gun to your head and demand, say, 30% of your paycheck? Is it acceptable for me to hire someone else to do it in my stead?

The answer to both is no. So why the fuck does it become acceptable when I hire the government to do it?

In what world is it in any conceivable way fair or just to have 25% of the population shackled to a job producing things, only to turn around and as a collective have a gun put to their head and ordered to support the rest of society that doesn't want to?

Fuck that nonsense. There is zero justification for legalized robbery just because some people don't want to work. Just because we can do such a thing doesn't make it in any way morally justifiable.
What if there isn't any work though?
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Old 11-30-2016, 01:00 PM   #24
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I'd be perfectly happy for a person to pay no tax if they fully renounced the benefits of the collective inheritance of mankind. If you reject all science, technology, medicine and infrastructure and return to the state of nature as a lone animal then I will take seriously the idea that this person has no interest in being part of society. Until that moment you are still part of society which comes with responsibilities as well as benefits. Claiming that tax is theft while simultaneously basking in the security and prosperity fostered by the nation state is just hypocrisy.

Tax isn't theft, it's a membership fee.
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Old 11-30-2016, 01:00 PM   #25
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What if there isn't any work though?
The implication of there being zero work is that there's zero scarcity, as that is the only scenario where there's literally zero work, which would in turn mean that robbing people who do work is irrelevant and unnecessary.

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I'd be perfectly happy for a person to pay no tax if they fully renounced the benefits of the collective inheritance of mankind. If you reject all science, technology, medicine and infrastructure and return to the state of nature as a lone animal then I will take seriously the idea that this person has no interest in being part of society. Until that moment you are still part of society which comes with responsibilities as well as benefits. Claiming that tax is theft while simultaneously basking in the security and prosperity fostered by the nation state is just hypocrisy.
You appear to have missed the very important qualifier I put there, namely: "just because some people don't want to work". I've got little issue philosophically with welfare beyond some economic concerns that don't have a good answer. I take issue with the whole "Fuck it, we only need 25% of the population to support everyone else being a useless fuck".

That concept is quite literally another expression of slavery; someone else does all the work for others to receive all the benefit. It is beyond bullshit.
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Old 11-30-2016, 01:11 PM   #26
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You appear to have missed the very important qualifier I put there, namely: "just because some people don't want to work". I've got little issue philosophically with welfare beyond some economic concerns that don't have a good answer. I take issue with the whole "Fuck it, we only need 25% of the population to support everyone else being a useless fuck".

That concept is quite literally another expression of slavery; someone else does all the work for others to receive all the benefit. It is beyond bullshit.
The workers receive a benefit too. By contributing a part of their paycheck to the welfare state, they can sleep soundly knowing that they won't have to worry about a rampant increase in crime in the face of large scale unemployment. People who lose their jobs and struggle to feed their kids aren't going to sit around twiddling their thumbs and if the state doesn't do something to help them, they will do what they feel they have to do in order to survive.

UBI isn't being proposed because people think it would be neat if a majority of the population didn't have to work anymore (though there are decent number of UBI advocates that support it for that very reason). The people who support UBI do so because they see it as a necessary measure to keep society stable and functioning in the face of a real possibility of mass unemployment.

Edit: There's also the theory that by implementing UBI, you're removing unproductive employees from the workforce. If they don't have to force themselves to work at job they hate in order to survive, then they could dedicate their time something they actually care about.
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Old 11-30-2016, 02:42 PM   #27
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Edit: There's also the theory that by implementing UBI, you're removing unproductive employees from the workforce. If they don't have to force themselves to work at job they hate in order to survive, then they could dedicate their time something they actually care about.
This last bit here? This is exactly what I'm objecting to. This scenario creates a class of people entirely dependent on the largess of others, who do not contribute, and who have zero incentive to change that. They become the plantation owners, to turn a moderately alarmist phrase, people who do not contribute anything and yet reap all the benefits from the people around them who do. Actually, thinking about it, it's worse than the plantation owners, because at least they paid to feed and house their slaves.

It's disgusting that that's even passingly considered in a positive light. Self-reliance isn't something everyone can have all the time, and that's why I support social fallback plans, but it's damn well something everyone should be striving for. And making excuses why one can't is just fucking shameful.

Not to mention that any such system is entirely dependent on people contributing to it while making every possible effort not to take from it. It can't be self-sustaining otherwise.
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Old 11-30-2016, 02:45 PM   #28
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It's the complete opposite way around. The few people who own the means of automated production have huge wealth unimagined by previous generations, the few people with marketable skills live like kings off their huge incomes based off their high productivity. Meanwhile the rest of humanity lives off the crumbs of their table.
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:24 PM   #29
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It's disgusting that that's even passingly considered in a positive light. Self-reliance isn't something everyone can have all the time, and that's why I support social fallback plans, but it's damn well something everyone should be striving for. And making excuses why one can't is just fucking shameful.

Not to mention that any such system is entirely dependent on people contributing to it while making every possible effort not to take from it. It can't be self-sustaining otherwise.
Why is it disgusting? You get to phase out unproductive workers into something more productive. I would also argue that while this would incentivize laziness and unproductiveness for a decent portion of the labor force, an even larger portion would quickly become bored of doing jack shit. They would instead dedicate their time towards something they're passionate about and we would see an increase in innovation as a result.

Also, there's nothing that says the system is entirely dependent on the people contributing not taking anything from it. They could add the basic income everyone else receives into their annual income or deduct it in their taxes.
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:35 PM   #30
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Why is it disgusting? You get to phase out unproductive workers into something more productive. I would also argue that while this would incentivize laziness and unproductiveness for a decent portion of the labor force, an even larger portion would quickly become bored of doing jack shit. They would instead dedicate their time towards something they're passionate about and we would see an increase in innovation as a result.

Also, there's nothing that says the system is entirely dependent on the people contributing not taking anything from it. They could add the basic income everyone else receives into their annual income or deduct it in their taxes.
It's disgusting because, at its most fundamental level, it's saying that people who do not contribute or generate anything have a basic right to take from those who do. It violates the most fundamental of property rights, as well as giving excuse after excuse for those who refuse to take responsibility for themselves and their affairs. I don't mind a safety net, for those struck by emergency or disaster, nor do I think helping people find their feet and learn to be self-reliant is in any way bad, it's where my support of social programs comes from, but a guaranteed income just for existing is not really that, all it is is an incentive for people to do nothing and become dependent on handouts. And it infuriates me that people want to strip the basic dignity of being able to stand on your own two feet from the people who need that ability the most.

As for the rest of the first paragraph, it's certainly possible. I don't see a system that incentivizes doing nothing but leeching as a system that would in any way incentivize being productive, but people can be weird every once in a while I suppose.

Finally, it's simple economics that says the system is dependent on as many people as possible contributing and as few people as possible taking. It's the only way to sustain a neutral, at worst, cash flow, which is necessary for any such system to be self-sustaining. And if it's not self-sustaining, all those people you've made reliant on the state and their welfare checks have literally nothing when the cash finally dries up.

Edit:
So that I'm not entirely a downer, I would put forth this as a better solution:
Instead of any sort of payments, we should instead have government-run, or at least funded, specialized trade schools to teach people the skills necessary to function in the modern economy, things like engineering, computer science, architecture, economics, film-making, etc. Basically, every 10-20 years or so, take a cross-section of the economy, analyze which jobs are under threat from increasing technology, and which ones will remain strong, and then offer various curriculi to the American people based on teaching them the skills necessary for those jobs. I'd also propose a national unemployment office of sorts, that functions as headhunters in the various industries do.

On top of that, I'd offer subsistence payments for those taking the courses (preferably with incentives to do better in class), and those who are unemployed but actively searching for work afterward, to allow everyone who wishes to partake to do so.

And those who do not choose to partake get to live with the consequences of that choice.

This is really the best of all worlds. People are not turned dependent on the state, or anyone else for that matter, for living, the system incentivizes trying to get off the system, and it ensures that everyone has, or at least can get, the necessary skills going forward.
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Old 11-30-2016, 06:03 PM   #31
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So take all those unemployed factory workers and turn them into unemployed engineers and programmers - with money "taken from people at gunpoint" at that. Cool.
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Old 11-30-2016, 06:05 PM   #32
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So take all those unemployed factory workers and turn them into unemployed engineers and programmers - with money "taken from people at gunpoint" at that. Cool.
Move them from "unemployed and unemployable" to simply "unemployed", and then provide services to help move them from "unemployed" to "employed", while providing subsistence payments to help further.

To use a well-known metaphor, it's "we're gonna teach you how to fish" rather than "Hey, you exist, so have a fish".

Edit:
I mean, from a philosophical position, I would say that there shouldn't be any sort of welfare at all. As a practical matter, however, that's simply not workable, and the system I proposed there is the least objectionable I've ever been able to come up with. If you want to point out flaws, go right ahead. I can't see anything obviously wrong with it, but it can't be refined without being challenged.
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Old 11-30-2016, 06:27 PM   #33
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It's the complete opposite way around. The few people who own the means of automated production have huge wealth unimagined by previous generations, the few people with marketable skills live like kings off their huge incomes based off their high productivity. Meanwhile the rest of humanity lives off the crumbs of their table.
This is my problem with UBI and automation.

If working for money becomes rare, the UBI becomes welfare. It is as simple as that. It would be the level of poverty for the US (and the world). It does not even prevent homelessness or starving either, as people are allowed to spend it on what they want.

There is a reason EBT is often only allowed for groceries. Because you have people that will sell their EBT cards in exchange for money for other reasons. This can, and has, led to children going hungry and people losing their houses.

We already see in this consumer culture that people are awful when it comes to money. There is a huge credit card debt in America because people can't stop buying, even if they can't afford it. I doubt this would change with UBI.

Then, we would also be creating one of the biggest wealth gaps in history. Those who do own the companies would be richer than we have ever seen, and would be able to control whole governments. The people who are lucky enough to have skills to help run the automation, would be the few middle class folks in the world. The rest would be poor.

This all sounds amazing when you think about getting money and not working... but in reality with human nature, this probably would not be able to work. We need to start thinking of other ways.

In my mind automation does not need to happen. It is mostly for the benefit of the rich; for those who own the companies. Why can't America start building cars again? Why do we need to automate the process completely? I am more than willing to pay more if it means people are able to work and support their families. I also think the stock market, at this time, does more harm than good. I would much rather have companies owned by their employees rather than by global investors and other companies.
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Old 11-30-2016, 06:34 PM   #34
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I would much rather have companies owned by their employees rather than by global investors and other companies.
They are, how do you think a business starts? Then they need capital to perform their service or produce their good or to expand their business, so they seek out investors, which is most commonly found in the stock market, but can come from any walk of life. And part of the deal when getting an investment is that the investor is to get a return on their investment, so the business does its best to fulfill that obligation.

So like it or not, investment and stocks are here to stay. I mean, you can go and impose regulations to prevent investment and bring the economy to a near-standstill if you like, but it's not in anyone's interest to do so.
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Old 11-30-2016, 06:42 PM   #35
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In my mind automation does not need to happen. It is mostly for the benefit of the rich; for those who own the companies. Why can't America start building cars again? Why do we need to automate the process completely? I am more than willing to pay more if it means people are able to work and support their families. I also think the stock market, at this time, does more harm than good. I would much rather have companies owned by their employees rather than by global investors and other companies.
Because people aren't actually willing to pay much more.

There's nothing stopping you from building cars by hand and not raising capital by attracting investment...except then your products sell less and you have trouble matching the scale of your competitors. You say you're willing to pay more, but are you really? Are enough people similarly willing? Evidence points to no.


@Agayek : it's less "teach a man to fish" and more "we have fishing trawlers mostly fishing the bay to capacity, but here - have this rod and don't come bitching to me if you're still hungry". Everyone can't be a doctor, lawyer, and engineer, architect, accountant, or nurse. Society only needs (and will pay) for so many filmmakers. This is all pie in the sky bullshit, but we're not talking about getting every last person a luxury vehicle. Just some fish.


I suppose we can just round people up and make them work on massively inefficient building projects or other unskilled labor or whatever, subsidizing to the point that it's competitive with automation...except that's also disguised welfare done with "money taken at gunpoint", so...
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Old 11-30-2016, 06:50 PM   #36
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To use a well-known metaphor, it's "we're gonna teach you how to fish" rather than "Hey, you exist, so have a fish".
The problem is that it is more "we're gonna teach you to fish, but we already have all the fishermen we need and they've already claimed all the fishing spaces".

What we're talking about is almost no jobs. Most lawyers, doctors, scientists, journalists etc will be replaced by AIs, most engineers and almost all factory workers will be replaced, taxi drivers and truck drivers will all be replaced, and the greater portion of every other job will be replaced, from automated shops to more machines to do everything from chop down trees to carry luggage for you.

At that point training people for a new job is bullshit because there will be no need for more workers.


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In my mind automation does not need to happen. It is mostly for the benefit of the rich; for those who own the companies. Why can't America start building cars again? Why do we need to automate the process completely?
You answered the question yourself. Automation is cheaper than paying workers, they can't unionise, they work 24/7/365, and you have a more reliable product. The rich who own the companies want to get richer so they will spend as little as possible and charge as much as possible. That's what capitalism is. If you don't like that then you have a problem with capitalism.

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Old 11-30-2016, 06:56 PM   #37
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@Agayek : it's less "teach a man to fish" and more "we have fishing trawlers mostly fishing the bay to capacity, but here - have this rod and don't come bitching to me if you're still hungry". Everyone can't be a doctor, lawyer, and engineer, architect, accountant, or nurse. Society only needs (and will pay) for so many filmmakers. This is all pie in the sky bullshit, but we're not talking about getting every last person a luxury vehicle. Just some fish.
You're right, there's a limit for a given occupation. The thing I think you're missing, however, is that having an abundance of skilled labor creates businesses. More skilled labor makes the creation of businesses that use that labor cheaper and more common, and also tends to make a more diverse business landscape, as the increased competition begins closing the obvious holes in the market and firms are forced to innovate in order to continue to compete.

Will there be some folks that go through the system I outlined and, due to whatever circumstances, be unable to find work? Probably, but then they can just start their own business and carve out their own niche in the market.

And if all that fails, they can go back to the government-run trade school and learn a new set of skills for a different field with less competition. Though obviously the school should have advisors or whatever to help guide people to the fields that would be best for them, in terms of enjoying the work and the availability of work.
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Old 11-30-2016, 07:05 PM   #38
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Then, we would also be creating one of the biggest wealth gaps in history. Those who do own the companies would be richer than we have ever seen, and would be able to control whole governments. The people who are lucky enough to have skills to help run the automation, would be the few middle class folks in the world. The rest would be poor.
We already have an increasing wealth gap that doesn't show any signs of shrinking so that's not really a reason to forego automation. As for the poor; the goal of UBI is to make sure that people don't have to worry about losing their home or starving to death. If people want to use their UBI check on drugs, alcohol, or whatever instead of using it to provide for themselves or their family, that's on them. The number of people who would go down that route versus the number of people who would use it pay rent/mortgage/utilities is negligible, I think. Just like the number of "welfare queens" or people who use food stamps is negligible.

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This all sounds amazing when you think about getting money and not working... but in reality with human nature, this probably would not be able to work. We need to start thinking of other ways.

In my mind automation does not need to happen. It is mostly for the benefit of the rich; for those who own the companies. Why can't America start building cars again? Why do we need to automate the process completely? I am more than willing to pay more if it means people are able to work and support their families. I also think the stock market, at this time, does more harm than good. I would much rather have companies owned by their employees rather than by global investors and other companies.
Even if you believe that automation doesn't need to happen, it has and it will. You can't turn back technological progress and businesses have no incentive to use human labor. Their only obligation is to make money for their shareholders. However, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a section of the industry that marketed human produced goods. Sort of like "made in America" only "made by a real person" and all that.

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You're right, there's a limit for a given occupation. The thing I think you're missing, however, is that having an abundance of skilled labor creates businesses.
Are the skills in that labor pool still relevant though? In a world where almost all of the skills necessary for employment are automated and the number of jobs available vs the number of people looking work is skewed heavily against people looking for work, what skills are you going to teach the unemployed that would allow them to make a living? Even if you taught them everything they needed to actually get a job, there would be so much competition that you'd still have a large number of jobless people and no bargaining power for those lucky enough to have a job.
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Old 11-30-2016, 07:34 PM   #39
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Are the skills in that labor pool still relevant though? In a world where almost all of the skills necessary for employment are automated and the number of jobs available vs the number of people looking work is skewed heavily against people looking for work, what skills are you going to teach the unemployed that would allow them to make a living? Even if you taught them everything they needed to actually get a job, there would be so much competition that you'd still have a large number of jobless people and no bargaining power for those lucky enough to have a job.
The thing to keep in mind is that the skills taught would be whatever the economy needs and/or supports, essentially. If the economy does not have sufficient businesses and/or jobs for those businesses, part and parcel of the curriculum would have to be innovation and creating businesses. We didn't just have factory jobs sprout up ex nihilo; it came from people with the skill and the savvy who saw an opportunity for something no one had ever done before and took it.

If the economy doesn't support jobs for everyone, we'd have to be teaching the attitude and skills required of pioneering and innovating along with the more technical aspects of a given trade so that people start creating the businesses and jobs that would in turn employ people.

The need for labor isn't ever going to go away, it's just going to move to different areas (at least, until we hit the post-scarcity stage, but at that point, it's irrelevant). Just as the predominant labor force moved from agricultural and farm work that no one seriously thought would ever go away to blue collar factory workers that no one seriously thought would ever go away to white collar skilled labor that no one seriously thought would ever go away, the job market would just keep evolving.

Perhaps as white collar labor is automated into oblivion, people would start producing more cultural works that others would pay for, and the next generation of labor would be primarily art and the like. Or maybe the labor force moves on to producing designs and theoretical models that are then implemented by automated labor. Or maybe it gets into being the innovation, the direction, behind the machines doing the actual production. Or maybe the labor force starts moving into leveraging evolving technologies for deep sea/space exploration and the things that can be brought back from that. Etcetera, etcetera.

There's a lot of possibilities, more than any one person can think of right now. A century ago, a lot of modern jobs were completely inconceivable, due to the technology of the time and how it has changed. Given the rapidity of the last few decades of technological advancement, and how quickly it's accelerated, I wouldn't be surprised if the job market in 30 years is mostly things we have no way to conceptualize right now.

That's why I was saying there would be a review and analysis every 10-20 years (possibly want it even shorter than 10 years) to determine what to teach and how to teach it; it's the only way to make sure that we're offering people a way to stay relevant in the economy.
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Old 11-30-2016, 08:15 PM   #40
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To get off the subject of welfare and back to the OP: I've been reading a book call Democracy for Realists, which argues that democratic systems don't actually reflect what the voters want vis-a-vis policy. Instead, democracy is just used to select a leader who represents a social identity that resonates with a plurality of voters. This lines up very neatly with the Brexit vote and Trump election. It doesn't matter that leaving the EU or tearing up NAFTA will probably reduce purchasing power and fail to increase wages. People voted against know-it-all elites and globalists and brown-skinned immigrants, and the actual details of why those things are bad matters far less than the emotional relevance of the narratives around those ideas. Comparative advantage and global competitiveness lack the storytelling punch of "the rich people are moving the jobs to Mexico to screw over you, the blue collar worker".

The key thing that democratic politics is about is the stories the different sides tell. It doesn't matter if a targeted nutrition program coupled with a negative income tax and a child tax credit is the most cost effective way of addressing poverty, because the details don't matter. UBI is interesting because it effects everybody, and it's a dramatic change in the way people think about the welfare state, and is concerned about some futuristic robot economy where a lot of people don't have to work anymore to keep the economy going. Right now unemployment is below 5%, and productivity growth has been pretty low for a while, especially in growing sectors like elder care, and there isn't any new evidence that the lump of labor fallacy will stop being a fallacy any time soon. But, who wants to talk about a future where things are mostly the same and we have to tax the middle class to pay for the poor?

The only way I can see better results from democracy is by having empirically grounded leaders who tell better stories than the demagogs. Which seems to come down to a lot of luck, unfortunately.

As an aside, I don't want to shit on UBI. I think it might be a great way to address the displacement effects of other welfare programs, and it lets us talk about social safety nets without getting sucked into dogwhistle welfare queen stuff. We just need to be aware that targeted programs are probably more cost effective at addressing poverty. But, like I said before, details don't really matter all that much, and a UBI might be quite a bit better than nothing.
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